Thursday, October 28, 2010


Colour me unsurprised. And vindicated.

CAPRICA, for those who do not know, is the prequel series to SYFY's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica. BSG ran for four seasons and garnered a decent sized audience and a very enthusiastic fan base. Caprica has garnered neither. Despite being well reviewed by the critics, Caprica has not had the same kind of response from viewers as BSG did. And there is a good reason for that.

Ronald D. Moore, the executive producer of BSG and Caprica stated that the original reason for doing the prequel series was to try to expand the show's audience. In other words what he wanted to do was to appeal to an audience other than science fiction fans. So he wanted to keep his core audience nut also gain a wider audience of people who may have been "put off" from watching Battlestar Galactica because of the name or the spaceships or the killer robots.

"Caprica however leans heavier on the kitchen sink drama than any sci-fi show ever." explained a web story at the time the series debuted. "This makes Caprica a much different animal, but from an entry point this is something beyond sci-fi and as a result a wider audience will be able to enjoy Caprica." Something "beyond" sci-fi? Yeah. Right.

This stated intention corresponded with the Sci-fi channel re-branding itself as Syfy and trying to broaden its appeal beyond the core audience. Or, as one headline put it: "Sci Fi Channel Aims to Shed Geeky Image With New Name". To further ad salt to the wound Tim Brooks, one of the founders of the sci-fi channel went on record with: “The name Sci Fi has been associated with geeks and dysfunctional, antisocial boys in their basements with video games and stuff like that, as opposed to the general public and the female audience in particular.”

Way to alienate your core audience. And to seriously misjudge and mischaracterize a growing female science fiction audience.

Of course the whole thing was wrongheaded from the beginning and Caprica's dwindling audience and recent cancellation only serves to underscore that fact. Most fans of science fiction television tune in to these shows specifically for the spaceships and robots and rayguns. When you make the mistake of thinking that your material is somehow "better" than the genre and try to scrub it clean of all that "silly sci-fi" stuff... well, then in my view you have made a major misjudgement.

This is one of my "hot-button topics" and it will usually get me on a rant where I will rail against authors like Margaret Atwood or Cormac MaCarthy who do not understand science fiction but feel that they can single handedly "save" the genre, pulling it out of the gutter and transforming it into something wonderful and literary, when all they end up doing is diluting it, repackaging it and missing the point along the way. Don't get me started.

This is the arrogant mistake that Ronald D. Moore made. That seems pretty obvious now with Caprica's cancellation and the fact that Syfy has given the greenlight to another Battlestar Galactica series: Adama: Blood and Chrome, which is set during the Cylon-Human war. Spaceships. Killer Robots. Ray guns. And they're going ahead without Ronald D. Moore.

But that's what happens when you consider yourself to be better than your audience and say so in public.

I've been here and there. I've drawn a lot of pictures. I've written a bit, too. I'm not good at this self-promotion thing. Look, you want to know about me? just visit these websites. Okay?


Pat Tillett said...

It seems like they not only consider themselves better, but they also made it clear that by trying to get a broader audience, they don't really care about the art of it, and just care about the money...

Kal said...

Oh boy did you ever get this one right. I grew increasingly annoyed with the BSG remake from a few years back when they tried to do to much and messed up the mythology totally. I have never been as upset with the finale of a TV show as I was with BSG. So I never even gave Caprica a try, figuring I could always catch up in a few years. Now I am glad I don't have to clutter up my mind with that show at all.

I don't know why people think that they can't make a fun sci fi show. They all thing it has to be dripping with allegory (sp?). One of the reasons I love Warehouse 13 is that it gives me goofy artifacts with my mythology and never forgets that entertaining the audience is the first job.

The last episode of Stargate Universe went off the rails by pairing adventure with a fantasy sequence where the crew all had other roles in the fevered mind of an injured main character. That part of the episode went nowhere and reminded me of those episode of BSG that bored me with the heavy symbolism of stuff that may or not be relevant in the future.

Oh and your Atwood and McCormick comments were dead on too. 'The Handmaid's Tale' and 'The Road' are just to grim for words.

See, this is why I need to hang out with you one of these decades. I am sure we would have alot to talk about and agree over.

Paladin said...

Caprica had potential in some ways, but they sure screwed the pooch. I loved the visual mix of old and new, for one thing. Cars, clothing, and guns from the 40's and 50's mixed with killer robots and space travel between worlds - Damn, but that had potential appeal to someone like me.

The story line was just so irritating, though. It felt like it was written by 4 different people who had never met, and who had no idea what the others were writing about. I had hoped they would focus this season and pull out of the tailspin - but I had to bail after two episodes when it was clear they couldn't.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Broaden their audience by eliminating the core? Right.
Caprica was just late night soap-opera drama. SyFy has ONE hit with a show heavy on the drama, and now they think all of their new shows must fit that mold. They've all but killed Stargate: Universe for me, forgoing the humor that made the first two Stargates hits.
And Kal, I ended up more engrossed with a game on my iPad than watching this last Universe show.

M. D. Jackson said...

Just to make it clear I did try with Caprica. I watched the pilot on DVD and managed to sit through two episodes. But honestly, once you get the idea that the Cylons will rebel against mankind because they have the temperement of a snotty teenager... well, I wasn't buying it.

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