It’s possible that I’ve been a bit excited about Caprica’s return… If you follow me on Twitter, you’d probably call that an understatement. I thought I’d sum up in a post the reasons why I watch Caprica and love it so much.
I Watch Caprica Because It’s a Story
I have watched a lot of week to week episodic tv. And it’s fun. I’ve enjoyed seasons of all three CSIs, NCIS, Bones, House, Lie To Me, How I Met Your Mother, Big Bang Theory, etc. The thing is, I’ve also mostly stopped watching them. Characters develop, larger plots unfold, but it’s still really a week-to-week experience and often unfulfilling.
Caprica, on the other hand, is all about telling one big story. There are episodes, themes, etc, but the driving force isn’t a whodunit or an amusing adventure of the week. It’s weaving characters and plot threads into one big forward-moving story.
Some people call shows like this (or BSG) “soapy,” because they’re essentially a long drama split into little bits. That doesn’t do any justice to the writers and the care they put into their work. The story, not the monster/murder/illness/mixup of the week, is the focus, and therefore it’s a coherent narrative.
After watching an episode, I feel like I’ve just read another good chapter in a book.
(If anything, I think episodic television is more vulnerable to soapiness.)
I Watch Caprica Because It’s Its Own Story
Unlike most people, I watched Battlestar after I watched Caprica. It was a matter of timing I’ve explained elsewhere, and I think it was a fortuitous one. I didn’t carry in the expectations and I wasn’t looking for something to explain the history of each character.
I knew the gist of what Caprica was leading up to, the first Cylon War, but that’s not really the point. The point is the story of how humanity gets itself into this kind of situation, not that specific situation, just like Battlestar Galactica asked what a group of 50,000 people would do if they were the last 50,000 people left out of all humanity.
Caprica doesn’t try to be a direct setup to BSG (though some elements are part of the setup for Cylons as we know them and for the one character who makes it onto BSG, William Adama). Even now that I’ve seen and loved BSG, I can’t think of anything in Caprica which would’ve felt gimmicky. Caprica has enough to worry about without trying to foreshadow at every turn.
I Watch Caprica Because It’s a Mystery
Not a conventional mystery or a gimmicky mystery. It’s not even framed as a mystery. The mystery is in where the story will go. It’s not predictable. I’ve read a lot of books, watched a lot of tv, and seen a lot of films. My favorite kind are the ones where I’m not really sure where the plot is going but I’m enjoying the ride and looking forward to the discovery.
Any good story is at least partly a mystery to the reader/viewer.
I Watch Caprica Because It’s Not Too Far-Fetched
Robot soldiers, check. Virtual worlds, check. We don’t have Cylons and holobands yet, but we’re in an era where both of those concepts don’t seem so unlikely. Science fiction often comments on the science, ethics, & ideas of the era in which it was written and Caprica’s no exception.
But, unlike flavor-of-the-week tv, it doesn’t set out to teach us a different moral lesson each week (think the use of a different tech fad for nearly every murder in CSI: NY or the different moral dilemmas in Star Trek episodes). It unfolds in a world which is so different and not-so different from our own.
I Watch Caprica Because It Pulls Me Into Another World
I love shows that pull me out of my world into a whole new place. Good sci-fi/fantasy has that potential more than any other kind of show simply because it isn’t taking place in our world. I love the discovery, I’m actually a bit obsessed with learning more about Tauron culture and the other planets. It’s a whole new ‘verse and I love exploring it.
And like good sci-fi, it pulls me away from my own worries at least for a half-hour. When I started watching it, I already knew this was going to be a hard year. Escaping into and exploring the worlds of Caprica and then Battlestar Galactica and now Caprica again have been among the bright spots.
I Watch Caprica for the Characters
I want to find out what Joseph does now that he can’t stalk Tamara. I want to find out what Tamara does with her power on New Cap City. I want to see what happens to Zoe and whether/how she ends up in New Cap City. I want to find out what’s making Sam turn on Ha’la’tha. I want to find out what’s up with Lacey and Barnabas. I want to see what Clarice turns into. I’ve become attached to the characters and I still care about how they relate to each other, how they handle the circumstances around them, etc.
I want to find out who the hell was having sex one of the promos because damn that looked hot. *ahem* I can’t be the only one.
Those are all reasons why I watch Caprica. They’re not the only ones and they’re not nearly everything I could’ve said on the subject. Each could be a blog post or two on its own.
Caprica’s coming back to SyFy tonight 10/5 at 10pm! It should also be available on Hulu the day after it airs (based on last season) for those who don’t have cable. Frankly, I think the actors/directors/producers would be ok with you bootlegging the first half if you watch & talk about the second half, but you can also find the DVDs on Amazon. Mine are in the mail. (a note for people starting out, eps 2 & 3 are a bit slow. Eps 4-onward are much better-paced.)
If you’re a fan of Caprica, I’d love to hear why in the comments!