If you listen to our weekly podcast, you know that Lauren and I can't get enough of the web soap craze currently going on. I have wanted to formally review one, but hesitated because these small nuggets of soap are really works-in-progress and often leave a lot to be desired... at first. Now that Gotham: The Series just released their 7th episode, I think it's fair to review the show and see what works and what doesn't.
Gotham: The Series was created by Martha Byrne, known for her role as Lily Snyder on As the World Turns. Byrne, who left the role of Lily in a cloud of controversy, writes and stars in the series, which focuses on the burgeoning rekindled romance of Catherine Prescott (Byrne) and Richard Manning, played by As the World Turns' Michael Park (Jack). Catherine, recently divorced from husband Jon (General Hospital's Kin Shriner), runs into high school sweetheart Richard at a party at her friend Tina's (Anne Sayre) mansion. Richard, in the midst of a divorce with Veronica (soap vet Lisa Peluso), is happy to see Catherine, which is in contrast to the rest of his life; his daughter has a drug problem (Carolyn Byrne), his mother is overbearing (Anna Stuart), he's having an affair with his slutty secretary (Brianne Moncrief), and he's gotten in over his head with shady Domninic (Paolo Seganti).
Familiar Faces: One thing Gotham has going for it is the cascade of familiar soap faces that appear in each episode. Actors from a range of soaps appear, and each is playing a role that sets them apart from their characters on their network soap. With proven, professional actors playing these roles, the show already has a leg up on its more amateur competition.
Great Backstory: Byrne clearly created a universe of characters and stories when developing Gotham: The Series and it shows. From the slowly unfolding story of Catherine and Richard's high school romance to Richard's shady business dealings, there is a gold mine of story opportunty here.
Great Music: It took a few episodes, but Martha Byrne's "Love Makes the World Go 'Round" has been solidified as the show's theme song and each episode opens with someone new singing it. It sets a very classy, New York tone to the series, which is fitting given its Manhattan setting.
What Needs Work
Questionable Casting: Gotham, like several other web series (and TV series, for that matter), employs the use of a sassy gay black man to give commentary to the goings-on of the show. Also questionable is the casting of Brianne Moncrief as Samantha. Moncrief didn't give the most striking impression as Colby on all My Children and her southern accent on Gotham should have been excised. I think there's potential there, so here's hoping Ms. Moncrief grows in the role.
Shaky Beginnings: The first four episodes of Gotham were rocky. The theme song wasn't employed, nor was the show's stylish logo. But the show has rectified these two issues and I commend Ms. Byrne on that.
When all is said and done, Gotham is a fun, frothy soap worthy of your ten minutes a week. I recommend it highly and hope the show gets the sponsors and publicity it needs to succeed.
Two thumbs up!