The new trailer for the pre-Batman series provides plenty of reasons to be excited
Fox has released the trailer for their upcoming Bat-centric TV show Gotham and it looks… pretty damn good. Gotham has a lot of heavy lifting to do if it is to successfully work its way into our hearts and minds, but with its suitably dark tone and talented character actors playing fan favourites, the show’s creator Bruno Heller just might pull it off. At the very least, it won’t be Smallville.
There is a lot to get excited about but this is not to say viewers don’t have a few reservations as well. Below are some of my initial reactions to what looks like it will be a very divisive show for Bat-fans.
Firstly, thank God they seem to have got the tone right. Batman is all about the film noir aesthetics and Gotham has struck a gorgeous balance between the neo-noir of Christopher Nolan’s trilogy and the stylised art deco of Batman: The Animated Series (the greatest TV version of the Caped Crusader to date). Rather than making a show focused primarily on a young Bruce Wayne (as they have tried to do in the past), the producers have wisely cast the net wider to showcase the entire city and its denizens. Using the police procedural genre to tie it all together is the obvious choice and also the right one. Read the incredible graphic novel Gotham Central to see how to do it right.
The cast also looks great but Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock is the secret weapon here. A veteran of television, Logue has headlined his own shows (including the incredible one season wonder Terriers) and guest starred in everything from The X-Files to Sons of Anarchy. As perennial favourite Bat-character Harvey Bullock, he will be the perfect counterpoint to the taciturn Gordon played by Ben Mackenzie.
And it’s not just the good guys who have clearly been created carefully. The show seems to be aiming for origin stories for all of the characters, and it appears that they are going for a more realistic portrayal of the rogues’ gallery than how the villains have been depicted in some of the films. This is particularly true with The Penguin, who doesn’t need to be a weird deformed bird-man to make his character work. The pale, weedy countenance of Robin Taylor as the eponymous criminal is just about right.
Beginning the series with Bruce Wayne so young could work against the series in the long run – it might take 10 seasons just to get him into the Bat-suit. The producers must be pretty confident that the show will be popular enough to eventually provide audiences with what they want to see: Batman swinging into action. There’s also the issue that the central mystery of the show appears to be the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It would seem that it’s this event that will drive all the stories forward and tie everything together, keeping Gordon and Wayne within each other’s orbit. But aren’t we getting sick of every show these days having a central mystery and conspiracy? Hopefully Gotham can sustain the momentum to keep things interesting.
While some villains look spot on, others are a cause for concern. Jada Pinkett-Smith appears in Gotham as an old school gangster who will probably struggle to keep her empire when the city is overrun with new villains. She plays a non-canonical character called Fish Mooney. Fish Mooney? Really? If you’re going to create a brand new character for the show couldn’t you at least give them a better name than Fish Mooney? Also, there is the serious issue of how the show will approach the character of The Joker. A misstep here could certainly turn any fan goodwill against the series.
The final and most important problem is the obvious fact that there’s no Batman! Enough said really. Batman is an extremely popular and iconic character who has found success on the small screen before in the 60s as a camp pop culture figure, and in the aforementioned animated series. The last time a Gotham-set TV show was produced without a Batman we got the execrable Birds of Prey and the less said about that the better.
We’ll just have to hope that Gotham can succeed on its own terms.
All images: Fox