It must be Caprica week on the blog! I’ve been excited about the series’s return for a while now, and on Tuesday we not only got the next episode in the series, but we got the DVDs of the first half of the series. I’ll be reviewing the episode tomorrow, today I’m reviewing all the extras on the DVDs.
The Caprica Season 1.0 DVD set has 4 DVDs with 9 episodes, 48 deleted scenes, a handful of featurettes, the video blogs and podcasts that were released at the time, and a handful of commentaries by directors/writers/etc. I’m pretty sure that some of the clips in the video blogs/featurettes were of them shooting scenes which weren’t cut and are actually in Season 1.5 because I can’t see how they’d fit elsewhere. And there’s also a Season 1.5 sneak peek which complemented ones I’ve seen elsewhere but didn’t add too much.
The DVDs cost about $30 and for me it was entirely worth it.
I was looking forward most to the deleted scenes and they did not disappoint. They’re arranged logically, on the same disc as the corresponding episodes. You can watch for just one episode or watch all that disc’s episodes’ deleted scenes in a row.
In some cases, the deleted scenes were just expansions of what was already in the episode. A couple were expansions of themes we already knew (like several more fights about Tauron culture between Joseph and his mother-in-law Ruth). The most interesting ones were ones which would’ve changed the course of the show, or the course of a major thread.
I think the greatest number of deleted/shortened scenes on one theme were of the Willow family. We saw Clarice and Nestor stage his “accidental” shirtless meeting with Lacey. We can see fractures and tensions. The whole family may be monotheists, but her STO activities, her belief in her own importance…it’s even more pronounced in the cut scenes. You can also tell that only Nestor is really with her. Rashawd is closer than the rest, but the others have other priorities, closer to home.
My favorite deleted scene was an alternate ending to the Joseph-hunts-Tamara storyline in “End of the Line.” I’ve previously expressed my disappointment with how that ended. It wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t quite what I was hoping for. I loved the alternate version; it’s completely different. I actually cried watching it. I don’t want to spoil, but it felt more proactive on everyone’s part. I can see reasons why they might’ve taken the other path in terms of plot repercussions, but still…I think the other really was better.
Two of the other things which seemed to really be cut out were the Global Defense Department scenes with Agent Durham and the burlesque scenes in the New Cap City club. I think it’s rather sad that the Durham subplot had to get cut out. He’s really driven and I think seeing the ways he tries to stretch the law to do what he things is right and will keep people safe.
All in all the featurettes were good. A lot of it was stuff I’d heard before, or explanations of things I already knew from watching the episodes. It’s much the same with any tv series. But there were some good nuggets, there were things I just hadn’t heard before, and what excited me most were things that looked like they wouldn’t fit into Season 1.0’s storylines and weren’t in the deleted scenes. Like a bunch of armed Ha’la’tha types in the Graystones’ living room.
Extended Unrated Pilot
There’s an extended unrated pilot, which I watched, but I didn’t quite see the differences. Part of that is probably because I was listening to the commentary and I pick up audio differences faster. I’ll probably have to watch this again and see if I can find the differences.
I’ve already watched the extended unrated pilot and “Gravedancing,” my favorite episode, with the commentaries. Here are a few of the things that stuck with me:
Pilot — commentary by Ron Moore, David Eick, and Jeffrey Reiner
The creators talked about doing things differently from BSG but having some of the same sci-fi philosophy that it was about the people and their lives, not about some kind of distracting sci-fi world. There is sci-fi, but there’s a “touchstone of familiarity” instead of having screens and gadgets. Gattaca was one of their visual references.
They compared Sasha Roiz as Sam to Tahmoh Penikett as Helo, characters who didn’t have a future planned after the pilot but who really came through and needed to be used more. And convesely, they’d apparently cut out a whole subplot with Amanda having an affair because it came off as less likable, but that’s why she had less to do in the Pilot. (according to Jane Espenson in Gravedancing, it was with Tomas Vergis!)
Gravedancing — commentary by Jane Espenson
She talked about the special effects budget. She said it was surprising how many special effect shots there were because even though it’s not like a classic sci-fi in space or with aliens, they have so many elements in the world which needed special effects.
For Sarno, she wrote a lot of jokes in the Jay Leno vein, which confirmed the feeling I got from his monologues & jokes, though he comes off as more of a Jon Stewart in the actual interview.
Also, she noted that they’d originally considered Marsters for Vergis but people decided he’d be better as Barnabas. So say we all.
The DVDs also offer podcast commentaries for all the episodes (except the pilot). The podcasts were the same ones they made available weekly and continue to make available and are synched up to the episodes. They’re not quite as good quality as the full-fledged commentaries, but it’s great that they put them on too.
Eventually I’m going to watch all the commentaries, but it always takes me longer to watch those than the other special features…partially because of the amount of time I’d need to commit and also because my instinct is to watch without commentary.
There were a number of video blogs posted on Syfy and Hulu which they then collected and spaced out on the DVDs. I’ve seen a number of them before, it’s not anything special or unique for buyers but it’s nice to have them all in one place. Plus it’s a way to hold onto it when the videos go offline in the future.
Some of it’s just promos, but there are a number of thematic mini-featurettes. It’s fun seeing the actors comment on their characters or their take on how the other characters see the world. And there’s some cool behind-the-scenes stuff.
I’m very glad I got these and really looking forward to exploring them more. Caprica’s been a different experience for me. I don’t think I’ve ever watched a sci-fi show as it airs before (except Dollhouse, which I’m afraid I didn’t get as into). A lot of that was not having the right channels or being young or being in college. So while I’ve gotten into sci-fi this passionately before, it’s always come after the fact. (Doctor Who doesn’t count as I’m perpetually a season or more behind.)
I discovered Firefly right after the DVDs came out and some friends got them, so even though I felt the pain of loss knowing there wouldn’t be more, it wasn’t as acute it was for my friends who saw it live. It’s scary to commit to a show like that. I’ve always known before that there were X seasons and that it either came to a planned finish (DS9/Buffy) or was cut off way too early (Firefly) or went too long (only one coming to mind this late is CSI:Miami).
That’s a slight tangent from my point, which is that as part of the Caprica fan viewing experience, these DVDs are awesome. I expect that, as with BSG, they’ll release S1.5 separately, which means that it wouldn’t be worth holding out for the possibility of a combined season. If this is all there is, gods forbid, then it’s possible they’d do a “complete series.”