The Undiscovered Country

There are those who believe that life here began out there…

So started each episode of the 1978 original ‘Battlestar Galactica’.

‘Caprica’, the prequel to both the original and the 2004 reimagining, ended its inaugural and final season this week.

Not much of a surprise for me.

Where did it all go wrong?

Prequels are tough. The audience already knew the ending, so the initial ‘hook’ just wasn’t there. Timing, perhaps. A dark series and another dark prequel? Maybe not.

The TV viewer is fickle. Too many stations, too many shows, too little time. Too many other options.

Series 3 of the new Battlestar was not good. Series 4 redeemed series 3, but the ending was disappointing for some viewers. Purists were disappointed in the Adam and Eve, it’s happened before and will happen again resolution. We saw that on ‘Lost’ too, with Jacob and the never-named Man in Black.

Factor in the low ratings during the first half of season 1, little promotion from the show’s US Syfy network, add a seven month break between the first and second half, no momentum, little advertising. Who will watch. Or care. Add also one of the creators jumping ship to another sinking ship, Stargate Universe.

‘Caprica’ may have worked as a miniseries. A limited-run, six to eight episode series.

The North American television industry does not currently work that way. It hasn’t for a while. Few shows are given a chance to grow, to find an audience.

The morality play didn’t capture an audience. No explosions, no space opera battles. It seemed a given that series 1.5 existed to burn off episodes. Til ‘BSG: Blood and Chrome’ makes an appearance. More space battles, more explosions. That’ll hold viewer interest.

Well, it’s just good storytelling that will keep an audience.

Not putting them to sleep.

Technology and man becoming creator is a tough sell. It’s post-modern.  The shape of things to come (which neatly ended the series). We’ve been there and done that. 

The focus on a teenage protagonist (Zoe) is also a tough sell. Yes, there is rebellion and yes, the viewer could see the birth of the metal monster. Teenage angst becoming an analogy of belief. Belief that is pushed on to people, belief that belies critical thinking. Impressionable. A form of rebellion.  The initial advertising of the series with Zoe and the apple (the Biblical Fall) held some interest. The story just didn’t work. The initial teen focus switched to something very adult and very complex. Not the sort of program that would catch the interest of the younger demographic. The virtual rave world didn’t set the tone for what became ‘Caprica’.

In its full context, yes. When it was cohesive. Painfully slow at times. A challenge to keep my interest.

The back-end of season one has flip-flopped.

The series finale, ‘Apotheosis’, tied up some loose ends. Dealt with the show’s overall arc of ‘family’. The Graystone family moved to some sort of redemption – power still corrupting, or power not realising or coalescing. Power cloaked in virtuality. Shortsightedness. Creation gone slightly awry. The Adama family suffered loss, and in grief and anger and revenge (evening the score)  moved to a position of power.  The cult of monotheism achieving little more than a dead husband. Or perhaps more, just unrealised. A bit shortsighted, too. A slight needing of adjusting for the VR lens. The grand show for ‘apotheosis’ – reaching a virtual eternity/heaven didn’t work. The statement of blowing up the stadium failed.  Setting the Graystones up as the terrorists. Oh the loaded foreshadowing. The clunky first-generation Cylons wiping out the human terrorists. More to come. The tangled web just got more tangled.

‘Caprica’ ended with ‘The Shape of Things to Come’.  A montage of the ‘future’. The human arrogance of the Graystones. The helpful Cylon poised as humanity’s friend. Living together with the humans. Creator and creation. No idea of what could be coming. The creation of the first skin-job – Zoe – and having her come out of the tub – machine made in to flesh. A Frankenstein. The tale does not grow old. The monster’s stitches may not be visibile, but they still exist.  Chilling in that no one bothered to think of any consequences or viewed the creation of the robot through a slightly skewed lens. Graystone’s plan was for a humanised robot.  Just no idea what he would set in to motion.

Well-done ‘Caprica’.

The original title of this entry was ‘by your command’.

The rag-tag fleet will rise up again.


~ by hooklineandthinker on December 1, 2010.

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