A Decent First Impression – DeadMan’s The Cape Review
For quite a while, many original superhero TV shows have been aimed towards children while most of the shows hoping to pull in a more mature audience have been re-imaginings of comic franchises. But recently, networks ABC and NBC have tried to make “original” superhero shows aimed at the older TV watchers with No Ordinary Family and the just premiered The Cape, which is the focus of this review, so let’s get on with it.
The Cape follows Vince Faraday, played by Sea Patrol‘s David Lyons, a cop from the coastal city of Palm City. After the chief of police is murdered with some kind of explosive no one ever really heard of before, a company called Ark comes in to try to take over the force giving the country its first private law enforcement agency. After Vince is asked to work for them, he gets contacted by Orwell, an anonymous investigative blogger who tells him Ark is evil (I would have said SPOILER WARNING but c’mon, who didn’t see that coming a mile away). Orwell tells Vince where he can find some evidence to try to bring down Ark, but he gets betrayed by his friend and finds out that the head of Ark, played by one of my new favorite TV villains James Frain, is actually a serial killer known as Chess. He frames Vince for a bunch of murders and tries to have him killed. After being framed and left for dead, Vince is found by a group of circus performers and bank robbers led by everyone’s favorite space captain Keith David. While with this group Vince finds the eponymous cape and is trained in its use, as well as some magicians’ tricks, to fight crime and take down Ark. Yeah, lot’s of story, and for the most part I like it. It is plenty ridiculous with enough interesting things going on or that could go on to keep me… well, interested.
David Lyons’ performance as Faraday is kind of the low point of the show for me. He just seems kind of cookie cutter: Man is framed, comes back as hero, protects family from shadows. If you know superhero stories (which I like to hope I think I know some stuff about) you have heard of this before. Not to say that his performance is bad or anything, just not adding anything to the superhero formula. Also, this may have just been me, but I kind of got a wannabe-Batman vibe from the Cape (character and show). While the ads for the show have made it look like the cape is mystical and what-not, it actually isn’t. It was used by circus performers and as such was tricked out with all kinds of cool bells ad whistle that let it do all the stuff it can. You know in the commercials when the Cape whips up his cape and disappears in a puff of smoke? That is just smoke bombs. One of the things that makes Batman interesting to me is his lack of power. He has no superpowers, unless you count being awesome as a power. He uses his skills and what he has on hand to take down forces much greater than himself. The Cape is very much like that. He uses his circus training and police training along with his pimped out piece of cloth to fight a multi-billion dollar corporation that is trying to take over the city he loves. It is a rip-off of a better character, but it kind of makes me like him more.
The circus that takes in Vince, led by Keith David of course, is one of the better parts of the show. Keith, who plays Max Malini, is the head of the Carnival of Crime. He is the main guy who trained Vince in the use of the Cape as well as all of his escape techniques. He also has a knowledge of some poisons, saving Vince’s life when he was poisoned, once again tapping into his knowledge of circuses. Another member of the circus who I really liked was Martin Klebba’s character Rollo. Most people will recognize him from The Pirates of the Caribbean movies. Here he plays the diminutive strongman of the carnival, helping Vince with his fighting skills and clubbing people with monkey wrenches as big as he is. As I said above, these guys are not heroes. They are criminals, hence the name “Carnival of Crime.” The only reason they helped Vince in the first place was because he had an access card to the bank vaults in town. This adds an extra layer to these characters, giving them possible ulterior motives and may become villains later on the series.
One of the other reason’s the carnival takes in Vince is his hatred of Peter Flemming, True Blood‘s James Frain, also known as the murderer Chess. Flemming is the primary antagonist and the head of Ark, the company that is taking over Palm City. I really like him as a villain. As his supervillain name suggests, he has a bizarre obsession with chess. When he reveals himself to Vince, they are in a shipping crate with a chess board in front of them. He also keeps his evil plan hologram thing inside a chess board. He only decides to fight the Cape because he finds him interesting. Again, this is nothing new. There have been many villains who consider themselves so much better than their hero and think the heroes are not worthy of fighting them. But what I like about Chess is his portrayal by Frain. I can’t really pinpoint what it was I liked about him, but there was something in the way he did his evil that I liked.
Summer Glau, who I’m sure you remember as River Tam, plays Orwell and furthers my Batman view of the series. Orwell is an Oracle type character, staying in a base in front of a computer screen and feeding info to the Cape. She is an investigative blogger who knows more about the corruption in the police force by Ark than anybody else in the city, even the police force. She also has a bunch of 3D holographic computers and a Mercedes. Can you get that rich being a blogger? She hints at some kind of past that probably explains all that stuff and why she does what she does, and that kind of interests me.
There is one other character worth mentioning because he is a regular cast member and character, apparently: Vinnie Jones as Scales, a friendlier version of Killer Croc. He has a skin condition that makes him look like he has scales on his skin (hence the name) and is really strong. That’s kinda it. His job is to stand there, shout at dudes, look menacing and get taken out by a dwarf with a monkey wrench.
The Cape premiere was an alright one. It had some interesting stuff, foreshadowing stuff to come following episodes and all that stuff that a first episode is supposed to do. While some of the stuff kind of doesn’t really matter to me, mostly Scales and Vince Faraday the man, there was some stuff that I kind of enjoyed. It wasn’t the greatest and was not on the same level (in my mind at least) to No Ordinary Family, but I’ll probably watch it again to see where it goes.
Final Score: 3/5