The two-hour pilot of “Caprica” debuted on DVD and digital download late last month and I finally found the time to watch it. Regular readers might be wondering why a huge “Battlestar Galactica” fan like myself would wait so long. Well, I’m not really sure. Maybe the “BG” finale was still a little to raw in my mind. Maybe there was too much other good television grabbing my attention. Or maybe I just couldn’t find the right time to watch it.
While I’m certainly excited about Ronald D. Moore’s next project, I can’t help but be a little leery of a prequel. “Caprica” has the same challenge that the “Star Wars” prequels had: Everyone knows how it turns out. The question is whether or not the history is compelling enough to outweigh the certainty of the story’s outcome. In the world of “Star Wars,” fans were clamoring for a better understanding of how Anakin Skywalker actually became Darth Vader. The transition was mentioned several times over the course of Episodes Four, Five and Six, and it became almost inevitable that there would eventually be a series of prequels to explain just how Anakin turned to the dark side.
Were there any “Battlestar Galactica” fans clamoring for a prequel? I’m sure there were a few, but I hadn’t even considered the prospect until I heard that “Caprica” was already in development. How interested are we in seeing how Cylons were developed? Personally, I’d rather get a glimpse into the behind-the-scenes scheming that led up to the Cylon invasion.
That said, there’s no doubt that “Caprica” is two strong hours of television.
The pilot/series takes place 58 years before the Cylon attack on the colonies and revolves around Daniel Graystone (Eric Stolz) and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), two fathers who each lost a daughter in a terrorist attack. It turns out that Daniel’s daughter, Zoe, is a brilliant programmer and her code laid the foundation for the Cylon artificial intelligence. Daniel and Joseph work together to bring their daughters back from the dead, and that’s how the Cylons were ultimately born.
Good acting, attractive sets, great story — “Caprica” is its father’s son. It’s interesting to see how religion and divinity play a role in the development of the Cylon A.I., especially knowing what we know about the “BG” ending. It appears that faith in the “one true God” preceded the Cylons and it was actually that (underground) religion that led to the birth of Cylon intelligence.
The pilot poses a few interesting questions that will no doubt be answered throughout the course of the series… How does Zoe’s code grow into a fleet of Cylons? What role does Joseph Adama (or his son, Will) play in its development? And at what point do the Cylons become advanced enough to demand their own freedom?
Again, the certainty of the show’s outcome is working against it. We know that the Cylons will eventually leave Caprica and not return until the attacks on the colonies. What we don’t know is how the Cylons became so advanced and what ultimately caused them to turn on their makers. It’s a challenge to work within the confines of a concrete outcome, but if anyone can do it, it’s Ronald D. Moore.