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Gotham: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)

gothamThere was a lot of good reason to be excited about the first season of Gotham. The show is a crime-drama developed by Rome’s Bruno Heller, based on characters appearing in and published by DC Comics from the Batman universe. All of that was certainly enough to get this Batman fan excited and the mix of actor choices I was confident in and new faces that seemed to be representing the show proper, there was enough reason to want to check out a show like this. Whether or not it delivered is what we are here for now, so check out the official review of the first season of the hit series and what this Blu-ray set has to offer.

Series:

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The series revolves around an earlier time in Gotham City, before the days of Batman. Ben McKenzie stars as James Gordon, a new detective in the Gotham City Police Department, who is partnered with veteran detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). The series kicks off with Thomas and Martha Wayne being murdered in an alley, which of course leaves a young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz) all alone in life, with the exception of his butler/guardian Alfred (Sean Pertwee).

This case leads to Gordon becoming involved with Gotham’s gangster families, which includes Carmine Falcone (John Doman), Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith), and a young, but ambitious Oswald “Penguin” Cobblepot (Robin Lord Taylor). As the season progresses, Gordon finds himself investigating various cases that move in and out of the overarching plot involving these waring crime families.

This Blu-ray set includes all 22 episodes of the first season (and I have reviewed everyone one of those episodes individually HERE):

  1. Pilot
  2. Selina Kyle
  3. The Balloonman
  4. Arkham
  5. Viper
  6. Spirit of the Goat
  7. Penguin’s Umbrella
  8. The Mask
  9. Harvey Dent
  10. Lovecraft
  11. Rogues’ Gallery
  12. What the Little Bird Told Him
  13. Welcome Back, Jim Gordon
  14. The Fearsome Dr. Crane
  15. The Scarecrow
  16. The Blind Fortune Teller
  17. Red Hood
  18. Everyone Has A Cobblepot
  19. Beasts of Prey
  20. Under the Knife
  21. The Anvil or the Hammer
  22. All Happy Families Are Alike

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By and large, the first season of Gotham is decent enough with a lot of room for improvement. Fortunately, the show does manage to get by thanks to being genuinely watchable. While there are tonal issues galore throughout this season, the cast does the best they can, the look of the show is unique enough and the various Batman easter eggs (at their best) are very enjoyable to watch out for.

It is just too bad Gotham also had to deal with the premiere of The Flash on the CW, as that show had one of the best first seasons of any show in a long time, superhero or otherwise. Where The Flash found a way to condense so much mythology into a highly entertaining series that was consistently great and well-rounded in nearly every aspect, Gotham took a lot of time to try and find out what kind of show it wanted to be and how to balance its mythology, main story arcs, and case-of-the-week ideas.

All this in mind, there is no point in comparing one show to another too harshly, Gotham will be graded on the show it is. It is just unfortunate that a lot of irritating qualities so clearly hold this series back from being as good as it can be. Some highlights manage to come along every so often in terms of a very good episode, solid use of a villain-of-the-week, or just a fine handle on the tone of the series.

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Casting is obviously a big deal and this show does a good job with several of the characters. McKenzie, despite being underdeveloped (there’s only so much to do with how he’s written), is consistently good at playing off this series’ rogue’s gallery. Logue has a lot of fun as Bullock, as expected. Surprisingly enough, it is the young Mazouz and Pertwee as Bruce and Alfred who are given the best material to work with and have the strongest emotional arc. That said, this is a series about Gordon and Gotham, not Bruce Wayne, so it was consistently troubling to find that Batman was the strongest element in a series not about Batman.

Jada Pinkett Smith actually had the most mixed response, as her over-the-top performance worked for many, but left others irritated. Personally, she felt like one of the few consistent things in the series. The true breakout though was Robin Lord Taylor as Cobblepot. Here was a character that was given plenty of great material to work with and he consistently delivered.

With this in mind, the less said about most of the female characters the better. Gotham misses the mark in a lot of ways in this are, as every Fish Mooney gives us a useless Barbara Kean (Erin Richards). It is a sad aspect of the series, but one that can hopefully be rectified in season 2, much like many other aspects of a show that can easily make a few adjustments and be much better.

Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

Gotham is a series that certainly tries hard, but is failed a number of times by its writing and filmmaking efforts. With that in mind, there is enough here to recommend it as an okay entry into the realm of comic book-inspired TV shows. Hopefully season 2 will be a stronger effort.

Video:

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Encoding: AVC MPEG-4

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail: Gotham is a sharp and nicely defined series to watch on Blu-ray.  There is a lot of great detail to take in, given the varying locales featured in this season, let alone things like costume design and the various aspects of the city we see.  All of this comes through nice and clear.

Depth: There are aspects of the city and the sets that do a fine job of conveying the sense of depth that is nicely handled for this Blu-ray.

Black Levels: Much like the characters, there are a lot of dark and shadowy aspects to the look of this series and they come through very nicely thanks to the dark and inky black levels featured on this Blu-ray presentation.

Color Reproduction: Given the style of the series and the different locations, there are some key moments that play quite well in regards to the use of color, which is fine for a series like this. Tonally the show may be mixed, but the comic book nature of the series benefits what we see quite well.

Flesh Tones: Things like lighting, locations, and other aspects keep the characters in constant flux, but textures and flesh tones always come through quite well.

Noise/Artifacts: Nothing of note here.

 

Audio:

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Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish Dolby Digital 2.0

Subtitles: English SDH, Spanish, French

Dynamics: There is plenty to enjoy in the audio presentation for Gotham. The series has a lot going on in terms of big musical swells in the score, the action elements, and various characters talking and yelling at each other. There is a strong handle on the presentation that helps this all come together.

Low Frequency Extension: When the LFE channel is given the chance to go to work, this Blu-ray does a fine job of allowing the subwoofer to leave an impact.

Surround Sound Presentation: The surround sound channels do their job in immersing the viewer throughout every episode.  The ambience, score, action, and dialogue are all balanced quite well, making for a solid three-dimensional experience.

Dialogue Reproduction: Everyone sounds loud and clear, whether people are talking or yelling.

 

Extras:

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There is a nice collection of extras spread across this four disc set. It is irritating that not one commentary track exists on this set, as it would be good to hear a bit more of a candid discussion about the series from the cast and crew. Still, there is a lot here for those curious as to what went into the making of this show, even if a lot of it is pretty standard stuff.

Additionally, the series arrives in a standard case, housed inside a cardboard slipcover. Inside you can find a handy guide to which episode is on each disc and a brief episode synopsis.

Features Include:

  • Disc One:
    • N/A
  • Disc Two:
    • Unaired Scenes:
      • Penguin’s Umbrella (HD, 1:15)
      • Lovecraft (HD, 2:22)
      • Rogues’ Gallery (HD, 0:41)
      • What The Little Bird Told Him (HD, 0:53)
  • Disc Three:
    • Unaired Scenes:
      • Welcome Back, Jim Gordon (HD, 0:49)
  • Disc Four:
    • Unaired Scnes:
      • Beasts Of Prey (HD, 1:14)
    • Gotham Invented: A 3-part look at the development of the series concerning the storylines and themes, the Batman connection and the origins of the villains featured.
      • Part 1: Building Our Gotham (HD, 13:19)
      • Part 2: Paving The Way For The Caped Crusader (HD, 6:56)
      • Part 3: Fractured Villains Of Gotham (HD, 11:13)
    • Gotham: Designing The Fiction (HD, 20:01) – A look at crafting the production design for the series and establishing a look.
    • The Game Of Cobblepot (HD, 26:14) – A look at the arc of the Penguin and his key role in the series.
    • Gotham: The Legend Reborn (HD, 21:37) – A look at the making of the pilot episode and what to expect from the series.
    • DC Comics Night At Comic-Con 2014 – Presenting Gotham, The Flash, Constantine and Arrow (HD, 29:31) – A look back at the year before all these comic book shows were airing around the same time.
    • Character Profiles: A look at several of the key characters of the series.
      • Bruce Wayne and Alfred J. Pennyworth (HD, 2:34)
      • Detective Harvey Bullock (HD, 1:35)
      • Detective James Gordon (HD, 2:29)
      • Fish Mooney (HD, 1:39)
      • Oswald Cobblepot (HD, 2:05)
      • Dr. Leslie Thompkins (HD, 2:07)
      • Killer Characters (HD, 2:57)
    • Gag Reel (HD, 4:55)
  • UltraViolet Copy Of The Series

Summary:

Cr: Jessica Miglio/FOX

Gotham is a decent show, but what holds it back is how frustrating it is to watch a show with so much potential. A lot of the right elements are all laid out in front of the creators, but the show misses a number of marks to hold it back from being better. Still, the series looks great and has a fine cast. That in mind, the Blu-ray is very strong. Audio and video quality is terrific and there are plenty of extras to keep you occupied as well. Enjoy catching up on this series if you can, while waiting for season 2.

Order Your Copy Here:

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Writer/Reviewer, Film Lover, Podcaster, Video Game Player, Comic Book Reader, Disc Golfer & a Lefty. There are too many films, TV, books, etc. for me to list as favorites, but I can assure that the amount film knowledge within my noggin is ridiculous, though I am always open to learning more. You can follow me on Twitter @AaronsPS4, see what else I am up to at TheCodeIsZeek.com & check out my podcast, Out Now with Aaron and Abe, on iTunes.

1 Response to “Gotham: The Complete First Season (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    Nice! I fell off track around the fifth episode just due to time constraints, but I do want to binge watch this show and catch up.