Caprica Season 1 Vol 1 DVD

Monday, 03 January 2011 11:54

Caprica is a prequel spin-off from the recent remake of Battlestar Galactica. This box set contains the opening nine episodes of the first (and sadly only) season and the original straight-to-DVD pilot, along with a host of special features. The story is set 58 years before BSG and the holocaust that forced the ragged remnants of mankind to flee the merciless, cybernetic Cylon fleet.

The series concerns the birth of the Cylon race and the tragic, overlapping paths of two powerful families on Caprica, the Graystones and the Adamas. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz – “Memphis Belle”, “The Fly II”) is the Bill Gates-esque CEO of Graystone Industries. Joseph Adama (Esai Morales – Jericho, “Freejack”) is a shady lawyer with links to the Tauron mob, whose wife and daughter die in a shocking suicide bombing.

Caprica - Season 1 Volume 1 out on DVDThe terrorist attack also claims the life of the series’ other pivotal character, Zoe Graystone (Alessandra Torresani – Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles), daughter of Daniel and Amanda (Paula Malcomson – The Event, Deadwood, “A.I.”). Zoe got caught up with a suspect underground organisation known as the ‘Soldiers of The One’ (STO), a group with strong monotheist beliefs that run counter to the more mainstream faith in multiple gods.

Whilst delving into his daughter’s prior associations, Daniel discovers that Zoe had been developing a sophisticated AI copy of herself which exists in V-World, a virtual reality environment like a futuristic Facebook where literally anything goes.

Daniel is desperate to reconnect with and understand the motivations of his deceased daughter, and he suspects that this sentient virtual life form holds the key.

Diving headlong into his work to deflect his grief, Graystone’s all-consuming bid to create the ultimate robot warrior (or Cybernetic Lifeform Node, aka Cylon) leads to a deadly rivalry with his arch rival, the Vergis Corporation. Meanwhile, Joseph Adama becomes equally obsessed with the loss of his daughter Tamara and the events of the past, forcing him to confront Daniel about Zoe’s role in the STO and the terrorist atrocity, and the possibility of an AI version of Tamara.

Like BSG, Caprica takes itself very seriously. This is a dark drama about devastating personal loss, faith, corporate espionage, obsession, revenge, terrorism and digital life, with a simultaneous and strangely appropriate retro-futuristic vibe. The series summons up comparisons to gritty films and shows such as “Blade Runner” and Harsh Realm. There are almost no moments of levity. All of the characters have conspicuous flaws and unlikable sides to their personalities (and not may attractive ones), making for some difficult, challenging viewing. This is a show designed to throw up personal, social and political conundrums that often mirror choices and situations in the real world.

The Graystones and Adamas come from strikingly different backgrounds, which make their interaction fascinating. The Graystones represent the affluent Caprican elite, living in futuristic, high-ceilinged mansions with all the mod-cons such as a roving robot butler and massive video screens embedded in their windows. On the other hand, the Adamas come from poor but strong Tauron stock, living in small apartments with retro tech and clothing reminiscent of the 1940s and 1950s.

The pacing of the story line is a little erratic, with the feature-length pilot blasting off and then the series proper puts on the brakes on for a while before surging forwards again. By watching the episodes in quick succession as part of a DVD box set, frustration rarely sets in but I can only imagine how annoyed viewers must have got with the sporadic story advancement and scheduling the series received on TV (indeed, the final five episodes have yet to be televised!). Loss of interest and therefore cancellation seems inevitable.

Unlike BSG, this is not an action-packed or especially edgy series, and in terms of the balance of plot and character development against spectacle, Caprica falls short. The producers always intended it to resemble a soap opera rather than a space opera. That is not to say that it has a meagre budget; the look and feel of the series is truly top-drawer stuff. The real and virtual worlds depicted have a solid sense of cohesion and believability to them, and it is plain that the series bible must have been conceived in painstakingly detail.

Like Sanctuary and the current V remake, there are loads of virtual green-screen sets, only in Caprica they are fortunately much more convincing than in the latter. There is not much in the way of action, at least not in the same sense as the tense and thrilling space battles often seen in BSG, though we do see some violent goings-on in the seedier V-World zones.

Despite these negative comments, there is plenty on offer here to entice and enthral BSG fans, and the fresh look and feel of the show means that viewers new to the Cylon menace will still be able to enjoy the series without feeling like they did not ‘get the memo’. The acting and characterisation is good, the production values are very high and the narrative is absorbing. The final episode of the box set leaves us on a nail-biting cliff hanger, so I guarantee that everyone who purchases Volume 1 will also be investing in Volume 2!

The special features include:

  • Original, unseen pilot
  • Commentaries on episodes: Pilot, Reins Of A Waterfall, Gravedancing, The Imperfections Of Memory
  • Deleted Scenes
  • Podcast Commentaries: Rebirth, Reins Of A Waterfall, Gravedancing, There Is Another Sky, Know Thy Enemy, Ghosts In The Machine, End Of Line
  • What The Frak Is Caprica?
  • The Caprica Dynasty
  • Video Blogs
  • Creating A World
  • The Look Of Caprica
  • Part 2 Sneak Peek

As this list suggests, there is plenty to get your teeth into; the featurettes are well put together with a good mixture of cast and crew interviews, behind the scenes clips and brief illustrative excerpts from the show. Given Caprica’s terminal status, it is a commendable effort, though it is a shame that Universal have not seen fit to schedule a Blu-ray release for fans who appreciate their shows in the best clarity available.

“Caprica - Season 1, Volume 1” (2009) is out now, courtesy of Universal’s Playback label. The running time is 8 hours 54 minutes approx, certificate ‘15’, and the box set retails for £24.99, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

Last modified on Thursday, 10 May 2012 16:37

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