Last night I watched the premiere of "The Cape" on NBC. It turned out to be a pleasant surprise. It contains a lot of elements you would expect to see in a good comic book: the cool villains, the superhero, the back stories, the titles that go with each chapter, etc. In general, it was just plain cool. Even the music was well-scored and the acting was better than usual for TV shows. It even had humor that was actually funny.
The plot is similar to Batman. A person with no superpowers (Vince Faraday) obtains a magician's cape. He learns how to use the cape as a weapon. He learns a few magician tricks, and even picks up hypnosis. In a nutshell, he's a trooper who really wants to get the bad guys.
The main villain is Chess. It's unclear what his powers are, but he's one bad dude. He kills anyone who gets in his way, and of course he does it with a few chess references (such as "I call this the Latvian Gambit"). I just wish that he was badder than what I saw, though. The writers haven't given him anything to really make me hate him. But guess what - he lives through the premiere, so we may learn to hate him as the season progresses.
Chess employs some pretty cool bad guys: Cain and Scales - oh - I guess we only get two other main villains in the premiere, but we're promised more in later episodes.
Faraday (the Cape) is helped by a mysterious online entity: Orwell played by Summer Glau. Oh, the Serenity!
Faraday also receives help from a notorious band of no-good circus hooligans. At first they threaten to kill him unless he helps them rob banks and then they become friends. I found this part to be a little confusing. As, if Faraday becomes a vigilante crime fighter, then shouldn't he stop his friends and put them behind bars? I think we're supposed to assume that their leader, Max Malini, ends up finding new purpose in life and turns away from crime to help Faraday realize his mission.
For a vigilante superhero show, this show is relatively light and fluffy. You don't see skin rotting off of the bone, super insane villains like the Joker, or 24-like torture sessions. This means that kids might be able to watch and enjoy along with their parents. But on the other side, you may miss stuff that makes the Batman movies and The Walking Dead so fun to watch. I was impressed that they were able to keep the energy moving throughout the pilot - and we'll see if they can keep it up.
The show has a little bit of the same magic that Heroes did when it first came out. Just once - can we see a show keep the magic going?
Finally, one other funny thing: Faraday models himself after a comic from inside the story itself. That comic is called, "The Cape." That would be like someone going around dressed as Batman in our world trying to stop crime. It makes me wonder: are we going to see the comic creators coming after Faraday on copyright infringement?
On that note, one person does ask him, "Are you a superhero or something? What are you called?"
He answers, "The Cape."
The person laughs and says, "You'll work on the name."
It seems that the "professional" critics don't like this show (imdb now has it at a 5.9 rating with 36 votes), but I say, "Watch the pilot and try it for yourself." If you like comics and you're looking for a fun ride, then this show may be for you.