Ryan from the ‘O.C.’ grew up and moved to Gotham. He’s not popular, he’s different, and he’s having trouble fitting in.
James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) investigates the deaths of Bruce Wayne’s parents while navigating the Rogue’s Gallery featuring all-too-familiar faces including Selina Kyle, Ivy, Edward Nygma (The Riddler) and Oswald Cobblepot (the Penguin). Only everyone’s really young, and not too afraid of bats.
Gordon tries to do the right thing while protecting the lovely Barbara (not yet married), with a cynical partner not too far off retirement. Thematically it feels like Nolan’s trilogy meets Se7en, with elements of both Joel Schumacher’s efforts and ‘Batman: The Animated Series,’ most evident in the set pieces which would have been well-placed in a lighter, more campy Gotham.
Jada Pinkett Smith is easily the stand-out as mobster Fish Mooney, with Carmine Falcone, introduced to a wider audience in ‘Batman Begins,’ making his own appearance. Anyone who’s seen ‘The Dark Knight’ or ‘Batman Returns’ will feel comfortable and familiar with this world, it doesn’t take the same thematic and visual leaps Burton took in 1989’s ‘Batman’ or which Nolan took in 2005 – we’ve seen this before.
McKenzie doesn’t impress in the pilot – trying to do his best Brad Pitt we’re left wondering why someone slightly more famous, or talented, wasn’t cast instead. There’s time to improve – several more episodes are already in the can, focusing on the development of Batman’s nemeses who are the real draw of this series. Cobblepot will grow up to control the Gotham underworld, while Nygma will no doubt leave Gotham PD and cause them a world of pain.
Do you like foreshadowing? If you do then you’re in luck, because there’s lots of it, with a young Bruce telling us that he’s learning to “conquer fear,” a young Catwoman lurking on the rooftops, and a slow-drip of villains waiting to unleash their own brand of manic.
With Affleck’s ‘Dawn of Justice’ premiering in March 2016, followed by a Justice League sequel, we now have something entertaining to keep us busy which, from the limited information we have about Zack Snyder’s machinations, might not be too different from ‘Gotham.’