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....
Citizens of Gotham, you are a strange bunch.
As part of the big push for their pre-Batman drama (debuting Sept. 22), Fox invited fans to recreate the show's movie-style trailer — originally mastered by the...
Jada Pinkett Smith is talking Gotham and she's got her signature weapon with her.
Based on DC Comics characters, the Batman prequel explores the origin story of James Gordon (Benjamin McKenzie), a detective with the Gotham City Police Department who battles the villains who made the city (in)famous.
Gotham won't "break the canonical iron truths" of Batman mythology
Gotham City to the rescue? Fox certainly hopes Gotham, its dark and stylish noir set in the corrupt, broken pre-Batman metropolis, will revive the fortunes of a network undergoing one of its most significant leadership transitions. (The architect of this fall's schedule, Kevin Reilly, stepped down in late May, and Dana Walden and Gary Newman, the Fox Studio heads who will take over network oversight in a more streamlined operation, won't start their new positions until the end of the month.)
The Gotham panel was the first and most impressive new-series presentation on Fox's day at the TCA press tour. (For more Fox news, go here.) With its revisionist twist on Batman mythology as it spills out origin stories featuring various supervillains-to-be, Gotham is the buzziest show on Fox's fall slate — airing on Mondays alongside breakout hit Sleepy Hollow won't hurt — but it's not without risk.