Caprica – does it get any better?

Well, does it?

My normal approach to TV viewing is to not bother until everyone else is going on about it so much I feel obliged to go and buy the first series on DVD. Having completed (and mostly enjoyed) BSG at almost exactly the same time as Caprica started, I thought I’d watch it from the offset. The problem is, more often than not, I’m not.

Watching it, that is.

I tend to find I put it on with the best of intentions and instantaneously find myself reaching for the laptop, just in case there are any new posts in forums I don’t actually participate in. Caprica continues merrily in the background without really intruding on my world.

Occasionally I glance at the screen in case something might be happening, but generally I let it talk to itself in the corner.

This isn’t how I normally watch telly. In fact, I usually deride others for doing exactly this during soap operas. People insist on putting them on and then proceed NOT to watch them. They chat, they make phone calls, they do their online shopping and basically stop me from watching something I actually want to watch. As in, you know, look at with my eyes whilst listening with my ears.

Hence my conclusion people don’t actually watch soaps, they just talk about them afterwards.

And that’s how I feel about Caprica – it’s a bit soapy.

Mandy asked me to define this term, and I can’t. I’m not sure exactly what it is, but it’s something along the lines of:

  • not having a point
  • having long continuous storylines which don’t feel like they’re likely to end
  • characters who don’t really change, learn, grow or achieve except over the course of years and years and years
  • not really telling a story, just showing us some people in a setting
  • some other stuff I can’t think of right now

Of course, these points apply to some of my favourite shows and fail to apply to some soaps, or at least don’t apply to all soaps all of the time. So what the hell is it? What is it about soaps which shut my brain down and make it incredibly difficult for me to focus on?

Some people might label me a soap snob, and maybe that’s true of the UK continuing dramas – the ones I know are labelled as ‘soaps’ and could perhaps be dismissing out of hand; but why do I look at Caprica and react as if it’s a soap? Even a big robot can’t hold my attention and that’s unheard of for me.

Part of it might be just a preference thing. In an ideal world I prefer stand alone episodes which build into a longer story over time. The single story is there to entertain you, the longer story is to make you come back for more. Caprica doesn’t have any single stories and perhaps as a consequence I don’t feel entertained?

I like to see a beginning middle and end. It feels satisfying. I also like having a larger arc, because it keeps things moving and means you have to watch every episode. I want both. If I had to choose  one, I’d choose single episode stories because at least then I feel entertained, if not motivated to come back.

Oh, I’ve just had a thought, perhaps my interest in a series is something to do with the concept of the show? Soaps rarely have a simple concept which describes each episode, the series arc and allows you to imagine what kind of stories they might be telling:

DOCTOR WHO: time travelling alien and companion arrive in a new location and have an adventure.

EASTENDERS: some people live in houses, generally they tend to be a bit miserable. Occasionally they kill each other.

STARGATE: bunch of wise-cracking, gun-toting military types arrive in a new location and have an adventure. Oh and they’re trying to find weapons and/or technology to fight off the really bad guys who are pissed off and coming this way.

CORONATION STREET: some people live in houses, generally they make fun of each other and have the odd affair. Occasionally they get a bit serious.

LOST: a bunch of writers desperately try to pad out six seasons of 22 episodes about exceptionally good looking people being stuck on an island. The aim is to be mysterious, but since people keep guessing the plot on forums they’ve been forced to make shit up to the point where they don’t really know what’s happening any more.

Christ, this is a long-winded non-sensical post about things I haven’t really thought through.

In a nutshell – does Caprica get any better? I’m up to episode four or five, am vaguely interested in the overall arc but suspect I’ll get more pleasure from reading the Wiki entry than (not) watching every episode.

Is it worth sticking with?

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Categories: Random Witterings | 10 Comments

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10 thoughts on “Caprica – does it get any better?

  1. terraling

    Can’t tell you because I already gave up after episode three.

    It seems handicapped by its association with BG which in the early episodes was fraught with tension, with stakes the very survival of mankind itself, whereas Caprica has little or no tension, nor stakes, and is inhabited by people who seem to have stumbled in en route to rehearsals for an adult version of Bugsy Malone. And the religious clap trap isn’t even about a real religion, it’s about a made up one, belief in which is for people who’ve learned to speak Klingon.

    Leave it recording on the Sky+ box and in the middle of summer when there’s absolutely naff all on and you’ve broken a leg…

  2. terraling

    A leg. Yours if you like.

  3. Page 38 of Jeff Kitchen’s “Writing a Great Movie” is relevant (also applies to TV):

    ‘A clear statement of Theme provides a focal point, a unifying thread around which to weave Dramatic Action. Playwriting teacher William Thompson Price … says:

    ‘”All great or good plays are based on Theme. You only have to refer to Shakespeare and Moliere to determine the truth for yourself. The ordinary commercial play is one of situations for the sake of situations and not for the sake of Theme. Until we regard Theme of first importance, we shall have few good plays.”

    ‘A simple example of “situations for the sake of situations” would be the soap opera: The nurse is having sex with the doctor that week for the sake of situation. It’s purely about titillation and intrigue, not about thematic depth.’

    Perhaps that’s what you’re seeing Caprica? (Not necessary the nurse, but then I haven’t seen it … nor Caprica either.)

  4. Pretentious? Moi?

    • Actually, I’d say there were strong, clear themes in Caprica; but you may have a point about theme and soaps.

      Maybe.

      Having said that, sometimes they do explore themes. I think.

      Or maybe not.

  5. Markh

    I’m trying awfully hard to like Caprica but I’m struggling. It’s soapy, but doesn’t really have the interesting characters – with the possible exception of the the potty school mistress – to pull it off. It’s also incredibly in love with itself – it has Jane Espenson’s fingerprints all over it – and the virtual worlds stuff has been done to death. The worst thing is, that it moves at the speed of a paraplegic snail – just get on with the Cylons, already!

  6. john

    It’s not a soap opera and currently is semi-interesting; the concept of holo-band in it’s premise is fascinating and one that we in all probability see executed in the future; however perhaps it is design of the show to be slow-paced.

    To build a purpose under the design of the cylons and a foundation of the story that was never explained to us in six seasons. Anyways, the show is currently boring but I think by the end of the first season we will be enthralled by a cliff-hanger and the subsquent season(s) will start to become more exciting; as the cylon battle ensues.

    • Do you really think they’ll get to the Cylon war next season?

      I get the impression it’s pretty much just going to be about the two families.

      I think I’ll give up, 22 episodes of boring in the hope of maybe interesting next season doesn’t really appeal.

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