The Good. The Bad. The Beginning.
Gotham Season 1 was all about various origin stories in the famous Batman city, including Jim Gordon, Oswald Cobblepot, and even brand new characters such as Fish Mooney.
And despite the possibility of the Caped Crusader not arriving anytime soon, there was still potential for the series to create compelling stories involving its other characters and building up that world.
However, as time went on, the tone remained uneven and the direction unsure. Head-scratching and eye-rolling moments were as numerous as the Batman references, and by the time all was said and done, it all felt rather surface level for the stories and the characters.
And that's hard to take considering the great cast and the fantastic source material from which to pull from.
So riddle me this: how did the first season of Gotham fare overall? Read on to find out in our latest TV Fanatic Report card…
Best episode: I was initially thinking of Gotham Season 1 Episode 7, where Oswald revealed he had been working with Carmine all along, but I’m going with Gotham Season 1 Episode 20 on this one. I enjoyed expanding upon the backstory of the Ogre beyond one episode and allowing Jim and Harvey to team up to solve the case. Plus, Barbara proved she might be an interesting match for the Ogre (and I wanted to see where that story might go), and Edward had a turning point with killing the abusive boyfriend of Kringle. This was an hour I was far more invested in and looking to see more once the episode was done.
Worst episode: I have to give this one to Gotham Season 1 Episode 22. I can certainly overlook some of the bad episodes for the season with a killer finale, but when the last hour of the first season is an utter mess, that's a huge problem. Yes, some of the stories did get some wrap up and there was a fair amount of action, but it doesn't excuse the story compiled with ridiculous and absurd moments.
From Barbara's crazy antics to just Fish in general to the cringe-inducing dialogue, this was not the finale I was looking forward to. And maybe I should have known having seen what came before it, but I was prepared for something that would really focus itself and deliver that satisfying conclusion. But it wasn't, and it was a true disappointment for a season that started with such promise.
Best character: While I actually enjoyed Robin Lord Taylor's portrayal of Oswald Cobblepott, Gotham's Alfred was the standout for me. He wasn't just young Master Bruce's butler. Instead we got a character who was much more fleshed out with a military background, a gruffer demeanor, and a man learning to guide and parent Bruce. Getting to see him in action, interact with a friend from his past and deliver some clever lines really added to this standout character.
Worst character: I just couldn't stand Fish Mooney. I liked the idea of bringing in a character without ties to the comics, but the overacting and heavy campiness associated with her character got tiring real fast. Add that to the fact her story just wasn't very interesting (even more so outside of Gotham), and I was pleased when Fish was absent from episodes. Even her ending in the finale was ridiculous. I guess she could always come back, but I'd be perfectly fine with never seeing that grating character again.
Best reference to the Batman universe: I think there were far too many crammed into the first season and often in your face, but the one I liked (and had the potential to be further explored) was the use of the Viper drug. It was familiar in that it was very similar to the Venom that Bane uses in the future but without actually using Venom during the episode. And then when we later learn in Gotham Season 1 Episode 5 that Venom is indeed a much more advanced and non-lethal version of the Viper drug, it makes that reveal/reference a much more fun nod.
Hopes for Season 2: Gotham needs some major retooling for its sophomore season. I’d love to get away from the barrage of Batman references and instead rely on building some interesting characters and compelling stories on their own. I’d also hope the second season can pick a more consistent tone and even move away from the campy and cartoony. And definitely let’s avoid bringing anymore Joker stuff into the series.
Who knows, they say the night is darkest just before the dawn. Hopefully, the dawn is coming with Gotham Season 2.
Overall Grade: C-
Your turn TV Fanatics! What would you grade Gotham Season 1?
Sean McKenna was a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. He retired in May of 2017. Follow him on Twitter.