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I watched the Caprica pilot back in April 2009 when it came out on DVD. I was interested in the series because I had been a big fan of Battlestar Galactica and, unlike many, I wasn’t harboring any lingering resentment about the finale of that series. Even though I didn’t necessarily care for all the story choices at the end of BSG, the show had given me years of viewing enjoyment (including several episodes that for me will long rank with the best of televised drama), so I was very curious to see what the creative team would do with this prequel series.

(After the jump ... a general, spoiler-free review of series thus far, followed by a discussion of material from the first ten episodes. I've included a spoiler warning prior to getting into specifics.)

I wasn’t overly impressed with the pilot. Despite some good performances, there was nothing about it that immediately gripped me, and I found the whole rebellious teen plot and the virtual world rather off-putting. Still, I was interested enough that I wanted to see more before passing final judgment. After the first non-pilot episode, I was still on the fence. The show wasn’t terrible, but I wasn’t feeling invested in the characters or their problems. I was a bit fascinated by Daniel Graystone and Sam Adama, but the rest of the show wasn’t doing much for me. With only a few interesting elements, Caprica became a pretty low priority on the viewing agenda, and episodes started stacking up on the DVR.

In mid-March, I sat down for a marathon viewing session and within a couple episodes, Caprica finally managed to hook me. It is by no means a perfect show, and it definitely isn’t in the same league as early BSG. Some of the storylines and characters are not working very well, and I’ve read lots of complaints about the slow pacing. And yet, I’m finding it strangely compelling overall. The world-building and several of the characters are very intriguing, and, at times, the show can be completely captivating and genuinely moving. The story-telling isn’t particularly profound, but the show explores some interesting ideas about technology and society, and occasionally gives us a compelling look at grief and the grieving process. In terms of plotting, character, and pacing, it is certainly more of a soap opera than a sci-fi adventure, but since I spent my formative years watching the soaps (talk about glacial pacing!), I may be more open than others to that that type of story.

After the first ten episodes, I’m definitely eager to see where the story goes from here. The mid-season finale cliffhangers were rife with intriguing possibilities. Ultimately, things may not play out in a compelling fashion, but I’m certainly going to tune in to find out.

More specific thoughts on the show thus far, below. Spoilers ahoy!


Daniel Graystone and Sam Adama are my favorite characters, thus far. Neither is exactly a model citizen --- Sam, after all, is a mob hitman who is actively contributing to the delinquency of a minor, and Daniel seems to have few qualms about creating a race of sentient slaves or brutally torturing his “daughter” --- but both have a certain charisma and I find their scenes compelling.

Tamara, Vergis, and Clarice are also pretty intriguing. Tamara is basically sentient code living in a crazy virtual world, and I’m looking forward to seeing how she develops differently than Zoe’s avatar and whether that has any consequences for the fledgling Cylons. Vergis has this deadly calm and smooth charm that grabbed me from his first confrontation with Daniel. I hope he continues to be a thorn in Daniel’s side. Sister Clarice seems to take a lot of “this character just isn’t working” heat in the reviews and comments I’ve read, but I like her. I’m not saying I enjoy the hell out of every scene she’s in, but her machinations with Lacey and Amanda fascinate me. Her confrontation with Barnabas in ‘End of the Line’ was intense, and I suspect she’s about to get a whole lot scarier.

I’m on the fence with Zoe (or the “Zavatar,” as I’ve seen some calling her). Her situation is fascinating, and the shifting visuals they use to show her as girl and machine can be pretty cool, at times. I love that her name means “life” in Greek, since she seems to be the very first Cylon (and is apparently the key to everlasting life in virtual form, from Clarice’s perspective). But, the slow-pacing does bother me with her story, and the demanding “spoiled brat” attitude that creeps in every now and then irritates me. I did enjoy her interactions with Philamon (poor Philo!), and her standoff with Daniel was some great stuff.

Amanda, Joseph, and Lacey feel like the weakest links to me at this point. Amanda actually started out as a strong, interesting character, and had a compelling relationship with Daniel. She had one of my favorite scenes in the pilot. (When Amanda got the goodbye note that Zoe left behind, Paula Malcomson broke my heart with her grief-stricken reaction.) However, the writers seemed to flounder with Amanda after the first few episodes. The backstory with her brother and her stint in the looney bin feels very cliché, and her downward spiral into drug and alcohol addiction (while a believable path for a grieving mother) has been boring to watch.

Joseph Adama definitely worked for me in the pilot as the grieving husband and father. I was particularly fascinated by how different he was than the Joseph Adama of legend. But as the series continued, his desperation to find his dead daughter at all costs started to become grating. His last few episodes in V-world really didn’t work for me. I’m hoping that Tamara booting him from New Cap City takes the character in a better direction. More interaction with his brother and Daniel would be a great place to start.

As for Lacey, I’m just not invested in her at all. Until ‘End of the Line,’ her efforts to deal with her friend’s non-death and to help the Zavatar pretty much fell flat for me. I wanted to fast-forward through her scenes with Keon when she tried working her feminine “wiles.” Ack. But she’s bound to be pretty damaged goods after detonating that bomb, so there’s potential for her moving forward.


I can’t really pick a favorite episode, per se, but there were several moments or sequences that really stood out for me in the first ten episodes.

— First introduction to New Cap City. I really like the film noir/steampunk vibe to the whole place. Plus, Tamara starting to figure out what she is and how to control her environment was good stuff.

— The memorial service for Shannon and Tamara was very moving. It was a neat bit of world-building, and all the actors did a great job with that scene. I shed a few tears.

— Daniel and Amanda fighting about his impending television appearance. She pleads her case by saying something like, “We’re parents!” and he shoots back “No. We’re not.” Harsh. He should have just slapped her; it would have been less hurtful.

— Sam driving Amanda home from the television studio and indirectly threatening her. I loved how the potential for violence just hung in the air. The follow-up scene between Sam and Joseph was also pretty compelling. I didn’t really think Sam had killed her, but I started to wonder for a few moments.

— Vergis telling Daniel that his dream was to destroy Daniel’s dream. The staging of the scene was great, and the quiet calm in his voice when he said it was spine-tingling.

— Daniel trying to sell his board on the Cylons being the future of the company, ending with the decidedly creepy moment in which he has the Zavatar rip off her own arm. Plus, his cavalier attitude about a race of sentient slaves was seriously disturbing.

— Even more disturbing: Daniel’s escalating efforts to get Zoe to reveal herself in the robot. Just chilling stuff. He’s really quite the sadistic bastard, that Daniel. If he honestly believed Zoe was in there, why, why, why use her greatest fears and her love of a pet against her? What kind of father does that? I’m starting to understand why she’d want to run away.

‘End of the Line’

I thought the mid-season finale left us with a great series of cliffhangers. Not so much in terms of who lives or dies --- because the standings on that count seem somewhat obvious --- but in terms of what it means for the story going forward. I’m very excited to see where this attempt on her life takes Sister Clarice. I’m thinking the scary, hard-ass woman we saw confronting Barnabas on the docks is going to become a permanent fixture. Particularly if one of her husbands just died in the explosion, which I think he did (interesting --- my grammar check thinks I erred in pluralizing the word “husband”).

I’m also excited to see where Daniel goes from here. Whether Amanda succeeded in her attempted suicide or not, I’m thinking the mere attempt should have a pretty significant impact on Daniel. If she did succeed, will he make another ill-advised attempt to create an avatar-based robot? Will Zoe and Amanda get to deal with each other as sentient robots in this crazy “afterlife” Daniel’s created? And what’s Daniel going to do with Zoe if she ends up back in the lab? (I’m pretty sure she survived the crash, but will Daniel’s people catch her or will she somehow escape?)

Lacy dealing with the fallout of actually being a terrorist bomber could be pretty interesting, too. Particularly if vengeful Clarice comes after her, or Barnabas tries to keep her from revealing what she knows after he learns Clarice survived.

Other Notes

As a BSG fan, it bugs me that this show is supposed to be set 58 years “before the fall” (which I presume to be the attack at the beginning of BSG), and yet young William Adama is 11 years old. So we are supposed to believe that BSG Adama is about 70 years old? Seriously?

As always, it’s nice to see James Marsters on my screen, but I’m not quite sure Barnabas is working for me yet. ‘End of the Line’ was the first time I really had a strong interest in that character.

Poor Scott Porter was criminally underused as Clarice’s husband, Nestor. The guy displayed some serious acting chops as Jason Street on Friday Night Lights. I was hoping he’d have more of a role here.

Baxter Sarno is a pretty entertaining mix of Jay Leno and Jon Stewart.

I’m enjoying Teryl Rothery as Adama’s assistant, Evelyn (I still miss Janet Frasier). Unless she turns into a crazy, manipulative soap opera bitch who's just trying to get her hooks into a man. Then I’m going to be less enthused. I’m giving her the benefit of the doubt for the moment.

Final Analysis: It took me a few episodes to get into Caprica, but I’m hooked now, and intrigued by the possibilities for the second half of the season. I'll be watching in the fall.

Jess Lynde is a highly engaged television viewer. Probably a bit too engaged.


  1. Well done, Jess. You’ve managed to sum up perfectly everything I’ve felt about Caprica. The show is full of stuff that is so brilliant but at the same time just as much stuff that isn’t. I like to call them Daniel and Joseph.

    Daniel Stuff is always compelling, fascinating, occasionally cute and funny, sometimes scary and uncomfortable but nevertheless always gripping and entertaining. Meanwhile, Joseph Stuff is often frustrating, dull, tiresome and annoying because we know it could be better but for some reason isn’t trying to be.

    I also let the show slide by for weeks before playing catch up. I almost gave up on it altogether at one point when the ratings were diving and cancellation seemed inevitable. I didn’t want to get too invested in another show only to see it get cancelled. ‘Ghost in the Machine’ is the episode that finally won me over and convinced me to stick with it. Now I hear that Syfy are moving their entire Friday night line-up (Caprica, SGU and Sanctuary) to Tuesdays, hoping they’ll do as well there as Warehouse 13 has been. Hopefully this means the network has faith in the show so we won’t have to go through all the drama of losing another show just as it was starting to get better.

    Plus Sam Adama is all kinds of awesome.

  2. I'm running way behind on this show at the moment, planning a marathon session of my own to catch up soon. Am only posting to mention your comment about Adama being 69 at the start of BSG. Is that really so unbelievable? Given that Edward J Olmos was nearing 60 when the show started, thats only 10 years difference. And this is a show with spaceships and big stompy robots, is it that much of a stretch to believe that the colonies health care is somewhat more advanced than ours?

    (Essentially what all this means is that it bugged me too and I've come up with something to explain it away so that it doesn't bother me ;)

  3. Thanks for the comments guys (and for reading such a long review).

    Mark, I love how you break down the good and the bad into Daniel and Joseph camps. So apt. I'm not happy to hear all those shows are moving to Tuesday though. There's a big difference between Tuesdays in the summer (Warehouse 13) and Tuesdays in the fall (the other shows). I think SyFy may be kidding themselves about the ratings. Warehouse 13 is much more light-hearted and far more "accessible" than the other three shows. And in my household, they will probably still be Sci Fi Friday material.

    Trousers, I like your "advanced health care" explanation for the age difference. It still bugs me, but I appreciate the out-of-the-box thinking. :)

  4. Jess, I just wanted to chime in and add my thanks. I couldn't get through the pilot, but you've convinced me to give this series another shot.

    In other words, your reviews are changing the future, one TV addict at a time.

    (By the way, why does the blog keep eating my comments? I have to post about 50% of them twice.)

  5. I'm about halfway through Caprica now, having let it stack up on my DVR too, and while it is fairly slow, it does have a nice sense of atmosphere. The episode that just really grabbed me was 'Under a Different Sky'.. The V-World plot just suddenly kicked off to being more than a random scary nightclub and fleshed out into a world with rules (and some really excellent visuals - the planes dropping down from the airship were fantastic). Tamara suddenly got to be a character rather than whining in the background, and the way she gained powers was a lovely noir-style rip-off of The Matrix (and really, we need more of those as far as I'm concerned).

    The end scene of her stalking off into the city, dangling a gun casually while wearing a fabulous suit.. suddenly you could absolutely see the Cylons evolving before your eyes.. That was a very Number Six thing to do...

  6. Sooo nice to read Caprica comments that aren't just venting about the BSG finale. Anyway I'm glad I've stuck with it because the 90 min pilot was such a drag, and it's just weird to see booba in my BSG universe lol.

    I'm on ep 4 so far and the regular-length episodes have been much more enjoyable to me. Adama pisses me off as does his edgy brother (frak all the bitterly proud Taurons, dirt-eaters the lot of them), but everyone else is working for me. I was won over by the end of episode 3 where Amanda Graystone automatically proclaims her daughter is a terrorist. 'Automatically''s a weird word but I couldn't think of better. Mindlessly? She wasn't looking for trouble but she doesn't regret it either so I can't call it an accidentally slip (and it's neat that she's wrong about the truth of it). I guess I'll be back for ep 10's review.

  7. @Anonymous: "The end scene of her stalking off into the city, dangling a gun casually while wearing a fabulous suit.."
    I just got to that part and you're so right, needs more of The Matrix: Noir Edition. Unbelievably sexy final shot.


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