TV review: ‘Gotham’ explores Batman’s early days

Batman begins: McKenzie’s Gordon has a heart-to-heart with young Bruce Wayne in Gotham.

Two and a half stars

Gotham Mondays, 8 p.m., Fox.

Batman has been represented so many times in so many different ways on TV and in movies that it’s not surprising for producers to look for a new angle on DC Comics’ brooding vigilante. Fox’s Gotham approaches Batman by making him not Batman at all; the Bruce Wayne of Gotham is still a kid, having just witnessed the senseless murders of his parents at the hands of a faceless street thug. All of Batman’s foes, too, are in their earliest stages; there are no code names or costumes to be seen anywhere in Gotham’s first episode.

With the superhero and supervillain aspects reduced to winking references (a young Selina Kyle feeds milk to a cat in the opening scene), what’s left is a slightly stylized cop drama, focused on Gotham City police detectives James Gordon (Ben McKenzie) and Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue). Gordon, of course, will grow up to be the police commissioner and Batman’s greatest ally, but for now he’s the only honest cop in a city full of corruption, tracking down criminals who are a little more out-there than the average. TV may not need yet another Batman show, but it doesn’t help to turn that show into just another police procedural.

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