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Comic Con: Review of the Gotham pilot

Aug. 1, 2014by: Alex Maidy

FOX had an uphill battle the moment they announced that they would be making a Batman TV series. Sure, GOTHAM is billed as a look at the city and the origins of the characters who would become The Dark Knight and his rogue's gallery of villains, but even with the focus squarely on a young James Gordon, GOTHAM is and will forever be "a Batman TV show". That is unless it sets itself apart by delivering a powerful and must see pilot.

The first episode of GOTHAM was screened at San Diego Comic Con and we were lucky enough to catch a glimpse of the show to give you our two cents. Does GOTHAM deliver on the promise of a unique and gritty look at the beginnings for Gordon, Bruce Wayne, Selina Kyle, Oswald Cobblepot, Edward Nygma, and countless other familiar DC Comic characters? The short answer is no.

GOTHAM opens up where a lot of Batman stories begin: the murder of Thomas and Martha Wayne. The shooting of Bruce's parents occurs in an alley following the family attending a show, much like it always does. Nothing is truly visually unique about the scene. Hell, it even features the cliche shot of Martha's pearls cascading to the asphalt. The one twist here is the entire event is witnessed by a young Selina Kyle, therefore forging an early connecting between Bruce and the future Catwoman.

All of this would be fine if it didn't feel so damn forced. Selina begins the pilot as a pickpocket and even steals a container of milk. When we meet Edward Nygma a few minutes later, there are at least three references to riddles made. When Oswald Cobblepot is showing taking glee in beating down an associate, his thug buddies blatantly refer to him as "Penguin" in a mocking manner. Even the future Poison Ivy is shown as a child, named Ivy, playing with an ivy plant. I get that this show is trying to bring together all of these elements but none of it feels organic or natural. It almost feels as if the writers wanted to see if they could rearrange these characters like puzzle pieces for a unique take but were paranoid we may miss the joke and had to force in a name check for Riddler, Catwoman, and Penguin. The only character who feels even a bit organic is Fish Mooney, an original creation for the series. Maybe it is because we have no reference point for her (aside from a reference to her working with Carmine Falcone), but not forcing a connection between an existing character and one on the screen allows us to fall into the story a bit more.

As for our heroes, Ben McKenzie plays Jim Gordon as a cop and former war hero (and son of a famous Gotham district attorney) who fights for what is good. His introduction comes in the form of a hostage stand-off involving a conveniently placed bottle of aspirin and a calm voice. This quickly follows a beat-down for the criminal and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) giving an early lesson in Gotham's brutality. Logue is always enjoyable on screen, but his character, like the entire pilot, feels very by the numbers and cliche. He has a drinking problem and connections to Fish Mooney and doesn't like the chivalrous Gordon.

Young Bruce (David Mazouz) is played as more of a placeholder character here and not one of any true development. Going back to the original idea that this is not a Batman show, the producers have given the future Dark Knight short shrift and play him as a meek and weak boy in the wake of the death of his parents. Even Sean Pertwee as Alfred feels like a cardboard cutout of what a great character he could and should be. The relationship between Gordon and Bruce Wayne is key to the series, that much is evident in this first chapter. Gordon feels the burden to bring justice for the murder of Bruce's parents and when the heroic solving of the case turns out to be bogus, Gordon begins his quest to set things right in Gotham City.

GOTHAM feels forced in every conceivable way. Some sub-plots and elements come across as completely out of nowhere like the lesbian relationship between Barbara Gordon and Renee Montoya. While Montoya was portrayed as a lesbian in the pages of DC Comics, the relationship between her and Barbara feels like a cheap bookmark for a future episode. I will admit that I think the casting of all the characters here fits in posters and the trailer for the series, once you watch the entire episode, something just doesn't gel. Maybe it is the cast, maybe it is the script, or maybe it is Gotham City itself.

For a city as iconic and brooding as Gotham, you would expect the setting to be a character itself. But, for the majority of the episode, aside from a well shot rooftop sequence, GOTHAM feels like it was filmed on backlots and sets rather than in an actual metropolis. While Tim Burton's BATMAN felt like it was shot in artifical locations, the distinct set design forgave that flaw. Christopher Nolan's trilogy took advantage of filming in Chicago, Detroit, and Pittsburgh to provide a realistic urban landscape. GOTHAM just feels small and, unfortunately, cheap.

GOTHAM has set itself on a path with some interesting plot threads: was Jim Gordon's father in bed with Carmine Falcone and his mob? Will Fish Mooney take over the organized crime operation in Gotham? Will Oswald Cobblepot be revealed as the man who killed Bruce Wayne's parents? Is the stand-up comedian in Fish Mooney's club the future Joker? What will become of Bruce and Gordon's friendship? All of these questions will likely be addressed through the season but if a pilot is meant to draw you in, GOTHAM falls just short.

While it is by no means the worst pilot I have ever seen, Batman fans are going to rip GOTHAM to shreds. If you think plot holes in THE DARK KNIGHT RISES were bad, you have seen nothing yet. This feels like a show that should have aired twenty years ago but instead feels like a cheap network ploy to copy the popularity of The CW's ARROW. As a fan of the characters, I will tune in to see how GOTHAM develops, but based on this episode I cannot see the show lasting long enough to make it worthwhile.

Source: JoBlo.com

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5:15AM on 08/05/2014
The show could have been good, or maybe even it still can. What they do have to realize though, it's that most people don't get excited at constant winks and nods. They can be fine in moderation but other than that, fuck off with your easter eggs and focus on the story you're trying to tell, focus on the character development and growth. I think a goldmine for this show would be to focus on Bruce's relationship with Alfred and Gordon, with Bruce being sometimes the antagonist of the show -
The show could have been good, or maybe even it still can. What they do have to realize though, it's that most people don't get excited at constant winks and nods. They can be fine in moderation but other than that, fuck off with your easter eggs and focus on the story you're trying to tell, focus on the character development and growth. I think a goldmine for this show would be to focus on Bruce's relationship with Alfred and Gordon, with Bruce being sometimes the antagonist of the show - seeking bloody revenge, maybe through hired guns - while Gordon fights for his "soul" and tries to steer him into the proper path. It would create some drama and tension, especially since the TV show is an elseworld so technically it could go either way.

But don't have classic Batman villians! That was the biggest mistake of future Smallville seasons, they cheaply did Darkseid, Zod, Doomsday and it was laughable! Oh, and by the way, if you don't have the budget to do something, maybe just don't do it! I already saw it from the trailers, that this TV show looks especially cheap compared to for example the Flash. Gotham looks very bad in it.
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2:23AM on 08/03/2014
That earned a 6/10...?
That earned a 6/10...?
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7:58PM on 08/02/2014
Dead Show walking....
Dead Show walking....
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8:48AM on 08/02/2014

This just looks horrible.

6/10 is the best score the preview has gotten so far (typical is 4/10 or 2/5)

The focus should have been on Harvey Bullock, how he become corrupted and working for the villains. The show is a dumb cop surrounded by name dropping losers. Nothing happens.
6/10 is the best score the preview has gotten so far (typical is 4/10 or 2/5)

The focus should have been on Harvey Bullock, how he become corrupted and working for the villains. The show is a dumb cop surrounded by name dropping losers. Nothing happens.
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1:52AM on 08/02/2014
I'm still hopeful that both Gotham and Constantine will turn out good (hopefully). Arrow didn't pick up its paces until the 2nd half of first season. It started out slow but it steadily gained steam and has become one big surprise for me of how good it is.
I'm still hopeful that both Gotham and Constantine will turn out good (hopefully). Arrow didn't pick up its paces until the 2nd half of first season. It started out slow but it steadily gained steam and has become one big surprise for me of how good it is.
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12:50AM on 08/02/2014
I have not seen the pilot but I'm a fan of the cast and very much looking foward to it. I'll form my own opinion if it's bad or not.
I have not seen the pilot but I'm a fan of the cast and very much looking foward to it. I'll form my own opinion if it's bad or not.
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11:54PM on 08/01/2014
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
And I remember just very recently people "bashing" me and the others who felt like this was probably going to turn out bad. Don't get me wrong, I like Batman, but these prequel/origin type of BS have to stop. Maybe DC should try and put more effort in doing something fun and different for a change. Or they'll be doomed to give us yet another reboot/retooled Batman project in not even 3 years.
HAHAHAHAHAHAHA
And I remember just very recently people "bashing" me and the others who felt like this was probably going to turn out bad. Don't get me wrong, I like Batman, but these prequel/origin type of BS have to stop. Maybe DC should try and put more effort in doing something fun and different for a change. Or they'll be doomed to give us yet another reboot/retooled Batman project in not even 3 years.
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8:02PM on 08/02/2014
Given that the CW is more willing to take big risks with Arrow and the Flash, this show has taken what could have been an awesome concept (Batman: Year one), but grounded it so early in the story it's pointless. And it's on Fox, which just is another deathblow for any genre show.
Given that the CW is more willing to take big risks with Arrow and the Flash, this show has taken what could have been an awesome concept (Batman: Year one), but grounded it so early in the story it's pointless. And it's on Fox, which just is another deathblow for any genre show.
6:22PM on 08/01/2014
I honestly thought it was okay. A lot of it felt very forced, but I think it could've been worse. A lot of it reminded me of fan-fiction (fan-fiction I've written myself) in terms of the "fill in the gaps in the backstories" angle but I don't think it was terrible. I actually really liked scrappy little street kid Selina, that was my favourite part of the whole thing. And my second favourite part was how Cory Michael Smith portrayed Edward Nygma. It was like something out of a good fan-film.
I honestly thought it was okay. A lot of it felt very forced, but I think it could've been worse. A lot of it reminded me of fan-fiction (fan-fiction I've written myself) in terms of the "fill in the gaps in the backstories" angle but I don't think it was terrible. I actually really liked scrappy little street kid Selina, that was my favourite part of the whole thing. And my second favourite part was how Cory Michael Smith portrayed Edward Nygma. It was like something out of a good fan-film. That may sound like a pejorative, but it's not. It's the manic, self-satisfied Riddler I've always wanted to see in live-action.
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+3
5:51PM on 08/01/2014

Holy heck if something with this scathing of a review only gets a 6, how terrible does something have to be to get a 4 or 5?

Yeah, in terms of the show itself this is sad but not in the least bit surprising based on what we've seen leading up to this.
Yeah, in terms of the show itself this is sad but not in the least bit surprising based on what we've seen leading up to this.
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4:19PM on 08/01/2014

sad but unsurprising

As I said before, after the mess that was CONSTANTINE, I'm under the impression the the TV side of DC/WARNER is going the same WRONG way than the MOVIES side...
How unfortunate...
As I said before, after the mess that was CONSTANTINE, I'm under the impression the the TV side of DC/WARNER is going the same WRONG way than the MOVIES side...
How unfortunate...
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4:32PM on 08/01/2014
guess you havent seen Arrow or the pilot for Flash. how unfortunate for you
guess you havent seen Arrow or the pilot for Flash. how unfortunate for you
9:10PM on 08/01/2014
My bad, you're right.
I should have been more specific.
ARROW is a very good show (and I'm more Marvel than DC, usually), and FLASH's pilot was a lot of fun.
Until now DC had a strong track record on TV and animation, while being quite weak in cinemas. Yet CONSTANTINE and GOTHAM are two wrong in a row and it worries me.
My bad, you're right.
I should have been more specific.
ARROW is a very good show (and I'm more Marvel than DC, usually), and FLASH's pilot was a lot of fun.
Until now DC had a strong track record on TV and animation, while being quite weak in cinemas. Yet CONSTANTINE and GOTHAM are two wrong in a row and it worries me.
11:58PM on 08/01/2014
@The_ConMan, well, Arrow is very unfortunate. I know it has it's fans and I can understand why, but overall it's kind of a bad show. And don't give me that "yes the first season was so-so but season 2 was great" argument. While season 2 might be better, it's not a great show.

As for Flash, slightly better than Arrow. At least they got the name right and they are close enough with the costume. I am still surprised DC/WB had the balls to call it Flash and not something like "Bolt" or "Speed"
@The_ConMan, well, Arrow is very unfortunate. I know it has it's fans and I can understand why, but overall it's kind of a bad show. And don't give me that "yes the first season was so-so but season 2 was great" argument. While season 2 might be better, it's not a great show.

As for Flash, slightly better than Arrow. At least they got the name right and they are close enough with the costume. I am still surprised DC/WB had the balls to call it Flash and not something like "Bolt" or "Speed" or "Fast"...
3:48PM on 08/01/2014
Stopped reading after "The one twist here is the entire event is witnessed by a young Selina Kyle, therefore forging an early connecting between Bruce and the future Catwoman." Dumb.
Stopped reading after "The one twist here is the entire event is witnessed by a young Selina Kyle, therefore forging an early connecting between Bruce and the future Catwoman." Dumb.
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3:33PM on 08/01/2014
I can't say I'm too surprised, this just doesn't look like it's willing to give Gordon his own villains to fight. I also felt like it was really forced to give Gordon a relationship with Bruce, I would have preferred it had they just let it be about Gordon fighting corruption and crime (not Super Criminals) in a city where it runs rampant.
I can't say I'm too surprised, this just doesn't look like it's willing to give Gordon his own villains to fight. I also felt like it was really forced to give Gordon a relationship with Bruce, I would have preferred it had they just let it be about Gordon fighting corruption and crime (not Super Criminals) in a city where it runs rampant.
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3:11PM on 08/01/2014
Disappoint to read. I just don't understand why you would put ALL of Batman's iconic villains in the same episode. How about some foreshadowing.
Disappoint to read. I just don't understand why you would put ALL of Batman's iconic villains in the same episode. How about some foreshadowing.
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4:31PM on 08/01/2014
agreed. siiiiiigh!!
agreed. siiiiiigh!!
6:25PM on 08/01/2014
I think it's a pilot thing. A pilot needs to hype the series up, and so it was like "you can look forward to all these characters!" but I think (at least I hope) that not every episode will be crammed with pre-villains from here on out.
I think it's a pilot thing. A pilot needs to hype the series up, and so it was like "you can look forward to all these characters!" but I think (at least I hope) that not every episode will be crammed with pre-villains from here on out.
2:39PM on 08/01/2014
Crap. Was hoping to here good things.

It's looked intriguing to me with the exception of the kid characters.
Crap. Was hoping to here good things.

It's looked intriguing to me with the exception of the kid characters.
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1:55PM on 08/01/2014

Plot Holes in TDKR??

Guess you need everything spoon fed for you or you can't connect the dots.
Guess you need everything spoon fed for you or you can't connect the dots.
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1:59PM on 08/01/2014
Your kidding right? That movie was a mess.
Your kidding right? That movie was a mess.
2:56PM on 08/01/2014
negative sir
negative sir
3:15PM on 08/01/2014

Everything Wrong With The Dark Knight Rises In 3 Minutes Or Less :

[link]

Everything Wrong With The Dark Knight Rises In 3 Minutes Or Less :

[link]
4:31PM on 08/01/2014
lmao cuz those videos mean anything.
lmao cuz those videos mean anything.
5:55PM on 08/01/2014
TDKR a mess? Lol!
TDKR a mess? Lol!
10:10PM on 08/01/2014
No, he's right. What fucking plot holes? I've read almost every Batman comic for the past 25 years. That movie was fantastic. And if you seriously use those "Everything wrong with..." videos seriously than your a joke. Those videos try way too hard to hate on everything
No, he's right. What fucking plot holes? I've read almost every Batman comic for the past 25 years. That movie was fantastic. And if you seriously use those "Everything wrong with..." videos seriously than your a joke. Those videos try way too hard to hate on everything
4:17AM on 08/03/2014
I guess your right. I do need it spoon fed. I can't figure out how Batman, after being trapped, and breaking his bat, got back into Gotham when the city was on lock down. I read comics. I suspend disbelief. But for a comic movie grounded in reality? Those cops in 3rd act aren't massacred? Bats is ok with Cat killing of Bane? Oh, and the 5-10-20 whatever mile distance, there's no nuclear fall out? I'm really fine with that, of course the hero will win, it's just lazy writing. Like most
I guess your right. I do need it spoon fed. I can't figure out how Batman, after being trapped, and breaking his bat, got back into Gotham when the city was on lock down. I read comics. I suspend disbelief. But for a comic movie grounded in reality? Those cops in 3rd act aren't massacred? Bats is ok with Cat killing of Bane? Oh, and the 5-10-20 whatever mile distance, there's no nuclear fall out? I'm really fine with that, of course the hero will win, it's just lazy writing. Like most of the movie. I enjoyed parts of it, but it is a mess of a film. To say otherwise without apologies to loving the character (I can say I really like all the bats movies, but I know some are a mess-terrible) is an inability to analysis the merits and quality of film correctly. And when you learn anything about it, you learn to look for so much on the screen than the explosions. Even the dialogue was a bit poor - when JGL shot that truck with a bouncing bullet? JGL knowing Bruce's identity bc he's seen those eyes? There's even an obvious scene when he fights Bane and Bane clearly doesn't connect but Batman acts as if has been. Bane doesn't care about the 99%. None do, only revenge. So why wait 30 days for the bomb to trigger? Bc it's necessary if we want to see the iconic image of Batman's back broken, they'd have to wait. They should've blown the bomb up immediately. Oh, and is broken back being fixed by a rope? TDKR isn't horrible. There's good and fun scenes. But it is most def a mess. Nolan never really wanted to do it, and they knew anything half decent would make a killing, and it did. You don't need to watch those videos, I didn't, you just need to open your eyes, let images in, process them, and think. It's not about opinions, it's about educated ones
5:01AM on 08/05/2014
Nope, the negatives are exaggerted in my opinion:
1) Batman's back is not broken in this film, it's simply injured and it takes him months to come back
2) He's Batman, asking how he got past to a closed off city is ridiculous. It's like asking, how he gets dressed so quickly, or how he finds Harvey Dent in a dark alley in TDK. He's Batman, getting by unnoticed is WHAT HE DOES
3) The cops in the final battle do get shot and killed, you see it clearly as they rush Bane's army. Then smoke
Nope, the negatives are exaggerted in my opinion:
1) Batman's back is not broken in this film, it's simply injured and it takes him months to come back
2) He's Batman, asking how he got past to a closed off city is ridiculous. It's like asking, how he gets dressed so quickly, or how he finds Harvey Dent in a dark alley in TDK. He's Batman, getting by unnoticed is WHAT HE DOES
3) The cops in the final battle do get shot and killed, you see it clearly as they rush Bane's army. Then smoke grenades are thrown and it becomes a fight
4) Batman is ok with Catwoman killing Bane because a) they have 10 fucking minutes left before a nuclear explosion and b) he, himself, kills out of necessity in the trilogy - Ra's, Harvey, Talia, her driver. He has a code but if he never broke it that would become ridiculous at some point
5) The nuclear fall-out? Yeah, that's dumb, I'll give you that
6) Why does Bane not destroy the city immediately? He made a whole fucking point in the film to tell you why. He's a "Bond villian", he does it because he wants to torture people, the same way he was tortured in the pit. It makes a bit less sense with Talia (actually her entire motivation is quite weak), as I think at first it was probably the Joker whom Nolan had in mind for the mastermind of the final film, but out of that tragic necessity, I can forgive it.

I respect your opinion bealzf, you have every right to stick to it. I see how you could have your perception of this film like this. But saying that not noticing these so called "plotholes" is an inability to analyze the merits of a film is a bit close-minded and ignorant. We have seen the same film and we both analyzed it. But the fact of the matter is, analyzing and judging a film is always subjective, opinionated. The only objective thing you can say is what the plot was, how long the film was, who the actors were, what sort of lense was used, etc. But then it is your subjective opinion that analyzes whether something was "good" or "bad", "cohesive" or not. That's true for judging acting, music as well as plotholes. As you can see above, people can have different opinions and theories over the same story!

So next time, please try to remember that and don't try to force your opinion on everyone else, saying that it's wrong and you're the only one who's right. As far as I can remember the movie got great reviews, so there's quite a lot of people that would disagree with you.
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