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Fox Orders Batman Prequel 'Gotham' to Series

The series becomes the network's third new drama pickup for the 2014-15 TV season.

Detective James Gordon
Ben McKenzie stars as Commissioner James Gordon in "Gotham."

It's official: Fox is moving forward with its Batman prequel series Gotham.

The network announced Monday that it has ordered the Ben McKenzie starrer to series.

Based on characters from the DC Comics universe, including a young Bruce Wayne (David Mazouz), Penguin (Robin Lord Taylor), Riddler (Cory Michael Smith) andCatwoman (Camren Bicondova), the drama explores the origin stories of Commissioner James Gordon (Southland's McKenzie) and the villains that made Gotham famous.

The drama boasts a cast that also includes Donal Logue as Det. Harvey Bullock, Jada Pinkett Smith as Fish Mooney, and the series looks to reveal an entirely new chapter that has yet to be told.

From Warner Bros. Television, The Mentalist's Bruno Heller penned the pilot, which was directed and exec produced by Emmy nominee Danny Cannon. John Stephens will also serve as an exec producer on the series.

PHOTOS: Fox's 'Gotham': Meet the Characters From the Batman Prequel

The series pickup comes as little surprise as Fox handed out a hefty series commitment to the project, meaning the network would have had to pay a hefty penalty had the buzzy Gotham not been ordered to series. Gotham was considered a frontrunner to gain the series order since the project was first announced.

Gotham becomes Fox's third new drama series order for the 2014-15 television season, joining Hart Hanson's Rainn Wilson starrer Backstrom, which was picked up straight to series after being developed for CBS last year; and ancient Egypt drama Hieroglyph, which was also picked up straight to series with a 13-episode order. It joins a slate of hourlong series that includes The Following, Glee and Sleepy Hollow.

Speaking to reporters in January at the Television Critics Association's winter press tour, Fox entertainment president Kevin Reilly said the series will explore other characters from DC's massive Batman collection.

"This is not one of the things where you bought a franchise and then none of characters people know," Reilly said. "We will follow Bruce Wayne right up until the point where he gets interesting."

Reilly confirmed that Gotham will be as much of an origin story for Batman as for Gordon. "It's Gotham teetering on the edge," he said. "This is all of the classic Batman characters."

PHOTOS: 10 Great Batman Villains

Following the session, Reilly told reporters that the series will be very serialized and not an "adjunct companion" show. "This is the Batman franchise just backing it up," he said, noting that he'd like to see the series with a 22-episode order. "It gives a real focus as to what this show is about and what stories we're telling."

Gotham joins a growing roster of comics heroes on the small screen. The CW has found success with DC's Arrow and is developing a Flash spinoff that will likely be ordered to series this week. ABC is also expected to renew Marvel drama Agents of SHIELD and potentially add Captain America spinoff Agent Carter to its lineup. Not to be outdone, Netflix is teaming with Marvel to develop four series and a mini featuring some of its most beloved characters. DC Comics also has several other properties in development at various broadcast and cable networks.

Email: Lesley.Goldberg@THR.com
Twitter: @Snoodit