Caprica: Re-Cap and Review
It has only been a few days since Dan Robertson and I finished up all four seasons of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica series, and we were seriously fiending for a world in which cylons and humans battle for ultimate supremacy. Yes – Battlestar Galactica is perhaps one of my favorite television series – up there with the likes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Six Feet Under, Firefly and Deadwood. And I am more than a little saddened to see it go.
We’ve both heard buzz about Caprica for awhile, but as we had not completed the sequel series, didn’t want to spoil the ending with a new show that would possibly reveal some of the answers.
Now that we’ve watched the final gut-wrenching episodes of BSG – there was no reason to wait any longer – so we queued up and watched all four recently aired episodes of Caprica.
The show takes place a generation before most of the BSG main characters are born, though it does feature a pre-teen William Adama. The main plot centers around two families, the Adamas and the Graystones, and how they deal with the reprecussions of a terrorist act occurring in the first few minutes of the pilot episode.
What’s ingenius is how cleverly they’ve merged the two series plot-lines (BSG and Caprica) while making them feel and seem entirely different. Take a gander for yourself:
The visual style was what I noticed pretty immediately. Whereas BSG had pans, quick zooms, grainy texture and a thundering soundtrack…Caprica is full of light, air and bright colors. BSG always felt claustrophobic and dim (but homey) and Caprica sprawls out lavishly on the screen. It’s wonderfully conceived with it’s stark contrast to it’s predecessor and makes me respect the series even more for taking that risk.
The casting seems effortless on so many levels – at first I felt like I was going to be put-off by the teen female lead Zoe (Alessandra Toressani) but by the end of the first episode, she had me captivated. She is a brighter, craftier version of the woman who plays the lead on Vampire Diaries – Nina Dobrev – but they both have the deep husky voice that seems to be all the rage lately with the younger ladies of film and TV (Emma Stone, anyone?). Anyway, it’s pleasant and anti-perky and makes me sympathetic and intrigued by her character.
Other bright gems were in the casting of two HBO alumni – Paula Malcomson from Deadwood and Polly Walker from Rome – a series which, like Deadwood, ended before it’s time. Malcomson plays Amanda Graystone, a medical doctor and Walker plays Clarice Willow director of the Athena School.
The male principle leads – Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) dominate in their own respects, with Morales squeaking out just ahead of Graystone. Morales has the look and feel of an Adama, even echoing the same low growling voice of the BSG Commander. Graystone is set up to be a pitied and pathetic character, but strangely evokes little sympathy from me.
Indeed, when he is administered a beating later in episode four – I couldn’t help but take a small piece of pleasure in it. Daniel Graystone will most assuredly be the Gaius Baltar of Caprica.
Perhaps the most impressive element of the series is that it completely eliminates biases against sexuality which seem to linger and dominate so much of our current culture. In the world of BSG and Caprica, women in positions of power are never questioned based on their gender, but rather on their competence. The exceptionalism of being a woman (or the only woman) in a male dominated field is entirely done away with.
For me, as a woman – it’s such a great space to breathe in. Sadly, a space that can only exist in science fiction or fantasy, but it’s a space none-the-less. Which may be why I so bitterly lamented the ending of BSG. Caprica does not take a step backward in this regard, but instead eliminates homophobia with one throw-away line around episode three.
Even more amusing – I didn’t even remember that Gaeta, as well as Helena Cain (commander of the Pegasus) were both homosexual as well. Geez, the kind of things that slip past you when people aren’t incessantly flaunting the sensationalism and exceptionalism of completely ordinary human relationships. Hah.
Again, in no fiction based in the reality of our culture would these kind of actions be permitted.
However – the creators of these series are not going to let us live happily and forever in these sexually unrepressed societies. Oppression does rear it’s ugly head in areas that we have always known it – class structure and ethnicity. The Taurons are clearly looked upon as being an inferior race of people by the Caprican community, and some intriguing plot threads are already unfolding surrounding the idea of fractured relations between the two colonies. As a side note – this series takes place before the unification of the Twelve Colonies, so there is the potential for Caprica to take us through that process.
A few more interesting nuggets (heh) to dispel about the show – according to Ronald D. Moore, this show is cultivated for a female-centric audience, because Battlestar had a stronger male viewing. Strange to me, because it was equally loved and adored by my friends of both genders. Honestly, I felt like the BSG plot was female heavy (Rosalin, Starbuck, Caprica 6), and the war/explosions in space were the key elements that kept the male audience tuned in.
Given that – I feel like Caprica may struggle a bit to keep the male audience as engaged. It will certainly lose a few people (men and women alike) that only wanted “ooh shiney gunsbombsrobots” but will probably keep it’s male audience that trends towards similar fare ala Lost, The West Wing. It’s been referenced as a Science Fiction version of Dallas – or as this quote by Ronald D. Moore indicates: “television’s first science fiction family drama.”
It’s a very apt description, and only time will tell if it catches and holds it’s audience as well as Battlestar. My fingers are crossed, and my DVR is set. How about yours?