Gotham: The Complete Series DVD Review
“Warner Bros. Home Entertainment provided me with a free copy of the DVD set I reviewed in this Blog Post. The opinions I share are my own.”
Uncover the sinister history of corruption that secretly rules Gotham in Seasons One through Three. Follow rookie detective James Gordon’s endeavors to make good on his promise to find the killer of the parents of a young Bruce Wayne. Trace the emergence of billionaire siblings Theo and Tabitha Galavan as leaders of escaped Arkham Asylum inmates. Get the inside story behind the genesis of twisted, iconic Super-Villains such as Penguin, Riddler, Two-Face, Poison Ivy and more. This is a shattering, gritty and thoroughly mesmerizing saga of the allure of power, the dangers of corruption, and the origins of DC’s legendary evildoers and heroes…in the roiling metropolis known as Gotham City.
Studio: Warner Brothers
Release Date: July 9, 2019
Run time: 1320 minutes
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 mix
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
Disc Spec: 18 DVD
As the first season of “Gotham” comes closer to its end, I am left with mixed feelings regarding the series. Initially unsure of how I felt about a Gotham without Batman, I decided to try the first few episodes. To my surprise I was hooked – for those first couple of episodes at least. The prompt introduction of a lot of major characters definitely had a lot to do with that. Although that strategy garnered a lot of interest for the start, it backfired horribly as it lost my interest for the later episodes. You don’t pull out the big guns at the beginning, you do it gradually.
Another thing that really disturbed me was the acting: the guy playing James Gordon presented a stone-faced expression throughout the first season similar to that of Stephen Amell of Arrow. It just did not live up to the standard. Then there is Jada Pinkett Smith. I had the feeling she was trying to get the audience to be scared of her, but again, her acting left a lot to be desired. The only bright spot for me, at least in terms of acting performance, was the Penguin. I think the actor portrayed the character brilliantly, convincing the audience of his unpredictability and his untrustworthy. In short, he did exactly what Jada Pinkett Smith was supposed to do.
The plot on the other hand, was decent enough to keep me watching. The crimes and the detectives’ exploits, although sometimes a little unrealistic, were diverse and that kept it going for me.
Gotham takes us back to the beginning where the honest and idealistic Detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) is a rising star in the Gotham City Police Department. Partnered with the cynical Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), Gordon and Bullock are tasked to investigate the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne, leaving behind their son Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) who is now under their care of the Wayne’s trusted butler Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee). James Gordon vows to find the murderer however he must do so by navigating through the murky underbelly of the corrupt and crime riddled Gotham City, where he encounters a variety of assorted crime bosses vying for power including Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), Carmine Falcone (John Doman) and Sal Maroni (David Zayas). Playing both sides off each other is Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). We also explore the origins of forensic scientist Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith) and street kid Selina “Cat” Kyle (Camren Bicondova).
Ben McKenzie has come a long way from his days in TV series The O.C. He has since come of age following crime drama Southland and he has finally made his mark in the lead role as James Gordon. Donal Logue provides dry comic relief as Harvey Bullock. Jada Pinkett Smith proves to be an effective villain as Fish Mooney. John Doman, well known for his role as the abrasive Deputy Commissioner Rawls in The Wire, is effective in his role as Carmine Falcone. Robin Lord Taylor, of whom I had the pleasure of meeting in person at Gold Coast Supanova in 2015, is brilliant as Oswald Cobblepot. Robin Lord Taylor always lights up the screen in every scene he appears. Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma slowly transforms throughout the series into a crazed killer. Camren Bicondova, who resembles a young Michelle Pfeiffer, is a perfect fit as Selina Kyle and Camren Bicondova looks to have a promising and bright future in showbiz.
The second season was far more varied in quality, some episodes being exceptionally good and others being exceptionally bad. What made the poor episodes unbearable was their regression to childish plots and incredibly clichéd acting and scenarios (nothing new was offered, and even though some clichés are acceptable, they were badly executed). The season finale was a very low point in the series; which I expected a bit more but things seem like they will be picking up in the third season.
I’m recommending this show along with Daredevil (Series 1) for anyone who grew up into comic books, even if you outgrew them somewhere around leaving school as I did. At first I was a little annoyed that this might be another its all about a cop’s life series, and it is, but it is so much more than that, and besides, in comic book terms, this cop is basically your Lone Ranger or Phantom without the costume. That’s also why I liked Daredevil, with Daredevil himself being the cop and severely handicapped at the same time. In both shows the acting is superb. In Gotham the acting is so good one forgets we haven’t actually got to the super-villain stage of the Gotham/Batman story. The rise of the Penguin is pure classic rise of a psychopath genius. There’s lots of edge of your seat throughout, cleverly employed and resolved. The criminals may not have huge special effects but they are very true to comic classics. The city surrounds photography is also superb. These two factors work marvelously together, negating the need for advanced cgi and creating something very original to television. This show doesn’t cheat. It finds alternatives. Successfully. And the good old villains have very classic yet diabolical ways of summoning revenge and summoning trouble. The subtle and not so subtle politics between the villains themselves, and the villains and the cops, and even the cops and the cops, is also cool. The Batman movies of late had that dimension too, also successfully. Even junior Bruce Wayne and Arthur are cool, with Arthur weighing in when he needs too. Everything is larger than life and totally enjoyable, even without CGI.
The show ‘Gotham’ has told the story in the most perfect way possible strictly following the comics leading up to Batman himself, excellent job so far. The villains are well done I even had my moments were I kinda wanted a lot of them dead and never to come back for example Galavan and Tetch. But after bringing them back I realized it only made the show better, was a little upset that the joker didn’t get a longer run time because he is played by such a great actor and there is so much more story line they could have done who knows maybe season 5 will surprise me.
With Gotham cut off from the rest of the country, the show basically went full Mad Max with various gangs fighting over control of the city. The season basically had permission to drop the pretense of any real-world restrictions and go full crazy, and I love it.Season five does a surprisingly good job of allotting time for all the characters. Cameron Monaghan again excels as Jeremaiah Valeska. They even manage to include a decent portion of the show’s recurring villains. (I think I’ll miss Dr. B.D. Wong’s Hugo Strange most of all). Plus, we finally get to see a certain Batman villain who has never been depicted in live action.
Unfortunately with the reduced episode count, two characters got short shrift. Man-bat was teased at the end of last season, but you won’t get him this time. Also the writers fell into their habit of having the Penguin behave childishly a little too much. It can be hard to see how he achieved underworld success at these times.
Movie Content: 9/10
The Final Word
However despite the flaws inherent within Gotham, the series has all the elements which make engrossing television. Interesting characters, an engrossing narrative, and a central element which always pulls the audience to watch more, the city of Gotham, which in and of itself, with its enigma, visual beauty, and dilemas, stands as a character in and of itself.
Overall Rating: 9/10