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THE CAPE Pilot Episode Review

First thoughts on the new NBC superhero series.

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NBC is taking another stab at the superhero genre with the premiere of THE CAPE (Sunday, January 9, at 9 p.m. ET/PT with an encore Monday night). The premise of the show is simple. An honest police officer (David Lyons) is determined to fight the corruption in his city and take down the evil villain known as Chess. With corruption everywhere, our hero, Vince Farraday (Lyons) discovers the identity of Chess, only to be framed and seemingly killed in an explosion. 
  
Luckily for our hero, he is rescued by members of a special circus. It's here that Vince meets the ringleader, Max Malini (played well by Keith David). Because this isn't an ordinary circus, Vince soon finds himself in possession of a magical/mystical cape. With this cape and basing himself on his son's favorite comic book hero (conveniently  known as The Cape), Vince is on course to fight the evil that has tarnished and turned his life upside down. 
 
Sound cheesy? Let's be honest, most superhero descriptions do. The real question is, how was the execution of this show? 
 == TEASER == 
I had low expectations before watching the pilot episode. That being said, the show wasn't as bad as I feared. The problem is, at this point, I can't say I really care for the main character's plight. He was framed, everyone thinks he died, his wife and son have to deal with everyone thinking he was bad, he can't contact them or their lives would be in danger and so on. Sorry but all that wasn't enough for me.  
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 Where the show does get a little interesting is in the supporting cast, mainly Keith David and some of the members of the strange circus. They're not your typical superhero sidekick characters. The Cape wants to be a noble hero doing the right thing and these guys sometimes have their own agenda. If taken in the right direction, these characters could add some interesting layers to the show.  
 
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The pacing of the pilot episode was all over the place. The introduction leading up to Vince getting framed and gaining possession of the cape happens pretty quickly. He undergoes training to learn how to control the abilities of the cape but I wasn't sure how much time he spent doing so. It felt like he easily learned how to use it too fast. Other parts of the show left me waiting for the end of the episode. Essentially what is being aired is a double episode, "Pilot" and "Tarot." They flow seamlessly together but I think, at least for me, it will work better as a one-hour show instead of a two-hour presentation. 
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What about Summer Glau? She plays Orwell, an "investigative blogger who partners with The Cape to wage war on crime and corruption." Really. She's an investigative blogger driving a Mercedes and knows way more about the corruption in the city than even our hero. This means our hero has allies with Glau's characters and the circus (that luckily isn't a traveling one). Based on this episode, I don't really see the point of her character being part of the show (besides the obvious reason). Thankfully when she was confronting one of the bad guys, she didn't use her self-defense moves seen in her other performances. The Cape should be the one with the fancy moves, not the sidekick. 
 
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Without getting into details of his character, I was happy to see James Frain in the show. It feels like he's always popping up in something and he does a good job here, adding a little more to the show. Somehow I had forgotten that he was in it and it was a pleasant surprise. As for what role he plays in the show, I'll leave that for you to discover when you check it out for yourself. 
 
How is the show overall? As I mentioned, it was better than I feared. There is some potential. The concept is a little cheesy--a magical cape to fight crime. I like the aspects of finding out where the cape came from and what are the true intentions of the circus rather than seeing Vince try to solve his personal mission. The name is also a little weak. There was too much of a coincidence that his son's favorite comic book happens to be The Cape and he gets rescued by Malini, who happens to have this cape sitting around gathering dust. The show does seem a little ambitious in terms of shooting locations used. I do worry that the show could end up being costly to make which will cause problems later on in production. That was one problem HEROES faced before.
 
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Another question is how long can this show go on? Can The Cape win his war against evil? If he stops Chess and clears the name of Vince Farraday, will he come out of hiding? Will he go back to his family and the police force or try to stop any other crimes going on? Are we going to see other villains pop up? We always see more super powered villains show up once a hero takes the stage. I can't see the show focusing on The Cape's vendetta against only one villain.  
 
At this point, I'm not ready to commit to the show. I will check out the next episode to see how the flow of a regular one is compared to this two-hour presentation. The show needs to figure out what direction it wants to take. We have the family aspect but there are darker tones in the show. Compared to No Ordinary Family, this obviously is taking the genre a little more seriously despite being about a guy with a magic cape. We don't have a lot of shows in this genre on right now and hopefully this one will overcome its kinks and fill the void that HEROES left (when it was a good show). Bottom line, I liked the show a little bit but was far from loving it. Check it out for yourself and let me know what your impressions were. 
 
Here's the opening credits (that weren't on my screener copy).