“Gotham” is a detective drama based on the stories published by DC Comics. The time frame takes place between the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents and him becoming Batman.
The story has an interesting detective narrative without using noir cliches. Jim Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, fights to protect the city he lives in but corruption challenges him at almost every turn.
Meanwhile, preteen Bruce Wayne is raised by his butler Alfred Pennyworth and investigates Wayne Enterprises to discover corruption within his company and Gotham city.
It is interesting to watch this show as a prequel because much of the story relies on existing Batman villains. During his service at the police department, Gordon builds relationships that ultimately crumble. There are characters that start out as terrible people, while others are introduced as allies with good morals and ideals, but then slowly turn to the dark side.
I also enjoy how villains are presented before becoming notorious. It removes the elements of superpowers and abilities and exaggerates personalities instead to hint at future events.
The Riddler, played by Cory Michael Smith, is a forensic analyst that faces rejection in the police community and slowly descends into madness while simultaneously helping Gordon solve difficult cases.
Played by Robin Lord Taylor, The Penguin is a fascinating, shrewd character who always gets the short end of the stick in the mob business but somehow always ends up on top. He pits mob bosses against each other with lies and deceit while backstabbing at every opportunity.
However, the stories are fairly episodic. The plot follows some predictable cookie cutter formulas. The police station gets raided or visited by bad guys nearly every episode. Gordon gets into a typical love triangle with plenty of emotion and jealousy. The villains have a similar relationship of power and jealousy.
The show stays interesting though, many characters have tightly woven interplay with honest people answering to corrupt people in power.
Wayne’s coming of age stories with Alfred are also enjoyable. Alfred reveals his dark past and helps Wayne with learning how to make honest and adult decisions. I also like the scenes where Wayne deals with corporate politics as a child.
The cinematography in “Gotham” is really interesting because the color scheme typically consists of darker neutral colors so much of the scenery is not brought to attention. Instead, large contrasts in lighting show bold shadows that give the show a noir feeling, even though in color.
Sometimes the computer graphics are pretty obvious especially during crime scenes in the story. The background is just a blurry image and it distracts me from the story.
Season two is interesting because more villains come out of the shadows and work together. Major villains, such as the Joker and Mr. Freeze are released from Arkham Asylum and they band together to create mayhem and destruction in Gotham. The methods of murder and extortion are escalating as different people want to stand at the top of Gotham’s pillar of corruption and I am curious to see how the show develops from here.