Historic and Pared Down
September 25, 2014 by Nicholas
Gotham is Fox’s new series set after the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents in the Batman milieu. It’s developed by Bruno Heller of The Mentalist and the first episode was directed by Danny Canon. It’s somehow much less than the sum of its parts and leaves you feeling unfulfilled.
The first scene introduces a neophyte Catwoman and unfortunately encapsulates the shortcomings of the show: her movements are exaggerated and clearly not something the actress is comfortable doing, the action is confusingly staged and shows the limitations of the director and the budget and it comes across as far less impressive then you feel they were aiming for.
There is a power demonstration scene featuring James Gordon and a madman in the police precinct. The precinct looks beautiful and brings to mind Blade Runner. The actual events are so stupid they make your head hurt. It sets out to show the police force as sloppy and unafraid of oversight and shows Gordon as decent and his partner as complacent and definitely not by the book. As someone with a passing familiarity with the comics I do wonder why they used one character as his partner’s basis rather than another (one used by Nolan in his far superior take) that would fit better.
Bruce Wayne’s parents’ murders somehow feels wrong. It doesn’t feel mythic, I’m not at all convinced by the take on Wayne himself, the staging is wrong and the direction doesn’t focus on a detail that soon becomes very important. It also changes details that add layers of complications where none are needed.
Which is one of the central problems with the show: so much is being shoe horned in and interconnected when it really doesn’t need to be. Not everything has to link to characters that we already know and try to give us nascent versions of them. Too much happens and too quickly, and there isn’t a steady enough hand at the tiller to make us accept it. Things need to be stripped down and decompressed, characters don’t have to be shoe horned in and the actors don’t need to try forcing it.
The guy who plays Jim Gordon looks a lot like Russell Crowe. It’s distracting and makes it completely clear what the casting department was going for. He’s overly noble and some of his later actions defy belief. His fiancée is very telegenic but ultimately just there to serve the plot (and subject to one of the contrivances I think hamstrings the show). Various other characters aren’t particularly interesting or well done, with the exception of the mob boss, Falcon and Wayne’s butler (who is the only actor I can name, although there are a couple I recognise).
I may try watching a future episode out of boredom, but I have no interest in seeing the next one. It’s too frustrating a show and too many things about it don’t sit right with me.