Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Pilot Review: Caprica

Caprica (Syfy)
Premiered January 22 at 9pm

This prequel to the recently concluded reboot of “Battlestar Galactica” has one thing that’s going to haunt it for the entirety of its existence: its connection to that show. While that’s certainly something that recommends rather than condemns it, what it means is that the newer show will always need to try to achieve the glory and excellence of the older one, and that its story can never go anywhere other than what is written in BSG. It’s not like “Smallville” where Clark Kent and Lex Luthor can be best friends from the first moment they meet and the story can diverge from that of comic book folklore. The future is set in this universe, and while that means the creation and activation of the Cylons is on the horizon, there shan’t likely be many surprises in store. Viewers don’t know the fate of these specific characters, but what’s going to happen to the human race is devastatingly clear and foretold. Additionally, the need for constant references to BSG through visions of far-too-advanced Cylon models and the incorporation of the Adama family into the central storyline seem like a mistake because they will put too much emphasis on reliance on that which we already know (line from the preview for next week: this has happened before and it will happen again. We’ve heard that one before). That said, this show isn’t half bad. It certainly looks great, and the plot seems interesting enough. Eric Stoltz and Esai Morales are good personalities to play off of each other, and their dynamic should be the driving force of this show. Zoe’s virtual world is an intriguing one, though it might have been nice if her father had spent more time in it before jumping the technology right to his already-advanced Cylon prototype. The subway bombing sequence was pretty powerful, and as far as pilots go, this is a fairly decent one. In addition to the fact that this show might be like the “Star Wars” prequels, where technology has to be dumbed down so that it doesn’t seem more sophisticated than that of the known future, this show mainly will rise or fall depending on whether it can emerge from the shadow of the legendary phenomenon that was BSG. So far, not so good on that point.

How will it work as a series? This pilot obviously offers a much clearly launching pad for the show that doesn’t really indicate what’s ahead, but the same was true for the BSG miniseries. Having two different families intricately involved in the show should be a strong factor, and they could very much create a compelling man of science/man of faith structure for the show. The problem remains the idea of the future and the knowledge of what’s coming, and this show may rush things to try and satisfy audience expectations.
How long will it last? No way to tell quite yet, other than to note that BSG lasted four seasons and recently “Sanctuary” has been doing quite well for the network. It’s exactly BSG’s audience that this show is trying to attract, as well as anyone who never got into the show but wants something new to obsess about, and that should work well for the series. I think it will have a season two renewal coming up soon.

Pilot grade: B