Gotham: It’s Batman, But Not
The story of Batman is nothing new. Whether you prefer the Adam West era movies, are an avid reader of the comics or, like me and very few others, have become an unexpected fan of Batfleck (Ben Affleck), we all know the history and the characters that make up this massive franchise. But the TV series Gotham is doing its best to reinvigorate that universe by adding its own spin, and I’m totally into it.
The series focuses on the rise, and sometimes spectacular falls, of Detective James “Jim” Gordon (Ben Mackenzie) after he takes on the case of the murder of Martha and Thomas Wayne. Pledging to a traumatised young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) that he will find the people responsible for their deaths, Jim and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) tackle crimes, mafia, lunatics and the corruption of the Gotham City Police Department all in the hopes of one day being able to give Bruce closure.
That’s the very short and massively oversimplified version of what goes on in Gotham. In fact, it’s a lot more complicated than that, with an ever-changing roster of characters and crazy plot lines that would take pages of text and diagrams to try and explain how they are all interconnected.
Often the show completely loses touch with Jim’s promise to find the Waynes’ killers and it may be a few episodes before you as a viewer are reminded that you should still be interested in that storyline. There are too many origin stories (Batman, Catwoman, the Riddler, the Penguin and Hugo Strange to name a few) to distract from what could be interpreted as the original premise.
It can be a tough ride, but I encourage you to stick with it once you start.
There is a load of familiar faces in this series; it’s the kind of show to watch with IMDB open for some quick searching mid-episode. If you’re a big Law and Order SVU fan like I am, you’ll get the added fun of seeing some very recognisable faces, such as BD Wong playing what is essentially his evil doppelgänger. I had nearly lost interest in season 2 until he showed his face and reeled me straight back in with his portrayal of Hugo Strange.
It’s also very apparent the influence that the Christopher Nolan movies had on the character portrayals and general vibe of some episodes. While never specifically named as such, Jerome is as close as you can get to the Joker as played by Heath Ledger. And whether intentional or not, there are some rather unfortunate moments where Ben Mackenzie channels the overly raspy tones used by Christian Bale.
But even if you’re not a fan of those movies, I think there is something in Gotham for everyone to enjoy. Keep in mind it’s not a serious crime drama but based on the comics, roll with the unexpected and downright fantastical moments, and then join me as I impatiently wait to get stuck into Season 3.