GOTHAM: EPISODE 1 - THE PHANTOM MENACE
This show is off to a dazzling start like a shiny new pair of shoes.

Last night’s episode for better or for worse was the most buzzed about/worthy show that I can remember since maybe Game of Thrones. On Twitter, minions (me included) were losing their minds as they unravel in all of pop geekdom that the DC Universe ushers its most successful, most commercial comic hero on the small screen with miniature, but gargantuan promising results. Having been spoiled with the cinematic treatment of one of the most iconic, brooding, entitled and well-funded superheroes in all of comic book history I was very tentative of this show. :CHARLIE MURPHY ALERT - WRONG, WRONG: The show really started off on solid footing with a swath of who’s who rouges gallery led by the ferocious and lovely delivery of Jada Pinkett Smith as minor crime boss Fish Mooney. Pinkett-Smith is met with as much over-delivered gusto from comedian/actor Donal Logue as the “cynical and slovenly” Harvey Bullock. The show focuses on Obi-Wan James Gordon-Kanobi and how he meets and chivalrously introduces himself to Anakin Wayne by promising to find the shadowy killer of Wayne’s parents. The strength of this show upon first watch is the familiarity and brand with the characters and history: the City looks how it’s supposed to, the Cops make lackadaisical corrupt arrests and plant evidence like they are supposed to, and the world is laced verbally with lines in comic corny brilliance that works because after all – we are dealing with characters called ‘The Penguin’ and ‘Fish’.

The promise of the show is that we are getting major face time of the supporting albeit strong and intrusive, meddlesome characters. This is a good thing. Personally, I have seen iterations of these characters in one way or another: some were taken as seriously as Heath Ledger’s, Joker, and some not so much as they were played with an overt villainous damnation like say, Jim Carey’s, Riddler. Gotham wasted no time pulling characters out like Pokémon cards in the first episode: Poison Ivy, Riddler, possibly Joker, Penguin & the missing Khardashian Sister playing Catwoman! The immediate stand-out is played by a Cripsin Glover stunt doubled Penguin, who, in my not so humble opinion, is the strongest character thus far. Yes, Pinkett-Smith got the good lines and played a tough as nails mob boss, but we’ve seen this from her, Bullock is irredeemably heroic dowsed in his own self-loathing Vodka drenched cologne and along with Jim Gordon playing the good boy scout with nice fitted dress shirts, but these are all the characters that exist according to how we expect them to. Penguin is the only character that pushes that given assumption – and pushes with it on an accord that makes him still nefarious and deplorable, but yet sympathetic and tragic. We are dealing with a character that is pushing the boundary on what we’ve become accustomed to with the character coming in, and what was stripped down, and built back up to a whole new shade and reservoir of fortuitous dimension of a character that could make this show rewarding to watch. And isn’t that the point? 

The main affliction that I was harboring coming into this show was that DC/Fox were just going to replow already solid ground around Batman’s ethos and universe. We have seen the movies, and most have been acquainted with the incomparable WB’s ‘Batman: The Animated Series’ which is still the highmark outside of Christopher Nolan’s cinematic triumph. I’m not interested in belligerent rehashes or reboots, and this show doesn’t cater or operate in either caped crusading box.

What yesterday’s winning rocket launcher debut episode demonstrated is that it’s taking what’s familiar, but focusing on the ground zero of the world that Bruce Wayne is reared in, meanwhile, showcasing the other characters in a way that fleshes out arcs, motives and personalities without the established gimmicks. Show me something new, and this show seems intended to hold me to that promise. If this show continues to trust itself and rely on the characterizations that the show was beautifully gifted, then the show should flourish. Never has Batman not been in the center of the radius of his own angst grappled world, and here, there is an honest attempt to sprinkle him in, but not shoehorning his coming of age. I like how he is more the object in this show than the subject. Leave the heroics to Jim Gordon. Gordon is a little on the short statured side for me, however, his strident singular determination and valiant focused brand of policing is what makes this Detective able to support Gotham on his shoulders like Atlas, being more than adequate for us to follow as young Bruce is still trying to find out where that “edge” lies by jumping off rooftops.

Regardless of how the rest of the show plays out and where it ends up in the Bat pantheon order – the first show was electric, earnest, tad trite, but as legit as a one-hour TV superhero/fantasy show can be without fucking it all up like Agents of Shield.  
 


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