Skip to main content

Heading Off-World: An Advance Review of Season 1.5 of Caprica

I was planning to write a lengthy review of the first two episodes of the back half of Caprica's first season, which returns to Syfy tonight after a considerable hiatus (one that was unexpectedly truncated), but AOL Television's Maureen Ryan did all of the heavy lifting yesterday and pretty much summed up everything I was going to say.

I've found Caprica so far to be maddeningly frustrating, a series of false starts, lackluster characters, and thwarted intrigue. (I wrote about my feelings about the first half of the season here.)

The two episodes provided to press for review ("Unvanquished" and "Retribution") haven't alleviated any fears I may have had about the series after its fantastic and thought-provoking pilot.

Two episodes back and I'm already restless, already losing interest in the plights of these characters, who remain unsympathetic and icy. (I will say, however, that the second episode was significantly better than "Unvanquished," and would point you to Ryan's pitch-perfect description of the goings-on on Gemenon. Shudder.)

Battlestar Galatica dealt with similar issues of religion, race, assimilation, and identity, but it was set against a backdrop of survival, where the stakes were enormous as the war between the humans and Cylons could lead to extinction. It's hard to recreate that dynamic here when the strife is limited to humanity at large and a small sect of monotheists who like to train teenagers to take on suicide missions in the name of their god.

But it would be one thing if there were something--or someone, rather--to grasp on to, but Caprica's characters are the embodiment of quicksilver: they're slippery and toxic. None of the central characters--whether that be Eric Stoltz's brooding genius Daniel Graystone, Paula Malcomson's brittle Amanda, Polly Walker's duplicitous Sister Clarice, Sasha Roiz's silent gangster Sam, Magda Apanowicz's sullen teen Lacy, and Esai Morales' dead-eyed lawyer--remain all that compelling and the production seems to treat them largely as sleepwalkers, making their way through a shifting landscape of images, flashbacks, dreams, and ominous portents. A psychic mishmash that dulls the senses rather than intrigue them.

Which is a problem with Caprica itself. There's less of a concrete narrative building towards a centralized arc than there is a series of disconnected incidents that hover over each other awkwardly. The one common thread linking these disparate elements together--that would be Alessandra Torresani's Zoe--is barely glimpsed at all in the first two installments, though her avatar does make one very memorable appearance. (Personally, I've not been a fan of Torresani since the beginning and while her absence is felt somewhat in terms of the overarching plot, there's considerably less hystrionics going on without her.)

As mentioned by Ryan, the first episode's travel to Gemenon, such a crucial destination for the first half of the season, descends into silliness as the STO-backed church becomes a larger influence on the series and we meet a slew of new characters. One in particular made me howl with laughter as the actress playing this key role was just so shockingly awful.

I'm not quite sure how to fix Caprica, other than suggest that the writers pick up the pace and bring the Cylon Centurions into the mix sooner rather than later, tighten the overarching plot, ramp up the tension, and add some subtle layering to the characters to bring the viewers at least a few sympathetic characters to latch on to. As it stands, Caprica isn't a place that I want to visit any longer.

Caprica returns tonight at 10 pm ET/PT on Syfy.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Katie Lee Packs Her Knives: Breaking News from Bravo's "Top Chef"

The android has left the building. Or the test kitchen, anyway. Top Chef 's robotic host Katie Lee Joel, the veritable "Uptown Girl" herself (pictured at left), will NOT be sticking around for a second course of Bravo's hit culinary competition. According to a well-placed insider, Joel will "not be returning" to the show. No reason for her departure was cited. Unfortunately, the perfect replacement for Joel, Top Chef judge and professional chef Tom Colicchio, will not be taking over as the reality series' host (damn!). Instead, the show's producers are currently scouring to find a replacement for Joel. Top Chef 's second season was announced by Bravo last month, but no return date has been set for the series' ten-episode sophomore season. Stay tuned as this story develops. UPDATE (6/27): Bravo has now confirmed the above story .

Have a Burning Question for Team Darlton, Matthew Fox, Evangeline Lilly, or Michael Emerson?

Lost fans: you don't have to make your way to the island via Ajira Airways in order to ask a question of the creative team or the series' stars. Televisionary is taking questions from fans to put to Lost 's executive producers/showrunners Damon Lindelof and Carlton Cuse and stars Matthew Fox ("Jack Shephard"), Evangeline Lilly ("Kate Austen"), and Michael Emerson ("Benjamin Linus") for a series of on-camera interviews taking place this weekend. If you have a specific question for any of the above producers or actors from Lost , please leave it in the comments section below . I'll be accepting questions until midnight PT tonight and, while I can't promise I'll be able to ask any specific inquiry due to the brevity of these on-camera interviews, I am looking for some insightful and thought-provoking questions to add to the mix. So who knows: your burning question might get asked after all.

BBC Culture: Matthew Weiner: Mad Men’s creator on its final episodes

The creative force behind the period drama talks about where his characters are as his show begins its final episodes. “We left off with everyone’s material needs being met in an extreme way,” says Mad Men creator Matthew Weiner of where we last saw the characters on his critically acclaimed period drama when the show went on hiatus 10 months ago. “Then the issue is, what else is there?” That is the central question with the return to US TV of the AMC hit, one demanding to be answered by both the show’s characters, and its creator whose success is the envy of the television industry. Mad Men has been a defining part of Weiner’s life for the last 15 years. He wrote the pilot script on spec while he was a staff writer on CBS’ Ted Danson sitcom Becker in 1999, using it to land a writing gig on HBO’s The Sopranos in 2002. It would take another five years, filled with multiple rejections, before the first episode of Mad Men would make it on the air. Someone with less determination or vision