Though the pilot episode has been available online and on DVD for months, the long-awaited, much-heralded Caprica is finally getting its TV debut tomorrow night on SyFy. And even though you know what’s coming — Caprica is, after all, the prequel to Battlestar Galactica — you may not be prepared for how real this science fiction show feels.
Caprica is set 58 years before BSG, when the grizzled, battle-worn William Adama is just a boy. Unlike BSG, though, Caprica takes place on the land. (And in a virtual, underground club populated by teenagers fulfilling their every hedonistic whim. You know: drugs, lesbian kissing, human sacrifice. The normal stuff.)
The look and feel of Caprica is strikingly different than BSG, and unlike the space wars that framed Battlestar, Caprica has been hailed by its creators as a kind of fantasy-themed Sopranos-meets-Dallas family drama.
Of course, Dallas wasn’t written by the crack team of Ron Moore, Remi Aubuchon and Jane Espenson. So instead of questions like "Who shot J.R.?", you get questions like "Is monotheism dangerous?", "What is life?", "Who has the authority to create and terminate life?", "Is terrorism ever heroic?", "Is it possible to push technology too far?" and (Spoiler Alert!) "What do you get when you cross a 16-year-old girl with a robot?"
Caprica‘s creators insist that it is a stand-alone show, and that people will enjoy it even if they’ve never seen BSG. I agree. But the pilot — especially the last 20 minutes — won’t pack much of a punch if the phrase "Cylon Wars" means nothing to you. It’d be like watching the Star Wars prequels without knowing who Darth Vader is. At the end of Revenge of the Sith, you’d be like, "Weird black helmet, Anakin. Why are you breathing so hard?"
Besides a stellar writing team and an already-loyal fan-base, Caprica has another thing going for it: excellent acting.
Daniel Graystone (inventor of Cylons) is played by Eric Stoltz, who gives his best performance in years. Joseph Adama (Lee’s pops) is played by Esai Morales, and he is the standout in the first episode. Zoe Graystone (Daniel’s daughter) is played by Alessandra Torresani, and she is equally brilliant as regular Zoe, avatar Zoe and (Spoiler Alert Again!) robot Zoe.
The other exciting thing about Caprica is that it will introduce us to the gay character Sam Adama, played by Sasha Roiz, and the bisexual character Sister Clarice Willow, played by Polly Walker. We’ve mentioned before that sci-fi shows are often reluctant to deal with sexuality at all, so the addition of two queer characters is a big deal. (The only problem? Both have the potential to be Really Bad Guys. Of course, "bad" in a postmodern, polytheistic society is kind of a relative term.)
And just in case you aren’t convinced that the writer’s of Caprica really are reaching out to a different audience, consider this promo shot.
Hey, Zoe — Bella Swan called. She said get your filthy, virtual hands off her frakking apple.
You can watch the full Caprica pilot here, courtesy of Hulu. Or you can watch it at SyFy.com.
Have you watched Caprica‘s pilot? Are you excited about the series?