Billed as the story of Jim Gordon before Batman, the Gotham TV show has seemingly struggled to gain the buzz of the other DC TV outings such as The Flash, Arrow and Supergirl. As a massive fan of the show I’m going to give you 5 reasons why I consider Gotham to be better than every other DC show around. By the end of this hopefully you’ll all want to p-p-p-p-pick up a Penguin too…
1 – The Casting
I watch a lot of TV shows, I mean A LOT, and I can’t think of one with better casting than Gotham. Cockney kickass Sean Pertwee as Alfred? Perfect. Adorable yet amazingly self-assured David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne/Baby Batman, spot on. The villains too, a major part of the Batman universe and relatively easy to mess up (yes, I’m looking at you Batman Forever) have been note perfect to date.
Of course I can’t conclude this section without mentioning another key section of characters so often effed up in superhero shows but knocking it out of the park in Gotham – the strong female characters. Yes, finally we have some! From Bruce’s catty sweetheart Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) through the S & M stylings of Tabitha Galavan (Jessica Lucas) to Jim Gordon’s psychotic ex Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) and not forgetting the unkillable (nearly) Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), the girls of Gotham are NOT to be messed with. Well, not unless you like having your body parts removed one by one that is. Bravo ladies.
2 – The Tone
The tone of shows and films set in Gotham over the years has varied somewhat drastically (understatement of the decade). You have the wonderfully camp sixties Batman, the gothic gloom of Burton’s films and the more realistic (Chicago-looking) tone of Nolan’s film versions and the….well… Lego tone of Lego Batman. Our Gotham has sensibly toned down the gothic a little (Arkham Asylum notwithstanding) but kept some of the glorious lunacy of the sixties. It’s difficult not to when you have villains with names like The Riddler, Dr Strange (no, not THAT one) and The Scarecrow running around murdering people.
On the whole though I’d say that the show gets the balance between the darkness and light just about right. There’s a lot of humour which keeps the show from going all Snyder on us. Phew.
3 – The Deaths
There are A LOT of deaths in Gotham. The mortality rate must be through the roof. We’ve had shootings, stabbings, disembowellings, defenestration (look it up), poisoning and, my personal favourite courtesy of Penguin, death by rocket launcher. Of course this is Gotham though, so death isn’t always permanent. It seems to be mainly the villains who get reanimated, much to everyone’s relief in Season 2 when ‘the guy everyone assumed was going to turn into The Joker’, Jerome (Cameron Monaghan) was unduly offed by one of my favourite characters – Theo Galavan. “No!” We all shouted (or I did anyway) until we realised that Hugo Strange was keeping the best villains on ice for later use. Hoorah!
Anyways, it goes without saying that Gotham is not always for the faint-hearted. There’s blood, creeps and good old fashioned murder in pretty much every episode. I love it.
4 – The Penguin
I had to pick my favourite villain for this bit and, although given a close run by Edward Nygma aka The Riddler (the absolutely spectacular Cory Michael Smith), there was only ever one baddie that was going to get a whole section to himself. It had to be the one and only Oswald Cobblepot otherwise known as The Penguin and played to perfection by Robin Lord Taylor. If this show wasn’t called Gotham and it wasn’t about baby Batman and Jim Gordon, it could easily have been called ‘The Rise and Fall, and Rise Again and Another Fall of Oswald Cobblepot”. OK, so it’s not as snappy a title but it’s pretty accurate.
Penguin has been in the show since the beginning and, despite the numerous murders and atrocious acts Batman’s future nemesis has committed he’s still managed to remain a sympathetic character. It’s a testament to Robin Lord Taylor’s performance that this version of Penguin has become my favourite. It’s no mean feat to out-penguin Danny Devito. An honourable mention should also go to Gotham’s hairstylist. Is it just me or does Penguin’s hair reinvent itself every time he does? Loving the season 4 spikes by the way.
5 – The Batman
OK, so I can’t rave on about a show about the evolution of Batman without talking about the (not quite) caped crusader. It’s taken a while (3 whole seasons) and a lot of ‘on the job’ learning (including clones, beatings, broken hearts and batcave discoveries) but our little Bruce Wayne is finally ready to take his first steps into crime fighting at the start of Season 4.
OK, so his mask is a little off (by which I mean crap) and his cape wafting technique needs a little work but he has the ninja skills, the refusal to kill people (Snyder take notes here) and the glowery pouting of The Batman down pat. He’s also gathered that an important part of fighting crime is standing on the edge of tall buildings looking pensive. So what’s missing? Well it’s the Bruce Wayne persona that needs a little work. He’s too bloody nice to people. Bless him. I suspect that will come in time and I, for one, look forward to seeing this in Season 5 (hint hint FOX).
So there you have it, five reasons you should be watching this underrated show. So what are you still doing here? UK people, Season 3 is finally available on Netflix so get watching.*
* I wanted to include a ‘same bat-time’ reference here, but I ran out of brain.
art by @vanguardcomic