Monday, February 8, 2010

Caprica: A Review

What do you get when you combine a BladeRunner, Battlestar Galactica, The Godfather (Part 2), and with a heaping helping of a Bear Mcreary score? Apparently Caprica. The show is an intended prequel to Battlestar Galactica, but that show is not requisite viewing for R. Moore's latest outing. Caprica is science fiction television done right, large expansive yet simple sets, beautifully designed cgi that tastefully adds (not distracts) from the story, and a complicated and yet thoroughly engaging plot.

The pilot begins by showing us the titular planet and city that the show is based in. Caprica City is a compelling mix of post modern New York and Tokyo, taking the technology of one, and the smoky 'noir'-ish elements of the other. It's a city inhabited by the Graystones, a small rich and troubled family, whose father, Simon Graystone happens to be the 12 Colonies version of Bill Gates and Steve Jobs. His company Graystone Industries is... drumroll please... responsible for creating the first Cylon.

His daughter Zoe Graystone is a typical dysfunctional teenager, plus she has the mind of a genius and the conviction of a terrorist zealot. In secret, she has been designing an avatar, a perfect AI copy of herself, she uses the holoband, a super fast and incredibly lifelike internet (another nifty invention of her father) that allows the users to create networked worlds like mini matrices. (think 'the matrix' if not used in a near apocalyptic dystopian future) Her Avatar, is disturbingly real, a copy so perfect that even her own father has troubling distinguishing
them apart.

His wife, a doctor at a local hospital, married into money, and enjoys a life that most would consider ideal. However all is not well in the Greystone household, and life gets worse in a hurry. Zoe planned to runaway from home, for not only was she a genius, but also a new convert to a growing 'extremist' religion, monotheism. Thats right, The one "true" god. Before she's able to escape however, she is killed in a terroist attack orchestrated by her boyfriend, Ben, whose zealotry and extremism obviously ran deeper and darker then Zoe's.

Into the mix are thrown Joe Adama and his Tauron family. Think of Tauron's as a combination of all the worlds cultures that have mafia and gang stereotypes in them. There Italian-Irish-Russian-Corsican, plus a couple I missed. Joe Adama, somewhat corrupt lawyer/family man lost his wife and daughter in the bombing. He's a man who has been straddling two worlds, the Halatha (Mafia) and the straight and narrow, and the bombing throws his world into chaos. Without the grounding of his wife and daughter he begins to fall back on his roots, and rely on the dangerous power the syndicate can give its members. His son, who is later revealed to be Bill Adama (later Commander Adama of Battlestar Galactica) now looks up to Joe's much grittier much more dangerous brother, Sam. Sam who has embraced being Tauron and revels in the respect such thuggery brings, is not exactly an ideal role model.

With the death of Zoe Greystone, her AI-Avatar is thrown into minor chaos, and is soon discovered by her father. The tantalizing prospect is now there, to reconnect with his daughter through the form of immortality shes has created. A prospect he dangles in front of his new friend Joe Adama, just the sort of thing you don't do to a man whose just lost most of his world. Simon hatches a plan to move his daughter into the real world. He just needs a little favor from Joe, a theft from a rival corporation for the right processor. The plan works and soon he's beta testing his daughters new robotic body, you guessed it... a cylon prototype. Unfortunately, his attempt appears to fail, and he lossed his daughter in the digital soup of the machine.

However the Zoe avatar survives and is now bonded with her robotic extension, enabling it to have the reaction time, and reflexes of an actual human being. We leave the pilot not knowing what will happen next, but this is an amazing and tantalizing start to a great show.

The world of Caprica is rich and full of life, and reminds of our world, while yet being just out of reach. It's not as dark and depressing as Battlestar, but it retains its "real" edginess. It asks questions, but doesn't leave us with moral lessons, just more questions. In part two of this review I'll discuss the first episode so stay tuned....

Caprica airs on SYFY channel on Friday Nights. Check your local listings...

5 cylons out of 5