Thursday, January 13, 2011

The Cape

Okay, I can't hold off on talking about this train wreck any longer. NBC's The Cape.

I mean look at what this show is about: A good cop is framed for a crime he didn't commit and left for dead, then trained in special abilities by a circus ringleader, which he uses to protect his wife and son with the hell of a special suit with super powers, while also vowing vengeance on those who wronged him, as well as cleaning up the crime and corruption in his city. A city is under siege from crime, where the police force has just been privatized by a mega-corporation.

It's actually rather impressive how many genre cliches they've managed to fit in there/rip off from other sources. I mean, look at what you've got:

- Framed for a crime he didn't commit: Count of Monte Cristo, The Fugitive, etc...
- Left for dead: Lone Ranger, High Plains Drifter, Robocop, etc...
- Trained in secret arts: The Shadow, Batman, etc...
- A powerful weapon with special abilities and a legacy: King Arthur, Green Lantern, etc...
- Vowing vengeance and seeking justice: Every superhero backstory ever. Robocop.
- Father decides to honor his son by imitating his fictional hero: Robocop...?
- City being run by a corporation: Robocop, Robocop, Robocop!

And even with all that, the cliches and unoriginal ideas, it would be fine if the show was done well. But it's a mess! The show runners rip through the storytelling as though it's a rough draft on cocaine. I'm not a big fan of excessive exposition either, but this guy gets framed for a crime he doesn't commit and left for dead within the first 3 minutes! And the first 1 1/2 minutes of that is him snuggling with his son in bed. (Who, by the way, is cast ever-so-slightly too old for The Cape to be snuggling with him.)

The training sequence is perhaps the most hackneyed training montage I have ever seen. It shows him trying to master three skills: Vanishing with his cape, hand to hand combat (with a midget), and hypnosis. He tries each of these things once and fails miserably. Then they immediately show him trying each of these skills again, and he's mastered every single one of them! And again, this "scene" lasts a grand total of maybe TWO MINUTES. Absolutely awful.

In fact, later in the episode, he tries to train himself how to dodge knives by loading them into a baseball machine (don't get me started) and he fails and cuts his hand. Then, after never actually showing him improving at this, he catches a knife in the air. What? WHAT?

The whole show is like that. There's no character growth or real plot development - story points are just hurled at the camera one after another, like someone just decided to read the script aloud to the audience.

The most infuriating thing is perhaps the slightly better than mediocre reviews this thing has gotten. How can anyone believe it's even REMOTELY good? It's a groan-fest start to finish. It's a shame that, while television has achieved new heights in the past decade with shows such as The Sopranos, The Wire and most of Lost, the bottom has dropped so far with the scourge of reality television, CBS sitcoms and Jay Leno, that the average quality of narrative TV has actually lowered to the point where reviewers actually think The Cape has redeeming qualities.

Check your standards!

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