Thursday, November 11, 2010


Hey, Peter man, check out channel 9
I know I've mentioned it before but I really hate when TV shows are canceled before their time...I hate being left hanging.  This is all more poignant to me after having just finished the DVD set of Defying favorite new show of last fall and highly recommended.  Yes, it only has 13 episodes but each episode is great and packs a lot of intelligence and emotion into each episode.  I was pissed when ABC canceled this show after showing only half the episodes.  ABC ordered 13 episodes, so I assume they paid for 13 episodes...why not throw the last ones on the air at 2am?  Wouldn't that be better than doing nothing?  I don't know, I am not a TV exec.  Anyhow, watching the DVDs reminded me at how sad it was to have this show canceled.

However, I am finding it hard to feel the same way about Syfy (that still makes me want to puke) cancelling Caprica a couple of weeks ago.

A little personal history - I didn't watch the Battlestar Galatica redux series until after it was completed.  Mainly because I thought my DVR was missed episodes when it first started showing.  This ended up being a miscommunication since the first few episodes were combined into the pilot movie.  In my error, I couldn't stand watching a show like BSG where I missed a couple episodes.  Each episode seemed too important, too amazing to miss.  So finally, I deleted the episodes off my DVR and didn't watch more than a random half episode here or there before the series was over.  I am actually surprised that I made it without anyone having spoiled the show or the ending for me.

I didn't start watching BSG, until the entire series was over and released on DVD.  Once I started watching it, I could not stop.  The first thing that pulled me in was the situational stress - a tiny remnant of humanity, forced into aging and ships, fleeing with no supplies.  In addition to the danger of the Cylons finding them, there was always the pressure of fuel, food, and vacuum of space.  Add to that possible traitors, hidden spies, factions among the remaining humans and every episode was tense.  Even if the episode didn't seem that tense, there was always this backdrop of danger.  BSG had much more than that though, the characters were well written and had a great depth.  There were heroes and villains, and everything else in between - military, civilians, people thrown out of their league, people struggling to live and overcome their adversity.  It is a special show where heroes can develop into villains and villains into heroes.  It is an odd show where many different opinions exist about every character and they are all right.  I think the misunderstanding for people who didn't watch Battlestar Galatica was that they thought it was an action series.  It did have plenty of action in the form of spaceship dog fights and the occasional shootout with cylons but it really was a small part of the series after the first couple episodes.  More important were characters and their interactions, myth, and destiny.  It was truly an epic saga and probably one of the best series that has ever been on TV.

Watching six seasons of BSG within a month and a half instead of 5 years had it's advantages.  It was nice not having to wait between seasons and I probably noticed some details that other might have missed between episodes.  But there was one major disadvantage, everyone else I knew had already watched it.  This meant that we couldn't talk about this week's episode or discuss theories.  It had already happened for all of my friends and I didn't want to risk ruining my viewing of my next DVD.  I missed all the social aspect of the series and that makes me a little sad (same thing happened with Lost).

I thought this photo captured the depth and intricacies
of the characters perfectly.
So when Caprica was announced I was excited to be able to watch the show as it aired and have the social experience of discussing it with others in a timely manner.  Unfortunately, the first episode aired and it was pretty meh.  It wasn't terrible, but it wasn't really gripping either.  I could see promise though and hoped it would develop into something wonderful and surprising.  I'm sure my expectations were a little higher than they should have been because I knew it was going to be a different kind of show than BSG.  The creators and producers had announced that very early on and I was OK with that.

The actors were good, the special effects were decent, but for me it was the story and characters that I had issues with.  It's not that the stories and characters were bad, it just seemed to be unraveling the parts of BSG that I liked.  Well not unraveling, so much as destroying.

Destroyed Myth #1:  Monotheism was a robot invention.  In Battlestar Galatica, the humans were polytheistic.  They basically worshiped versions of our Greek gods...but the cylons, the robots were monotheistic.  One god, similar in form to Christianity/Judaism/Islam.  Did their super computer brains deduce there was only one god, was it a corruption in their programming?  It was never explained but I always found it very compelling to have it scripted this way.  Caprica has human monotheistic cults, and one of them just happens to have their memory loaded into the first cylon prototype...the cylon that will be copied for all future cylons, so the "one god" idea was a human idea.  For me, cylons lost some of their danger...they weren't thinking as radically different from humans as I thought.
Destroyed Myth #2:  Cylons evolved artificial intelligence.  Again, I thought that man created the cylons and overtime corruption or deduction led to cylon artificial intelligence.  Nope, their intelligence is due to the brain scan loaded into the first cylon...without this the cylons were useless.
Destroyed Myth #3:  Cylons were created to benefit society.  I don't know if it was ever specifically mentioned, but for some reason I thought the cylons were created to be helpful to the human race.  Yes, they would provide labor and the workforce, allowing humans to be more creative and enjoy themselves.  I thought that later they cylons were co-opted for military purposes or maybe only because violent when they rebelled.  Not so.  According to Caprica, their first purpose was military purposes.  Of course if you create something evil it will turn on you, I found it much more compelling when I thought something created in a good spirit became bitter and turned on their creators.

There are many more ideas that I had which Caprica just destroyed but those are some of the main tenets in my mind.  The show had more problems than that though.  The main thing that really turned me off were that all characters were pretty morally corrupt.  There just wasn't a character that I could relate too (being such a bastion of virtue that I am).  I found it hard to watch and felt that I didn't have anyone to root for.  Do you root for the business man that will do anything to make money, the members of the mob, or the religious cult with terrorist intentions?  I couldn't relate to any of them.  It was not like BSG where semi-normal people were thrown into a situation where they were forced to make the best of all bad choices...the Caprica characters were just kind of evil from the beginning.

I also was hoping for more of the other eleven planets of the twelve colonies in Battlestar Galactica.  Yes, it was named obviously most of the story will take place there but I hoped to see more of the other planets.  And when they did show the other planets?  All indoor shots.  It was disappointing.  To have a solar system to use but yet to focus on only one location.  I was also disappointed in the views of Caprica City.  I think they were trying to show it as a society at it's peak, were everything starts to become corrupt...but even so, it just didn't feel quite right.  BSG takes place less than 60 years later and it is a beautiful and idyllic place. From the corruption and dirtiness of Caprica to the peacefulness of BSG in 60 years...including a 10+ year war in-between?  It just didn't see right.
Caprica's Cylon
But and image I couldn't get out of my brain was the cylon itself.  At first glance, I was like that is pretty bad ass.  Of course, it is bulkier and not as refined as the cylons of the future but it is pretty good.  But the more I saw it, the more it disturbed me.  It was several episodes in before I decided what it was...and my perception is totally affected by my knowing that Zoe's (the creators daughter) personality is loaded inside.  I think those are ammo magazines encircling its waist but combine that with the two silver ol' timey microphone looking things on it's chest and this is what I see every single time (color enhanced for your pleasure).  I really wish I didn't.

What I wish I didn't see

That all being said, Caprica wasn't horrible.  I did keep coming back and watching week after week...but it was usually the show on my DVR that I would watch last.  The show I would watch when I had run out of other stuff to watch.  I did find some of it interesting, I just didn't find it nearly as engrossing as Battlestar Galactica had been.  I am slightly disappointed to see it go, because I think that maybe it would have evolved into something better.  However, it's cancellation supposedly has allowed Syfy (ack) to change the planned webisode series Blood and Chrome into a regular television series.  Blood and Chrome is purported to be centered around the first Cylon war...the war where the robots rebelled.  It sounds like it will be closer in feeling to BSG than to Caprica.  I'm looking forward to it.

1 comment:

kelly said...

Bears, Beets, Battlestar Galactica