The Cape tells the story of Vince Faraday (David Lyons), a cop framed for the murder of a politician and later presumed killed in a chase by police. It is set in fictional Palm City, USA, a town where the police force is run by a private company, the Ark Corporation. However, the Ark Corporation has its own nefarious goals and is run by Peter Fleming a.k.a. Chess (James Frain). After his apparent death, Vince is taken in by a group of circus freaks. He cannot come out of hiding for fear that his family will be killed. Heck, even his best friend has turned on him. So, he takes on the persona of his son’s favourite superhero, The Cape, and attempts to be one of the few people in Palm City who is trying to make a difference.

It’s standard superhero stuff, even if it does sound a little cheesy. The problem is that The Cape doesn’t realize how cheesy it is.

Let me be clear. I love a classic battle of good vs. evil. On that alone, The Cape gets a lot of free passes from me. I also appreciate meaty dramatic material when it’s done well. That’s where The Cape stumbles. I understand why the show used the particular origin story that it did. But because it’s so extreme, it feels like a cheap way to give the show an emotional core. Thus, the dramatic material comes off as pure fromage, which would be all well and good if the show recognized just how cheesy it was. Unfortunately, the show proceeded at an awkward pace, trying to condense its origin story into twenty minutes, with only glimmers of such self-awareness. There are a few lines here and there that point to the idea that the show might willing not to take itself so seriously. At the end of the pilot, a store owner tells Vince that The Cape is a silly name for a superhero. Later, an ally of Vince named Orwell (Summer Glau) tells him that his tights and cape are lame. However, all of that is tonally at odds with the emotional scenes where we learn that Vince became The Cape to show his son that one man can make a difference. The end result is that I don’t know how seriously I’m supposed to be taking the show.

However, the other elements of the show worked quite well. The action was slick, and the fight scenes were well-choreographed. The acting wasn’t amazing, but it wasn’t so bad that it was distracting. (The one exception was Vince’s son, Trip, played by Ryan Wynott, but he’s a child actor, so I’ll let it slide.) The score was composed by Bear McCreary, and its sweeping, cinematic feel is perfect for a superhero show. The score was similar to the one he used on Human Target, but it was less overpowering here, and that’s a good thing. The production values on The Cape were relatively good, and despite the fact that the use of green screen was quite noticeable in some places, there were enough expensive-looking sets to balance out any kinks.

The elements of a good show are all here. I’m just not sure what kind of show The Cape wants to be. Does it want to revel in its cheesiness, like Castle, Chuck, or Human Target, or does it want to become mired in silly, overwrought drama, like No Ordinary Family or The Event? The Cape needs to decide whether its pilot episode was an origin story or a dramatic foundation. I hope that it chooses the former. There’s already enough pointless drama on television, but the world could use a few more superheroes.

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