Gotham is a live-action show that was done by Fox. The show, which had five seasons, premiered in 2014. The show takes place before James Gordon was the Commissioner and before Bruce Wayne became Batman.
My expectations for the show:
Before watching the show, I had a lot of doubts and complaints about the show. I absolutely love Batman, so I want the world to have as much Batman content as humanly possible. However, a Batman show that took place before Bruce ever became Batman seemed baffling to me. After all, isn't seeing Batman the reason people watch Batman shows? Also, I had become used to Gordon being a supporting character who didn't do much, so he didn't seem like the character who should be the protagonist of a show. I feared that the show would be a bland drama about the police force, instead of being a superhero show. I was very hesitant to watch Gotham. I feared that it just wouldn't work.
After seeing Gotham:
I'm happy to admit that I was wrong about Gotham. It can't be denied that Gotham is a strange show, but being strange isn't a bad thing. After all, the Batman franchise has always been a little odd, but in the best way.
While Gotham is a police show, it's so much more than just that. Gotham takes advantage of the fact that it's a prequel by fitting in as many early versions of Batman villains as possible, in addition to showing the early years of Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne. The show gives the characters storylines that last throughout the seasons, so it gives room for lots of character development. Gotham is also a show that's loaded with surprises. It does several things differently from previous versions of Batman.
Gotham could be considered a number of things, including a detective show, a police drama, a Batman origin story, a wacky showcase for the rogues gallery and more. While the shifts in tone might sound jarring, the show manages to fit in several genres in an effective way.
James Gordon is an unusual person to be the protagonist of a series, but Gotham manages to make Gordon an interesting protagonist. He is given more development, complexity and depth than almost any other version of Gordon from the past. Ben McKenzie proved himself to be a great leading man. He helped make Gordon a well-intentioned, but conflicted person with lots of conflict to deal with. He has strong chemistry with Donal Logue's Harvey Bullock, who provides a lot of humor to the show.
Although Gordon might be the protagonist, Bruce Wayne is a major character in this show. This show takes place shortly after Bruce's parents were murdered, so this version of Bruce is much younger than the other live-actions versions of Bruce. David Mazouz gives a very convincing person as Bruce. Despite his young age, Bruce feels ready to start making a difference. Sean Pertwee goes a great job as Alfred Pennyworth. Although he often gives Bruce a lot of tough love, he always comes across as a caring guardian.
Gotham is full of interesting villains. Some of them are mob bosses, like Fish Mooney, Carmine Falcone and Sal Maroni. It would be easy to make the mob bosses boring in comparison to the colorful rogues, but the great acting and intriguing storytelling manage to make the non-costumed rogues interesting in their own right.
As for the costumed villains, they get a lot of time to shine. Robin Lord Taylor's Oswald Cobblepot, better known as the Penguin, remains a prominent villain throughout the entire show. This version of Penguin is younger and less refined, but he proves himself to be a dangerous, manipulative mastermind. Another prominent rogue is Cory Michael Smith's Edward Nygma, better known as the Riddler. The love/hate relationship between Penguin and Riddler is a creative, fun addition.
Something I appreciate about Gotham is that it gave screentime to lots of underrated Batman characters. The show featured the first live-action appearance of Professor Hugo Strange. Hugo Strange is one of the first Batman villains to ever be created, so seeing him get a major storyline in this show was a true treat. BD Wong made Hugo Strange both intimidating and entertaining. Frank Gorshin has played the Riddler and has voiced Hugo Strange, so the fact that Gotham had Riddler and Strange interacting meant a lot to me. The show lets other underrated rogues shine, including the Mad Hatter, Professor Pyg, the Dollmaker and more.
Since Gotham takes place before Batman, some of the classic Batman villains haven't yet become supervillains. The show explores what Selina Kyle (Catwoman), Ivy Pepper (Poison Ivy) and Harvey Dent (Two-Face) were like before they started doing villainous things.
Since the Joker is Batman's biggest enemy, you might be wondering if he's in the show. Well, he sort of is. Cameron Monaghan plays two different characters, both of whom have several of the Joker's attributes. While neither character is called the Joker, the fans often consider Cameron Monaghan to be a great Joker actor.
The show's visuals are an appealing aspect of the show. The realistic look of the police force, combined with the colorful look of the bad guys, equals a very interesting sense of visual style. The show's strong music also helps make the show's colorful atmosphere shine through.
I need to stress the fact that Gotham is NOT a kid's show. The show has several forms of graphic violence, so it's not a show that younger viewers should be watching.
As for adults, Gotham is an interesting, creative and entertaining take on the Batman franchise. It's unlike anything that's come before, so it's a memorable, fresh show that gives Batman fans a lot of surprises.