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Sci-Fi On TV: My Thoughts on ‘The Cape’

Ed Left likes NBC’s attempt to get back into comic-book territory

Earlier this month, NBC brought “The Cape” to the airwaves.

The premise is simple. Detective Vince Faraday is wrongly accused of murder and is believed dead. He adopts the costumed persona of his son’s favorite comic book hero, The Cape.

He is trained by the leader of the Circus of Crime, Max Malini, and is given a mysterious cape as a weapon. Aided by the hacker known only as Orwell, he then sets out to bring the man who framed him to justice, the villain known as Chess.

I have to say I like it. Yes, the show is a little uneven, but it’s a fun show that isn’t taking itself too seriously. If I had to compare it to any superhero series of the past, I would say it reminds me of “The Flash” series that aired on CBS in 1990. Not quite camp, but not too serious either.

Orwell, played by Summer Glau, is a treat. This series is her first shot at leading lady, and she’s handling it well. She plays a smart, vulnerable woman with a secret.

Keith David plays the illusionist Max Malini with charm and flair. He’s everything the master of ceremonies of a circus should be. And he’s always got a helpful, if a little clich├ęd, bit of wisdom for Vince.

James Frain as Chess plays his character in a mustache-twirling, over-the-top fashion that’s a delight to see.

If the show has any fault at all, it lies in the hands of David Lyons as Vince Faraday/The Cape. His performance is all over the place, and I just don’t buy him as the tortured hero they are setting up. A stronger actor here would have improved the series immensely.

After three episodes, the series isn’t shy about revealing its secrets. We learn Orwell’s secret, even if her allies don’t. And we get some mythology building early, in revealing the origins of the centuries old cape Vince uses in his quest. If the show can hold on, I think we’ve got an exciting ride ahead of us.

But that’s a big bet. The show premiered well, but its ratings slipped significantly for its second airing. Continued audience erosion will spell the end of this series.

It’s only saving grace in that respect is it is produced in part by Universal Media Studios, a part of the NBC Universal family, as is the NBC television network airing the series. Series that are part of the family sometimes get the benefit of the doubt when things are close.

If you are fans of superheroes, or comic books, and don’t demand your heroes be all serious and grin, I think you’ll enjoy “The Cape.”

And now for something completely different

My website, Sci-Fi on TV has undergone a major facelift. I have trailers posted to upcoming series, a forum set up to discuss your favorite shows, and a wiki in progress to document all of those genre favorites, both current and past.

After you’ve finished reading the current news here at Airlock Alpha, stop over at my place and look around.

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Could they be a Rut-ro! Shaggy
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