I admit it; I’m a total slacker.
Why do you think underachievers and misfits appeal to me so much?
But even when I’m slacking I’m still watching something.
Let me say this right off the bat: Caprica is not Battlestar Galactica. For those of you, like me, who still feel the void of BSG these years later; don’t look to this show as a quick and easy replacement. Honestly, that’s why I didn’t watch it at first; I didn’t want to be overly disappointed in this show by comparing it to another show so loved. Since Caprica is a prequel to BSG, with a common character, there is no way to divorce the two shows, and one shouldn’t. Luckily for the audience (that luck based on hard work by those who make this show) Caprica can hold its own.
I would say that the number one reason Caprica stands on it’s own two feet is the eclectic but amazing cast. Can someone explain to me why Polly Walker (Rome, State of Play) and Paula Malcomson (Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy) haven’t been together on a show before? I ask because once you see it, it is the most logical thing in the world. Two of the most engaging, thoughtful and precise actresses on TV, in one place, now that is a bargain people! (If Polly Walker were to be on SoA I would probably have a heart attack of joy.) In other hands, these roles could devolve into shrill caricature, but the textured and interesting characters that we are meant to have are presented to us naturally and fully-formed, even if we are just getting to know them. Polly Walker’s Sister Clarice Willow, the schoolteacher with a subversive agenda, is dark and ruthless but not a hollow menace. Paula Malcomson’s Dr. Amanda Greystone may be spiraling into insanity because of her grief for her dead daughter Zoe and our feeling of that insanity is so real because it is the quiet erosion of a soul, not hysterical gestures from a Dr. Seuss book. Then there’s Zoe Greystone, played by Alessandra Torresani, who was Anne Veal for one episode of Arrested Development before the character was recast. The Zoe we see is actually a digital Zoe, a copy of that the real Zoe made of herself for some sort of religious purpose before being blown up by her boyfriend on a commuter train in the pilot episode, and digital Zoe is put in the body of the first Cylon, that her father Daniel is developing for the military. You with me? Zoe, as we know her, is a total brat, but not because she is portrayed in a bratty or whiny way. She is the bratty of an arrogant self-righteous 15-year-old, therefore a fairly typical teenager, but now that she is stuck in a killing suit, we follow the metaphor of growing up and accepting our responsibility in the world without the typical show’s belabored melodrama.
The male side of the cast isn’t half bad either. Eric Stoltz as Daniel Greystone, the determined genius industrialist, and Esai Morales as Joseph Adama, the mob lawyer slipping into addiction and despair, are both simultaneously understated and raging; neither yell frequently but both radiated repressed fury and thwarted expectation. For me, the standout is Sasha Roiz as Joseph’s brother Sam. Sam Adama is so riddled with contradictions that the character shouldn’t ring true, but somehow, and I think it’s because of Roiz, he does. Sam is a mob enforcer but his perfect honest with his partner Larry about what he does removes much of the sleaziness one normal associates with such a profession; as a surrogate father to his nephew Willie (That’s right, before Admiral Bill Adama protected the human race, he was called Willie. Frakking awesome.) his approach of ethics-based circumvention of the law is fairly admirable; and his participation in his Tauron culture and religious tradition does not strike the viewer as cheep or false in anyway. Sam is interesting, and I like interesting.
The large thematic concerns of the show are still developing. While the overarching questions are present (what is reality? how is one to have faith in the face of competing religious claims? if family is our primary love do the living or the dead demand more of us? what is our ethical responsibility to society?), they and all others are in a gestational stage, but so far Caprica has established rich ground for these discussions to unfold. The march towards the Cylon War promises to be a thought-provoking one.
Oh, and James Marsters is terrorist, so if that isn’t enough to get you to watch, you might be a lost cause.
The TV Girl