Gotham, Channel 5 - TV review

 

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The Independent Culture

It's dangerous out there in TV City, but even those who rarely risk a detour into the dimly lit alley that is Channel 5 must make an exception for Gotham.

Last night there was a particularly good episode of the noirish police procedural, set in Batman's home town. Not that the Caped Crusader has much to do with it. We learnt in episode one that this is not "a city for nice guys" and this week in a flashback we were also informed of Gotham's Golden Rule: "No heroes".

That line was spoken by the great character actor Dan Hedaya, cameoing here as Detective Dix, a former partner of Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue), now in a wheelchair thanks to Bullock's on-the-job heroics.

The two of them once tracked down "The Goat", a serial killer who targeted the first-born children of Gotham's wealthy elite. That was 10 years ago, but bodies had started appearing once more. Was this the work of a copycat killer? Or something far more sinister?

Not many cop shows cover themes like urban wealth disparity, but Gotham does, while also making time to develop the show's cast of comic-book characters. We learned more about the root of Det Bullock's hard-bitten cynicism (he's been bitten before – and hard), we met the Penguin's overbearing immigrant mother ("Why you don't call your mother in all this time? You got tangled in some hussy's demon purse!") and witnessed a few more of the slowly accumulating slights that will one day turn E. Nygma into a super-villain.

Gotham might not be surrounded by the fanfare of the latest Sky Atlantic or Channel 4 import, but don't underestimate this well-written series. It's always the quiet ones.

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