If you knew this one existed, I'm sure you knew it was just a matter of time that it got featured. And since I was looking forward to it so much, that time was 'immediately'.
Past week saw the home release of Gotham, the new television series set in the Batman universe of DC comics. However, this one has a twist; It's set in the immediate aftermath of the murders of Thomas and Martha Wayne. This means Bruce Wayne is just a kid still and Gotham City is hell-bent on turning into the bizarre cesspool it was before Batman arrived. And in the middle of all this is a newcomer detective James Gordon, seemingly the only non-corrupt cop left in Gotham.
The series centres on Detective Gordon's (Benjamin McKenzie) seemingly futile fight against endless corruption, all consuming mob-ties and the ever-increasingly colourful villains popping from the woodworks. Partnered with detective Harvey Bullock (Donal Logue) – a cop as bent as the rest of the GCPD – Gordon takes on the battling mob families and the politicians in their pockets, all the while trying to get to the bottom of the Wayne murder mystery.
The show cleverly ties in plenty of Gotham City's finest and worst in the beginning of their careers. Which brings us to the real star of the show; Robin Lord Taylor as Oswald Cobblepot. And yes, I would be saying that even if I wasn't a fan of all things penguin.
This is a clever move, since from all the storied characters of Gotham, Cobblepot's origin has been showcased the least. In fact, the only origin story I recall is Batman Returns, which, while brilliant in its own gothic fairy-tale right, doesn't gel with any other version of the villain. Gotham's Cobblepot, however, is a masterfully crafted character that you can completely believe to grow to be the feared Penguin of the later comic books and games.
In many respects, the approach to the Penguin reminded me of how Al Capone was handled in Boardwalk Empire; Cobblepot starts out us a young nobody – literally the guy who holds the mob boss' umbrella – but since the viewer knows the criminal heights he will raise, everything is coloured with plenty of foreshadowing. And indeed, watching Cobblepot learning the ropes of mob life and position himself as the kingmaker is fascinating, for both fans and newcomers alike.
And perhaps the best part of all this is the actor bringing Oswald Cobblepot to life; Robin Lord Taylor. The Penguin is by the very definition a weird and larger-than-life character and bringing his relatively-humble beginnings to life isn't an easy task. Taylor, however, manages to perfectly ride the fine line between comic-book cheese and the eccentric menace, creating perhaps the best version of The Penguin to date.
Yes, I said it; Robin Lord Taylor is my new favourite Cobblepot!
Other highlights of the series include Sean Pertwee's Alfred Pennyworth, Gotham City's openly-corrupt politics and the ongoing origins of characters like Edward Nygma (future The Riddler) and Harvey Dent (Two Face). Special mention has also to be given to the Gotham City itself, which is this brilliant, exaggerated neo-noir version of New York; If it weren't for modern cars and smart phones, you'd be forgiven to think this was a colour version of 50s noir films with all the fedoras and trench coats on display.
I could go on for ages, but to sum it up; Gotham is a great ride for anyone who has spent any time in Gotham City – whether it is with the films, comics or games. And if you happen to be a fan of The Penguin, you'll be in for a real treat!