Caprica Pilot Review

“You can’t copy a soul!”

Staring: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcolmson, Polly Walker, Alessandra Toressani,

Ron Moore isn’t one to flinch. Right from the first the beginning of Caprica we’re plugged straight into the techno decadence of the planet Caprica, 58 years before the fall. The place is Rome on acid, where anything, and everything, goes. In their virtual temples of sin the Capricans are free to indulge every impulse, every unspeakable desire without remorse or fear of consequence. Makes you wonder what the Enterprise crew really got up to in the holodeck on their off hours.

Caprica certainly has promise. Moore and Eick have made a conscious decision not to repeat themselves by simply giving us Galactica: The Previous Generation. Too many spin-offs these days are more concerned with milking the original rather then establish their own identity. The only thing that distinguishes the various CSIs from each other is geographical location. Instead of an epic space saga chronicling the struggle between the last remnants of humanity and their Cylon pursuers, Caprica is a more grounded and intimate family drama centred around two very different families that will both play crucial roles in the future for their species, the Graystones and the Adamas.

This certainly has the potential to be an intriguing series but, so far, it doesn’t seem to be a entirely gripping one. It’s hard to completely judge how the show might turn out just from the pilot, because most pilots are weak anyway but things move at a slower, more meditative pace then Galactica and humour is noticeable only by its absence. If Caprica is to survive it will need a Gaius Baltar. Stat!

Oh, and anyone expecting colossal space battles, tense dog fights or general Starbucking will be deeply disappointed.

Being a prequel it is said that Caprica will lack any dramatic tension as we already know how this story and civilization will invariably end. Which is a rather minor and silly criticism as it can be applied to any historical drama were the outcome is common knowledge. Caesar will always be assassinated, the Titanic is going to hit that iceberg and the allies will win World War II every time. Just because we know what is going to happen does not be we cannot enjoy seeing how it happened and, crucially, why.

On the acting front no one puts in a bad performance with Paula Malcolmson, in particular, doing so much with so little as Daniel’s wife, Amanda. Defiantly looking forward to seeing more of her when the full series airs. Anything with a Deadwood alumni is automatically 27% better. But the series rest on the characters of Daniel and Joseph both brilliantly brought to life by Stoltz and Morales.

Like its parent series it takes a horrifying event, the suicide bombing of a commuter train, to bring these two very different characters together. Under normal circumstance its unlikely these two would ever have met, Daniel is the Bill Gates of his world and part of the Caprican elite, Joseph is an immigrant from Tauron and a lawyer for the local mafia. Both men have lost loved ones in the bombing and are numb inside, they spend their first meeting just hanging out, drinking coffee, smoking cigarettes, neither saying anything. They don’t needs to, each man perfectly understanding the other’s pain. It’s a small, elegant moment something they both needed.

While the acting is generally strong and the leads are exceptional some of the other characters may need some fleshing out. Zoe is your clich├ęd, annoying spoilt rich kid whose angry at her parents, the Tauron mafia all seemed to have majored in Mob Acting 101 and Polly Walker’s character is so underdeveloped she’s almost non-existent.

While there are many similarities and difference between Caprica and Galactica one theme remains constant between both shows, the question of what it really means to be human. Is it simply a matter of flesh and blood? Are we nothing but information on biological motherboard? Can you indeed copy a soul? Caprica ask these questions but like its predecessor doesn’t spoon feed it’s audience any easy answers. For Daniel the answer is simple, it doesn’t matter. As far as he is concerned the virtual copy of Zoe that he discovers is his daughter. The only difference is hardware, Zoe was flesh and blood while Zoe 2.0 is a glorified flash drive. Daniel’s obsession does eventually verge into Frankenstein territory but like Joseph he is simply a father desperate to connect with his child. Only his grief has blinded him to the point that he never stops to think that just because he can bring Zoe back doesn’t mean that he defiantly should.

Remember mate, all this has happened before…

Other Thoughts:

-Clearly all the explicit scenes of a sexual nature will be cut for broadcast. Unless SyFy wants to be a bit more HBO.

-Never thought I’d ever hear anyone refer to the Old Man as ‘Willy’ ;)

-The prototype Cylon, the Cybernetic Life-Form Nod, initially had a yellow eye instead of red. And the aim of an Imperial Stormtrooper.

-Joseph: “I understand, another five seconds I’m jumping off a bridge myself”

-The Tauron mafia are a lot like Russian mobsters, especially with all the tattoos.

-Joseph: “You know us Taurons, we’re nothing if not a stoic people”

-Daniel owns the Caprica Buccaneers the same Pyramid team Sam Anders would eventually play for.

-Taurons speak a different language from Capricans. This was never seen in BSG where everyone spoke the same language.

-Lacy: “Back that way are the group sex and drug dens keep going past that and you‘ll find the really gross stuff”

-The Caprica defence minister was played by X-Files alum William B. Davis (Cancer Man) who, in a nice Blade Runner nod, had some nifty Dr Tyrell style specs.

-Lacy: “Yeah right, the Porn sites were the first to licence that technology everyone knows that”
Daniel: “That’s different, that’s for adults
Lacy: “Zoe always said you could rationalise anything”

-Joseph is an atheist and doesn’t believe in the gods. Like father like son.

-Prototype Cylon: “All targets naturalised. Program completed. By your command”

-Like their decendents everyone on Caprica smokes a lot. Ron Moore really is a bad role model for kids :)

I’m not hooked, not yet anyway. I am fascinated by most of the characters, especially Joseph and Daniel, and many of the issue raised it’s just that Caprica comes off as a little too sombre and needs to lighten up a tiny bit. But I’ll defiantly be back next year to watch the full series. Shame we have to wait a whole year to see to it. Frak!

Ratting: * * * *