My recent Netflix adventure only lasted one season, and I couldn’t figure out if I wanted it to go on or if I was just annoyed with the whole thing.
Caprica is a prequel to Battlestar Galactica (BSG). Disclaimer: I have never seen BSG, so I’m basing Caprica entirely off of its own merits. And here there be slight spoilers.
I have to say that the images are beautiful and futuristic. It was exciting to see what kind of commentary the show was going to make about technological advancement. The downside is that some of the acting was awful. The entire Graystone family needed to be replaced with better actors. This fact could be forgiven if the audience isn’t supposed to be completely obsessed with their lives. You don’t root for any of them–not Daniel, Amanda, or Zoe. I felt sorry for none of them. I get that you need to have at least one dysfunctional person or family in a show (if not two or three), but the show was trying to use the family’s dysfunction as a vehicle to something and it just didn’t work.
Also, the notion that Zoe is supposed to be “The Chosen One” is tired, especially because she’s extremely unlikable and we’re supposed to be rooting for her. Even as an avatar, her emotional growth is stagnant and she only thinks about herself. Maybe that was the point–to prove that robot copies of humans just won’t display the same complexities that humans do (a point that later comes back into the show when Daniel tries to recreate the same effect with another avatar).
Zoe’s avatar kept trying to find her purpose and to be something. She was ordering everyone around and manipulating people for self-preservation. I didn’t feel sorry for the avatar, it doesn’t provide any commentary or insight to original Zoe because we’re force-fed the argument that it’s exactly like her.
The concept of grieving over lost ones, especially if we evolved to a society where we could have a degree of control over our reaction to grief, was interesting. The problem is that the characters never really experienced the full range of the five stages of grief. They stayed at denial and isolation. There was little bargaining, depression, and absolutely no acceptance, at least on Daniel’s part. Yousef was finally able to move on from his daughter’s death, but it took the (convenient) death of another family member for him to finally learn to be able to let go. Caprica also tried to tackle the concept of an afterlife, but in a lukewarm manner by suggesting that humanity could create its own, technologically.
Also, the running question was whether the Zoe avatar was real or actually Zoe and Daniel kept flip-flopping. At one point, he keeps insisting that it’s real and that she is his daughter, and the next he seems to have forgotten that and is subjecting her to mental torture.
To be honest, I wasn’t sure if I was going to finish this show. First it was because of V-world, which is the virtual world that teenagers escape to by using holobands. Holobands are devices created by Greystone Industries that can be used to create alternate realities, among other things. V-world was basically just debauchery and luckily as the season went on, they changed to New Cap City, which I was able to live with. The notion of people going to V-world to be free, but yet becoming trapped by needing more drugs, sex, killing, sacrifice, and etc. had a half-way formed message and really disturbing execution. If anything, it was more of an archaic notion than a forward thinking one.
Do what makes you feel good isn’t exactly revolutionary thinking.
The other reason is how the show framed religion. Capricans are polytheistic and the enemy side, the Soldiers of the One, are monotheistic. The monotheistic religion of the one true god was looking dangerously close to Christianity. Monotheists are portrayed as extremists in Caprica. Caprica attempted to deal with religion, but then didn’t exactly know where to go with it. The show basically said that religion shapes people’s lives so much, to the point that it would affect technology, meaning the Cylon race that Daniel created.
The construct of religion was confusing, but had some interesting parallels. The separation between Church and state as well as Church and the military was basically non-existent. It seemed as though the church functioned as a weapon. It’s also not clear if the Church (of the monotheists) is supposed to be non-violent or violent because the narrative flip-flops on that as well.
I was vaguely interested in Clarice Willow’s story until the story started examining her polygamous family and then the mystery was solved–she became a lot less interesting. At the start of the show, she seemed to have a clear purpose as a sister for the Athena Academy, but when the show started to examine her interpersonal relationships more, it became more confusing and muddled. As a believer, it was hard for me not to notice the direct comparisons between Christianity and the monotheistic religion.
To me, it was a cop out to blatantly paint the Soldiers of the One evil through terrorist acts and simply because they believed in one god because the rest of the show doesn’t delve into the background of monotheism or why they were that way. The polytheists did crazy acts and those weren’t considered bad because they were polytheists. The show didn’t examine the ramifications of worshipping all those gods, or being confused because of that.
But moving on…
Something I would have liked to see more of were the Taurons. The Capricans were extremely boring but the little of the Taurons that we saw, the Adama brothers and the Gattrau, were fantastic. Their story lines and mythology were fascinating and well developed. Although they were stereotypically mafia-like, I enjoyed it. The Adama brothers were played very well and I was able to empathize with both of their journeys. I even liked the little bit of Tauron language the creators were able to construct and put into the show. This show should have been set from the view of Tauron the planet and how it viewed the Capricans. Maybe then the show would have continued.
I’ve read that other reasons that the show didn’t continue was because it was extremely different from BSG. Where BSG was more science fiction action, Caprica delves more into relationships–political, familial, and religious. For me, it wasn’t boring, it was just difficult to see what kind of statement the show was trying to make because it was chaotic.
My last pet peeve, is that the show should have tried to make up more of a language. The nods to the zodiac (Caprica, Tauron, Geminon….) and the religious belief system was interesting on its own, but they didn’t try to make it different enough. Instead, they tried to fix certain things on familiar terms, and that’s when it got frustrating.
A prime example of this is the F-word. They used the word “Frack” instead of the actual word which got insanely annoying after a while because it was stupid. They should have created a completely different word like Firefly did with the word “gorram” (which is freaking awesome) or just used the actual word which I’m sure which would have probably taken their TV-14 rating all the way to mature, which it should have been anyway because of the V-world scenes.
Clearly, Caprica was not my cup of tea. I liked that it raised certain points about philosophy and religion, but it failed to actually say anything revolutionary about those concepts. For the most part, I was drawn into the show despite its shortcomings (and it was a major plus that James Marsters was in it for a split second) because I was waiting to see what it would say next. Unfortunately, the season ended before the show could make up it’s mind about what it wanted to say.