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TV Review: The Cape: Episodes 1 & 2
Goodman   |  

Winter Primer for NBC's The Cape

The Cape
Season 1, Episodes 1 and 2 – “Pilot”/”Tarot”
Episode 1: “Pilot” directed by Simon West
Episode 2: “Tarot” directed by Deran Sarafian
“Pilot” and “Tarot” written by Tom Wheeler
Starring: David Lyons, Keith David, Summer Glau, James Frain, Jennifer Ferrin, Ryan Wynott, Dorian Missick, Martin Klebba, Izabella Miko, Anil Kumar, Richard Schiff, Vinnie Jones and Raza Jaffrey
Air date: January 9, 2011

It’s easy to see why Hollywood loves a good superhero story. The genre has become so popular over the past couple of years, it’s no wonder why everyone is in such a rush to strike while the iron is hot and cash in on the trend. While the story in a superhero movie like The Dark Knight is a great one, providing the essential themes of good versus evil and the power of one man, etc., The Cape tries to follow that same method for success.

The difference between these two is that the television series The Cape, which debut on Sunday January 9, 2011, isn’t The Dark Knight. Not that it’s really intending to be, but it’s not even as good as other superhero television shows.

The premise for The Cape sounded like something that, on paper, should be a great execution of the genre. A cop gets framed for a crime he didn’t commit! He turns over to a life of heroics to protect the ones he loves!

But that sounds familiar, doesn’t it? Maybe even a little bit too familiar?

My single biggest complainant over the course of the two-hour series opener is this: while entertaining in spots, the show doesn’t offer anything new to the genre. In fact, it’s such an amalgamation of other tried concepts, you can dissect and trace back every concept to some other superhero show, comic, or movie. While it’s difficult to some up with an entirely new concept for a superhero show, I’d be a little more forgiving if the show executed on these concepts in an interesting way, but the sad thing is, it does anything but.

The story? Flat and uninteresting. The characters? Dull and boring. The acting? Terrible at times. The special effects? Don’t even get me started. The pacing? Moves at such an unbelievable speed that you have almost no time for character development and actually sit down and see the characters take stock of the events that are unfolding around them.

I really wanted The Cape to be great. I think a TV show is the near perfect format to present a superhero story in. You get the same serialized feel of a comic, but with the visuals and the power of television as a storytelling medium, but The Cape isn’t going to be the next hit superhero TV show and anyone else thinking otherwise is sadly mistaken.

Quick Thoughts:
– Sadly, The Cape destroys much of the goodwill I’ve gotten from Summer Glau‘s previous acting experiences. While I haven’t seen all of Firefly, Glau was one of the best (if not THE best) parts of Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles. Not only is Glau’s acting not up to Terminator levels, she’s horribly underused and her character of Orwell is essentially Oracle.
– The carnival scenes throughout the premiere bring back horrible memories of Heroes‘ final season.
– As I said, while pretty much awful, the show does have some redeeming and entertaining moments. I rather enjoyed the running gag throughout the second episode when Vince (David Lyons) is without the famed cape.

I won’t be reviewing any more episodes of The Cape, but will you be sticking with the rest of the series?


  1. I will keep watching, for two reasons. 1: I hardly think you can judge an entirely new show from one or two episodes; 2: I liked the premise.

    I am glad they avoided super powers, but went with the Shadow/Batman style where the hero is mortal. The cape itself (and his abilities using it) are just possible enough that I can suspend disbelief.

    I have to give the show a fighting chance.

    Comment by Konkrypton — January 10, 2011 @ 6:27 am

  2. Speed of light pace, no character development, week storyline and poor script, what’s not to like? NBC does it again! Let’s set the record straight, I love a good superhero story but this is no Batman, X-Men, Spiderman etc etc. The premise had promise but the execution was disapointing to say the least. As I watched this premire I felt like I was tossed from scene to scene and I ended up caring less and less about the people I was watching. It’s as if NBC thinks, hey lets run around with a Cape and get some stunt man to do some jumps and kicks throw in some cheesy CGI with a snake like cape wrapping around the thoats of some bad guys (again and again and again) and we’ve got prime time gold. Didn’t someone have to smarts to mention that we the viewers of this genre enjoy a detailed smart story; we want to be transported into a new world and end up caring about the people we are watching. I neither love or hate the characters I watched and as far as I’m concerned indiffernce will be the death of this series. I may give it one more episode, if for any reason just to see if Summer Glau has anything to offer other then the sparadical eye candy that was sprinkled in throughout the premire.

    Comment by Robert — January 10, 2011 @ 9:10 am

  3. for a critic with such a diverse and acemdemic sense of what is and is not a good film, you made the first mistake. You expect something when you watch this show, and doing that already put The Cape under a ruble of obsticles that it will never be able to conqure.

    Plain and simple, maybe you aren’t old enough to remember but I personally remember the joys of the old Flash tv show (which anyone who calls themselve a geek hasn’t seen needs to be thrown off a bridge). I also remember shows like MANTIS which lead the way in breaking through to the modern superhero genre which The Cape flawlessly contuniued.

    First and foremost, being an avid comic book reader I cant think of a single character that doesn’t have the iconic standing on top of a building while keeping vigil over the city. Batman, Daredevil, Spiderman, Captain America ect. I thought them doing so set such a standard as to what to expect and that it was the way the producer and writers were saying “Yes this show is for all you comic book fans.’

    To say that the show took film aspects from the Dark Knight and Batman Begins isn’t totally inaccurate, but at the same time if you think that scene during Batman Begins is a rip off, you need to view more film.

    I would love to see you use your own opinions on an open mind without saying “heroes was bad, this will be to!” Give this show a chance and it will suprise you. promise.

    Comment by niq — January 10, 2011 @ 9:49 am

  4. This review reads like you HEARD that The Cape would have thematic elements similar to The Dark Knight and other superhero stories, in addition to carnival scenes which Heroes also had, but that you didn’t actually WATCH The Cape and judge it on its own merits. Is it first-season-Heroes-great? No. Is it every-other-season-of-Heroes-awful? Not even close. Give the show a chance.

    Comment by miggles — January 10, 2011 @ 10:31 am

  5. I thought the show was entertaining

    Comment by Hubert Davis — January 10, 2011 @ 11:14 am

  6. …..See ALL of “Firefly.”

    Comment by Doug Wilson — January 10, 2011 @ 12:10 pm

  7. worthless show, and if you’re going to criticize the reviewer at least learn how to spell simple words and simple grammar

    Comment by adam — January 10, 2011 @ 12:42 pm

  8. I agree with the reviewer, especially concerning the pacing. It was way to fast. They really needed to slow down and let us absorb the characters.

    The bank robbery by the circus folk was quite forced and immediate. There was no transition to that at all. But the moment I was ready to turn off the show was after the first fight with Cape vs. Scales. It lasted under a minute, and the guy who was apparently ‘ready’ after training with a group of physically fit circus people was taken down easily by this guy and immediately chained up and thrown into the river? What? Why did Scales feel the need to wrap this seeming assassin up? He could of just dumped him into the lake. I definitely turned it off after the conversation between the Cape and Oracle… er I mean Orwell.

    I know that it is just a pilot and was filmed probably a year ago, but this needs a complete re-shoot and rewrite. Like those said above, interesting premise. No one’s arguing that… just lousy execution.

    Comment by Slipstream — January 10, 2011 @ 7:35 pm

  9. I’m also with Goodman (the reviewer) on this — Good concept, but weak approach. Though I had hopes for it, I set my expectations low. Enough has already been said about the hyper pace and poor character development, so I’ll move on to other things that brought me down.

    I really like the relationship between the father & son — this has GREAT potential — but even that falls short of conjuring the emotions it should, due to a less-than-convincing portrayal from the young “actor.”

    When “The Cape” fell 10 stories to the roof of a car, and walked away with nary a scratch, I nearly turned it off. I understand that fantasy is a part of comics, and can accept the supernatural characteristics of the cape itself (following its hasty description/development), but this was one of those scenes that takes me completely out of the story world. And, how did Cain get down to the street so fast? Elevators aren’t that quick. Maybe I missed something — my eyes were beginning to gloss over a little by this point — but I thought that was a horrible scene.

    Not sure if I’ll come back next week for another dose of Cain’s poison. Depends on how desperate I am for entertainment. How disappointing!

    Comment by Knight Owl — January 11, 2011 @ 1:14 am

  10. I was somewhat underwhelmed by the pilot for The Cape, but I’ll give it a couple more episodes before I decide to can it or not. Hopefully Summer Glau’s Oracle/Eyes-Only mashup will get some decent back story & maybe some insight into Chess’s end-game plan.

    I’d say that I hoped that they’d fix the pacing/timing for things, but I hold out little hope for that.

    Comment by Wiredwizard — January 11, 2011 @ 4:45 am

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