NBC has reduced its order for the series The Cape from 13-episodes down to 10. Needless to say, this isn’t a good sign. What’s gone wrong?
Where to begin? First, the family/lawyer aspect is a complete drag on the show. Whatever momentum the plot starts building is completely halted to make way for a subplot that should only pop up a few times a season. They have no compelling story reason for being on screen.
The villain isn’t compelling. His personal rogues gallery consists of one morally-suspect ex-cop. All the other baddies are outside his inner circle…which seems to number just him. Sadly, we know so little of his backstory that he’s barely a 2-d character.
As much as I love Summer Glau in pretty much anything she’s in, we don’t know enough about Orwell. This has been a problem of a lot of series: creators withholding information in an effort to be mysterious but instead alienating and/or confusing the audience. Either way, creative types need to have the confidence that they won’t run out of creative ideas for the characters.
We get no sense of the city’s view of the Cape. He’s appeared (apparently) in one issue of a comic that some people read over-and-over again. With as weak a villain as Chess is, the Cape needs his J. Jonah Jameson to either promote him or trash him. (Ideally, in lieu of the family story.)
It would also help if most of the characters weren’t so morose and cynical. Are there no happy people left in the world? This combined with the dark palette make what is essentially a fluff show into a downer.
Finally, for the main character: why do we care? What about you is so special from anyone else who got screwed over by their boss? Where’s the nobility? Where’s the valor? Mostly we’re just seeing selfish whining: “Ooh, I want my family back.” Yeah, lofty superhero goal there.
Could the show be saved? Probably not at this point, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. Improve the pacing, lighten up the moodiness, and don’t try to be high theater. Mostly, buff up the characters, especially the baddies. And stop trying to be all mysterious. It’s boring. Just tell good stories–the rest will take care of itself.