Posted 3 hrs ago by Rick Marshall
Written By:Tom Wheeler
City policeman Vince Faraday (David Lyons) is framed by masked crime
boss Chess. Left for dead, he's taken in by a group of bank-robbing
former carnival performers led by Max Malini (Keith David) and
becomes the vigilante known as "The Cape" in order to protect his
wife and son. The Cape quickly becomes a thorn in the side of Peter
Fleming (James Frain), the head of the corrupt ARK corporation and
the alter ego of Chess, who decides to get some help from the
vicious, reptilian-looking Scales (Vinnie Jones). Meanwhile, Faraday
is assisted by the mysterious blogger Orwell (Summer Glau).
In the second episode, Chess recruits dangerous chemist and
knife-wielder Cain, and The Cape's first encounter with the new
villain is nearly his last. Forced to temporarily abandon his
signature cape, Faraday learns more about the challenge he'll face
in bringing down Chess — and earns the attention of the criminal
organization known as Tarot.
Welcome To Palm City: It's
been almost a full year since The
Cape" was first announced and both the pilot and second episode
premiered Sunday (January 9) evening in a two-hour special. Chock
full of familiar faces, "The
Cape" features a colorful cast of characters — a few of them
heroes, most of them villains — and a host of comic book tropes.
The pilot episode manages to get through the standard origin story
pretty quickly, and it doesn't take long to get our first look at
Faraday in action as the hooded vigilante with a prehensile,
bulletproof cape. The villain is revealed as the local billionaire
businessman early on, though viewers will likely wonder why Chess'
secret identity is such a secret from Palm City's finest, given the
recognizable voice and the very little of his face that the mask
The adventure moves along quickly, with Faraday earning the trust of
his saviors, the underground-dwelling "Carnival of Crime," and
training up his fighting skills with and without the spider-silk
cape bestowed to him by the troupe's leader, Max. Pretty soon, he's
taking out Chess' henchmen with ease and working his way up to the
big leagues with battles against lizard-skinned bruiser Scales in
the pilot episode, and the knife-wielding, poison-brewing assassin
Cain in the second episode.
"ER" actor David Lyons manages to pull off the costumed
crime-fighter role without making the whole idea seem silly, though
I'm not sure what to make of the fact that "True Blood" actor James
Frain seems far more believable as a mentally unstable vampire than
a mortal criminal kingpin. Cast in the hero's mentor role, Keith
David proves he's the right man for the job, and though Summer Glau
doesn't quite make the role her own, fans will certainly give her a
few more episodes to get comfortable.
Final Word: The
Cape is, essentially, Batman minus the rich playboy alter ego,
snatching criminals from the darkness and slinging his cape like an
infinitely manipulable appendage, then vanishing in a puff of smoke.
Glau's character, Orwell, is the hero's tech-savvy, know-everything
version of the Batman universe's Oracle, and the cast of villains
even feel like variations on the Dark Knight's rogues gallery.
Scales comes off as a primetime-television version of Killer Croc,
Tonally, "The Cape" is equally distant from Christopher Nolan's
gritty Batman movie-verse and the intentional camp of Adam West's
1960s series, and exists somewhere between "Smallville" and "Heroes"
in the TV superhero scene. It's earnest and willing to embrace the
signature costumes and other elements of the comics world, but stops
short of the extremes in both color palette and comics cliche
(though it gets perilously close to both on a few occasions).
While "The Cape" doesn't break any new ground in the world of
live-action, costumed heroes' adventures, the first two episodes do
offer up a fun little adventure. Hardcore comic fans will likely
find it lacking the punch of today's better comic books and comic
book adaptations, but mainstream audiences might get a kick out of
the events transpiring around Palm City. It remains to be seen
whether "The Cape" can succeed without the new-series hype and
fan-friendly cameos that fueled the two-hour special, but we'll be
tuning in next week to find out.
"The Cape" begins its regular, weekly airings with Episode 3, "Kozmo,"
on Monday, January 17, at 9 PM Eastern on NBC.
'The Cape' Series Premiere
Cynthia Fuchs 9 January 2011
PopMatters Film and TV Editor
I Specialize in Impossible
The cape in The Cape doesn’t belong to the guy who
calls himself the Cape. It’s the property of a
magician-turned-crook, Max (Keith David). It is also
extraordinary in every way, as Max describes it: “Made
entirely of spider silk, stronger than Kevlar, thinner than
filament.” When he first offers use of the cape to Vince
Faraday (David Lyons), an erstwhile cop looking for a new
way to fight crime, Max explains his generosity, sort of:
“I’ve broken 92 bones in pursuit of the perfect illusion.
I’ve trained a generation of escapists, acrobats, and
magicians. I specialize in impossible.”
So okay, every comic book superhero needs a mentor, right?
Someone who shows him ropes and inspires him, someone who
helps him hide his secrets and adjusts his moral compass.
Usually, that mentor is low-key, the sort who’d rather the
mentee attract attention and appreciates said mentee’s
appeal. In The Cape, though, not only does Max have
the cape, but he’s also got the smarts, the backstory,
charisma. Poor Vince doesn’t have a chance.
This imbalance is built into almost every aspect of the
show, from plot to casting. Vince is saddled with the
typical sappy family plot (he’s framed for murder and
believed dead, and so leaves his young son and lovely wife
sad and sadly accompanied by a drippy piano score) and a
banal desire for vengeance against the man who takes all
this from him. This would be the series’ villain, the rich,
conniving, utterly arrogant Peter Fleming (James Frain), CEO
of Ark Corporation, a Blackwaterish contractor that’s
recently privatized the Palm City police force and is poised
to run the prisons as well. Predictably, Fleming frames his
greed as patriotism: his company’s “paid millions of dollars
to train police officers in Afghanistan while American
cities are left to crumble in neglect,” he spins it to
Vince. “I want to change all that. First, we have to rebuild
What Vince misses, being the grandson of a sheriff, is
that trust here equals gullibility: citizens in Fleming’s
eyes are mere vehicles to increased profits, a box to check
en route to a contract. “The people,” he says, “will be so
afraid, the fear will never leave them. Ark can pursue its
goals while they cheer for us.” Both Fleming and Max traffic
in illusions. Both are willing to use Vince (and other
minions) to achieve their ends, and neither much believes in
civic duty the intrinsic value of human life. Fleming makes
threats (“I’ll find out who you love, I will make them
scream”), but Max has panache: “I’ll make you the greatest
circus act that ever lived,” he promises Vince.
Faced with a choice between bad and worse, Vince opts for
Max’s Carnival of Crime, where he’s aligned with a little
person MMA fighter (Martin Klebba), a blond in sequins (Izabella
Miko), and Orwell, a surveillance expert played by Summer
Glau (the go-to girl for ooky-but-sweet science-fiction, as
in: Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse, Serenity). Like
Eyes Only in Dark Angel, Orwell exposes the bad guys
using the internet, but throwing in with the Cape seems a
more direct route to justice: she provides locations and
building blueprints, he provides muscle (he spends his off
hours on a heavy bag) and moralizing: while the cape’s
illusion allows him to appear and disappear in puffs of
smoke, his indignation drives him to make accusations and
exact violent payback.
As Vince learns from Max “just how much the human body
can withstand, and the mind,” he fine-tunes his own
righteous self-image. Yes, he sighs to Orwell, he wears
“long underwear and a cape,” and yes, learns mind control
from an exotic sideshow mentalist named Ruvi (Anil Kumar),
who tells him, “The point is not to let the sucker know he’s
being hypnotized.” Max and his crew are fond of pointing out
their differences from civilians (suckers or not), and it
makes a certain sense to affiliate superheroes with circus
performers, to note their similar flair and excess, their
affection for tricks and deceits.
To see the superhero as something of a con-man, no matter
his super-self-righteousness, clarifies the capacity for
delusion he needs in order to do his work and believe in his
secret identity. It’s a helpful conception, and it makes the
Cape less tedious than he would be otherwise. His wife who
thinks she’s a widow, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin), engages in
another sort of circus act, as she restarts her career as a
lawyer to support her son, and also has to take on the
tabloidification of her own life (married to a murderer). As
the show cuts between their shared flashbacks (moving in
together, cooing to their newborn baby), Dana and Vince seem
to share a sensibility as well as a past. It’s an awkward
device, mostly designed to motivate Vince, even as you’re
hoping it’s going to give Dana more of a story.
As much as they have at stake, neither Vince nor Dana is
as much fun to watch as Max. Master of the arched eyebrow
and the sly grin, Max is better than a circus act.
THE CAPE Season 1: The Lowdown
Premiering this Sunday, January 9, 2011 at 9:00 p.m. is NBC’s new
show, The Cape. Out of the ruins of a cop framed for
murder and presume dead arises a superhero which is really no surprise
as Vince was a hero before he went
I had the opportunity to watch the first two episodes of THE
CAPE, both of which will be shown on Sunday. The Cape
has definitely added a twist to the routine everyday man becomes
superhero avenger. Although there are numerous similarities to other
superhero shows, most notably Batman (from the costume, to the trainer,
to the car that the sidekick drives), I think they are merely
superficial. The fun begins when Vince Faraday a/k/a The Cape starts his
training with a circus
ringleader. While it seems like happenstance since the circus folk, who
also are secret bank robbers, are
the ones that find Vince and provide him with the tools he needs to
become The Cape, it is way more entertaining than the usual martial
arts. Think of all of the
possible ways that a magician’s tricks could aid a superhero, especially
one that does not have any real powers of his own. Now you have
The show does not take itself too seriously and I am not sure if that
is a good or bad thing. I did enjoy the chuckles that came from the
show, especially when someone would question Vince’s superhero name –
“You’re a superhero! What do they call you?” “The Cape.” “The Cape?
Well, you will work on it.” However, I enjoyed the darker side even
more. The villains were delicious and mysterious. Personally, I cannot
get enough of James Frain (sorely missed in True Blood)
and loved every moment he was on the screen. Of
course, the problem with having
intriguing villains is that you need a balance with equally interesting
and riveting heroes. Aside from Vince, so far, we have an anonymous
woman blogger “Orwell.” I am not sure the two of them are enough. The
real scene stealers are the circus folk, though one could hardly call
Overall I think this show has a lot of heart and it will be
interesting to see what lengths Vince will go to save his name and be
reunited with his family. By the second episode it is apparent that
Vince does not want to just see his family again, he wants everything to
go back to what it was before he was framed. An impossible goal indeed
and with each decision Vince makes to attain that goal, the lines
between right and wrong blur possibly throwing Vince into a moral
conflict with himself. I will enjoy the ride with Vince, Orwell and Max
Mancini. The Cape has potential. Hopefully, the writers
will rise to the challenge.
January 9, 2011 3:29 AM ET
NBC is getting back into the hero franchise with
"The Cape." And for those of us who aren't necessarily avid
comic book readers, the series makes constant winks but stays
within a pretty realistic world.
Whether you like it or not depends on your ability to leap with
the show. We won't lie, though. While the pilot is
well-executed, once we get into hour two of NBC's planned two
hour premiere, we got the feeling that this may be too much of a
good thing in one sitting.
Vince Faraday (played by
Lyons) is a cop - one of the good ones - in a fictional
California metropolis called Palm City. His department is
getting increasingly corrupt and some are defecting to Ark, a
private law enforcement corporation that's trying to take over
the police force. After the police chief is killed on his watch,
Vince decides to join Ark, as well. Before he knows it, he's
drawn into an international crime ring, which frames him for the
chief's murder and attempts to publicly kill him. He's not dead,
but he pretends he is in order to protect his family. In order
to clear his name and get revenge on Chess AKA Peter Fleming (James
Frain), Faraday takes the identity of his son's favorite
comic book hero, The Cape.
The comic book influences are clear. The series takes place in a
moderately futuristic society and the characters are over the
top. It's more like a "Batman," though, than "Superman" in its
chemistry. What that means is there's nothing magical or alien
about the heroes and their gifts. It's slightness of hand,
technology, training and dedication that makes them super.
Faraday is likeable in that he's not perfect. The fact that a
mask isn't a natural part of his costume at first gives us the
feeling that his transformation into "The Cape" is an evolution
that goes beyond the two-hour premiere. He suffers from a need
to talk to his kid (even though it may confuse him even more).
He rushes into situations. He has a hard time asking for help.
He doesn't always land his punches or dodge knives all that
well. All those qualities make him believable.
Vince is surrounded by people who see the big picture and can
remind him what that is. There's the very theatrical Max Malini
David), whose thirst for money is only matched by his
desire to be the best ring master there is. And every scene with
Summer Glau's Orwell is thrilling. Her character is
continually full of surprises. We're undecided on James Frain's
criminal mastermind, Peter Fleming. After seeing what heights he
can achieve as
"True Blood's" Franklin Mott, he appears severely
underutilized in this role.
The trick to liking this show is that it depends on how cynical
you are. If you're predisposed to thinking that a guy waving a
cape around can't be anything but silly, then you won't be drawn
into Faraday's dedication to clearing his name and the fight for
what's right. You'll wonder why he doesn't just take his family
and run when he has the chance. You'll basically over-think it.
On the other hand, if you're one who gets sucked into stories of
valor, can have a sense of humor about the characters and their
abilities, and you can buy the idea that one man can make a
difference, you'll enjoy "The Cape."
NBC’s ‘Cape’ crusader in a losing battle against crime
By Mark A. Perigard / Review
Thursday, January 6, 2011
“The Cape” aspires to be “The Dark Knight”
but unfurls more like the campy 1960s
“Batman” TV series.
In the two-hour pilot, which is just two
separate episodes aired back-to-back, evil
billionaire Peter Fleming (James Frain,
“True Blood”) frames Palm City police
officer Vince Faraday (David Lyons, “ER”)
Presumed dead after a freak explosion and
trained by an underground carnival of crime,
Vince decides to fight Fleming and his
“One man can still make a difference,” he
vows. He models himself after his 8-year-old
son Trip’s (Ryan Wynott) favorite comic book
character - The Cape.
Apparently, nobody here learned from “The
Incredibles” that capes don’t work in the
Vince’s new garb is described as
something stronger than Kevlar but thinner
than filament and operates as a cross
between a prehensile tail and a shield,
thanks to some competent CGI effects. From
circus ringleader Max Malini (Keith David),
Vince picks up hypnosis and some illusion
By the time he hits the streets, The Cape
is a cheesy cross between The Shadow and
Batman. DC Comics should keep its lawyers on
standby. The similarities go beyond the
silhouette of the figure overlooking the
city or the music that sounds suspiciously
like a Muzak riff on Hans Zimmer’s superb
“Dark Knight” score. In the comics, Batman
is logged into cyber expert Oracle (Barbara
Gordon, the former Batgirl); The Cape relies
on the mysterious master hacker/blogger
named Orwell (Summer Glau, “Terminator: The
Sarah Connor Chronicles”). The show isn’t
The Cape battles not only Fleming’s
sadistic alter ego, Chess, but his henchman
Scales (Vinnie Jones) and a poisoner who
represents a league of assassins known as
Tarot. There’s certainly enough action to
sate viewers, and Lyons is an adequate
stand-in for “Knight” star Christian Bale,
but the story is nonsensical and the
dialogue jarringly arch. Each new act is
introduced with a title card, such as
“Hunting Portman” and “Faradays are
Vince seems more mopey about being
separated from his son than his beautiful
wife, Dana (Jennifer Ferrin), who, believing
her hubby dead, is forced to live with the
stigma of being the “widow” of an alleged
Every 8-year-old boy in America is at
risk of falling in love with the series.
That demographic might be enough to make
this show a hit if it were on sister station
Syfy, but this is a showcase for alleged
major network NBC, which should have learned
a lesson from the debacle that was “Heroes.”
'The Cape' review: Superhero show could be fun
Hartlaub, Chronicle Pop Culture Critic
Saturday, January 8, 2011
The Cape: Action adventure.
David Lyons and
James Frain. Premieres 9 p.m. Sun. on
NBC. Moves to 9 p.m. Mon. starting Jan. 17.
For everyone who rolled up a towel after junior high
school gym class and used it to thwack another student on
the backside, your hero has arrived.
"The Cape" is a promising television program that would
have been a lot better if the producers were aware of its
ridiculousness. This is a show where the main character
whips a magic bathrobe around, using the fabric to throw
knives and disarm gunmen. The tone needs to be less like
"Heroes" and more like "The Greatest American Hero."
The midseason series, which premieres Sunday night on NBC
(with a regular slot on Mondays starting Jan. 17), gets the
comedy-drama balance wrong, loading the first episodes with
emotion, personal conflict and an overpowering musical
But there are signs that once the origin stories and
introductions are done, "The Cape" will become increasingly
Enjoyment of "The Cape" will depend on how seriously you
take your escapism. Older kids and adults with short
attention spans will enjoy the premiere, which crams a
season's worth of exposition into two hours.
Viewers looking for layered storytelling and subtle
acting should renew their subscriptions to Showtime and HBO
- or at least hope for a few "Breaking Bad" reruns on AMC.
David Lyons plays Vince Faraday, introduced as the one
good cop in a town filled with corruption - which is about
to get worse once billionaire and criminal mastermind Peter
Fleming, also known as Chess, takes over. (This is the first
of many logical stretches in "The Cape." If a diabolical
masked super-villain were to start killing off politicians,
the first person conspiracy theorists would look at is the
richest guy in the city. Sorry, Larry Ellison.)
Within minutes of the opening credits, Vince is framed
for the mayor's death. Only some bank-robbing circus
performers and our hero's son - pining for his father with
his eyes on the stars and his butt on a fire escape -
believe Vince to be innocent.
As the ex-cop becomes the Cape and learns mystical
superpowers from his freak-show friends, villains come and
go as if they were only paid to work one day. This is
especially sad for Vinnie Jones, who must have spent 20
times as much time in the makeup chair as he did on the set
as the gang leader Scales.
Executive producers Gail Berman and Lloyd Braun are known
for reality-bending crowd-pleasers such as "Desperate
Housewives" and "24," so the incredible liberties taken with
"The Cape" shouldn't be a surprise.
Coincidences are piled on impossibilities and sprinkled
with cliches. Nothing is as it seems, but almost everything
can still be predicted, thanks in part to an overwhelming
musical score that telegraphs each plot development.
When the identity of the mysterious and all-powerful
online blogger Oracle is revealed, it makes perfect sense in
the context of "The Cape." This is a world where gorgeous
women spend their entire days behind a computer screen
Show creator Tom Wheeler goes a little heavy with the
overwrought dialogue (sample line: "It's not all corrupt!
One man can still make a difference!"), but he has a sense
of humor that emerges more in the second episode.
Lyons is likable and convincing as a tough guy with a
soft spot for his family. Keith David also stands out as
carnival boss Max Malini, and actor-stuntman Martin Klebba
contributes several memorable scenes as 4-foot-tall badass
Rollo, whose inevitable popularity will hopefully lead to an
Wheeler struggles in his attempt to invent a city from
scratch, but the cape visuals are clever and effective. Even
if this show never rises to dramatic heights, it's never
going to get old watching the Cape swat around bad guys like
so many 98-pound weaklings.
Superhero Realism: A Contradiction, or a Necessity?
The Television Alter-Ego
Television developed into an ideal medium for developing the heroes'
human side, and using it to inform the superpowered fight scenes. The
Incredible Hulk, the prototype for this process, is as much
remembered for David Banner's stoic pursuit of his quest to free himself
of his monstrous side than for the Hulk's antics. Postmillennial series,
like Smallville and Heroes, integrated the superhero deep
inside the alter ego, making the hero's abilities a part of his personal
Perhaps the most regular-guy superhero you could get was Gary Hobson,
the hero of CBS's Early Edition. Gary had no powers, just a copy
of tomorrow's newspaper and an indomitable sense of responsibility. The
closest we have to current counterpart might be the secret service
agents on Warehouse 13: they have no powers, but they're
surrounded by weird artifacts that do.
In The Cape, Vince Faraday is an everyday hero -- an innocent
cop. Once he's framed for a crime he didn't commit and left for dead,
however, he becomes a superhero by two means: the achievement of
training in special physical techniques that give him an advantage in
fighting, and the acquisition of a super suit with special capabilities.
On the spectrum for superhero "realism" this is to the right of Gary
Hobson, but well to the left of Clark Kent or even Hal Jordan with his
magic ring: the training and the super suit are both a few tweaks away
from what transformed Bruce Wayne into Batman in Batman Begins,
the kind of thing that result from a lot of fierce determination (and a
fair share of luck).
The Gotham City Effect
The other way to effect realism in superhero drama is to place the
hero in a familiar environment. An urban landscape places the hero in
the same context as gritty police procedurals, earnest medical dramas,
and so on. The movie versions of Peter Parker and Clark Kent live in the
same crusty New York, whether it's called that or not, as our cops and
Some series try especially hard for an urban environment with a dark
edge. The Flash, in its short run, constantly underlined its
setting, Central City, as riddled with street crime that the police was
unable to handle. The Christopher Nolan Batman films stripped away the
stylized Gotham City of the preceding installments, erecting a city
rotten with crime and beset by a government of breathtaking incapacity.
It's this aspect that The Cape's creators are emphasizing, and
not as an overly pessimistic exaggeration.
"There's an assassination of the Chief of Police, which gives an
opportunity for James Frain's character... to take over [and] privatize
the police force," creator Thomas Wheeler explained to Comic Book Movie.
"There were articles last week about chartered, privatized police forces
in our country now, so all of these things that feel very science
fiction are in fact all around us."
The main difference in this urban setting is the climate. An
overwhelming majority of superheroes set up shop in New York (or its
analog) -- even Hancock, who starts out in L.A., eventually winds
up in the Big Apple. The Cape's Palm City, though just as corrupt
as Gotham, is a West Coast hybrid of L.A. and Miami.
The wish fulfillment aspect of superhero drama has to provide a clear
line between us and the fantasy, the path along which we'll be dragged
(as Vince is, by his mysterious rescuer Max Malini) from the ordinary to
the extraordinary. The Cape offers a new opportunity to gauge how
fantastic or realistic the public likes their superheroes.
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