Gotham Review – “Selina Kyle” S1E2

After the pilot, “Gotham,” it was clear that this show had a high ceiling. With plenty of Easter Eggs and a promise of what is to come, Gotham has passed the initial test. The continuity is out of whack, but there are enough shout-outs to keep hardcore fans engaged. Yet, there is enough (even too much, at times) explanation of what is going on to hook new viewers, as well. Two weeks in and it seems as though Detective James Gordon is making no friends whatsoever at the GD GCPD. For us  at home, however, it is a different story altogether. Already, Gotham has dramatically increased in quality. The tone is much closer now to a Sopranos episode than last week, which played out like a Kung-Fu flick without martial arts. It has already established itself as the best comic book related show on the air right now (Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is the only other comic book-related series on the air right now…until next week); however, there are still a few lingering poor qualities that keep Gotham from reaching its full potential.

Yes, this
Yes, this lingering poor quality.

This episode follows Gordon and Bullock as they try to take on a mysterious kidnapper, who turns out to be one of Gotham’s most terrifying villains! THE DOLLMAKER! Now that you’ve been thoroughly let down, I’ll explain what that means for the show. For one, we don’t even get to see The Dollmaker in this episode, although his name is heavily dropped throughout the show. Unfortunately, it looks like DC is still relying on masked maniacs and gimmicky goons to add some flavor to the show, but it’s really not something they need to do. Kidnapping homeless children off the street (which was eerily reminiscent of Buffy the Vampire Slayer‘s “Anne”) makes Gotham look frightening enough on its own. You don’t need to tell us that “bums get shot here all the time” when you are walking people off the pier and Waynes are getting shot all over the place. We get it; it’s a bad place.

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Selina Kyle

I’ve tried to put up with this two weeks in a row, but I can no longer give Jada Pinkett Smith the benefit of the doubt. I thought decades of marriage to Will Smith, that she would have learned a thing or two, but no. As arguably the biggest “star” on Gotham, I expected her performance as upcoming crime lord Fish Mooney to equate to more than focused, off-camera glances and exaggerated screams of fury. If a mob boss like Fish Mooney existed in real life, it would be in a junior high acting class. The bad acting isn’t isolated to just her either. I have been extremely put off of the whole Wayne situation. Bruce, who insists he is not self destructive but is, and his humorously irate butler, Alfred, are a constant distraction to what Gordon is up to. The relationship between Alfred and Bruce is very eyebrow-raising. While there is an unmistakable Earth One influence here, the way Afled man-handles Bruce, I can’t help but wonder if Bruce gets beat off-screen. Maybe that’s why he’s listening to such angry music and drawing Bat-caves. Good going, Alfred. #NOTMYALFRED

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Gordon, Bullock and Mayor

On the other side of the coin (aww, look at that convenient Two-Face reference that I will have to save for later…), Oswald Cobblepot has become a big player in Gotham, and is easily one of the most interesting characters thus far. The preview showed Penguin murdering a couple of people kind enough to give him a ride, but it didn’t tell the whole story. The two frat boy douche rockets that gave him a ride were constantly disrespecting him before using the trigger word, saying he looked like a penguin and incurring his murderous rage. Now, the producers could have chosen to make the people who picked him up a normal family that accidentally set Cobblepot off by talking about Happy Feet; rather, there was a distinct and deliberate decision to make him a likable character by killing unlikable people. His character is intriguing – oddly charming and cordial until he loses it. We also learn, through a visit with Oswald’s mom, that he was once a fairly handsome and respected young man. What series events created the tweaked out, waddling psycho that we saw in this episode?

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Cobblepot's Mom

The GCPD dynamic is getting stronger, too. Gordon has stepped up and is fighting authority every step of the way. One of the best encounters is when he tells a patrolman that he’s “not a bad guy, just a bad cop.” That statement more or less sums up the entire GCPD. Harvey Bullock is supposed to outrank Gordon, but I think a chain of command like in the comic books had would be better suited for a lone wolf cop situation like the one Gotham is aiming for. Not only are they as crooked as a question mark (Nygma reference thrown in there, too!), but when they do decide to do the right thing, they are usually so inept that they cause bad things to happen anyway – like say handing busloads of untraceable children to a human trafficker. Thank goodness that Gordon is on the case. Ben McKenzie is really a great choice as leading man. He is the model officer, risking death to be an honest cop in a crooked city, and carries with him a sense of dry humor just good enough to keep him charismatic to the audience. The only thing holding him back is his (and really any characters in the show) tendency to get uncomfortably close to everybody he has a serious conversation with.

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Bus Full of Kids

Meanwhile, though, Captain Sarah Essen, who seemed to be totally clueless in the pilot, is all of a sudden criticizing Gordon for not “being with the program.” Not only is this a major cop-out to building her character, but all but removes the likelihood of a Gordon-Essen affair, which was a BIG deal in the comic books. After seeing what Barbara looks like, would you leave that for a crooked police Captain like Essen? No, you would not. Behind every good man is a strong woman, and that is no exception with Barbara Kean. She is a great supporting character with strong convictions – the perfect match for James Gordon.

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Cobblepot

Barbara is not the only female to get some screen time, though. Selina Kyle, who prefers to go by Cat – oh! I get it; because she’s Catwoman (eye roll) – finally gets some love. Although, and I’m not sure I would have even noticed if it had not been pointed out to me, it took FORTY minutes of the episde before the character that the episode, “Selina Kyle,” had any dialogue. She’s a spunky character, and we get early traces of her acrobatics to be, but there is a scene later on in the episode that kills any chance of me liking her again. When trying to get an officer to get Gordon for her, Selina threatens to scream that the officer touched her inappropriately if he does not do her bidding. Especially with “Yes Means Yes” gaining so much traction, it is bullshit that scenes like these are making rounds on public television, where many impressionable young women will undoubtedly watch and see this as an admissible way to get what they want. Ugh. Getting back on track, Selina seems to have a valuable piece of information concerning Joe Chill and the murder of the Waynes. Knowing her angle, it’s fair to ask, on a scale of 1 – Selina Kyle, how full of shit is she?

Gotham - %22Selina Kyle%22 Gordon, Bullock and Mooney

Gotham has improved over two episodes in almost every way, but writer Bruno Heller really needs to stop holding our hand through every little tidbit of fanboy information we come across. For example, if I see Selina Kyle will be in an episode and I have read the comics, then by hearing her insist they call her “Cat,” I am, assuming that you either think I am an idiot and cannot figure the subtlety on my own, thinking that calling the future Catwoman “Cat” is gimmicky and lame. FOX should not be afraid to assume that their viewers can read between the lines. This is a detective show isn’t it? Stop assuming your viewers have the intelligence of your average GCPD beat cop and give us something to satisfy the need to solve cases right along with Jim Gordon.

Hush Comics gives “Selina Kyle” a B+ for it’s continual improvement, notably in setting a dark tone. The acting is a mixed bag, with main players like Cobblepot, Gordon and Falcone outshining the rest of the cast. If Gotham can get over the speed bumps of spelling out the entire story for viewers and avoid being too corny, it has the potential to keep us glued to the screen all season long.

All pictures in this article belong to Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment

Gotham Review – “Gotham” S1E1

Did they really just cram SEVEN rogues from Batman lore in the 45 minute premiere episode of Gotham?  Plus one that never existed until now?  Seven!  In case you missed it, there was: Joe Chill, Catwoman, The Riddler, The Penguin, The Joker, Poison Ivy, and Carmine Falcone.  Then you can throw in Fish Mooney, and for that matter Butch and Frankie, who by the way is terrifying.

Back to the original rogues, though.  The episode was only 45 minutes (ok, ok, it was 48 minutes and 51 seconds) and they felt the need to cram that many characters in?  There is a difference between Easter Eggs and the Full Monty; Gotham could benefit from toning down its Full Monty.  Even Batman Forever was more subtle.  And then let’s talk about Fish Mooney.  Not only were here lines over-the-top, but so was her delivery.  I love Jada Pinkett-Smith.  I do.  But her performance as Carmine Falcone’s lackey was so ridiculous, it was almost laughable.  Added to which, it turns out her character had almost no point once Falcone appeared, undermining everything she had done the entire episode.  But I’ll get to Falcone later.


So many characters, so little time.
So many characters, so little time.

As for the rest of the villains, Catwoman, who is really just Catgirl at this point, had the most screen time other than Falcone and Oswald Cobblepot, but didn’t have a single line.  The explanation of her obsession with Bruce Wayne is the only decent twist to the story they made; she witnessed the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne.  Aside from that story line, though, her role had little substance.  I am hopeful that since next week’s episode is titled “Selina Kyle,” her character will be more fully realized without the distraction of all the other baddies.  Oh, and Edward Nygma is the forensics guy for GCPD?!  That department must be in more trouble than we thought because who in their right mind would let that creepy dude handle ballistics?  Then there is Poison Ivy.  I really have a problem with her.  Maybe not her, but the writers.  They had to spell it out so much for the audience that they named the girl Ivy?  Come on, now.  Fans of the Batman story know who Pamela Isley is, and if they don’t, they will catch on just because she has red hair and is playing with plants.  I really have a problem with how Gotham was so willing to give things away to the audience instead of us just figuring it out on our own.  As for Joe Chill, at this point the unnamed murderer of the Waynes, it is clever to have him out in Gotham still; something that could culminate into a great plot point, but I just hope that it isn’t a constant theme in the series.  The villain who does seem to be driving the plot at this point is Oswald Cobblepot AKA The Penguin.  I really liked him.  He seems like a formidable scary baddie.  The actor who plays him, Robin Taylor, can do crazy really well; he was insane without being over-the-top, but the writing for his character was still something to be desired for.  He claims to be clever, but goes to tell on Mooney to the Major Crimes Unit’s Montoya and Allen in BROAD DAYLIGHT!  Clearly, The Wire does not exist in the Gotham Universe.  Somewhere Bubbles is shaking his head.

I guess it is about time I get into the actual plot of the Gotham‘s pilot episode.  The episode starts off with the murder of Bruce’s parents.  It was abrupt and ill-fitting.  If I was an alien from outer space and I had never heard of Bruce Wayne or Batman or Gotham City, I would have absolutely no connection to this story line.  There was no build up, and Bruce’s reaction seemed strange with that muted scream.  I believe there should have been more background on the Wayne family in order to get anyone to care about their deaths.  Perhaps this is because this is James Gordon’s story and not Bruce Wayne’s; however, the two are so interconnected that instead of James comforting young Bruce with the story of how his parents died, the show could mirror the two characters by using flashbacks.  Arrow uses flashbacks extremely well to push a story forward.  I said before that Gotham was too willing to feed us information instead of showing us – the flashback technique would take care of that, and in the meantime give the audience more insight into Gordon since he is the main character.

Hey Girl... I'm too pretty to wear glasses.
Hey Girl… I’m too pretty to wear glasses.

While I am a fan of Ben McKenzie as James Gordon, his partner, Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock, seems out of place. Logue’s resume is impressive, so it is difficult to pinpoint if it is his portrayal as Bullock, or if the writing for Bullock isn’t stellar.  It could be both, but I did not like this version.  If he will continue to be second billed, his character needs to be much stronger.  Bullock has always been his own man – the type who breaks the law, but for the greater good a la Jimmy McNulty (again, The Wire must be referenced)  This Bullock seemed like a whipped house cat.

As for Barbara, Gordon’s girlfriend, the biggest story line for her is that she is a former lesbian.  FOX really knows how to be progressive – by making the gay couple two overly attractive women.  The good thing about this is that it started the #Gaytham trend on Twitter and brought us this wonderful piece of wisdom:

Other than her sexuality, Barbara’s character didn’t add much to the story.  Her dialogue was terrible, which makes me sad because this is the most attention she has ever gotten in a story.

Finally, let’s talk about Carmine Falcone.  The best part of the episode was the last 10 minutes.  But it was a enough for me to want to come back.  Falcone, the mob boss of Gotham, saved the day.  Not only for Gordon, but for me as an audience member.  The tease of some history between Falcone and Gordon’s father is a very interesting twist on Gotham’s history.  And Falcone had the best line of the episode – “You can’t have organized crime without law and order.” Brilliant!  It’s hard not to be impressed with Falcone, though.  After all, he is played by John Doman, Rawls from, you guessed it, The Wire.  His acting prowess is superb.

John Doman as Carmine Falcone
In Bocca Al Lupo

Speaking of The Wire, I saw so many instances where Gotham could be a version of the HBO classic, but ya know, with Batman.  There are many opportunities the show could explore when it comes to crime, criminals, the police, and our society as a whole, especially because we are involved closely in the world of the Gotham City Police Department.  It was hard to swallow the changes to the story.  I am trying to be open, but it is hard to fight the nostalgia for some of the “original” stuff. While the majority of the episode was overdone, there were some glimmers of light for the show, particularly Gordon’s and Falcone’s individual moments.  The end was predictable, but the “rivers of blood” thing that Penguin yelled about was laughably intriguing.

Hush Comics gives the Pilot episode of GothamB.  While there were many eye-roll moments, and too many characters introduced at once, the dynamic between James Gordon and Carmine Falcone will keep me interested in what happens in Gotham.

all pictures in this article belong to Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment