Some Thoughts on “The Cape” January 10, 2011Posted by Skippy in Comics, Popular Culture, Television.
Last night, NBC aired the premiere of a new superhero-based show called “The Cape.” It was a two-hour affair (really, it was two back-to-back episodes, but whatevs) that had been promoted for weeks. Unfortunately, NBCs track record with genre television has been somewhat spotty of late.
After the descent into full-on suckitude that was “Heroes” and the never-got-started boringness that was “The Event,” one might think that NBC should just give up on sci-fi television altogether. Both “Heroes” and “The Event” had great premises and failed to capitalize on those premises—though “Heroes” didn’t stink out the gate. “The Event” did, however. So anyway, NBC tries to jump into genre tv again, this time with a superhero show based on one character and no long-term mysteries.
Fig. 1: If at first or second you don’t succeed…
The plot of “The Cape” is fairly simple (and derivative, but I’ll get to that in a minute): Really Good Guy gets screwed over by Corrupt System, loses everything (including ridiculously hot wife and kinda simple son) and decides to Fight For Justice. Of course, because it’s serialized television, that fight will be never ending (until cancellation, that is).
Really Good Guy Vince Faraday (David Lyons) is a cop for the…what the hell’s the name of his made-up city? Oh, yeah: Palm City. He’s a cop in the Palm City police force, where corruption is second only to Gotham City. Seriously. Five minutes into the show, and Faraday’s soon-to-be dead friend is on some blog called “Orwell” (oy, vey) where she finds out that these two seedy-as-hell looking cops are corrupt. Frankly, they looked like they belonged on a sex offender list instead of being cops (but then how could we the stupid audience know they were corrupt?). Anyway, blah blah blah, she’s dead and soon the police chief is dead, victim of some chemical explosive called L-9 that had been deployed by some criminal named “Chess.” Well, folks, the villain Chess is really (SPOILER ALERT!) billionaire Peter Fleming (James Frain), who owns a corporation called Ark. Fleming is trying to privatize the city’s police department.
Anyway, for reasons I can’t remember, Chess sets Faraday up to take the fall for the murder of the police chief. Faraday goes into hiding and is discovered by a…roving circus gang of bank robbers? Yeah…ok, so, that. Anyway, they inveigle him into helping them rob banks, which he does because he’s in possession of some MacGuffin of a key card that can open any door or bank vault in the city. Children, that’s a plot hole worthy of a Star Wars prequel. In the meantime, Faraday discovers this cape that is really special. It allows him to grab shit and acts like a freakin’ Elvish cloak. His Yoda (Keith David) trains him and soon, he’s Batmanning it up around Palm City. Meanwhile, his wife and simple kid think he’s dead.
Throughout the first hour, we’re treated to an insane number of flashbacks that show us just how fucking perfect, honorable, and upright this guy is. Hell, the first scene is of Faraday in his son’s bed, because the stupid kid “had a bad dream.” We’re getting cliches thrown at us and we haven’t even gotten past the opening credits. Anyway, we’re also told that not only is he honorable, any male who is a Faraday is a paragon of fucking virtue and stand-uppedness. His grandfather (or great grandfather)? Fought in fucking World War I. His dad? A sheriff in Palm City. Apparently, his family have midichlorians or something.
Frankly, I hated “The Cape.” And I say this as a lifelong Superman fan, the one character that everyone says is probably “too good”—hence the nickname “Big Blue Boy Scout.” I don’t think that a dark, kinda tragic character like The Cape—who is clearly modeled on Batman—can also have the moral rectitude of a Superman. It just doesn’t jibe. Like I said before, my chief problem with this show is that it is too derivative of far superior comic narratives. The Cape is clearly Batman with a touch of Superman and Spider-Man. Tragic beginnings? Check. Really Stand-Up Guy? Check. Defender of Truth and Justice? Check. One-liners at the ready when fighting? Check. Undeniably heterosexual? CHECK. Again, the problem is when you begin to mix and match different superhero narratives and try to create something unique. Anyone with an eye for these things is going to say, “Well, it was better when this was Batman” or “Why does this remind me of Spider-Man?” Further, I think that they really burned through a LOT of tropes really fast in two hours. It was like the visual equivalent of the first issue of Action Comics. Granted, a long, drawn-out introduction to the character isn’t desirable, either. However, give me something to think about—other than “This is some dumb shit.”
I’ll leave the whole “let’s hook people in with Summer Glau” business to those who are enamored of her. I realize that she’s a fanboy wet dream, but she doesn’t do it for this one here. Since I’m in the shallow end of the pool, I’ll say this: “The Cape” is going to need to give me a lot of shirtless David Lyons. That man is pretty, and I have no problem with the suits playing that up. Hell, that’s why I bother continuing to watch “Hawaii Five-O,” and that show sucks.