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Syfy Plots Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Pilot: Where Does that Leave Caprica?

AOL's Maureen Ryan broke the news this morning that cabler Syfy will air its upcoming web series Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome as a two-hour backdoor pilot for a potential spin-off series that will focus on a young William Adama during the First Cylon War.

The project, written by Michael Taylor, shouldn't be confused with Syfy's current BSG spinoff Caprica, which ALSO features a young William Adama, here a pre-teen whose character is vastly different from the Admiral Adama played by Edward James Olmos that we came to know on Battlestar Galactica. Production on the pilot is expected to begin in early 2011 in Vancouver, according to Ryan, though it won't make it on air until at least fourth quarter 2011, if not later.

"When we read Michael's script, it was so clearly a full-blown pilot for a series," Syfy's executive vice president of original programming Mark Stern told Ryan. "The scope is fantastic and bigger, I think, than anticipated, so we said, 'Let's do it as a 2-hour backdoor pilot.' ... We're trying to get up and running as soon as possible."

"It's an opportunity to 'see them before they were famous,'" said Stern. "Here's the Battlestar Galactica as a brand-new, shiny ship -- well, not shiny, but as a new ship that had just been commissioned. What was that like?"

All of which begs the question: what happens to Caprica, the current BSG brand extension that has struggled with viewers and critics alike?

Stern indicated that a decision on the fate of Caprica will be made before November 11th and that the two series were developed independently and can stand separate from each other, given that Blood & Chrome is set ten years after the events of Caprica and four decades before the events of the BSG mini-series.

It will also be, based on the information provided by Stern, Taylor, and Ryan, much more war-driven and action-centric, something that was distinctly missing from Caprica, which focused on the interpersonal conflicts and dynamics between families grieving after a terrible tragedy, monotheistic cults, teenage terrorists, amoral lawyers, backroom politics, and the birth of the Cylon race, the latter of which has been teased for the back half of the freshman season.

But the main problem with Caprica--which I discussed in my advance review of the first two episodes of the second half of the season and in my review of the season finale--is that the stakes weren't high.

While we may have been seeing the emergence of the Cylon threat, unlike BSG, there wasn't the immediate danger of human genocide. Caprica has been about the excess and moral ambiguity of Rome Before the Fall, but throw in less than sympathetic characters and no clear "team" to root for and you have a series that's largely spinning its own wheels.

By contrast, the war-torn Blood & Chrome has immediate narrative stakes. While we know that Bill Adama, here an ensign, will survive to tell the tale, the fates of new characters introduced are up for grabs and many could be destined to be canon fodder. By pushing the narrative into the trenches, there's an immediacy to the threat here, a tension that's lacking from Caprica and a potential for some stories of survival and courage that are more in line with BSG than the current spinoff.

(It does concern me a little that Ronald D. Moore--described as the "godfather" of this project--isn't involved at all with Blood & Chrome. While I'm a fan of Michael Taylor, the lack of Moore's involvement here is a little worrisome.)

It wouldn't surprise me if Syfy looks to wrap up Caprica with the current season. Of course, they could renew it for one more season, allowing the creative team the opportunity to create a "bridge" to the new series, setting up the future conflict and providing the seeds that will pay off in Blood & Chrome.

But, ultimately, given the direction that Syfy seems to want to go in with its BSG franchise, it's only a matter of time before Caprica is, well, toast.

Caprica airs Tuesday evenings at 10 pm ET/PT on Syfy.


Anonymous said…
Moore fucked up Caprica pretty well so far so who knows - maybe this show will do good even without him involved.

I'm anticipating this. :D
Jaymii said…
I really want another season for Caprica. Another 20 episodes. Anything less with will look weird next to BSG. I need perfection with my shows, so after 4 BSG's, I need 2 Caprica's and I'm thinking 3 Blood and Chrome's.

Wow. That sounds much more idiotic in text.
ted23 said…
@Anonymous: Moore didn't "fuck up" CAPRICA as you put it. It got fucked up because Moore wasn't involved as much as he should have been. It's boring as hell.
wdavi said…
I like the show! I should love it. To make it better? One way is to tighten up the writing. More Caprica, less Virtual World. It's too confusing.

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