Review - The Cape: Pilot

I started out really, really liking Heroes. The first season was very impressive and set into motion the possibility of many quality storylines and even gave us a great potential rivalry in Peter vs. Sylar. Then season 2 happened and it was a Season 3 didn't even feel like Heroes and season 4 righted the ship a little bit, but at that point it was too late. My point is this. I was hestitant to watch The Cape on NBC when it premiered. After watching it a few days later (thank you DVR), my trepidation was well founded.

The Cape is about Vince Faraday, a cop in Palm City that is seemingly one of the last good ones. A mysterious entity named Orwell has been following the police department and shedding light on the bad cops, leading those within the mistrust one another. This all sets up the inevitable "new chief coming on who vows to change the culture and is killed by the villan" storyline. The villain? Chess. Chess is actually a decent concept for a villain but the pawn contact lenses are a little over the top.

Vince realizes that he's not so keen on working with other cops he might not trust so he switches over to private security with ARK. ARK CEO Peter Fleming is revealed to be Chess and, in an effort to give his company all the security business in Palm City, frames Faraday as being Chess. In a moment of panic, Faraday flees and is presumed dead, but actually ends up with a group of circus performers who double as bank robbers. It's here that he becomes The Cape and learns a little bit of everything in the circus in an effort to clear his name and take down the real Chess.

All in all, it sounds like a decent plot (if not a little cliche). Once storied hero is shown to be bad, hides (or dies) and the world moves on without him, hero returns to surprise villain and the world. My problem? It's all forced. The first episode should have been a two-hour movie to set up the series instead of a one-hour pilot. As a result, you're hurried along to keep up and don't really have time to stop and get to know the characters. There was very little payoff to some scenes as a result of the breakneck pace and in the end I really just didn't care what happened.

There are also some plot threads that really don't make sense. For example, Vince doesn't want to see his wife in addition to his son? And when he does see him his son doesn't recognize his father's voice? And why does a man presumed to be a dead fugitive decide that fighting crime without a mask would be prudent? I get the powers of illusion and what not but there are some things he pulls off that seems a little ridiculous. This could seem so because Vince became in The Cape in little more than a seven or so minute montage of training.

The Cape borrows heavily from comics, speficially Batman (and Oracle to an extent). Granted it's hard to make a superhero show that's truly original but some of the parallels almost seem lazy. There are also similarities to The Spirit, only instead of having powers from beyond Vince just has acrobatics and smoke bombs. The cape he uses may be infused with magical powers but I'm not sure if that's the case (it's referred to as being made with spidersilk).

For a seemingly dramatic superhero origin the show is full of maybe a little too much camp. It would seem that it would have a darker tone but for the most part it just seems too lighthearted. James Frain is sort of wasted as Peter Fleming/Chess (flinging silly one-liners) and I don't know if the new villain a week approach will work. It's strange to see Summer Glau in a non-robotic/killer role and takes some getting used to. David Lyons is actually pretty good in the lead role, but his motivations seem a little unclear. Is he trying to kill Chess just for revenge or to clear his name? Or both? Will he continue to be The Cape afterwards if he's successful? The show is an interesting endeavour, but if the show's pace doesn't slow down from the whirlwind that is the first episode then viewers ultimately won't care what happens to Vince or his family.