The Cape 1.01, “Pilot”

“You give me your soul, Vince Faraday, and I’ll make you the greatest circus act that ever lived.” – Max Malini.

The Cape, during his training, as Max Marini shows him the first steps of mastering the cape.

This midseason, The Signal will be reviewing the midseason pilots as they air. This group includes The Cape, a superhero drama starring David Lyons, Keith David and Summer Glau amongst a group of others.

Can a live-action superhero series really be done? A review of the episode, written by Tom Wheeler and directed by Simon West, after the jump…

The Cape feels like a script that was written in the nineties, and brought out from the vault to be shot as a present-day series on NBC. The characters are wooden planks, the writing is laughable, and the premise is ridiculous. At some points in the first half, I literally had to stop the episode while I considered whether I wanted to finish it. And yet… Xena: Warrior Princess remains one of my favourite shows to this day, and even when The Cape is terrible, it offers a tongue-in-cheek wink that reminds me of the best of nineties television. And at its best, which is once Vince puts on the titular cape halfway through, it’s charming, delightful even.

David Lyons sometimes feels like a bland ‘golden boy’ hero, but when he gets to demonstrate his charisma he reminds me of Farscape‘s Ben Browder, which is a very good thing.The training montage, for example, was a magnificent showcase of the best this show has to offer; yes, Vince looks a little moronic flapping that cape around, but there’s a joy to watching him become a hero and bond with this myriad of mystery men. Keith David and Summer Glau are, as expected, fantastic, as is Martin Klebba. James Frain camps it up as the ridiculous Chess, and I waver between laughing at his ridiculousness and staring in horror and boredom at, well, said ridiculousness.

I honestly didn’t think they could make shows like this any more. There’s humour, though the first half of this episode would convince you otherwise, and the show’s at its best when it offers a dab of self-aware humour. There’s a great tryptych in Vince Faraday, godeln boy cop turned superhero, the mysterious Orwell, and villainous-turned-ally Max Malini. There’s style, in the fight and training sequences and often everywhere in between. Once it gets going (and that first twenty minutes is flat-out dreadful), its really, really charming.

I didn’t think I’d like this pilot, going into it. Ten minutes into it, I thought I’d hate it. Now, it’s the second-most promising new show this season after Raising Hope. I can’t wait to see what future episodes look like. I don’t think that I’ll be reviewing weekly, because this isn’t the type of show that allows for that type of analysis, but I’ll be watching.

How about you?


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