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Summer GlauSummer Glau - "The Cape" Tv Series - Ign.com Review
Tuesday 11 January 2011, by Webmaster
The Cape: "Pilot/Tarot" Review
NBC aims for the fanboy audience. Again.
Advance Review: The Cape, NBC’s latest attempt to lure the fanboy viewers in, plays like a "previously on" recap sequence featuring a bunch of other, better movies and TV shows. Like the myriad abilities wielded by the title character, this show has cribbed from so many sources that it would be better called The Hodgepodge.
Actually, the first half of the two-hour premiere ("Pilot") is paced so breathlessly that you’d be excused if at times you thought you were literally watching one 60-minute long "previously on" segment. Meet the hero! He’s a cop! He’s a family man! Now he’s joining a private security firm! Now he’s been kidnapped! Now he’s been wrongly accused of a crime he didn’t commit! Now he’s living with circus freaks! And that’s all just in the first 20 minutes.
Debuting this Sunday, the pilot episode is playing back to back with episode number two, "Tarot," which slows things up ever so slightly but is still mostly a mess. David Lyons (ER) stars as Vince Faraday, the aforementioned family man and cop who lives in the comic-booky Palm City, a troubled and corrupt place — or so we’re told, though it looks less Gotham and more Metropolis most of the time. Peter Fleming (James Frain, True Blood) runs an OCP-esque corporation called Ark and seeks to privatize the police force and prisons of the city. He’s also prone to donning a mask and killing police chiefs while under the name of Chess — The Cape’s version of a super villain, essentially. And a very cardboard-cutout, one-dimensional super villain at that.
Fleming is of course behind the aforementioned framing of Faraday, which leads to the hero’s very public and apparent death during a televised manhunt. But of course he isn’t dead, and he soon finds himself among a band of circus people/bank robbers (don’t ask) led by Keith David’s Max. These talented carnies train Faraday in their various arts — escape, hypnosis, fighting — while also bestowing on him the titular cape which seemingly has magical abilities. And so The Cape is born, Faraday’s super alter ego who will right all of the wrongs of the city. "One man can make a difference," Faraday says, perhaps too often.
Perennial fanboy favorite Summer Glau (The Sarah Connor Chronicles) also stars as Orwell, who’s kind of like Oracle with her secret hideout and high-tech computers and all-seeing eye, only she’s not in a wheelchair and has never gone by the name Batgirl (as far as we know). In a particular low point of the pilot episode — among many low points — Orwell and The Cape strike up a partnership in about 30 seconds. There’s just no attempt at characterization or fleshing out these two and their relationship at all. Glau, who’s always a pleasure to watch, is terribly underused in these first two episodes, though one hopes that the writers will give her character something more to do in the coming weeks.
Faraday’s wife and son figure into the story too. The world at large believes that Papa Faraday was a traitor and a villain before he died, but the wife and son — Dana (Jennifer Ferrin) and Trip (Ryan Wynott) — refuse to buy into that. Especially the boy, who near the end of the first episode is paid a late night visit by The Cape on the fire escape of his building. He doesn’t realize it’s actually his dad he’s talking to, but it’s a nice moment as the elder Faraday attempts to explain to Trip that dear old dad wasn’t so bad after all.
Unfortunately, since The Cape doesn’t seem to know what it wants to be, it then cuts to what amounts to a second ending of the first hour where our hero gets into a fight with some thugs, followed by the guy he saved making fun of his superhero name. "The Cape? Eh." Cute? Eh.
In a funny way, the show reminds one of the old Flash series from the ’90s. It has some style to it, and the lead character is likable enough, but there seems to be very little substance beneath the theatrical veneer. Of course, that old show was intended to be much lighter fare than The Cape, which takes itself Very Seriously more often than not.
Another annoying aspect of the show is the implication that Faraday has no actual super powers, and yet he and others commit feats that no mere mortal could pull off. No matter how talented an escape artist Keith David’s Max might be, he just wouldn’t be capable of disappearing in a cloud of smoke at the drop of a hat the way he does. And Faraday’s learning how to catch knives that are thrown at him? In a matter of days (or hours)? And the cape itself — a variation on Spawn’s "living" cape (which, by the way, looks as cheesy as the one from the Spawn movie)? Come on. The list goes on.
So, yeah, one man can make a difference. But it doesn’t seem as though The Cape is that man, not yet anyway. Same goes for his TV show.
The Cape premieres Sunday, January 9th at 9:00pm ET/PT on NBC.