Movable Type 3.2
January 10, 2011
The Cape: Don't bother. No, REALLY.TV
I watched all two hours of the premiere of NBC's The Cape last night. They're replaying it at nine tonight, but please: learn from my experience. Don't invest two hours of your life into this dreadful show. Because really, it's bad. I can deal with cheesy, or silly, or not-that-great. And I'm not all that into superheroes or comics, so I'm not complaining about what it's doing in regards to the conventions of the genre or whatever. It's just: The plot made no sense. The writing was laughably bad. And the acting was utterly without spark.
As I said, I'm no expert, but I'd assume that for a superhero show to work, the audience needs to buy into the hero himself in some way: either sincerely as a hero, or in an "oh, this says interesting things about his psyche" way as a conflicted character. David Lyons didn't give us much to go on. Sure, he's pretty, but he's (badly) trying to hide an Australian accent, and it makes it sound like he can't actually string a sentence together. And, to be fair, he wasn't given much to work with. The character is fundamentally boring. And at one point, when he arrived to save the day, I burst out laughing. I don't think that's what they were going for.
Joss Whedon favorite Summer Glau was the star who most people were excited for in this show, and she's better than Lyons, at least, but the writers couldn't decide whether they wanted her to be a damsel in distress, a sassy sidekick, or an omniscient spiritual advisor, and it's really a mess. And she's a blogger who can remotely take over people's computers, which was just one of many technological questions I had about the show. I mean, I know it's a different world, and maybe things will be explained later, but I found these questions distracting rather than intriguing.
Oh, man, and I haven't even mentioned the "Carnival of Crime" that The Cape gets mixed up with, or the wife's unnecessarily long flashbacks that still tell us nothing, or the monkeys running around, or the freaking cape itself. Or the dwarves. Or the awful Borat reference. Oh, you get the idea. If you want a more articulate and specific takedown, read Alyssa.
One thing I will give it: The Cape gave Richard Schiff (Toby from The West Wing) a paycheck. And he's quite good, as always. Really, he comes across as an adult in a kids' school play, because he's so much better than anything else here. But it's not worth watching this, even for him. (Actually, if you must: He's in the second hour of the two-hour block, called "Tarot." He appears briefly at the beginning, then 26 minutes in, then on and off 40 minutes in until the end. You're welcome.)
A few people have been musing about how NBC could even think this was worth putting on the air, never mind giving a major mid-season push. I think the answer is basically that NBC still has nothing. Remember, this is the network that tried to convince us that Outlaw was worth watching a few months ago. (And Chase. And The Event. And I'd like to put Outsourced on this list, but apparently people actually watch that.) Actually, now that I think about it, a lot of this is still the aftereffects of the late night issue. Last year, NBC cut 1/3 of their prime time shows for Leno's failed show, and they're still scrambling to catch up. But they've got to do better than this.Posted by Kat at January 10, 2011 07:37 AM