There’s quite a few television shows based on comics hitting the small screen this fall season, but none have me more excited than Fox‘s Gotham. Gotham is the origin story behind Commissioner James Gordon’s rise to prominence in Gotham City in the years before Batman’s arrival. While the series focuses on Gordon, and his start as part of the Gotham police force, it’s much more than that.
When we think of the city of Gotham when it comes to DC Comics, we think of Batman, and the characters that surround him, especially his rouge gallery. Gotham adds a new character, this city itself.
The first episode does the impressive, mixing in the comic world with a grounded police drama. We could call this Gotham: SVU really, as it leans more towards the latter when it comes to the two, and this is a great thing. The focus here is Gordon, and his work in a corrupt city. Surrounding him is a peppering of characters we comic fans will recognize as growing up into some of our favorite characters.
And the inclusion of those other characters works…. almost. So far we have those who later become Poison Ivy, Selina Kyle, Penguin, and Batman (with rumors of a Joker thrown in as a mystery). The last two work perfectly in the series, while the first two seem out-of-place so far. But really, they’re flavoring for the focus, the police force. For comic fans, you’ll recognize characters beyond Gordon such as Harvey Bullock, Sarah Essen, Renee Montoya, and mobster Carmine Falcone. They are really the focus of the show, and like any good police story, they are the personalities that the show will sink or swim. After the first episode I’m leaning on swim.
Gotham is bleak, with corruption all around. In fact, it might be one of the more depressing shows on network television, with Gordon hoping to route out corruption, but in reality the more he attempts to do so, the worse we find out it is. Add in drama hinted at, and we have a show that’s rich in-depth, in story, character, and look.
And the look of it all is important. The first episode takes us to numerous locations within the city, each with a distinctive look, and feel, yet it all seems coherent and part of the same world, a realistic world. The coloring, the choice of framing, it all is spectacular, bringing a cinematic noir feel to the small screen. The look is what cements Gotham the city, as a character in Gotham the show.
I’ll admit I went into the first episode with some nervousness, but having watched the pilot, I came away wanting more. DC has nailed it when it comes to this show, adding an entry that’s engaging, and exciting, and most importantly easily accessible for new individuals. Gotham the city might have a rich history in the Batman universe, but Gotham the series feels like a fresh and new beginning in a dirty and grimy world.
Overall Score: 8.75