I’m still trying to figure out what type of show Gotham wants to be.
The promos and trailers, which are great, really capture a dark and serious tale of crime, corruption and villains on the rise.
And the first three episodes do happen to have aspects of a more realistic take on the Batman material. But at the same time, there are characters and moments that continue to feel like over the top cartoons.
It’s perfectly fine if the show wants to ham up the camp, but it needs to figure out which side of the line it wants to be on. Having characters such as Montoya and her partner talk like people in the real world while speaking with an over-enunciating and exaggerated Fish Mooney seems like such a clash.
Just imagine if you had Christian Bale’s Batman trying to talk to Adam West’s Batman in the same show. They both work perfectly in their respective iterations, but they wouldn’t work as well in the same Batman universe. (Though if villains had to deal with two Batmans…)
So, to introduce a character called the Balloonman in Gotham Season 1 Episode 3 had me immediately skeptical. The name just sounds laughable.
Yet, while the Balloonman seemed straight from a comic book, including his introduction in that opening scene, the character wasn't someone to laugh at. Sure, it seemed silly watching the crooked officials float away like in the Disney movie Up, but according to Gotham's standards, this was the first costumed vigilante. And he wasn't wearing hockey pads.
The concept of the Balloonman certainly reiterated in Jim the notion that the corruption of the city is far reaching, and others (wink wink at future Batman) will want to do something about it. My real disappointment from the Balloonman had more to do with him being a one and done character, whose background was told in exposition without us ever really getting to know him. But then again, he was a character who used weather balloons to get rid of his enemies -- not exactly evoking the same type of fear that someone like Batman could or will do in the future. Imagine Jim installing a balloon signal?
The Balloonman also seemed to instill in Bruce that killing the crooked just makes you another criminal. This young Bruce is definitely an intense version who, by my count, doesn't like to leave the one room in the giant Wayne mansion. But with all that corruption and having your parents murdered in the city where you were just trying to catch a show, I could see not wanting to set foot out there for a while.
As it is -- and I'm really curious to see where this aspect of Gotham goes -- the various power hungry forces from Fish to Carmine Falcone to the newly introduced Sal Maroni are fighting for a level of control. That means plenty of "accidents" and power plays, which could be really interesting, especially with Jim and Harvey trying to do police work in the meantime. It certainly looks like Oswald will be making his own play soon enough (the guy is willing to kill for a sandwich and shoes), and the character is mesmerizing to watch.
Might he team up with Maroni? I feel like he will wind up taking out Fish soon enough (penguins eat fish, right?), but his reappearance at Jim's doorstep was an interesting turn. How's that even going to work? They aren't going to work together are they?
The last time Jim teamed up with a future Batman "villain" she got him to jump into a sewer before taking off without saying any new information about the death of Bruce's parents.
At least Jim has Barbara, and I do like that she isn't swayed by outside thoughts. She seems to trust in him, and the moments where the two have a quiet conversation really gets at their relationship and characters. Those are definite positives for the show.
But I'm still not loving the show yet. I like it, sure, and want to keep seeing where this Batman-based tale takes viewers, but it still has some issues it needs to work out.
And I can't help but wonder that if this series wasn't centered in the Batman universe and had zero Batman-related characters, you know, one just about a good cop trying to deal with crime in a corrupt city, would we care about what’s happening in the show?
Still, the Batman fan in me continues to hold out that by the time we reach the Gotham Season 1 finale, we'll have a far better sense of what the show really wants to do and be. Bat-fingers crossed.
What do you think? Are you loving Gotham? What did you think of the Balloonman? Catch the latest installment when you watch Gotham online and tell us what you thought!
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.