Note : Unaired pilot's spoiler-free review
Almost two years ago I watched the Battlestar Galactica mini-series and 33, the season 1 first episode of the reimagined version. I was so impressed by it that I got my hand on its DVD to watch the full season. However for some reason, probably an evil copy protection system or dumb region encoding, I never managed to play it using my media center. To sum things up, I have never seen the first season so I don't know much about BG. But considering the high impact the mini-series and pilot had on me I had no doubt Caprica would be a great show. However now that I have seen its pilot I can say it just broke the dream barrier of my highest expectations.
First the production quality is really good. There're still a few mistakes, like some bad lighting at times, but overall it's top notch. The interior designers worked really hard and the comfy-techy Graystone house should blow away most viewers. The digital visual effects are so well mixed to the real settings that it dramatically smooths the immersion process. All the high-end gadgets and technologies are also quite interesting because they're in fact just improved versions of the cellphones or ebook readers we daily use for example.
All these elements contribute to anchor Caprica in our reality. It's not just fiction, it's a vision of what our world could be in fifty years or less. It's the whole point of science-fiction but the events never felt so palpable. Moreover the casting is impressive and even if I had never seen the performers before I'm already convinced by their talent and found Eric Stoltz was perfect as Daniel Graystone. He should be the Gaius Baltar of Caprica as he invented a virtual reality device and is working on a robot. eXistenZ and Terminator were the first referenced that came to my mind but more recently I also think Virtuality should be considered.
The story itself is just fascinating and all the contemporary topics covered make the show even more interesting : Religion, terrorism, mind (Dollhouse ?), death… In fact the beginning was slow because the writers took the time of properly introducing the characters but once some major and dramatic event occured, the arc unfolded and then the minutes became like seconds. Moreover it was really unexpected and it felt like if I was actually watching the news. Moreover the action takes place 58 years before BG so we know what's coming but as with the Terminator franchise it makes the story even more intriguing. It's the how that matters the most here and not the "What will happen ?".
However I can't help pointing out a few mistakes and a certain lack of attention to details. For example even if the fictional world is believable I think it's still a bit too contemporary and at times I even thought the action was occuring years ago when the visuals should depict a relatively far future. However it didn't repel me and somehow it even seduced me because it made the collision between the traditional and technological worlds even more impressive. An other disappointment was the solution Daniel found to his research issue. How he managed to get things done was interesting because it was like solving a puzzle but his decision was a cliché because the idea has already been used dozens of times. I'm sure the writers could have come up with something more original if they had the time. The drone-like robot at the house seemed misplaced because its actions didn't really require mobility. Is it some sort of twisted reference to Wall•E ? But again I'm probably just picky because that mechanical pet made the scenes more entertaining in the end. Last but not least I also didn't quite like how the virtual club was depicted as it looked like a messy mash-up of dark underground fantasies. I think the writers should have focused on a single room with one type of event happening. Moreover the scenes were rushed and it was nothing like Eyes Wide Shut for example.
But beside these few cons I already consider Caprica as a true sci-fi masterpiece. It was both scary, smart and fascinating. Morever according to Wikipedia the show "will have a story arc-heavy format" like BG so the writers will have the time to deeply cover the events and make them as accurate as possible.