[Mild spoilers, but probably nothing you don’t already know if you’re bothering to read this…]
Finally saw the pilot of Caprica today (huzzah for HD TiVo!), and I have to say, it was pretty frakkin’ great. I’m really not sure what I expected, apart from “Battlestar Galactica prequel, with proto-Cylons,” but I’m pretty sure it wasn’t what it turns out to be. (Well, OK, it did have proto-Cylons, which I admit brought a nostalgic tear to my eye. Kind of like the half-finished Death Star at the end of Revenge of the Sith.)
Apparently the story was originally nothing to do with BSG, but the good people of SyFy have done a surprisingly good job shoehorning it in to the pre-existing framework—(ur-)Cylons! Gods! Retro-hip clothing! “Frakkin’!”—and more importantly of continuing the BSG tradition of moral ambiguities and inversions.
The techo-babble doesn’t bear too much thinking about, but you didn’t really expect it to, did you? And it all goes down pretty easily thanks to some excellent production design (I suppose I should be pretentious and refer to mise-en-scène here). As in BSG the design is all “earthlike”; no wild Star Trekky aliens and costumes on Caprica. It reminds me a bit of a great line from Babe: Pig In the City: it’s set “a little to the left of the twentieth century.” The Caprica City backgrounds reminded me a little of old matte paintings from movies set in the not-too-distant future Year 2000, except of course in nice sparkly HD; I’ve always been a sucker for matte paintings. The actors were reasonably good, especially Alessandra Torresani, in what I imagine is the most fun role in the series. That’s her in the picture, being Eve, in case you missed the Gnostic relevance of her character’s name.1
I’ve no idea how long it will take Caprica to run out of steam, as I’m sure it will. It took BSG about a season and a half before it started becoming obvious that the writers were starting to flounder. I’ll take a season and a half of this.
1. See also Genesis 3:20 in the Septuagint.