Friday, 21 January 2011

'THE CAPE' 1.3 - "Kozmo"

Friday, 21 January 2011

I didn't think NBC's new superhero drama The Cape could sink much lower than its opening few episodes, but the "Kozmo" was a full-blown stinker it's tough to defend. My expectations were low, but it still managed to plumb new depths. If a show's this cheesy and ridiculous, it should at least be fun! What's frustrating is that the core idea behind the episode wasn't that bad, with Russian convict and escapologist Gregor Molotov (Thomas Kretschmann) escaping from prison through a tiny escape hole, to arrive in America and demand the return of his magical cape from circus ringmaster Max Malini (Keith David).

In the episode's early scenes, we were given information about the cape's legendary status; the fact it's inherited by successive generations of circus performer, al going by the stage name of Kozmo (which even included Max), before Molotov started to use its abilities for evil. I quite liked The Phantom-esque idea of Kozmo being considered "invincible" because when one cape owner's killed the garment's simply passed to another man -- even if that seems to conflict with the idea Vince Faraday (Michael Bublé David Lyons) is the first person who's decided to become a real-life superhero. With a bit of a rewrite, this story could even have explained why there's a comic-book being published starring "The Cape", as that fictional character could have been based on a previous incarnation of Kozmo The Invincible. But the opportunity appears to have slipped the writer's attention.

Anyway, "Kozmo" felt like it had some promise in the first 10 minutes, but then it floundered and quickly became a laughable, second-rate, messy joke. It's hard to see how you can make such a basic idea die on-screen so badly, but writer Craig Titley (Cheaper By The Dozen, Percy Jackson) managed it. The fact Molotov had the ability to dislocate most of the bones in his body, turning him into a version of iconic X Files villain Tooms, didn't even figure into the plot after his initial escape from prison. Why setup the idea of your week's villain being the ultimate escape artist, only to ignore all that in how he goes about dealing with his enemies? All we got was an unintentionally hilarious scene where Molotov cut the throats of poker players by flicking playing cards into their necks at high-speed.

Overall, I really can't summon the enthusiasm to discuss anything else that happened in this pitiable episode, beyond call on Summer Glau to fire her agent. Are there really no decent roles for her in TV? The best thing about this show is the opening titles, which mix animated comic-book panels with live-action sequences, and hints at the potential for a series that fully embraces the cheesier aspects of old-school superheroes, in a way that's imaginative, witty and tongue-in-cheek. The Cape isn't that show. It's a turgid stew of ideas stolen from a variety of better sources, thrown together in the vague hope they'll stick and produce something that transcends its roots. It hasn't worked. I won't be watching again.

WRITER: Craig Titley
DIRECTOR: David Jackson
TRANSMISSION: 17 January 2011, NBC, 8/7c