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.