[Update: For Barry’s additional commentary, see his post More on Gotham]
DC’s new Gotham series premiered on Fox this Monday, drawing 8.21 million viewers and a ratings share of 3.2 out of 10. In case you missed it, Fox has the pilot online on their site:
My take: so far the show looks like it could last longer than Birds of Prey on the strength of stronger drama and characterization, but it feels more like a police/mob drama than a superhero show and seems unlikely to replicate the audience enthusiasm and post-season endurance of Smallville. The decision to focus on James Gordon and make Bruce Wayne too young to yet be Batman delegates the most interesting character to a secondary role, threatening to limit the show’s development potential to the TV equivalent of The Batman Family. Now I enjoyed reading The Batman Family myself, but not as much as I enjoy reading about the adventures of the adult Batman and his regular supporting cast. A show revolving around Batman, along the lines of Arrow, would have more potential.
Beyond that, the villains are okay as far as they go, with several traditional villains appearing, and Catwoman and Penguin foreshadowed to become focal points in the near future. However, the character who seems set to serve as the main villain, Fish Mooney, lacks the unique draw of a Joker, so far leaving the show without a strong central nemesis. Also, Penguin is a bit too psychotic, reflecting a general overdose of gratuitous violence and cynicism that mars the show’s writing. Bullock’s constant confrontationalism gets irritating quickly, though it could serve to highlight his contrast with Gordon. The show’s version of Alfred has a bit too much attitude unbalanced by upper-class manners to stay in character. Gotham needs some comic relief, a lighter touch to break up its bleakness, and some superpowered characters to stay interesting. It will be interesting to see how it competes with Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., probably its closest counterpart. But after seeing the pilot episode, I’m more enthusiastic about Flash.