Review: ‘Gotham’ – ‘Lovecraft’

Senior Television Writer
11.24.14 21 Comments

FOX

A review of tonight's “Lovecraft” coming up just as soon as I'm a butler, not a valet…

When “Gotham” began the development process, all the news reports suggested it would be focused entirely on Jim Gordon and the future Bat-villains. It wasn't until much later on – presumably after much discussion between FOX and Warner Bros. about how best to promote the show – that it became a Bruce Wayne origin story as much as anything else. And in the show's early episodes, the scenes with Alfred and Master Bruce felt like the most extraneous pieces of an overstuffed show. And of the show's future villains, Selina was always the one least connected to what was happening in the rest of the series. (The show did less with Nygma, but it wasn't hard to just have him show up for a few minutes at crime scenes at the precinct.)

The last few weeks, though, Bruce, Alfred and Selina have been the strongest and most consistent parts of a show that still remains a work in progress.

Selina and Bruce's fugitive day gave more opportunity for the future cat(*) and bat to get to know each other, and to absorb certain traits from the other (goodness from Bruce, toughness and street smarts from Selina). The star of this week's outing, though, would have to be Alfred, who's turning out to be like the Man in Black from “The Princess Bride” (or Joan from “Mad Men”), where anything you can do, he can do better. He can outfight and outshoot assassins, is a better interrogator than Harvey Bullock (Harvey's frustration at not being able to beat the witnesses that Alfred kept bribing was priceless), and can charm the pants off Fish Mooney mere moments after soundly thumping Butch. Forget waiting a decade-plus for Lil Wayne to grow into Batman: “Gotham” should just fit Sean Pertwee for the cape and cowl right now, he was so much fun to watch tonight.

(*) Okay, you are a prominent Gotham City fence who has had many dealings with Selina Kyle, and who therefore knows what she can do physically. Why do you have your goons lock her into a room with a prominent skylight, lots of furniture and other gear that could be turned into makeshift climbing apparatuses, and then leave them unsupervised?

The rest of “Lovecraft” was, like so much of the series, trying to do too much, too soon. In addition to Harvey Dent being introduced as reckless man with delusions (thus giving the show precious little room for him to grow between now and Two-Face time), we check back in with Ivy Pepper to find that she's gone completely nuts, and is already scaring someone as tough as Selina. The show already arguably introduced too many Bat-characters at the start, and they keep bringing in more, and not giving most of them much time to breathe. A first season built entirely around the rise of the Penguin, with maybe occasional cameos from Selina, Dent, Nygma, etc., in their current positions, and without constantly beating us over the head with what they're going to become, would probably still be Batman enough to promote, while functioning much better as an actual TV show.

Gordon being reassigned to Arkham suggests the show's at least temporarily pivoting away from the very uneven Case of the Week material, or it could mean a busy show is about to get even busier. (Bullock needs to have something to do now, right?)

What did everybody else think?

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