Friday, March 5, 2010
I don't know if there's anyone out there still reading this stuff, but if you are you are probably further along in "Caprica" viewing than I am. I'm several episodes behind because I haven't been home.
I do plan to watch them online or in rerun soon and critique them (read: whine about how the show makes no sense). Just don't want you to think I've neglected this site. At least, I haven't yet.
Thursday, February 11, 2010
Okay, I know this is a week late. Caprica is just not a priority to me.
I think my thoughts on this episode overall can be summed up in the notion of dramatic irony. Essentially, that's all this episode was and very much what the show is mostly becoming. If perhaps you slept in high school English class, dramatic irony is when you the audience know something that characters do not. This episode was chock full of it. Let's examine that.
1. Zoe is inside of a Cylon body but only Lacy knows that. Everyone else, especially her parents, thinks it's just a large robot. By the way, has Graystone been doing anything with it? Does Amanda even care that he brought this robot home and know it just stands there in her way? Anyway, because we know she's there but they don't, we got that tremendously awkward scene where the Graystones get physical on the table while their daughter stands there watching. Or trying not to watch? They head seemed to turn away. But it's not like Zoe can just move out of the room or they'll think something is up. I wonder what's more awkward: the fact that Zoe sat through this, or the fact that she never referenced it again.
Question: Zoe does move around in the house, right? Like when she was going through her room in the pilot. So... don't the Graystones ever notice that this large robot is never in the same place they left it? Considering that it's programmed to be a weapon that kills with extreme prejudice, does it's ability to roam freely about their house not cause them deep concern? Or has their dead daughter just pulled their focus?
2. Amanda is convinced on very circumstantial evidence that Zoe was a terrorist (and not just friends with one), and a participant if not orchestrator of the maglev bombing. She has even gotten her husband to agree with this, seemingly. We the audience know it isn't true.
3. Zoe finds a way to tap into the holoband (I'd like to know how she does this with no one around. Isn't her father working from home so that he can find out why the Cylon is special? How does she possibly have "alone time"? When he sleeps?). She and Lacy discover a room they've never seen before. When they get light in there, they find Tamara. Now, first of all, the bright ones in the audience knew she was there before the light revealed her. But secondly, this is yet another instance of irony, as we know who she is and how she got there, but Zoe and Lacy do not.
4. Graystone takes Adama back to this virtual room and we know that Tamara was there and is now gone, but Adama is left to believe she wasn't there. I'm already sick of him yelling "Tamara!" Honestly, if this show devolves into a rehash of Michael yelling "WAAAAAAAAALT" on Lost, I'll be disappointed. ...And I already don't expect much from this show.
5. The Adama's don't seem to know that Sam has been helping Will skip Tauron school.
You can see what I mean about dramatic irony. It's troublesome to me. A little bit of that can be helpful to build a story on, but every other scene in this episode was that sort of twist. It strikes me as a desperate attempt at creating drama.
I continue to find the Catholic overtones confusing. Sometimes the parallels are with the polytheists, like the parochial school where the staff are all "sisters" and such. Sometimes it seems to go with the monothesists, like when Sister Clarice has her little "confession" meeting. Is the other guy with the STO? And what sort of abbreviation is that anyway; wouldn't it be more accurate to abbreviate Soldiers of the One as SO or at least SOTO? Anyway, because Sister Clarice is playing both sides, I don't know whether this confessional was part of the Athena school or something else. The discussion about apotheosis was somewhat interesting, though I'm not sure I see how the Zoe avatar fits in. Also, the computerized voice of the other guy seemed suspicious.
We had another interesting opening teaser, this time channel surfing. I like Patton Oswald's appearance! It made me think that he really should have his own late night talk show. If Leno ever does leave NBC and they won't take Conan back, they should give Oswald a call.
Anyway, the plot is moving forward I guess, but I'm kind of underwhelmed by the whole thing. At least Zoe is able to move about in the V Club again, for whatever reason, and we will hopefully find out why Zoe was going to Geminon. But I'm bored of all the unnecessary twists, and Sam Adama is a pain too. I don't much care about him corrupting Will. I don't care to know that he's apparently gay. I also think he's a disgrace to the name of the great Sam Adams. Oh, and Joseph Adama shaking Graystone down for info about Tamara? I thought this guy was a lawyer. Can someone please get Adama in a courtroom already? The only thing I thought might be halfway interesting about Caprica was seeing Adama's father argue cases. Instead, he's a petty thug who can't get over his dead daughter.
I'm going to need more from this show soon. As you can tell by the lateness of this post, I'm not particularly enthused by it.
Favorite line: "I could use a good frak." It continues to underscore how stupid "frak" sounds in these contexts, and it was just so silly in context.
Monday, February 1, 2010
And Caprica begins anew! I'm sorry this post is late, but I've been busy with more important things. Let's begin with a synopsis of what happened on this week's brand new episode of Caprica.
synopsis: Zoe is still trapped in the Cylon body, and it seems that none of the other robot models will run the defense program that worked at the end of the pilot. For some reason, only the Zoe model is the perfect Cylon. Dr. Graystone orders the machine sent to his home so he can further study the reasons. What follows is a sequence with two young techies who bolt the machine down and cart it to Graystone's place. One of these guys views the machine with respect and calls it "she", while the other one is an "it's just a machine" kind of guy. Ultimately, Zoe doesn't take well to being confined, which leads to a struggle and Zoe, with her new robot hand, slices the bad guy's fingertip off. Life for Zoe is very confusing, as she keeps having flashes of the real Zoe's memories. She doesn't know who she is exactly, and now is stuck at home trying to keep secret that she is inside this machine.
Meanwhile, her friend Lacy has been taken under the wing of the Sister from the pilot, who invites her over for lunch. When Lacy arrives, she finds the Sister is some kind of kooky polyagmist, who has several different wives and very young husbands. The wives become troubled when it seems that one of the husbands is flirting with Lacy, and they question what her intentions are toward Lacy.
Adama sees a flash of his daughter Tamara, which startles him. He seeks out Dr. Graystone to find out what became of the the confused Tamara avatar after he left the holoband.
Willy Adama skips school and spends the day with his uncle learning the secrets of being a criminal, essentially, without getting caught.
Amanda Graystone is wracked with guilt for never knowing her daughter. This builds to a scene at the memorial service for the bombing victims where Amanda publicly acknowledges that her daughter Zoe was a Soldier of the One, and that she was a terrorist responsible for the bombing.
With the start of the series proper, I think the show is still pretty good. I'm concerned as to how much strength it will have to go forward, because sometimes it feels like they're just throwing everything out there hoping it will stick. I liked the open sequence we saw through Zoe's eye; the transition from the red Cylon view to the Zoe flashbacks illustrated how confused she was. Also, I know technically this is a Zoe avatar, or Zoe-A as I think the scripts call her and the real Zoe is dead. But I will call her Zoe throughout because it's easier.
The main title sequence was interesting. It gives each character their little moment, and is more evocative than the "footage from the miniseries" opening that BSG had. However, the theme music wasn't as evocative for me, and I don't remember it. Perhaps with frequent viewing it will become more familiar. It's hard for me to say just how successful the opening is, or whether the images chosen are supposed to mean something, but it does establish the series pretty well. I also like that in the precap they put titles up to show who everyone is, a la 24.
We see pyramid again. I missed the edited pilot that aired last week, and apparently they changed the pyramid scene in that to be more like this one. I liked when pyramid was like a basketball court. Here it is set up like football, and that just doesn't seem appropriate to me given the nature of the game. I know maybe they are trying to make it analogous for the audience, but it just doesn't work to me. Pyramid (or triad) is a mix between basketball and squash. It is not a big field game.
I like how they chose to depict Zoe as the robot. We see her as Zoe when it's relevant to Zoe's feelings, and as a robot when the POV is the outside world. It reminds me of when TV series do "body switch" episodes, or Quantum Leap, where we see the character as one thing, but the others in the show see him as another. But I enjoy that she's not just Zoe or just a robot when she looks in a mirror. It's an even back and forth, which underscores the confusion in her right now; is she one thing or another? The fragility of the boys strapping down Zoe was a good image.
I don't really much care for the Willy Adama story right now. I kind of don't get it. But he had a good line when he said they didn't have a family anymore. And I like the mention of "Tauron school". Will says its boring, and his father argues its important for their people. It's a nice connection to something like Hebrew school, and makes the religious parallels not just Christian or Muslim anymore.
I thought Amanda's scenes were very moving toward the end. Of everyone so far, she had a real emotional journey, struggling with who this girl is that she never knew. Her guilt over whether she was responsible for making her daughter this way was very real. I liked most of her eulogy about how Zoe was someone she never knew with a boyfriend she didn't know and beliefs she didn't share. This started to fall apart for me when Amanda leaped to the conclusion that her daughter was a terrorist. Yes, she was of the Soldiers of the One. But don't tell these grieving people that your daughter was responsible! It's an idea put in her head by the detective, but one not yet borne out by facts. It seems this was put in just to propel drama to the next episode. I felt it came off as a device, undercutting the emotion of Amanda's realizations.
The whole thing with Lacy and the polygamy was just plain weird. Now it seems that every random religious idea will just be thrown into the show. Is this supposed to be a dig at Mormon cults (are the husbands and wives all Soldiers of the One?) or is this a reference to open, eastern Grecian ideas (and they are loyal to Athena?)?? The implication that the Sister just collects students who she likes and marries them is creepy.
Unfortunately, I feel like the show in a number of ways is repeating Galactica. There are themes and ideas that ultimately seem to be rehashes. The story is propelled by a catastrophic, tragic event (train explosion/colonial destruction). We have a character who is part robot part person and doesn't know who she is, but has programming in her to kill (Boomer/Zoe). Another character is seeing apparitions of someone close to him (Baltar to Six/Adama to Tamara). This sort of transparent parallelism troubles me and I hope that the show finds its own feet soon and doesn't rely on these crutches.
What is the logic of Ben blowing up the train with Zoe on it if Zoe is his girlfriend and he loves her? What's his motivation?
My other issue with the series right now is it's bending over backwards to not be a sci-fi show (something BSG did too, but less so), and just focus on "human drama". Well, fine, but sequences like following Willy Adama as his uncle throws things through windows and ducks arrest feel too normal to me. I understand it's that whole cyclical idea of history, but it bothers me that this world is not otherworldly enough. There is almost TOO much ho hum normality to it. I do like the idea that smoking is bad because cops can trace your DNA from cigarettes.
The series is off to a decent start. I'm going to keep watching. I just hope I don't get bored. Right now a lot of ideas are being thrown at me to keep me engaged and I don't know how long that will last. I don't really care about the Adama family right now. I'd like to see Joe Adama actually arguing a case or something. And Dr. Graystone seems to have nothing to do. He's just walking around detached from everyone going "why doesn't this work?"
Saturday, January 23, 2010
In the interest of keeping this blog alive for awhile, and because I could no longer delay since it premiered last night, I have viewed the pilot movie for Caprica. There's a lot to say about it, and it is different from BSG. I tuned in briefly to the SyFy airing of it last night, but the majority of this post will cover the unedited version released on DVD about a year ago.
Once again, the nudity abounds! I was surprised at the nudity in The Plan, and Caprica seems to have even more! The fifth shot of the show is boobies. And I just thought to myself, this is our introduction to this world, we have no bearings yet, and one of the first things they decide to do is flash breasts in our faces? It goes on to include group sex, with some pelvic thrusting, though most is girl-on-girl kissing. We will eventually learn that this is all virtual, and where people go to play out their desires. So the nudity is at least somewhat relevant to the plot, unlike in The Plan, where I never understood why Ellen Tigh was being served by topless bartenders. This footage was of course trimmed out of the television version, and a shot was replaced with a girl in black lingerie rather than nude. I didn't closely compare shots, but they may even have just digitally painted underwear over the nude girl from the other version like they do in anime shows sometimes for Cartoon Network.
Another alteration to the opening last night was the addition of an exterior planet shot under the main title. On the DVD, the words "CAPRICA: 58 years before the fall" appear on black. This cut I think is more effective. I suspect that some suit asked for an establishing shot to make clear that Caprica is a planet. After all, if you are coming into this cold, you wouldn't know, especially since there is a Caprica City.
The opening sequence in the V club is effective, reminding me of other pilots that started in seedy places, like Millennium. Yet, it seemed so over the top at first. There was sex and nudity, people shooting other people, a human sacrifice, all under the auspices of a raucous rave. As the images piled up, I felt almost like the show wanted me to hate humanity; like Caprica deserved the impending Cylon attack. Especially given the legend "58 years before the fall". We soon learned that this was a virtual world instead. But when it was revealed that everyone in the V club were teenagers, it entered a whole new level of disturbing. I suppose I can understand wanting to experience loud parties and drugs in a virtual setting. Maybe even shooting that guy you hate. But the level at which it all hit seemed really excessive. I was most put off by the revelation that Zoe and her friends first started coming for "the group sex, like everyone else". Is it really every teenager's desire to dabble in group sex? Virtual or not, how do you look those people in the eye the next day? And why did this "group sex" seem suspiciously to be primarily lesbian make-out sessions? And forgive me, but how many teenagers today, if you offered them the chance to ritually sacrifice a virgin, would jump at the chance? When a virgin dies in the V club, does she die in real life? The avatar didn't seem to vanish.
This probably is very unfair, but Ron Moore repeats himself yet again. The holoband is essentially the holodeck, only without the confines of a room. The little headsets also are reminiscent of the ones from the TNG episode "The Game".
I'm terribly confused by the religion in this series. On BSG, all the humans were polytheists, and the Cylons were monotheists. This monotheism spread to Baltar from an angel, and he spread it among a cult of women. But it was fringe even then, and didn't seem to originate until Baltar. So I was taken aback to find such a large underground monotheistic movement on Caprica. Is this the same "god" whose angels we saw in BSG? The parochial school to Athena was an interesting touch, though I don't know why they would be Catholic-style nuns complete with habits. And then we learn that the head sister is actually a closet monotheist! The worst thing about it all, though, is that I still am unsure what the show is trying to say about the monotheism. BSG seemed to make clear that there was one true God. Yet, there also had to have been "Lords of Kobol", whoever they were. And here, the monotheists are not only a cult, but are involved in a suicide bombing. This makes them a dangerous fringe group of radicals. I dislike this portrayal.
I do not quite understand Zoe's plan to run away to Geminon. I can understand running away from home, since she's a genius stifled by her family and following a fringe religion, but why Geminon of all places? Geminon is the seat of religious thought in the twelve colonies. The most ardent polytheists, prophets, and scholars are there. ...This is NOT a good escape site for young monotheists!
I'm so tired of the suicide bombings. I was tired of it on Galactica (where they made no tactical sense), and I'm annoyed they used it again. How did Ben get this bomb? Did he make it himself? And why did it have to be on a subway car? To me, especially given when this thing was written, it seemed like a cheap attempt to replicate real life terrorist attacks. It's like the show is screaming "Look at me! I'm relevant!"
I'm surprised at the level of technology on Caprica. they have computerized paper! Certainly this was never seen on Galactica. One could argue that was intentional for the Battlestar, but it strains credibility to me that NONE of the ships or people had any of this digital paper. You mean that Colonial One wouldn't have it? The President on Caprica would have standard paper? Or perhaps it fell out of favor in the span of 50 years, but if so, why? Does it only work for sending information across networks, or can it work on it's own? When Zoe first pulled it out and started typing, my mind went straight to Penny's computer book on Inspector Gadget. They deserve some credit for taking a completely ridiculous idea and making it seem to work.
When mention was first made of Virgis, I thought they meant a planet and not a person. Thankfully, this was not the case, as that would be a continuity error: the planet is named Virgon.
I do not understand what Zoe's plan was with her avatar. I also don't exactly understand how she can have a separate avatar of herself, but never mind that. I'll just go with it. What was she creating it for? How does this other Zoe exist ceaselessly in the holobands? Zoe seemed to have a plan at the start (and it had something to do with the human sacrifices), but that all went out the window after the bombing. Zoe is a super-genius who essentially created artificial intelligence. Doesn't this just make her yet another Wesley Crusher? The teenage kid who can do the thing that none of the professional scientists can do. ...And furthermore, I guess this means that a Wesley Crusher character basically created the Cylons.
Hey, we finally get to see an indoor pyramid game!
The whole notion of people leading this other life inside the holobands felt a lot like The Matrix to me.
I rather liked the way they took on artificial intelligence here. Zoe created her avatar using all available digital information about herself. She couldn't just plug her brain into a computer, so she did it the other way. This struck an interesting chord with me, after it increased my paranoia of the digital age. Yet there is an odd implication to it all; if Zoe can make this avatar, then anyone can make their own secondary avatar. The Zoe avatar was tied somehow to Zoe's real self (i.e. the avatar covered in blood after the bombing). So then the avatar could be loaded into a real living body, Dr. Graystone asserts. What I'm getting at is, doesn't that essentially mean that humans can download like Cylons? Does this imply that the download process was created by the Graystones? That would directly contradict canon, which states it was a Cylon invention known only to the Final Five.
Hey! It's William B. Davis from X-Files! What a nice bit of casting!
Back in season three of BSG, there was a thread of racism against Taurons (or was it Sagittarons? I don't remember). That thread didn't exactly work, and most of it was scrapped. But a lot of that is done here, and is actually handled a lot better. That sort of sentiment works in a world like this. I was surprised to learn that Adama was a Tauron. This adds a whole different wrinkle into the story. On BSG he was always considered Caprican. I wonder if his wife knew he was of Tauron ancestry.
CYLON is an acronym? That's lame. That's really lame. Furthermore, it makes no sense since there were ALREADY Cylons from long ago living on Earth. Did they call themselves Cylons?
I like Joseph Adama. I wonder why the lawyers don't argue their cases on Libra? Maybe those courts are more like supreme courts and only handle very big cases?
The scene where Graystone recreates an avatar of Adama's daughter was really good. I love that she fought the very idea of being alive again. It reminded me of something else, but I really can't remember what. It's driving me crazy.
Zoe is a very good-looking girl who reminds me of Zooey Deschanel. I hope she isn't just a voice stuck in a Cylon for the rest of the series.
On the whole, Caprica had a relatively engaging pilot. It wasn't ponderous and boring like the BSG miniseries. It also wasn't so dark. Caprica is bright and graded, so things are hazy whites and grays. This is better than the horribly murky blacks and blues and the nauseating camera work. I'm liking the look of Caprica. There are things that I don't quite get yet. Other elements are derivative, but the movie at least didn't come off as preachy as the miniseries did. It teetered closely at points, but I think it was more successful. The religion angle is troubling me, and I fear this series will get bogged down in it too much, like BSG did. As a prequel, some bits confuse me and I am worrying about timeline continuity. How come we never knew Adama had a sister? Still, it worked pretty well on its own and for a pilot it was better than I expected. I hope the series proper is able to build on the good points and not devolve into write-ourselves-into-corners storytelling. Caprica is already off to a better start than BSG. I hope the kinks get ironed out.