Sunday, January 16, 2011

To Cape or Not to Cape? A Very Quick Review

Finally saw the two-hour premier of NBC's The Cape, and I'm of two minds about it. I didn't hate it, in fact I kind of enjoyed it. Well, selected parts of it.  Am I willing to keep up with it and have it sit there glaring at me on the DVR? (hello, 13 episodes of Mad Men!) I'm not sure yet. I'll postpone my decision until next week's episode.

What works? Max Maldini and his Circus of Crime! Keith David gives it his all ("What, I'm using my stage voice!") He's obviously committed to the whole comic book premise, and everything about the underground circus of bank robbers is cool and suitably over-the-top, especially the mesmerist and the strongman midget. I also like Vinnie Jones as a henchman called "Scales" for reasons that are obvious looking at him. But then I never don't like Vinnie Jones.

What doesn't work? James Frain is a terrible villain. He was a terrible villain on Invasion too. He's just too goofy and prissy to be a scary mastermind. Imagine Blackadder's Prince George as an evil amoral genius. Yeah, not so much.

Flashback much? The most flashbacky flashbacks I've seen in a long time. And they were flashbacks that told us nothing, refused adamantly to advance the story, and even reminded us of things we saw in real time just moments before. NO MORE FLASHBACKS UNTIL YOU LEARN HOW TO USE THEM RESPONSIBLY. Seriously, this is an intervention.

What the fuck is with the single tear? Everybody has one lone tear sliding down their face, like they were forced as children to watch Chief Iron Eyes Cody looking out at a sea of interstate trash and were scarred forever. We get it, people are sad. Please let go of your Emotional Moments trading cards.

Lastly, Summer Glau is completely wasted. As the super-secret blogger "Orwell" (look at us, we're hip to the powers of the Interwebz! And irony! We're cool AND ironical!) she maintains absolutely secrecy, but the minute she see's some loon in a cape, she's like "Oh, you're so cool. We can be BFFs forever!" No, don't buy it for a minute. Instead of spending so much time showing us weepy wife and weepy kid (who we take for granted are weepy), why not give us a a reason to believe a paranoid conspiracy theorist would suddenly just throw caution to the wind and spend all her time tailing around someone who's just rashly exposing himself left and right?

The S/O adds, what's up with Orwell "disguising" herself by wearing a wig the same color as her own hair? And how long has Mrs. Cape been out of the lawyering business if she can just run out and set up shop with the district attorney? She is a lawyer, right? They kinda skipped that part. Maybe she printed out a diploma at home. All right, I've suddenly ceased to care.

Maybe they could just make the show about the Circus of Crime, and we could forget about all the earnest weepiness.

We'll see what this week brings....


  1. Okay, I'm going to be randomly difficult on one issue. (Disclaimer first: I don't WATCH live action television. I can't stand it. So I haven't seen this show or even heard of it.) I wouldn't bat an eye at an obsessively secretive paranoid conspiracy theorist abruptly throwing all caution to the winds and deciding he, she, or it must have a deep soul connection with the first whackaloon to run past in tight spandex doing something Totally Awesome. You're talking about someone who grabs an idea and never lets go to begin with, and is lacking a number of life's basic lessons of moderation and safety. The rules they've substituted may seem much harsher, but there's going to be gaps where you'd least expect it.

    Basically: An immature loon is an immature loon, and will do dumb and inconsistent things. Even if they're one of the curiosities who can focus for more than 5 minutes at a time.

  2. Aha, you came up with a great argument. But that's because you're an excellent writer. My fear is that the Cape's writers are not of your caliber.

    I do understand the need for expediency though, when you've got a two-hour pilot to put all your pieces on the board, so hopefully the character development fairies will have visit by the time I can back to the DVR....

  3. Sadly, the 'A stopped watch is right twice a day' phenomenon is the explanation for way too much. And you can usually tell by the way they depict what is technically a reasonable idea.