Greetings once again to all you good folks out in the blogosphere... it's been almost 2 months since my last publication. The initial hiatus was due primarily to the holiday doldrums and trying to figure out where I would be going with this fun little exercise... and now I find myself drawn back to it, as the moth to the flame, to bring tidings of mediocrity and hope for the potential of things to come.
So what specifically has gotten under my skin to bring me back to the nebulous uncaring interconnected ocean of webposts? To basically do as the samurai of old did and duel against something so vast and uncaring that it is an endless struggle of futility? Finally seeing some of the potential showing up when a program seems to be going on its last legs.
The Cape... an interesting concept with a fantastic ensemble cast that seems to be finally finding it's legs. On it's surface The Cape is a very basic hero style show.... the network keeps plugging it as a "superhero" show but it really doesn't fit the model left behind after Heroes died. The problem that I kept running into with the show was also it's greatest strength...the cast. The Cape/Vince Farraday played by David Lyons is an adequate hero...but no superhero. As a soldier who transitioned himself to law enforcement, there are still a lot of elements the character that haven't been explored... forfeiting those opportunities to focus on the relationship between a father and his son... and while that could be interesting... with an adequate young actor in the role of the son it could have been much more engaging... but there's only so much of a vacant 100 yard stare that one can take and attribute to "acting", before you start wondering what the casting director was thinking.
James Frain has come solidly into his own as the engaging Chess, and his legal alter ego Peter Flemming... Very much in the model of Lex Luthor as the military industrialist who's getting his claws solidly into a city with some very entertaining twists. The most intriguing that I find is that Flemming and Chess are actually opponents in their own game from which the criminal personality derives his name. Flemming as the white king of order trying to control the surface board, while Chess controls the underworld as the black king. It's a fun dichotomy that Frain plays with well.
The we run to our other primary... one of the fantastic young actresses discovered by Joss Whedon in his hay day, but who kept landing all her best roles on FOX network shows, that never really managed to get onto solid ground. I speak of course of the incomparable Summer Glau as Orwell... an enigma who finds it useful to have some muscle to get her message out about the dark turn politics in her town are taking. A terrific character, and one that I always enjoy seeing get more screen time... especially building on said character. And there isn't a techno-geek out there who wouldn't love to see some practical applications getting those fun holographic computers she's using be real.
Still.. for me the part of the show that SHINES... are some of the "B" characters. While Vince is focused on finding a way to clear his name, his focus in his family is almost always on his son, while his wife, played very well by Jenifer Ferrin, gets much more interesting stories, with the backlash of her husband being suspected as a mass murderer and trying to move on while still making an effort to prove he was a good man. Some exceptional work there which, when it doesn't focus on the son, hits home more often than not. Then... there's the wonderfully charismatic and brilliant Carnival of Crime players. Keith David steals scenes easily as Max Malini, a ringmaster and ringleader looking to do something a little different with his skills. Martin Klebba is brilliant as the diminutive Rollo, who still gets a lot of the best fight scenes. A show focusing on ONLY the carnival characters would be fantastic and probably a lot more fun than what we've got now... but we make due with what we've got.
To summarize... while the show got it's initial draw from the geek/nerd portion of Chuck as a lead in (an admirable bit of programming) it's taken this Freshman far to long to get up to speed to get the momentum that the network needs for it. I'll be a disappointed if the show doesn't manage a sophomore season at least... but not surprised, with the network already having cut 3 episodes from their order. As it is...I'm loving watching some great actors get to show off their talents...