Pennyworth, a new tv series by the creators of Gotham, debuts tonight. It charts the adventures of a young Alfred Pennyworth, who has recently left the British Army, and started working for himself as a security consultant.
The series is set in London during the 1960s, but it’s not the 60s, or the London, that we know. To me, this feels like it’s the same England shown in V for Vendetta, but twenty years earlier. Fascism is just taking hold, and some people still trust that the government actually cares about the people, rather than just being out for their own power and greed.
Hmm, sounds like Brexit Britain, come to think of it.
Jack Bannon plays Alfred, who still lives at home with his parents as the series begins. The episode is permeated with stereotypical British flavour. The mother is kindly and supportive, while the father loudly and rudely expresses his disgust with his son for not following his father into service. Service meaning being a servant, not a soldier.
Alfred’s family are not upper class, and class structure is everything, just the way it is in the UK. The woman he winds up falling for, Esme (Emma Corrin), is of a more posh background, which winds up causing problems between them.
Alfred has a couple of army buddies to fill out his supporting cast, Dave Boy (Ryan Fletcher) and Bazza (Hainsley Lloyd Bennett). And, as one might expect, Thomas Wayne (Ben Aldridge) is also in the cast, though his interactions with Alfred in this first episode are not what one might expect.
It’s a well done episode, giving a lot of world building to this alternate reality, introducing the characters effectively, and giving us some excellent villains to despise. Paloma Faith is exceptionally good, and feels like she walked straight out of The Avengers. That was not a reference to the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
By the end of the first episode Alfred has found himself enmeshed in a conspiracy that seems to reach as high as it possibly can, a plan for the right wing to permanently consolidate their power in England. Thomas Wayne is a bit of a puzzle, since he is pretty clearly lying about his own agenda, but I think Alfred has pegged him correctly as a hat job.
Though this bears no similarity to Gotham in tone or style, it takes the same sort of bold direction, carving itself its own niche in the massive world of Batman related media. I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this show as much as I did, so I really do urge readers to check it out.