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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

bonus fea­tures

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.”

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