We gave it an A-
Conceived as a spin-off but already its own creation, Caprica is different in tone from Battlestar Galactica, which is both a brave and a good thing. Set almost 60 years before the events shown in Battlestar, Caprica follows the paths of Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), father of young William, who we know grew up to be Edward James Olmos, and Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz), a tech mogul who’s invented a virtual-reality world and the Cylons, who, well, you BSG fans know those shiny robots.
Morales’ Joe is a lawyer with compromised ethics, a Tauron living in a world in which such folks are a commonly despised minority. He loses his wife and daughter in what’s deemed a terrorist attack by the Soldiers of the One (the STO), a shadowy rebel outfit. That bombing on a public train also killed Daniel’s daughter, Zoe, but Dad has created an avatar of her as well as downloaded much of her essential personality into a Cylon prototype.
Joe and Daniel meet as grieving parents, but after Daniel’s wife, Amanda (Deadwood‘s Paula Malcomson), announces that daughter Zoe was an STO terrorist, Joe wants bitter revenge. ”Blood for blood — it’s the Tauron way,” he says, enlisting his shady brother, Sam (Sasha Roiz), to kill Amanda so that Daniel too will have neither wife nor daughter.
On Caprica, zingers and interviews are conducted by late-night host Baxter Sarno, played beautifully by Patton Oswalt as a cross between David Letterman and Jon Stewart. It’s on his show that Daniel appears to defend his daughter from the crime she’s accused of, a PR disaster for his company.
Alessandra Torresani navigates the difficult roles of Zoe as bratty teen, eerie avatar, and powerful Cylon. The mythology constructed by Caprica involves issues of what it means to be human and humane. Like BSG, Caprica quickly assimilates you in a new world and then spins out a family saga that has far-reaching consequences for everyone in its universe. It’s like a shiny toy with an unexpected soulfulness. A?