'Gotham': Two Takes on the Premiere

We have two reviews from different perspectives, but one thing's for sure: this city is a hit.

In case you live under a rock in the Batcave, you know that Gotham premiered last night. We have a lot of feelings on how it went and what kind of series it will be, so here are our reviews by Xander and Leah.

Xander Pakzad

Gotham opens up as it should, by anchoring itself in Batman lore: the infamous double-murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents (witnessed by Selina Kyle). Thankfully, it launches off from there in a ton of new directions. The premise is a home run and the ensemble cast really brings it to life, but the few sloppy parts make me wary about where the show goes from here.

New police commissioner James Gordon shows up on the scene with his partner Harvey Bullock. Before the chalk outlines are even drawn, the two are fighting like grade-schoolers. Their inflated, trivial bickering sets the tone for the first half. Everyone is rude, cliche, and way too obvious. Even with mobsters and police chiefs breathing down their necks, these are people who should speak with tact and poise. Instead, they’re written as hotheads who can barely hold a conversation.

At times, the over-the-top dialogue almost works in the show’s favor. Characters like Fish Mooney, created especially for this show, are full of hackneyed one-liners like, “Well aren’t you a cool glass of milk.” There’s enough room in the show for some comedic relief, and there ought to be. Without any humor, Gotham would be too dark for its own good. I just hope it doesn’t take the place of believable writing.

Fortunately, we do get a sample of Gotham’s forte: the origin stories. Throughout the Wayne investigation, we run into young versions of the Riddler, Penguin, Catwoman, and Poison Ivy. The brief glimpses into their lives and their descent into crime is where the show really shines. It’s a humanizing look at characters we love to hate but have rarely sympathized with.

From a visual standpoint, the show looks cold, damp, and sketchy as hell, just like Gotham City should. The sprawling metropolis mixes stone gargoyles, modern high-rises, and older architecture like the GCPD precinct. Almost every shot looks appropriately chilled and uncomfortable. The only time this poses an issue is in daylight scenes where both blues and yellows light up the actors’ faces, giving the picture a confusing, unnatural look.

As it stands now, Gotham’s strong suit is threatened by its biggest weakness. The show needs more sophisticated scripts to keep up with the story. Especially when major plot points will hinge on characters keeping secrets from each other, they’ll need to learn the art of subtlety or else the entire show’s believability will come crashing down. I’m cutting it some slack now because the pilot had a lot at stake, and it needed simplicity in order to cram so much information in one hour. Looking forward, I’m hopeful the show will slow down and paint a more complex, moody portrait of the city and its populace.

Leah Singerman

In the spirit of everybody's new favorite detective, James Gordon, I've gotta be honest with you: I have never been a Batman fan. Not because I had anything against the guy, he just wasn't really on my radar aside from the cool song and the Batmobile. Basically the way I prepared for Gotham was just by watching a ton of previews and reading a bit about it. So I'm not going to be the one who's finding easter eggs and geeking out over the beginnings of all the villains I know and love. I am the one with a psychology degree, and I plan to analyze the shit out of some of these characters. So let's get excited.

First impressions? Super. Exciting. Surprising. Actually a little bit funny. The creators did such a great job of giving die-hard fans a bunch to sink their teeth into while being totally willing to start at square one for the rest of us. And I loved it. Gotham necessarily leads to Batman, but from the first episode, you might not even know it. This could be a regular show about any city.

My favorite conflict is about an institution we're all supposed to trust—our police departments—and what happens when they go awry. Given some recent events in our country, some of us may have asked ourselves this question before. And bringing it down to a personal level, this show is about what people do when they're desperate. Some resort to the "dark side." Some hide. Penguin opens himself to being somebody's slave, and then kills a guy for a sandwich. Bruce Wayne gets mad but works to conquer fear. And Detective Gordon gets even more honest and more determined to do right.

I love the conflicts that have been established. I'm so interested to watch Gordon and Bullock's partnership develop. Will they be friends a la NYPD Blue? Or is Bullock a future villain and I don't even know it? Say what you will about us Batman newbies, but at least we don't have all of the endings already spelled out for us. I really, really don't like Fish Mooney. Penguin is going to give us some incredible story, and I'm reserving judgment on Catwoman. And of course I'm excited for more of Bruce Wayne.

The only thing I don't like about this pilot is that by the end I have so much hope in Gordon, but I know that Gotham has to become fucked up. I can't have another character start good and go bad on me (#WalterWhite), I just can't. So what's going to happen? I guess that's what the writers want me to be asking. Damn them.

My favorite part (and I'm sure I'm not alone) was what Gordon chose to do with Penguin. I didn't know how he was going to get out of that one, but I knew he would find a way because I'm already weirdly attached to him. (Okay, I kind of want to be Barbara. But don't tell.)

Honorable mentions: meeting Pennyworth for the first time and the part where they hang Gordon like meat and then have a cute little argument with each other ("What, are you a director now?"). Fun fact: the Italian phrase Falcone says to Gordon is "in boca al lupo." It literally means "in the wolf's mouth" but it's a saying used to mean "good luck."

Long story short? This pilot gave me thrills, chills, questions, answers, shout outs to Batman lore, mad respect for Detective Gordon, and a hell of a lot of fucked up characters that I can't wait to see in action. I will more than definitely be back for more next week.

What did you think of the premiere? Did it live up to your expectations? Comment below or Tweet at us @DweebCast!

The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of Ora Media, LLC, its affiliates, or its employees.

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