The Cape Episode 1 "Pilot"

1/10/2011 Posted by Admin

"The Cape" Episode 1 "Pilot"

Television Review

By our guest blogger, Nick Hanover

Despite existing for longer than both pop music and narrative film, comics has had to fight an uphill battle for respect throughout its history. Condescendingly portrayed as the domain of adolescents both real and stunted, the mainstream is all too often over eager to just write the entire medium off, ignoring the real art that exists within it in favor of the one dimensional spandex and tights set. But somehow this decade has seen a massive shift in cultural expectations thanks in large part to Bryan Singer and Christopher Nolan's efforts on the "X-Men" and "Batman" franchises, respectively, which proved without a doubt that superhero comics can be real (if not realistic) and important.

And now "The Cape" has come around to totally and completely destroy that faith.

The likelihood of any other show that debuts this year being even half as terrible as "The Cape" is slim to none. "The Cape" fails on so many levels that it almost comes back around to success--it is simply that difficult to imagine this show was not intended to be this horrific. The acting is almost universally amateur and the dialogue is so mind bogglingly stupid that the only way I could believe it's not some sort of Situationist prank is if the credits included Tommy Wiseau as the head writer.

This is not hyperbole. This is not exaggeration. "The Cape" truly must be seen to be believed, especially if the AV Club's prediction that "making fun of this show could become a new national nerd pastime" comes true...

There's plenty of reason to believe they're right, especially given the ludicrous unfolding of the show's plot on display in the premier. The titular Cape is Vince Faraday (David Lyons), owner of both World's Best Dad and World's Best Cop coffee mugs, a lone white knight in the fictional Palm City. You see, Palm City (which is like the unholy progeny of New York, L.A. and Miami) has a big problem--it's infested with bad guys. We know this because the show immediately introduces us to Faraday's partner as she's reading a blog run by someone named, HA!, Orwell, who likes to post all kinds of tidbits about Palm City's crime and dirty cops. Just in case you didn't get how bad that whole situation is, Faraday's partner and Palm City's new police chief are both immediately killed by the mysterious villain Chess. Because of dirty cops, of course.

Things actually unfold on "The Cape" in this manner. The show has no time for things like set-up or character development. The viewer is told things are bad, bad things immediately happen and then Faraday reacts. Wash. Rinse. Repeat.

It is in this manner that the show's entire premise is unveiled. The aforementioned bad things happen and Faraday winds up framed and presumed dead, but luckily he's saved by, seriously, a "Carnival of Crime." The Carnival of Crime tells Faraday how bad things are, they do some bad things with Faraday's badge after threatening to kill him, then they decide they like Faraday and he likes them, so they all get together and give up on crime and offer to help him bring down Chess. Did I mention he gets beat up by a Little Person? Several times? Or that Keith David of "The Thing" and "They Live!" fame mentors Faraday in the art of being a badass with a cape? Oh, and there's Vinnie Jones as a bad guy named Scales with, you guessed it, a face full of scales. Somewhere along the way, Summer Glau offers up her help too, as both quasi-mentor and intelligence operative. Just because.

If "The Cape" begins to fully embrace its awfulness and go for full on camp, the show could wind up a secret success as the type of debacle you can't help but watch religiously. But right now it's an affront to the senses, a malicious concoction of every tired stereotype everyone has about comics and comics fans that one could argue is the start of a conspiracy to return comics to their underground status. Given that we're in the midst of both a recession and a television renaissance, you really do have to wonder how the show even made it on the air in the first place.

Conversation Starters:

* If you were on the fence about Summer Glau's acting, this should definitely push you to the "completely lacking talent" side

* How about that wonderful CGI? Eh? Eh?!

* Is "Carnivale" the only other show in history to prominently feature an ass-kicking Little Person?

* What the hell was the deal with Chess' contact lenses? Did the producers decide that villain wasn't silly enough as is?

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