The complete first season of Gotham hits Blu-ray and DVD today (September 8). The Season 1 set contains all 22 episodes of the first season plus what feels like hours of extras. Here’s our review.
The Episodes: As Gotham began, I was definitely watching live… then, I admit, certain episodes like “The Balloonman” which were so all over the place in tone started to scare me off. I will say, though, that having the whole season in one place and knowing where it’s going definitely helps the experience. There are a lot of growing pains in the first year, especially with tone. You could have violence and then there would be over-the-top silliness, and the musical cues in some cases just weren’t fitting… for me, at least.
There also is the premise. Now, I would have loved to have seen that Bruce Wayne show years ago which would have been the Batman equivalent of Smallville, and I still am sad by the fact that that didn’t happen concurrent with that previous series. But Gotham as it is right now, as outlets much bigger than mine have pointed out, has a weird existence: If the bad guys are caught, then there’s no need for Batman later. If they’re not, then Jim Gordon & co. really stink at their jobs.
With that said, there’s a lot to like about Gotham, and as I pointed out, it’s a lot better when watched as a coherent whole, especially as I feel like the show is finding itself. There are some fantastic performances, the best being Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot/The Penguin. So often Burgess Meredith was the default for the role — so much that even Danny DeVito took on his vocal mannerisms — and it’s nice that such an altered take is given.
Being such a fan of his father, I was excited to see Sean Pertwee as Alfred, and even though I feel we don’t see Alfred enough, he’s fantastic. David Mazouz bringing out the inquisitive nature of Bruce Wayne has been great to see that evolution. Characters like Edward Nygma come in, and evolve, and other aspects of the Batman lore come in and out.
I’m mixed on how I feel about Jada Pinkett Smith’s Fish Mooney. Sometimes I feel like Fish is so over the top she more belongs on the 1960’s Batman TV show; other times I think and feel this is an act perpetuated by Fish and it’s an intentional creative choice so people might be stupid enough to underestimate her.
Donal Logue’s Harvey Bullock was an early standout for me when watching the series, but sadly, as it has gone on, I feel like his character is contributing less and less. Ben McKenzie is decent as Jim Gordon, and it’s a thankless job: Just like how Ryan Atwood was the brooding, not as goofy character in The O.C., Jim is the character who might be the most grounded of them all, so he doesn’t get the chance to be zany in a way that some of the actors get to.
There are a lot of names I’m not mentioning, and it’s not from disliking them or anything; it’s just that this cast is way too big — so big that I feel like some characters (Montoya and Allen) disappear midway through the season and it’s hard to notice. Did they get the “season 1 Facts of Life girls” treatment? It looks like it. All in all, despite all my rambling up above, watching this show again has been a joy.
The Extras: A lot of featurettes were shot over the first season, and a lot of them are on this set. There are a lot of “building the world” type extras, character profiles, and that sort of thing. I was disappointed, though, to not see some of the show’s Emmy-nominated visual effects team featured. In addition to that, there’s a gag reel, deleted scenes, and something I really liked: video of the DC Comics Night at the 2014 Comic-Con, including all of the DCTV shows that year — Arrow, The Flash, Gotham, and Constantine. Loved that, but then it made me wonder where my Constantine Blu-ray set might be (talk about gone too soon!) In any event, watching all of the extras will take the better part of a day, there are so many of them.
Graphics & Sound: Blu-ray quality picture makes Gotham an even better show… I guess this is the experience people get when they watch Gotham live in HD. The show feels immersive and it looks great. There are a lot more details I would catch from this.
Is It Worth It? Yes! While it wasn’t my favorite of the DC shows last season (that would be The Flash), I have a much stronger appreciation for the show now that I’ve seen it like this, and having seen the Season 2 premiere already, it’s only going to get better.