Aired on: NBC
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When I saw the previews of The Cape, a new television series airing on NBC, I was surprised. Despite the somewhat successful fun of Heroes, NBC isn’t one of those networks where you would expect to find a superhero television series. Especially one of this nature - the hero has no special powers whatsoever. As I watched more previews, I became intrigued, but was dismayed at the proposed “bad guys” with names like Chess and Scales. Hmm, this could turn out to be quite a campy show, I thought. And yet, at 9PM EST on Sunday, January 9, 2011, I sat down to watch the two-hour premiere episode of The Cape.
The action takes place in a fictional metropolis known as Palm City. The area is pretty and the people seem nice enough, but we soon learn that crime is at an upswing and the Palm City Police Department is one of the most corrupt in the nation. Vince Faraday (David Lyons) is an honest detective on the Palm City Police force, taking great pride in his job. His grandfather was a Sheriff in Palm City long ago and Vince takes his job very seriously. So seriously that, when the new Police Chief’s life is threatened by Palm City’s top criminal, the elusive Chess, Vince puts his own life at risk to try to save him, albeit unsuccessfully.
Wondering what direction his career is taking and whether security mogul Peter Fleming (James Frain) will be able to persuade Palm City to privatize the police force, Vince seriously begins to consider a job offer from a friend (Dorian Missick) who is working in Fleming’s security firm. He is just about to start work for the company when he receives a tip from an anonymous investigative blogger known as Orwell (Summer Glau). The tip leads Vince to discover the secret behind Peter Fleming’s corporation and Peter Fleming himself - the corporation is a bogus organization that furthers its leader’s criminal agenda. You see, Fleming is actually Chess. Unfortunately, Vince suffers the ultimate betrayal at the hands of his friend who sells him out to Chess. They set him up to take the fall for the Police Chief’s murder, but botch their attempt to kill Vince.
The botched murder attempt leads him to Max Malini (Keith David), leader of a circus of bank robbers. In exchange for bank security codes Vince was able to obtain from Fleming’s corporation, Max agrees to train Vince in his “family’s” arts. Vince is set on taking Fleming and his allies down and proving his innocence to his family, especially his son (Ryan Wynott). He takes on the name of his son’s favorite superhero, The Cape, and thus begins Vince Faraday’s new life as a crime fighting hero. Occasionally aiding him in his fight are his newfound bank robbing circus pals and Orwell.
I was completely prepared not to like this show as I expected it to be either too campy or poorly done. Instead, I found a well-written story that reminded me very much of the comic books I used to read as a kid. Many of the heroes in the comic books of my youth had no superhero powers, but had decided to fight back against the crime lords of their cities, donning similar concealing outfits and using all sorts of nifty tools to aide them in their quest. I loved watching The Cape learn the arts of escape and illusion as well as the new style of fighting needed to take on his nemesis. David Lyons makes for a completely believable and easy on the eyes superhero. There is a vulnerability there that makes you just want to hug him when he’s down. His intensity and his determination are just as sexy as his vulnerable moments.
Sure, there were some campy moments in the series, but they were never over the top and reminded me of the more serious superhero series of my youth like Green Hornet. The scenes were tongue-in-cheek, but not overly ridiculous and tastefully executed. Despite my earlier concerns about the villains of the series, I found that they, too, were well written and actually not as campy as I expected them to be. James Frain has had some experience in the villain department and is very respectable as Chess. Scales is sort of a henchman slightly higher on the scale than most of those used by the Joker in Batman.
In fact, this series reminds me a great deal of Batman. This is an ordinary man whose life is ruined by the ultimate in villains. He becomes a vigilante, looking to set things right and rid his home town of the evil that has taken it over. The series is dark as most of The Cape’s work must take place at night to conceal his identity. The series also reminds me of a favorite of old, Birds of Prey. There is even an Oracle-like character in the form of Orwell. However, unlike Birds of Prey, there is something about The Cape that seems more polished and better put together. The villain plot of this series is highly sustainable and the fight scenes are less about CGI and more about realistic action.
The music of The Cape is composed by none other than Bear McCreary who has more than proven his action series composing capabilities on such series as Battlestar Galactica, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles (Did I mention that Summer Glau was in that series?) and Human Target. The music is adrenaline pumping at all the right moments and I truly enjoyed the superhero theme that the show opens with.
To close, I truly enjoyed watching every minute of the two-hour series premiere of The Cape and plan to be seated right in front of the television when the series hits its regular time slot of Mondays at 9PM EST.