Over the weekend, several members of the press were invited to see a screening of the pilot for Fox’s upcoming Batman prequel, Gotham, which centers on Ben McKenzie’s Detective James Gordon and his partner Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Early reviews out of that screening have been universally positive, and while they weren’t allowed to reveal spoilers, it’s apparent that the pilot is stuffed with villains and future villains of the show. All the full-length reviews offer special praise to the pilot standout, Robin Lord Taylor, who plays Oswald Cobblepott, the future Penguin. The focal point of the pilot episode is the death of Bruce Wayne’s parents, and that investigation will apparently play into much of the future of the series, which is expected to have a familiar procedural framework with serialized elements.
Here’s what critics are saying about the pilot episode:
By far the best thing about the pilot is Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepott, the man who will later become one of Batman’s greatest enemies: the Penguin. Taylor is superb and transfixing in the role, down to his yellow teeth, creepy laugh and weird, freckled face … Despite the villains — including Jada Pinkett-Smith as mob boss Fish Mooney, and one uber-bad from Batman lore we won’t spoil — this isn’t a superhero show. If anything, it’s closer to a police procedural with some comic book trappings. Whether it eventually leans towards capes and tights, we’ll have to wait and see. But it’s decidedly different from the rest of the comic based offerings on TV.
[Gotham] is the origin story for a number of the characters in the Batman universe, including Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler and Poison Ivy, as it shows what made them the formidable adversaries that they eventually become. At its core, it is the story of Detective James Gordon’s (Benjamin McKenzie) rise through a dangerously corrupt city teetering on the edge of evil, and it chronicles the birth of one of the most popular superheroes of our time … I really enjoyed the pilot and found it both promising and with a lot of potential … Robin Lord Taylor is a true stand-out as Oswald Cobblepot, aka The Penguin.
From Crave Online:
The “Gotham” pilot seems like it’s an hour or so away from being a pretty good Batman movie. We’re just not going to get to the part where Batman Begins Again until perhaps the very end of this series. But director Danny Cannon gives “Gotham” an impressive scope and this feels like it could have been a theatrical release … The two most effective turns are Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot (aka The Penguin), a member of Fish’s gang and Cory Michael Smith’s Edward Nygma, the future Riddler who is currently working for the Gotham police as a forensic scientist.
The LA Times Critic, Steven Zeitchik:
Really dug the pilot of Fox's superhero origin story Gotham. Solid crime drama with many tantalizing hints of the mythology to come.
— Steven Zeitchik (@ZeitchikLAT) June 13, 2014
AP Critic Alicia Rancilio:
— Alicia Rancilio (@aliciar) June 13, 2014
Hitfix critic Daniel Fienberg:
It’s well-cast, top-to-bottom, and the production values play higher in context than they have in the trailers. #Gotham
— Daniel Fienberg (@HitFixDaniel) June 13, 2014