Wednesday, January 12, 2011

The Cape: Circus Superhero?

I think the most remarkable thing about The Cape, NBC's latest superhero drama, is how un-ironic it is. Unlike Heroes and No Ordinary Family and other recent superhero shows, it's not about people who angst over the "abilities" or "powers" that they find out they have and try to keep secret. This is a straightforward fictional superhero world where masked villains in the news are taken seriously and a grown man earnestly decides to become his son's favorite comic book superhero.

Our hero is Vince Faraday, an ordinary cop and family man. "Chess," the masked villain who is actually Peter Fleming, head of a Ark Industries, a private security corporation aiming to take over Palm City's police force, first recruits Vince, then murders the new police chief and frames Vince for the crime. With his wife and young son watching on the news, Vince, who everyone now believes is Chess, is seemingly killed in an explosion. But he survives, and finds himself saved by a group of circus performers/bank robbers. (Yes, you read that correctly.) Vince happens to have an Ark keycard in his pocket, which helps the group to rob several banks now protected by Ark and in return, Vince asks them to help him get back his life.

And now we get to the Cape, which is kind of the coolest and lamest part of the show at the same time. In this world, the Cape is a comic book superhero that Vince used to read with his son. There's this ridiculous scene where Vince is wandering around the circus tent and sees a black cape. He then proceeds to put on the cape and start doing these silly moves with it and then next thing you know, Max, the ringleader, is giving Vince some super special cape and teaching him to like do magic and fight with it. Making the cape, which usually just serves a decorative purpose in a superhero's costume, as the thing that actually turns Vince into a superhero is kind of a cool idea, but in practice, it's pretty...silly. And I don't think the show has enough of a sense of humor to pull off this kind of silly.

David Lyons is the lead as Vince/The Cape, and he's pretty bland. James Frain as Chess, on the other hand, is maybe a little over the top, but that's actually pretty in line with all the cheesy dramatic superhero music in the background. I always like seeing Summer Glau, who plays Orwell, a secretive investigative blogger (rather like Logan on Dark Angel, if anyone remembers that show), but she's not doing anything particularly interesting here. I'd hate to see her on a boring procedural or something but lately the kind of genre shows she tends to get casted in are either too weak or not mainstream enough to succeed.

Nothing here was really offensively bad, but honestly, I didn't even really want to watch the second episode of the 2-hour premiere. Unless I hear that it's getting a lot better, I don't think I'll keep tuning in.


burkie said...

i watched both episodes and i enjoyed them, and plan to keep watching. i like stuff like this, though. i agree the main character is kinda bland. and while the idea of the cape is also kinda lame, at least they kinda poke fun at both the cape itself and his name as The Cape in the show. i think the circus guys are fun, and it looks there is a interesting line-up of kooky villians, and there's even a tarot tie-in!

i thought the actress playing Orwell stood out; i don't know her. actually, i didn't recognize any of the actors (although i learned that the guy who plays Max was the voice of Goliath on Gargoyles!). her role in this is similar to the character Oracle in the later Batman (the caped crusader!) stories. i agree that i hope her role expands beyond just being his computer hackey-lackey.

i'll keep watching & let you know how it's going, jenn, but know up-front that i'm as predisposed to like this stuff as you are to like a teenaged CW drama :)

Mira said...

i'm still confused by the fact that this show is in fact NOT batman... :) it just sounds so batman-like!