Tag Archives: Caprica

Killing Zoe

Caprica

I have a memory which I think is false, because it would have required a babysitter, which we could never get, of seeing a violent but funny film, somewhere in London, possibly free due to the generosity of Time Out, but I think my memory serves me ill and while, no doubt it was recommended by Time Out and shown late and free to those who could get there, I think we must have seen it on TV after the kids had gone to bed. The film was Killing Zoe (Dir. Roger Avary 1993) and it starred a young and intense red head, Eric Stoltz (iPad predicted “stilts” that must annoy him). Anyhow, it was the era of Reservoir Dogs (Dir. Quentin Tarantino) and Killing Zoe was a take on a similar style. Written and directed by Roger Avary the film is set in and involves a bank robbery, a siege and a girl (Julie Delfy), all conducted, in somewhat of a drug induced haze. It was funny and dark and Eric Stilts – sorry Stoltz – was intense and memorable. The film was well thought of by the critics although some felt its dependence on violence was over the top and we shall draw a veil over its financial success so pretty soon Stoltz disappeared. Caprica on AmazonHe reappeared in the famous and funny scene in Pulp Fiction (Dir. Quentin Tarantino, 1994) that involved a cell phone, a car crash, a gangster’s wife (Uma Thurman) a very big needle and some adrenalin. 2 Days in The Valley wasn’t bad either, but I guess the reason haven’t seen much of him recently is because most of his TV choices have not been run in this country (UK) until Caprica.

Let me say from the outset that, like most of the stuff I watch, Caprica (iPad predicts “Caprice”….awkward) has been cancelled, that almost goes without saying, but it seemed a shame to let it go without a mention. Like its famous predecessor (although, in fictional terms, its successor) Battlestar Galactica, it was thoughtful science fiction. The backstory to the re-imagined world that was Battlestar Galactica, this prequel to the Cylon wars has the customary detail and verisimilitude that we have come to expect from Ronald D. Moore and David Eick, the makers of Battlestar. Whilst it might have been tempting to fling together a few stories to capitalise on the success of the main series, not so with Caprica it was presented as a piece developed with respect for the audience as opposed to an attempt capture their attention for as long as possible before they wise up to a second rate con. Whether it is myth or practice that Hollywood writers and producers develop copious series notes and a variety of back stories that support their characterisations I don’t know, but the stories of Caprica, the ancestors of Adama, the thinking that led to the creation of the Cylons remains detailed and original.

Most of all the decision to suggest that the creation of the Cylons could trace its original genesis to a feud between a teenage girl and her parents was little short of a stroke a genius! Of course a teenage girl might be rash enough to join a cult, to court death without regard to the consequences, of course a teenager might be able to code a program more sophisticated than anything her clever father might do, of course the love that father had for her might drive him to resurrect her in a virtual world and think about how to transfer her to a body later. The teenage daughter’s name is Zoe and whether that is a reference to the film Killing Zoe or to the meaning of the name in Greek ‘life” is a mystery to me, but a great deal about the nature of the Cylons is explained by that device: immaturity, contrariness, but also passion and originality, even sincere religious belief, especially if you understand that their genesis lies in the mind of a teenage girl.

However it was not just the representation of the Cylon back story that was compelling but, as with the original series, the portrayal of characters and relationships that play out against the background of an imagined world almost exactly like our own. The Adamas are a driven family, exiled from their planet, living the balance between honesty and gangsterism, murder and freedom fighting. The brothers, Sam and Joseph, are fiercely loyal to each other in the light of their oppression. Tradition, family and a mafia-like underworld inform the history of the Adamas with Joseph’s son, Willy, presented as an interesting possibility. Eric Morales (Joseph) portrays a desperately bereaved father with visceral verisimilitude and Sasha Roiz plays an assassin with a heart of gold with tact (if that’s possible) including a nice cathartic moment with a Cylon.
Then there’s the Graystones (ipad predicts “gravestone”) with an aristocratic name that echoes perhaps the great lord Greystoke (Tarzan) and with more than a hint of a combination of Steve Jobs’ sex appeal and Bill Gates’ house the family plays out its saga against the backdrop of what appears to be Pugit Sound in an echo of Baltar’s doomed apartment in BSG. It is Paula Malcomson as Amanda Graystone and Stoltz as Daniel Graystone whose performances as a long married couple who suffer the loss of their daughter together that underpin the grammar of relationships against the backdrop of science fiction. The couple copes with the subsequent dissonance that their loss brings to their marriage and offer a thoughtful take on a mature and loving relationship, much as later, in BSG, Adama (Edward James Olmos) and Laura Roslin (Mary McDonnell) slowly form a loving and mature relationship. In Caprica, Daniel and Amanda are a couple who know each other intimately, so well in fact, that despite their differences, they are more comfortable with each other than they are with anyone else.

There is more to the series and would have been more that I would happily have indulged, but once again the hungry money machine that is network TV spits out quality in fear of the loss advertising revenue. The second DVD’s out Monday … If you’re new to the whole franchise start there and move on to Battlestar Galactica.

And for those of you hankering for more a new series in between the two Blood and Chrome starring local boy for us Luke Pasquilino as Adama is on its way. I’m guessing more action and less thought will hook the audience but will it be quality?

Also: http://www.guardian.co.uk/tv-and-radio/tvandradioblog/2010/oct/29/caprica-battlestar

TV PLUS OR MINUS?

TV Wasteland

I’m beginning to think that we may have reached the end of an era. Picture this if you can, I am sitting on the sofa typing this, having done a quick round on Facebook and Twitter, some members of the family are getting ready to go out, and my husband sits on the other sofa READING A BOOK! Now this is not unheard of in our house, but the frequency with which this is now happening is alarming! After all it’s winter, it’s cold out, it’s dark (low energy bulbs) we’ve had dinner and what we would normally do now is sit down and watch the telly but there’s NOTHING ON!

Now don’t get me wrong, I can live without it, in fact large parts of my childhood were spent devoid of TV. I still remember my parents excitedly anticipating watching Wimbledon, because, in the early Seventies, TV was finally coming to Darwin, in the Northern Territory of Australia, that and the cyclone warnings still stick (possibly those should have been a little more memorable – but that’s another story). However, since then TV has been a big part of my life. The return to England brought Dallas, Alias Smith and Jones, The Good Life, The Generation Game and bless ’em Morecombe and Wise. In the university common room, I watched Hutch get shot and saw Evonne Cawley (Goolagong) damage her Achilles Tendon and bow out of Wimbledon. The 80s – the Jewel in the Crown, Edge of Darkness – the Nineties – ah now the Nineties.

In the early Nineties a nice man knocked at our door in London and said we could have another phone line and free movies for a month if we signed up to all that Cable London, Sky etc. had to offer. Our son had just been born, Twin Peaks and the X-Files were heading our way and we couldn’t get out much, so movies, the Cartoon Network and the Children’s Channel filled our home. Again I would like to remind all two of my readers that I can use other landmarks to mark off my life – but I don’t want to bore you two any more than I am already, with an account of my annual holidays, work failures or hospital visits.

My point is this, in the past 20 years we have enjoyed most of what modern technology has had to offer in terms of our viewing pleasure. I love TV, I enjoy, movies, series, science fiction, police drama, the occasional true story, costume drama and current affairs, and have sought to find those dramas where ever they were offered. The West Wing on Sky, The Wire on FX, but they’re all gone or are going. The great TV dramas that we once cosied up to on week nights, from ER, Stargate Universe to Caprica, are all disappearing with very little worth the extra money for (over and above the BBC licence fee) in their place. Terrestrial TV, Freesat, is looking better than it has for a while, buying box sets of series like Dexter, makes sense if we drop our subscriptions, and if we do that we might treat ourselves to the iTunes purchase of The Daily Show since More4 has dropped the only decent satire they have, and if I am thinking like this, the original TV Addict (no I didn’t go on the show) where is TV going to go in the next few years?

There is no doubt that social media is cutting into the viewing habits of young people, as a teacher of Media Studies, I can no longer assume that they know the texts I am discussing, pretty soon I will have set watching a DVD as homework and they will view that with the same disdain they apply to being asked to read a book. However as I sit by the fire, using my new technology inkpen and inkpot, with the wide screen silent on the wall, we are seriously considering cutting our subscription to the all bells, all smells, plus, any time, all channels, interactive vote here, TV and going back to the good old minimalist TV provision of terrestrial telly buying in the extras and renting via the internet. Probably the only thing that stops us doing that right now, is our APPALLING BROADBAND provision! Maybe…..maybe I should stop watching TV altogether – like this article here says – turns out it’s bad for your health!  5 Ways Your TV Is Killing You!