The Cape Series Premiere Review: What Did You Think?

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There isn't much more that I can say about The Cape that I didn't already say in my advance review.  Upon re-watch, I still find many of the same complaints I had before to mostly hold true.

Something Max Malini says in the first hour of the premiere sort of sums up what the The Cape is from my perspective: "I want to say something profound, last words and all."

As The Cape

The Cape wants to be a dark, edgy twist on the costumed crusader bit, but doesn't ever really achieve the level it's striving to reach.  The "one man can make a difference" ideal is not a new concept by any means, so if you're going pull from that well, you better make certain there's some fresh water in the bucket.

I suppose I'm expected to leave my cynical disbelief at the opening credits, but this is meant to be the story of a man in the real world who adopts a comic-book persona, not simply an adaptation of a comic book.  There's a subtle, but tangible difference. It's been done before, and far more realistically, in films like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight - which were themselves adaptations.

Perhaps I'm overly judgmental because of my enormous attachment to Batman, but so much seems to be culled straight from those films, such as the scene where The Cape goes after Scales and his crew at the docks, using his cape to yank henchman into the shadows. 

Instead of feeling ominous and daunting, it was limp and rushed, ending with Scales easily thwarting him.  I wouldn't fear The Cape if that's how altercations with him were going to go down.  It came across as a paltry ripoff compared to the similar, better executed scene in Batman Begins.

I know, television and movies are practically apples and oranges, but it's nearly impossible not to make comparisons here when the subject matter is so very much alike. The final scene with The Cape standing on top of one of the tall buildings looking out across the city just couldn't have been more derivative.

As for the performances, they're mostly adequate.  I don't find David Lyons nearly as off-putting as some other critics, though he does have one of those "two faces."  In some scenes he's a handsome fellow, but then at certain angles he just looks... odd.  In any case, he does a decent job with the material, and I did find his scene with Trip on the balcony to be surprisingly touching.

Jennifer Ferrin does a decent job as Dana Faraday, but spends more time crying and acting exasperated with Trip than doing much else.  When she stood up for her last name trying to get the job at a legal firm, I saw a glimmer of hope that she'll get better material in the future.

Summer Glau as Orwell

I think James Frain is an amazing actor, but when he's asked to utter lines like "I'll find out who you are. I'll find out who you love. I will make them scream," I can't help but cringe, half expecting him to break out into a Dr. Evil-style extended maniacal laugh. 

Just because this is comic book subject matter, the main antagonist has to feel like a cartoon character?  If that wasn't annoying enough, all the chess references he makes in his villainous speeches remind me the inane snow and ice puns The Governator recited as Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin (and we know what a quality film that was).

I do somewhat like the character of Malini, even if if I find his frequent pontificating a little grating. But I guess his role as Vince's mentor requires some of that.  At least he adds a bit of humor to the mix, such as his non-death scene when Vince came to rescue him from Chess.

Summer Glau's Orwell is easily the character I like best, probably because it's Glau, but I am curious enough about her backstory to come back for more.  It's a major plus for Glau to finally be in a series where she can emote coherently, and she completely won me over as she elicited shades of Sydney Bristow in the scene where she went undercover.

The second hour, "Tarot," felt more a bit more realistic than the first, and Cain was a more threatening, if not fully-fleshed, villain, so I'm cautiously optimistic about the direction the series is preparing to take.

The strongest thing The Cape has going for it, I think, is the father-son relationship.  If they focus the show on their connection and tell the story of a boy's faith in his father, and a father's self-sacrificing love for his son, without getting lost in campy dialogue and one-dimensional villains-of-the-week, there's a chance it could find its footing and evolve into something that's actually profound.

Review

Editor Rating: 2.8 / 5.0
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User Rating:

Rating: 3.8 / 5.0 (88 Votes)

Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.

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The Cape Season 1 Episode 1 Quotes

We are in the middle game. Pawns become crucial and out of your inexperience, you left your king vulnerable.

Chess

Police Chief: I hope that Chess character had a front row seat.
Chess: Backstage Pass.