Why I Can't Get Into "Caprica"

SyFy, please stop insulting my intelligence.

Yeah, I'm supposed to believe this happened 150,000 years ago. SyFy, please stop insulting my intelligence.

Those of you who have been following my writing for the past 10 years or so have probably realized I am a bit of a nerd. In particular, I love Sci-Fi movies and TV shows. This shouldn't be much of a surprise to anyone because many of us in tech are socially awkward and are Trekkers, Stargaters, Babylon-ers, Whovians, or what have you. Throw Sci-Fi at us, and most of us will suck on it like mother's milk.

As a Sci-Fi fan, I loved the most recent incarnation of Battlestar Galactica. But I just can't get into Caprica, the "prequel" series that frames the history around the creation of the Cylons, the race of androids and synthetic humanoids that were the "Bad Guys" on the previous show.

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As Sci-Fi fans, we are used to accepting a lot of things at face value for the sake of entertainment. If a show is particularly good, the plot is engaging, and we like the characters, we can overlook a lot of stuff that is implausible or outright ridiculous.

For example, in all the various iterations of Star Trek, just about every alien looks more or less like a human being, except they are wearing prostheses so you know they are "Aliens". We know that it's highly unlikely that aliens will look anything like human beings if we ever come into contact with them, but because the show is so entertaining we deal with it. You take it at face value.

The same goes with the Stargate shows -- they visit new planets all the time, many of which have beings on them that look exactly human or mimic aspects of human society from various parts of our history. We accept it at face value, because the show is entertaining, and they actually figured out how to make these cultural similarities part of the plot, and they don't dwell on it incessantly.

Battlestar Galactica was a really good show. In fact, I'd call it one of the best Science Fiction series of all time. I know many people who watched it that weren't into Sci Fi stuff, because the plot was so good and the characters were so well-casted and so well-written.

It had a ton of great things going for it, which included a story arc that compelled you to watch it, because it was about the survival of the human race. It had something to offer everyone. Everyone could relate to it. The action and the pace of the show was excellent. You couldn't wait until the next episode aired.

Battlestar Galactica featured extremely attractive men and women (I'm still thinking about Number Six as I write this) with personalities you wanted to watch, and cool technology. It brought intelligence and plausibility back into Sci-Fi shows. So whatever regular SF implausibility that could potentially be a distraction was just incidental stuff. They were occasional annoyances, but they didn't really detract from the show much.

Unfortunately, Caprica takes all the minor details of implausibility that Battlestar Galactica had -- particularly as it relates to their culture -- and makes it the prime focus of the show. Where do we begin?

Okay, first of all, it takes place 150,000 YEARS AGO. Fine, but suddenly everything on Planet Caprica (also known as Vancouver) looks like a mixture of 1940's hard boiled detective flicks and the Jetsons, with overexposed lighting, with a lot of Blade Runner and The Matrix thrown in for good measure?

I'm supposed to accept that the Caprican/Colonial civilization is high-tech and yet low tech at the same time, with people throwing away disposable multimedia paper display units on the street but in the police station, they're using rotary phones?

I could accept the discrepancy between the very high tech and low tech, since we saw that on the original show and they had some semi-valid reasons for it. But that's not my only problem. These people wear clothes identical to ours, and have a culture and shared mythology nearly identical to ours, except that their predominant religion is polytheist based on Greco/Roman lore instead of a monotheistic one, which the "Bad Guys" have?

The food looks identical, and you have people speaking in cultural accents that are exactly like ours. The "English" dean from Zoe's school drinking tea from an English teapot? C'mon. That when they shoot scenes in downtown Vancouver I can see the Chinese, Greek and Korean written on storefronts? They aren't even trying to be creative. That the "Taurons" are just like the Italian Mafia but instead are Greek? Look, I get the parallelism thing, but this is just taking it way, way, way too far.

Do you want to know what the proof of how bad this show is? I had dinner with a blind person a few days ago who "watches" the show, and even with everything left up to his entire imagination as to how things looked, he couldn't stand it for the same exact reasons. And at least he has the benefit of imagining what everything looks like. Most of us don't.

It also doesn't help that the plot on this show is AGONIZINGLY SLOW, and the characters aren't compelling. The attractive women on the show are SIXTEEN YEAR OLDS, and in the promotion of the show SyFy showed Zoe, the main Cylon protagonist in the nude. Great, so now I'm supposed to have impure thoughts about a character that could be my daughter's age if I had kids. Thanks a lot, SyFy. Please provide me some attractive women to gawk at of LEGAL AGE.

[EDIT: Apparently the actress Alessandra Torresani that plays the role of "Zoe" is 22, but that doesn't make me feel any less wrong ]

I don't know what women think about Eric Stoltz or Esai Morales' characters or what they do for them in their loins, but they certainly don't have the same energy as their male counterparts on BSG. I haven't heard my wife say "Wow, that guy is hot" once. We both like Adama's gay mobster brother, and he's probably the most interesting character on the show, but if Caprica turns into a crappy SF version of the Sopranos, I'm so out of here.

Like my blind dinner companion said to me the other day, "Do you get the feeling that we are viewing this because we are total geeks and we'll watch anything that is a Sci-Fi show and because few alternatives exist?" Yeah, yeah I do. Frakk Me.

Do you have beefs with Caprica? Talk Back and Let Me Know.