The Cape: Pilot

NBC has a lot invested in this mid-season replacement. A lot of the comic book community, the core target audience for NBC’s failed “Heroes,” laid the blame for its failure on the one missing element that makes superheroes superheroes – costumes. Almost in retaliation, along with the continuing successes of comics properties like “The Walking Dead,” “Human Target” and Marvel’s Avengers cartoon and movie franchise (so far at least), NBC wheeled out “The Cape,” a series whose very concept revolves around a superhero costume. The pilot first aired last night, along with the second episode, and both will re-air tonight. Here are my thoughts on the pilot.

We start in the hyper-reality of the fictional city of Palm City, part Miami Beach, part Los Angeles, but all comic book gimmick with a real world spin. Yep, it’s “Heroes” with costumes. Or rather at its start, super-villains with costumes – as a masked baddie, known as Chess, blows up the chief of police in a blast of special effects that our yet-to-be hero survives.

The title sequence is hardcore comics, paneled pages similar to the original “Wonder Woman” series with a darker edge. The music by Bear McCreary is very heroic, a close cousin to both Danny Elfman’s Batman and John Williams’ Star Wars, leaving no doubt as to what kind of television event we are watching – this is a superhero show.

Our hero, Vince Faraday, played by Australian actor David Lyons, seems to be the only honest cop in Palm City. With the death of the chief of police, the police force is taken over by the ARK Corporation – running into cliché number one. Evil corporations are so 1980s, especially in the comics. Cliché number two is not so bad, The Cape is actually the comic book hero idol of Faraday’s son. An inspired concept sprinkled into a set-up we can see coming a mile away. He’s going to take on this identity to impress his son, right?

As the secret origin story of our hero progresses, I found myself getting more involved despite my objections. There’s the mysterious and invasive blogger called Orwell. And a rogues gallery is being constructed, other than Chess, there is also the near-mutant Scales with reptilian skin. I don’t want to, but my fanboy groove is getting on.

My fanboy groove was so on that when the Carnival of Crime showed up, an old comic book gimmick that was old when Stan Lee drenched it up in the early days of Marvel Comics, and was ancient when it killed the last story arc of “Heroes,” I didn’t mind at all. Faraday is now believed dead, worse than that, the public believes him to be Chess, and he’s saved by this Carnival of Crime – led by Max Malini, played by Keith “I’m cooler than Samuel L. Jackson” David.

They are a little bit Circus of Crime in their prime, a little bit “Carnivale” and a whole lot of fun. I love these guys, and would watch the show just for them. It’s twenty minutes in, and I am hooked. When Faraday takes a cape and contrives to become The Cape, it’s a bit much, but I follow where I’m led. Then Malini gives him a ‘magic’ cape and trains him in the use of it, and I see Batman Begins flashbacks. Have I mentioned I’m hooked?

Faraday takes on Scales, sort of a Killer Croc light, played by Vinnie Jones, on his first mission, and runs into Orwell, played by genre favorite Summer Glau. With her addition to the cast, the team is complete, we have our players and Faraday becomes The Cape. The end of the show gives us a taste of how things will work to whet our appetite for the rest of the series.

I gotta say I was hesitant when I started watching, but now hope “The Cape” stays around for a while. Let’s hope the ratings are up and the quality only gets better. Check it out.

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About Glenn Walker

Glenn Walker is a professional writer, and editor-in-chief and contributing writer at Biff Bam Pop!. A blogger, podcaster, and reviewer of pop culture in all its forms, he's done stints in radio, journalism and video retail. Ask him anything about movies, television, music, or especially comics or French fries, and you’ll be hard pressed to stump him or shut him up.

Posted on January 11, 2011, in avengers, batman, comics to film, heroes, human target, keith david, nbc, stan lee, summer glau, television, the cape, walking dead. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. I agree wholeheartedly – The Cape was a lot better than I remotely expected. I enjoyed the first 2 eps and will keep watching for now.Keith David and the Circus of Crime are awesome and I loved Vinnie Jones as Scales. The main baddy is pretty okay, too.

  2. A lot of the comic book community, the core target audience for NBC's failed "Heroes," laid the blame for its failure on the one missing element that makes superheroes superheroes – costumes. Did they? I never once saw this argument, and I'd describe myself as "very immersed" in comicbook culture. If anything, the reason The Cape can get away with using costumes at all is precisely because it doesn't have the post-modern, self-aware streak that Heroes had. If it ever once let on that it knew how ridiculous it was being, the whole show, carnival, midgets and costumes alike, would fall apart. As it is, it's playing things completely irony-free, and working because of it.

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