On this weeks TVEye, another NBC failure, Sithy father issues, a blue powder of death, and Titus the tight-ass.
THE CAPE (Episode 6 “Goggles and Hicks”) Predictably, the programmers over at NBC have failed again, this time with The Cape. This week they announced that they were dropping their order of first season episodes from 13 to 10, ultimately cancelling the new show less than a month after its premiere. Can’t say I didn’t predict this. The show suffers greatly from its horribly failed attempts at injecting heart into its characters. As a family dynamic, the character interactions come off as wooden, forced, and overreaching at best. The Cape himself (David Lyons), his computer hacking sidekick Orwell (Summer Glau), and Jedi protector Max Malini (Keith David) are all one-off clichés that don’t even attempt to bring something interesting to the their comic book inspired personas. Where The Cape does succeed however, is in its villains. Each villain is a wonderful archetype of over-the-top ego accentuated by extremely fun dialogue. This week introduced Goggles and Hicks, a villainous duo of two very different brothers. The episodes opening introduction of the brothers had the skinny, redneck Hicks camouflaged on an Afghani mountainside while his obese, soda-bottle spectacle wearing brother orchestrated his every move from the safety of his retrofitted conversion van. Hicks leaves a Chariot Tarot card at the body of his victims, no doubt a calling card for his electric wheelchair riding bro. I found the quickness and ease at which the brothers tracked down the Cape, and determined his true identity, partners, and hideout to be a horribly ambiguous plot hole. Goggles is the obvious brains of the operation, and he’s either better than anyone at tracking his targets, or the writers of the show just suck that bad. I’m going with number two. Look, if any fat guy with surveillance equipment can track down a masked avenger in minutes, then really, what’s the point of this whole charade to begin with. I guess this is where and why The Cape has failed. I really won’t miss this show, but I will miss amazing lines like “I’m a firm believer in the separation of church and crime!” Adios el cabo!
STAR WARS: THE CLONE WARS (Episode 60 “Altar of Mortis“) There are loads of patriarchal, and master/apprentice struggles in the Star Wars Universe, and this weeks Clone Warspresented a pretty solid one to rival even the Luke/Vadar conflict. The episode is part two of the three part Mortis arc, and continues last weeks exploits of Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Ahsoka on the mysterious Mortis planet. There are only three inhabitants on this strange planet, a father, and his son and daughter. Really, the planet is a physical representation of the balance between good and evil, the dark and the lights sides. The Son represents the dark side while the Daughter represents the light. Anakin’s place on the planet is as a test subject, choosing his path towards the light or dark side. The whole thing is quite complex. In fact, this whole struggle leading up to the third prequel is really much deeper and exciting than the film itself. The path Anakin takes towards darkness is told in such a religious, and deeply metaphoric manner, that you really feel the struggle. For a cartoon, its become a pretty heavy series. Maybe its become a little too heavy, deepening the folklore and powers of this bitter struggle to points that overshadow the Sci-Fi with fantasy. The scope of the dark and light, Sith and Jedi struggle is so huge here that the starship, Deathstar filled political wars of the films seem almost like child’s play. Its still a great story, and an enjoyable show, but I think they may be straying too far off course. Qualms aside, next weeks episode, the conclusion of the Mortis trilogy, looks incredible. I’m there.
FRINGE (Episode 55 “Concentrate and Ask Again”) A package arrives, it’s a creepy little doll with a pull string. This is NOT Woody from Toy Story, yet still, the man who receives the package pulls the string, perhaps hoping to hear a snappy “there’s a snake in my boots” or something. No dice. A blue powder shoots out of the dolls mouth, and in seconds the mans bones disintegrate as he falls to the floor, reduced to a pile of flesh. So opens another great episode of Fringe. It was another episodic arc, but one with a deep rooting in the series long mysteries of the First Peoples Book and Cortexifan trials. The episodes arc involved the Fringe team tracking down a terrorist who was sending bone disintegrating, blue-powder bombs across New England. Problem is, there only suspect is in a coma. Walter has the idea to track down a recluse Cortexifan subject who has secluded himself from the world in his desolate Vermont home. The effects that Cortexifan has had on the man has left him with the ability to read minds, a curse that has forced his life of seclusion. This poor guys ability is the only tool the Fringe team has to interrogate the man in the coma, and Olivia is employed to escort the man to Boston to help stop the blunibomber (get it?). Olivia’s is the only mind he can’t read, as she too is a Cortexifan subject who was tested on as a child. The strange effects of the Cortexifan meds are a mystery for a later date, but I predict more test subjects will be coming out of the woodwork as the series progresses. The Fringe team does of course track down the bombers, and the episodes arc is neatly wrapped up as they often are. The true revelation of the episode came with the revealing of Olivia’s strange, bowling-alley owing psychologist Sam Weiss (Kevin Corrigan) as the writer of the mysterious First Peoples Book. The book has been a guide for the Fringe teams investigation of the parallel universe, a prophecy much like those of Nostradamus. This brings up a load of questions about the Weiss character. He is obviously very old, but where and when he is from exactly is a mystery I look forward to discovering. This wasn’t the best episode of the season, but with such a heavy order of episodes, its expected that these episodic arcs will pop up now and again. I enjoy them, but hope next week gets back to the deeper storytelling of the two-universe conflict.
SPARTACUS: GODS OF THE ARENA (Episode 3 “Paterfamilias“) Much like this weeks Clone Wars, there was a heavy theme of patriarchal conflict weighing heavily over the house of Batiatus on this weeks Gods of the Arena. It was another sex soaked week of ancient drama, with Gladiators clashing with other Gladiators, and ego-driven perversions taking precedent over all else. This show is like a hybrid of the orgy filled Caligula and slow-mo comic styled 300. The combination of the wordy theatre and action editing clashes for me. Each scene is framed as thou it were the cells of a comic book, richly colored and filled with canted angles and broad flicks of crimson blood. It looks very cool, but cut with the more conservatively shot scenes of discussions and diplomacy, it seems like I’m watching two different shows. Don’t take my use of the word conservative too much to heart thou, because the rawness of this series is anything but. In an overly stylized threesome between Batiatus, Lucretia (Lucy Lawless), and Gaia (Jaime Murray), there is a lot of nudity, and a lot of uninhibited sex. During the scene, Titus, father of Batiatus walks in on his son and becomes instantly angered by the display. I hate to say it, but if my dad walked in on me and two beautiful naked women, he’d probably give me a high-five. Well, it turns of that Titus is a real tight-ass (I got jokes this week). Disapproving of the manner in which his son has taken over the Gladiator business, Titus retakes the reigns. This father and son conflict has just begun, and will likely take some dark and unyielding turns in the next few weeks. It’s well done drama, but this series really needs to decide what kind of show it truly wishes to be, and choose and identity by which to consistently tell its story.
Until Next Week!