Caprica, a review

SyFy Channel put up on their web site an extended-cut version of Caprica’s 2-hour pilot, for free. I’ve watched the teaser scenes the channel put up early this year, and I didn’t like it back then. It really felt like a boring soap opera. And in fact, there was a huge online backlash from people feeling exactly like I was.

Having watched the actual pilot though, I can conclude only two things: either we were all wrong, or in the 9 months following the teasers SyFy re-shot part of the pilot to make the show more sci-fi than it originally was meant to be. Apparently, that’s what happened: they added/changed scenes based on feedback from the DVD version that was released a few months ago.

The story is taking place 50+ years before the annihilation of the 12 colonies by the Cylons. It shows the first baby steps of Cylons, how they were created and why. Most importantly, it will show how Cylons will get to acquire their artificial intelligence, and how this will end to the first Cylon war.

What I liked:

– The pacing was good.
– The characters were interesting and were evolving well.
– The CGI were good.
– The story was moving from tech to soap and back to tech with a good pace.
– Learning and seeing more about the rest of the Colonies was a nice touch.

What I did not like:

– The technology shown was uneven. We see a USB key (yes, actual USB), 2008 model cars, and… coin-operated park meters (that looked very old even for our own standards), while at the same time they have very advanced virtual reality systems, robots, and even spaceships. Overall, it’s a ’50s noir era for fashion, but with 2000s and futuristic tech. I personally find it laughable, cheap, and a cop out.

– This really pissed me off: [Spoiler] When the daughter’s data were corrupted inside the Cylon, we are given the impression that the father lost the data. Which is not freaking possible, since there is this thing called BACKUP. Digital data that can be copied once, can also be copied unlimited times. So when the father shouted “nooooo…”, like he lost his daughter’s data, that was completely unrealistic. It was disrespectful to my intelligence.

– The Cylon’s voice is robotic, while even a Powerbook at 500 Mhz can re-create the human voice. In fact, their house robot had a human voice. There was no reason for the Cylon to have a robotic voice, other than for being faithful to the original series.

– That God/Gods shit is all over the pilot, and I don’t like religious themes in my sci-fi. It’s like adding mustard in my soup. Having said that, the show does deal with a theme that will become more prevalent for us too, in this century: God, human’s desire to imitate him via science, and the polarization that this will create.

– The audio in the external scenes is bad (seriously vocodized too in order to cut out noise). The show needs a better sound guy.

Despite all that though, the pilot is definitely watchable. It could be better if SyFy had more money in order to expand the Colonies worlds.

Rating: 7/10


l3v1 wrote on December 17th, 2009 at 5:44 AM PST:

That God/Gods shit is all over the pilot, and I don’t like religious themes in my sci-fi. It’s like adding mustard in my soup.

Well, all the B5 storyline had some religious sidenotes every now and then, and it wasn’t bad, in fact it made the story a whole. In BSG religion and myth have seemingly had an important part, so I didn’t feel it being out of place when it appeared in Caprica. In fact I like how the topic has been treated by BSG/Caprica writers, it adds the story another layer which in my book is good thing. We’ll just have to wait and see how the episodes themselves will turn out to be.

Thom Holwerda wrote on December 17th, 2009 at 7:20 AM PST:

I agree with the lost data thing, that was retarded. As for the voices – well, I guess making a killer robot sound like a normal human being lessens the frightening effect. When Zoey was integrated into the Cylon, her voice appeared to be relatively normal, so it does have the capabilities.

I won’t get into the religion thing, as we all know I really, really like that ;).

Overall, very good stuff, and it definitely has the BSG feel without being too much like it. For a pilot, this is good stuff.

Kaj wrote on December 17th, 2009 at 9:45 AM PST:

What are you talking about; mustard soup is delicious. 🙂

Spyros Tsiolis wrote on December 18th, 2009 at 9:14 AM PST:

Oh ! yes ! That’s another one to simply laugh at.
These people managed to make BSG boring for the third and
fourth seasons and now we have “the Young and the Restless
at space” !

Come on people ! I said this before and I will say it again.
Producers that don’t respect the viewer audience shouldn’t
be creating series on Sci-Fi.

Sci-Fi is Asimov. Sci-Fi is Stanislaw Lem. Not this thing.
This is Sci-Fi imitation. Like Eugenia said, the production
people couldn’t be bothered and used 2008 technology to
show something from another world . . . and literaly.

That is why “2001: A Space Odyssey” made such in impact
back then. That is why “2010: The year we made contact” was
such a flop (eventhough, I have to admit, at places it was
good enough and had a hell of a cast).

I watched the end of BSG the other day. What a waste of time. But that’s another story.

Also, the other issue with series related Sci-Fi;
ah ! yes ! the good old “passing subliminal messages to
the public”. With BSG was 9/11 and [U.S.] Marines.
Not that I don’t respect what happened on 9/11 or the U.S.
Marines. That was a tragedy. A Story on its own for
future generations to discuss/analyse and dicypher.
What the F**K does all this have to do with Sci-Fi ?

But as I said before. U.S. film companies are killing the
gender by loving it to death.

You won’t see me watching the “Caprica” series. Maybe
for past-time, munching sun-seeds like Fox Mulder, but
not for anything else.

Oh and the newest generations should really have a look
on films like “Bladerunner” (and for Heavens’ sake not
“Blade”!) 2001 and Solaris. Just to keep tabs with what
went good in the Sci-Fi gender.
But that was a long time ago . . .
Just my 2c.

Spyros Tsiolis wrote on December 18th, 2009 at 9:15 AM PST:

Oh yes, and the religious s**te . I will have to agree on that one too !

Tony Bourke wrote on December 18th, 2009 at 4:37 PM PST:

I watched the Caprica miniseries, and I thought it was just awful. I’ll have to check out the re-edit though. From the DVD, I could sum up the entire Caprica plot in two sentences:

“Whiny rebellious over-privileged teenager is progenitor for genocidal Cylon race. Ron Moore really likes smoking.”

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