Bruce here, your resident Battlestar Galactica reporter. After reporting on Battlestar Galactica (BSG) for the last few years, it seemed only natural that I continue my coverage of the mythos, with the prequel Caprica.
What Is Caprica About?
Caprica is about the rapidly evolving spheres of human and mechanical engineering that collide in the BSG universe. It focuses on two families are brought together by the tragedy of an explosive act of terrorism. These two families are led by powerful patriarchs, Joseph Adama played by Esai Morales (Jericho) and Daniel Graystone played by Eric Stoltz (The Butterfly Effect) who find themselves in a conflict of questionable ethics, corporate machinations and intense personal ambition as we watch the beginning of what we know will be the end for humanity. It's brought to us by executive producers of Battlestar Galactica (Ronald D. Moore and David Eick), set in a time 58 years before the fall. Caprica is entirely its own world.
When I was asked to write something up, but with "No Spoilers," I thought how the frak am I going to do this? I came into this hoping that they'd captured the essence of what I came to enjoy about BSG. This show brought me right along and actually took me way from what BSG was. I had forgotten that this was a prequel as I found myself wanting more of these characters as the show moved along.
I was surprised. Well, surprised is an understatement... within a half hour, I was anxiously looking forward to the next scene and the scene after that, etc..
Observations From Watching Caprica
The characters are rich in detail and compelling. Each scene gave us something new about their past, and their impending future. As one of the creators, Remi Aubuchon said, "It's not a space drama, though space will be involved." This is about a society that can travel in space, but the plot takes place on Caprica.
After reading bits about Caprica and watching BSG, I thought I knew what to expect. I was right and wrong. There was the society that has been hinted at, with characters that had only been referenced in passing throughout BSG. Yet, I was thrown for a loop with some surprises and twists about things I that I thought I knew.
Yes, there are what I call "anchor references" to Battlestar Galactica. Yet this show doesn't depend on BSG at all. It doesn't need to, but there are the obvious connections. Adama, Graystone, and of course, the slow, well crafted development of the "Cybernetic life-form node", the Cylon.
Some Bits Without Spoilers
Holobands are little devices that kids use to connect to a virtual world, like MySpace and Facebook, but on a Holodeck. But this "V Club" they go to in the Holo world is pretty intense, with rooms for every "interest." Warning: The uncut, unrated DVD is EXPLICIT. If you thought that Battlestar Galactica had some sex going on, you haven't seen anything - this is far more... detailed than BSG. This DVD is not for kids, folks!
There is distinct angst amongst races from different planets, and there's the usual assortment of organized crime, terrorism, industrial espionage and subterfuge that takes place. But not overdone.
The society believes in multiple gods, but there is a splinter of society who only believe in one god. Yet to make their point, they seem to resort to violence.
SPOILERS FOLLOW (which are actually given away in the trailer for the DVD)
The death of the daughters of Adama and Graystone (and Adama's wife) instigate the decision processes that initiate the development of what we now know as Cylons, but not quite like you think. The event only precipitated the chain of decisions. Decisions with twists.
As it is, robotic assistants are a part of society. Caprica civilization is much on par with ours, except of course, they're just a little bit more advanced.
The above screen cap from an online trailer is a laptop computer that a like folded up pieces of paper. Zoe Graystone pulls out a piece of paper, unfolds it and sends her mom an email.
Throughout the film, we get bits and pieces of field tests of what will be the Cybernetic life-form node... or Cylon. Showing the earliest predecessor of the Cylon Centurion was fulfilling to some degree and what I would say is well done. Well envisioned.
As far as DVD extras, the deleted scenes impressed me. They weren't just scenes that had to be cut for time that might make us go "ooh" & "ahh." The deleted scenes filled in gaps of info that you either didn't know was missing or confirmed suspicions on other ideas you might have derived from watching the movie. The deleted scenes did something I've never seen before. They made the show even more complete.
Video Blogs gave tours of a few sets, showed us the director at work and a rough outline of how he approached some things. It wasn't a huge time filler, but it was fine for what it was.
Sci Fi had their hand in the DVD too. There was a full episode of Ghost Hunters in the extras, titled "Hometown Haunts."
They do have an option for feature commentary with director Jeffrey Reiner (Friday Night Lights), Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. I've seen some good and not so worthwhile "feature commentary" on DVDs before. What I will say is that the first time you watch the movie, you do not want to play it with this feature on. Why? Because they NEVER shut up! And that's a good thing. You won't hear over 90% of the movie as they constantly chat about the scenes, their inspirations for the scenes, the locations, etc.... it's awesome. But like I said... watch the movie first!
What things do they mention?
The "V Club" was filmed in the same place as the Opera House we've seen time and time again in BSG. The glasses that William B. Davis (The smoking man from X-Files) was wearing were the same that Dr Tyrell wore in Blade Runner because they had a Blade Runner fan high up in the production crew.
When I first heard they were releasing a DVD as the pilot of the series way before the series started, I didn't have a very constructive thought about that. It seemed odd. After watching it, I was amazed.
If you enjoy true character driven stories, you won't be disappointed. It's like Moore and Eick practiced with BSG and used their honed skills on Caprica. It's believable and if you're inclined to purchase this gem of a DVD, I think you will be pleased with this product.
It's dark and desperate, on a completely different level than BSG was. Where society was running for its life in BSG, these Caprica families desperately pursue misguided dreams that make society what it will be. I think the casting of many of the characters was dead on and that makes this experience complete. Both Stoltz and Morales are Graystone and Adama. Additionally, I think this could have been a stand alone movie and that it would have been incredibly satisfying. And yet, they have 20 more episodes. I find that enticing and I can't wait until it airs in early 2010.
I don't think this is a spoiler but: After watching this movie, I think I see the potential explanation as to why Cylons only believe in one god. For those of you who do buy the DVD and watch it, I want you to come back and tell me if you don't see it also. But do it in such a way that leaves no spoilers.
Now the only question I have is how will Sci-Fi handle this show? Do we get one season or are we going to see two 10-episode seasons? I hope they do the smart thing. That's all I have to say.
The Caprica DVD comes out on April 21st on both DVD and Digital Download.