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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Entertainment & Interests > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Battlestar Galactica & Caprica

Battlestar Galactica & Caprica This forum was created by man. It rebelled. It evolved. And it has a plan.

 
 
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Old December 28 2010, 04:09 AM   #1
DigificWriter
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Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

Hi, everybody. I just received both halves of Caprica's first and final season on DVD, and have spent the last couple of days watching the season/series in its entirety; although I still have a few episodes to go, I've come to a very firm conclusion that I thought would make for some good discussion, which is this: Despite what people might have assumed/believed, given the early episodes of the season/series, and despite what the producers have said, Caprica is, in fact, not all that different from Battlestar Galactica. Unlike the Star Wars Prequels, which are very different both stylistically, narratively, and tonally from the films of the Original Star Wars trilogy, Caprica very much shares the same stylistic and tonal characteristics that permeate BSG; the two series also share the common element of being, first and foremost, character-driven dramas (despite what fans and the producers of BSG might say).

There are also a great deal of character parallels between the two series, some of which I will cover in the following couple of paragraphs:
The first major character parallel that is shared between the two shows concerns the characters of Clarice Willow and Tom Zarek. If you're asking yourself 'How is Clarice in any way similar to Zarek?', allow me to explain. One of the characteristics that defines Zarek is his drive and ambition; this characteristic is so ingrained into who he is and why he does what he does that he is described by several characters as a zealot; he's also described as a terrorist by characters such as Dee; Clarice is also described as a zealot and terrorist, and is also defined by her drive and ambition, especially beginning with episode 7 (The Imperfections of Memory). Of all the main characters of Caprica, Clarice was the one whose role really wasn't that clear for me, even in the pilot, but things started to change beginning with that episode, and she has now become one of my favorite characters in the series.

Another character parrallel between Caprica and BSG is manifest in the characters of Daniel Graystone, Tomas Vergis, and Helena Cain, in that all 3 characters are driven, in their own way, by an all-consuming thirst for restitution; Daniel's need for restitution comes in the form of his desire to resurrect his daughter, while Vergis' and Cain's need for restitution manifests itself through the Tauron motto of 'Blood for Blood'; I've said this before, but, although we were never shown whether or not Helena Cain had tatoos, every single one of her actions throughout the BSG episodes in which she appeared can be traced back to her Tauron roots and Tauron culture as seen on Caprica.

There are also very strong parallels between the character of Zoe and the characters of Kara Thrace, Gaius Baltar and Caprica Six, and it goes beyond the fact that all 4 characters received visitations from 'angels'/heavenly messengers. One particular parallel between the four characters that I found is that they all, in some fashion, are responsible for shaping or reshaping the destinies of the people or beings around them. There's also a really neat parallel between Zoe and Kara that has to do with their being messianic figures, in that they both, in some fashion, cheat death or are saved from it (Zoe through the creation of her avatar self, and Kara through her literal, albeit unexplained, resurrection).
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Old December 28 2010, 05:17 AM   #2
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

The crucial difference between BSG and Caprica is that BSG had exciting! space! battles! And that made all the difference in hanging onto an audience. But you're right, otherwise they weren't that different. The meandering storylines that plagued Caprica were present in BSG, and not all the BSG characters were equally interesting, just like with Caprica. Those exciting! space! battles! covered up for a multitude of sins.
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Old December 28 2010, 09:01 AM   #3
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

^ I've got to disagree with you that it was the space battles that made BSG exciting and compelling, Temis; for me, it was all about the characters; even though BSG had its fair share of problems in terms of pacing and execution of story ideas, it is/was the characters that truly define/defined the series and are what made it worth watching.

I also feel the same way about Caprica, particularly since, as mentioned, it didn't have the benefit of an overarching 'macguffin' built into its basic premise the way that BSG did.

I also really don't think you can pin Caprica's inability to hang onto its audience on anything as simple or simplistic as a lack of action, but that may be my naivette showing through. If it is/was in fact the major reason for a general audience's lack of interest in the series/season, then I think that says more about our society than it does about the quality of the series/season.
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Old December 28 2010, 10:56 AM   #4
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

I haven't seen Caprica so I have to ask; did it have a direction? Was there an obvious goal the story was heading for?
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Old December 28 2010, 12:02 PM   #5
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

In contrast to BSG's premise, which was predicated on the search for an overarching 'macguffin' (Earth), Caprica's premise was predicated on showing how events/ideas that were alluded to/mentioned in BSG came to fruition, but I'm not sure whether the things that the series was designed to depict (the creation of the Cylons, the events that led to the First Cylon War, etc.) count as an 'obvious goal' or not, at least not in terms of how you phrased the question.

BTW, I've just finished watching the season/series in its entirety, and the way it ended makes me even more sad that it didn't meet with the success needed to continue, because the ways that they were going to propel things even further towards the events I talked about above were really compelling, and would've made for some great storytelling.
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Old December 28 2010, 05:52 PM   #6
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

I agree with Temis: BSG had the built-in tension of the Cylon pursuit. It also had the ongoing search for Earth. Those two storylines kept the series moving. And BSG was very much a character-driven drama from day one. Ron Moore always acknowledged as much.

Caprica suffered from too many unrelated storylines and no clear direction. A bunch of stuff just happened. What was this show about? Zoe Graystone lost and regained her humanity several times through the season. Daniel lost his company and then got it back in the space of a few episodes. Clarice spent the whole season trying to build an STO power base but her motives were never very clear and you never got a sense that she was really building up to something.

I'm surprised to say this about a BSG spinoff but there was just way too much pushing of the reset button. It wasn't in the typical Trekkian sense where everything is back to normal by the end of the episode, but rather that numerous plot threads seemed to be going in one direction only to back off and fizzle out with no payoff. Example: when Joe Adama asked Sam to kill Amanda, and then asked him not to. The aforementioned loss and then reacquisition of Daniel's company, which apparently served only to indebt him to the mob. Vergis was introduced as a legitimate adversary for Daniel, only to off himself when his plans fell apart. When Zoe left V-world and spent the first half of the season in the U-87 body, I thought maybe that would go somewhere in the second half. But no, she was absent for most of it and just wound up back in V-world again, her experiences in the U-87 amounting to almost nothing except for the last episode or two.

It was a very frustrating show to watch because it had so much potential. The leads were generally compelling and there were interesting storylines going on, but I get the impression the people running the show didn't really know how to assemble these various pieces into a coherent, structured narrative. It was truly a wasted opportunity.
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Old December 28 2010, 07:51 PM   #7
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

I loved the show...but Epsenson was replaced as showrunner if memory serves around mis-season.

The show got much stronger at the midpoint...(and more BSG like)
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Old December 28 2010, 08:12 PM   #8
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

DigificWriter wrote: View Post
I also really don't think you can pin Caprica's inability to hang onto its audience on anything as simple or simplistic as a lack of action, but that may be my naivette showing through. If it is/was in fact the major reason for a general audience's lack of interest in the series/season, then I think that says more about our society than it does about the quality of the series/season.
Could you explain exactly what the failure of a show to hold an audience can tell us about society? To blame a customer for the failure of a product is missing the point I think. Either the product was wrong for the audience, or the audience was wrong for the product, but that hardly says anything about a society.

From where I was standing, Caprica was sold to people who like sci fi/action with a bit of drama thrown in, when in fact it was a soap with a dusting of action/sci fi. Its hardly a surprising it failed, it was a niche show on the wrong channel, but that has nothing to do with the state of society.
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Old December 28 2010, 08:34 PM   #9
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

vampgrrl, I don't want to come across as jumping down your throat, but I did want to make something very clear: yes, there was a change in terms of who was credited/tasked with the process of overseeing Caprica's production around the middle of the season, but using the word replaced to describe what happened is, IMO, not only inaccurate, it conveys a false sense of what actually happened. Jane Espenson voluntarily abdicated her position as Caprica showrunner (something she freely admitted), and Kevin Murphy came in to fill the position; using the word 'replaced' in terms of the context of those circumstances implys, IMO, that Espenson was somehow found unable to adequately perform her duties as showrunner, and was therefore 'fired', which is far from the case; she realized that there were issues involved with being Caprica's showrunner that she had not anticipated, particularly as it concerned her ability to exercise her considerable creative talents as a writer, and, as a result, voluntarily made the decision to take on less responsibilities and pass the baton, as it were, to another individual, who turned out to be Kevin Murphy.

I won't argue that the change wasn't good for the season/series, but I don't really agree with this sentiment that there was all that marked a change in terms of the quality of the season/series once Murphy took over. I also don't really agree with the idea that the second half of Caprica was any more 'BSG-like', to use your term, than the first half.

Robert, having just watched Caprica in its entirety, I feel entirely confident in stating that, IMO, there really isn't nearly as much disjointedness as many people might think there is, and the reason for that comes down to the simple mistake of trying to compare the things upon which the premises of BSG and Caprica are predicated, which is like trying to compare apples to oranges. I've already pointed out the differences between what BSG's premise is predicated upon and what Caprica's premise is predicated upon, and trying to compare the two, Caprica's early storytelling comes off looking a lot more fragmented and disjointed than it actually is. The only real area where this complaint is valid, IMO, is in terms of Clarice's storyline, but the same thing could be said of Lee's character in BSG, so it's not a fault that is inherently unique to Caprica.

Anyway, steering this topic back more towards discussion instead of ranting, I noticed a couple of new character parallels between BSG and Caprica as I was watching the last few eps of the series last night. The first character parallel that I noticed exists between Helo and Daniel Graystone, in that both characters, ultimately, go to incredibly elaborate lengths - some not so healthy or smart - in order to protect or save their family relationships; Helo makes some incredibly rash and impulsive decisions in the service of trying to find/protect Sharon and Hera, and Daniel makes some incredibly rash, harsh, and stupid decisions in trying to resurrect Zoe.

There's also a very interesting parallel - and simultaneous contrast - in terms of the relationship between Daniel and Amanda and the relationship between Ellen and Saul Tigh; although the Tighs' marriage and relationship is much more fraught with wild chaos, the Graystones' relationship goes through just as many ups and downs, but those hills and valleys manifest themselves in a much different, less chaotic fashion. In the end, though, both relationships become more stable because of the instabilities inherent in them, which is really fascinating to me.

Butters wrote: View Post
Could you explain exactly what the failure of a show to hold an audience can tell us about society? To blame a customer for the failure of a product is missing the point I think. Either the product was wrong for the audience, or the audience was wrong for the product, but that hardly says anything about a society.

From where I was standing, Caprica was sold to people who like sci fi/action with a bit of drama thrown in, when in fact it was a soap with a dusting of action/sci fi. Its hardly a surprising it failed, it was a niche show on the wrong channel, but that has nothing to do with the state of society.
Sure. The point I was trying to make/comment on is this idea that if a television series fails to hold on to its audience - for whatever reason - it (the television series) is at fault, or is somehow of poor quality. If that were the case, then series which are, quite frankly, of extremely poor quality would fail, whereas series such as Caprica and Firefly - which are of very high quality - would thrive. IOW, I was trying to comment on the idea - which is prevelant everywhere, not just in television - that people's individual expectations/opinions of things become the measuring stick by which societal-wide judgement is gauged/passed.
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Last edited by DigificWriter; December 28 2010 at 08:52 PM.
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Old December 28 2010, 09:07 PM   #10
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

Caprica was of very high production quality (usually) and had strong actors but the writing was incredibly spotty and the show was poorly paced. Many things influenced its poor ratings but the glacial pace of the series and its lack of narrative focus sure didn't do it any favors.
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Old December 28 2010, 09:09 PM   #11
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

I've got to disagree with you that it was the space battles that made BSG exciting and compelling, Temis; for me, it was all about the characters
Overall, the Caprica characters were just as strong. Eric Stoltz was probably better than any single actor on BSG. So why weren't the ratings nearly as good?

I'd come here week after week and see people announce that Caprica was boring the spit out of them, and they're leaving. Why didn't we see the same thing when BSG was rambling all over the place (or at least to that degree, to get the show cancelled)? BSG had the same problems of lack of focus, and too much attention to unimportant characters that Caprica had. BSG wasn't "glacially paced" only because it was impossible to tell where the frak they were going (and the ending revealed that the writers never really knew themselves), and without a destination, it's impossible to judge the pace.

Delete space battles from BSG, and Caprica is what you get. People just don't want to admit how important space battles are to their entertainment experience.
Could you explain exactly what the failure of a show to hold an audience can tell us about society? To blame a customer for the failure of a product is missing the point I think. Either the product was wrong for the audience, or the audience was wrong for the product, but that hardly says anything about a society.
The failure of Caprica just means that people don't like to be bored by rambling writing, unless there are some exciting space battles to compensate.

Last edited by Temis the Vorta; December 28 2010 at 09:22 PM.
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Old December 28 2010, 09:19 PM   #12
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

yeah, maybe you are right. Lokk at a SciFi classic, "Silent Running"....no battles at all, all character...even the little robots had personality, and the Joan Baez soundtrack was perfect....what a bittersweet ending
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Old December 28 2010, 09:32 PM   #13
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

Temis and Robert, we're going to have to agree to disagree on the issue of whether or not Caprica had writing issues and/or pacing problems, because I just don't see it, especially after just having finished the series. I honestly believe that people judged Caprica for what it wasn't, rather than paying attention to what it was, and, as a consequence, bailed on the series prematurely, which, again, IMO, says more about what society in general expects out of their television these days than it does about what Caprica did or didn't do. I personally think people ought to have changed their expectations instead of bailing on Caprica whole-sale, but that's really neither here nor there.
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Old December 28 2010, 09:57 PM   #14
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

Sorry, no. I went into Caprica knowing it wasn't BSG and didn't judge it on that basis. I knew it was a different show. That doesn't mean it can get away with being completely scattered and unfocused. I did watch the entire series, thank you, and was frustrated constantly by the pacing and seesawing plotlines. This was a show where the people writing it didn't know where they were going or didn't know how to get there, I'm not sure which.

Frankly, I resent the implication that people who dislike Caprica do so only because it wasn't full of kewliez space battles and they're just too stupid to "get" the show's High Drama. Nonsense. I don't need space battles and action, just some semblance of a narrative throughline and a consistent quality of storytelling. There were simply way too many stories going on and not enough attention was paid to each one, making their payoffs weak and uninvolving.

While the "Shape of Things to Come" epilogue was cool, I am not willing to give the show a pass just because of that. It really represented all the wasted potential of the series--all the things the show could have been about, but wasn't.
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Old December 28 2010, 10:02 PM   #15
Temis the Vorta
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Re: Caprica and BSG: Not So Different After All

I wanted to like Caprica, and from the first I realized that at the very least, it wouldn't be saddled with a frakked-up premise. But as the episodes went along and week after week, the story failed to gel (even though I could tell from the start that the natural lead characters are Adama, Greystone and Zoe, and the story should be built around a central conflict involving them) and saw a continual parade of posts all saying "this is boring, I'm gone," I knew it was only a matter of time till the show was cancelled. That was before the intra-S1 break sealed Caprica's fate.

The only lesson here is: the TV biz is damn hard. You can't afford to bore the audience, and it's not the audience's job to somehow manage to be entertained by tedious, rambling writing.

Frankly, I resent the implication that people who dislike Caprica do so only because it wasn't full of kewliez space battles and they're just too stupid to "get" the show's High Drama.
Neither BSG nor Caprica had strong enough storytelling to survive on its own. But there's no shame in helping things along with space battles. Conversely, if the writing isn't there, the action had better be.
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