Tuesday, January 11, 2011


If NBC's new superhero show The Cape was an animal, it would be a zebra. Why? Because, like The Cape, I couldn't care less about zebras. I know we're supposed to be concerned about the extinction of any species but if every zebra on Earth succumbed tonight from some sort of horrible zebra plague, I would probably mumble, "That's horrible," and go back to making my homemade yogurt. Do you make your own yogurt? It's good. I like it way better than the stuff you buy in the store and I definitely like it better than The Cape.

As with zebras, I don't wish death on The Cape. It wasn't the worst show I ever saw. I even think it has the potential to become good. But it's not now. Good, I mean.

The actual Cape is a cop named Vince Faraday (David Lyons) whose employer, the police force, is about to be taken over by a private company called the Ark Corporation. Faraday should have known right away that something was wrong because the CEO, Peter Fleming, is played by James Frain, an actor best known for playing bad guys. Faraday must not watch much television though because he failed to recognize the evil Frain and thought he was a nice guy until he discovered all the crazy illegal activities that Peter Fleming was into, up to and including the fact that Fleming is really a masked villain named Chess who recently murdered the Chief of Police. Faraday's other mistake was not realizing that, in stories like this, the guy you think is your best friend is secretly working for your enemy and that allowed the best friend to betray him and help Chess capture him.

Chess saw this as an opportunity and made the world think that Faraday was Chess. Faraday then stumbled underneath a train car full of fuel before it blew up and that should have been the end of that except for the improbable stroke of luck that allowed Faraday to survive that explosion. You all with me so far? Because this is where it gets weird.

Faraday is rescued by Max Malini (Keith David) and his Carnival of Crime. They're part of an actual carnival plus they rob banks dressed as clowns/sideshow freaks/etc. The reason it never occurs to law enforcement to actually check the local carnival to see if anyone there matches the description of the bank robbers? Shut up, that's why. Anyway, Malini and his band of hardened criminals are actually a swell bunch who take pity of poor Faraday and make him a supersuit, the centerpiece of which is an old trick cape. It's made of spider silk which, Malini assures us, is stronger than kevlar. I guess it's also how it stretches out so it can do things like grab guns out of peoples' hands and grab unsuspecting criminals from behind and jerk them away. Oh boy, does Faraday love to jerk people away. I have no idea where they end up but I guess it doesn't matter. The makers of The Cape feel that jerking people away is so great that there's no reason not to do it numerous times. Anyway, armed with the cape, a series of nifty carnival tricks and a sexy know-it-all blogger named Orwell (Summer Glau), Faraday is now able to try to take down Chess and keep his family safe because Chess thinks Faraday is dead.

Now, if I ever became a vigilante superhero who had no actual super powers, instead of the Cape, I would probably call myself the Gun and do battle with Chess and his operatives by shooting them in the face but Faraday wants to do it the hard way so he uses that stupid cape that always fails when he tries to use it at the beginning of a fight but usually comes through for him by the end of it. But that's just me. The real observation here is that, if I was making a television show about a vigilante superhero, I would watch movies like Iron Man and The Dark Knight as well as the first season of Heroes and try to figure out what made them hits. The Cape lacks the humor, pathos, interesting characters and serious storytelling that those three examples had. What's left is a typical revenge story in which two dimensional heroes battle very dull villains.

As I said, though, it has potential and I may even watch it again to see if that potential is fulfilled. Or I might try to find a zebra documentary. Are they white animals with black stripes or black animals with white stripes? Never mind, I don't care.

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