Today I finally found some time when my brain was not in a sleep-deprived addled mess to watch a couple of TV shows I’d been looking forward to for a while. Both shows feature Whedon alumni leading ladies, both are superhero tales, my very favourite kind of tale.

The first, NBC’s The Cape, stars Summer Glau (River Tam on Firefly, Cameron on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and most recently as Bennett Halverson on Dollhouse, all much missed shows) and tells the story of a cop who is framed for a number of crimes and believed dead, only to rise again as a caped crusader from the comic books he used to read to his son.

The second, No Ordinary Family, stars Julie Benz (Darla on Buffy and Angel, and more recently Rita on Dexter), as the workaholic mother of a family who find themselves endowed with superpowers after being involved with in a plane crash.

I have to admit that I was most looking forward to The Cape, both because the story appealed to me more; a Batman-like figure, a superhero without superpowers, avenging the wrongs that have been done him and putting his city to rights, and because; Summer Glau. I feel like I have watched her blossom before my eyes from her first brief appearance on Angel, to the her brilliant performances as River and Cameron, from her first shy appearance at a convention hardly speaking a word, to the much more confident and talkative woman she is now. Have watched the pilot episode, I am disappointed. The story is there, and is all that it promised to be, but the storytelling leaves much to be desired. There seemed to be a lot of faces there, but not much substance. Out of the woodwork comes Vinnie Jones as Scales, the muscle with the snakeskin face, and James Frain as Evil English Bad Guy (most recently to be seen on True Blood as Evil English Vampire Bad Guy) and to my delight, and my delight only Izabella Miko. Who? Yes, that’s right, the pretty blonde stealing the hearts of Brandon Flowers and Eric Roberts in the video for The Killers’ Mr. Brightside. No? Told you it was just me.

The main character, played by David Lyons, is engaging and scenes are better for having him in them, otherwise, in trying to strike a bargain with humour and drama they’ve come up terribly camp and not in that good, Angel kind of a way. It was frustrating watching Summer’s, albeit infrequent appearances, as I know she can be so much better than this. I’m willing to give it a chance though, and I will watch a couple more episodes, if only for Summer’s sake.

Moving on to ABC’s No Ordinary Family, this didn’t appeal to me as much as The Cape, but I’ll watch almost anything that has Julie Benz in it, which has paid off in the past. One word: Dexter. I found myself really enjoying this, maybe because my expectations had been low. It is light hearted and fun and not really trying hard to be anything else. The family of four are clearly dysfunctional even before their little life-changing plane trip, which is always a bonus, and it explored each of them discovering their new found abilities in a way comparable to the beginning of Heroes. Each has been given superpowers which relate to their own perceived failings, the father who feels himself inferior to his high-flying wife becoming near invincible, the mother with no time to fit her family around her career gains superspeed, the insecure teen can finally hear everything people are thinking about her and the underachiever can suddenly solve complex math problems just by looking at them. To top it all, guilty pleasure fan girl squee at recognising the adorable Autumn Reeser (Taylor Townsend on The OC) as superspeed mom’s assistant, Katie.

If No Ordinary Family continues in the vein it has started, I’m going to thoroughly enjoy being entertained by this, I only hope that The Cape becomes all that it could be or is cancelled quickly so Summer can move on to bigger and better things and gets the chance to shine as she deserves to.

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