I just caught the pilot episode of Caprica on DVD. It has been out for about a year now. The premiere is tonight at 9 EST on the SyFy Channel. I found it promising enough to plan on tuning into the series. This is highly unusual as I rarely watch television for anything but the news.
For those who never watched Battlestar Galactica, the prequel “Caprica” is a sci-fi series set on a planet in a distant part of the galaxy. The human race lives there with technology that is a few decades more advanced than our own. The show revolves around Daniel Graystone, a White cybernetics genius, and Joseph Adama, a lawyer/gangster and the father of Commander William Adama of BSG fame. Graystone creates a race of machines called the Cylons who rebel in the future and wipe out human civilization. “Caprica” tells the story of how all this came about.
Zoe Graystone, Daniel’s daughter, is a child prodigy who grows up in a technologically advanced, but spiritually empty liberal society. Like many privileged White youth her age, Zoe uses her “holoband” to go to a virtual reality world where all forms of degeneracy are indulged: orgies, raves, drugs, mutilation, human sacrifice, etc. Eventually, Zoe and her friends become alienated from the degenerate youth culture of Caprica and rebel by becoming radical monotheists.
As a chip off the old block, Zoe modifies her “avatar” with an ingenious computer program that essentially copies her soul. She plans on moving to Gemenon (another one of the Twelve Colonies of Kobol) to join her co-religionists, but dies in an explosion on a train when her suicide bomber friend blows himself up. Joseph Adama’s wife and daughter are also killed on the train. The death of their daughters devastate Daniel Graystone and Joseph Adama who meet and become friends. Daniel finds out about Zoe’s avatar and in his grief attempts to resurrect his daughter in a robotic body. He succeeds and Zoe becomes the first Cylon.
From a purely aesthetic point of view, I enjoyed the Caprica pilot. It has an interesting retro vibe to it. Men wear nice suits, overcoats, and fedoras. Caprica City is a clean and healthy place. Zoe attends a White private school. Her parents are White professionals. Her father is a White technological genius. Minus a few obligatory examples of diversity, “Caprica” is not unlike the futuristic White world that we envision.
The racial fly in the soup is Joseph Adama’s character and story arc. Adama is a Tauron immigrant on Caprica. I got the impression that much will be made of the rustic Taurons being victims of racial prejudice by the Anglo/White Capricans. Adama’s gangster brother is also involved in a gay marriage. The loose metaphor at work here is obviously that the Taurons are like Hispanics in America. In Battlestar Galactica, the Taurons weren’t depicted as a separate race or ethnicity. Admiral Helena Cain, the White commander of the Pegasus, was from Tauron.
I hope Caprica doesn’t turn out to be insufferably PC like Star Trek. On a positive note, the show is only quasi sci-fi, so it will probably attract a wider audience. Caprica depicts a society a lot like our own. I didn’t notice much of a geek factor. I’m also encouraged by the fact that the Taurons were depicted as criminals and Caprican liberalism was shown to be degenerate. We’re told in the beginning that this is what Caprica was like “before the fall.”
For now, I will be watching. If Caprica sticks to exploring the implications of artificial intelligence, it could be a popular and fascinating show.