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.

9 comments

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  • David

    I wanted to like this and was willing to overlook plot holes to some extent, but was first taken out of the story by one particular scene. When Vinnie read the comic book to his son, I thought, “Who writes a comic like this?” with past-tense narration and attributed dialogue, basically being read like a storybook. From then on I had the thought in my head: “This writer hasn’t read a comic since he was eight and is writing what he THINKS comic book stories are.”

    And the rest of the pilot pretty much seemed to back that up, with cliches, formulas, and two-dimensional characters. No twists or surprises or innovative ideas.

    I still kind of want to like it, if for no other reason than it providing young viewers an entertaining by-the-numbers romp. But it’s too bad that non-comics fans will look at this and, like the show’s creator, come away thinking it’s the best comic books or superheroes have to offer.

  • David

    You had me until the part about NOF. With The Cape, at least the creators know it’s terrible and can wink at us as we laugh at it’s cheesiness. NOF is capable of getting close to being decent, but then goes back to bad tv drama tropes and resets anything that could lead to the show being interesting.

  • DF

    Yes, NOF isn’t perfect. The stuff with the kids is not very good so far. But I like the dad character a lot and he is a thousand & one times cooler than the hero of the Cape. And he has no costume! I also like the mom character & the two sidekicks. Actually, NOF’s villians are not cheesy at all, unlike the Cape’s cliche’ ridden bad guys. NOF’s superhero elements are really done. The Cape’s superhero & drama stuff is just LAME. I very much doubt the creators of the show know its terrible. NOF is a fun show when it focuses on the super hero/villian stuff and a bit weaker when it does drama, especially with the kids.

    Ya, I won’t be watching the Cape either. Wish it had been a lot better. I was really hoping it would be…

  • David

    Oh, and actual superhero fights. I like that in a superhero show.

  • David

    Ehh, NOF superhero stuff is disappointing for me. Whenever the show starts to suggest them being superheroes or working together, it then restarts it by the next episode and wipes it all away. It just feels like a giant cocktease and I’m not going to watch it if it keeps doing that.

    Also, The Cape actually enjoys his powers. That’s something that I kept getting annoyed about with most shows with superpowers. They’re friggin awesome and the characters should have fun with them, not angst all the time about them.

  • I judge how successful a super-hero tv show or movie is by whether my wife (who is not a comic nerd like me) likes it. She likes NOF (as do I) and hated The Cape (as did I). The Cape is embarrassingly bad, and I spent the next day assuring people that the show is NOT based on any comic or graphic novel. It set back the Geek Movement by ten years.

  • JEREMY DAVIS

    first off people need to hear about heroes regardless if they are real or not second the people who out there saying they left this out they should put this in are the archnemisis in my book its a story of good and evil LISTEN to the STORY and dont point out its flaws,im the type of guy who like to listen or watch a good story told and if your analyzing the whole entire time all this is going on, your missing out. if people LISTENED more and worried less on grammar etiquette and proper plot placement,thats how movies and series are screwed up,my point is people want to be entertained so stop wasting your time trying to critique a story and just listen to it,a true comic book fan cares only if the good guy prevails over the bad guy its that simple,lol

  • JosephW

    Bob wrote, “Where are the media investigating Ark, the chief’s death, Vince’s previously sterling record?”

    Uh, that may be the ONLY thing that absolutely rang true about the show. If all of that happened in the real world, OUR media would’ve fallen apart. There’s no way that our media could handle three major news stories all at the same time.

    But yeah. The show was pretty bad. I DVRed it and managed to get about 40 minutes through before I’d had enough.

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