Happens all the time in the Bat-verse: The bad guys get all the best material. And so it was in the beginning, or at least in the origin story as presented by Fox's stylish, vividly hardboiled Gotham (8/7c), an exercise in pulp-noir chic that, to be enjoyed properly, should be considered more Dick Tracy than Batman in approach.
As Robin might proclaim, if he were around (which he isn't): Holy corruption! The sordid Gotham City on display here reflects executive producer Bruno Heller's time spent on HBO's Rome rather than his sunnier stint with The Mentalist. This city of menace boasts a retro sheen cluttered with jarring contemporary details, projecting what's intended as an out-of-time (or timeless) quality to frame this iconic story. You know how it goes: Young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz of Touch) is orphaned when his wealthy parents are murdered in a back-alley robbery, inspiring a lifetime devoted to vanquishing Gotham's most-wanted goons.
But that's another tale for another time, because the focus of Gotham is on clench-jawed, strait-arrow Detective (future Commissioner) James Gordon, played with a pugnacious dour solemnity by Ben McKenzie.
Fox's Gotham is arguably the most anticipated new show of the fall season, but that doesn't necessarily mean it's destined to become a hit.
The new drama, created by The Mentalist's Bruno Heller examines the city protected by Batman long before the Dark Knight was around to protect it. Stepping in as the city's hero is rookie detective (and future police commissioner) Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) who, along with his cynical partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), encounter nascent versions of the Batman franchise's villains, including The Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova) and The Riddler (Cory Michael Smith), while investigating the murders of the parents of a 12-year-old Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz).
On the Set: Go behind-the-scenes of Fox's Gotham
But as anyone who watched the first two-thirds of ABC's Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. — last season's buzziest new show — knows, creating a superhero TV series without a superhero can be tricky business....
Can a Batman series succeed without actually containing Batman? Fox hopes so with its new prequel series Gotham.
There will be no cape. There will be no cowl. Nevertheless, Fox's Gotham intends to stay true to the Batman comics that fans have come to know and love over more than seven decades.
Based on DC Comics characters, Gotham explores the origin stories of the Caped Crusader's eventual ally James Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie), a detective with the Gotham City Police Department, and his battle with the villains who made the city famous.
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"What we won't do is...
If you're wondering whether Fox's Batman prequel drama series Gotham will be campy like the Adam West TV series or dark and gritty like the Christopher Nolan films, the answer might just be both.