It’s almost as if someone from NBC got together with writers and thought “Okay, we tried superheroes as real world individuals and we all saw how that worked out. Now how about we just drop the pretenses and dive head first in to the superhero genre?” And that’s exactly what happened. Even I as a major “Heroes” fan in the day–and trust me “Heroes” was all I talked about during the first season–can admit that after the season finale of season one, the show fizzled and deflated with startling speed. So it is only natural NBC would want to go for the superhero fad yet again, but this time diving in to the cheese without the attempts to recreate the success of “Lost.”
NBC’s new show “The Cape” is almost like a gritty reboot of the Adam West Batman show, but with a dash of Jack Kirby thrown in for good measure. And just a skosh of Mandrake. NBC has not been on a big success rate when it comes to achieving cult shows that can be big hits. “Heroes,” “Knight Rider,” “The Bionic Woman,” all shows that went splat. Meanwhile “The Event” and “Chuck” are constantly on the brink of cancellation. But with superhero television series on the rise, and ABC now keeping the genre boat floating with “No Ordinary Family” and soon a slew of Marvel related primetime thrillers, NBC wants their cut of the action pie. “The Cape” may not last longer than a half season at best. And I feel sorry mainly for Summer Glau.
The woman has oodles of talent, charisma, mystique, unique beauty and has yet to find that right vehicle that can make her in to a television star that she deserves to be. The cult world loves the gorgeous Ms. Glau, but damned if she can find a series that can keep her in to the hearts of fans that can stay on longer than two seasons. “The Cape” moves faster than a speeding bullet in the area of story progression. It moves so fast, missing the first five minutes will leave you completely lost. In the first four minutes we meet Vince, his family, we learn his job, witness an assassination, learn about Orwell to some degree, know Vince has blamed himself for a long time, see the devotion of his son, and that his job in jeopardy. That’s a lot to take in in a little under ten minutes, but the writers zip through so much exposition to get right to the meat and potatoes of the premise jumping in to a world where The Cape exists, but doesn’t exist.
He’s a comic, but he’s also a hero that protagonist Vince becomes, so while he’s fictional, he’s also real because Vince embodies him when obtaining his powers. That doesn’t make too much sense. Neither does the opening credits as audiences are left wondering if the action comic panels are looks in to the future, or at the comic book Vince emulates in the episode ahead. Vince of course, in an effort to bring down the evil Chess, is betrayed by his partner and the evil British executive (whodathunkit?!) Peter Fleming and goes on the run when Chess’s mask is stapled to Vince’s face (No seriously) framing him as Chess for the world to see. Even his wife and son who conveniently happen in to the channel who in record time finds Vince’s location and films him running from authorities without interruption.
Vince manages to outrun the authorities and is taken hostage by a traveling circus that happens to be an underground crime syndicate (Like all the best circuses) who takes Vince in to their custody forcing him in to an actual life of crime using his identity to rob banks. Keith David is on all octane’s of over the top with a skewed logic behind taking Vince as one of their own team. Vince takes a liking to the ragtag group of non-violent bank robbers, and learns the art of the… cape? We see him swooshing a cape around for a minute so… extensive training is hinted. But veering dangerously close to “Batman Begins” territory, Vince learns the art of misdirection, stealth, and combat from mystical Max Malini who instructs him on how to use his magical cape that can extend, teleport, and help him fly, and in a montage he manages to become The Shadow, Batman, Mandrake, Zorro, and The Phantom all rolled in to one!
As for Orwell, her introduction is comical and astounding, primarily because for a sentient blogger who can maintain her identity and bitch about corporate corruption, she is prone to living in a gorgeous underground condominium with a sweet hot rod, and stylish clothing. Who knew blogging was so financially rewarding? And why proclaim yourself the stealthiest most discreet agent of underground information yet ride in a silver Mercedes with a roaring engine, and flashy clothes? How does that not draw attention again? And how is she always at the right place at the right time? What is Chess planning? Is he becoming a monster? Is he possessed? Why put on a show with a costume, an evil laugh, and henchmen if you’re merely going to just assassinate your victims behind the scenes? What purpose does the costume serve? Why not have a mastermind as a proxy?
Nonetheless, Orwell and Vince form an “Uneasy alliance” and sexual tension for the viewers, and Summer Glau is able to masquerade and play Oracle/Lois Lane to the cape, all the while stealing scenes from David Lyons playing against type as the damsel in distress rather than the ass kicking female. I’m hard on “The Cape,” but truth be told, it’s so cheesy it tends to be endearing as its whole premise is heavily entrenched in the classic serials of the forties. Had this been a black and white film strip in the fifties, it’d have been a theatrical hit with the kids. When the second episode involves The Cape fighting a psychotic master chef, then you either have a good laugh and not take it seriously, or move on with your life. This kind of superhero schlock is right up my alley, so I’m staying for the long haul… or the announcement of its cancellation by NBC. Whichever comes first.