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TV Series Review

Gotham City wasn't always a haven for cape-wearing do-gooders. But it's always had a supersize need for them. Fox's pre-Batman metropolis is no Big Apple, no Windy City, no City of Lights. If anything, it's a City of Id—a tawdry town built on secret desires, hush money and the broken bones of would-be reformers. Strip clubs, not Starbucks, dominate its corners. Thugs stalk its alleys. Few good people live in Gotham, it seems—and those who do don't stay, or stay good, for long.

James Gordon aims to change that.

The idealistic detective is the shiniest cog in Gotham's tired, broken-down crime-fighting machine. He's a war hero and certainly no stranger to difficult jobs. He's the son of the city's old district attorney. But even he's not sure whether he has the strength to beat down this beast.

Rogues Gallery

Gotham is a painstaking prequel to the Batman mythos, and it's all about Gordon's struggle to swim in Gotham's murky waters—or, if not that, at least keep his head above water. There are no superheroes (until Batman is introduced in the series’ finale) to bail him out when things go wrong. Just an unreliable police force behind him and a bevy of supervillains just beginning to sow their evil oats.

Penguin. Hugo Strange. Dr. Freeze. The Riddler. Bane. They're all here, and they're all seriously bad dudes. Teens Ivy "Pamela" Pepper (the future Poison Ivy) and Selina Kyle (Catwoman) are both here, too, and Selina's particularly friendly with a young, serious Bruce Wayne—little knowing what the future has in store for the both of them.

And in a place as dark as Gotham, perhaps it's not so surprising that even the light-side guys have their shadows. Bruce is obsessed with tracking down—and perhaps killing—his parents' murderer. And even Gordon himself has sometimes strayed from the straight and narrow.

The Dark Night

Gotham clearly isn't given to pulling punches. People die, often with a bloody flourish. Beatings are brutal and gory. This isn't the "SMASH!" "POW!" "BOP!" Gotham of the 1960s. Instead, it takes its cues from Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy … and moves on from there.

As mentioned, the streets are filled with bars and strip clubs. Couples kiss and canoodle and engage in sleazy shenanigans (opposite-sex and same-sex). Language can be raw. And Harvey Bullock, Gordon's less-than-idealistic adjunct, always seems to be taking swigs from a hip flask.

The glimmer of hope in all this dimness? Mr. Gordon, of course, the guy with the flashlight that he shines in Gotham's darkest recesses. He's not a superhero, and as mentioned, he's far from perfect. (He's not even above carrying out a shadowy killing of his own.) But he also tries to do the right thing. And, of course, we already know how he emerges in the end as an icon for justice and righteousness.

And Bruce Wayne, tutored by loyal butler Alfred, is there too, growing in purpose and strength season by season. As he inches closer to the Dark Knight he'll one day become, the city's bad 'uns worm closer and closer to him.

When Jim first meets the young and shivering Bruce Wayne, huddled in a blanket and in shock over his parents' murder, the detective sits beside the boy and tells him that he, too, lost his father—to a drunk driver who never even stopped. "I know how you feel right now," Gordon says. "And I promise you that no matter how dark and scary the world might be right now, there will be light. There will be light, Bruce."

It's a flash of empathy and connection that's both inspiring and illuminative, revealing just how dark the rest of Gotham really is.

Positive Elements

Spiritual Content

Sexual Content

Violent Content

Crude or Profane Language

Drug and Alcohol Content

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Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

April 25, 2019: "The Beginning ..."
Gotham: May 11, 2018 "One Bad Day"
Gotham: May 14, 2017 "Light the Wick"
Gotham: Mar. 7, 2016 "Wrath of the Villains: A Dead Man Feels No Cold"
Gotham: 9-22-2014



Readability Age Range



Ben McKenzie as Detective James Gordon; Donal Logue as Detective Harvey Bullock; Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney; Zabryna Guevara as Captain Sarah Essen; Sean Pertwee as Alfred Pennyworth; Robin Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot; Erin Richards as Barbara Kean; David Mazouz as Bruce Wayne; Victoria Cartagena as Renee Montoya; Andrew Stewart-Jones as Crispus Allen; Cory Michael Smith as Edward Nygma; John Doman as Carmine Falcone; Drew Powell as Butch Gilzean; Camren Bicondova as Selina Kyle; Morena Baccarin as Dr. Leslie Thompkins; Chris Chalk as Lucius Fox; Michael Chiklis as Capt. Nathaniel Barnes; BD Wong as Hugo Strange; Nathan Darrow as Victor Fries; Tonya Pinkins as Ethel Peabody; Lili Simmons as adult Selena; Jeté Laurence as Barbara Lee Gordon






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