Martin Carr reviews the twelfth episode of Gotham…
This should have been called something like ‘Coming Home To Roost’, more snappy, less obvious, no spoon feeding of your demographic. This would make for a less obvious tagline and therefore a more entertaining forty minutes of television. As it is we get ‘What the Little Bird Told Him’ which not only signposts the forthcoming fun and games, but strips away any intrigue; or so you would think.
Now anyone who has been following Gotham with even half an eye and ear will know that there were naysayers. People felt early on that they had been sold down the river. Set adrift up a certain creek without any form of propulsion to coin a phrase. However what has become apparent in the last few months is that Gotham has developed into something unique. If not a standalone entry in its own right, then at least an entity which can co-exist alongside other properties without embarrassment.
This has much to do with the aforementioned ‘Little Bird’ which we all know to be Robin Lord Taylor. A creation universally praised by both the viewing public and latter day Penguin himself Danny Devito. What Bruno Heller has done by continuing the Jack Gruber storyline is surround Taylor with great character actors in the form of Christopher Heyerdahl, John Doman’s Falcone and David Zayas’s Maroni. These men are all given front and centre screen time which allows them to do what great performers get paid for; to inhabit a character without grandstanding, scenery chewing or any other form of braggadocio.
It is a mark of confidence from show runners Bruno Heller and Danny Cannon that Bruce Wayne and Catwoman remain. Jim Gordon is increasingly front and centre rather than a clichéd afterthought which many had feared might happen. Donal Logue’s Bullock has also become intrinsic to the success but remains comic relief where necessary, forever the king of a corny line. That aside Harvey now exists within the Gotham framework no longer at odds with those around him. However all that being said there are still a few kinks which need straightening out. Exhibit A is Barbara Keen the on off love interest of Jim Gordon as portrayed by Erin Richards.
For no reason other than plot points we spend five minutes with her and the parents in deathly silence sipping tea. In terms of keeping characters on the radar it served to demonstrate a frosty relationship between them nothing more. This could have been achieved in a more succinct way without the need to burn unnecessary screen time. Other character arcs which used up precious minutes involved Cory Michael Smith’s Nygma attempting to woo a co-worker. These moments were nicely played but ultimately superfluous to the main event.
What we have here then is a primetime piece of television which might be edgy if it tried hard enough. This is solid drama but not pushing the envelope in terms of network taboos or audience expectations such as NBC’s Constantine. Gotham remains clever but safe which is good for the money men because the ratings are consistent. It contains some great understated performances but is unlikely to challenge you. Apparently there are no two words more damning in the English language than ‘good job’. A phrase which the bean counters are more than familiar with down at Fox one would imagine.