Fox’s Gotham, as it chronicles police detective Jim Gordon’s rise to the eventual post of police commissioner, will introduce not one but four foes — Penguin, Catwoman, The Riddler and original creation Fish Mooney — in its series premiere. However, don’t expect a plethora of baddies every week.
“You have to front-load the pilot with the best that you’ve got. You have to open big,” executive producer Bruno Heller (formerly of The Mentalist) said Sunday at the Television Critics Assoc. summer press tour in Beverly Hills.
As the season progresses, “We’ll be far more careful with how we roll out the villains and in what way,” he continued. (Season 1 is “very much about the rise of Penguin (played by Robin Lord Taylor) and his titanic struggle with Fish Mooney (Jada Pinkett Smith),” Heller noted.)
Meanwhile, there will be a decidable lack of iconic superheroes in the drama, seeing as Bruce Wayne (Touch‘s David Mazouz) is just a young child.
“If there is a superhero in the show, it’s [the city of] Gotham,” Heller explained. “It’s a larger-than-life character. … Heroes are more interesting than superheroes. Superheroes do the impossible and drama is really about the physically possible. This is about people and people trying to overcome real problems as opposed to trying to learn how to fly.”
The EP isn’t worried that Batman’s absence will drive fanboys away because “the really interesting parts of these stories is the origin stories. This is about how all these people got there.”
In showing that journey, the show will play with “issues of who was there and how,” but “what we won’t do is break the canonical iron truths of the mythology,” Heller promised.
As for which time period Gotham takes place in — the first episode features both flip phones and ’70s cars — “it’s a mash-up, to use the modern phrase,” Heller explained. “This world is the past, but it’s everybody’s past. It’s a timeless world — it’s yesterday, today and tomorrow all at the same time. That’s the time that dreams live in.”
Gotham premieres Monday, Sept. 22 at 8/7c.