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DVD Review

DVD cover

Feature Length Pilot


Starring: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Paula Malcomson, Alessandra Torresani and Magda Apanowicz
Universal Playback
RRP: £15.99
Certificate: 15
Available 29 March 2010

The worlds of the twelve colonies appear on the surface to be thriving, yet underneath its decadence is tolling the first death knells of this civilisation. Unbeknownst to most of the adult population their young spend their lives living in virtual reality where every vice is not only available but also practiced. Not all of Caprica’s youth feel comfortable with this development and have found a new purpose in the worship of a single god, but in a world of polytheism their belief will bring them into violent conflict with their elders...

Caprica (2009 - 1 hr, 28 min, 34 sec) is the spin-off show from Galactica. Set fifty-eight years before the fall of the twelve colonies the show details the creation of the Cylons which would eventually wipe out the majority of humanity. The show was produced by the same team that worked on Galactica, but rather than being a retread of that show the producers opted to create something with its own tone. Rather than creating another space based drama the show focuses on two families which would play a part in the creation of the Cylons.

Daniel Graystoke (Eric Stoltz) is a successful business man and inventor who appears to have it all. His daughter Zoe, (Alessandra Torresani) though disgusted by what is happening in her own culture and having found the one true god,, decides to skip planet with an avatar which she has created. Before she can get to the spaceport the train she is travelling in is blown up by one of her friends, killing her and the wife and daughter of Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), father of William, the eventual last commander of the Battlestar Galactica. This shared tragedy places the two men into close proximity and their desire to resurrect some part of their daughters leads them to Zoe’s avatar and the violent and dangerous world of virtual reality.

This was always going to be a hard sell off the back of Galactica’s success. Central to the show's fortunes are the characters of Daniel, Joseph and especially Zoe. Eric Stoltz does a fine job of depicting a man driven by his work. Daniel isn’t exactly immoral and his decision to steal a chip to get his Cylon working has less to do with defence contract that he may lose and more to do with recovering something of his daughter’s essence. Joseph is also driven to do things, which are against his own moral code, for the same reason; the problem is that the depiction of Zoe goes some way to unbalancing the show with Torresani’s portrayal of Zoe as a spoilt and petulant teenager. Part of the problem is in the set up, the real Zoe dies so soon that we never get to know her or the reasons that she turned to monotheism. Her surviving avatar behaves in such a way that it is very difficult to sympathise with the character.

The show also seems to be having a crisis of focus, on the one hand we have a show designed to appeal to a young female audience with Zoe as the central protagonist, however unendearing she may be, but we also have the drama of the fathers and the lengths that they will go to to recover even a part of their daughters - the two make an uneven match.

That said this is the pilot show so there is a lot of new characters and relationships to set up before the show proper gets started, so it suffers both the strengths and weaknesses of many pilot shows, if nothing else it was better than The Plan and there is enough which is intriguing about the show's premise and themes to make me keep watching past the pilot.

The DVD does come with a few extras including a full length commentary with Ronald D. Moore, David Eick and the director Jeffrey Reiner. I always enjoyed the podcasts for Galactica and this one remains informative and entertaining, though I do miss the sound of Moore smoking. The main audio is a 5.1 track with optional subtitles. There are some deleted scenes (7 min, 09 sec), the first of which gives the impression that Zoe was manipulated into leaving her parents, the rest are little character pieces which adds a little depth to some of the characters. There are also some blogs (13 min, 09 sec) with pieces to camera from the makers of the show.

So it’s not perfect, but it does set up an interesting premise, enough to guarantee that the show was properly commissioned.


Charles Packer

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