[WARNING: Possible 'Gotham' TV pilot SPOILERS below!]
Every pilot season, entertainment news is bombarded by the latest stories about casting and the like for the newest crop of projects, but usually only those in the business are lucky enough to read the scripts. Then there are those pilots shrouded in even more secrecy, with details only coming out through leaks. Shows from J.J. Abrams are often among those where the scripts are only read by a select few, and this year, FOX’s Gotham is also on that list.
So far we’ve only learned a few scant details about what to expect from Gotham. The show will follow a young Jim Gordon (Ben McKenzie) patrolling the streets of Gotham City alongside Detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue); a 10-to-12-year-old Bruce Wayne will appear; and future villains like The Penguin will get origin stories. And now we have our first glimpse at some story details.
io9 has obtained the ‘Second Network Draft’ of the pilot script, dated Jan. 31, 2014. This may not be the final draft, although it certainly isn’t a first draft either, and there’s always a possibility it may not even be real. Keep all this in mind as you read the plot details below.
The main issue with the pilot appears to be, as is often the case, that it’s more of an introduction to the world of the series than a story that stands on its own. In the episode, Jim Gordon is given a tour of the city by Harvey Bullock, all while trying to solve the murder of young Bruce Wayne’s parents. Along the way they meet the future Penguin, a 14-year-old Catwoman (already burgling and communing with cats) and a little girl named Ivy living with a lot of houseplants. In case all that wasn’t straight forward enough for Batman newbies, there are also lines like “He looks like a penguin” to describe Oswald Cobblepot.
The dialogue seems to be another point of contention in their review. Playing into the noir-ness of its setting, the pilot tries to work every gangster phrase into its characters’ language. Sure, calling people “mopes,” “loonybirds,” “skell huggers, “sugar bunnies” or “a cool glass of milk” may be a way to to include period details into your pilot, but if not used sparingly, it’s also a way of alienating your viewers and making your show seem too cartoonish. Especially, if you have Alfred saying, “Oi! Master Bruce! Stop playing silly buggers! Get your bloody arse down off there!”
Finally, there’s the issue of having two opposing main characters in Gordon and Bullock, which we already know from Donal Logue will be set up as two sides of a coin. Gordon is idealistic, while Bullock is morally corrupt. There are clever ways to provide this character information to the viewers, but subtly doesn’t seem to be writer Bruno Heller’s (The Mentalist, Rome) forte when it comes to this script. Gordon spends a lot of the pilot amazed at the crime happening around him in Gotham City, to the point of appearing naive, until he at last comes out a changed man by episode’s end.
A pilot is meant to be a representation of what a network can expect to see from a show should it go to series, but with Gotham already picked up for a full season, that’s no longer the case. It seems that the main problem now is it’s really hard to tell what this series will end up being like past the first episode.
So does this latest information put you off from wanting to see the series? Are you hoping the script’s a fake? Or does this all sound good to you?
Gotham is in development and expected to premiere on FOX in Fall 2014.