Stop it. Just stop it. You cannot honestly tell yourself, “Oh, it wasn’t that bad.” Because 1) it not only was, it was worse. And 2) how starved for comic-book entertainment must you be to delude yourself into thinking that? If you really need to scratch that itch, find “The Misfits” or check out one of the many animated superhero movies that TK goes apeshit over.
“The Cape” is not the answer. “The Cape” is a pile of shit so deep that it would take an excavator and a half ton of explosives to dig yourself out of it. It is the closest thing you can find on television in 2011 to the old Adam West “Batman” series, but I doubt that “The Cape” had half the budget of that show. It’s like something Tim Burton would create if he were given a $60 budget and brain damage. A skilled director could do a lot with a little, but NBC clearly has no interest in skilled television directors. The disjointed tone is like some half-dead television executives idea of campy, and the writing is something akin to masked Hallmark card throwing up in your lap. The goddamn show can’t even properly make fun of itself, though it certainly makes the occasional effort. I’d call it a massive waste of talent, too, but let’s be honest, besides Richard Schiff’s appearance in Part II, there wasn’t a lot of talent to be wasted. There’s a reason that Summer Glau has mostly been relegated to quiet roles in her geek-show past: the more she talks, the more you cringe. And the lead guy, David Lyons, might want to work on his American accent, unless Christian Bale’s Batman voice crossed with a drunk Mel Gibson is what he was going for.
Look, I had modest expectations going in. I’d seen the adverts, and the ridiculous premise notwithstanding, I thought there was potential for a reasonably compelling origins story and an engrossing overall conspiracy arc. What I wasn’t expecting was for NBC to give us Daredevil minus the blindness, plus a cape. A cape? That’s his fucking superpower? And the best he can do is use it like a glorified Wacky WallWalker? He tosses people around with his cape. And I don’t care how many nods The Cape makes to the absurdity of his superhero name, it doesn’t negate the absurdity.
David Lyons plays Vincent Farady, a good cop in a city so full of corrupt ones that the city has been taken over by a corporate police force, of which the show’s super villian, Peter Fleming (alter ego: Chess) is the head. Chess has an eye toward expanding his private police force beyond the city limits, and to do that, he has to strike fear into the citizenry. Farady, with the assistance of the mysterious blogger (oh), Orwell (Summer Glau), gets in Fleming’s way. Flemming frames Farady for the murder of the new police chief and leaves Farady presumed dead, with his adoring son and his wife left to pick up the pieces. Farady goes underground and, get this, learns to become a superhero from a cadre of circus freaks led by the illusionist, Max Malini (Keith David, gnawing the hell out of scenery). He’s taught to hypnotize from a master hypnotist and trained to fight from a midget. Obviously. He takes on The Cape personae because it’s his kid’s favorite comic book and, ummm, there must have been a surplus of spider silk lying around?
I’ll give “The Cape” this much credit, at least: the premise is not the worst thing about it. In fact, if you don’t care about acting, writing, directing, characters, or special effects, you might actually find something redeeming about the show. I’m sure the catering is wonderful, even if the show’s cheese is rank and moldy from the get go.