Monday, January 10, 2011
Thoughts on the First Two Episodes of The Cape
Photo Credit: Hulu/NBC
So, The Cape had its two hour "preview" last night. For some reason, NBC didn't opt for the word premiere because the show will air regularly on Monday nights. The Cape follows the antics of an ex-cop, Vince Faraday, who finds himself a fugitive following the death of the Police Chief and the rise of a billionaire corporation called Ark. He has a loving wife and a son who idolizes him. Before his son, Trip, falls asleep, father and son read a comic book about a superhero called The Cape. When Vince needs to live in hiding following the fun times that comes from being framed for murder and explosions, Vince decides to become The Cape so that he can communicate with his son AND bring Ark to justice for its crimes. With the help of carnies, Vince transforms into a superhero without superpowers through the power of illusion.
The Cape isn't too complex but the first two episodes weren't terrible. The beats are familiar. The villainy’s familiar. Vince is a simple, cookie-cutter hero the audience can root for. Chess, the first season's Big Bad or super villain, possesses zero redeeming qualities and, therefore, easy to root against. I doubt I continue writing about series in the future because the series is rather straight-forward and simple in its concept. It doesn't beg people to look for Easter eggs and ruminate on the latest 41 minutes for a full week until a new episode. No, The Cape's about a guy who wants his life back (family and job) and justice for himself. Until he brings down Chess in the season finale (or makes him go away until the show wants Chess to return), each episode will devote itself to other criminals who The Cape needs to stop. After all, the police force has become corrupt and sort of militarized since Ark took control of Palm City (which is complete nonsense by the way).
The pilot moved at a fast speed so jarring to a weekly viewer (and reviewer) of No Ordinary Family that I experienced massive whiplash. In one single act, Vince Faraday masters the art of illusion from the head of the circus/carnival, Max. Max, during the pilot, draws comparisons between the circus and Vince's life constantly. Max and his crew also rob banks. Immediately, we learn that Vince will not bring justice to any criminals who help him. He even makes robbing banks EASIER for Max and the gang by parting with his Ark card that opens everything in the city with one swipe. The pilot might've moved too fast. Tom Wheeler, the show's creator and writer of the pilot, presents many situations to the audience and essentially says "accept the situation for what it is and don't ask questions." Questions regarding how Ark gained so much power in an American city because Wheeler doesn't bother explaining why Ark's so powerful. Perhaps we'll learn more about Ark as the series progress.
Anyway, the pilot moves so fast that it hurts the entire episode. In interviews, Wheeler expressed The Cape as a throwback to The Silver Age of comic books. Wheeler would've been wise to devote the entire first hour to a classic origin story. The Pilot is an origin story but a rather lousy and truncated one. The characters exist as one-note archetypes rather than fully developed characters because of the insane pace. Maybe the network wanted The Cape to dive into the Chess arc early because Vince has possesses the skills to fight Chess one-on-one by episode's end. I wanted an origin story with more time and care than the one we received. Batman Begins had a two hour run time but Christopher Nolan spent plenty of time on Bruce Wayne as he learned to be Batman.
The second episode, "Tarot," falls into a procedural formula. Chess hires an assassin to kill the secretary of police because he has issues with the way the police force is run. Vince must stop the trained assassin. Of course, Max informs Vince that he will not return the cape to Vince because he isn't ready. During the middle part of the episode, with the help of Summer Glau's Orwell, Vince becomes a self-sufficient vigilante and earns the respect of Max so Max returns the cape in time for Vince to defeat the trained assassin.
The Cape has imagination and a clear interest in establishing a world like Batman's or Spiderman's. The characters aren't very engaging though, and characters make or break a show. I love Summer Glau but she clearly needs Whedon writing for her because Tom Wheeler's character for her lacks the greatness of River Tam and Bennett Halverson. But I don't mind the short skirts and high boots Summer wears constantly in the first two episodes.
Overall, I might continue watching The Cape for the upcoming appearance by Mena Suvari and the recurrence of Summer Glau but The Cape did not earn a weekly spot in the review rotation. I might re-visit the series later on with a post. Who knows.
Fun Fact: Deran Serafin directed “Tarot.” He directed “?,” a second season LOST episode. Originally, Darren Aronofsky was supposed to direct it but that fell through so Serafin replaced him.
That is all.
THE YOUTUBE CLIP OF THE WEEK