I love comic books. I didn’t know girls weren’t supposed to love comics, so back before I had to pay bills and such I had an order going out every month to Westfield Comics: X-Men, the Justice League; the Blue Beetle and … (*goodsearch*) Oh my, Booster Gold. Captain Britain – Excalibur! I loved Kitty Pryde and Nightcrawler and Wolverine. The Watchmen. Green Lantern and Green Arrow. Batman, of course. Oh, and ElfQuest, but that’s a whole nother thread. The X-Men movies are some of my favorites – one of the happiest things film has ever done for me was to give me a “real” Wolverine to adore. (I need to dig out my old books someday.)
So I was – cautiously – looking forward to The Cape on NBC. Superhero stories can go disastrously wrong, of course… But I can’t help but be interested in a superhero story which involves Summer “I can kill you with my mind” Glau.
And – cautiously – I’m happy. I’m really happy. It’s dark – excellent. It has a healthy dose of the glamour that makes a comic book special – the idea that a relatively ordinary man can, with nothing but anger and a good set of teachers, make himself into a Hero. The idea that one man can make a difference. That a man can partner with a group of carnies and learn their skills and, through sheer intelligent and desperate use of skill and illusion, can become something more. There is a vein of fantasy running through a gritty cityscape, magic that they ask the viewer to believe is achievable through hard work and skill and technology (pure spider silk!). It’s a good look.
The basic plotline is great fun: crime in Palm City is growing out of control, with a masked villain named Chess hunting down top officials. Meanwhile, a mysterious, highly tech blogger calling himself Orwell is outing bad cops. In the midst of this is Vince Faraday, who is a great cop – until Chess frames him, and makes it appear to the world that he a) was the supervillain Chess and b) was killed in an explosion. His name is destroyed, and the bad guys know who and where his family is – if he resurfaces before the bad guys are taken care of, his family is doomed. Nice.
When Vince wakes up from the explosion he finds himself in the hands of a group of carnival folk – the Carnival of Crime, to be exact, who want money from the archvillain they’ve been lucky enough to get their hands on. He manages to convince them he’s useful to them, and they prove to be useful to him as well.
The first five minutes were pretty terrific, economically informing me that Vince Faraday is a loving husband and a great father, reading comic books (“The Cape”, of course) with his son Trip. It’s good story-telling. And it didn’t slump.
David Lyons plays Vince Faraday, and he’s good. Pleasant to look at, which never hurts; believable as a strong and straight-arrow cop who becomes a Hero. His wife, Dana, is played by Jennifer Ferrin – and she does a nice job with the pain of having lost the love of her life, as well as his good name. I like the son, too – Ryan Wynott. He’s the driving force of Vince’s becoming the Cape – he can’t be allowed to believe his father was a bad person.
The leader of the folk who become his new partners is Keith David as Max Malini – he’s awesome. And also awesome is Martin Klebba as Rollo; I think Rollo is my new hero, never mind the Cape. And Izabella Miko is Raia, who thinks Vince is cute. Smart girl. There are no duds among the actors, and there are the possibilities of stories to be told among the characters. I won’t mind seeing more of any of them. (And Toby from The West Wing has a guest spot – nice.)
The supervillain is James Frain, playing Peter Fleming, who has a lovely psychotic thing going. I don’t know what the deal is with his eyes, but I’m sure we’ll find out. To help him in his evils he hires a poisoner called Cain – and Orwell digs up evidence that Cain must be part of a secret society of killers. Which means that the show is well stocked up with bad guys for the Cape to battle. Nice.
Relying on the shadow from a hood and a little stubble to disguise himself from anyone who knew him made me very nervous. I kind of liked him not using a mask – but reason and logic have to be at least nodded at in passing.
I really enjoyed the premiere. I like Vince, I like his family, I like the Carnival of Crime. I enjoy disliking the bad guys. I like the writing – I like that there is an underlying awareness that “the Cape” isn’t exactly “Captain America” or “the Green Hornet” as superhero names go. There were some really good moments in the two-hour opener, and no bad ones – the cheese inherent in a superhero story never becomes limburger (until the very last shot, which without revealing what it was I will say is one which is just about obligatory in any show featuring anything remotely like a superhero; that was a little whiffy, I have to say). I had fun … I’m going to watch upcoming episodes… and I’m going to keep my fingers crossed. And I won’t get too attached; if it’s good, and I like it, it’ll be gone in twelve episodes.
Who knows, though? Maybe this can break the curse. I wish it all kinds of luck. And positive blog reviews.
Some moments, some of which might be spoilerish (wording to be corrected as needed when the episode airs again):
“Do you think the raccoon acted alone?”
“You help me rob Peter Fleming, and I’ll help you get your family back.”
“I’ve broken 92 bones in pursuit of the perfect illusion.”
“You give me your soul, Vincent Faraday, and I’ll make you the greatest circus act that’s ever lived.”
“Why the getup?”
“It’s an unconventional war.”
“Damn it, I thought that was it. Wasted that great speech.”
( – one of my very favorite things about this show.)
“You’re a superhero! What do they call you?”
(a little hesitantly) “The Cape.”
(disbelievingly) “The Cape? Well, you’ll work on it.”
“People in glass houses – ”
“Get thrown out windows.”
“What the HELL were you thinking?”
“The Cape? You’re not wearing a cape.”
“I’m aware of that.”
“Peter Fleming is just the gift that keeps on giving.”
“Don’t ever forget who it is that’s wearing the cape.”
And, for future reference, here’s what Wikipedia tells me is the significance of the tarot card The Tower:
Tarot – a secret society of killers; Cain is their poisoner.
Chaos —– Sudden change —– Impact —– Hard times
Crisis —– Revelation —– Disruption —– Realizing the truth
Disillusion —– Crash —– Burst —– Uncomfortable experience
Downfall —– Ruin —– Ego blow —– Explosive transformation