Caprica

Season 1 Episode 1

Pilot

4
Aired Friday 10:00 PM Jan 22, 2010 on Syfy
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8.8
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  • Caprica is a touching portrait of grief following a tragic accident. It is the story of the rise of a new religion, originating in an internet sub-culture. Oh, and by the way, it's also the new prequel series from the creators of Battlestar Galactica.

    8.0
    *Minor Spoilers Ahead* Caprica is a touching portrait of grief following a tragic accident. It is the story of the rise of a new religion, originating in an internet sub-culture. It is a peek at racism in politics, and the corruption that goes with it. Oh, and by the way, it's also the new prequel series from the creators of Battlestar Galactica. Judging by the pilot however, Caprica will not represent more of the same. Wherever BSG was loud and operatic, Caprica is quiet and meditative. The former was character-based, but mainly focused on what happened when those characters got caught up in events bigger than themselves. In Caprica, the characters are making their own destinies, for better or worse. Zoe Graystone (Alessandra Torresani) is the daughter of a famous robotics developer (Eric Stoltz). Alienated by her parents, Zoe turns to a virtual world for comfort. There she meets other like-minded teenagers who form a group dedicated to the "one true god." Thus starts the clash that is present throughout Battlestar of polytheistic vs. monotheistic religion. One of Zoe's friends takes things too far and decides that violence is the way to spread the word. The resulting explosion kills Zoe along with many others. Fortunately, Zoe was also a brilliant programmer, and before she died she created a digital version of herself that is nearly identical to the real thing. Torresani's performance as the digital Zoe is powerful and creepy and really makes the concept work. The strength of Caprica is how it explores grief in the aftermath of this tragedy. Daniel Graystone, his wife Amanda, as well as Joseph Adams (Adama) deal with their losses in very believable ways. The extravagant, yet static and bare estate where the Graystones live perfectly illustrates their isolation and despair. Daniel and Joseph meet fortuitously and bond over their losses (Joseph lost a wife and daughter, leaving his son William all alone). The actors meet this challenge well and it provides a strong emotional core for the show going forward. What brings someone out of grief? Acceptance, and the willingness to move on, perhaps. This might work for Joseph Adams, but things change for Daniel Graystone when he discovers that a version of his daughter is still alive and well in her computer. Daniel's sole purpose then becomes to find a way to bring his daughter back into the real world--to cheat death. He never accepts his daughter's death, at least not in the pilot, and his quest just makes him have to experience the loss over again. This is a satisfying pilot as a standalone story, but will it make an interesting series? The connections to BSG are tenuous at best, and force the viewer to try to make connections that may or may not be there and aren't really interesting at this point in the series anyway. The story being told may have worked best outside of the Battlestar universe, where the virtual reality element would feel more prescient if actually linked to the internet of today (as in the similar Serial Experiments: Lain), and the terrorist elements would also hit harder. This series is really nothing like the space opera that Battlestar Galactica was for much of its run, but that doesn't mean it can't be a compelling series in its own right.
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