If one is a fan of superheroes and comic books, then it’s likely one already knows about Batman, Commissioner Gordon, Gotham City, and all of its infamous super villains like The Joker, Penguin, and The Riddler. DC Comics’ and Warner Bros. Television’s Gotham gives us a different twist on this mythology.
The series, a dark and gritty crime drama, often every bit as psychologically taxing as Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight trilogy, gives us a look at the rise of the young rookie detective James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) through the ranks as the city’s traditional organized crime lords are slowly pushed out by a new breed of insane super villains in their early stages. It’s a turning point marked by the killing of the city’s rich power couple, the Waynes, an event that also brings James Gordon together in an unlikely friendship with the young, and now orphaned, adolescent Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), long before he is the billionaire playboy, and certainly before he becomes Batman.
Over the course of the series, we get glimpses of the early days of such villains as Penguin/Oswald Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor), Catwoman (Camren Bicondova), and even Two-Face/Harvey Dent (Nicholas D’Agosto).
The series is defined by its gorgeous production work, on-location shooting in New York City, aided by CGI work that turns the city locations and the Brooklyn soundstage into a Gothic, 1950s, ‘60s, and 70s mashup with some modern trimmings. You may be able to spot some actual city locations, like the Brooklyn Bridge, but the beautiful CG work makes this a world all its own, out of time and out of place. Jada Pinkett-Smith also stars as Fish Mooney, Oswald Cobbelpot’s mentor and one of Gotham City’s early villains vying for control of the decadent city.
The series did get off to a very good start in the first half of season one, but half-way through it began to lose its direction, especially concerning the characters Fish Mooney and Gordon’s girlfriend Barbara Kean (Erin Richards), the latter seeming to have some sort of unexpected psychotic break. First season dry spell, perhaps? Who knows? My attention began to wane with Gotham, where when it got out of the gate, it had me hooked. If it cannot turn itself around quickly in its second season, it may only sink further.
Gotham is shot in high definition on the Arri Alexa and the heavily CG-assisted imagery arrives on Blu-ray in an AVC/MPEG-4 1080p encodement from Warner Bros. Home Entertainment. This is a series that looks very cinematic, is darkly lit, cold and often blueish and grey in its palette, but despite the fact the overall palette doesn’t pop, it is often highlighted with vivid primaries that do. This makes it look very enticing and the digital production is crystal clear, with lots of dimensionality and nuance.
We get an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (48kHz/16-bit) soundtrack that drips with atmosphere; it’s just perfect for this series, which is rich in emotional and visual atmosphere. Sounds engulf you, from the score, to the perpetual rainstorms and hailstorm of bullets. Dialogue is clean and free from clipping, and the low end is well extended down into the lowest ranges without sounding boomy.
In addition to the UltraViolet numerous deleted scenes on disc, we get a number of featurettes with the cast and crew exploring the creation, design, and mythology of Gotham, which will be of interest to fans of the DC Comics universe and the world of Batman.
- Digital HD UltraViolet
- Deleted Scenes (1.78:1; 1080p/24):
- Penguin’s Umbrella (00:01:15)
- Lovecraft (00:02:22)
- Rogues’ Gallery (00:00:41)
- What Little Bird Told Him (00:00:53)
- Deleted Scene – Welcome Back, Jim Gordon (00:00:49)
- Gotham Invented (1.78:1; 1080p/24):
- Building Our Gotham (00:13:19) – Executive producers of Gotham serve as our guides into the unique world they created and the new characters which emerged.
- Paving the Way for the Caped Crusader (00:06:56) – It is the gritty crime-ridden world before the arrival of Batman that provides the right balance of characters, locations and crime to sound the call for a savior.
- Fractured Villains of Gotham (00:11:13) – The new breed of villain is willing to step over the boundaries and be a true and proper threat to Gotham society. From the Red Hood to the Ogre, we see what happens when evil personified attacks the city.
- Gotham: Designing the Fiction (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:19:56) – Designing the Fiction takes you form concept to creation of the gritty streets and dark skylines of Gotham City.
- The Game of Cobblepot (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:26:25) – The Game of Cobblepot examines the gamesmanship of Oswald Cobblepot as he ascends to the top of Gotham’s underworld.
- Gotham: The Legend Reborn (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:21:37) – Go behind the scenes of the thrilling Gotham pilot, from its comic book origins to the cutting-edge production.
- DC Comics Night at Comic-Con 2014 Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow (1.78:1; 1080i/60; 00:29:31) – Casts and Producers from WB Television and DC Entertainment discuss the exciting upcoming slate of shows: Gotham, The Flash, Constantine, and Arrow.
- Character Profiles
- Gag Reel (1.78:1; 1080p/24; 00:04:55)
- Deleted Scene:
- Beasts of Prey (00:01:14)
The Definitive Word
It has the look, the style, the mood, the passion, now if it can tighten the writing, Gotham could be something special and really bring something new to the mythology of the super villains of Gotham City. The Blu-ray release looks and sounds great.
Additional Screen Captures