8 Comments

I Wish The Cape Was More Inspiring

I had high hopes for The Cape, mostly because it’s very similar to a Batman type character.  Regular dude (Vince Faraday/The Cape) wronged by some other dude (Peter Fleming/Chess) is now forced to right that wrong.  I never get tired of that story and The Cape has that plus other good stuff, but the presentation was off.

Point 1. It was billed as a two-hour premier, but what you really got was two HOUR episodes back to back.  The first hour being the Pilot and the next called Tarot. If you missed the Pilot, you could pop in for Tarot and still understand what’s going on.

Think back to Buffy’s sixth season opener.  It was on a new network and they wanted a big event, so the writers gave them a two-hour episode.  Yes, it’s called Bargaining part one and two, but that was for syndication purposes because other channels would break it up into hour long episodes.  I think it would be much harder for someone to jump in middle of this episode without something to tell you what you missed.  Even on the DVD when you click the episode, you get the whole two hours.  It was meant to be one complete story.

But okay, NBC didn’t do that.  Not the first network to do a two episode premier.  Which brings me to my next point.

Point 2. First episode was all origin.  Because of the Batman similarities, most people understand the origin of The Cape.  Even if they didn’t, spending an hour telling us was boring.  It would’ve been better to give us an episode where The Cape is already an established crime fighter.  The focus needs to be on him and HIS motivations.  All the characters and plots crammed into the premier, each could’ve served as single episodes.  This was how Batman was introduced in the comics.  Many issues later his origin was told.

So that was the stuff I didn’t like, but I did say there was good stuff to The Cape.  I really liked the father/son relationship.  Sons pretty much come hardwired to think their Dads are superheros.  Vince Faraday literally becomes that, partly to go after Chess, but more so to keep his son’s hope alive.

The world thinks Faraday is a traitor and his son is starting to believe it.  There’s a great scene where Faraday, dressed as The Cape, visits his son to tell him what he’s seen in the news is false.  The chances of his favorite superhero, the one he fondly remembers reading about with his Dad, making a stop just to tell him that is unlikely.  It doesn’t matter.  That’s what his son needed to keep his hope alive.  I could see future episodes where Faraday, dressed as The Cape, continues to visit his son.  At least I’d like that to happen.

The human aspect.  That’s what will keep me tuning in.

Faraday is a broken man, but there’s still something in him that wants to fight.  His new allies are also broken, but they’ve lost their hope.  Faraday, as The Cape, could be the one or The One to bring them all together.  As a wise man named Whedon once wrote a character to say, “Champions don’t see the world as it is, but what it could be.”  Or something like that.

I really hope the show improves because genre shows like this take time to build an audience and that’s not something networks like to hear.  I’ll give it a few more episodes, maybe more than that because of Summer Glau.  Once you’re on a Whedon show, you’ve got me as a fan for life.

8 comments on “I Wish The Cape Was More Inspiring

  1. I wrote my post on this yesterday and scheduled it for tomorrow, in an attempt to start talking about superheroes and/or romance on Fridays. We’ll see how that goes.

    There was a lot packed into that first episode, and it really didn’t grab me. I had a hard time paying attention, and there was a lot of “these are the events that lead him to this” and “these are the events that make The Cape possible.” For the character stuff, it seemed like they relied heavily on showing him as a family man and expected us to fill in the rest.

    The scene with The Cape and his son on the balcony just irritated me. It was awfully soon to start tugging at my heartstrings, and it was a miss. I wasn’t drawn into the story enough to believe that these actors where who they said they were, and the scene came off to me as a cheap attempt to move me that failed.

    I liked what you said above about how the pilot might have been structured differently. And I really like it because I can see now that had this been the first chapters of a MS I was critiquing I’d be scrawling QUESTIONS! I mean, I had SOME questions. I was lost a lot of the time, partly due to my inability to really pay attention to it, so a lot of the time I was asking How the heck did we get here? But there was no sense of mystery, nothing to intrigue and pull me in to find the answers. There hero was revealed, the villain was revealed, the anonymous hacker was revealed. There was no quest to find the magic object, that all just fell into his lap.

    I probably should have watched it more carefully if I’m going to mouth off about it, but like I told you as I was watching, ten minutes in there was already too much, too fast, too choppy, and I felt lost.

  2. They may have been attempting to speed through an origin BECAUSE most people would know it, but then you still have to ask why bother?

    I can see why the scene I liked would bother you. You’re right, the episode was so choppy that you didn’t love the characters enough to really care, but I liked it for where it could take the show in terms of character development.

    Perhaps if the pilot was structured differently, that scene would’ve been more mysterious as to who The Cape was. Then when you do find out, you have enough character cred to make it more meaningful.

    Can’t wait to hear what you have to say.

  3. […] watch TV when it’s on TV, so this was thing– a superhero thing– and thanks go to Andrew for reminding me. (Incidentally, I do believe it also happens to be Andrew’s birthday today. […]

  4. What a good summary. I haven’t seen it yet – and I really wanted to – so you spoiled a bit for me. That said, this sounds interesting. I love superhero stuff.

    I can’t say I would want a back story on it. The fighting and bad assness, along with whatever dark problems they have, usually leads us to want to know where he came from. The point is, you have to get us to want to know first.

    Hopefully they stay away from rewriting huge segments or abandoning plot lines like Heroes did. This should be fun to watch.

    Thank you for the heads up.

    Draven Ames

    • Sorry, I tried not to make it too spoilery, but I’m glad you still liked it.

      This wouldn’t be the first show to have a weak premier and then get better. Genre shows like this need time to build an audience, but they also cost a lot of money to make. Hopefully NBC will give it the time it needs to become profitable. As long as the writing improves. It’s streaming on NBC’s website. Check it out and see what you think.

      And if you want another take on it, Susan Bischoff also blogged on it. http://susan-bischoff.com/2011/01/14/thoughts-on-nbcs-the-cape/ It’s a really good post.

      Thanks for stopping by Draven.

  5. As far as opening with the Cape as an established hero “M.A.N.T.I.S.” tried that and ultimately people didn’t go along for the ride even with an origin tossed in mid-season. I think what they should have done is make Faraday a compelling character without the costume.

    Remember in Tim Burtons “Batman” how every scene with Michael Keaton out of the Batman suit felt like a wasted scene? Remember how entertaining it was to watch Christian Bale portray the same character, watching him grow into a crime fighter and even be entertaining as Bruce Wayne? The trick to any great superhero isn’t the costume. Yeah Spider-Man looks cool but really we can connect with Peter Parker. The suit looks great but we could care less if it’s lifeless and hollow.

    Had they done a true two hour pilot this could have really been good. There’s a scene where literally an order was given, actions were taken off camera and next thrust into the fallout of the offscreen action. Had they taken their time, had they shown him train for weeks and given a sense of how hard he worked to master skills, had they just held off on him suiting up for an episode or two, maybe we’d care about the Cape.

    There’s a fine line between false emotional ploys and honest jerking of the heartstrings. The bit between the Cape and Faraday’s son was too soon but imagine it happening at the end of a two hour pilot. Or better still, let his son see news footage of the hero first then get a visit from him because as it stands, it’s kind of creepy for a guy dressed up as a kid’s favorite superhero to just appear to him.

    I think they should have gone with a slower build. Any great story worth telling is worth telling thoroughly and well and let’s face it, we obviously like a good superhero story enough to have watched the pilot. There is literally nowhere for the story to go, we know who the villain is, who Orwell is and he’s donned the suit and the introduction of the Tarot bit in the second episode made me feel like the writers realized what they did, so they had to create some sort of MacGuffin in hindsight.

    • Thanks for the comment Adam!

      I’ve never seen M.A.N.T.I.S., so I can’t comment on how they handled the story. I do know that TV shows get canceled for a combination of reasons. I’ve seen shows improve from the pilot, but still get canceled because it was too little too late. Other times the writing is excellent (Firefly comes to mind) and the network doesn’t sell it effectively and it gets canceled. You could go on and on trying to figure out why some shows work and others don’t, but in my opinion, there’s no way to know one hundred percent.

      I don’t know if I’d call every Michael Keaton scene a waste. The part where he confronts the The Joker and realizes that he’s his parent’s murderer was cool. But you make a great point about Batman Begins. In the wrong hands, it could’ve been a really boring movie until Batman appears, but Christian Bale is a phenomenal talent. Getting back to The Cape, since it seemed like they wanted to throw you right into the action, I think an established hero rather than a rushed origin would’ve been best.

      Seems like I’m the only one that like the Father/son scene. Oh well. I openly admit I’m a sucker for that stuff no matter how thin it is.

      I’m with you on the slow build. I don’t mind waiting on a payoff, but I wouldn’t count the show out yet. There are places it can go even if Faraday defeats Chess. I don’t know if you’ve ever watched Alias, but the basic premise was a spy finds out she’s working for the enemy and becomes a double agent to stop them. That got resolved long before the series ended and there were lots of good stories told after. The fate of this show is in the hands of the writers and how much time the network is willing to give the show to develop.

  6. […] week I did a post about the new NBC show, The Cape and part of it focused on The Cape’s connection to his son.  While not great, that familial […]

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