11 January 2011

The Cape.

I don't watch a lot of TV other than cartoons and sports but when I do it is usually on Sunday.  I watched some football today and then I happened upon NBC's Dateline's coverage of the horrific events in Arizona.  After having my heart torn to shreads watching the story about the little girl born on September 11th, I see NBC's commercials for The Cape.  It looked ridiculous but after Dateline, I could use some ridiculous. 
So, I watched The Cape.  It's a show about a cop that gets framed for some crime I don't remember so he becomes a super hero.  Like ya do.  
It was not terrible.  They tried hard.  They seemed to believe in the thing and work fairly hard to make it happen.  Lord knows poor Summer Glau puts everything she has every gig she lands regardless of how inevitable cancellation seems.  It was somewhat entertaining.  There were a couple of laughs.  The silly matador stuff with the cape was hard to sit through.  It was entertaining but I found myself switching over to ESPN a few times just wishing they'd come up with some sort of spur of the moment bonus playoff game.  The last hour/2nd episode was so unimaginative that I'd say less than 30 minutes of it held my attention. (I wrote/thumbnailed two pages of comics during the 2nd episode.)  A lot of the script was lousy.  At it's very best it is twisting cliche's.  But most of the time, it's just cliche'. 
Here are some random thoughts in random order that this thing stirred up for me:
  • So is it just totally okay for TV to plagiarise comic books now?  No Ordinary Family.  The Cape.  Our society has so little respect for creators that it's just totally okay to use other people's ideas without acknowledging them?  Really?  Just making sure.  
  • I've got a pitch for a new NBC TV show.  Incredible Denim Guy.  He goes from town to town under a fake name and solves problems.  Oh, and he turns into a giant green body builder.  It came to me in a dream.
  • The hero is presumed dead and carries on using a secret identity= The Lone Ranger, The Spirit, Spawn, The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay etc.
  • The hero is an escapist and hangs with circus types= The Escapist from The Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
  • Circus themed criminals= Batman, and oh, just about every super hero that lasted long enough to run into them.  Don't trust circus folk.  Especially underground circus folk!
  • "Palm City".  Really?  That's the best you got?
  • Cop turns vigilante.  Spirit etc.  Whatever.  But there is a problem here in how they sell the guy.  A big part of what appeals to us in hero stories is that they overcome some obstacle to become a hero.  They have a transformation.  Nerd Peter Parker becomes hero Spider-Man.  4F scrawny Steve Rogers offers himself up for a dangerous experiment and becomes Captain America.  The problem with The Cape is that they establish him as a bad ass at the very beginning.  He's working out and punching stuff.  He's all super cop already.   He has no arc.  He does not change.  His situation changes but he's still cop buy with a cape.
  • Cape as a weapon= Spawn, Batman, Doctor Strange and several thousand kung-fu movies. 
  • Crazy ugly villains whose names are what they look like or what they do= Dick Tracy, Batman... or just, ya know, comics.
  • Oh speaking of Dick Tracy.  I've never seen that movie all the way through but I want to.  Netflix needs to get that sucker in instant play like now.  One think I like about what I've seen about Dick Tracy is just how beautiful the whole thing looks.  Of course, most of the sets look like the paint is still drying as the actors are in scene. The sets on The Cape look like they are dry.  The look okay.  Nice.  Cliche' but nice. The overall production design of he show is fine.  It felt like the 80's to me.  That's okay.
  • I kind of like the cape as a weapon gimmick though.  The cape and or cloak is a protective garment.  Defense.  Bad guys use guns and knives.  The good guy uses a shield.  I like that.  Good to see a hero without a gun.
  • Cloak as a weapon= shield instead of guns= Captain America.
  • Dress up as your kid's hero and pull off some crazy stunt to impress him= The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay.
  • Does anyone remember Beauty and the Beast?  No, not the Disney show but the one where Ron Perlman road on subway cars dressed as a lion and Sarah Connor spent a lot of time starring off into the distance.  I loved that show when I was a kid.  I bet if I were a kid I'd like The Cape.
  • Summer Glau computer wiz girl= Oracle, Chloe from Smallville, that dude in the wheelchair in Dark Angel who was boy Oracle all of whom= Velma.  Jinkies.
  • Iron Man is going to be pissed when he finds out Summer Glau stole his little projection computer thingies. 
  • I'm going to go ahead and refuse to call Summer Glau by her character's name.  "Orwell".  I think it should have been "Or...well?"
  • What was up with that random slow mo segment during Summer Glau's fight with token long haired thug?  For no reason the director and editor are like, hey, let's show Summer fall down in slow mo, that will be cool.  
  • If I were big time Hollywood producer I'd get Wonder Woman on screen somehow and she'd be played by Rosario Dawson.  That has nothing to do with The Cape.
  • Was there some sort of flashback business with his wife about how he used to be a different person or something?  Yawn.  His wife presents some problems.  One, she's a human yawn.  Two, they probably should have killed her.  One of the essential ingredients in episodic TV is the dangling carrot of potential character hook up.  No one cares if The Cape hooks up with human yawn.  They will want to know if he will hook up with Summer Glau or tattoo circus girl etc.  And if he does then he's an adulterer.  Not so heroic.  
  • I feel like they kept the wife and kid alive just so they could have their own little Superman Returns father/child stalker scene.  That's nice but what are you going to do with them now?
  • Masked man secretly fights corruption= Zorro.  Oh and Robin Hood.  Oh well, pretty much every costumed hero.
  • Turn vigilante and fight corrupt privatized police force= Robocop.
  • The title sequence thing is nice.  Nice that it's full on comic book art.  The art is good.  Kind of an Alex Maleev thing going on.  Not to my taste but, it suits the show.
  • I do like that it is not ashamed of being a comic book TV show.  Remember how Smallville spent about seven seasons in denial before it just said screw it, lets bring on the costumed freak show?  At least The Cape is full on freak show from scene one. I respect that.  It's not parody.  It's not ironic.  It's not trying to be clever. It's just a super hero TV show.
  • If the show was only about underground circus criminals, that might be good.
  • Reasons the show will not make it=  It's gotta cost too much.  The cast is huge.  These things never last unless they are Smallville.  Network TV could not afford this show back in the good old days before expanded cable and teh intronets so it sure can't afford them now.  And, Summer Glau's shows always get canceled.  And that's a shame.  I love Firefly.  (Never saw one episode of it until after it was canceled.  Sorry.  I was the problem.)
Your best pal ever,
Shannon Smith
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