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SciFi Channel panels: Caprica and Sanctuary - TCA Report

by Joel Keller, posted Jul 21st 2008 7:03AM
Caprica panelAs I said earlier, most of Sunday was taken up by panels for NBCU's cable channels. I heard, for instance, that the Oxygen panel for Coolio's Rules was a bit of a trainwreck, with Coolio actually getting up and singing. I wouldn't know, since I skipped most of the afternoon panels to check in at home and do some writing for you fine folks.

But I came down in time for the SciFi Channel's press conferences, which had the cast and producers of the series Sanctuary and the Battlestar Galactica prequel Caprica.

Let's start with Caprica. Right now, it's a two-hour backdoor pilot; the SciFi Channel will decide to pick it up as a series once they see the pilot. I can see why they might be a bit reluctant. From the scenes I saw, it felt more like The Godfather with some science thrown in, rather than the BSG everyone knows.Caprica doesn't take place on a ship. And even though space travel and interplanetary wars are alluded to in the pilot, the story takes place almost entirely on the planet of Capricia, part of a set of 12 "colonies", all of which have individual governments. It takes place 51 years before Galactica, and it involves two families, the Adamas (led by Esai Morales) and the Graystones (led by Eric Stoltz), where an artificial intelligence technology is being developed, which will serve to tear the society apart. Of course, that technology would lead to the creation of the first Cylons. So, why watch the show if you already know what's going to happen?

Executive producer Ronald D. Moore answers: "The tension comes from the fact that you do know where it's going. It's Caprica, 51 years before the fall. All of this world is doomed. There's a sense of dread and ominousness that falls over the characters." The way he figures, it's like watching a show or movie about World War II; even though you know how it ends, that doesn't mean there aren't interesting stories to tell along the way.

This show feels more like a character-driven drama, like something you might have seen on last year's Cane, except with Cylon technology instead of sugar as the thing that either keeps families together or tears them apart. The only nod to the BSG world is the Adama family, with William Adama being portrayed as a boy, which executive producer Remi Abuschon called a "pretty conscious decision." Moore explains it further: "Galactica is set in a post-apocalyptic universe, and it goes downhill from there. Caprica is taking place in a different time and place. It's about a society at the height of its power and decadence. It'll come apart as we watch."

There won't be any kind of flash-forward to the BSG universe. "The two are so incongruous that it wouldn't really fit," said executive producer David Eick. "One (show is about) war, one's (about) peace. Intercutting the two would feel like oil and water."

The look of the show will be a little retro, a stylistic choice Abuschon said they made "to make it feel like we're telling story from 51 years before the year (BSG takes place)." In other words, if we think that BSG takes place in the present, then something from 51 years ago should look retro, he said.

Before the Caprica panel, the producers and stars of Sanctuary met the press. The show's about a 157-year professor, Helen Magnus, played by Amanda Tapping. She investigates and finds the abnormal people who walk among us. The conceit of this show is that it's filmed entirely on virtual sets. "It's not that much different than shooting on a real set once you get over the croma-green headache, which took about three days," said Tapping, who's also an executive producer.

The show started life as a series of webisodes, but the series is what executive producer Damian Kindler called "a complete overhaul, a reboot. It's bigger in scope. I think it's more accessible to a wider audience. We're
really proud of it because the concept withstands all that brilliantly. You can do all sorts of things with it and it begins even cooler. Close to four million saw it on the web, and we don't want those people to go, 'Oh, I've seen it. I don't want to see kind of the same thing just on TV.'"

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Morjana Coffman

Thank you for your coverage on Sanctuary!

July 21 2008 at 5:30 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

I've been rooting for Caprica since it was initially announced... I even felt it was really stupid of them to kind of let it slide into obscurity for a bit there. Too bad it brought the strike for them to bring it back, but I'm glad they did... it really sounds awesome!

Also looking forward to Sanctuary... hope it turns out good!

July 21 2008 at 3:58 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

The Godfather II took place mainly in the past, and we all knew who Deniro would become, yet were riveted by HOW he became who he became. I think the same thing is possible here.

In a way, the show is starting to sound like a Sci-Fi Mad Men (retro look, etc).

In any event, I'll watch it. The creators of BG have earned my trust. (Hell, I watched most of JOhn from Cincinatti, just out of the vain hope it was going somewhere great.)

July 21 2008 at 11:17 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
rick cokely

Hopefully Ron Moore does the show running again on this one; we know what David Eick can do to a new show......... Anyway, I'm also excited for Virtuosity, that looks like it might be shaping up pretty well too.

July 21 2008 at 9:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

Ummm, I'll watch Caprica in a heartbeat. This is the one show I'm looking forward to, those guys 'write good'. And I like Morales and Stolz a lot. Can you describe the scenes more? Looking like the Godfather is not a bad thing in my book.

July 21 2008 at 9:15 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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