Thursday, October 9, 2014

Gotham Pilot Episode Review

by Snow Drift
Gotham is a new DC Comics television series created by Bruno Heller and starring Ben McKenzie (Detective James Gordon), Donal Logue (Detective Harvey Bullock), David Mazouz (Bruce Wayne), and Jada Pinkett Smith (Fish Mooney), among many others. The series, which aired its pilot episode September 22nd, will broadcast through Fox.

Gotham’s scenery was a mix between modern and gothic architecture with some early 20th Century aspects, which gives the viewers a relative feel of a city that is both of our time and unique in its existence. There is a sense of grim darkness to it without it being too overwhelming. Portraying Gotham and its population as mostly corrupt helps to quickly establish the kind of world James Gordon will have to deal with on a daily basis: one that has the power to break him if he even flinches. By additionally showing characters that believe in justice, such as Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena), and villains that are more than just cardboard cutouts, like Carmine Falcone (John Doman), the episode demonstrates that the series will neither be monotonous in its characterization nor dull in its plot. However, even though the general atmosphere of the episode is dark and gritty, there is a sort of over-the-topness, like when the butcher came to kill Gordon and Bullock, which may seem jarring to some viewers but enjoyable to others, depending on each person’s tastes.

In terms of characterization, the episode presented each character with a sense of distinguished identity and the possibility to broaden their stories. Gotham does not go with a superhero twist from the start, but it portrays characters as having a certain quality to them that might develop into a more identifying one in the future. Since this series is based on the early years of the Gotham-centric characters, it is understandable that none of them will necessarily jump right into tights costumes out of nowhere; although it feels strange when certain characters act differently from their usual selves. A few perfect example are Alfred Pennyworth’s (Sean Pertwee) more disciplined, annoyed and serious manner, and Oswald Cobblepot’s (Robin Lord Taylor) more outwardly cowardice portrayal. These characters still need to be developed into the ones that comic book readers know and love. In terms of acting, I’m still not entirely sold on McKenzie and Logue’s performance, yet but I did love Pinkett Smith and Mazouz. The rest, although well done, still need development.

Unfortunately, there are some aspects I did not particularly like. The dialogue at times felt a bit too poetic when the moment didn’t necessarily call for it. For an episode that established itself as down-to-Earth, to an extent, those instances came on felt out of place. This also goes for the cinematography, which was relatively well done except in a scene that zoomed in on Gordon’s face, which broke the flow of the scene. Meanwhile, although I do love to see comic book characters making an appearance in television series, there must be a reasonable introduction to them. This was something Gotham lacked. It was nice to see Edward Nygma (Corey Michael Smith), Ivy Pepper (Clare Foley), and Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), and but it was a bit too much for a first episode. Their individual introductions should have been more dispersed and less cluttered. It would have helped the shows progression flow instead of shove characters in the viewers’ face. 

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