Gotham is a show trying to do a lot of things all at once. It is an origin story of sorts. Where it differs from the various tellings of Bruce Wayne witnessing the death of his parents and becoming Batman is the focus shifts on more of the other characters in the city.
There will be some minor spoilers for the episode.
One might wonder how could we have a TV show set in Bruce Wayne's city and not have the story center around him? This episode shows there are plenty of other characters to fill up the time slot. The very first shot gives us young Selina Kyle, already on the road to becoming the cat-burglar that will one day call herself Catwoman. We see she's an expert pickpocket and has a soft spot for stray cats.
Selina's introduction on the streets of Gotham City brings us to that pivotal scene everyone expects to see right away, the death of Thomas and Martha Wayne. It's a little unclear why the Waynes actually decided to turn into this dark alley that would forever change young Bruce's life. That can be overlooked as you wonder why Selina had to be there to witness the murders. Perhaps young Selina and young Bruce will have some sort of connection after this.
Ben McKenzie makes a big entrance as rookie James Gordon. We could question the functionality of the GCPD's precinct designs at this point or we could just focus on the character being built (perhaps it's just easy for the officers to have the jail cells so close to the detectives' desks). In the same scene, we're introduced to Donal Logue as Harvey Bullock. Bullock fans can be happy as we'll be seeing a lot of him since he's Gordon's partner. We'll also see later that Renee Montoya and Crispus Allen are also officers in Gotham, in another division.
There's a lot that works and a lot that will make you scratch your head. Seeing the aftermath of the Waynes murder is interesting. David Mazouz plays a good troubled young Bruce Wayne. You'll love Sean Pertwee's entrance and performance as Alfred. We just don't get to see enough of them here.
Where the show starts to get a little convoluted is the introduction of even more characters. Jada Pinkett Smith plays mobster Fish Mooney, who works in Carmine Falcone's territory. Oswald Cobblepot works as one of Fish's henchmen (he's actually holding an umbrella for her as she gives an employee a beatdown in the rain in the back alley). Edward Nigma even shows up as a forensic expert. We also see a little red-haired girl name Ivy Pepper when Bullock and Gordon pay visit to a suspect. I really hope we don't see the comedian seen at Fish's club again. I don't want to think any more about any possibilities with that guy.
All of the characters introduced have little traits, sayings, or actions that serve as Easter Eggs for Batman fans. It just felt like too much. We can assume (and hope) some of the downfalls are due to this being the pilot. These characters do need to be introduced right away. We see some good performances here. It's just unfortunate we also get some performances that are a little over the top. I'm still excited for the show to see where we'll get to explore next. Casual fans should be able to enjoy this but BATMAN readers might find themselves cringing a little at times. There is potential for this show to become more of what we want it to be.