Mar 1, 2010

Caprica Crawls

I started watching Caprica because I wasn't ready to let Battlestar Galactica go. Not yet. BSG was one of those epic shows that stays with you for the rest of your life, like Buffy and Lost. So when I heard they were creating a prequel spinoff I was on board. And then I watched it.

Maybe that sounds a bit harsh. I didn't hate the initial movie and following episodes, it just wasn't at all what I was expecting. I guess what I was mainly looking for were Cylons, and five episodes in, they're in short supply. Caprica is mostly a drama with a touch of sci-fi, significantly less sci-fi than BSG. The premise is fairly simple, two families lives are torn apart when a terrorist blows up a commuter train. One family, the Graystone's, lost their daughter, Zoe, who was actually the girlfriend of the bomber and had no idea what he was planning. The other family was the Adama's. They lost a mother and a daughter, leaving Joseph, the father and William, the son. What happens from here on out will eventually lead to the fall of mankind at the hands of the Cylons.

Zoe Graystone was blessed while she was alive. Not only did she come from a rich family, her father's company invented holobands (a virtual reality program) and the original Cylon shells. She was also a genius. Zoe was in the process of creating an avatar of herself in the virtual world that could exist there without her and now it's all her father Daniel has left. He does a solid for his new friend-in-grief Joseph and recreates Zoe's technology to make an avatar of his daughter Tamara. Joseph never even used a holoband before and becomes understandably freaked out when he sees and feels his daughter in V-World and is told she can't feel her heart beating. He jumps out of the program and both he and Daniel believe her lost forever. In reality, or virtual reality as the case may be, she's trapped there, scared and alone. Zoe on the other hand is a little better off...


She takes being dead fairly well considering, don't you think? Ok, she's not thrilled with being stuck in the body of an 8-foot robot but at least she gets to walk around in the real world. Plus, she finally got to change her dress. She's living in a virtual world for Christ's sake, she could change outfits every two seconds if she wanted to! What was up with that? Geeky sidenote, did you notice the original BSG theme being flipped through on the stereo?

None of this sounds particularly bothersome I guess but the show itself moves at a virtual snail's pace. Coming off of the bing-bam-boom of BSG you can imagine how torturous that can be. Everyone talks and talks and even when you think something awesome is about to happen, like the murder of a main character, it doesn't. I'd like more than one cylon and I want them actually doing stuff. Luckily this past week's episode finally took it up a notch in my opinion and really showed me what this drab follow-up to a stupendous sci-fi giant could turn out to be.

Tamara has been discovered by users of a particular V-World called "New Cap City," that reminds me a lot of Dark City, and drafted into helping them win. In the midst of learning she can be shot in the game, feel pain but not die, she also learns of her real world death. She also discovers she can alter the code at will in V-World. Now, practically invincible, she appears to be turning into the ultimate badass. Wicked.

As if that wasn't a big enough "holy shit" moment, the decision that came later certainly would be. Daniel Graystone has vowed to stop profiting from holobands after pressure from the public who think it's leading to the corruption of their children. Just when his company is about to oust him, he rallies and brings his spectacular Cylon to work. He says they're losing control of the holoband market anyway due to illegal downloads (hint, hint society) and must instead bring the company into a new era - the slave trade. He makes a long speech about how the Cylons are sentient beings then goes on to explain how they can use them for free, endless labor. What Daniel doesn't know is, Zoe is the only reason that Cylon works at all. How will he duplicate the effect? Will he connect the dots and realize a human mind is the only way to get his robot to work? The implications are dangerous at best.

Caprica isn't perfect but now it's getting somewhere.

18 comments:

Forte Dante said...

A lot of people had the same reaction as you with this show. They were expecting more of the same, but the creators wanted to move on and make something totally different. I guess the mistake was it being tied so much to BSG and it's fanbase.

The show does start off slow, but I trust the creators of BSG to tell a good story, so I think it'll be more appreciable as it goes along.

FICTION STATE OF MIND said...

great summary. It's funny I couldn't get into the BSG reboot AT ALL i felt like my geek card should have been revoked :) But i'm enjoying caprica. The show has a definite drama/soapopera quality to it so things seem to unfold a little slower.

Christopher said...

Slow with a capital S. It is why my wife and I stopped watching, We have been leaving it on are DVR. We thought maybe if we distanced ourselves from BSG a little and then came back we might like it better.

It sounds like it is about where we left it. I wonder what kind of ratings it is getting. BSG was never a rating buster and always just about to get canceled. It stayed as long as it did because of the rabid fan base and DVD dales, neither of which I see happening for Caprica.

GeekBoy said...

For what it's worth, in the two years or so that this show has been in the works, the creators have always been very clear in interviews about what it would be. Namely, that it would be more drama than action. So while some of the plot developments have been different than what I expected, for me the tone and pacing has been very consistent with what I was expecting.

That said, I'm still not 100% sold on the premise, but it's growing on me with each episode. I actually like that it's the "other kind" of sci-fi -- the quiet kind, where it's less about spaceships and robots and "big bada boom" and more about showing how people would move around in a world with subtle technological/cultural differences from ours.

Rebelcomix said...

I haven't watched Caprica. It never sounded like much more than an ABC drama. I think you kind of fell victim to Scifi/ SCyfy/ whatevs 's marketing plans. They were pretty desperate to keep something BSG related on the air, but realistically, Caprica is only tangentially related even with the Adama connection.

Even if they go so far as to end the show with a Cylon/ human war, BSG has already canonically stated that the Cylons originated on Earth (or Earth 1, the nuclear wasteland planet).

So yeah, even if it is a good show, I can't imagine it will add much to the BSG mythos. Best to forget that connection at all and judge it by its own standards.

Kenneth said...

I'm actually liking the show quite a bit, especially with the most recent episode.I loved the detail that was given to the Tauron wake.

I also think the idea of Tamara's adventures in virtual Caprica, there is SO much potential for good storytelling in there. I just hope they don't trivialize it by too much of hitting people over the head with their "don't lose yourself in an online world, remember to live your real life" message.

Batman said...

@Rebelcomix: If the nuclear wasteland planet is Earth One, as you state in the BSG Universe, it follows that life did NOT originate there.... I'm still nostalgic for the original version, BTW.

Damian said...

I agree that "Caprica" is getting better all the time. It reminds me of the Twilight Zone era of Science Fiction where you relied on writing and character, not special effects, to comment on the world and examine some deep philosophical issues.

Amber said...

I review Caprica for an entertainment website and even though I thought it was a perfectly OK show, it was kind of a struggle to sit through it for the first couple of episodes. I knew it wasn't going to be like BSG and that wasn't a problem for me but I just couldn't get too enthusiastic about it.

For me, the major problem was that there were too many characters/story lines and it seemed like the writers were trying to squeeze all of that into every episode instead of finding some enjoyable balance. I mean, BSG had a lot of characters but I never felt overwhelmed.

The last episode was pretty focused though and hopefully the rest of the season will be more like that.

Batman said...

It took the reboot of BSG awhile to find its legs, and differentiate from the original as well, so, I'm willing to give this show the time it needs.... Interesting concept, that I'm liking so far.

Arturo said...

I finally nodded off on this show around the moment Patton Oswalt was trotted out as a Jon Stewart analogue, but this woke me up:

What Daniel doesn't know is, Zoe is the only reason that Cylon works at all. How will he duplicate the effect? Will he connect the dots and realize a human mind is the only way to get his robot to work? The implications are dangerous at best.

I'll say. Maybe he should have a Doctor look at her.

The Nerdy Bird said...

Art, I love you. No, like, really.

Batman said...

Fascinating.

C.J. Ellisson said...

Great synop and spot on. I LOVED BSG and was not sure when I started watching Caprica what it would turn out to be. The last episode with Tamara really picked up the pace and now I'm looking forward to seeing how the story unfolds.

C.J. Ellisson said...

Oh - and am I the only nerd that noticed the Second Life connection with the virtual holoband world? *hides nerd face and go sits in corner*

Batman said...

I noticed it, CJ, I just thought it was intuitively obvious :)

C.J. Ellisson said...

Yes, Batman, one as intelligent as you would think so. But apparently most of the world has no idea what SL is. My husband knows a little - and yet he looked at me with a blank face when I voiced my opinion.

Batman said...

Most of the world, or most of the Caprica viewing audience? I should think that the subset would mostly know.... Unless other virtual worlds have taken dominance *cough* World of Warcraft *cough*cough*