[01/29/10 - 10:02 AM]
The Futon's First Look: "Caprica: Season One" (Syfy)
By Brian Ford Sullivan (TFC)

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The network's description: "Zoe (Alessandra Toressani) struggles with being trapped in the robot while grief and pressure mount on the Adamas and the Graystones. Joseph (Esai Morales) makes a decision that drives him to confront Daniel (Eric Stoltz), and Amanda (Paula Malcomson) makes a shocking public confession."

What did they leave out? We looked at the pilot over 10 months ago, so it seems like the appropriate time to revisit the actual series now that's launched. Syfy has provided the next two episodes for review and don't worry, we'll keep the plot descriptions pretty general.

The plot in a nutshell: It's been 30 days since the STO (Soldiers of the One) terrorist attack and our heroes show no signs of a quick recovery. Joseph (Esai Morales) is starting to embrace his Tauran roots, whether it be reclaiming the Adama name or further indoctrinating himself into his brother Sam's (Sasha Roiz) criminal activities. Daniel (Eric Stoltz) buries himself in his work as he's unable to recreate Zoe's avatar program which gave life to one of the centurions. Meanwhile, Lacy (Magda Apanowicz) is pulled between the influences of Sister Clarice (Polly Walker) - especially when she learns a cute college boy ("Friday Night Lights's" Scott Porter) is part of her uniquely extended family - and Zoe's avatar (Alessandra Toressani).

All however prove to be on a collision course - Joseph decides he can live with having a relationship with a digital version of his daughter Tamara (Genevieve Buechner), whether Daniel likes it or not, just as Zoe's avatar starts to befriend her in the holoband world. And if that wasn't enough, the Caprican authorities are dialing up their investigation into the STO and Zoe's connection to it, one which makes her mother Amanda (Paula Malcomson) realize she didn't know her daughter at all.

What does: "Caprica" is at its best when it's building the world it lives in: "group marriages," hookah dens, even its late-night talk shows all provide interesting windows into their society. Furthermore the show's production design is nothing short of fantastic as its 1940s style gives it a unique flavor, between its clothing, cars and microphones. I also like that the show feels like a throwback to 1960s science fiction as it embraces both its old school concepts (robot servants and soldiers for everyone!) and its heavy-handed metaphors with equal gumption. Overall it's definitely a world I enjoy spending time in. Whether that translates into compelling I-need-to-rush-home-to-see-it television remains to be seen.

What doesn't work: The overarching story advances surprisingly slowly as weeks two and three are pretty much just more posturing on the events of the pilot: Joseph continues to see his son (and his morals) drift away; Daniel and Amanda struggle to repair their relationship following Zoe's death; Lacy gets even more drawn into Sister Clarice's orbit; and Zoe's avatar adjusts to life as a robotic exoskeleton on the "outside." That's not to say there aren't interesting developments, it's just that the show is more meditative than its predecessor. Each hour is a stew it wants to marinate the viewer in with the meal (i.e. the major plot developments) only being served at the end.

In terms of the characters, it's still something of a mixed bag. Daniel and Joseph not surprisingly remain the most compelling, if only due to the gravitas the actors bring to them. Daniel and Amanda's marriage is by far my most favorite aspect as their loving-but-hurt relationship feels the most authentic. On the flip side, Zoe - or should I say Zoe's avatar - still doesn't quite connect with me. As a plot aspect she's definitely compelling, especially as the veil begins to get pulled back on the STO, but as a character her why-are-they-treating-me-like-a-machine shtick is a little old hat. It doesn't help that neither she nor her father apparently has ever heard of the concept of backing programs up.

The bottom line: I'm still hanging in there with high hopes for what's ahead.

  [january 2010]  


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