Last year, Kam and I watched Caprica up through episode 13, when it stopped being broadcast on Syfy. We always intended to watch the “final five” (heh) episodes, but it took us a long time to figure out how to find them (turns out they're available for purchase from the iTunes Store; you can also view them for free, at least for now, on the Syfy website), and then another long time to get around to doing so.
We watched two of them a few weeks ago, and then last night watched the final three.
And quite liked them.
There were some weak/slow parts in the middle of the season. But I felt the show started out pretty strong and ended up quite strong; those last five episodes felt to me like a more coherent set of interweaving storylines than some of the earlier eps did, and I really like where it ended up.
Halfway through the final episode, I was thinking they were tying up all the loose ends, and thus kind of wondering what they could possibly have done if they'd gotten a second season. And then they ended with an awesome preview of what they had planned for the second season. There would have been a lot of really cool stuff had the show not been cancelled.
So I'm sad that it was cancelled. Partly just because I liked the show; but also because I thought it was a pretty neat experiment.
It seems to me that most science fiction drama on TV (if it isn't set on present-day Earth and isn't about superheroes) is about a team of operatives of one kind or another: a starship's or space station's or time-traveling-police-box's crew, a military team, a group of resistance fighters, a group of explorers or adventurers. And usually if it's not set on Earth it's set either on a vehicle that travels to a different place/time each week, or on a space station where new aliens are coming through on a regular basis.
Whereas Caprica is set on another world (well, a couple of other worlds, but mainly one), and most of the characters are from two families who are embedded in their culture(s) and whose stories are intertwined. It feels to me like it's essentially a mainstream drama with thriller elements (The Godfather meets Pirates of Silicon Valley meets 24, maybe?) except that it just happens to be set on another planet with different cultures and histories and technology. There are few if any military characters (though there are militants); there are no aliens; there are no space stations and few spaceships. It feels to me like it's operating on different genre conventions and different kinds of storylines than most science fiction TV.
I don't know that I can justify that feeling; maybe I'm making a distinction without a difference. Couldn't similar things be said of plenty of other SF shows? (Alien Nation springs to mind, even though it was set on Earth.) And isn't Caprica really an epic story, the story of The Rise Of The Cylons, rather than a story about families? (Well, it's both, but it seems to me that the epic is backgrounded.) And anyway, it would never have gotten made if not for BSG, which was firmly in the tradition of SF TV shows even as it did some new stuff.
But even so, it feels different to me.
At any rate, I'm glad to have watched it, and I'm sad it's been cancelled.
Footnote: Wikipedia's list of SF TV shows by genre is divided into the following subgenres: Aliens on Earth; Alien invasion; Alternate history; Anthology; Apocalyptic, post-apocalyptic and World War III; Children and young-adult; Crime fighting and police procedural; Cyberpunk; Cyborgs and robots; Disaster and destruction; Explorers from Earth on alien world(s); Life in the future; Military; Parallel universes; Paranormal investigation; Satire and comedy; Space opera; Space station based; Space western; Spaceship based; Steampunk; Superbeings; Time travel; Vehicle based; Virtual reality. Caprica certainly features cyborgs, robots, and VR, but even so, I don't feel like it fits any of those subgenres particularly well.