It’s actually not a terrible show
— it’s just a fair-to-middling one, and one that arrived years too late to work, especially on the heels of “Heroes”’ painful, multiyear flame-out.
In Palm City, the masked killer known as Chess keeps the citizenry under his grip of fear, and the police force is wildly corrupt, but detective Vince Faraday (David Lyons, “Eat Pray Love”) is one of the few good guys. In the pilot, slimy corporate billionaire Peter Fleming (James Frain, TV’s “True Blood”) aims to privatize the city’s law enforcement, and Faraday agrees to quit his police gig for the greater pay of the ARK Corporation.
Any viewer with half a brain will guess (correctly) right away that Fleming is Chess, so — after being pinned for a murder he didn’t commit, Faraday goes the costume route, too, as … wait for it … wait for it … The Cape!
If you’re thinking that show’s creative team could’ve come up with something … well, imaginative, since this isn’t based on an existing comic-book property, your sentiment is shared by a character in episode two who tells our hero, “The Cape? … Well, you’ll work on it.”
The short-lived series really didn’t get to, but it likely was doomed from the start. Faraday completes his transition from family man to do-gooder with the aid of an underground circus / bank robbery ring led by illusionist/escapist Max Mailini (the great character actor Keith David). Max gifts Faraday with a cape made of spider silk, stronger than Kevlar, and capable of being used as a weapon, which The Cape does in each of the 10 episodes.
Summer Glau, who was a part of what make Fox’s “Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles” such fun over its brief run, is completely wasted as a tech-savvy blogger who aids The Cape in his adventures.
Action is a vital piece to each hour, but within the restraints of a network budget. When “The Cape” gets in to scenes that ape the derring-do of a comic book, it flies — not quite soaring, but at least hovering. However, each episode is also weighed down by the family Faraday left behind. He can’t communicate with them because they think he’s dead, not to mention proclaimed as a bad guy, so basically every scene with the wife (Jennifer Ferrin, TV’s “As the World Turns”) and kid (newcomer Ryan Wynott) is maudlin and rings false.
Plus, am I really to believe that when The Cape shows up at the boy’s window, that Faraday’s own son wouldn’t recognize his father’s not-disguised voice?
Lines meant to be Very Important like “Either you wear the cape or the cape wears you” instead come across like The Sphinx’s outtakes from “Mystery Men.” That’s a film that takes a unique approach to the four-color genre, whereas this effort doesn’t aspire to be as super-powered. It’s flashy, colorful and competent, but never lands one solid punch. —Rod Lott