Review: Caprica Season 1.0 DVD

Caprica: Season 1.0 DVD boxSTUDIO: Universal | CREATORS: Remi Aubuchon, Ronald D. Moore | CAST: Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales, Alessandra Torresani, Magda Apanowicz, Sasha Roiz, Polly Walker, Paula Malcomson
RELEASE DATE: 10/5/10 | PRICE: DVD $49.98
BONUSES: commentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, podcasts, video blogs, Season 1.5 preview
SPECS: NR | 534 min. | Sci-fi | 1.78:1 widescreen | Dolby Digital 5.1 | English, Spanish and French subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

For the SyFy TV show Caprica, the 50-years-earlier prequel to the iconic science-fiction Battlestar Galactica series, producers Ronald Moore and David Eick tossed out the playbook and created a show that was almost entirely different from its predecessor. The resulting series has its own distinctive look and storytelling format that’s as different from Galactica as the original 1970s Galactica Cylons are from the likes of Trisha Helfer’s Number 6 in the reboot.

Set primarily on the titular, Earth-like planet, and with a production style that blends modern Vancouver architecture with 1930s America (think Fedoras and long overcoats), Caprica brings together two families that have been ripped apart by a tragic terrorist bombing. Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz) is a wealthy industrialist who’s tinkering with “cybernetic lifeform nodes” and Joseph Adama (Esai Morales), a lawyer on the periphery of a mafia-like cartel. Both have lost children in the bombing, and they’re drawn to the prospect of rebuilding their families via Graytstone’s advances in artificial intelligence.

The ensuing drama in the TV show gives rise to revenge, corporate espionage and murder, as the two men question what it means to be alive and whether consciousness can exist outside of sentient bodies. The unfolding events will ultimately lead to the decimation of humanity by the nascent Cylons (which is the launching point for the story of Battlestar Galactica).

Caprica’s nine Season 1.0 episodes are spread across four discs, with television and extended versions of the pilot on the first platter.

There’s no shortage of special features, with every episode carrying deleted scenes and a producers commentary track, or a podcast (which is very similar to a commentary). More behind-the-scenes information are in the 13 video blogs (that originally appeared online) and three featurettes on the cast, production design and effects.

The DVD (Caprica is not yet available on Blu-ray) looks exactly as the series did when when it aired on the standard-definition Syfy Channel, which is to say it looks good overall. Things get murky when the action shifts to the V-Club, the show’s dark virtual music and fantasy club where avatars go to meet. But the Dolby Digital track picks up the slack, with the thumping music filling the room. Despite that, you’ll still make out every word of dialog.

Caprica sometimes veers too much into soap opera and teen angst, and devoted fans of Galactica might find much of the exposition plodding compared to the pace of the mothership TV series, but there’s enough leavening with hints of what’s to come to keep things interesting.

 

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About Gary

Gary Frisch has been contributing laserdisc, DVD and Blu-ray reviews to Video Business magazine, Home Theater Magazine, Home Theater Buyer’s Guide, Stereophile Guide to Home Theater and the DVD Guide for more than 14 years. He still has a collection of more than 40 laserdiscs, along with a working auto-reverse LD player, but thinks Blu-ray is da bomb and anxiously awaits the original Star Wars trilogy so he can buy it for the fifth time.