The Dark Knight Incubates
Gotham’s golden rule – no
heroes,” says Harvey Bullock in an early episode of Gotham. It could well be a mission statement for the show itself. Villains, as actors, writers and critics love to point out, are far more interesting than heroes. Rarely has there been a more extreme example than Gotham. Fox’s show about Bruce Wayne’s “in- between years” – after the killing of his parents but before he becomes Batman – concentrates on a young Jim Gordon as he tries to fight crime in Gotham on two fronts: the villains and gangsters on the street, and the corruption within the police department. ( You could make that three fronts, as he has to struggle with actor Ben McKenzie’s limited range of expressions too.)
To be fair, Gordon improved massively throughout the season; a lively new girlfriend, Dr Leslie Thompkins ( Morena Baccarin), helps humanise him after the deathly dull Barbara, while some dodgy moral decisions place some interesting dents in his goody- two- shoes persona. Bruce, though, often comes across more like a fledgling Sherlock Holmes, destined to become a socially awkward savant detective rather than a playboy vigilante. Try as hard as the show does to make his plotlines interesting ( usually by having Alfred swear amusingly), they’re often a distraction from the main event: the villains.
Gotham is, to a large degree, a checklist show. A lot of the fun is seeing how it reinterprets Batman’s extraordinary rogues’ gallery, and it comes up trumps time and time again.
Robin Lord Taylor’s Penguin is Gotham’s shining achievement. A slimy, manipulative, fork- tongued schemer with a Western Gothic wardrobe and slightly too much love for his mum, this Penguin is mesmerically grotesque. Often his scenes are the highlight of any given episode.
Then there’s the not- quite- yet Riddler, Ed Nymga, here a nerdy, socially inept, toothilygrinning forensic scientist. For a long while we
Redefinition: According to gangster boss Maroni, hubris means: “When limping little chicken- butt, second bananas think they’re hot stuff.”
Cox Up: In episode seven Mikia Cox is credited as playing Dr Leslie Thompkins but never named on screen. Later in the season, Firefly’s Morena Baccarin takes on the role as a recurring character.
No- go: Although a logo for Oliver Queen’s company Queen Consolidated can be seen in a skyline shot in episode two, there are no plans for a Crisis On Infinite Networks crossover between Fox’s Gotham and The CW’s Arrow.
Architects Journey: Inspiration for the Gotham Police Precinct set came from London’s St Pancras station, cathedrals, old prisons and the film Seven.
Best Line: Selina: “In Gotham people don’t fight with gloves on.”