The Much(?) Anticipated Return of Caprica

October 9, 2010
By | 4 Comments

While I am perhaps in the minority in thinking that Battlestar Galactica actually capped its story nicely, my thirst for anything Battlestar meant I also didn’t mind SyFy announcing a prequel spin-off to restart the flow of content.  Simply put, I was exactly the built-in, guaranteed audience that likely fueled SyFy’s interest in Caprica.

This is why I was shocked to receive a reminder about this Antenna post I’d promised about the mid-season return of Caprica and then to have asked myself, “oh, is that tonight?”  Sure, I’ve been busy.  But I’ve been busy before, and Battlestar viewing was always something I met with great anticipation.  Whether separated by hours or days, viewed “live” or in DVD marathons, the space between episodes was consistently filled with excitement and build up, causing my internal clock to keep a constant countdown until my next Battlestar appointment.  That clock, apparently, has ceased to run for Caprica.

I don’t think it’s because Caprica is a bad show, necessarily.  Sure, this mid-season premiere could have been better.  The previous cliffhanger left the fates of Amanda and Zoe in the air, and this episode teased at their deaths without directly confronting them: an obvious fake-out confirmed by the last minute reveal of their survival.  Joseph Adama’s seemingly complete embrace of  a criminal lifestyle (rather than tenuously negotiating it as a lawyer) makes him a far less interesting character in my eyes.  And the Gemenese clergy costumes looked too much borrowed from a Vulcan monastery to match Caprica’s more grounded textural palette.  But there was a lot of great stuff going on too.  The virtual representation of a terror attack at a Caprica Buccaneers game was not only chilling, but also gave needed meaning to Clarice’s long-promised “apotheosis,” granting her character new purpose and heft.  Seeing that Tomas Vergis had taken over Daniel Greystone’s company between episodes to put the Cylons into production advanced the well-played personal and corporate conflict between the two tycoons, all while generating a sense of inevitable dread.  It’s not clear how this conflict will resolve, but Battlestar fans know the stakes involve an army of robots destined to wipe out both sides.  The whole premise of the series, and its greatest strength, is anticipation of certain societal ruin.

But I can’t have an internal, step-by-step countdown to robotic apocalypse if I have no idea when the next appointment in the countdown will be.  At the unresolved moments between episodes and seasons when I should be feeling the most tension and anticipation, I actually feel the least, because I have no idea when or if that resolution might be coming.  Despite the series having premiered in January, SyFy only aired the first half of the season and then waited several months until the summer to announce a return date.  That return date was then slated for January 2011, and only last month bumped up to this week.  I can’t help but feel my anticipation of this return would have been stronger if I’d seen the previous cliffhanger with some sense of how long I’d be waiting, so that I could invest in its dramatic tension on those terms with a target for resolution in mind.  I can look forward to next week’s episode a little bit more, perhaps, and the week after that, but since SyFy hasn’t committed to a second season yet (and likely won’t by the end of the season), I fear I’ll reach another impasses when I’m asked to sustain anticipation and excitement indefinitely.  Yes, this kind of scheduling did occur on occasion with Battlestar too—but it seems that SyFy has institutionalized the temporal uncertainty once necessitated by the writer’s strike.

That institutionalized uncertainty has stopped my ticking clock.  Despite having a real fondness for the series and being part of the built-in, loyal audience it needs to survive on SyFy, I find this uncertain wait makes Caprica increasingly difficult for me to anticipate.


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4 Responses to “ The Much(?) Anticipated Return of Caprica ”

  1. Jason on October 9, 2010 at 10:29 AM

    Great stuff. I’m with you on every word here, as a satisfied BSG fan who followed them over to ‘Caprica.’ The wait really killed any anticipation I had for the new season, but I also think that’s because they didn’t give the show enough time to find itself in the first place, and thus get me invested in what was happening. So, when I got to the premature cliffhanger, I wasn’t exactly sure what I was waiting for. And as the months ticked away, I honestly forgot how the first season even ended.

    I think that’s also partly because the first episodes of Caprica were too crowded with too many half-developed characters–it would have been stronger IMO if the show had dedicated itself first to developing and solidifying the core friendship/rivalry/tension between Adama and Graystone more, before than expanding out to the many other characters. It was also marred by too many gimmicky cliffhangers at the end of every episode, that felt designed to do nothing but bring viewers back the next week (that is perhaps also why the season cliffhanger felt flat for me–as though they went back to the well one too many times).

  2. Tausif Khan on October 9, 2010 at 11:20 AM

    To me this new episode of Caprica almost seems like a mid-season pilot (if there can be mid-season finale’s than why not pilots). This new Caprica has moved out of the contemplation of social life and into traditional Battlestar political intrigue on the level of bringing about an anarchic post human politics.

    I feel the first half of the first season was trying to be Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the BSG universe. I like the tightness of this new version of Caprica and am definitely going to tune in for future episodes.

    One thing that bothered me was that in the first half of the season they kept on saying how everyone who jumped off the bridge died immediately. I find it impossible that Amanda Greystone lived. The sheer impact of the drop and collision should have killed her before she entered the water. Am I wrong?

    When I heard that Paula Malcolmson was returning to the show I just assumed that any version of Amanda we see in the future of Caprica would be an avatar.

    Oh well I am excited to find out what happens.

  3. Josh on October 14, 2010 at 10:57 PM

    This past episode was the final nail in the coffin for me. After a terrific pilot, this show has gone downhill fast, to the point where I was really hoping that Amanda Graystone was actually dead, because I find her character unbearable.

    This show has always had a great premise, but I don’t think that these actors have the depth to give it justice. Some stand-out bad performances from James Marsten, Alessandra Torresani, Magda Apanowicz, and Genevieve Buechner (who, mercifully, was not in this episode). I’m also having problems with the gratuitous amounts of CGI. It’s distracting. Somehow, in BSG when they were on other planets, the odd lighting was bearable, but it doesn’t work for this show. A friend walked in while I was watching and thought it was a video game from looking at the screen.

    BSG was one of the most well-done TV shows I have ever seen, and I have particularly fallen in love with Bear McCreary’s compositions, which gave many emotional moments on that show much more heft. It makes me sad that this is what followed.

  4. Gabriel on October 27, 2010 at 9:26 PM

    It seems that Caprica was never able to build an audience sufficient to keep it going. Syfy announced today that they would cancel it effective next week. I think that’s a shame. I saw most episodes of the show and thought it had real promise. They just paced it way too slowly.