Long ago, in a popular culture period far, far away, to watch or read science fiction was synonymously tied to the then derogatory term of 'geek'. Now that stereotype has somewhat weakened. One of the many reasons for this change was the Ron Moore reimagining of 'Battlestar Galactica
' in 2004. 'BSG' was a hit not just amongst the typical sci-fi fan base, as it is most commonly discussed as a space opera, but to more non-traditional fans. When 'Heroes
' debuted on NBC it was a break in network format. Many questioned why it was not to air on the sister channel, then, Sci-Fi, and spurred discourse on the location of the line between 'acceptable sci-fi for a larger demographic' and 'sci-fi for the sci-fi cult demographic'.
While 'BSG' was never transferred from Sci-Fi to NBC, which would have pulled higher ratings for the show, it was one of the smartest moves for NBC Universal. The extremely controversial nature of the show, a strong and disconcerting parallel to reality's Bush-era, was more provocative and subversive than the other non-sci-fi shows airing at the same time, such as '24
'. The fan driven popularity of the show could not help the long-standing sci-fi bigotry of awards shows like the Emmys. Amazing performances season after season by Mary McDonnell
, Katee Sackoff, and Edward James Olmos
to name but a few, were dismissed by the judging members but not by the show's audience.
This success led to the green-lighting of 'Caprica
'. Notably, it does not follow the same tone or genre as 'BSG'. Upon analysis of the pilot, and reports on the formula and plot, 'Caprica' barely holds onto the label of science fiction. In most aspects it is a drama with the weakest link to science fiction amongst its fellow shows on the SyFy network. Unlike most shows branching off from a mother show, 'Caprica' does not act as the typical prequel or sequel as most spin-offs do. The relationships between the shows can easily be likened in some respects to 'Cheers
' and 'Frasier
'. While 'Frasier' was a spin-off of 'Cheers', viewers did not have to be completely familiar with 'Cheers' in order to understand and enjoy 'Frasier'. The same stands for 'Caprica'. Fans of 'BSG' will tune in along with a newer audience that will experience the show outside of the 'BSG' context.
Caprica © NBC Universal, Inc.
'Caprica' takes place 58 years before the events in 'BSG' begin. There is still however, a strong yet relevant political message. 'Caprica' takes place in a peaceful time for the Colonies, between wars, honing in on their focused efforts on creating the first responsive robots, the Cylons. In fact, it is still maintaining a close parallel to our society, in that it is focused on this rampant success, materialism, and a drive to push for new and different technology that would better their everyday lives. Considering that Ron Moore, David Eick and the crew of 'BSG' managed to cleverly play on the politics of George W. Bush
, especially in regards to regulations on torture, it will be equally as interesting to watch for possible parallels to the recent wide political and presidential change in America with President Barack Obama's administration.
Beyond its socio-political tone, there rests other strong reasons to tune into 'Caprica'. The cast includes a mix of well-known genre actora and some new finds. Eric Stoltz
stars as Daniel Graystone, Esai Morales
as Joseph Adama (Admiral Bill Adama's father), William B. Davis
, sci-fi fan favorite famous for his role as the Cigarette Smoking Man on 'The X-Files', comedian Patton Oswalt
as Baxter Sarno, and the most recent cast addition, James Marsters
, famous for his role as Spike on 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'. Marsters will be coming in with a strong established crew base: writer Jane Espenson.
Caprica © NBC Universal, Inc.
Espenson is one of the few writers in Hollywood with an intense fan following of her own. Beginning her career through spec scripts for 'Star Trek: TNG' through her work on 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer
', and on the post-'Razor' 'BSG', Espenson has formed a strong, recognizable writing style that allows for colloquial phrasing while simultaneously maintaining a high level of intelligence. Her addition to the A-team of crew on 'Caprica', also including Ron Moore, David Eick, Remi Aubuchon, and 'BSG' composer, Bear McCreary. McCreary's work on 'BSG', along with the overall writing, acting, and cinematography of the show makes one wonder where the line is between cinema and television. McCreary's addition to 'Caprica' will only highlight the show as a major contender in and of itself both on the SyFy and in contention against other primetime shows.
For those already jonesing for a taste of 'Caprica' you are in luck. The pilot is already out on DVD and the series will begin on January 22, 2010 on SyFy. For those wishing dying to know about the after effects of the cultural and political goings on during 'Caprica', the full 'Battlestar Galactica' series is out on DVD and Blu-Ray!
Story by Sarah Lafferty
Starpulse contributing writer
Follow Sarah on twitter at starbuckscout