Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cape, The Little Show that Might

Have you ever watched a preview and gotten really excited about it in the first few seconds only to find yourself cringing by the end?  That was my reaction when I saw previews for The Cape.  As a superhero show it immediately got my attention with scenes of our brooding hero struggling to accept his new life yet unable to say good-bye to the old.  So far, so good, but something felt a bit off.  I couldn't quite figure out what tone they were going for and this made me nervous.  But, it's not as though there are a lot of choices out there within the comic book genre, so I figured despite the questionable previews I'd watch the premier and reserve judgement.  Now that I have, let's just say, I still have a few concerns.


Although this isn't based on an existing comic book, it does capture the feel of one. It's got a classic superhero origins story and costumed villains.  The Cape's nemesis, Chess, wears a snazzy black mask and has a red leather jacket that is reminiscent of the classic 1930's hero The Rocketeer and he almost looks better than The Cape.  The story chugs along predictably....average guy unfairly accused of heinous crimes appears to die, is rescued by a bunch of circus folks and must choose to live in secret fighting crime in the hopes he will one day clear his name and return to his loving family.  Okay, maybe the circus rescue isn't so predictable and it is kinda creepy, but it's the circus leader who gives our hero his cape so I'll forgive that little bit of nightmare inducing weirdness.

All in all, a predictable yet fun superhero origins story.  But then we get to the cape, the thing that defines our hero and becomes the centerpiece of his very Roman Gladiator meets Batman costume.  It is one of the cheesiest bits of CGI I have seen in years.  I'd be willing to forgive this, to look right past it, but it's the name of the show and our hero so it should be amazing.  He whips it around like a crazed toreador, and then it exhibits Stretch Armstrong-like powers, reaching out and wrapping itself around the bad guys to knock them to the ground.  The magic carpet in Disney's Aladdin was more impressive.

The problem with the cheesy CGI cape attached to his otherwise real costume is indicative of the problem with the whole show.  It can't decide what it wants to be.  One minute it's serious drama as our hero's wife and son try to deal with his staged death.  The next it's the silliness of a circus performer hypnotizing our hero into wearing women's lingerie.  In one scene he carefully cuts up an old aviator's mask and hand sews it into just what he needs, but in the next he's whipping that ridiculously fake cape around his head again like a fool.  Despite likeable characters and promising storylines, the show needs to figure out if it wants to be the next Heroes or the next Greatest American Hero.  If it can do this, then  it just might turn out to be a fun ride.

2 comments:

  1. Yeah, I thought this was pretty silly/cheesy overall... the first hour showed some promise - decent writing and setups, some clever dialogue. But it quickly degenerated into a lot more ridiculousness. The humor was refreshing at times, and just over-the-top at others. It reminded me a lot of "Night Man," "Viper," "Forever Knight" and other super-late night cheesy 90s superhero-esque TV shows. I was surprised the 2nd hour was of such poor quality (moreso than the first hour) and NBC clearly sank a lot of money into the show. Oh well. (And I feel like his wife had better see The Cape, at least, and have a sense that it's him!) The actors were all solid, though - at times the lead guy was quite good. And Keith David kinda stole the show - what a terrific actor he is (seriously).

    I agree with you, Nicole, that the Cape itself is just too much as far as being like a monkey's prehensile tail or something.

    I know the show is supposed to be cheesy fun, but there's good cheesy and there's bad cheesy. One critic said "the show would be a lot better if it was aware of its own ridiculousness." And the shots of the guy in his costume & cape just look laughable, no matter how they try to make the shots look cool/badass with various camera angles etc.

    The chapter headings also struck me as kinda pointless.

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  2. I must say the circus aspect had me concerned, initially. But after watching I found I rather enjoyed it, even if it were only for the fact that none of my comics have that exact origin. I had predicted more of a 'Punisher' beginning.

    The cape CGI was disappointing, hopefully they'll step that up a notch. I was surprised at how much I enjoyed the writing, but I was resolved going into the viewing that I'd have no high hopes for it.

    I'll keep watching, I know that much!

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