In the comics business, there is always been a rule to only produce a movie or a TV Show about a character or a comic universe if everyone involved knew what they were doing. But since the first Iron Man movie, the comic business as entered a bit of a frenzy, and we can now see comics related stories everywhere, from the theatres to your home televisions.
A lot of fans are starting to be worried, especially when a series is supposed to depict their favorite heroes universe. Will it be any good? Will it be loyal to the comic? And the Fox as has taken a huge risk by launching this year a new TV Series called Gotham. And they were reasons to be worried, because, apart from looking into the commissioner James Gordon past, it was all about telling the story about the genesis of Batman, its allies and foes.
When I start watching a program season after seasons, I’m often more interested in the story development and storytelling than in the likability of the characters. But when the Fox decided to look towards Batman and in the general direction of the all Gotham universe, I was getting all worried. But thankfully, thanks to a bunch of amazing actors and a story that holds its promises, I was quickly aboard. Now that we are 7 episodes into the first season, let’s take a look at the show, and especially from the character development point of view.
Detective James ‘Jim’ Gordon:
Now, after the wonderful acting job picked up by Gary Oldman for the Dark Knight movie series directed by Christopher Nolan, I was looking at a Commissioner Gordon well put in place, firm and gentle. A Gordon who knew its city and its cops as well as the mob various ramifications plaguing the underground. A Gordon in which we had faith even in the darkest hours. But one of the grudge I always held against Nolan movies came with the lack of explanations about Gordon’s past. He was a fighter for the good, but too many times I was wondering where he got is motivation for justice in such a corrupt city.
Thanks to the Fox, I can say I know more about Gordon now than after the movies, and that the character is very much likeable. Furthermore, the Jim Gordon impersonated by Ben McKenzie is not the face of the entire Gotham’s police precinct anymore. Coming back to its father’s home city, the young detective is in for a hell of a ride, between his corrupt partner Harvey Bullock and the various mobsters with the entire city officials in their pocket, the job of portraying Gordon wasn’t an easy one. The detective is out of is element and soon have to trade a part of its perfect respect for justice to survive. In a town where a mob hitman can clear a precinct only by asking so, you have to be able to cope with a lot of wrong doings.
McKenzie does a wonderful job of taking the unshakeable character of Detective Gordon in a more unfriendly environment, depicting brilliantly a cop who lost all of his points of reference. A cop who starts to lose hope in justice and in its coworkers. A cop who struggles to keep the beautiful Barabara Kean (before being Barbara Gordon) out of harms way, often by omitting to her the content of its investigations.
Add to that the impossible investigation he have assigned himself (find the real killer of the Waynes), and you have a cop stuck in a typhoon trying to make a stand for what’s right. And Ben McKenzie plays that role perfectly.
‘Young Catwoman’ Selina Kyle:
After several movies with disparate quality, how would you plan to bring back the mythic Catwoman? Furthermore, as a child? The character has always been renowned for its tendency to bring ‘sexy’ to the movies as well as truck loads worth of salacious hints for the ‘poor’ Batman.
Selina Kyle, the upcoming Catwoman is a homeless teenager, always ready to steal what she needs from the ones with deep pockets. But her relation to crime changes when she witnesses the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents, creating a bond with the young boy she does not fully understand yet. Pity? Interest? That remains to be seen.
When everything became more interesting was when the young actress Carmen Bicondova really caught the essence of the cat. No more overacting as in the few moments we saw her in the pilot. With the second episode of the first season called ‘Selina Kyle’, the young Catwoman gets caught in the crossfire between kid snatchers and a Gordon in quest of truth, her capacity to portray a detached but bold teenager shines and give core to the character.
‘I can see in the dark.’ towards a suspicious Gordon she brought to the alley where the Wayne’s murder took place.
Her relation to Bruce Wayne become more interesting the more time passes, has she grows closer to the young boy, even going up to break into the Wayne’s mansion. I can foresee their relation evolve beyond being simple witnesses to the same crime and I can’t wait to see the future unfoldings of the stories surrounding Selina Kyle.
‘The Penguin’ Oswald Cobblepot:
There’s some actor performances that will shine so much during a movie that they will raise the whole movie with them, risking at the same time to obliterate the rest of the cast. Heath Ledger Joker’s was one of those one in a thousand performances, taking the Dark Knight movie into another dimension.
Well, Robin Lord Taylor’s penguin is one of these surprising, out of the world performances. As much as I would like to remain impartial in my review, I have to applaud, no, to glorify the performance of the young actor. Taylor does a wonderful job of taking the character of young, frail, Oswald Cobblepot, admittingly one of the many villains of the show, and put it on top of all of them. Hell, he even seems delicate and gentle in his murderous rage!
The Penguin in the Gotham series is a younger version of one of Batman’s biggest foes, one we previously remembered as a big man with a hook-nose, a cane and a monocle. In the show, the young Cobblepot already limp, making him being taunted by a lot of his comrades mobsters. To counterpart his physical impairment and lack of stature, the character his machiavelic, sugar coated and a dangerous psychopath that can resort to extreme violence to fit its purpose.
It has already been seen before, the more likeable the villain, the memorable. Taylor interpretation of the young is Penguin is both of pinpoint accuracy as well completely tainted by the actor himself. His smile and his pale skin make him look a bit sick at times, but it’s more of a disguise to the predator hiding inside him. Same goes with his hairstyle, because as much as it seems fantasist, this little detail his spot on and coupled with the tuxedo, we have a criminal already set up has a figure for the future.
To sum up, Taylor is doing a more than wonderful job of portraying a not-so-memorable Batman villain. Is acting is more than spot-on, uncovering part of the mystery surrounding The Penguin, creating a both terrifying and likeable foe to Gordon. All along he is being both sweet and overly submissive, while a complete maniac when no one is looking. The series is taking a turn and is putting the character a little more at the center of the plot every new episode and I really like that.
For me, the best TV show actor of the year. I can’t wait to see it next plots.
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