TVOD: Caprica, or The End is Foretold (UPDATED)





I've been wracking my brains trying to figure out why Caprica resonates with me in a way that Battlestar Galactica still has not. It's not that I don't think BSG was well-written, well-acted and well-produced - I certainly do. I always admired the show, but it always had the faint taste of medicine for me.

That could be because of the mix of militarism and space opera that BSG offered up, and leavened with then-topical, paranoid leftist politics. Every time I happened to tune in people were either arguing in Spartan-looking barracks (or some other depressing military installation) or arguing in some boardroom. One episode dealt with a presidential election, which struck me as a bit superfluous during a life-or-death struggle with a race of killer robots. Being naturally averse to both politics and militarism there simply isn't the toehold for me in the BSG universe that the critics seemed to find.

But it could also be that I- like a lot of other viewers - see space opera as a playground for archetypes. Or gods, if you prefer. The two great streams of space opera- Star's Trek and Wars, bear little resemblance to modern-day reality and their characters are pure archetype. Which is exactly why they resonated so powerfully outside the core of Fandom. Ronald B. Moore chafed famously against the restrictions Gene Roddenberry put on the Trek Universe. Roddenberry insisted that the heroes of TNG be above the petty foibles of humanity, which is to say that Roddenberry wanted his characters to be gods.

Moore began to loosen these restrictions on Deep Space Nine and certainly exploded them on BSG. This excited the critics and the hardcore fans, but not necessarily the mainstream audience. Neither show was anything near what you'd call a commercial hit. Even in the context of the SciFi/SyFy network, BSG was a noble underperformer in the ratings. Which goes to show that Roddenberry understood what would get millions of Americans to tune into sci-fi, even if Star Trek got its ass kicked in the 60s by any number of shows no one remembers anymore.

Compared to the aforementioned shows, Caprica isn't really science fiction. I'm tempted to file it as magical realism, seasoned with the alt-reality trappings of old school genre fiction. Hill Street Blues took place nowhere, which followed in the tradition of Ed McBain's Isola, which itself followed in the tradition of Batman's Gotham City or Superman's Metropolis. Most of Caprica's technology is not exactly futuristic (certainly not on paper), a lot of it is archaic. But the point is that it takes place in a relatively familiar world.

But even so the ratings seem to indicate that Caprica is even more esoteric than BSG. The Iraq War and its aftershocks and the political ascension of religious fundamentalism gave BSG a very timely kick for some viewers. BSG was embraced by the political left as a metaphor for current events, though I think its was more appropriate to Bush's first term than his second.

Caprica is very timely, but these times are very confused, aren't they? Its world is as chaotic and unsettled as our own. The STO has a lot of touches of fundamentalist secret societies like Opus Dei and the Family, but their goal seems to be more Gnostic than Dominionist. Sister Clarice is DS9s Kai Winn redux, in that both characters are powerful Sarah Palin resonators. But Clarice wants to escape into the digital matrix, not rule the external world. That the Cylons eventually do is an accident of history.

Caprica is a prisoner of history, in that its end is foretold. That may be what's keeping it from finding an audience. Or maybe it's simply too esoteric for a populace that thinks American Idol and Jersey Shore are the summit of human achievement.

It's taking a shockingly long hiatus, and won't return until the fall. Hopefully RBM has enough juice to squeeze another season out of it. But seeing great shows like Sarah Connor Chronicles and The Dresden Files die- both of which I'd rank well above Caprica in potential mainstream appeal - doesn't fill my heart with sunshine and optimism.

These days optimism is a rare luxury. I've enjoyed my visits to Caprica so far, this recent episode especially. There's a few easter eggs for the Synchromystics along the way, so keep your eyes peeled.


Non-US readers click here.

UPDATE: Well, shortly after the Caprica season finale a real-life "Soliders of the One" was busted in Michigan:

Hutaree, the Christian militia in southeast Michigan reportedly raided by the FBI Sunday, was preparing to battle the Antichrist because "Jesus wanted us to be ready to defend ourselves using the sword and stay alive using equipment," according to its Web site.

"Six Michigan residents, along with two residents of Ohio and a resident of Indiana, were indicted by a federal grand jury in Detroit on charges of seditious conspiracy, attempted use of weapons of mass destruction, teaching the use of explosive materials, and possessing a firearm during a crime of violence," according to the government's press release, which you can read in full below.

The indictment describes an alleged plot that seems inspired by weapons more associated with urban warfare in Iraq than with rural Michigan.

The Hutaree members allegedly "planned to kill an unidentified member of local law enforcement and then attack the law enforcement officers who gather in Michigan for the funeral."

The indictment continues: "According to the plan, the Hutaree would attack law enforcement vehicles during the funeral procession with Improvised Explosive Devices with Explosively Formed Projectiles, which, according to the indictment, constitute weapons of mass destruction."



I don't know what to make of this story but strangely enough, the Hutaree seem to have a yen for 80s goth rockers Sisters Of Mercy, and use their music as the soundtrack for their promotional YouTube videos. It would seem that druggy, androgynous, underground rockers from England wouldn't pass muster with Christian holy warriors, but who ever said anything makes sense anymore?

It's tempting to write these guys off as some kind of cointelpro setup, but it all strikes me as being a bit too bizarre for that. And don't take this the wrong way, but none of those characters look like undercover ATF agents to me.

We'll see how widespread these kinds of groups become in the days ahead. I'm willing to bet that the ones that do won't be primarily religious, either. But as we saw in the 90s, these militia types tend to fold up their tents pretty quickly once the Feds start flexing their muscles. But if the economy keeps getting worse, all bets are off.

18 comments:

  1. Hey, don't be so quick to rip “Jersey Shore”.

    According to this article linked on the AOL Homepage in late January [I bookmarked it]:

    The “Jersey Shore” Prevents Aliens from Invading Earth.

    http://www.tvsquad.com/2010/02/10/tv-101-how-i-learned-to-stop-worrying-and-love-jersey-shore/5

    Obviously these aliens witnessed my ex-boyfriend named John get into a fistfight over a parkingspot in the Staten Island Mall. Twice. *facepalm*

    Keep an eye on your local area guidos.

    - in times of imminent alien invasion, they may increase home value.



    Unrelated:

    In another post comments, someone mentioned the cyberpunk anime Serial Experiments Lain.

    Um, you seriously need to check that out.

    The creator, Chiaki J. Konaka, admitted to using synchromythism for the LULZ!

    I remember reading the interview in Newtype; he complained about modern Japanese teenagers being isolated/discontented from their peers, despite cell phones and other advances in technology.

    He equated the internet to Lewis Carroll's Wonderland. [Note: this series was released BEFORE the Matrix]

    …..

    HOLY S---!

    I was just wikipedia-ing Serial Experients Lain, and remember that 3D Apple-created cell phone she carried around? [An iphone 10 years before iphones existed]

    It's called a NAVI.

    Like, as in, Avatar NAVI.

    There was even a forum discussion about the name years ago!

    http://animeboards.com/showthread.php?t=59358

    When the creator said he purposely made synchs, he definitely went out of his way!


    PS:

    There was this Serial Experiments Lain one-shot manga [it was in the Artbook???]

    No joke, it implied she was created by a ROGUE Deity. Alternatively, she might be a rogue deity?[Fallen Angel, Elohim, etc.?]

    EDIT: Found said one-shot.

    http://www.cjas.org/~leng/lmanga.htm

    Please check it out, full of trippy quotes:

    “All you are is what you're aware of...”

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  2. yeah chris, i've been deadlocked on caprica, and the whole vr thing makes me sync with nintendo's virtual boy, and the lack of fan base make it all more relevant. i was super-obsessed with the first 2-3 episodes, you stated your fondness, and i grabbed on, you're like a meme highway toll booth worker, you show many of us where to go when needed, amazing with the whole belief systems on cap and new cap city, its where gaming is going, where life is moving, hearing that the next final fantasy will be online makes me understand this sync more and better. i wish tsarion or more sync-lunatics would pick up on with all the religion and mythos, its strangely intriguing.

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  3. my cat is named GWIDOE 6 years ago, before caprica came out.

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  4. "Caprica is a prisoner of history, in that its end is foretold. That may be what's keeping it from finding an audience. Or maybe it's simply too esoteric for a populace that thinks American Idol and Jersey Shore are the summit of human achievement."

    Maybe... or maybe it's just not very good. I found it pretty hokey... and not in a good way.

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  5. Please, can you attach a glossary for all the TLA's (Three Letter Acronyms).

    Thanks
    M!

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  6. Guys- I'm still catching up on work after the situation here last week. I'll check in with comments tomorrow. Thanks for weighing in.

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  7. Yes LAIN is a must have. I bought the DVD set about 10 years ago. With episode names like Psyche, Ego, Religion etc, you can't help but want to see it. Protocol was a favorite since it dealt with Roswell, Schuman resonance, John C. Lilly sensory deprivation experiments so on...

    Caprica aint for everyone, but I have become very intrigued by its Gattaca style retrofuturism, and potential symbolism and astrological content. Hokey or not, someone is putting some work in on the writing. I thought this last episode was pretty dam good...

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  8. Christopher,

    I don't like teevee, I do not watch teevee, and have no interest in letting the assholes running Hollywood to colonize my mind. Therefore, you're media based writings are utterly uninteresting to me, even though that is your primary focus.

    I am not writing this to insult you, or your writings for matter. On the contrary, I just thought I would let you know I usually find your reality based articles very intelligent, thought provoking, and usually educationally worthwhile.

    The wizards of Hollywood can go * you know what.

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  9. Caprica is a bit like the coming of the apocalypse 2012. We know it's around the corner, Nasa has said not to worry, no 'burning' red sun/dwarf/annunaki 'mankinds' crazed heavenly world coming our way. Yet the dystopia continues. End of the world scenarios, legend, 2012, the road seem to place the weight of 'survival' on individuals, become a 'hero' or die. We live in interesting times...

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  10. Caprica is, indeed, very different from BSG. In fact, it seems much more twisted and frakked up than BSG, which I didn't think was possible. That said, I can see why the fans are few. After all, ideas can be poorly executed, and there are plenty bad episodes of even the best TV shows. I like Caprica overall, but it also features a flaw of BSG: lots & lots of lead-up but no pay-off. Must be Ronald Moore's touch. If you want to hit the mainstream, you have to reward the viewers for showing up. And, except for this latest "finale" of Caprica, nothing has really happened since the first few episodes. Sure, character development is good, but--gods!--I was wanting Mrs. Greystone to just kill herself already! And what did Clarice ever really do except smoke that damned hooka pipe? The pacing has been insufferable, and only the most die-hard fans with nothing else to do on Friday are going to hang around.

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  11. "Sure, character development is good, but--gods!--I was wanting Mrs. Greystone to just kill herself already!"

    LOL!! My feeling exactly! She is the only character that i find supremely annoying. But despite the slow pace, i remain committed.

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  12. Chris,

    You have probably already seen this, but interesting it is released today (3/29) on a full moon that is considered the "full moon of rebirth."

    "Ancient doorway to afterlife discovered in Egypt"

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/afp/20100329/wl_africa_afp/egyptarchaeology

    Sync!

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  13. "Roddenberry insisted that the heroes of TNG be above the petty foibles of humanity, which is to say that Roddenberry wanted his characters to be gods."

    Probably sums up why LOST's characters are so much more popular. For all the realistic style and complex backstories, what they each represent inside the narrative is very clear and simple.

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  14. Thank you, レベッカ.
    Lain is such a great show and resonates so much with what's being discussed, its good to see it in the conversation, finally.

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  15. Awesome critique of Caprica and the Hutaree militia- eerie!

    And in response to your last sentence: Isn't escalation of aggression all part of the plan?!?

    All we can do is continue to think positive with our heads in the clouds and let events like the recent female Russian suicide bombers secure our feet on tera firma. We live in interesting times. ;)

    P.S. Your comparison of Sister Clarice to Palin is spot-on.

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  16. "I don't know what to make of this story but strangely enough, the Hutaree seem to have a yen for 80s goth rockers Sisters Of Mercy, and use their music as the soundtrack for their promotional YouTube videos. It would seem that druggy, androgynous, underground rockers from England wouldn't pass muster with Christian holy warriors, but who ever said anything makes sense anymore?"

    Seriously weird. This group (and plenty of other pseudo-militia groups in Michigan and the surrounding areas, it's an active area for this sort of thing) are really too crazy for their own good. Hutaree was based within 100 miles of where I live... If any of those groups were ever active they would surely kill me for being a "loose woman," but... at least they have obscure taste in music? Maybe they could play Bauhaus while they shoot me with their semi-automatics?

    Keep an eye on this story. I agree that this doesn't seem like a cointelpro setup. These people are real (and possibly meth-addled).

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  17. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  18. Joe said "...have no interest in letting the assholes running Hollywood to colonize my mind. "

    I can understand your POV. Aelous does a piece on the false wish fulfillment Hollywood dishes out and its effects on consciousness...

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