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Thursday, January 20, 2011
TV Round-Up: The Cape
"Kozmo"
Watching "The Cape," I'm having a hard time figuring out just how much time has passed since Vince's apparent death and what's unfolding on screen right now. How long did he train with the Cape before assuming his role as a vigilante? A few days? A few weeks? A few months?

At times, it feels like it would have to be a few weeks or months, given the development of certain storylines. The most glaring is his wife working in the D.A.'s office and her interaction with her new boss. Maybe it's just me but it felt a bit like there was some flirting going on and her statements that she'd like a male role model in her son's life felt like it'd been a while since Vince vanished from the picture. Of course, that doesn't take into account the best friend, Marty, who is secretly on Chess' payroll. We saw him over at Dana's last week and he mentioned getting together later. Maybe he'd be a good role model--well, as far as Dana knows right now. She has no idea he's Chess's right hand henchman and covering up that Vince wasn't Chess and that Chess isn't really dead.

I also have a hard time buying why they'd make the son change schools. But it's there so Vince can overhear something and then go to his son and give him a pep talk about fighting. Of course, he's probably not doing the kid any favors by only appearing as this shadowy comic book figure who appears to dole out advice and wisdom whenever needed. If he'd revealed himself to Dana, it might help the kid out a bit. For now, he just sounds crazy mentioning his new buddy the comic book hero.

It feels like this episode was pulled from later in the rotation, to be quite honest. Vince seems to be settling into his role as the Cape and learning various tricks to use in his battle against evil. That's all rocked a bit when the guy who used to wear the Cape shows up, having been in prison for a while and wants the Cape back. And he's willing to kill for it. And he knows more about it than Vince does.

As I said last week, there are some good pieces here, but the story never pauses long enough on any of them to allow the implications to sink in--either to the audience or the characters. And as I said then, I may be overthinking it. Probably am, since it seems this is intended to be a comic book for TV--and it's rare that comics in the Silver Age stopped to dwell on the implications of thngs. They just moved from one plot point to the next.

And yet, the show also seems to want me to wonder about things...the biggest being the true identity and nature of Orwell. What led her to this point? And what is her background? Also, I have to wonder if she'll now become part of the Max's gang of circus heroes or if this is just a one-time development.

Also, for a guy trying to keep his identity a secret, there sure are a lot of people who know who Vince is.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/20/2011 12:08:00 PM | |
Tuesday, January 11, 2011
TV Round-Up: The Cape
"Pilot," "Tarot"
In its attempt to find the next version of Heroes, NBC gives us The Cape. I tuned in for the two-hour premiere Sunday evening and have to admit that I like the idea behind the series even if I find the execution a bit lacking.

I think a lot of the what I found lacking is the overall pacing of the show. The pilot story felt a bit too rushed, compressing the entire origin story of our hero and his new nemesis into one short hour. In Palm City, Vince Faraday is one of the last few good cops. A new mega-corporation and its head honcho want to privatize the police force and allow them to run their evil empire without any headaches. Vince isn't all for this and finds himself framed for murder in the guise of the evil criminal master-mind Chess.

Vince fakes his own death and meets up with a group of circus performers, the head of which has this super special cape made of spider silk that has all kinds of interesting, bend the laws of physics properties. Vince also learns the art of illusion to help with his crime fighting. His goal is to restore his name and bring down the evil corporation so he can be reunited with his wife and son. It's from reading a comic book with his son that he determines his alter ego as the Cape.

He's joined in the fight by a blogger named Orson, who is played by Firefly alum Summer Glau.

In the first two episodes, Vince takes on a couple of super villains who have been brought in by Chess. One is a guy who likes to throw knives and is targeting the head of prisons who is the only person in the city's government who opposes the privatizing of the police force--at least for his prisons.

On the surface, there's a lot that should work. The series wants to feel like a comic book and there are times when it captures that feel. And just like a comic book, there are plot holes big enough to drive a bulldozer through.

For example, the biggest is Vince's motivation. His goal is to keep his family safe and to win back his good name by bringing down Chess and his evil corporation. Nice motivation, but you have to wonder about how he's going about it. He chooses to keep a secret that he's still alive from his family (though he does go to his son as the Cape and say his dad will be back), which can only lead to complications down the road (assuming this show lasts that long). I'd certainly love to see the reaction of his wife (who has to get a job and struggles with the infamy associated with her last name) when and if Vince reveals, "Oh, by the way, I'm still alive."

Also, it seems fairly obvious that Chess and company know that their new foe is a product of the circus. But yet they bumble about going in and taking them out or sending in their private police force to arrest those involved. At one point, they capture Vince's mentor and the head of the circus, but leave behind everyone else. I'm guessing this is so Vince can know who took his mentor and then go rescue him. Because I can see no other good reason not to take them all and leave Vince to try and figure things out or alone without his support team.

Then there's the whole storyline of Orson, a blogger with a mission. What that mission is and what her motivation is is not entirely clear. Hopefully future episodes will delve into this (assuming that I stick with it, of course).

In fact, outside of Vince, there's a lot of pieces left on the table. There's a lot that's left under developed when it comes to the character side of things. I know comic books characters aren't always the deepest characters out there, but surely having them be more than walking cliches and plot pieces would be a good idea.

Also, I'm not sure if there's a long-term run for this show. How long can Vince continue to hang out in the underground and not have his efforts to noticed. I've heard comparisons to Batman, but they're really superficial. In the Nolan movies, Batman becomes a symbol that the city needs, motivated out of one guys need to atone for his past and his fears. There's no marked end point for Batman since he's so tortured he can never let go of the guilt and stop fighting the bad guys. (Again, this is my take on the Nolan films). With Vince, there is a defined end point--stopping Chess and regaining his life. It could be this is a one-season type of show where we'll have the end point of Vince clearing his name and getting his family back. But as I watched, I kept thinking of how and what will be done once we get past that. Could we see storylines where villains begin showing up to take on Vince and his responsibility in that? (Similar to the question of would the Joker show up in Gotham if there were no Batman we saw in "Dark Knight" or the question addressed in some episodes of "Lois and Clark.")

As I said, the show has some interesting elements too it. But as I look at it, I believe I'm thinking too hard and wondering too much about the show. It may be just a mindless show that is meant to be enjoyed at face value.

Unfortunately, the pieces don't quite all add up. I'll still give it an episode or two to see where things go (and to watch Summer Glau). But for now, I'm not hooked.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/11/2011 12:18:00 PM | |
Thursday, January 06, 2011
Goodbye to VY
Late yesterday afternoon, news broke that the Titans have decided to part ways with potential franchise quarterback Vince Young.

As a Titans fan, I have to admit I'm a bit conflicted about the news. On the one hand, there's part of me that remembers the stellar, game-winning and thrilling drive that VY engineered last year to give us a last second win over the Cardinals at LP Field.

Then, there's a part of me that thinks about his childish antics, lack of preparation and his polarizing effect on the team this season.

Vince has a lot of talent when it comes to the quarterback position. And there are times when we saw how good he could be--again, I think back to that stretch of games last year after the team started 0-6 and he came in and things turned around. But it seems like that he really hasn't taken advantage of the opportunities given to him by being drafted so highly and coming to Tennessee. I feel like a majority of Titans fans wanted to embrace him in the way we did Steve McNair, but Young made it difficult. He had all the goods on the field, but off the field and on the sidelines was another matter.

So, we're back to square one when it comes to the most important position on the field. I'm not sure where the Titans go now, but it could be interesting.

As for VY, thanks for the good memories. And I hope that wherever you land, you'll seize the new opportunity and really take advantage of it in a way you didn't here in Nashville.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/06/2011 12:00:00 PM | |
Monday, January 03, 2011
Best TV of 2010
1. Doctor Who -- For years we wondered what it might look like if Steven Moffat could run Doctor Who. Last year we found out with a thirteen episode series that played with the series central conceit of being a time travel show. Moffat made the series into a fairy tale and delivered a season finale that not only capped off the season in a perfect way, but also paid off most of the on-gong season storylines all while leaving something over for series six. I'm more excited about Doctor Who than I have been since it returned in 2005. And the Christmas special was nearly perfect as well. A great year for Doctor Who.

2. Lost -- The finale sparked a lot of debate on-line--as most good finales will and should do. The best thing that ever happened to the show was giving it and end date and finally forcing the writing staff to build to something. And they did. OK, sure the whole Jacob and his mysterious brother episode three from the end was a bit forced, but the sixth and final season did so many other good things that it's easy to forgive. I am curious to see how the show will hold up to viewing on DVD.

3. The Walking Dead -- Yeah, sure there are zombies, but that's not the main point of the show. It's about how humans continue to function and survive when the zombie apocalypse has happened and there are no end credits in sight. The pilot episode was fantastic and the season finale left me curious and anxious for more. I like how the show has created its own universe outside of the graphic novels.

4. Mad Men -- It's a good year for AMC. (And no, I'm not caught up on Breaking Bad...but I plan to be). Many have called the fourth year of Mad Men the best one so far. I'd be hard pressed to disagree.

5. Stargate: Universe -- Yes, I know it's a Stargate spin-off, but damn if this show just didn't keep going dark and really opening up the characters. Easily one of the most compelling sci-fi shows since BSG went off the air. And yes, I'm upset SyFy canned it after only two seasons.

6. Chuck -- We got a lot of Chuck this year...the entire third season and the first part of season four. The first half of season three suffered a bit from treading water, but once they got Chuck and Sarah together, the show never looked back. And bringing Morgan in on the secret and into the spy world has been a wonder to behold. I can't wait for more of season four.

7. Sherlock -- Not a re-imagining so much as an update of the classic Holmes stories. Watson's chronicles of Holmes are now told in blog form and seeing Holmes use technology in his investigations is a nice touch. Three episodes wasn't nearly enough, even if they were all 90 minutes each. And that cliffhanger....holy cow am I anxious for more.

And that's my top seven. These are the shows I enjoyed the most in 2010. I saw a lot of other stuff that was good and almost made the list. And I'm catching up on a few on DVD. But that's really what tickled my fancy last year.

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posted by Michael Hickerson at 1/03/2011 12:17:00 PM | |
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