More Superhero Television – “The Cape”

I, like so many people, don’t often get the time to watch every TV show that I want to. We have jobs, lives, etc, and before the advent of DVR, it was often a game of VCRs and setting your clocks right.

[Editor’s note: if you don’t know what a VCR is, or why clocks are important, talk to your parents.]

Thankfully, Netflix came along and introduced the concept of binge-watching. I’ve talked about that before, of course (HERE), with its pros and cons.

So, now that we have the ability to binge-watch, either through Netflix or other streaming service, or whether we throw disc after disc into our Blu-ray players, we can run through show after show, completing our comedy/drama/pop-culture infusion in hours or days instead of months or years.

I, personally, have taken to watching old TV shows that I never got around to at all when they were on originally. I’ve already written a piece here about “Birds of Prey,” and I have now moved on to another superhero show that you may have missed the first time around: “The Cape,” which is one that I wanted to watch, but, as I was working nights at the time… well, things happen.


Originally airing in 2011, “The Cape” aired on NBC and stared David Lyons (Revolution), Keith David (Mr. Robot), Summer Glau (Firefly, Arrow, Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), Elliot Gould, and James Frain (Orphan Black, Gotham), as the inhabitants of fictional Palm City.


Cop Vince Faraday (Lyons) is framed so the police will believe him to be the villain Chess, and is presumed dead. Rescued by the head of the “Carnival of Crime,” Max Malini (David), Faraday embarks on a quest to expose Chess’ true identity as Peter Fleming (Frain), and rejoin his wife and son.

Trained by Max and the other members of the circus in a variety of skills, Vince becomes his son’s favorite comic book hero, The Cape. Armed with the titular cape (of dubious historical provenance and/or mystical qualities) by Max, Vince takes on Chess’ company, ARK, as it attempts to impose it’s police state organization, honed through its overseas military security contracts, onto Palm City, and eventually the rest of the United States. He is aided in this endeavor by an anonymous blogger named Orwell, revealed to be Summer Glau, whose own past is as shrouded in mystery as Max’s, though it is fairly easy to figure out the basics of it early on, if one pays attention.

Only 10 episodes of the show were produced before it was canceled.

“The Cape” is really more of a fairy-tale than it is a superhero show, which might help to explain its short life. The aspects of Vince’s double life as the Cape, the mythology of the cape itself, and Max’s seeming knowledge of something greater behind what is going on all point to a strange mix of influences vying for supremacy within the show’s DNA. People want a super-hero, not a costumed cop. People want a super-villain, not a schizophrenic business man with a psychiatrist with plans of his own.

The pure-hearted hero, the wizard, the evil king, the plotting vizier…. these are the things of fairy tales, not superhero stories.

It is, however, well-done. The writing is, in my opinion, pretty solid (a few clunky exchanges notwithstanding), and the acting is really first rate, overall, but especially Keith David as Max. He really brings that character to life in a way that I could almost wish that there was a show called “The Carnival of Crime,” starring him.

Just think: finally, a show about the criminals.

And not super-criminals, either. Just regular, run of the mill thieves, using their circus skills to augment their jobs. That would be fun.

But, back in this reality, “The Cape,” like so many shows canceled before their time, ends with no real resolution or motion in the central conflict between The Cape and Chess. The Cape is no longer a shadowy rumor, but a full-fledged, publicly acknowledged entity, and though Fleming barely avoids being brought down by The Cape (having successfully framed yet another cop, Vince’s old partner), at the end of episode 10, he still runs Palm City, and is intent on bringing The Cape down.

There is also no resolution to the secondary plot-lines, such as Orwell’s past or why, exactly, Max is helping Vince, and to what end.

Such is the fate of too many shows that don’t succeed right away. Good concepts, good writing, solid casting: gone.

So sad.

“The Cape” is not currently available to stream on Netflix, but can be picked up on sale right now on, HERE, if you’re interested in a fun little diversion.

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