Some people are alcoholics. Others are addicted to drugs or gambling. From 1981 to 2008, my vice of choice were comics. Even though I haven't read one in over two years, I can always get my fix from movies like "Spiderman" and "The Dark Knight" as well as on television thanks to "Smallville".
This is why when I first heard about "The Cape" I was intrigued. Then I saw the first promo and felt that initial enthusiasm fade. Still, I figured it couldn't hurt to watch the pilot. Well, after enduring 47 minutes of something not unlike being socked in the nethers, I'm prepared to admit I was wrong. I was so wrong that I couldn't bring myself to watch the second episode of the premiere.
First I'll mention the only part of this train wreck which connected with me. Some of the acting was surprisingly good. Vince Faraday's (David Lyons) anguish over having to abandon his family felt authentic. Dana Faraday's (Jennifer Ferrin) agony over believing her husband to be dead felt so raw and real, I was stunned. As for the carnival folk, they each felt like they were actually pulled away from working in a circus (take that however ya' want). Aside from this, the rest of the acting really isn't worth mentioning except to say just that. Now it's time for the bad.
Visually, "The Cape" is FUBAR. I know that most of the action takes place at night, but we should still be able to clearly see what's happening. I could tolerate having to guess what was going on in "Batman Begins". Here, I can't help but feel it's to hide deficiencies. Also, Faraday's costume looks as stupid as the day is long. He's wearing a chest plate over a black onesie, with a hooded cloak. Yet he has no mask? Isn't he supposed to be worried about endangering the safety of his family? Even if he dons a mask, this drab costume does nothing to grab your attention or appear even vaguely dynamic. As for Peter Fleming's (James Frain) alter ego, he looks like a reject from "Eyes Wide Shut". At least Scales (Vinnie Jones) gave me hope for one day seeing a live action Killer Croc.
The action/special effects are abysmal. When in use, the cape looks like a CGI afterthought from 1992. How is a cape supposed to be wielded as a whip? I could get using it to confuse someone in close quarters, but definitely not to throw them around from a distance. The disappearing into a plume of smoke f/x is used too frequently, and isn't impressive. And based on what I could see of the fight scenes, the actors and stuntmen don't appear to know how to stage an engaging fight. Check out the fight between the Cape and Scales and then the fight between the Cape and Fleming to see what I mean. But this isn't the worst part.
The biggest offender on "The Cape" is the writing. How in the world is anyone supposed to be able to follow the events of the pilot and not roll their eyes straight out their heads? A family man/cop could becomes a private security officer, then is framed for a crime, then almost killed, then falls in with carnies, then learns advanced combat techniques/escapism/lookin' like an idjit', becomes a superhero, and, finally, foils the villain's nefarious plan within an hour. I'm winded just thinking about it. The lead character is tied to a circus, despite his concerns being in Palm City. This would only make sense, and barely at that, if circuses never traveled. Keith David playing Max Malini is nonsensical, if for no other reason than the name. Couldn't the writers have rethought the character to fit the actor at all? And real escape artists cannot disappear right in front of your eyes and in full light, by turning into smoke. That would be hard magic, not escapism or illusionism. Why would a hardened criminal choose to tie up an attacker, wearing a hooded cloak, in chains and throw him off a boat instead of using a gun to shoot him dead—and then throw him overboard? These are many, but not all of the problems with the script.
"The Cape" needs to be cancelled now. If it doesn't make it to four episodes, then it may be realized as a dud and forgotten about. But, should it reach six before the plug is pulled, and it will be, people may remember it and superheroes might carry a prime time stigma. Seeing as how this is the first true superhero show since "Lois & Clark", it would be a shame for this drivel to ruin the possibilities of other, more deserving properties getting some face time.
Imagine a live action Daredevil show. If done properly, it could merge the legal thrills of "The Defenders" with the high octane action of a Jet Li film. What about a primetime show focusing on Robin (Tim Drake, not Dick Grayson)? It could marry the teen drama of "One Tree Hill" to the kind of excitement found in "The Dark Knight". You can't tell me shows like this wouldn't be good for anywhere from a 60 to 80 share in primetime. However, should "The Cape" be allowed to run long enough to sour the public and the studio heads on this specific type of property, this could very well be the last time a show like this airs for another ten plus years.
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