Did you think Plan 9 from Outer Space was hilarious? Make it through all 22 chapters of Trapped in the Closet? Disappointed R Kelly has yet to finish his hip-hopra? Then you should definitely be watching The Cape on NBC (Hulu). Before it gets cancelled.
In a city where the police are on the brink of privatization, a good cop gets framed as a criminal mastermind/serial killer by the head of the very security company (ARK) trying to take over the force. Naturally, the head of ARK is himself the mastermind. He frames the cop (Vince), stages Vince’s death in a dramatic chase scene, and wins the city police contract. Everything is in place for him to crush Palm City in his tyrannical grasp, pillaging and killing freely (and he’s the Law!). Except he forgot to have his people make sure Vince was actually dead. Small oversight.
Instead, Vince ends up in the criminal underbelly of Palm City and meets some circus people who sideline as petty thieves (consistently the best characters on the show, actually). Their ringleader, Max Malini, provides Vince with a super cape that helps him disappear in a flash and snatch objects across the room. Lo and behold, the world’s-silliest-superhero-who-takes-himself-this-seriously is born.
Some choice quotes to give you a feel:
Max: A fortune cookie once told me our fate is fixed. It’s our destiny that must be seized.
Max: Either you wear the cape, or the cape wears you.
Vince: They say the cream always rises to the top, but in my experience, it’s always the scum.
Max: You give me your soul, Vince Faraday, and I’ll make you the greatest circus act that ever lived.
But for all of its over-the-top, straight-face gravity, the best parts come when it can’t help but smirk. At least once during each episode so far, something so ridiculous happens, the show has to be in on how bad it is. Something like when Max dies near the end of the first episode, only to open his eyes again a beat later and blurt out “Damn it, I thought that was it! And I wasted that great speech”. It’s as if some writer jumped to her feet in disbelief that NBC would pay to put this show in front of a national audience and wondered aloud, “What else can we do to it?”
The Onion’s AV Club has an entertaining series of reviews that deals with the painful flashbacks to Vince’s idyllic familial past, the dubious “disguise hoodie” that obscures Vince’s identity (even to close family and friends) despite being a hoodie, and the utter disregard Vince displays toward his son’s mental condition and development by frequenting his son’s bedroom window for a quick heart-to-heart in super-hero form. I recommend reading the reviews as you savor each episode – watch a chapter, read the commentary, and know you’re witnessing one of the best bad TV shows of our time before it goes off the air.
Apparently tonight’s episode included the line: “I see who wears the cape in this relationship.” To the DVR-mobile!