Tube Watch: Is NBC’s The Cape worth watching?

I first saw The Cape‘s promo clip on tv many months ago, it strikes me like a Mask of Zorro + Batman Begins rip off in that the protagonist is a regular guy who takes on a secret identity to fight crime. I didn’t remember much about the series until I started hearing the radio ad campaign set in a real-life news clip about crimes being committed in Palm City, a fictional metropolis that looks like a sunny version of Gotham. NBC has really ramped up its marketing campaign, even teaming up with NYC’s Parks & Recreation Department by donning some of its monuments and statutes with black capes! Not quite as clever as The Dark Knight‘s viral I Believe in Harvey Dent campaign, but certainly as ambitious!

So who the heck is The Cape? Here’s the official description:

“The Cape” is a one-hour drama series starring David Lyons as Vince Faraday, an honest cop on a corrupt police force, who finds himself framed for a series of murders and presumed dead. He is forced into hiding, leaving behind his wife, Dana and son, Trip. Fueled by a desire to reunite with his family and to battle the criminal forces that have overtaken Palm City, Faraday becomes “The Cape” his son’s favorite comic book superhero — and takes the law into his own hands.

Summer Glau & David Lyons

As I’ve mentioned in my year-old blog post, Brits and Aussies continue to rule US TV as the lead actor Lyons hailed from Melbourne, Australia (with a degree from NIDA no less) and the show’s villain is played by British actor James Frain. Of course the most familiar face to US audiences is Summer Glau (Firefly, Sarah Connor Chronicles). She’s sure looking to have a hit on her hands as her last major show didn’t pan out, and the same with the peacock network, who saw Heroes crashed and burned last season.

In this Zap2It blog‘s article on the show’s creator Tom Wheeler (who did ABC’s 2005 miniseries Empire), he talked about the show’s origins and his inspirations: “Asked about his early and current favorites, he rattles off a list of titles (“Growing up, my favorites were the X-Men, Power Man and Iron Fist, Conan, I liked the Avengers“) and creators (“I read everything Grant Morrison writes, anything Alan Moore writes. … I loved Ed Brubaker’s stuff with Captain America“) that have influenced him and that he hopes to channel into The Cape.”

Keith David

Well, all the promos managed to convinced the superhero geek in me to give this one a chance. So what’s the verdict? Well, it’s certainly much better than Smallville. It’s more of a guilty pleasure type of show more than anything. Of course in a logic-defying genre show like this one, we’re asked to suspend our disbelief and suppress our cynicism to a minimum to just sit back and enjoy the ride. Still, I thought it was pretty decent and a good es-cape-ist fun (pardon the pun) 🙂

The cast is not bad. I’m already sold on Lyons as the flawed ‘hero,’ but my favorite character so far is Keith David’s Max Malini, the chief of the traveling circus of bank robbers who became the vigilante’s mentor. Glad they didn’t kill him off in the first episode! I’m personally tired of seeing Vinnie Jones playing a slight variation of himself every single time though. Glau is fittingly cast as the enigmatic blogger and the hero’s ally, though she hasn’t been given much to do yet other than driving the coolest rides, such as this awesome Mercedes-Benz SLS.

There’s plenty of action and hand-to-hand combat but never gory, and I dug that the show has plenty of heart. It’s his love of his family that keeps them going, though he obviously cares more about seeking justice to simply run away with them when he’s got the chance. I just hope they keep the overly melancholy dialog to a minimum, that father-son scene on the rooftop a la Superman Returns is making me cringe! The origins story first hour is moving too fast though, what, is The Flash directing this episode?? In any kind of storytelling, a little character development can go a long way.

But yeah, I’ll keep on watching. Since the second hour of the premiere is already more compelling than the first, I’m hoping that the show will continue to improve. The next episode will air right after Chuck on Monday, January 17 in the vacated slot of The Event, a show I’ve been following until NBC suspended it. So this just fits perfectly into my schedule. We’ll see if this show will live on beyond its 13-episode run and whether it’ll hold my interest before the season is over.

***

Well, did any of you catch the premiere? If so, what did you think?

21 thoughts on “Tube Watch: Is NBC’s The Cape worth watching?

  1. I forgot this premiered. It was on my radar mainly because james Frain was in the last season of True Blood. I will probably end up watching the premiere on hulu and recording the rest.

    Did you see my female superhero blog entry? Just wondering

  2. Although I did take part in the promo-campaign for the show last summer, I haven’t watched it yet. I did like the trailer, and I must admit I find David Lyons very captivating and charismatic. Hope somebody will broadcast it here on cable in my country because I’m a bit lazy to download it from the Net 🙂

    1. Hi Dezzy, glad you agree about Lyons. He’s pretty interesting to watch and I’ve never seen him before this show. Lots of people disagree with us though, but hey, to each their own, right? I always welcome Brits/Aussies on TV, I almost always like a show more with them in it 😀 I hope you get to see them soon, Dez. I’m glad this is on network tv as I don’t have cable.

        1. Oh cool. Thanks Dezzy! Thanks for bringing this to my attention as the Scriptural-based story definitely appeals to me. I hope Hollywood will stay true to the author’s vision (the contemporary book AND the Source). I might blog about this at some point. Thanks again!

          1. now, if only someone would make us a film on the Queen of Sheba, Samson and Delilah (this second one was actually announced some two years ago but nothing happened), Egyptian queen Nefertiti ….

  3. Saw it. Was hoping to immediately judge it as “must watch more” or “not even bother” but I ended up falling right in the middle. It *is* an intriguing show with a good cast, but like you I felt the pilot went so insanely quick that I wasn’t able to make my decision.

    The second episode was better. Especially loved the menacing glee that Frain’s imbues the evil Chess with. Also really enjoyed Summer Glau and surprisingly the wife as well. Her crying scene was nicely done.

    I’m actually still mixed on Lyons. I’m weird and I actually don’t gravitate to alpha male lead characters, at least not right away.

    1. Hey Ryan, I was kinda hoping to hear from you! I actually had no expectation whatsoever, it’s just generally I like superhero shows. It’s not yet a ‘must watch’ for me but it’s not as bad as some people make it out to be.

      Yes, the second episode is definitely much better. Frain makes for a menacing villain and Glau is right for the part I think.

      I think Lyons is a pretty decent actor and has adequate screen presence for a leading role. He doesn’t strike me as too alpha-male-ish. I like that he’s a tough guy with heart and the scenes with his family is quite moving.

      Are you going to review it, too Ryan?

  4. Mike

    I’m a sucker for Keith David. He gives anything credibility. Looks like I’m going to have to watch this. Everyone is talking about it this morning.

    1. Oh he’s awesome, Mike! Definitely a good reason to tune in the show. Let me know what you think once you see this. I think you can watch the pilot online now.

  5. PrairieGirl

    Started watching this tonight, and every time I changed the channel, I switched it back, wondering how long I’d keep it on this time, but alas, my fav, American Pickers, had it usual spell over me and won the time slot in my house. Saw about 5 minutes of the second episode, could see where it was going (boy, that is some powerful Cape!), and believe this series can really stay the course. It reminded me of watching Holy-shades-of-Batman and Robin on TV was I was very young, with the characters like the circus bank robbers. Hope this goes a long way for you and everyone else who enjoys it.

    1. Oh I didn’t think you’d like that one as you’re not into superheroes. So I don’t blame you for choosing AP. It’s more of a guilty pleasure thing for me, and I’m not even sure it’ll hold my interest after a few more episodes. We’ll see.

  6. Wasn’t planning to watch this, but stumbled upon it last night and watched about half an hour. It was effing awful. Poor Keith David and Summer Glau, they deserve far better.

    1. Oh, it’s not that bad. It’s enough to satisfy the superhero geek in me. The second part is better than the first, so I hope it keeps improving.

    1. Well I’ve never seen Requiem so I recognize him from Crash and a slew of other movies/tv projects. Agree with you he’s a solid actor, and he’s fun to watch in this series.

  7. It’s interesting. Keith David is actually a reason why I started to turn away from checking this one out. He ends up being quite the same character to me in a lot of films, plus I lost a little bit of respect for him in the horrible movie that was Behind Enemy Lines 3…..

    But I’m willing to give it a chance on the opinion of Ruth! 🙂 Although, I am considering cutting my television service as everything is available online now. I rarely watch tv anymore anyways! 🙂

    1. Sorry you’re not enthused about Keith, Scarlet. Well I guess I haven’t seen too many of his work that I didn’t like but you should give him a chance on this one, he’s pretty good. I only watch 2 shows per season and since this one actually occupies the slot of one of them that’s being suspended, I’m not adding a new show to my schedule. Let me know what you think once you see it, T.

  8. Saw the pilot yesterday. I think it has potential, although i am not completely sold on it yet.

    I found the beginning a bit confusing. It seemed to imply a corporation besides evil one(forgot its name) was going to try to privatize the police, and that made it a bit confusing in the beginning, imo anyways. It was also a bit unbelievable at times, but i suppose that is part of the territory

    And so far SUmmer’s role seems like a nice change from her typical crazy girl role(not that i mind her in those roles. I actually think she might become a American Helena Botham Carter if she does more of those roles). I know this theory doesn’t have much evidence, but i’m thinking her character is going to end up related to the villian somehow, or at least come from a rich background, since i think setting up her secret base would take more cash than most people can get, and when she said “i’m nobody special”(or something like that) i figured that was foreshadowing her being related to a important character.

    Oh, i finally got around to seeing the social network. I never thought i would be saying this, but Justin is actually on the road to becoming a fav actor of mine. When i first heard he was getting into acting i didn’t take him all that seriously, and I keep expecting him to suck, and he keeps…not sucking. Either he’s got talent, or maybe he just spent a lot of money on acting lessons, but he seems to churn out consistently good performances.

    1. The first episode is way too fast to comprehend what in the world is going on. Yeah, I thought Summer seems a lot tamer than we usually see her, but still bad ass. Well your theory might have something to it, J, she strikes me as someone with a secret.

      Glad you saw Social Network. Yeah, Justin was great in his role but that’s the only thing I’ve seen him so far. Ha..ha.. he probably does spend a lot of money on acting classes.

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