Going back and rewatching some of the early episodes of Gotham’s first season after seeing the stunning opening instalments of the second year really does reinforce how far this show has come in the space of a year. There’s almost too much going on, with various strands charting the rise of the Penguin against the background of a mob war, the initiation of Jim Gordon into the GCPD and his realisation how much needs to change, domestic matters chez Gordon, and the effect that the death of his parents has on young Bruce Wayne. Oh and then there’s the Riddler. And Catwoman (well, Cat-young-woman at this stage). And is that Poison Ivy? And…
You can both see why the show was rapidly given a full season order, and why this was not necessarily the best thing that could have happened. The potential is great – Ben McKenzie, David Mazouz and Sean Pertwee in particular are excellent consistently as Jim Gordon, Bruce Wayne and Alfred Pennyworth – but the writers seem to run out of ideas for some of the characters, noticeably the key female ones, Barbara Kean and Fish Mooney, and stretch their stories out over the full 22 episodes, rather than dealing with them in the original 16. Robin Lord Taylor grows week by week as the Penguin while Jada Pinkett Smith seems to be increasingly going through the motions as Fish, given illogical actions in an effort to shock. Donal Logue struggles with some uneven material but never fails to make Bullock an interesting character to watch.
For me, the series works best when it’s being Broadwalk Empire in the DC universe, and worst when it tries to be a police detective equivalent of SHIELD incorporating villains whose connection to their printed counterparts is almost but not quite non-existent. For better or worse (and certainly on the basis of the first two episodes, it’s for better), the creators have gone full-bore supervillains for the second year, and this box set shows how they experimented along the way.
The extras are pretty interesting – the feature on the design in particular – and the main documentary does deal with some of the points raised above. Unlike some of the material on The Flash season 1 set though, the deleted scenes don’t really add that much.
Verdict: I suspect that if Gotham gets a decent four-five season run, this first year will be looked back on as a prequel to the series proper: there are certainly some weak episodes, but overall it’s pretty entertaining. 7/10
Gotham is out now on Blu-ray and DVD from Warner Bros. Home Entertaiment
Click here to order Gotham – Season 1 from Amazon.co.uk