‘Caprica’ – A Post-Mortem Analysis and News of the New BSG Series

If you haven’t heard the news, last week SyFy cancelled the critically acclaimed Battlestar Galactica prequel series, Caprica, which chronicled the history of the 12 colonies (more specifically, Caprica) and the events that led to the first Cylon war. Although, heavily promoted before the series debuted in January, Caprica never lived up to its hype with audiences and its poor ratings reflected that.

Since the announcement, there has been a misguided fan campaign to keep the series alive with of all things, bombarding the SyFy Offices with apples. You see, this esoteric reference that even the folks at SyFy probably won’t get is in regards to the symbolism of the Cylons’ “original sin” (and an apple appeared regularly in Caprica promotional materials). Clever, right?

Yeah… nobody cares.

I’m going to have to concur with the “Let it Go” sentiment on this one as much as I liked the show and am a fan of BSG, Caprica was a good show but it’s far too cerebral for the franchise considering that there was very little action. Unfortunately, fans expected a shoot-em up because it was a BSG prequel and a lot of viewers just can’t get past the fact that it isn’t that type of show. Revolving it around angst-ridden, teenage girls didn’t help it either.

As is the usual case for when any genre show gets cancelled, the choruses of “the network didn’t promote it well enough,” “switching the night it aired killed it,” and my favorite, “SyFy was greedy and split the season up into two parts to double-dip on on the DVD’s” are being sung by the fans.

As noted, the claim that the show wasn’t promoted well enough simply isn’t true. SyFy promoted the crap out of it before its series debut and the numbers were miserable for season 1.0 as well. It was lucky it got picked up for 1.5.

As far as the change of nights is concerned, it was purely a defensive measure. I wrote a piece about this on last month. Networks (excluding FOX) are taking Friday nights seriously now with their programming. It’s no longer considered a dumping ground for failing shows. That hurts SyFy because they took advantage of that for years. Both Caprica and Stargate: Universe have had awful ratings regardless of the night they have aired.

As far as the split-season is concerned (again, not that they would have mattered), it’s because the 1.5 episodes hadn’t been produced. Doug Drexler (CG supervisor for Caprica) confirmed with us that they had just finished all the post-production work for the season finale on August 28th so the main reason that the season was split was that the episodes weren’t complete.

The issue of the split seasons being taken advantage of by SyFy for DVD revenue comes up all the time as if it actually has some merit. It really doesn’t. Why would SyFy intentionally cut off their nose to spite their face by damaging the series overall by breaking up the continuity of it in order to boost DVD sales for one half of a season? Not only does it not make any sense for the simple reason that SyFy can split up a DVD set into two parts regardless of whether or not the season was actually split up when it aired, but intentionally hurting the continuity and thereby hurting the ratings precludes them from future DVD releases of subsequent seasons.

My point on all of that is that what ANY fan of ANY series wants if they want their show to survive is for “X” network to be as greedy as humanly possible because that means they’ll try to milk the series for as much money as they possibly can and that means they’ll do whatever they can to make sure the series lasts a long time.

The problem was that it couldn’t build an audience because even though it was pretty good, there simply wasn’t enough exciting going on to compel audiences to tune in every week until the last four episodes and all the apples in the world can’t change that.

However, that being said, the series that every fan wants to see, the one revolving around the war with the Cylons and the twelve colonies has been green-lit.  The project called Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome will feature a young William Adama and is officially described as such:

“Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome takes place in the 10th year of the first Cylon war. As the battle between humans and their creation, a sentient robotic race, rages across the 12 colonial worlds, a brash rookie viper pilot enters the fray. Ensign William Adama, barely in his 20’s and a recent Academy graduate, finds himself assigned to the newest battlestar in the Colonial fleet… the Galactica. The talented but hot-headed risk-taker soon finds himself leading a dangerous top secret mission that, if successful, will turn the tide of the decade long war in favor of the desperate fleet.”

All things considered, it would be nice if they did a two-hour movie to wrap up Caprica in the future and tie up the loose ends. Or, even better, incorporate it into the B & C pilot like Chris Carter did with Millenium and The Lone Gunmen on The X-Files.  In fact, it would seem to be a necessity because there is so much that was going on in Caprica that was the prelude to the first Cylon war and the development of the Cylons self-awareness to begin with that it would seem counter-productive to the franchise if they didn’t.

You can watch some full episodes of Caprica, here and Netflix subscribers can watch all fours seasons of the reimagined Battlestar Galactica series through the Netflix streaming service.

More fun: Hulu has all 24 episodes of the Original Battlestar Galactica (1978) available absolutely free, here.

6 comments on “‘Caprica’ – A Post-Mortem Analysis and News of the New BSG Series

  1. I’m not too broken up about the end of Caprica either. I don’t think it was going to be nearly as successful as BSG mostly because it was a different type of show. My only real gripe with Syfy is that they pulled the remaining episodes until next year. I want to see what happens.

    I’ve got a lot more hope for BSG: Blood and Chrome. I think that show can be more like BSG and mix war with drama/emotion. Fingers crossed right?

    • Thanks for reading, Chris! I couldn’t agree with you more. I hate saying this but as integral as the Caprica storyline is to the mythos of BSG, it was very out of place as a regular series and I say this as someone who did like it, but certainly understands why it turned audiences off.

      Caprica is an example of what happens when you let hardcore fans decide the direction of a franchise. I’m reminded of the constant debate among Star Trek fans about what the next series should be (this was a particularly active discussion near the end Star Trek: Voyager‘s seven season run). It was (and remains) insane. My three favorites that always come up are:

      1. A Klingon Series
      2. A Starfleet Academy Series
      3. A Federation Colony Series

      Although all of those premises/characters are integral to the franchise and mythology of Trek, can you seriously imagine anyone but the most die-hard of fans tuning in week-after-week for any of those series? I couldn’t.

      Those are “small doses” premises, in that all of the fans appreciate those premises but they are are only a small part of Trek and aren’t what Trek is about in the big picture.

      The same goes for Caprica. Yeah, I completely understand that there is a history that led up to the Second Cylon War and the destruction of the 12 colonies as presented in BSG, but that’s a subject best left dealt with in a mini-series or incorporated into other episodes. You don’t dedicate a multi-season cerebral metphysical series with no action like Caprica for a franchise that is known in genre circles as a “Military Space Opera.”

      BSG, first and foremost is a war story. The producers of Caprica seemed to have forgotten this and they forgot that you can’t alienate your base within your franchise. They did. Not only were general audiences and genre fans not watching, fans of BSG weren’t even watching.

      One of the things that I could never reconcile with this series was that they never explained the need for the miltary build-up. As far as we know, the 12 colonies were at peace with each other, heck, as we saw on BSG the governmental structure was similar to the U.S. Congress with a President or a Parliamentary Body with a Prime Minister. Since there was never any contact with alien life, one can only assume that the military build-up was for possible wars with the other colonies. That’s kind of a bizarre premise to have to speculate on without any background provided by the writers. Seriously, that’s the equivalent of New York arming for a possible war with Connecticut. Huh?

      What I’m getting at here is that they should have incorporated a war story into Caprica. It would have not only made more sense for the franchise but it would have been a great lead-in for the eventual first Cylon War with the 12 Colonies.

      Imagine this scenario: The 12 Colonies are at war with each other. No one wants to use nukes so Graystone develops the Cylons for Caprica’s defense. Cylons are not as effective in the field as expected because Graystone can’t develop effective A.I. Vergis develops the A.I., uses it in Graystone’s Cylons that have been left on the battlefield and uses Graystone’s Cylons as templates for his own. Graystone steals Vergis’ A.I., eventually all 12 colonies have A.I. Cylons and then the Cylons become self-aware and all Hell breaks loose.

      Fill in the blanks with the Zoe Graystone/V-World/STO sub-plots and you have the series that should have been. Because the Caprica we got was nothing more than a bunch of random sublplots that weren’t compelling enough for a BSG series.

      Blood & Chrome is EXACTLY what a BSG series should be and I am very much looking forward to it.

      • Caprica screwed up by not having the start of the Cylon War in the series. If they had built to that sooner they might have made it to season 2. The STO story was interesting to me but I can understand why it would get old with casual fans. There needed to be some action to go with all the good drama that was in Caprica.

        As for the Trek series, I think a Starfleet Academy one could be good. Follow a group of cadets through the Academy to their graduation and first posting on a ship. It could be interesting to Trek fan. Not sure how well it would catch on with others.

      • Like I said, it was bunch of subplots with no real central theme. You’re right, if the war was the central theme it would have been a different story entirely and it would have been able to keep the BSG fans tuned in.

        As far as ST:SFA is concerned, as a Trek dork myself, that’s not an entirely bad idea, but as you point out, it’s not going to work with a broader audience.

  2. Pingback: Fall 2010 Post-Game Wrap-Up (Tuesday) | TV-Tastic

  3. Good points all around. But I disagree that it’s downfall is that there was no viewership. Caprica averaged 1.084 million viewers before cancellation in it’s first season. Shows with lower ratings in their first season that were renewed: Mad Men – .9 million. Spartacus: Blood & Sand – .98 million. Syfy’s own Fact or Faked: Paranormal Files – 1.037 million at half season.
    The ratings for False Labor (.843 million) increased by 17.4% after the previous episode, Things We Lock Away (.718 million).
    DVR data was included in Syfy’s press release regarding the mid-season finale and first half of Season 1. With DVR data the Season 1.0 average increased by 50% from 1.2 million to 1.8 million. The show was not a failure, critically, nor with audiences.
    I dunno. It’s a headscratcher for me. It’s taught me not to get too attached to any television show any more.
    As far as the Star Trek series goes, set one on Risa – that hedonistic fuck planet that everyone vacations on. It could be a sit-com sort of like the Love Boat crossed with Fantasy Island, with new guest stars coming on every week. Like Charo. Remember Charo?

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