Soap Opera Weekly: 1/29/10

Don’t forget to watch the new episode of CAPRICA tonight at 9 o’clock on SyFy!

In a sense, this prequel to BATTLESTAR GALACTICA picks up where the parent series left off — in terms of quality, at least. The premiere of CAPRICA plunged viewers into a fully realized world — both visually and emotionally. The series pivots on viewer familiarity with the general universe, and thus doesn’t bother detailing things like the organization of the 12 Colonies; it hits the ground running, plunging viewers into a society afflicted with religious strife. Religion is not a common subject in dramas — especially not faith-based violence. A terror bombing by a religious fanatic sets the main plot in motion by killing one of the central characters in the opening 15 minutes. (That’s right, Zoe Graystone is dead.) Her father, the brilliant inventor Daniel Graystone, teams ups with lawyer Joseph Adama (who lost his wife and daughter in the blast) to “bring back” their slain family members using an experimental blend of virtual reality and robotics. Zoe’s consciousness is downloaded into a mechanical body, and the first cylon is born.

The show’s tone may sound a bit cold and clinical, but I assure you that CAPRICA is all about character; the scientific aspects (and the subdued special effects) are subservient to stories about dysfunctional families and men driven by a variety of inner demons. The science-fiction elements are very well-done, and the series’ technology is not too far ahead of ours; it fact, it is just beyond the bleeding-edge of our own. It is easy to relate to devices like paper-thin, touch-sensitive computer consoles. Hell, the iPad was just launched here on Earth this week! Yet the good citizens of Caprica City travel via cars and trains viewers have no trouble recognizing.

The cast is, of course, terrific, led by Eric Stoltz (Daniel), Esai Morales (Joseph), Paula Malcomson (Amanda) and Alessandra Torresani as the late, lamented Zoe. Executive producers Ronald D. Moore and David Eick have promised that CAPRICA will be an unabashed soap opera, and so far it is full of potential. Get in on the ground floor!

CAPRICA arrives just in time to replace Fox’s DOLLHOUSE in the TV landscape. Joss Whedon‘s DOLLHOUSE comes to a close tonight with nothing less than the fate of the entire world on line. DOLLHOUSE had a little trouble finding its tone early, and by the time it found its stride, it was too late. But any Whedon series is worth a look. Goodbye, DOLLHOUSE.

Originally published on SoapOperaWeekly.com

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