Title: Gotham: Season 1
HTS Overall Score:
Superheros have been really taking over film and TV lately, and DC has been REALLY well in the TV market. I’ve always enjoyed their animated films, but in the last few years DC has dipped their fingers into the broadcast TV pie and have come out with some really tasty morsels for us to enjoy. “Arrow” has been the leader the last few years, but really started sparks flying with the introduction of “Flash”, which hit the ground running at full steam, then also decided to add “Gotham” into the mix. Usually they’ve stuck to the CW for broadcasting, but “Gotham” somehow got put on “Fox”, which should make any fan of a long running show VERY nervous. Fox has not exactly been the kindest to sci-fi/action shows, with many of them ending after only 1, MAYBE 2 seasons, but with the weight of DC behind “Gotham” we can only hope for a longer run. The first season is a bit rocky to say the least, but shows some potential, and can hopefully gain enough momentum to come close to the level of quality shown on “Arrow” and “Flash” to date.
Set right around the time Bruce Wayne’s Parents were killed (actually the first episode is Bruce (David Mazouz) watching his parents get murdered in front of his eyes while a young Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova) watches from a fire escape), “Gotham” sets the stage for the corruption and vileness that created one of the most iconic heroes in all of comic history. James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) isn’t a commissioner just yet, but instead a rookie cop in the Gotham City Police Department. A bit of a choir boy himself, Jim is up against not only a city stewing in its own filth, but a police force and city government that is in the pockets of the various Italian Dons. Gordon’s personal life isn’t much better, as his girlfriend, Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) is struggling to live the life of a cop’s significant other. To put the cherry on top of the ice cream Sunday, Jim has to deal with Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), a bitter and semi corrupt copy as his partner on the force.
Deals have to be made and soon enough Jim is finding out that he is up against more than he can chew. Villains (and soon to be super villains) are popping up on every corner. The organized crime venue is being run by Don Falcone (John Doman) and Don Maroni (David Zayas of “Dexter” fame), with subordinates Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith) and her sleazy underling Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). To make matters worse, there is a rash of psychotics out there with fancy equipment and resources to make the police almost useless, meaning some back door deals have to be made for the greater good, even if it costs Jim a piece of his soul.
Season 1 of “Gotham” is a bit rocky to say the least. The first 10 episodes really were hit and miss, as the show struggled to find its identity, with villain of the weeks and only 3-4 characters getting any real development. It’s not until Arkham Asylum is fully up and functioning does the story really take off besides the organized crime angle. I have to say that I haven’t kept up with ALL of the “Batman” sub comics that are put out in the last decade and a half, so I can’t exactly tell WHAT universe they’re pulling from, but DC has made a strange hodge podge of origins for most of the villains. James Gordon’s age is about right, and McKenzie does a solid, if not slightly stiff, job of playing the young cop, but the villains themselves are hit or miss. We’ve got plenty of iconic characters being hinted at, with Edward Nygma being a tech aid in the Gotham City P.D. Everyone knows his soon to be villain name, but the show pretty much beats you over the head with the fact that he’s going to be “The Riddler” as Nygma spouts riddle after riddle on a daily basis, even going so far as to have a coffee mug with a giant “?” on it. The same goes for some of the other famous one, like Poison Ivy and Selina Kyle. Ivy is only teased at by her nickname, but Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman) is given a HUGE part of the backstory, actually growing up being semi friends with Bruce Wayne. I hate to nitpick, but the origins for ALL of these characters has never been supported in any of the Comics I’ve seen published, and the obvious discrepancies for a comic nerd like myself can be a bit grating sometimes.
On the plus side. The show really nails the mood well. Creator Bruno Heller does an amazing job at never letting you know just WHAT era they’re actually in. the Gotham City Police headquarters is ancient looking and rather Baroque in nature, and the cops all have a weird mixture of old and new tech. Brand new smart phones are shown, while journalists use old fashioned flash bulb camera’s from the 30’s and the cars driven are a mix of 60’s, 70’s and 80’s vehicles (with some more modern ones thrown in for good measure). Characters can be just as hit or miss as the villain of the week stories. Jim is stiff and a bit overly dramatic, and Barbara Kean suffers from the poor female writing that has been plaguing the DC universe in that she’s just unlikeably written. Ironically, even though the series tends to center around James Gordon, in a show about a pre-Batman world, Bruce Wayne and Aldred are given an ENORMOUS chunk of the development. Even though we know he’s not Batman yet, and the show is OBVIOUSLY trying to stay as far away from his future persona as they possibly can, Alfred and Bruce are two of the only characters with any actual arc given to their personas. Well, that is besides Oswald Cobblepot (who is actually not an eccentric aristocrat like in the comics, but is instead a sniveling little criminal who works his way up the hierarchy). Cobblepot, AKA Penguin, become an integral part of the entire season, growing and changing from a sniveling little brat for Fish Mooney, into becoming one of the most ruthless and powerful crime lords in all of Gotham.
The episode list:
Pilot: Extended Version
Spirit of the Goat
What the Little Bird Told Him
Welcome Back, Jim Gordon
The Fearsome Dr. Crane
The Blind Fortune Teller
Everyone Has A Cobblepot
Beasts of Prey
Under the Knife
The Anvil or the Hammer
All Happy Families Are Alike
Warner has had a good year with its TV shows lately. Pretty much every single one of them has had great to AMAZING video encodes, and “Gotham: Season 1” is no different. One of the best I’ve seen this year, the 1.78:1 1080p encode looks simply superb. Taking a nice balance between darkness and light, the show’s creators give us plenty of time in both scenarios. The dark and brooding Gotham knight life (yes that was on purpose) is filled with inky dark shadows and the pitch blackness one associates with the Gotham “feel”, but throughout this darkness there is impeccable detail and no signs of digital artifacting. Banding is near nonexistent and the blacks don’t suffer from any crush or washed out black levels. The copious daytime sequences are just as amazing, with razor sharp detail, both up close and personal, as well as far away shots. Skin tones are natural and clean, with a well-balanced contrast level to accompany naturally graded color palette. Simply put, season 1 of “Gotham” is an exceptional encode that really draws the viewer in to the seedy, crime infested city that will soon give rise to one of the greatest super heroes ever to exist in DC’s lineup. There is one little anomaly that I detected, and that is in episode 13 where Victor is pointing a gun at butch... the barrel of the gun wavers and shimmers like some sort of artifacting, and replicated every time I played back those couple of seconds.
“Gotham’s” 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is neck and neck with the exceptional video encode, offering us an aggressive sound stage that fights the taught series to a T. Vocals are, of course, fantastic. Showing off crystal clear dialog that balances itself well with the ominous overtones of the score, and exceptional dynamic range. The action in the series punches you in the gut, as gunshots rip through subs like paper and impact with the weight of a canon. Surrounds get plenty of use, whether that be through said score, or the nuanced little noises of Gotham city. The scraping of leather shoes on the street stones, the screams of a villain’s next victim, or the general whispering and mumbling of patrons in Fish Mooney’s nightclub all keep those side channels with plenty of activity. LFE is deep and powerful, adding some serious punch to gunshots, fists and basically anything that can sound cool in show. Most TV shows tend to offer good, but not great, sound due to the limited budget. However, with the increase in popularity that TV shows have garnered over the last 5 or 6 years, “Gotham” is lucky enough to sound like a million bucks thanks to some excellent mixing of the show. A+
• Gotham Invented: Building Our Gotham
• Gotham Invented: Paving the Way for the Caped Crusader
• Gotham Invented: Fractured Villains of Gotham
• Designing the Fiction
• The Game of Cobblepot
• Gag Reel
• Unaired Scenes
• DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014 Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow
• GOTHAM: The Legend Reborn
• Character Profiles:
-Detective Harvey Bullock
-Detective James Gordon
-Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth
-Dr. Leslie Thompkins
I’d like to say that “Gotham’s” only caveat was that it was introduced in a year when we have a glut on fantastic superhero shows, but that would be a bit of a falsehood. The show is a bit rocky, and takes the 1st half of the season to really figure out what kind of show it really is, but once it takes off, “Gotham” really starts to coalesce into a solid DC entry. I have some qualms with the backgrounds of certain characters, and the show’s unfortunate quandary of trying to make villains that we can fear balanced with the need to keep them alive and kicking for Batman himself, but overall it managers to be quite an entertaining show. The video and audio presentations on the Blu-ray are simply fantastic and I was literally floored by the amount of extras on disc. With the decreasing amount of extras on modern releases, this array of bonus features is more than enough to please this Gothamite. While it may not be a perfect 1st season, “Gotham” manages to stay intriguing enough to have me staying tuned for season 2. Recommended for a watch.
Starring: Ben McKenzie, Jada Pinkett Smith, Donal Logue
Created by: Bruno Heller
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 2.0
Studio: Warner Brothers
Runtime: 930 minutes
Own it on Blu-ray, DVD & Digital HD September 8, 2015
Buy Gotham: Season 1 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Watch It
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