Caprica: Season 1.0 (2010)

Actors: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Alessandra Torresani, Paula Malcomson, Magda Apanowicz, Polly Walker
Format: Live Action, NTSC
Language: English
Number of discs: 4
Studio: Universal Home Video
DVD Release Date: October 5, 2010
Run Time: 534 minutes


It may be too much to say that Season 1.0 of Caprica started with a bang and ended with a whimper. Its descent wasn’t that steep and it still finished off its first run as a pretty darn good show. But considering its pedigree, and considering the amazing, extraordinary way its first few episodes unfolded, the final impression measures less than the sum of its parts.

Granted, the show demands the very highest standards, following on the heels of the truly brilliant Battlestar Galactica. It takes place fifty years before the destruction of the Twelve Colonies, covering Dr. Daniel Graystone’s (Eric Stoltz) creation of the Cylons and the way his good intentions go horribly, disastrously wrong. It eschews the military conflict style of Battlestar in favor of a soapier concoction, played out between Graystone and his various rivals.

That soapiness ends up biting it in the ass more than once. The science fiction aspects fall away before the various betrayals, counter betrayals and shouted altercations that punctuate the central drama. They hold a modicum of interest but lend comparatively little to the storyline. Caprica also suffers from very slow development, moving at a snail’s pace to ensure that the basic premise can fill the allotted programming time. Not a whole lot happens in terms of events, leading the producers to focus on the emotional core of the characters rather than the ray guns and robots. It works, but it fails to stir the drama the way it should, and while we care about the figures, a certain clinical distance creates more mild curiosity than emotional investment. Plus, we know where it’s all going, which conjures up a lovely sense of foreboding, but further drains the show of excitement.

Caprica does much better with the exploration of its world. The Twelve Colonies closely resemble our universe, but with a few key differences that lend them a unique flair. A virtual “internet” holds forbidden enticements for the young and foolish, while gangsters and con artists prowl the halls of power in Caprica’s capital. The world is rushing headlong into disaster but no one seems to notice, as decadence and arrogant appropriation work their way into society’s fundaments. We can see shades of our own culture here, but when filtered through the prism of Battlestar, it takes on fascinating new dimensions.

The early episodes of Caprica make full use of that potential, delivering smart, timely sci-fi with a one-of-a-kind flourish. As the series progresses, the novelty slowly disappears, returning in spikes but gradually losing its power. By the final episode, the show has settled into a predictable routine: enjoyable at best, perfunctory at worst. It rarely becomes less than watchable, but looking at the DVD set, you can see how the uniformly great early episodes dip into the merely good (and even the occasionally mediocre) as the series goes on. We have yet to see whether the second half of Season 1 will elevate the proceedings. The DVD highlights its promise admirably… as well as the quiet yet undeniable ways the show has yet to fulfill it.

THE DISC: The DVD is very bare bones, with only the nine episodes of the series, a few deleted scenes and featurettes, and the unrated pilot with commentary from the show’s producers. The transfer is fairly good, but the price they’re asking ($50 retail) demands a few more bells and whistles.

WORTH IT? Look for a bargain purchase on Amazon or the like. Shaving a few dollars off the price makes the investment much more worthwhile.

RECOMMENDATION: Fans of the series and those hoping to catch up before the second half of the season should enjoy it. Just don’t expect anything special beyond the core episodes.

- Rob Vaux



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