Ralph Potts reviews this TV series that tells the story of Jim Gordon’s rise to prominence in Gotham City before Batman’s arrival.
The Review at a Glance:
(max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Warner – 2014/2015
MPAA Rating: NR
Feature running time: 968 minutes
Genre: TV Crime/Drama
Disc Format: BD-50
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish Stereo
Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish
Starring: Ben McKenzie, Donal Logue, Jada Pinkett Smith, Robin Lord Taylor, Corey Michael Smith, John Doman, Camren Bicondoiva, Morena Baccarin, David Mazouz, Erin Richards
Directed by: Various
Music by: Graeme Revell, David E. Russo
Written by: Bruce Heller & Various
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: September 8, 2015
When rookie Gotham City detective James Gordon, dedicated to restoring his crime-ridden metropolis back to its decent and illustrious past, catches the case of a murdered socialite couple, he promises their shattered, surviving son Bruce Wayne he’ll find their killer. It is an obligation and an obsession that will cost him dearly – and set the stage for the gritty and exciting world of Gotham. Inspired by DC Comics characters beloved by generations, this gripping hit series from the talents behind The Mentalist, CSI, Nikita and Gossip Girl reaches deep into Batman lore to uncover the sinister layers of corruption that secretly rule Gotham City, spawning ground of the world’s most iconic villains. Delve into the circumstances that created the bizarre personas who would become Catwoman, The Penguin, The Riddler, Two-Face and The Joker in this entirely new chapter that’s never been told.
As a kid I was a Marvel Comic fan but read my share of DC Comics. As such I am not intimately familiar with the Gotham City mythos but was interested in checking out this TV series. Considering that Bruce Wayne/Batman is Gotham’s favorite son/hero it wasn’t surprising that the show opens with the murder of his parents. This signals the beginning of the events that will ultimately lead Bruce to his alter ego however the show focuses on the corruption, evolution of crime and young detective Jim Gordon, the straight arrow that vows to clean it all up.
The series’ pilot episode does a decent job of setting up the primary characters and the foundational basis for the running plot. There are several season long subplots that support the primary storyline while episodic crime stories fill in the narrative, providing elements and characters that establish Gotham’s foreboding future. Jim Gordon essentially remains the show’s prime focus as his exploits on duty with the GCPD and to a lesser degree, his personal life, which revolve around complicated romantic entanglements, are infused. In addition to Jim, the shows features several key players, Fish Mooney, Don Carmine Falcone, Don Sal Maroni and Oswald Cobblepot (aka The Penguin) that become embroiled in a power struggle for leadership of Gotham’s criminal underworld.
Their continuing storyline support a variety of recurring characters and subplots that include members of the GCPD and governing city officials. Lastly, there is young Bruce Wayne, his faithful butler Alfred, and a young, street smart girl named “Cat” that all have a hand to play. Over the course of the season there are references to Gotham/Batman lore, including several iconic characters/villains.
For the most part I found Gotham to be engaging and in keeping with the essence and feel of its source. I liked the integration of the various episodic crimes that presented challenges for Jim and company. The storylines that revolved around the show’s primary villains, ebbed and flowed for me. I really enjoyed the Oswald Cobblepot character and thought that Robin Lord Taylor’s take on The Penguin was the series highlight. Conversely I found the Fish Mooney character and the majority of her accompanying subplot, especially the one that took her away from Gotham, to be unnecessarily exhaustive. Aside from Cobblepot and his plotted double dealing, I liked Cat, especially when she would team up with Bruce on one of his investigative jaunts.
At 22 episodes in length Gotham at times felt overlong and thin but for the most part I think the writing and direction kept things on point. As the season built to its climax, the thematic elements and their progression seemed apropos and left things pretty much where you’d expect. Season two is set to kick off later this month. I look forward to seeing where things go as I think that Gotham has very good potential as long as the writing continues to nudge the envelope.
The series contains violence, mild sexuality, language and thematic material that would make it inappropriate for younger viewers.
AUDIO/VIDEO – By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100/EXCELLENT = 83-91/GOOD = 74-82/AVERAGE = 65-73/BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency effects:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Low frequency extension * (non-rated element):NA
- DSU Rating * (non-rated element):
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black Level/Shadow Detail:
- Color Reproduction:
Gotham: The Complete First Season comes to Blu-ray Disc from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 14 Mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 2.2 Mbps.
This high definition video presentation looks great and features a distinctive visual aesthetic that utilizes a reserved chromatic palette which makes use of sepia tones and muted primaries. This along with the application of filtering/lighting provides the period style look the show’s creators were striving for. Certain sequences/elements make bolder use of color with noticeably deeper saturation. Contrast and brightness are well balanced which results in distortion free and satisfying image quality. Blacks appear deep and punchy but delineation in low level scenes can range from very good to average. Flesh tones are a bit on the bland side but retain enough complexional variety to avoid appearing lifeless. Close ups offer appreciable texture and subtle refinement. Wide angle shots, especially those shot in the natural light of day, have excellent depth, with sharp resolute definition quality that is rarely questionable. I didn’t notice any signs of compression or video related artifacts.
The lossless DTS-HD Master Audio sound keeps pace with the video and is quite good. Dynamics are robust and highs are crisp without being strident or edgy. Dialogue is rendered with defining tonal expression and room penetrating depth through the center channel. The front soundstage is diffused with excellent separation and clearly articulated detail. The presentation makes ample use of the entire surround platform. At times it opens up quite nicely to create an involving surround mix containing a mix of directional and ambient sounds. Bass response doesn’t reach subterranean levels however it appropriately supports the source elements and provides an appreciably tight, and punchy low end.
- (HD) Deleted scenes
- (HD) Gotham invented: 3 productions featurettes (totaling 31 minutes)
- (HD) Gotham: Designing the fiction – 20 minute featurette
- (HD) The game of Cobblepot – 26 minute featurette
- (HD) Gotham: The legend reborn – 21 minute featurette
- (HD) DC Comics night at Comic-Con 2014: Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine & Arrow
- (HD) Character profiles – 7 segments (totaling 15 minutes)
- (HD) Gag reel – 5 minutes
- Digital HD Copy
Based on DC Comics’ popular characters, Gotham tells the story of the city of Gotham before the Dark Knight cast his shadow. Season one features more highs than lows and proves entertaining enough to keep interest from waning as it builds toward a favorable segue into the show’s second season. It comes to Blu-ray from Warner Brothers Home Entertainment featuring solid technical merits and a worthwhile supplemental package. I think that Gotham succeeds at creating its engaging world that revolves around a host of iconic characters. If you’re a fan this set is easily worth picking up on Blu-ray and is recommended. Hopefully season two ups the ante…
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS4910 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
(Calibrated with Calman 5 & C6 Meter from Spectracal)
Stewart Filmscreen – Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16×9 Screen
Carada Masquerade Horizontal Masking System
Marantz AV8802A 13.2 Channel Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies – 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
B&K Reference 200.7 Series 2 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-103D Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (With Darbee video processing)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal Remote Control
Canton “Ergo” and In-Ceiling series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SVS PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
Panamax M5400-PM Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) – Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components – CP-CP102 cooling package