If you like your Gotham City brutal, dirty and gritty, Fox’s new take on the land of the caped crusader will be your cup of Alfred’s tea. Set in the time where Bruce Wayne’s parents are murdered, the show is dark and certainly not geared towards children. People are attacked with baseball bats, shot, chased and proven to be hardened criminals. This is a Gotham we’ve been hinted at, but not one we’ve seen before.
The Waynes accompany their son Bruce (David Mazouz) from the theater after a family outing. Happy and smiling, they are not prepared when they are fired upon by a masked assassin. Selina Kyle watches on in horror from her perch on the fire escape of a local building. Though Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) quickly talks to Bruce, his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) wants nothing to do with the high profile case. The two end up stuck with it, though another corrupt vision is itching for the chance to take over. Jim Gordon promises Bruce that they will find the killer of the Waynes, but he does not have much to go on. The group visit a “friend” of Bullocks; the stunning and wicked Fish Mooney. Fish is not giving anything up. Outside her club, she quickly disciplines someone who has betrayed her. This Gotham has a strip club. This Gotham shows people being beaten with baseball bats. This Gotham almost kills Jim Gordon in the first episode, but then backs off just a bit to hammer a point home; this is not your childhood Gotham.
The first episode flirts with introductions, blatantly showing some famous characters and hinting at others. Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), better known as Catwoman, is still a young girl. Like a cat, she steals milk and then finds herself sitting on ledges and stalking corners to discover young Bruce Wayne. Jada Pinkett Smith is just brilliant. Channeling the sensuality of Ertha Kitt and a special blend all of her own she is believable as the new character Fish Mooney (though the name and character often feels a ridiculous caricature). Fish is a black woman with immense power; I have a feeling Fox will do away with her in time and that breaks my heart. Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Taylor) is just plain creepy. The narcissistic genius is there already in his eyes. His interactions with others are perfect; slowly building up his plans on the backs of others. Ivy is but a quick vision, so make sure to watch out for a child surrounded by plants. Edward Nygma, The Riddler, also makes a quick appearance, so pay attention on the Gotham precinct for names. Ben McKenzie gives Jim Gordon a good looking face, but after years of haggard older portrayals, this visage may take some getting used to. The same follows through with Sean Pertwee in his portrayal of Alfred. Alfred is not the stuffy butler anymore, but a man intent on protecting his charge.
Gotham is certainly a risk for a world that has come to see the Batman universe as something merely comic book-colored. The TV series is dark. It twists and turns like an old school film noir should. In the end, it is captivating enough to draw and audience in and hopefully not violent enough to scare them off entirely.
Gotham airs Mondays on the Fox Network.