Syfy’s Caprica is quickly becoming one of the more intriguing industry dramas of this year’s TV season.
A spin-off of the hugely popular Battlestar Galactica, its pilot aired nearly a year before the series, and the series resumed a couple months ago on (less-than-ideal) Friday nights, initially opposite the Haiti telethon and then the Winter Olympics. Not a simple task, to win ratings against those odds.
Through it all, Caprica’s hovered around 1 million viewers, remaining strong in its key, younger demographics, but failing to loop new eyeballs into its unapologetically serialized storyline – of broken families, dead daughters, sprawling virtual universes and the invention of robotic killing machines. That’s 1 million viewers, versus the more than 2 million people who watched this week’s return of Syfy’s Destination Truth – a reality show that costs a whole lot less to produce.
The drama now becomes: How much does Syfy believe in the series? How long are they willing to wait for the buzz to spread and catch on, that this is a damn interesting show (Entertainment Weekly just named it one of the 10 best shows on TV right now)? Fans – like me – are still waiting on word about season 2, and who knows what the outcome will be. (More at Techland: Read our interview with Caprica’s creator)
Then again, you can’t claim that the network isn’t coming to the show’s defense. On Tuesday, Syfy brought the Caprica cast and crew to the Museum of Modern Art here in New York City in a bid to build fanfare around the show’s next two episodes – next Friday marks a mid-season cliffhanger – and it’s clear that Syfy execs are very committed to the concept, the melodrama, and the cast. And checking out the fireworks to come in the series, it’s clear that Caprica is about to take it all up a notch.
Standing along the red carpet, I think I started to realize why the show – which is very smart, and very addictive for those willing to give it half a chance – has failed to find a foothold. I met up with a friend who had never seen an episode, and my attempt to describe the show, and bring her up to speed on all the the themes and tribulations, was an all but futile endeavor. The show is so layered, so deep, so cerebral, that what it really needs, I think, is to break a little out of its bubble. If someone new tunes in for the first time, there needs to be some visceral thrills to accompany all of this heady babbling. Heady babbling that I love, mind you.
Even the most inward looking soap opera still finds ways to build dramatic action and tension.
If the bad news is that Caprica has been a little too insulated in its approach, and homogenous in its tone, thus far, then the good news is that the creators seem to get this very fact, and beginning tonight, we are on the fast track to some big, big action.
My review of tonight’s episode will be up first thing Monday – with half a spoiler or two about next Friday’s huge cliffhanger. What do you guys think? Does Caprica deserve a little more time to weave its arcs?
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