So it looks like NBC’s The Cape is all but canceled… as we knew the minute it debuted. Browsing Twitter and random blogs, it seems that this demise is being treated with glee by self-proclaimed geeks, ranging from the “well, we knew this was coming” to “a better chance for Chuck to get more episodes!”
And yes, once upon I was one of you. I love superhero comics and thought that this was an affront to all that was good and holy in this world. The minute I say the first ad, I rolled my eyes and thought to myself, “Dear God, is this going to be awful. I mean, the guy’s name is The Cape? It sounds like it was made by a bunch of folks who wanted to ride on the superhero bandwagon but had no idea how to do superhero shows.”
Then I watched it. And, yes, it was AWFUL, as promised. But you know something else? It’s also fun. STUPID fun. And that’s what’s missing in a lot of shows these days.
Why? Here are my reasons:
HOW I STOPPED WORRYING AND LEARNED TO LOVE THE CAPE
- In a way, it actually knows superheroes better than any other movie or show.
Smallville descends into teenage/college-age angst. Nolan is obsessed with making Batman as real as possible. The Cape, on the other hand, has a guy who has silly fights with a seemingly sentient cape.
Which of these screams superhero to you? Yes, I understand that gritty realism is all the fashion these days, but consider this: Smallville is afraid to get its superhero into tights because it looks silly. Nolan doesn’t want any of Batman’s more colorful rogue’s gallery because it would ruin the realism of it all. They’re TV shows and movies that are ashamed about the whole superhero aesthetic.
The Cape, on the other hand, doesn’t worry about having silly villains or silly superpowers or things that look just plain ridiculous. And that’s what makes it a truer superhero show than my other two examples.
- It knows it’s silly.
Do you know why the Batman TV show of the 1960’s was a cultural touchtone? Because it was silly, and it wasn’t afraid to embrace it. Now, The Cape can get way too maudlin for its own good at times (like any scene with Vince Faraday’s family), but for the most part it knows that it’s silly and isn’t afraid to run with it.
I mean, there’s a scene between The Cape and the guy who runs the Department of Prisons (even that very title sounds campy!) The Cape’s cape has been confiscated by his mentor, Max. When the Secretary of Prisons points out he’s not wearing a cape, our hero just stammers, “I’m… I’m aware of that.”
Seriously, the show pretty much casts Vince Faraday as a total newbie superhero, and has a lot of fun taking swipes at him. After The Cape rescues a convenience store clerk, he — very embarrassingly — tells the guy his name (which he swiped from his kid’s favorite comic). The clerk just sorta shrugs his shoulders and says, “Well, you’ll work on that.”
AWESOME x 2!
And that’s just the dialogue. I’m not even getting into the raccoons that rob banks or the foul-mouthed little person.
In the end, I appreciate that the show took this angle rather than every other post-LOST show that has been taking itself way too seriously. I’m looking at you, The Event! (And V! And FlashForward!)
- It’s building up a pretty good rogue’s gallery.
In the first two eps, you got Chess, who’s sort of a Lex Luthor-type and who has a fantastic holographic chess board; his henchman Scales (played by Vinnie Jones), who has lizard skin for some reason; Cain, an evil knife-throwing assassin with a Tarot card tattoed on his wrist. Plus the Carnival of Crime, who are allied with The Cape (and in fact encourage him to do the superhero thing), but are, themselves, career criminals. Which brings me to my next point….
- Kieth David is perfect as Max.
Dude, we need to see this guy more. He’s asked to play a charismatic robber of questionable morals that we’re supposed to root for, and it totally works. He steals every scene he’s in just by his presence.
It’s all in the voice. The man who memorably told us “Inu-Yasha, Saturdays at 8 pm only on Adult Swim” made flesh. (Also: Captain Anderson.)
- Summer Glau doing gymnastics.
In the end, yes, I actually like the Cape, and I’ll be sad to see it go. If it were on another network, say The CW, I guarantee this would’ve lasted at least four seasons. But as it is, I will shed a tear for the magic cape than never got to live out it’s potential.
And to all you Cape haters, have fun with your glut of cop and doctor and lawyer shows. We could’ve had 1960’s Batman v.2.0 here people, but alas, it was not meant to be.