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Saturday, February 6, 2010

CAPRICA--YO MAMA'S BSG?

Comedian Arsenio Hall used to have a routine he called, “Things That Make You Go Hmmm.” You know. Your teenager swears he didn’t borrow the car, but the radio is somehow set on “music-to-make-your-ears-bleed”. Your husband swears he just had one beer, but the twelve-pack you bought for your ladies’ poker night is down to a six-pack.

CAPRICA is the prequel to BATTLESTAR GALATICA, but it’s “aimed at a more female audience”, or so says a recent article in TV GUIDE.

Hmmm.

Or maybe, huh, what? Because I’ve seen CAPRICA and it’s well-written, well-acted, full of provocative ideas and intriguing technology. It’s everything science fiction on television is supposed to be. Frak, it even looks good, with shiny, Terminator-style Cylons and cute little butler robots running around the house.

All of these things were characteristics of BATTLESTAR GALATICA, of course, and contributed to making that show an intensely-loved, if narrowly targeted, hit. CAPRICA shares two other attributes with its predecessor: It’s not afraid of emotion. And it showcases strong female characters. The fans loved those things about BSG. You’d think those would be pluses for CAPRICA, too.

So why am I getting the feeling that all of a sudden they are being seen as minuses? Or is there some other reason CAPRICA fails to measure up on the testosterone scale? So far the story has focused on the tragic circumstances that lead to the wedding of artificial intelligence to Cylon robotics, the involvement of monotheism at the very beginning of that joining and the two families at the heart of all of this (one of them the Adamas). Okay, maybe it’s more I, ROBOT than STARSHIP TROOPER, but there are guys out there that have read or seen both.

Does stuff really have to blow up every five seconds to be of interest to guys? Or is it even worse—is this considered a show that is aimed at a primarily female audience because several of the main characters, including the artificial intelligence placed in the Cylon, is female? Say it ain’t so.

In a recent interview on TVGUIDE.com, series star Esai Morales (okay, there’s one good reason women will be watching) compares CAPRICA to THE GODFATHER. Was THE GODFATHER an action film? he asks. No. Did it kick ass? You bet! It is the human element we are interested in, Morales explains. People and their relationships are always fascinating.

Add the complication of technology, as science fiction does, and you add a modern twist to any age-old story. In CAPRICA, family, grief, religion, politics and over-reaching ambition are themes that are illustrated against a background of the “twelve worlds”, artificial intelligence, robotics and space travel. To me that sounds like more than enough intelligent action to hold an SF fan’s interest, whether that fan is slinging a Y chromosome or not.

Cheers, Donna

4 comments:

  1. Great article, Donna.

    I've never seen Caprica, but it definitely sounds like my kind of thing with parallel themes to my novels. I haven't seen any advertisements for it at all. I wonder why that is, because the premise sounds fascinating. It seems its the characters that drive SF, but the promoters are afraid to admit that. I'm not a fan of the "blow something up every five minutes" mindset either.

    I'll have to see if it's available on DVD, ala Defying Gravity.

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  2. I devoured BSG when it came out on DVD, and have been looking forward to this series. I'm REALLY looking forward to it now - thanks for the sneak peek!

    My own SFR is more about psychological and interpersonal conflict than physical conflict, so it will be interesting to compare.

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  3. I think SFR by definition is more character-driven, more emotional, more about the human side of things. The funny thing is, I watched BSG for those aspects of the story, not for the occasional tense moment on the bridge when a Cylon fleet showed up to blow hell out of what remained of humanity. What bothers me is that tone of dismissal toward CAPRICA because (apparently) it lacks the potential for space battles.

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  4. I read an article once about what a fine job BSG had done with appealing to both men and women. It had explosions and sexy cylons. It had romance and family conflict.

    As much as it sucks to be reduced to a sexual stereotype, I think the show's creators knew what they were doing - creating a flavor of sci-fi men and women would find equally compelling. Though frankly, I don't think it was compelling to women for one reason and men for another, per se - I think the writers' efforts to appeal to both helped create a more layered and sophisticated story.

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