The Cape Doesn’t Work…at All
The Cape sucked and here’s why:
There’s absolutely nothing wrong with the basic premise. A good cop is framed for corruption and murder and disguises himself as his son’s favorite comic book character in order to clear his name and remain a positive role model for the disillusioned boy.
The show, which debuted this week to reasonable ratings and almost uniformly negative reviews, suffers from tunnel-visioned writing. In order to tell their stories, they ignore all the elements that really would be happening and derailing the story. So we the viewer are left wondering about these missing elements, taking us out of the story actually being told.
For example, Vince (David Lyons) is a good cop, who seemingly dies after trying to prevent the newly named chief of police from dying inside a locked SUV. He’s manipulated by his partner and best friend to meet the real mastermind, Chess (James Frain), who is also the CEO of Ark, a conglomerate that has just been hired to provide Palm City with privatized police protection.
While Vince seemingly dies during a police manhunt, we make these odd time jumps. Apparently, either his widow Dana (Jennifer Ferrin) took her sweet time about arranging his funeral or Vince trained and mastered various forms of stage illusion in days. You see, he escaped underground and came into contact with the Circus of Crime, whose leader Max (Keith David) agrees to train him in exchange for access to Ark’s security. So, apparently within hours of the police chief’s death, Ark signed a deal with the city and then managed to outfit every bank in town with Ark-specific security systems allowing Vince’s Ark card to give the criminals access. And during their crime spree, Ark doesn’t have the wherewithal to change the code settings or figure out the swipe card use d to access the vaults is the one assigned to Vince.
And, if Vince is believed to be the villainous Chess, why weren’t federal and state agents arriving on Dana’s doorstep with warrants, ransacking the house in search of evidence to expose the depth of Chess’ crimes?
Where are the media investigating Ark, the chief’s death, Vince’s previously sterling record?
Frain’s CEO is clearly insane so one wonders how he managed to stay in control of such a large company, which seems to allow him time to dabble with exotic criminals such as Scales (who shows what Killer Croc might actually look like on film). I do like Chess’ unqiue contact lenses, which does help make him visually fun.
Meantime, by the second hour, the Circus of Crime has turned into Vince’s new family and has stopped committing crimes. Instead, they’re on hand to support Vince in his fight. Max was more interesting in the first hour when he was a criminal willing to deal so both sides get something. Suddenly he goes to father figure and is boring. Although, Lyons’ performance is so flat and his character so one-dimensional that you don’t notice at first.
Also coming to Vince’s aid is Oracle, I mean Orwell, in the form of Summer Glau. She should be the one using the cape and kicking ass since she has the training to make it look good. Sticking her behind CGI-generated computers and making her seem driven to the point of uninteresting is just a waste of a popular actress.
About the most successful sub-plot is the strained relationship between Dana and her son Trip (Ryan Winnot). He believes the Cape is real since he was visited by him and was told Vince was framed. Dana now has to find a job and deal with the stigma attached to her name (the writers should take notes from the far superior and better written The Good Wife). But they need to make a new life together and this may be the most unique aspect of the series.
I’ve seen the first two-hours and there was nothing present to compel me to watch any more. It pales in comparison to ABC’s more successfully written and cast No Ordinary Family. There, we’re watching people cope with gaining their powers and understanding the consequences of their actions. Clearly, Marc Guggenheim has a much firmer grasp on the super-heroic tropes than does The Cape’s creator, Tom Wheeler.
If it gets better and is worth a second shot, someone let me know. Thanks.