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Tuesday, January 11, 2011
TV Round-Up: The Cape
"Pilot," "Tarot"
In its attempt to find the next version of Heroes, NBC gives us The Cape. I tuned in for the two-hour premiere Sunday evening and have to admit that I like the idea behind the series even if I find the execution a bit lacking.

I think a lot of the what I found lacking is the overall pacing of the show. The pilot story felt a bit too rushed, compressing the entire origin story of our hero and his new nemesis into one short hour. In Palm City, Vince Faraday is one of the last few good cops. A new mega-corporation and its head honcho want to privatize the police force and allow them to run their evil empire without any headaches. Vince isn't all for this and finds himself framed for murder in the guise of the evil criminal master-mind Chess.

Vince fakes his own death and meets up with a group of circus performers, the head of which has this super special cape made of spider silk that has all kinds of interesting, bend the laws of physics properties. Vince also learns the art of illusion to help with his crime fighting. His goal is to restore his name and bring down the evil corporation so he can be reunited with his wife and son. It's from reading a comic book with his son that he determines his alter ego as the Cape.

He's joined in the fight by a blogger named Orson, who is played by Firefly alum Summer Glau.

In the first two episodes, Vince takes on a couple of super villains who have been brought in by Chess. One is a guy who likes to throw knives and is targeting the head of prisons who is the only person in the city's government who opposes the privatizing of the police force--at least for his prisons.

On the surface, there's a lot that should work. The series wants to feel like a comic book and there are times when it captures that feel. And just like a comic book, there are plot holes big enough to drive a bulldozer through.

For example, the biggest is Vince's motivation. His goal is to keep his family safe and to win back his good name by bringing down Chess and his evil corporation. Nice motivation, but you have to wonder about how he's going about it. He chooses to keep a secret that he's still alive from his family (though he does go to his son as the Cape and say his dad will be back), which can only lead to complications down the road (assuming this show lasts that long). I'd certainly love to see the reaction of his wife (who has to get a job and struggles with the infamy associated with her last name) when and if Vince reveals, "Oh, by the way, I'm still alive."

Also, it seems fairly obvious that Chess and company know that their new foe is a product of the circus. But yet they bumble about going in and taking them out or sending in their private police force to arrest those involved. At one point, they capture Vince's mentor and the head of the circus, but leave behind everyone else. I'm guessing this is so Vince can know who took his mentor and then go rescue him. Because I can see no other good reason not to take them all and leave Vince to try and figure things out or alone without his support team.

Then there's the whole storyline of Orson, a blogger with a mission. What that mission is and what her motivation is is not entirely clear. Hopefully future episodes will delve into this (assuming that I stick with it, of course).

In fact, outside of Vince, there's a lot of pieces left on the table. There's a lot that's left under developed when it comes to the character side of things. I know comic books characters aren't always the deepest characters out there, but surely having them be more than walking cliches and plot pieces would be a good idea.

Also, I'm not sure if there's a long-term run for this show. How long can Vince continue to hang out in the underground and not have his efforts to noticed. I've heard comparisons to Batman, but they're really superficial. In the Nolan movies, Batman becomes a symbol that the city needs, motivated out of one guys need to atone for his past and his fears. There's no marked end point for Batman since he's so tortured he can never let go of the guilt and stop fighting the bad guys. (Again, this is my take on the Nolan films). With Vince, there is a defined end point--stopping Chess and regaining his life. It could be this is a one-season type of show where we'll have the end point of Vince clearing his name and getting his family back. But as I watched, I kept thinking of how and what will be done once we get past that. Could we see storylines where villains begin showing up to take on Vince and his responsibility in that? (Similar to the question of would the Joker show up in Gotham if there were no Batman we saw in "Dark Knight" or the question addressed in some episodes of "Lois and Clark.")

As I said, the show has some interesting elements too it. But as I look at it, I believe I'm thinking too hard and wondering too much about the show. It may be just a mindless show that is meant to be enjoyed at face value.

Unfortunately, the pieces don't quite all add up. I'll still give it an episode or two to see where things go (and to watch Summer Glau). But for now, I'm not hooked.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/11/2011 12:18:00 PM | |
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