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Like Narnia, Sherwood Forest or Oz, Gotham City has long been a place best visited in movies and books, or, even better, the mind’s eye. Duplicating a place that has thrived for decades in comics and films would be silly, no?

Fox doesn’t think so. The big broadcast network rolled out a Gotham City Police Department cruiser (courtesy of Ford Motor Co.) and put it on the sidewalks outside New York City’s massive Public Library Monday night and invited guests to — if only for a brief while — enter a life-like version of the place the DC Comics character Batman (and nemeses like the Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman) have long called home.

As a visitor entered the Library through a side entrance, Gotham City Police officers and detectives inquired about the contents of a bag, and deemed the guest was allowed to pass into a great gothic hall where the first episode of the Warner Brothers-produced drama was about to roll. Dana Walden and Gary Newman, named in July to head the Fox Television Group (that’s the 20th Century Fox production studio as well as Fox Broadcasting), took to the stage to thank the cast, Warner Brothers, and showrunner Bruno Heller.

“This is very scary,” said Heller, “but not as scary as Comic-Con,”  a reference to the massive San Diego event where Fox also screened the series. Ben McKenzie, Jada Pinkett Smith and other members of the cast looked on.

There is no Batman in Fox’s “Gotham,” just a young version of his alter ego, Bruce Wayne, who, just as in the four-color origin story, sees his mother and father gunned down in a mugging gone terribly wrong. James Gordon, played by Ben McKenzie, vows to bring the perpetrators to justice, but in doing so, the young detective threatens to upend the corruption that is at the heart of the dark city.

Once guests got a taste for the show, all they had to do was follow the umbrellas laid out like bread crumbs from Hansel and Gretel to a massive aerie high up in the Library, where a room was transformed to look like a Gotham City speakeasy. Batman probably would not have taken a drink here, but many of the attendees exhibited few qualms about doing so.