There is a film studio called The Asylum which makes its money creating cheap knockoffs of popular films like The Day The Earth Stopped, The Da Vinci Treasure and Transmorphers. After watching the two-hour premiere of The Cape on NBC and seeing all of the similarities the show has to the Batman comic books, I’m beginning to wonder if The Ayslum wasn’t behind this series as well.
Like Batman, The Cape is a masked vigilante with no superpowers who uses theatricality, misdirection and combat training to defeat his foes in a city overrun with corruption. But the similarities don’t end there. Both vigilantes are aided by colorful sidekicks like circus performers (in Batman, there is Dick Grayson, who was part of The Flying Grayson, and in The Cape our hero is aided by a team of circus performers known as The Carnival of Crime) and an intelligent, tech savvy female who offers tactical support (in Batman it’s Oracle and in The Cape it’s Orwell … because by the time the writers got around to naming her, they had clearly already completely given up). Both heroes battle a large, incredibly strong reptilian villain (Killer Croc in Batman, Scales in The Cape). Hell, for good measure, Scales even binds The Cape in chains and tosses him into a river in an homage to the old Adam West Batman TV series.
While all of the poorly-copied Batman characters had me wanting to bail on this show within the first 10 minutes, I still soldiered on through the entire two-hour premiere in order to bring you this One Shot column. So without further ado, here are my thoughts on The Cape …
The Cape – “Pilot/Tarot “
(NBC – Mondays at 9 p.m.)
The Cape tells the story of Vince Faraday, an honest cop in a corrupt city. Faraday is also a family man – he lives in Palm City with his wife and his son.
Palm City is being controlled by Peter Fleming, the owner of the incredibly powerful Ark Corporation. Fleming moonlights as a supervillain named Chess who – you guessed it – dresses like a chess piece and actually says things like “Check mate” when pulling off his schemes. (To The Cape writers’ credit, the character is in no way ripped off from the Batman comics, but only because even Batman writers never came up with someone that lame … and Batman actually fights a villain named Calculator).
When Faraday stands up to Fleming, the villain decides to kill two birds with one stone by first framing Faraday as Chess, then capturing him and bringing him to justice, which will allow Fleming to achieve his goal of privatizing the police force (and putting himself in charge of it, naturally). Fleming sends his private SWAT team and a news helicopter after Vince. During the manhunt, Faraday is presumed dead when an oil truck he is hiding under explodes. (It explodes because the SWAT team pursuing Faraday shoots it, even though the entire chase is being televised and Vince is clearly unarmed, yet somehow this in no way keeps the city from handing over control of the police force to Fleming.)
Our hero can’t reveal he is still alive until he first clears his name, so he instead decides to become a superhero in order to bring down Fleming and his henchmen. Since Vince, like his writers, is uncreative, he creates his superhero persona by ripping off the title character of his son’s favorite comic book – The Cape.
Faraday is aided in his quest by a gang of circus performers named The Carnival of Crime. The Carnival of Crime start out as bank robbers, but for some reason (which the writers didn’t even bother to come up with) they suddenly decide to give up thieving to help Vince in his quest. And while Bruce Wayne devoted his whole life after his parents’ tragic death to the training needed to become Batman, the Carnival of Crime is able to teach Vince Faraday everything he needs to know about crime fighting in one brief montage. Of course, making things easier for Vince is the fact that C.o.C. leader Max Malini gives him a magical cape that when you grab it and flick it across the room is able to pick up items and bring them back to you. (Making this all the more ridiculous is the poorly-rendered CGI used to make this effect happen.)
Even more baffling than his magical cape is the fact that it isn’t until halfway through the second episode that Faraday decides to add a mask to his costume. Even though his face has been plastered all over the news since his apparent death and even though he knows he will be face-to-face with Fleming (the man he is hiding his true identity from in order to protect his family), Faraday decides for the entire first episode and half of the second one that all he needs is a hoodie to conceal his face. He also makes no effort whatsoever to disguise his voice when dressed as The Cape. Luckily, thanks to convenient lighting and camera angles, the hoodie does manage to hide most of his face and somehow no one recognizes his voice, but still, these are such frustrating oversights that I found myself wanting Fleming or someone else to stop and say, “Hey, aren’t you Vince Faraday?”
Aided by the Carnival of Crime and a sexy blogger he encounters named Orwell, The Cape battles Fleming and his goons Scales and Cain. Meanwhile, his wife tries to get a job and some other boring stuff that I already forgot about happens and eventually we end with a totally clichéd shot of The Cape on a rooftop ready to protect Palm City.
As the season progresses, The Cape will surely try to defeat Chess and clear his name, but the only way they could get me to tune in to this show again is if Vince Faraday defeats his one true enemy … shitty writing.
Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.