Fall TV: Pilot Review: Caprica

In 1978, we saw a sort of Star Wars clone explode across the airwaves as we learned the human race had a lost colony in deep space.  That colony was trying to make its way back to Earth and escape some relentless android/alien attackers, Cylons, who were bent on wiping out the human race for good.

In the original Battlestar Galactica series, there were alot of plot holes, extremely goofy dialogue, silly robotic pets and zombie like baddies. What the show did have was a killer production design, great effects, two dynamic leads (Richard Hatch, Dirk Benedict) for the girls and well the eye candy for the boys in a young Jane Seymour, Laurette Spang and Anne Lockhart. And for respectibility former Big Valley star Lorne Greene was their adopted father and leader, Col. Adama.

The show was huge in its day but because the show cost so much the studio had to pull the plug but it lived on in infamy among fanboys. (like me!)

This brings us up to the 2004 reboot, which saw the series core elements adopted and set to a darker more dramatic scenario as the human race is tested at every turn by their relentless enemy. Also added were their attackers, Cylons, were actually built by humans. The series also included the fact that the Cylons had evolved from their “tin can” selves to “skin jobs” or almost human beings. Think Blade Runner replicants but take it one step further and more cranky. Also to add more tensionto the mix,  they made one of the series two main male leads, female.

The sequel series exploded and was heralded as the greatest series ever on television. It lasted four seasons and a mini-series. It was a long drawn out war.

The idea of Caprica was to go back to before the Cylons attacked and focus on the generation before the crew of the Battlestar Galactica. It is a prequel. You have Col. Adama’s father, Joseph Adama (Esai Morales) and the creator of the Cylons, Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) , whose fates are intertwined when both their daughters are killed when a terrorist blows up a commuter train.

Heartbroken, Graystone develops a program that allows for a virtual avatar to be constructed of his daughter. From that avatar he wants to build her a body so he can be with his daughter again. He lures Joseph Adama into the fold with the promise “don’t you want to be with your daughter again?” Graystone needs Adama’s shady connections to help build his daughter’s robot body.

It is such a deep and moving pilot as  it plays with all our psyches in one way or another. The idea that a tragedy like this can lead to man’s destruction is incredible and well thought provoking. I also loved how the series continues to play with our ideas of what makes a human being, well, human.

(left to right) Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Eric Stoltz

Eric Stoltz is solid as the dynamic, yet crushed “Doctor Frankenstein” of the show. You feel every bit of anguish he endures. I also like how Stoltz builds his anguish and desperation. The man has such a cozy life and it is interesting watching his life literally explode before him.

Esai Morales is equally compelling yet from a different angle. He is suave, sophisticated well haunted much like Graystone. I haven’t seen Esai in such a high profile role in sometime. He kind of reminds me of a Latin George Clooney.

The last time I saw him was a recurring role on Jericho but the first time I really took notice of him was in 1995’s Mi Familia with low and behold Edward James Olmos (who starred as Col Adama in the Battlestar remake). What is funny about that whole situation is that in Mi Familia Edward played Esai’s father. Esai is such an underrated actor and it nice to see him get this really meaty role.

If the Caprica pilot is any sign of where the series is headed then I am sold hook-line-and-sinker. This looks to be quite an interesting series if they can keep up the drama and intrigue. I just hope it evolves past Caprica city and we get to see other planets and different members of the 13 tribes. This show could be like no other sci-fi show before it if they let it evolve.

The series debuts in January 2010. The pilot is now on DVD.

But as TV pilots go I give it 4.5 out of 5.

So Says the Soothsayer

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