Saturday, February 20, 2010

Caprica

I’ve watched the first four episodes of Caprica (on hulu) and, while it is a totally different show than Dollhouse, I’m constantly reminded of Dollhouse.  

The whole question of what makes a person a person is the chief question of this show.   Briefly, a real live teenager named Zoe died in a terrorist explosion but she left behind a computerized avatar named Zoe who looks like her and has all of her memories (up to the night before the real Zoe’s death).  The virtual Zoe “lives” in a virtual world, a sort of holodeck type of world that gamesters have hacked into to “play” in through a device invented by Zoe’s  millionaire dad.  But when the real Zoe’s dad finds about about avatar Zoe he “captures” her and experimentally attempts to download her into a six foot robotic killing machine he is designing for the military (a Cylon). 

The dad  thinks he screwed up and avatar Zoe was lost in the attempted download but she is still in the robot and chooses whom she wants to interact with (so far, only her best friend).  She also figured out how to use wifi to go back to the virtual world where she looks like “herself” and not a robot.

As she says, it’s all confusing.  She is part “real” Zoe, part “avatar” Zoe and part robot.    A trinity.   So who is she?  And what will she become?  

The storyline is totally different than Dollhouse but the questions arising from downloaded personalities and what makes a person a person are all there.  And, frankly, done at a much more successful level than Joss Whedon achieved with Dollhouse.  The main reason for this is that the Caprica, unlike Dollhouse, gives the viewer characters to care about from from day one.    The characters are all flawed but they are very real and whether you like them or not, it is easy to care about what happens to them.  And the character of Trinity Zoe is one that the audience can latch onto and identify with while at the same time being a bit afraid of her.

There is a whole lot to like about this series, from the Edward Goreyish title sequence to the excellent acting to the robotic butler, Serge, in the Greystone residence (I WANT him! In fact I’d like the whole house), and I suspect that when it finds its legs it will get even better.   I never watched the whole BSG series, but it doesn’t matter.   It is a prequel so no knowledge is necessary.

I’m also glad it’s available on hulu so I don’t have to wait for the DVD’s to come out.   And I note that “enhanced” episodes are available on hulu (with commentary).