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<i>Caprica</I>: Not the <i>Battlestar</I> Prequel We Had Hoped For

It has only been a month since Battlestar Galactica's finale left us dazed and confused, so I was looking forward to watching the DVD (available today) of the much anticipated Caprica prequel. It seemed like the perfect way to fill the void in my life since BSG went off the air. Unfortunately, this pilot (which is scheduled to air in some form or another in early 2010 on SyFy) wasn't everything I could have hoped for and more. Instead it was dull... and actually pretty boring. I'm not planning on writing off the show based on this one episode, which isn't even in its final state, but I had grander expectations for this based on the fact that the BSG mini-series was so mind-blowingly awesome. It deals with some interesting subject matter for die hard BSG fans, from the creation of Cylons and the history of the Adama family, but it is lacking some of the intensity that the BSG remake had from the get-go. Here were the things that I found most disappointing. Be warned, if you haven't watched the DVD yet, this review does contain some minor spoilers.

Too soapy
This prequel centers on the lives of Stoltz's brainiac computer genius Daniel Graystone and Esai Morales' middle-class lawyer Joseph Adams/Adama. These patriarchs are from different worlds and butt heads over legal and ethical issues involving gods, cylons and humanity. While the two actors are strong, and their scenes together are well acted, it just seems a little too hero vs. villain simplistic. Combine the rivalry with a whole bunch of family drama, lots of focus on class issues and a supporting cast of mostly forgettable teens, and you've got yourself a sci-fi soap.

No strong females
One thing that I personally always loved about BSG was the multitude of complex no-nonsense women featured. Not just Starbuck and President Roslin, but also Six and Tory and Ellen Tigh and D'Anna, just to name a few. They were all flawed in their own ways, but they weren't afraid of speaking their minds or to fight for what they believed in. So far on Caprica, we've seen Paula Malcolmson's Amanda wander around vacantly looking for her husband to take care of her and Polly Walker's headmistress keeping her true identity a secret. These are both commanding actresses who have little good material to chew on. And the teen females weren't much more compelling, though the spunky Zoe Graystone (Alessandra Toreson) showed a bit of promise.

Poorly paced
This two-hour pilot suffered because it felt like a two-hour pilot. At the end of the episode I was exhausted and had to force myself to sit through the deleted scenes. Compare that to BSG's miniseries, which left me breathless and begging for more. Caprica has a lot of nudity, a bunch of virtual insanity and one big explosion, but the rest is pretty much laden with supposedly thought-provoking dialogue.

Limited appeal
I will watch this show out of loyalty to BSG, but I'm not entirely sure who the target audience for it is. It doesn't seem like it was made for BSG fans, but it also doesn't seem like something that would appeal to people who aren't familiar with this universe. It deals with Caprica before its fall and the events that led up to the nuclear explosion, which, in theory, is interesting in a historical sense. But if you weren't a BSG fan, I'm not sure it would resonate when Joseph sits Little Bill down and tells him that they are Adamas, or when you see how the first Centurion model came to life.

I've spent the last several years of my life pestering my non-geeky friends to watch Battlestar by telling them it was so much more than what they pre-conceived, but here, I don't think I can argue the same. I hope that this series finds its footing as it goes along, but so far, I'm underwhelmed. I want to like it, I really do, because I'd like to see more BSG spin-offs or movies, but I imagine that watching this is how those Star Trek fans felt when they saw the premiere of Enterprise.

The DVD is available today to buy, so you can judge for yourself. Then let me know what you think.

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