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April 24, 2014

Review: Caprica - Pilot (series premiere)

by Nick Zaino, posted Jan 23rd 2010 10:08PM
(Daniel Graystone from CapricaS01E01) In the first few minutes of Caprica, SyFy's new Battlestar Galactica prequel, you might think the Cylons were perfectly justified to try to annihilate Caprica and the rest of the human race. The show opens on a hedonistic party where people are murdered for fun to throbbing dance music and onstage human sacrifice is cheered by a sweaty crowd.

But, as Battlestar Galactica fans might suspect, Caprica is more complicated than that. (See the full episode here).


That party was taking place in a virtual world, entered by users wearing a "holoband" - think of it as a realistic, 3D Second Life. So while none of that was real, it did reflect the inner demons of the people of Caprica, a society drowning in technology and ravaged by religious terrorism. This is the soup from which the Cylons and the near destruction of humanity arise.

It has been stressed by the folks at SyFy that you don't need to have followed Battlestar Gallactica to understand Caprica. Which is true, but this series has its own complications. The first person we meet in that virtual world is a teenage girl named Zoe (Alessandra Torresani), who, along with her friends, is trying to change the virtual world before her. What kind of change is not explicit, but Zoe and co's plan to stop a sacrifice fail when her doppelganger does not step up at the right time.

Back in the real world, an act of terrorism takes Zoe's life, which affects the lives of her father, computer engineer Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz), and her mother Amanda. It also kills the wife and daughter of criminal defense attorney Joseph Adama (Esai Morales).

As it turns out, Zoe has a bit of her father's engineering talent, and managed a connection between her holoband-world self and real world self, and lives on in some form in that world after her death. When Daniel discovers her in that world, a world made possible when he invented the holoband, he tells this new Zoe that she's a copy, and she doesn't believe it. She doesn't feel like a copy, she says.

Also handy to know - Daniel is working on a prototype for a battle robot (with the slightest hint of a metal mohawk and one glowing, constantly moving eye) with stability issues.

And there you have all of the groundwork neatly laid out for the creation of the Cylons, their eventual human appearance, their religious fanaticism, and a resulting desire to destroy humanity. It's brilliantly efficient, but possibly too efficient. The trick here, as with any prequel, is that we know where it's going, and it's tough to get there without the complications and plot twists seeming contrived to conform to that end. Terrorism, racism, and a mob subplot would seem to figure heavily into that.

Still, there is plenty to do - characters to introduce, moral dilemmas to navigate, technological gaps to overcome. How quickly these things develop will determine whether Caprica is meant to last for just a series or two or last as long as Battlestar Galactica did. I'm hoping the writers are patient with the series, and we get to see more of Stoltz, Morales, and Torresani, and what they have to do with each other. The rest of the plot will be mapped to that relationship. You may not get shootouts in space, but Caprica has the potential to be no less dramatic.

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smokey

"Caprica" is more about tobacco usage than anything else.
The characters smoked constantly; the best shot of the film was of a smoking cigarette. In the first ten minutes two of the characters finished a pack in a coffee house and
this went on and on. You young guys should wake up; this show is softening you up to be susceptible to
cigarette ads.

February 07 2010 at 12:03 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
tim

yes cylons were created by super beings that have been extinct for millions of yarns! this series totaly missed the original idea of the cylons creation!!

February 04 2010 at 2:39 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
TheLastBrainLeft

Here's the lowdown, for those who do not know.

About 4000 years prior to the events in Caprica/Galactica, the human race left it's original home planet called Kobol. Why is cryptic, their religious books claim that someone attempted to "elevate one God above the others". The 13 tribes of Kobol eventually found 13 planets, 12 of which make up the "Colonies". The 13th was Earth, and much, farther away. Earth developed independently of the other 12 colonies, and 2000 years later (but 2000 years earlier than the events in the show) they developed their own robotic Cylons, made all the same mistakes, instigated a war which destroyed Earth. However, 12 humans survived, and using a technology which was known to humanity upon leaving Kobol but somehow forgotten by the other 12 tribes over the centuries called "resurrection" were able to travel the vast distance to the their 12 "brothers" in an attempt to warn them to not make the same mistake. Apparently Earth humans lost the ability to travel FTL, which probably explains why they were isolated from the other 12 colonies, so the trip took a LONG time at sub-light speed. The "resurrection" technology allowed this long trip, but they arrived in the middle of the first Cylon War. Too late to stop their 12 tribal brothers from doing the same thing, they offered the Colonial built centurions a deal: resurrection technology and the ability to construct human looking copies for an immediate cessation of their war on the Colonials. This ended the first War. In the next 40 years a series of events would lead Cavil to revolt against the original 5 travellers from Earth (Final Five) and to re-start their attempt to destroy humanity. 40 years later, the Cylons, fresh with resurrection technology taken from the refugee travellers from Earth, launched their genocidal attack and the events of Battlestar Galactica began.

OK, I'm out of breath. I find this back story way too complicated and dumb, I usually skip the episodes after the "final five" storyline begins in earnest. Unlike most others, I absolutely loved Galactica's finale. Even Starbuck's disappearance. Don't hold it against me.

January 26 2010 at 9:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to TheLastBrainLeft's comment
TheLastBrainLeft

I see someone else tried to lay out this convoluted back story.

In my sensible back story, there was no past Earth. Earth would have been a metaphor, and that the planet the Colonials would eventually settle on would be called Earth. The Pythian Prophecy would have been a divinely inspired path to Salvation, so I would have kept the whole God and Head-Six thing.

January 26 2010 at 9:16 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Benjy

Actually, I think the story is that the Thirteen Tribes left Kobol, and the Thireteenth Tribe (on the original Earth) created the Cylons. Tigh states at one point that the original five were based off of humans who lived on the original Earth. After the Human/Cylon war on the original Earth, the Cylons left to find the other twelve tribes, finally ending up on Caprica.

Of course, I'm completely confused as to how the so-called "Final Five" (who are actually the Original Five) tie into this new Cylon lore with Zoe or the other seven models such as Cavil. And if Zoe is the first Cylon, why have we never seen her before?

Even "The Plan" never completely cleared up (at least for me) why the original five chose to assimilate into humanity and wipe their own memories of being Cylons.

January 25 2010 at 5:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Benjy's comment
Chuster

The original five that came from Earth have nothing to do with the original Cylons (the Zoe model seen in Caprica and those created until the end of the first Cylon/human war) and the Cylons created on Caprica. Humanity created the Cylons thousands of years earlier. They fled as the 13th tribe to Earth. Capricans made their own version of a Cylon (Zoe's host). 18 years after Caprica's premiere and the creation of the 1st Cylon, the first Cylon war is in progress between humans and the centurions made on Caprica. At this time, the 5 that came from Earth arrive and meet with the Caprica centurions. They agree to help the centurions create human bodies with resurrection in exchange for the centurions' abandonment of the war and their own attempts at creating human bodies. Those original 5 create models 1 through 8, seen in the BSG series and "The Plan" (excluding #7, who was permanently boxed for reasons explained in BSG - "No Exit." The model 1 (Cavel) had the original 5 killed and wiped their memories. They didn't wipe their own memories willingly. The only way the original human cylons and the ones created in Caprica tie together is that the original 5 helped the Zoe-centurians create human models 1-8 and implant them with Zoe's monotheist view of God, as well as providing them with resurrection. They just botched the first one and he went nuts.

January 26 2010 at 6:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Scott

I saw it on DVD when it came out, but watched it again from the broadcast over the weekend. Still tedious: the holo-world of horrors, the Graystone's marriage, Graystone & Adama smoking the day away, the whole mob tie-in. Very good, even gripping scenes: Cyber-Zoe explains to her disbelieving father how the real Zoe programmed her, from ubiquitious electronic records; Graystone trying to make the case to Adama about bringing back their daughters; the fear in the cyber-version of Adama's daughter; both battle tests of the Cylon; the final sequence with the Cylon, which is basically the first time it felt real, with weight and substance. The sets, CGI and otherwise, plus the CGI shots of the city were outstanding, and extrapolation of technology ("Serge" bowling pin robot, holobands, paper displays, Graystone's home lab displays, etc) were outstanding.

I'm afraid they could end up bogged down in the soapy aspects of the show, but I'm going to give it a try.

January 25 2010 at 10:51 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mdk

Yeah, because it's common knowledge that polytheists are all EeeeeVIL, whilst monotheists are all sweetness and light. Hmm. Wonder why it is that on this planet, the Christians have killed more people than any organization in history. Really, fundies like Ron Moore should never be allowed to develop science fiction concepts. In the future, I hope he's reduced to working on Kirk Cameron projects.

January 25 2010 at 10:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
uuatu

I am looking forward to seeing:

-The Inter-colonial wars fought with cylon troops.
-The Cylon uprising and war.
-The construction of the original 12 Battlestars.

plus other fun stuff...

January 25 2010 at 2:02 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
beergas

Bored me after first 10 mins. Won't follow series.

January 24 2010 at 8:28 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
John F.C. Taylor

I gave the new BSG most of the first season. Would rather have seen the old version redone. As for Caprica - no interest in seeing it at all. Only good thing going for it is that it IS science fiction. Unlike so much of the current programming on the Sci-Fi/Syfy channel.

January 24 2010 at 4:13 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to John F.C. Taylor's comment
Adam

You want some cheese with that whine?

January 24 2010 at 6:15 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jimmy_MO

I didn't watch the pilot as I'd already seen it on DVD but I was interested enough that I want to see where they take this series. I do think some who criticise it as a soap opera with sci-fi elements are correct, but there's nothing wrong with that. There is enough potential in this series that if it's done right it would be fun to watch.

January 24 2010 at 2:09 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
1 reply to Jimmy_MO's comment
litehousebeacon

X-Men has been a soap opera with sci-fi elements since it was created in the sixties. So no comic book fan should have a problem with that.

January 24 2010 at 9:46 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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