I’ve never been anti-sci-fi. I was never gung ho about the space ships. I’m not a Trekki, and I don’t watch ‘Star Wars” on repeat. I’m just your average science fiction fan who likes ‘Back to the Future” and ‘Blade Runner” just as much as the next person.
Sometime in the years of my youth, when aliens and robots just weren’t on my radar, when I was just as ignorant about good television as the next person, I missed out on a little show called ‘Battlestar Galactica.”
Now unfortunately I have yet to right this hole in my television repertoire, but on the flip side it does give me a rather unique perspective on the new spin-off series ‘Caprica” that began this winter.
Created by the masterminds behind ‘Galactica,” ‘Caprica” takes place during the peak of civilization in the same universe ’58 years before the fall” of the world. Ronald D. Moore strived to create a show that was fundamentally different from its parent series but would attract both the old fans and newcomers.
Rather than the war in space premise that ‘Galactica” built off of, the pilot episode of ‘Caprica” sets up the focus on the conflict between two families, the Adamas and the Graystones.
Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) is known for his technology company that created the holo-band, a kind of live Internet virtual-reality.
His daughter Zoe (Alessandra Torresani), also a technological genius (those tend to be common in sci-fi shows don’t they?), managed to take her father’s creation one step further by creating a free-willed avatar of herself.
Both families are driven into grief as Joseph Adama’s (Esai Morales) daughter and wife and Zoe fall victim to a bombing led by Zoe’s boyfriend, Ben, a member of the religious group known as ‘The Soldiers of the One.”
‘Caprica” has succeeded in grabbing my attention in each of its story lines. Whether we are watching Joe Adama’s son, Will (Sina Najafi), being mentored by his less than law-abiding uncle in the ways of fooling the system or following Zoe and her best friend Lacy Rand (Magda Apanowicz) losing themselves in the complex virtual reality world, I find myself equally drawn to both.
We soon learn that Zoe’s father has taken her technology and put it into a prototype of the robot army he has been building for the government what will eventually become the Cylons.
Sound confusing? In layman’s terms: A teenage girl (Zoe) is stuck inside the body of a 6-foot-tall metallic robot. Now I know you might be saying, it doesn’t get more science fiction than that.
However the writers, led by the talented Battlestar alum Jane Espenson, prove that the heart of the show lies in the people of the show. Family drama, teenage angst and career problems are all absorbed in a universe embedded in science fiction.
The first few episodes throw a lot of information at you at once, especially for a non-Battlestar-veteran. There are cultures to grasp, technologies to understand and phrases to learn my favorite being the most widely used pop culture television reference on the airwaves, the invention of the curse ‘frack.”
In spite of the amount of knowledge that would appear to be necessary to understand what is going on, ‘Caprica” is easy to grasp and very entertaining.
The show throws itself into the ethical implications of advancements in technology and the questions that come along with the development of artificial intelligence.
In a society where the Internet exponentially increases its influences nearly every day, this is the kind of show that displays both what we have to gain from the future of technology and what we should be wary of.
And speaking of things to be wary of, ratings are most definitely in the red zone. The first episode only premiered to a 1.6 million person audience although that was after the pilot had been out on DVD since April. But the following two episodes have dropped down to 1.3 and then 1.13 million viewers.
I would love to blame the silly Friday night time-slot, but I think it has more to do with the fact that this is just one of those shows that I tend to fall for: the intellectual, driven, unique show that has a lot going for it, but just isn’t stupid enough for your average television audience.
I can find some comfort in knowing that if ‘Caprica” can’t make it past the frakking ratings hump, I also have four seasons of ‘Battlestar Galactica” to look forward to watching. But here’s to hoping I can watch both.
‘Caprica” airs on Fridays at 9 p.m. on SyFy.
Rosenberg is a member ofthe class of 2012.