Before the birth of the bat
Fans of DC Comics will be elated to learn that M-Net’s hugely-anticipated TV series, Gotham, hits the South African small screen tomorrow night. Aside from the stellar cast, the series chronicles a story that’s never been told – the origins of some of our all-time favourite superheroes and villains. Debashine Thangevelo found out more about Ben McKenzie’s (Southland) casting as newbie detective, James Gordon…
THE GOOD CRUSADER
BELIEVE all the hype around Gotham. This Bruno Heller (The Mentalist, Rome) creation is that darn brilliant: from its superlative movie quality cinematography to the casting and storyline. Honestly, it is addictive from the first scene – whether you are a Batman fan or not.
Also, the storylines are so masterfully interwoven that the introductions of all the key characters leave the viewer completely invested in their respective journeys; with evil and good juxtaposed.
The opening scenes encapsulate the genesis of Batman, with an emotionally-shaken 12-year-old Bruce Wayne having just witnessed the murder of his billionaire parents, Thomas and Martha. But what seems like a robbery gone bad, is anything but.
James Gordon (Ben McKenzie), a new detective at Gotham City Police Department, is determined to solve the city’s highest-profile murder case – a doggedness initially not shared by his partner, Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue).
On playing a cop again after Southland, a gritty police drama series, McKenzie says: “Well, I certainly try to bring as much as possible of the sort of training and knowledge that I obtained on Southland to this show. We are obviously dealing with a heightened world; in a world in which we are taking certain liberties with the way police work might be conducted if it were conducted on the mean streets of modern Los Angeles. Instead, it’s in Gotham in a time that is neither present nor past, or both at the same time.”
Expanding on the dramatic tension, where tragedy befalls certain characters in what could be a little unsettling for fans who are precious about the history of the superheroes and villains, the actor says: “That’s the inter-esting journey. And in a city that’s ultimately going to fall into total disrepair and a total sort of near anarchy and be in need of a vigilante to save it, is a fascinating city in which to set a TV series.”
His detective character is a bit of a martinet in his pursuit of baddies. Despite his partner attempting to educate him about the different set of laws out on the street, James refuses to buckle under the pressure by corrupt forces.
“The structure that exists around him is so daunting and so sort of challenging that no single man is going to, as best he can, overcome it.”
And that certainly fuels interest; watching his character juggle his personal life – being engaged to Barbara Kean (Erin Richards) who seems to have a few secrets in her closet, too – and the demands of his job.
OTHER KEY CHARACTERS
Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz): the Wayne heir, who is raised by Alfred, the butler.
Alfred Pennyworth (Sean Pertwee): While he takes care of young Bruce, he also a bit of an overprotective father figure to him and a bit of everything else, too.
Sarah Essen (Zabryna Guevara): the captain of Gotham City Police Department’s homicide squad.
Selina Kyle (Camren Bicondova): a young thief who witnessed the murder of Bruce Wayne’s parents. Since that incident, she has been lingering close to the manor.
Edward Nygma (Cory Michael Smith): the coroner for the Gotham City Police Department. He is also brilliant at riddles.
Carmine Falcone (John Doman): a Mafia Don and businessman who is also Fish Mooney’s (Jada Pinkett Smith ) superior. He has people in the police department and government on his payroll.
Aubrey James (Richard Kind): the Mayor of Gotham City.
Butch Gilzean (Drew Powell): Mooney’s second-in-command.
Renee Montoya (Victoria Cartagena): A detective in the major crime unit.
Crispus Allen (Andrew Stewart-Jones): Renee’s partner in the major crime unit.
Oswald Cobblepot aka Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor): An up-an-coming mobster in Mooney’s gang who finds himself cast out of Gotham after snitching on his boss.
Gotham airs on M-Net (DStv channel 101) on Tuesdays at 8.30pm. It is also available on Express to premium subscribers.