'Caprica' pilot review (spoilers)


The Dude
Jan 1, 1970
Starring: Eric Stolz, Esai Morales
Written by: Remi Aubuchon and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Jeffrey Reiner

'Caprica' is the story of two men, Daniel Greystone and Joseph Adama, who each live very different lives on the planet Caprica and are brought together through a shared personal tragedy. Greystone's daughter, Zoe, is a member of a group that practices monotheism. She also happens to be a computer genius, at least on the level of her multi-billionaire father, who is currently struggling to develop a robotic soldier for the government.

Unhappy in her life as a privileged 16-year-old, Zoe and two of her friends plan to escape Caprica and build a new life on Gemenon, and board a train out of the city. Adama's wife and daughter board the same train, but tragedy strikes when Zoe's friend Ben reveals himself as a terrorist - and blows the train to hell, killing all aboard.

Grieving, Adama and Greystone strike up a friendship. Adama it turns out is a mafia lawyer, working in the services of some shady Taurons. When Greystone discovers that Zoe has discovered a way to copy the consciousness of a human being, he turns to Adama to use his underworld contacts to steal a revolutionary new processor from a rival company, convinced that he can resurrect their lost loved ones.

Let's just get this out in the open: I wasn't looking forward to 'Caprica'. Nothing about it seemed very interesting to me at all, aside from the casting of Esai Morales ... and the fact that it was a spin-off of 'Battlestar Galactica'. But honestly, the finished product barely feels like it's related to 'Battlestar' at all. The few times when it does, however, 'Caprica' shines. The unfinished Cylon, the appearance of certain musical cues, even the young character of William Adama ... these all work well.

But when 'Caprica' is focused on itself, on the Taurons thinly-veiled mafia cliches for example, it's just plain boring. Scenes at Zoe's upscale boarding school are dreadfully dull, and none of the teenage actors are particularly interesting. The rest of the cast varies - Morales owns Adama, and I could easily see him cast instead of Edward James Olmos if things had gone differently for 'Battlestar'. Beyond that, it works well in the context of the universe, that young William would pick up a lot from his father and turn out the way we know he does later in life.

Speaking of Bill Adama, 'Caprica' is set 58 years before the fall of the colonies, and Adama is said to be 11 years old. Some quick addition places Adama's age at 73 at the end of 'Battlestar', which, honestly seems a bit older than I thought. But oh well.

Anyway, moving on... Eric Stolz does okay, though his character is at his best when he is impassioned, trying to convince Adama that it might be a copy, but it's still his daughter standing there. Otherwise, he's mostly just there - neither bad, nor truly good either. Other characters are given such minor roles in the pilot that they're barely worth mentioning. William B. Davis appears briefly as a racist defense minister, and there's a 'twist' involving a nun at Zoe's school that's played well.

On a bizarre note, this is an 'extended, unrated' pilot that does feature some nudity - there are a couple of scenes of bare breasts that take place in a virtual nightclub. But these are so poorly integrated into the episode that they stand out for being so obviously gratuitous. When it airs on TV, you'll never know they were missing.

Overall, I suppose 'Caprica' exceeded my expectations - but only because they were so low to begin with. The actors are well-cast enough, and there's some intriguing stuff here that connects to 'Battlestar Galactica', but overall, 'Caprica' is slow, cliched and ultimately, rather bland and uninteresting.