The Cape is the Worst Thing in the History of Ever

Seeing as January is a barren wasteland for movies, I’ve beaten practically every video game I care to play, and none of my TV shows come back for at least a few weeks, I figured I’d take two hours and check out the extended pilot of The Cape last night on NBC.


Presumably crafted to fill the void that Heroes left, and capitalizing on this year’s “realistic costumed hero trend” started by Kick-Ass, The Cape is a viewing experience quite unlike anything else I’ve seen on TV before. In a bad way. In a very, very bad way.

Let me recap the first fifteen minutes for you real quickly here:

There’s a cop named Vince with a family living in a city where a masked criminal called “Chess” is doing bad things. In the next scene, Chess kills the police chief with a car bomb. Then there’s a news flash that the police department is being bought out by Ark corporation to be privatized. As one of the city’s non-corrupt cops, Vince is recruited for the new police force, but then discovers that Ark supplied the bomb materials to kill the old Police chief and Chess is really their CEO. Then he’s abducted by Ark agents, has Chess’s mask stapled onto his head, and then set free to be hunted down and exposed as the killer on national TV.

In case his name wasn’t literal enough for you, he has pawns for eyes.

Think we’re done? Not quite.

He escapes to the sewer, but not before a big tanker explodes which makes everyone think he’s dead. He wakes up, and finds he has been rescued by a group of carnie bank robbers, who live in the sewer and one of whom is a boxing midget. You cannot make this stuff up. Even though he was set up to be framed, he still has his all access Ark keycard which apparently they refuse to deactivate, and he helps the carnies rob Ark vaults which can be opened with said keycard. In return, they give him a magic cape that can grab wine glasses and is indestructible because it’s made of spider-silk(?) and they train him to become a superhero by learning how to escape from chains, disappear using smoke bombs and hypnotize people into wearing women’s underwear. Oh, and how to box midgets.

I kid you not, this all happened within about probably the first 15 minutes of the show. How the hell could so much happen so quickly? Because in an effort to pretend like it’s a comic book, scenes are short. And I mean short, as in, I don’t think I saw one longer than 45 seconds throughout the entire two hours.

I won’t recap the entire rest of the show, but needless to say it gets increasingly bizarre (though it’s hard to top a midget boxing carnie bank robber I have to say) and there’s a French poisoner assassin, Vinnie Jones as bad dude Scales, whose skin is inexplicably covered in scales, and Summer Glau as a freedom fighting blogger named Orwell who has tons of money and a Minority Report interactive hologram computer that apparently she time travelled 50 years into the future to get.

You drive a modern day Mercedes but your computer is from 2070?

This show is just pure madness, and my jaw was agape for the majority of the time trying to comprehend the sheer badness of what I was seeing onscreen. The plot, outside of the carnies, is still incredibly inane, and I don’t understand what the point is. I guess this guy is trying to kill Chess, so he can stop being hunted and reunite with his family, but then why in the last minute of the episode, does he stand face to face with the man unarmed and decide to disappear with a smoke puff instead of shooting him in the goddamn face?

I kind of understand what The Cape is going for here. The best (and only) comparison I can think of would be the old live-action Batman series from the ’60s that was campy to the point of absurdity, and the tights and awkward fight scenes were meant to be hilarious. The Cape is over the top in much the same way, but it doesn’t work here. All attempts at comedy fall flat and all stabs at drama or action are instead the most hilarious parts.

I never thought anything would make this show look like pure genius.

It’s getting to the point where outside of the Cop/Doctor/Lawyer formula of procedural TV shows, the major networks are incapable of producing non-terrible hour-long shows at this point. Looking over my current “good” show list, every title is on FX, USA, AMC, HBO, Showtime or Comedy Central. Compare this to all the chances I’ve given FOX, NBC and ABC with shows like FlashForward, The Event, V and now The Cape. These are not good programs, not at all, and I think in the mad scramble to find the next big hit, everyone is crashing into each other to make sure they tick off the check boxes of different demographics rather than trying to actually just sit down and make a quality show.

The Cape is an unmitigated disaster through and through, but it’s so bad, I almost enjoyed watching it knowing I got to write this review immediately after. At least watch the first 15 minutes over at to get a general idea of what I’m talking about, and I’m now taking bets to see just how fast this gets pulled off the air.

Boxing bank robbing carnival midgets bitches!

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  1. I caught a little bit of the show last night, I believe it was the scene of when the car blows up and the only thing that was safe was him behind the car door that blew away in the explosion. I then changed the channel.

    I no longer look for good programs on network television. IMO anything or everything that is good is on cable.

  2. I haven’t seen the show yet but this scathing review inspired me to download it just to compare thoughts. I figured it would be terrible, if the title of a show is the Cape you’ve only got failure on your horizon.

  3. Actually “The Event” isn’t that bad, compared to what else is out there “The Event” actually has legs to stand and walk, same deal with “V” more or less. BUT I’ll keep you apprised, and I agree about “The Cape”.

  4. I checked it out last night, in fact, I chose to watch it over Family Guy. It’s not that big of a deal, I haven’t watched FG in quite some time. I’m sure I’ll catch it on Adult Swim sooner or later. Anyways, like I was saying, I caught the pilot of The Cape last night. I feel like they could have chosen a better name, and judging by the small joke about his hero name, I’d say they realize it’s kind of weak as well. Hopefully it won’t become a running gag, considering I was tired of the joke upon hearing it. Aside from that, it was just OK, it could have been a lot better. Also, I can’t say that I’ve ever seen a pilot that tried to build up a character as quickly as The Cape did. I mean really, they had 2 hours to work with, SLOW DOWN.

    James Frain is the main reason why I decided to give it a shot, he has a knack for playing villainous characters (Invasion, The Tudors, Count of Monte Cristo) that you love to loathe. I failed to notice that his pupils were in the shape of pawns, although, I guess I should have assumed that’s what they were just by his name… I think I may give this show a few episodes to see if they can get it right, but I’m not optimistic. Better shows have been canceled!!!

    Last but not least, did anyone else catch Bob’s Burgers? It was actually pretty damn funny! What’s today’s Burger-of-the-day? The Child Molester, it comes with candy.

  5. I have no idea why I read the reviews on here. What do I expect out of someone that likes lost? The show was exactly what it is suppose to be a fun look at super heroes. A hot chick and a kick ass midget I for one can’t think of a better combination. It beats Dexter and pokemon. MAybe if you combine those things you would have something interesting.

  6. I could care less about the Pokemon jab, but to say it’s better than Dexter is pure hilarity. This show is terrible. I know they were going for the campy, over the top comic book approach, but the execution failed in every way.

    In 30 minutes, he’s betrayed, “killed”, rescued, trained, mastered his art and met a super rich side kick. I know origins get old, but damn that was a lot to take in. I think the only reason I stayed on the show so long was because I like Vinnie Jones.

    I am sure some people enjoyed this show, but it is a pure disaster, and I wouldn’t get too invested in it because I am sure it will only last a season, if that, before cancellation comes calling.

  7. Bob’s Burgers you say?

    As little hope as I had for a show based on a fledging burger spot here in New Mexico, I must say that it was semi-entertaining.
    Nothing special, of course, but it’s watchable.

  8. Haha I think we all agree with the above response. If anyone wants to have a good laugh at a show that is so cheesy its possibly funnier than the cape in the best way then hit youtube and look for a show called “Special Unit 2”. Its so bad Its almost good! You wont regret it…much :L

    Ps. Dont take the piss out of Pokemon 🙂

  9. I stand behind my response if you add the combination of a midget and a hot chick the show has to be watchable. The title of the post indicated this was the worse show in history. I do not believe this to be true as that title goes to The Golden Girls or Designing Women, which is the scourge of all man kind.

  10. Paul Tassion 10 Jan 2011 at 7:31 pm


    If you like The Cape and hate Lost and Dexter, you deserve to have your television taken away.

    Or at least your right to comment on television…. geez, you have proved all future opinions are not valid.

  11. I think you watched it the wrong way.

    Because what I saw was the most inspiring two hours of television these eyes have ever beheld.

    It’s a rare art to create something so exceptionally awful that it then becomes a meisterwerk, and the fact of the matter is, The Cape has it all.

    And by all, I mean a midget that taunts someone by calling them “bitch boy.”

  12. Why Summer Glau?!? Why have you forsaken me! But seriously just looked up her imdb. She kind of went down hill after firefly/serenity. Its kind of depressing rewatching those episode and seeing all the potential those actors had before they pretty much dissapeared from the radar only to pop up occasionally in shows like this. *sigh*
    Anyways juding from your review I dont think ill be picking this show up. Heres hoping for some quality television some time in the near future.

  13. Favorite part was the completely pointless scene where Chess pulls up files on his holographic computer, which then turns into a chessboard, and then he spins it around… again, for no reason at all.

  14. The Cape 2 hour premier was awesome. Been looking forward to this show and it didn’t disappoint. I’m tired of reality shows, cop, and medical dramas. Give me some die hard comic book style shows any day. The Cape and No Ordinary Family are the only new shows I’ve liked this season. I’d still rather have Heroes back, but those 2 shows combined fill the void.

  15. I agreed with everything you said until you omitted any mention of “Fringe.” If you can’t give that show a try while you’re peeling apples during “The Event” you need a consultant.

  16. Well I didn’t have any expectations when I walked into it. I loved it. It had some moments of unbelievability but it’s a comic book style TV show so I can let that slide. Hardcore geeks who must have impeccable logic and fastidious attention to super hero lore should avoid it.

    When the circus freaks started robbing banks I realised the show had a sense of humor. It’s funny, it’s also dramatic, it has Summer Glau and that make it better that 98% of the other crap on television.

  17. yeah I tried watching it… couldn’t make it past 30 minutes. Worse part is, when I had set the PVR I was like, this might be interesting, and my brother was like, “that show’s going to suck balls” and he likes the fucking JERSEY SHORE. FUCK!

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