“Holy foreshadowing, Batman!”
While the series premiere of Gotham didn’t have the same zany puns and colourful visual effects as the 1960s Batman TV show, it gave its viewers much more.
The TV series Gotham surrounds the early days of life in Gotham City, specifically following a young James Gordon (played by Ben McKenzie), a new detective with the police department, and his fight against crime and corruption.
The episode starts out in typical Batman fashion: it’s dark in the city of Gotham, hoodlums are running through the streets, and the audience is shown several shots of a young woman pick-pocketing strangers. After using her agile techniques to escape, the finishing touch on this opening scene is the young woman pouring milk from a stolen jug into a bowl for a nearby alley cat, giving viewers the indication that this character will more than likely develop into Catwoman, one of the most well known Batman villains.
It is shortly after this that we meet the Wayne family, comprised of Thomas and Martha, and their son Bruce. The three are leaving a movie theatre via a nearby alleyway when they are held up at gunpoint by a masked thug. Thomas and Martha are subsequently murdered, leaving Bruce an orphan, and putting the case right into the lap of new detective Jim Gordon and his partner, Harvey Bullock.
Director Danny Cannon, also known for his work on CSI, does a spectacular job setting up the visuals for this series premiere. Not once throughout the episode are there bright, sunny days, but instead overcast skies and darkness consistently plague the streets of Gotham. Even in the police station the lighting is incredibly dim, showcasing the dark atmosphere of the current Gotham justice system, which is riddled with corruption throughout the episode.
Cannon also tunes into the defining traits of character introduced in the episode: a young girl featured in the episode foreshadows the future identity of villain Poison Ivy, as she has long red hair and is surrounded by plants in every scene. Cannon successfully does the same with other characters such as Oswald Cobblepot, foreshadowing the future villain known as The Penguin. He does this by giving Cobblepot’s character features that are reminiscent of his traditional comic book appearance: stained teeth, greasy hair, and a meek demeanor with simultaneous violent tendencies.
While the classic villains were successfully displayed in the premiere, it’s not to say it lacked solid introductory characters as well. Fish Mooney, an entirely new addition to the Batman universe (created just for the show, actually) shows strong potential to become just as lethal as the rest of her villainous acquaintances. A businesswoman with a no nonsense attitude, Mooney’s character possesses a strong ability to read the intentions and character of others, making her a strong ally, but an even stronger enemy.
Critically acclaimed as a series that will be taking television by storm this fall, Gotham has lived up to the hype – so far. The premiere kept the key elements of what makes Batman so distinct, such as the consistent darkness surrounding each character in their own ways. It also allows James Gordon, the rookie cop that wants to clean up both the streets and the police department, to shine through as a knight in shining armor for the city of Gotham. But Gotham also took the opportunity to make a few alterations to the Batman universe, making the series currently stand as a wildcard TV show, full of opportunity and potential in the upcoming season.