Even the secondary characters are engaging in this series of stories penned by the writer of The Mentalist.
This is Gotham (circa 2000-2005?) before the Batman begins to bring order to that city (presumably in 2014-15).
A number of the characters from the comic are introduced in their early years with personalities, strengths and flaws that foreshadow what they will become in DC comics canon. The delivery is subtle, believable and the plots and characters are very nicely done.
Little Poison Ivy has an abusive father and raises her few pathetic plants in a small apartment in a concrete jungle.
The casting is flawless, as are the direction and acting. The characters (even the stranger villains) are entirely believable (Oswald Cobblepot particularly so). The writing makes even the "toss-away" characters three dimensional.
A street urchin asks a favor of a burnt out cop in an office full of crooked cops - he denies the request (out of habit) and she quite casually threatens to "Scream and tell everyone that you 'touched me'". He lurches back from her and gives her a pained expression (despairing that even the children of Gotham have lost all respect for the cops, or that one so young would prove so adept at blackmail) before getting the detective that she demanded to see. That 30 second exchange by Selena and "cop number 6" has an impact (technically, it should have been just filler between scenes).
And again, Selena Kyle as a thief and street urchin looking for her mother is especially well done (and it really is hard to pick a "favorite" in this group - there are excellent scenes for all the primary and secondary characters).
Harvey Bullock, always a nuisance character that I found annoying as a two-dimensional "corrupt cop" - is actually quite a believable, sympathetic character here... even while he's being a completely arrogant, lazy jerk! I really can't bring myself to hate This version of Harvey... and he Clearly sold out years ago.
The writer/director and actor actually conjured up a Harvey that ..... dare I say it..... I actually Like!
The future Commissioner Gordon is the main character of this ensemble - Very intelligently done. Determined enough to take on a corrupt city government, intelligent enough to stay Just under the radar by "playing ball" without actually playing ball. He brings an insightful air of menace to the criminals that he encounters without actually stepping over the lines... a precarious balancing act.
Even his girlfriend, Barbara, is notable in the few minutes that she is on screen. Ideally a sounding board for him to recount the events of his day and plan strategy - she engages and does a lot more than just listen and kick in an idea or two. She helps bring the issue to a head by pushing him into the deep water (with a mischievous grin) all the while providing him with plausible deniability.
Bruce Wayne's presentation as a 12-13 year old was, however, most potentially concerning for me as his was the easiest precursor character to get terribly wrong (see Phantom Menace).
They nailed it!
Bruce the adolescent shows a forceful personality with out showing any sign of youthful petulance (Star Wars Ep 2&3). He comes across as Very intelligent and Very perceptive, but most of all ..... Driven in a way the borders on the disturbing.
Alfred (another strong role) explains to Lt Gordon why he Hasn't called in a psychologist to look into why Bruce seems..... more than a bit ..... different.
A bit too detached, A bit too perceptive - it seems as if he already has an agenda and he doesn't care to explain what it is.
When you ask yourself - could This kid grow up into a man that will make hardened sociopaths wet themselves, the answer for me was - oh yeah. The transformation has already begun.