A Gotham Community
Monday 8:00 PM on FOX (Returning September 19, 2016)

Hey you! This isn't a review, it's a PREview. Huge difference. Most notably, the "P." But more specifically, it's based on an early cut of a pilot that might change before its official debut. That means can't properly review it at this time, but we CAN give you an idea of what to expect.


As part of the recent Television Critics Association summer press tour, which wraps up this week, the fine people at Warner Bros. TV invited reporters and critics and even hacks like us to a sneak-preview screening of one of its biggest new fall shows, Gotham. Unlike most of the season's other pilots, Gotham was not widely distributed to critics after the Upfronts in May. So naturally, Kaitlin and I thought to ourselves, "Fine, we'll be wined and dined and treated to a viewing of Gotham in a fancy WB private theater." This job, I tell ya. 

We don't yet have the go-ahead to post a full review, as networks often make changes to pilots before they air. However, we did want to share our first impressions of the Batman prequel's first episode (while flaunting the fact that we got to see it before you did. Nyah-nyah). 

A brief overview for those who aren't familiar with Gotham's premise: The upcoming Fox drama is set in the Batman universe before Batman becomes Batman, and was created by The Mentalist's Bruno Heller. Viewers will meet a young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), but the show will focus on Jim Gordon, the cop and eventual police commissioner played by Gary Oldman in the Christopher Nolan films, and portrayed by Ben McKenzie (The O.C.Southland) on the show. Gotham will also tell the origin stories of many Batman villains, including the Penguin, Catwoman, the Riddler, and Poison Ivy, as well as several other thugs who Gordon and his partner Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) have to punch in the face. 

Got it? Good. Then let's talk about the pilot!

Tim: Wow, we saw Gotham! And it was... okay, I guess? Maybe a little less than okay? I'm going to give it to you straight: I'm not really into the superhero/comic-book craze that's dominating television, so maybe the show just isn't for me. But the pilot felt very on-the-nose and by-the-book, and as a result it didn't stand out as particularly original. For example, haven't I seen Bruce Wayne's parents get shot in an alley like three times already? I think I was expecting a more unique twist on Batman shenanigans. 


Kaitlin: Holy, WTF Batman! I had high hopes for Gotham, because unlike you, Tim, I want to make googly eyes at the superhero/comic-book craze. Give me all the superheroes! This is the real revenge of the nerds, guys. But Gotham's pilot wasn't what I was hoping it would be after seeing the cool trailer that Fox released in May. It felt lacking somehow, as if the show has a clear vision of what it wants to be, but it isn't yet sure how to get there.

Tim: Here's what I did like: The pilot really looked as if it took place in Gotham City, so if you're a fan of dirty back alleys and rain, you'll be impressed. And the show is set in this weird alternate universe that exists in parallel to ours; there's an old-timey feel to it thanks to the cars and the tweed-and-fedora fashion, but the characters use flip phones. It's an unusual juxtaposition, but I kinda dug it. 

As for what I didn't like, some of the direction was awful, particularly in the tiring action sequences. The show's going to have to work on those and expand their scope; random harness-cams strapped to Gordon as he sprints through a restaurant kitchen won't do.

Kaitlin: I agree that the look and feel of Gotham City is great. The tone of the pilot was very noir, which is is a good fit for the story Gotham is telling. But the acting is not up to snuff, considering that both Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue have proven they're more than capable of producing quality work. They'll have an opportunity to fix that as the show progresses, but the pilot made it seem like McKenzie hired Tyra Banks as an acting coach and instead of instructing him to smize, she told him that his eyeballs were his only hope of saving humanity. Gotham's pilot was not subtle, is what I'm trying to say.


Tim: Exactly. You know what else was not subtle? The introduction of the many villains who we'll be getting to know throughout the series. I'm still on the fence about seeing all these baddies whose future identities we're already familiar with as powerless versions of themselves. And I know we've only seen the pilot so far, but with so many well-known characters popping up in Episode 1, Gotham City felt kind of small. Overall, Gotham seems like it'll merely be Batman without the Batman, a procedural that happens to be set in Gotham City. 

However, I will say that the dude who plays the Penguin (Robert Lloyd Taylor) was awesome, and he's already my favorite character on the show. 

Kaitlin: I don't know that the pilot made Gotham City feel small, but it did make me wonder what the rest of the series will be like. Will all of these characters make cameos throughout the first season? Will the Riddler play a larger role, or just wink and a nod to his future persona? I feel like I'm coming off as overly harsh, so maybe I'm suffering from a case of too-high expectations (shame on me!), but Gotham's second, third, and fourth episodes are going to prove especially important, as the pilot didn't give us a great sense of what the show is aiming for. There's still a lot of potential for Gotham to have some fun, but it's going to need to lean into its campiness instead of taking itself so damn seriously. And Ben, dude, grab a drink and chill the F out, man. 


Gotham premieres Monday, September 22 at 8pm on Fox.



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Previously Aired Episode

AIRED ON 5/23/2016

Season 2 : Episode 22

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Kaitlin, I'm wiping tears from your Tyra joke... LOL!!!!!
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The addition of all these "pre-villains" just seems like a cheap and forced attempt to capitalize on Batman's fame. Gordon is cool. A show surrounding him in Gotham. A story about the Gotham Police Dept in the early days of Gotham's corrupt city, perfect. Introducing a young selina Kyle (is she even a main character? whats the point of having her around?) a young poison ivy (absolutely absurd), a young this and young that, is a cheap trick that they used in Smallville,and we all know how that went. Superman basically faced every villain he would ever battle before he even became superman, its nonsense!

I will check out the pilot, but I will not be watching if they continue on using these cheap ploys to try to get people to watch. Make it about Gordon. Make it about crime bosses and the mafia and all the corruption that goes along with it. Leave the supervillains, or pre supervillains out of it
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Really? Not even aired and this dreck gets a community? Other new shows are 6 episodes in and still lack one.
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You didn't mention Jada's performance... is she not in the pilot??
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Staff
She's definitely in it!
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I assume you meant: "Batman withOUT the Batman"
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The only thing I am really concerned about this show is that they gave Jada Pinkett Smith a role, she has never been that good in anything and I am concerned that she is going to have a large role. The rest can get worked out, though I do find it interesting that Fox's answer to Superhero shows is to have one sans superhero. But McKenzie is decent and I think he can pull it off (damn I miss SouthLand )
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She was pretty good in Demon Knight. I think that may have been her first movie. Most people don't even remember it. Billy Zane was the antagonist.

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Demon Knight was awesome.
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Her work on her TV show HawthoRNe wasn't that bad either.
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Right now, The only Batmen I'm interested in are Thomas Wayne , Terry Mcguinness & Luke Fox. I'm tired of the whole joker penguin scarecrow dumb ass corny cartoon mythology. Gotham too, unless they breathe some new life into it. I don't care what came before Batman.
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Wow, Gotham has a community though it hasnt aired a single episode. Amazing..
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All I had to see was Tim's name at the top to know the direction this article was heading. Ol' Captain Negative strikes again.
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I'm still looking forward to Gotham.
I'd already heard the pilot was a bit muddled because they try to cram too much into it - so I wasn't expecting a glowing recommendation anyway.

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The odd thing about this show, is it saying that all of Batmans enemies are in their 50s/60s, when he is in his 30s? Like, he's even MORE of a psychopath, because not only he is a billionaire using his mental illness and vast resources to take on muggers, but they're also 30 years older than he is, so he is essentially beating on pensioners?
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I didn't have high hopes for it.

It sounded cool in concept, as Gordon was always an interesting character in my opinion. But it always seemed like one of those things that would be hard to pull off right.

Birds of Prey sounded interesting too, and while I enjoyed it the show didn't last long.

Looks like Adam West and Kevin Conroy continue to reign as the best and most successful TV Batmans
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Both of you...
DID NOT seem too positive..
Uh oh!!
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I am still looking forward to the show. It looks right up my ally. A Batman/Gordon origin story is cleveR.The only thing that worries me is that it is on FOX.
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oh dear, i saw a tv show killer right there... ;/
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Oh Dear! It sounds like this show has a lot to work on! To be honest....I was not at all surprised by Kaitlin and Tim's take on the pilot. You can hype a show like this all you want, but I stand by the fact that I think...and still think that it's a preety bad idea. The whole premise from the start and the resulting trailers..and now your 'impressions' have only served to confirm and strengthen my reservations. The more I see and hear, the more I'm put off. It's a thinly disguised excuse to make a kiddie version of Batman...minus Batman with the only real hook being the Gotham universe and younger versions of known bad guys which is also a bad idea! No matter how much the network tries....sorry but I'm not that easily seduced! I just can't bring myself to give 2 shits about the life of Jim Gordon....kiddie version or not. I think the whole thing is a dreadful idea plus Donal Logue is prone to some wild overacting like he did on Sons of Anarchy which was just ridiculous...even though he can of course be great.
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I love Batman he's probably the first comic book hero I know. I would love a series but I have reservations on this. It looks like they did everything to give us Batman without giving us Batman.

First problem I see in the preview is they have kid bruce wayne/Batmans origin story which is the pivotal element in the batman universe so the bruce will probably see Bruce begin his journey but wait he isn't the main character so Gordon and Bruce will probably have a solid interaction but how long can the writers milk that?

Second the audience they have a really gritty edgy feel in them but its still a DC comic universe it would take very good writers to mesh that well. I can name some shows that failed because they can't find their target.

Still the Batman mythos is old and strong that it may carry the day.


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Still excited for the show...!
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Biggest flop of 2014.
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Gotham sounds exciting and I'll probably give it a chance, but it may end up suffering without Bruce Wayne's batman. I remember watching Smallville (with Gough and Miller's no tights no flights rule) and getting rather annoyed at the lack of forward motion in Clark Kents character. this meant that by the series finale of Smallville, instead of cheering him on, all I could think was well it's about time!
Here's to hoping this won't suffer the same problems.
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I still think they should've done a modern take on The Gotham Police department like the comics. They could've teased a batman appearance and had Red Hood & Nightwing cameos but oh well.
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Still mildly excited for this.
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Jim Gordon as a character, if well written, can carry a show though granted a show that will be very different from canon-ish Batman. The main problem I foresee is that it could be just doom and gloom since things have to get bad enough in Gotham for young Wayne to become Batman...

At least it is somewhat different from so many shows that just rehash old stuff (USA - talking to you but any of the other networks can take note too)
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After seeing the 'mute' boy running about from Kiefer, I'm worried that he's finally going to speak with such profundity week in, week out that my head will explode with '?' marks.
Regardless of it being a pilot and open to foibles, I'm going to give this a go or four due to Donal and Ben. Many shows have had questionable openers but risen from them.
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This will be cancelled after 1 season terrible idea and concept, Gotham without Batman is just dumb
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I'm sorry but I'm afraid I disagree 100%. To me, super-heroing is one-dimensional, while this has potential to be a great crime show with an added spice.
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I'm sorry but I'm afraid I agree 100%. It's easy to come up with bad ideas. I do it all the time...
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I'm sorry but I'm afraid I agree to disagree with the agree 100%.... Wait what do I agree with!?!?
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Not what but whom: Logossun. I know, it is confusing.
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It's fun to criticize things we haven't seen, right, people in the comments? I see an Affleck mention too, that's not premature and childish at all.
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It just sounds TOO DAMN STUPID, hehe. xD

(Like Smallville, but without the chance of them ever doing it on a bale of hay)
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Make (love on) hay while the sun shines, I say.
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C'mon, Affleck's always fair game.
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Rather unfairly.
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I really enjoyed batman comics as a kid, had a great laugh at the 60's TV series & movie, but everything since has been a downer. Batman as a vehicle for egoistic self obsession by some extremely average talents is how I would put it. I spose the first Arkham game was a 7 outta 10 but alla the ones since being more of the same sure don't rate that high in my book.

With all that it mind I hafta say that getting an average talent like McKenzie to play the lead in Gotham guarantees that this show will be more of the same.

A big whoopee for those who didn't manage to get this overly simplistic take on the world (good Vs bad, black Vs white etc) by the time they hit puberty but a huge yawn for the rest of us, already saturated with Arrow and SuperDerp tv shows.

The cowardly drongos who made this lack the skills & imagination to create their own original characters so they grabbed an off the rack supporting character from an anachronism - that just isn't a good start for a TV show in the golden age of TV drama.
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They should have done Gotham Central and run it as non-Batman centered continuation of the universe created by the movies.
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Is it a pilot or a premiere episode? Despite the industry's odd titling sometimes, just because an episode is the premiere doesn't mean it was a pilot. And pilots tend to be rougher.
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"We don't yet have the go-ahead to post a full review, as networks often make changes to pilots before they air."
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Yes, but Pilot is a term or title used in Hollywood to indicate two different things:

1) A one-off that is used to sell a show. It is often filmed months before the rest of the episodes. They make it, they show it to the networks, the network decides whether they'll take it to series or not.

2) The title, for whatever reason, of the first episode of a show, even if if it wasn't used as #1 above.

The best known example is probably Star Trek, which had two pilots, but neither one was the first episode.

If you have a #1 that is aired as part of another series, then you get a "Backdoor Pilot" (Tribes vis a vis Supernatural).
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So the first episode of Gotham could simply be titled "Pilot," but it was guaranteed contracted to series from the get-go.

Or they might have produced it with no idea if they were going to go to series, and they were just making a single episode to show the network to get them interested.

The latter tends to have widely different production crews and different feels to them.
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Why don't they put Ben Affleck in this one since we all know it's not going to last the whole season? Then he could get that out of his system, we could all move beyond Batfleck and get a decent actor to play Batman in Man of Steel 2, and everyone would be happy...
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For the record, I'm not a fan of Ben Asslick in the least, but fact of the matter is, the fanboy army is really just talking out of their ass...Not one of us has seen Asslick accually play Batman, so we can't really bitch about him playing the role without coming off as stereotypical, no life, virgin little snatches that don't have the sense to know any better...plus, the reality is, this show predates the creation of Batman, so any defeatist fantasies of adding Asslick to it is just a bunch of ignorant, overly biased piss & wind

TL;DR version: Quitchebitchin' & deal till you see the flick (and show) & actually know what the 'eff you're bitchin' about

If they both end up suckin' I'll have my fanboy conniption right alongside all of ya & shout hate from the rooftops, but 'till then, I have enough smarts to not fall into the horribly obvious geek trap
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I really hate Batman so yay if he's not in this show. I'll give it a chance.
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I wasn't expecting much. If Gordon was an interesting enough character to have his own book, he would have had at least one in the 75 years of his existence. I don't know how they expect to do nothing but wink at the audience and say "something interesting WILL happen with this person, but not on this show" and last multiple seasons.
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I never got excited for this show because of Wayne as a young boy. Him starting early as a vigilante and Gordon as the lead trying to stop him while also helping Wayne as a man would have been fascinating. It seems like it isn't going to be all that interesting for Batman fans and for the general audience unfortunately.
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As much as I would like to have high hopes for this show, it is on FOX after all. They have high camp factor.
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Well.... that was a bit depressing. Still, Agents of Shield had a fantastic pilot, then went to complete garbage only to have a hail mary thrown in at the very end to make it all relevant, so who knows. Judging a pilot is a tough deal, it can mean so little to the story down the road, but so much to the initial viewership that funds those same episodes down the road.
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Uh-oh!
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