Written by: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
In this SPOILER-FILLED review, CC2K takes a look at the new SciFi Channel series Caprica, which sees its DVD release today.
The SciFi Channel’s new series Caprica mashes up elements from Tron, The Matrix, AI: Artificial Intelligence and even a little bit of John Irving-style boarding-school intrigue – and it works.
I caught the pilot at the Paley Fest 2009 panel on Battlestar Galactica and Caprica. I’ll talk more about the excellent panel later, but now, let’s talk about how the pilot for Caprica promises an engaging new series by touching on each of the older works it cribs from, all effectively.
AI: Artificial Intelligence
This is Caprica’s driving inspiration. Eric Soltz plays a brilliant robotics engineer and computer scientist who loses his daughter in a terrorist attack. Being a robotics genius, he naturally starts to consider the possibility that he might be able to build a facsimile of his dead daughter. BSG fans will immediately recognize this storyline as the origin of the Cylons – the humanoid robotic bad guys from show-runner Ronald D. Moore’s other awesome show.
Even though we’ve seen these themes before in Spielberg’s posthumous tribute to an old collaboration with Stanley Kubrick, Moore and Remi Aubuchon’s story explores an entirely new angle. The family in AI simply bought a simulacrum of a child – Stoltz’s character wants to rebuild his daughter entirely, and that’s where the show’s next inspiration comes in:
Stoltz’s daughter Zoe, played by relative newcomer Alessandra Torresani, is also a computer genius. She and her friends from prep school visit a virtual realm called the HoloSphere (or something, I can’t remember), where they engage in various hedonistic acts and where Zoe builds a virtual copy of herself.
Let me say that Moore and Aubuchon really out-thought everyone with this plot point. Zoe explains at one point that she copied her personality by drawing on every conceivable record of her existence – everything from test scores to pharmacy receipts – and it’s fascinating stuff. The idea of soul, combined with this virtual realm, raises the possibility that Caprica might explore some of the same territory seen in …
Tron’s an underrated little movie, and I’ve always admired its religious themes. The programs in the Encom mainframe literally see their users as gods, and in Caprica, we see a continuation of the religious conflicts seen in BSG. The terrorist group responsible for Zoe’s death represents monotheistic beliefs, even though the human society on the Twelve Colonies is resolutely polytheistic.
Oh, and remember the prep-school intrigue I mentioned earlier? It turns out that the headmistress of Zoe’s prep school is a one-god beliver herself. This plotline looks very interesting.
Caprica promises to explore the Twelve Colonies alluded to in BSG in far greater detail. Hopefully we’ll get to visit all of the other colonies as we meet some of the ancestors of the characters seen in BSG. Admiral Adama himself figures into Caprica’s main storyline, as his father also lost loved ones in the aforementioned terrorist attack. During Q&A, Ronald Moore said that we’ll get to see how Bill Adama develops into a military leader, though he added that we probably won’t meet the childhood versions of all the main players from BSG.
• Multi-threat Hollywood player Seth Green moderated the panel with a series of good questions, outright geek-outs and goofy one-liners, most of them aimed at the many attractive females who populate the casts for BSG and Caprica. Among the highlights:
• Green: “So … Gaius Baltar. Kinda looks like Jesus. Who kinda looks like Ron Moore. Discuss.”
BSG executive producer David Eick answered that Moore started the series with short hair and glasses
• One audience member asked the Caprica cast how they got involved with the show, and a heretofore taciturn Stoltz told a story about how, while shooting on location in Provo, Utah, the maid for his hotel room stole his script for Caprica. The incident showed him how crazy BSG fans are, and he quickly got another copy of the script, loved it, and “Arranged to sleep with both Ron and David.”
• Seth Green got Caprica star Paula Malcomson mixed up with another actress with a similar name. Malcomson had jokingly spanked Green when she took the stage. Green volunteered to receive the same punishment again.
• Another audience member pointed out that BSG had the constant threat of destruction to drive the narrative. Without that, what will drive Caprica?
Buffy alum Jane Espenson, a writer and executive producer on BSG, explained that Caprica will be more serial in nature than BSG, with “more time to live in the world.”
Author: Tony Lazlo, CC2K Staff Writer
Robert J. Peterson is a writer and web developer living in Los Angeles. A Tennessee native, he graduated from Northwestern University’s Medill School of Journalism. He’s written for newspapers and websites all over the country, including the Marin Independent Journal, the Telluride Daily Planet, CC2KOnline.com, Offscreen, and Geekscape.net. He co-hosts the podcasts Make It So and Hiram’s Lodge. He’s appeared as a pop-culture guru on the web talk shows Comics on Comics, The Fanbase Press Week In Review, Collider Heroes, ScreenJunkies TV Fights, and Fandom Planet. He’s the founder of California Coldblood Books.