Saturday, 20 June 2009

58 Years Before the Fall…

About a month ago I ran out of things to watch and in the absence of anything else I turned to that trusty genre, Sci Fi. Now as we all snapshot know Science Fiction can be good and when it is, it is often great, but it can also be bad, really bad, Torchwood ringing any bells? Battlestar Galactica was one of those show I had attributed to the bad column, after all what could a remake of a seventies show that didn’t survive past its first season possibly have to offer the modern sci-fi geek? Thus in my ignorance I ignored it, until at last the cupboard was bare and I decided to give the pilot a go, after all, how bad could it be?

That was a month ago, I’m now on the final episode of season 3! I’m hooked! And during my research into what is coming up in September I discovered that BSG is due to have its own spin off series, Caprica. I couldn’t wait to watch it, although at first I struggled, trying to decide if it would ruin how I saw the remainder of BSG, but after much umming and ahhing I plonked myself down and watched the two hour pilot.

What follows is, hopefully, a spoiler free commentary on the quality of the show and if I believe it has a future on our screens. (P.s. If you’re too lazy to read on any further, I do… watch it!)

The episode opens with the line “58 years before the fall.” Already we know when we are and the title of the show tells us where. A lot of what happens in the pilot and by extension the upcoming Tv show, is designed to inform us about life in the Thirteen snapshot(0)Colonies, in particular Caprica. Where BSG only touched on this in the attempts to reinstate their civilisation, Caprica is already  living in it. For example the episode opens with some rather graphic depictions of what teenagers do for relaxation on Caprica (Boobs, boobs and more boobs.) and it gives us an insight into the culture in a way that BSG could never do, because that culture no longer exists.

Although, like BSG, Caprica has a large ensemble cast, the story focuses mainly on three people. The first of these is the prodigy Zoe Graystone. Teenager and idealist, she and her two friends are planning to leave Caprica and head to Geminon. Zoe has created a virtual version of herself, capable of infinite impendent thought, of learning and expressing emotion. It is not entirely clear why she has done so, but Zoe clearly has a plan for her cyber-self once they reach Geminon.

The second major character is Joseph Adams.

***pathetically minor spoiler*** One of the final revelations of episode is that Joseph Adams, with hissnapshot(1) son William, is actually Joseph Adama. However if you have watched at least some of season 3 of BSG you will know Bill Adama’s father was a lawyer  and called Joseph. On top of that Esai Morales who plays Joseph looks like a young Bill Adama, so really we all guessed who he was! ***spoiler over***

Anyway, Joseph Adams is a lawyer on Caprica, with a son called William. The pilot focuses on a disaster and the aftermath that leads to a chance meeting between Joseph and the next key player, Zoe’s father, Daniel Graystone. Through Joseph the show attempts to bring to the fore the issues of race and class, in a way that BSG could not, after all, long running racial storylines only detract from the true focus of BSG, not so with Caprica. In fact the race and class divide will act as a driving force behind many of Joseph Adam’s actions in the series I’m sure.

The final player is Daniel Graystone. He is a genius inventor who created the Holoband, virtual worlds, somewhat akin to a series of mini Matrix’s (1999 film) just less invasive (You don’t have to shove a spike into a plug socket in the back of your head.) snapshot(2) However at the start of the episode he is working on the A.I. for a robot that is clearly a Cylon Prototype.

Caprica and BSG both deal with similar issues. For example much of the pilot episode is about dealing with loss and clearly the episode is laying the groundwork for the first Cylon War to take place, something that I think we may see before the end of season 1. However Caprica aims to deal with many other issues too, such as religion and the lack of tolerance for unorthodox religions. It deals with issues that are pertinent today in own world, such as fear of  religious fanatics, of how those that don’t understand religion and race often jump to fear as a natural response. It deals with issues of class and racism and it asks difficult questions about ethics and morals.

Ok, so I’ve said all I can say without giving anything away. Now its time for my opinions. Did I like Caprica’s pilot as much as BSG’s? The simple answer is no. However, truthfully, it is impossible to compare the two. BSG is action packed, things explode, killer robots that look human destroy the known civilised world, its asnapshot(4) hair raising three hours. Caprica however is much more subtle, sure, some things blow up, there is even a killer robot but this  show is about something deeper, it asks those moral questions that make us feel uncomfortable, but in a good way. It brings us a richly developed culture and asks us to delve into it and explore its faults and its failings. It challenges us to think about our own world and the injustices that exist.

So then, Caprica is a heavy going, soap opera in an unfamiliar universe? No! It still has that gritty feeling that Battlestar has, the writing acting and casting are all excellent. The CG is mostly superb, although there are some weaker moments. It is rich and vibrant and although I have used the words 

“uncomfortable” “moral” “ethics”

this show is not about preaching or condemning, it is about connecting. Bringing us recognisasnapshot(5)ble situations that allow us as an audience to  sympathise. Because we can recognise the situations the characters find themselves in, despite the alien nature of the world and the society, we find that we understand, maybe even support the morally ambiguous characters and we care for them, even when they do things wrong, even when we know the consequences for their actions will ultimately be the destruction of the human race!

And that is the beauty of Caprica.

So, yes, I will be tuning in come December (So I believe.) But for now I will just have to make do with the final season of Battlestar Galactica.

Anyway, that’s My Two Cents, “So Say We All.”

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