Not watching 'Caper'? Here's why you should be

Superhero humor, comic book style, and Beth Riesgraf (but not just her). Crave contributor Kelsey Adams explains how a few streamed Web episodes made her a "Caper" crusader.

'Caper' action scene
Bergopolis/Screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

PSA: "Caper"! If you haven't stumbled across this show yet, check it out on YouTube or Hulu -- it won't take long. It's a fun series of 10-minute episodes about broke superheroes living in a grotty apartment in the City of Angles, patrolling for crime and struggling to make the rent, while their cross-country counterparts like the East Coast Six get all the respect.

Available on Felicia Day's Geek & Sundry channel, it's the kind of show that knows you know about supervillains and sidekicks already. So things start in the middle, with our heroes committing a robbery, and go south from there.

You've got your genre meta humor wall to wall, your cute banter, and your practical questions about the superhero lifestyle. You've got tank tops and hero shots (and Parker from "Leverage"!). Maybe the best part is the way the show handles big action sequences on a YouTube budget: comic book panels, of course! Heart! Sure, there's a place for "Dark Knight" and there's a place for "Sandman." But sometimes something lighter feels exactly right.

Beth Riesgraf as Alexia
Alexia the Amazon assassin wants the team to be able to afford 'a kickass lair -- er -- base!' Bergopolis/Screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

This reference goes way back in my childhood, but it reminds me surprisingly a lot of "Asterix" -- that kind of casually silly but grown-up humor -- and of course "Buffy," and all those other genre-aware bantering shows that pave our brains.

In "Caper," the characters are spins on familiar stories -- what if the real Iron Man wasn't the playboy industrialist, but his hard-working scientist employee/girlfriend? And what if that ended badly? Now this non-doormat version of Pepper Potts is scrambling for a job while her ex makes her life miserable to try and get the suit back.

For housemates, she has Wonder Woman reimagined as a sadistic fitness instructor; Superman as, well, Superman, only the product of a fling between a human and an alien; and Thor as -- well, still pretty much Thor again, but much more chill about getting long-term exiled to a place with glow sticks and hot chicks.

They're a nice bunch of people (uh, mostly), but already they've been wondering if it's fair that they work so hard without some kind of help funding their superheroics. When her smug ex-boss backs her into a serious corner, Penny Blue, aka The Machine, joins her team in deciding to steal the money they need -- from him.

Penny Blue, aka The Machine, lays down the ground rules.
Penny Blue, aka The Machine, may be the only human, and the only nerd-hipster, in the group, but she makes the rules. Also, I just really like saying, 'Penny Blue, aka The Machine.' Bergopolis/Screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

One thing that makes the show so fun is the great casting. Beth Riesgraf from "Leverage" reprises her comic-limber-badass combo as Alexia the runaway Amazon assassin, but not so girlish. Instead, she's that one person on a good-guy team who miiiight not be so good, which comes in handy when they turn to crime. Maybe too handy? When asked by an underworld contact if they want someone killed, Alexia's thoughtful eye-turn to Penny is perfect. What? She's just asking.

Harry Shum Jr. from "Glee," dancer's body on view in clingy T-shirts, plays it sweet and simple as Luke, aka The Trooper (or "the Boy Scout" as an unimpressed local calls him). Luke makes money as a clickbait blogger, which seems like it would hurt his nice-boy soul, but maybe there'll be more on that later.

Luke grew up on Earth, but after his human dad died, his mom revealed that his bio-dad was an alien who knocked her up and then skywalkered back home, leaving her a super-powered baby and some fond memories. Incidentally, do you think someone's going to announce, "Luke, I am your father" at some point? Would they go there?

Abby Miller, who you may know from "Justified" (which I haven't watched yet despite Netflix practically phoning me up in the middle of the night to recommend it) is pretty adorable as de facto team leader Penny Blue, the smart, determined "regular girl" who's mostly coping with her immortal housemates. They may have superpowers and she just has a flying suit with electrical issues, but she's clearly an authority in the house. Despite being the one in the hero shot with, as Luke points out, flowers on her sweater.

The couch where they live.
We've all had that idea for a story about superhero housemates at some point, right? I swear I even pictured this couch. Bergopolis/Screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

Honestly, I think that's what I love most. The Robert Downey Jr. playboy style of Iron Man is definitely fun. But there's something so appealing about the idea of this battered, frustrated little hero driving around with her stolen suit in the trunk of her car, too broke to keep the rockets repaired properly.

I have no idea who Hartley Sawyer is, aside from being the guy who plays Dagr, but he makes me laugh and laugh, and I don't mean because of his Zack Morris hair. Some genius realized that a noble Viking-like visitor from another dimension should talk like a prince, not a frat boy. (Always my problem with Rygel on "Farscape": we're supposed to believe he was an all-powerful emperor when he talks like an average slob?). So Dagr delivers all his lines in a courtly, aristocratic fashion, which makes his repulsive jock wooing of Penny so much funnier. To me. I'm a sucker for Viking-based humor.

Together, the four of them keep the peace; plead with the landlord (Edison Po on "Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D."); and get into classic housemate squabbles like, "You are the bastard child of a deadbeat demigod!" "Right back atcha!"

Luke punching Dagr
Trolling for Luke/Dagr shippers, are they? They think they can just throw a couple of sweaty hostile dudes at the viewers and get fanfic? Oh, so they've met the Internet? Bergopolis/Screenshot by Kelsey Adams/CNET

It is a short show. This post is practically longer than the show. It seems there are only going to be nine episodes total, and since we've already had three just setting up the heist (new ones air on Wednesdays), it's hard to imagine there's room for much more story.

Regardless, fans are already asking the important questions: "So I'm in love with Caper and I'm starting to hard-core 'ship Dagr and Penny but I don't know what to call them as a portmanteau. Should I call them Danny/Denny or Pegr or something else that doesn't sound as silly?"

So first of all, the obvious right answer is Pegr. Hello. Try saying it out loud. Secondly, Geek & Sundry (I guess it was them? I don't understand Tumblr) replied by encouraging everyone to brainstorm ship names, and also, "P.S. BRING ON THE FANFICTION/ART. All ships welcome."

Really, they want the horrifying fan art? They are braver than I. I do want more episodes, though. And we should be getting another one today! In the meanwhile, check out this awesome interview with show co-creator Amy Berg by Crave writer Bonnie Burton, or possibly this Reddit AMA with the cast. Or you could just troll the Net for horrifying fan art. You know you want to.

 

Join the discussion

Conversation powered by Livefyre

Don't Miss
Hot Products
Trending on CNET

HOT ON CNET

Looking for an affordable tablet?

CNET rounds up high-quality tablets that won't break your wallet.