Gotham

2014-, Primrose Hill Productions et al

Here's a smart crime drama pretending to be a comic strip adaptation—or vice-versa—which I've found remarkably engrossing. While its relationship to the Batman franchise is irrelevant to me, the exploration of the various pro- and antagonists as they develop is entertaining, especially that of Oswald Cobblepot, a.k.a. Penguin, as realized with effective creepiness by Robin Lord Taylor—I hope he gets an award for his at times heartbreaking performance. Meanwhile, Ben McKenzie's James Gordon is a terrific non-super-hero for us to cheer, while Jada Pinkett Smith, deliciously over-the-top as Fish Mooney, is regrettably underutilized. But perhaps Gotham's greatest redeeming value for me is that it doesn't imbue its supervillains with über-extreme superpowers, and there's a refreshing lack of absurd action-saturated set pieces with flying robots or supernatural battles. The show wisely stops just short of full-on comic book nonsense; striking a steady, swift but not manic pace, it doesn't waste anyone's time, and never feels padded with visual noise. Scripts are tight and editing is crisp, transitioning effortlessly from one disparate scene to the next. It also helps that the high production values are all up there on the small screen, with special effects worthy of the big screen. Consider me hooked.

       

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