Monday, September 22, 2014

Gotham Season 1 Episode 1 Pilot - Recap and Review

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as Detective James Gordon and Harvey Bullock with the rest of the cast in Fox Gotham TV Show Pilot Episode

The episode starts with a young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova), pick pocketing couple of Gotham citizens. One of her victims gives chase. Selina makes her escape and soon becomes a witness to the mugging of a family.

The family in question are the Waynes after an evening at the movies. Thomas (Grayson McCouch) and Martha Wayne (Brette Taylor) are murdered, leaving behind a heartbroken Bruce (David Mazouz).

Detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) form a team at the Gotham Police Department. Both are the polar opposites of each other.

James is a rookie, idealistic and enthusiastic. James is engaged to the beautiful Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). 

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as Detective James Gordon and Harvey Bullock arrive at the crime scene of Thomas and Martha Wayne's murder in Fox Gotham Pilot episode

Harvey is a world weary cynic and is termed lackadaisical by his partner. He seems to have been intimate with the local gang boss Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith).

They are assigned to the Wayne homicide. Arriving at the scene, Jim comforts a grieving Bruce and promises to catch his parents' killer. Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee) arrives and takes Bruce home.

Harvey wants to wash his hands off the case, due to the high profile of the victims involved. Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena) and Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart) are also a couple of detectives from another detective unit and are itching to take over the case.

Working on a tip from Fish Mooney, Harvey and Jim track down a suspect, Mario Pepper (Daniel Stewart Sherman). Mario tries to flee and is shot dead by Harvey, as he is about to kill Jim.

Jada Pinkett Smith as gang boss Fish Mooney with Robin Lord Taylor as her right hand man Oswald Cobblepot in Fox Gotham Pilot episode

Mooney's right hand man, Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor)  is ambitious. He pays a visit to Renee and Crispus and informs them that Mario was made a scapegoat by Mooney and the mob kingpin, Carmine Falcone (John Doman).

Renee informs Barbara about this and conveys her suspicion that her fiancee was a willing part of this conspiracy. An enraged Jim accosts Mooney and is overpowered by her henchmen. Harvey tries to rescue Jim and instead becomes a hostage himself.

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Just as they are about to be killed, big boss Falcone intervenes and saves their lives. Falcone and Jim's father, once the district attorney of Gotham, were friends and this is the motivation behind Falcone's rescue.

Mooney realizes that Oswald is the police informant and gives him a good beating. Oswald is set to be executed by Jim as a test of the latter's loyalty to the existing power hierarchy in the city. 

Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon with Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot The Penquin in Fox Gotham TV Show Pilot Episode

 The conscientious Jim pretends to do away with Oswald and warns him to never set foot in Gotham again. Oswald swims to safety and immediately starts his life of crime across the shore.

Jim also visits Bruce at the Wayne Manor and informs him about the truth about Mario Pepper. He promises to keep looking for the real killer.

The pilot episode started off slow, but picked up steam at around the midpoint. I was skeptical about the show and thought it to be just a cash grab attempt.

The episode turned out to be better than expected. The show has scripted as a city crime drama. As an analogy, it has more in common with The Dark Knight, than with Batman Begins or The Dark Knight Rises.

David Mazouz as a young Bruce Wayne with Grayson McCouch and Brette Taylor as his parents Dr Thomas Wayne and Martha Wayne in Fox Gotham TV Show Pilot Episode

The acting is solid, if not exceptional. Jada Pinkett Smith and Robin Lord Taylor make the best impression. Jada in particular is excellent as the ruthless gangster. She exudes beauty and brutality effortlessly. She is effective in the scene with Robin's Oswald, when she assaults him as a punishment for his disloyalty.

Robin is also good as Oswald Cobblepot a.k.a. The Penquin, as he is called by others (much to his distaste). His beating at the hands of Mooney leaves him with a badly injured leg and is a nice nod to the supervillain he will eventually become. 

Speaking of supervillain, there are a bunch of them in this show. In addition to the aforemtioned Selina Kyle, we also have Edward Nygma a.k.a The Riddler (played by Cory Michael Smith) and a very young Ivy Pepper a.k.a Poison Ivy (played by Clare Foley). These two are nothing more than cameos and I am sure we will seeing more of them in the upcoming seasons. Right now, the spotlight is on Oswald Cobblepot/The Penquin and Selina Kyle.

Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle the future Catwoman in Fox Gotham Pilot episode

Selina seems to be the audience surrogate as far as Bruce's personal journey is considered. Just as she was a silent witness to the murder of his parents, she spies on their funeral ceremony and is seen outside the Wayne Manor in the closing scene. It appears that Selina is stalking Bruce with some definite goal(s) in mind.

Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue are adequate as James Gordon and Harvey Bullock respectively. Both are one note performances as the idealistic and the veteran cops. The actors could use some humor. In fact, the show itself will do better with more levity.

David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee as Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth do not get much screentime in the pilot episode. It does look like Sean's version of Alfred is a bitter old man. We will get to know more of Alfred's backstory in the upcoming episodes.

On the plus side, the show did not waste time in getting to the meat. In fact, the Wayne murders happened at the third minute after the episode began. Here's hoping that show maintains the same tempo in terms of screenplay and does not follow in the foot steps of the FX Vampire Horror show “The Strain.

A good start and hopefully the show will get better as the season progresses.

Recommended watch for fans of the Dark Knight/DC Comics.

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Image Source: Warner Bros. Television, Fox Network

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