The Ludicrously Silly Charm of ‘The Cape’

Posted: January 19, 2011 in Jeff Holland, reviews
Tags: , ,

With its third episode, The Cape has pretty well established the kind of show it is going to be, so grousing about its relative quality seems to be a waste of time. It is going to be at times silly, at times corny, usually a bit stupid, and most of the time not exactly sensical.

But the sense of whimsy and “Let’s just have a good time, huh folks?” sincerity is hard to ignore.

And occasionally – occasionally – there will be moments where you think, “Wow, they actually did some nice writing there.” 

In “Kozmo,” that moment comes near the end, when, after spending an episode learning how giving into rage and frustration is antithetical to the (vaguely defined) mission he’s set up for himself, The Cape goes to visit his son to explain it in plainer terms.

Pointing to his old army jacket the kid’s taken to wearing when he works the heavy bag like his old man, The Cape imparts: “Your dad didn’t get those medals for fighting. He got them for valor. For keeping his cool.” It’s a good lesson and a nice thematic hook to hang an episode on.

Of course, part of the fun of watching this show is listening to the rest of the dialogue and wondering if the writers are just seeing what they can get away with before the actors flat-out mutiny. Poor Keith David, in particular, is getting to find out the limits of even his booming, authoritative voice with lines like:

“[That cape] can also take you to places you don’t want to go. If you blur the line and let all the rage you’re feeling take over…remember – either you wear the cape, or the cape wears you.”

And this:

“When I saw what the cape drew out of him…”

And here, a strong contender for the most ludicrous set of dialogue in the episode (but my god is it a close race):

Max: Why don’t you get in on the act? Join our little family. Do you have any talents?
Orwell: I can hotwire a car. Or break past a firewall in under a minute.
Max: Do you ever give a straight answer?
Orwell: I just did.
Max: And I thought I was mysterious!

It is ludicrous because SHE DID JUST GIVE HIM A STRAIGHT ANSWER.

So yes. The Cape is stupid. But it’s stupid in a delirious, eager-to-entertain fashion that I can’t help but be charmed by it.

Also, some say the cape was first worn by Egyptian priests! Or Merlin! OR JACK THE RIPPER!

Come on, that doesn’t make you smile just a little?

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Comments
  1. Moff says:

    We watched part of it the other night. It is sort of charming (the Merlin/Jack the Ripper line was just beyond). But I think the charm does not outweigh the ridiculousness. Remember when the Cape used the, uh, cape to tip over the tank of water Max was trapped in? (And then it turned out there was no lid on the tank anyway?) There’s also something deeply hard to swallow about so many people talking so intensely seriously about a cape. (“You see how the cape is like a part of my body?”)

    I did appreciate the totally gratuitous “Summer Glau doing the rope act with with legs spread in a leotard” shot at the end, though, not so much for the porniness, but just because wow, these guys know who their target audience is and are trying to deliver. She should probably feel a little ashamed for it, though, maybe be forced to wear a scarlet P for “panderer.”

  2. Jeff Holland says:

    When I saw there was no lid on the tank, I decided he must have been chained down to the floor. Otherwise, it had to have been just a production goof. OTHERWISE, Max is an idiot.

    As for the Glau-split (which I believe is also some kind of German sausage): If I was a producer and hired someone I KNEW could do a split like that, I’d have a hard time not writing it in, too.

    “Why is my character a computer hacker who’s also a ballerina?”
    “SHUT UP AND DO SOME SPLITS!”

  3. braak says:

    I would buy this as a “Let’s all just have some fun here” sense of humor if the show actually seemed like it had a sense of humor. But the earnestness only makes its failures more prominent.

    I am, however, deeply entertained by the idea that NBC is soliciting villain ideas from fans. I just want to go to town on this.

  4. braak says:

    You know, I’ll tell you what would make me flat-out love this show: if Orwell (Summer Glau) and Rollo (Martin Klebba) had a relationship. I would like it if Rollo the…

    incidentally, is the preferred term “little person” rather than “midget”? I guess I can see why someone might not like the latter, but to be honest, the first one sounds more insulting to me. Like, at least “midget” isn’t condescending, you know?

    But, anyway. If a person like Rollo were in the show for some reason OTHER than being a prop, or a funny joke. Like, if we could talk about him as a real human being, with character and feelings and things like that. And if he could just be charming, and so he starts dating Orwell. WHY THE SHIT NOT? She can’t have sex with the Cape, because of the Cape’s wife (I think this is an error in premise, which will require an annulment of the Cape’s marriage using the magic of Mephisto). Who else does she even know?

  5. braak says:

    Also, the other thing that would make me love this show would be if literally every single episode was a rip-off of another superhero. It’s ripping pretty heavily, now, but I think the only two options there are either 1) be original, or 2) rip off EVERYTHING.

    Episode one, the Cape’s parents are killed and so he devotes his life to fighting crime. In episode two, he’s bitten by a radioactive cape and gains the superpower of cape, which he uses to become a circus performer until his uncle is killed and he goes back to fighting crime. Episode three, it’s revealed that the radioactive cape is actually an alien cape from another world, that has powers only under Earth’s yellow sun.

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