Monday, January 10, 2011

TV Review: "The Cape"

Remember way back in the 1970's, when the producers of the TV version of The Incredible Hulk went out of their way to make viewers forget that the show was based on a comic book?  Brian Cronin, author of the web column "Comic Book Legends Revealed", says in his book Was Superman A Spy? that the real reason producer Kenneth Johnson changed the name of the Hulk's alter ego from Bruce to David Banner was not that he felt that the name Bruce sounded too homosexual, as long standing legend has it, but that alliterative names like Bruce Banner or Peter Parker sounded too comic booky.  The makers of NBC's new superhero drama The Cape, on the other hand, seem to be bending over backwards to make you think that their show does have comic book roots, even though it does not. Not only do they take pains to mimic the dark look and feel of such successful comic book based films as Batman and X-Men, but the title character takes his superheroic name in the story from his son's favorite comic book character.  
Overall, I would say that The Cape is a fairly decent show for what it is.  What it is is basically what I surmised in my last post, "a standard issue Batman/Daredevil pastiche."  To that I might add "...with some elements of Robocop and the Spirit thrown in for good measure." The latter include the idea that the protagonist is presumed dead, and an evil corporation that controls the city's police force.
There are a few scenes early on that invoke the campiness of the 1960's Batman TV show.  I'm not sure that this was intentional, as, for the most part, the show takes itself very seriously.  On the few occasions do seem to be  trying to be funny, it usually falls flat.
There is one funny bit, however, at the end of the first hour.  In my last post, I opined that "The Cape" was just about the lamest name for a superhero ever. Well, it seems that the producers are somewhat aware of that. After the Cape foils a robbery at a convenience store, the grateful shopkeeper asks him his name.  After our hero tells him, the merchant replies, "The Cape? Oh, well, you'll work on it."
To sum up, The Cape is not great, but its not horrible.  There are worse ways to kill an hour on Monday nights.


  1. I liked the show better the first time I saw it -- y'know back when it was called Batman Begins.

  2. "I liked the show better the first time I saw it -- y'know back when it was called Batman Begins."

    I think I liked this quote better the first time I read it...when it was by someone else and about something else.

    The Cape's pilot appears to take a number of visual narrative cues from a recent Japanese production called "K-20"; which is, in its own way, a drinking game of costumed pulp cliches, except more fun...


  3. Sounds like I should spend my time watching K-20 instead. Thanks for the info! Do you know where in Columbus I could rent it or where online I could download it?

    (Okay, so the above quote was cliched, snarky, and hopelessly out-of-date. I stand by my opinion of the show regardless.)

  4. For renting in Columbus, OH, I'd start at Video Central. They have one location on Bethel Rd, and maybe another on Westerville Rd. The Bethel store has an impressive(by my standards) selection of international releases. K-20 was released on DvD in the states last April, so odds are good they'll have it. Good luck!