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10 Thoughts About The End Of Caprica

Apparently, I have more power than I suspected. Last week, I wished that Syfy would stop with the Battlestar Galactica spin-offs, and then this week they pull Caprica off the air mid-season. But doing so raised some questions, and concerns, as well as gloating…

Syfy Doesn’t Hate You, Caprica Fans
Something I kept seeing online as news of Caprica‘s cancellation spread was one of two reactions from the show’s fanbase. Either it was “Screw you, Syfy,” or “Syfy didn’t give the show a chance to succeed” (Oh, alright, there was also “I guess they’re now going to show more wrestling, huh? I should’ve known that Syfy doesn’t care about sci-fi as soon as they changed their name!” but I think we can all agree that those aren’t really worth addressing, right?), and both of those come down to “Those Syfy executives are mean and took our show away.” But here’s the thing: Syfy wanted the show to succeed more than you did. Firstly, no network wants to cancel a show because of ratings, because it means that (a) they’re admitting that no-one’s watching their show, (b) they’ve wasted money in making that show and (c) they’ve miscalculated what their audience wants – none of which are good things for a channel to admit. It’s even worse for Syfy and Caprica, though, because this was a follow-up to their critical darling Battlestar Galactica, and one that they’d put a lot of time and money into not only making, but promoting as well. The failure of Caprica – and that it didn’t just get cancelled, but pulled with five finished episodes left, ready to air – is embarrassing to Syfy; this decision really wouldn’t have been taken lightly, and definitely wasn’t done because the network doesn’t care about science fiction and/or the fans.

How Bad Were Those Ratings?
Ironically, the last aired episode’s ratings were up on the previous week’s. But they were still under a million viewers (0.83 million), which is… not good for that timeslot. By comparison, Warehouse 13 averaged 2.5 million in the same timeslot this summer, and cheaper reality shows like Ghost Hunters get around 2 million for much less money. In fact, since the show returned this month, the series has pretty much been seen by less people than other cancelled Syfy shows like The Dresden Files (which only went below 1 million viewers once). Which is to say, the ratings really forced Syfy to act here.

But Were The Ratings Bad Enough To Pull The Show Midseason?
Probably…? I don’t know, it’s a matter of perception. If Syfy had just sucked it up for the next five weeks and let the show slowly come to an end despite appalling ratings, it definitely would have been less of a black eye for the network. I can only assume that they’re convinced that the increased audience(?) from Star Trek: The Next Generation reruns will be worth the bad publicity, or else there was a ratings level under which they couldn’t drop without ad revenue being affected in some way or another. Really, it always comes down to money. Still, those episodes were already finished and paid for, so…

Will Those Final Five Episodes Make It To Air?
It sounds cynical, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they don’t. Firstly, pushing them out until some unspecified date in the first quarter of next year is a pretty weird, vague move, and secondly, is there really any way in which the audience for these Final Five (And, yes, the irony of that doesn’t escape me) will actually be bigger three months from now, say, than they would be next week? I wouldn’t be too surprised if the final episodes either are broadcast online only, or else appear as an incentive for DVD sales, a la Dollhouse‘s “Epitaph One” episode.

What Caprica Did Wrong (1)
I’ve not really held back from my feeling that Caprica was an uneven mess, but one of the things that I think killed it for the mass audience is actually something that I liked about it. Namely, that it wasn’t enough like Battlestar Galactica. Fans of that show who liked the more traditional sci-fi elements – Space battles! Easily-drawn sides! Action! – weren’t given much to enjoy here, and I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re the million of so viewers who jumped ship between the start of the series and now. I’ve said it many of times before, and I’ll say it again: I think the BSG connection hurt Caprica as much as it helped it; if the show had been about the same themes but without the BSG mythology and plot endpoint, I think it would have been more positively received, and not had to labor under such expectations and misconceptions that scuttled its opening.

Will Blood And Chrome Fare Any Better?
It’s a prequel that is much closer to Battlestar Galactica in setting and potential for kick-ass fight scenes. It’s also unlikely to get as bogged down in moral and existential questions – although I’m sure there’ll be some of both, because it is a BSG series, after all – so, really? Unless it’s a complete disaster, I think Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome will be more successful than Caprica. Doesn’t mean it’ll be a hit, or even that it’ll be any good, but if the pilot gets picked up to become a series, I’d put money on it making it to the end of its first season.

What Caprica Did Wrong (2)
Of course, Caprica had lots of real problems, including uneven pacing, completely inconsistent characters (Joseph Adama went from man tortured by grief to man who’s okay with threatening to kill a friend’s mother how, exactly?) and confused plotting as the show tried to reinvent itself (The first three episodes of this “season 1.5″ run are notable for the speed at which it tries to close off dangling plots and kill off characters in order to build a new status quo as soon as possible, only to continually sacrifice credibility in the process). But here’s a basic thing that killed Caprica for me, very early on: Daniel Graystone, the show’s resident genius, was so stupid that he couldn’t figure out something that was blindingly obvious. It took him the better part of the first run of the show to figure out that maybe that experimental program he didn’t know anything about that he’d downloaded into his experimental robot had something to do with said robot acting differently from all his other robots. Note to writers: If your genius is an idiot who can’t put 2 + 2 together, I feel like you’re insulting my intelligence.

Will Caprica Continue Elsewhere?
Now, that’s the question: The story is entirely unfinished, after all – I doubt that even the end of the season would complete half of the questions contained therein – and Dynamite Entertainment does have the comic license to Battlestar Galactica. Does that include spin-offs, and if so, would there be enough interest from fans to read a Caprica comic? I’m betting yes… especially if writers from the show were the ones responsible. I’ll take my 10% in the form of large bags of gold, thank you very much, Dynamite.

What Lessons Can We Learn From Caprica?
Off the top of my head: Think about what made your parent show successful. Know what your show is about, and settle as much as possible on a voice for your characters and your story as quickly as possible. Don’t insult your viewers’ intelligence. And, at the same time, don’t insult their thirst for basic things, like fights and a lack of moral ambiguity (Yes, it’s a fine line). Don’t forget about the audience. And, please? Give us a character that we can actually like, somewhere.

Is There Anything I’ll Miss About Caprica?
Contrary to my whole hater-dom, I’ll admit: I’ll miss Sam Adama and his boyfriend, if only for the entirely un-sensational way their relationship was portrayed (As opposed to Sister Clarice’s polyamorous family, which was ridiculously sensational). I’ll miss finding out if the virtual heaven idea was going to be accepted as offered or whether the other characters would’ve seen the obvious flaws in its design. I’ll miss finding out whether New Cap City had a point beyond retro-fetishism and Zoe in shiny pants. But, honestly? I won’t miss that much. Caprica had a lot of potential – even right up until its end – but, depressingly, it had just as much experience at squandering that potential. I’ll miss what Caprica could have been, and feel sad that there wasn’t an audience for what it was purely because it’s nice to think that SF shows can live on Syfy without fear, but the show itself…? Rest in peace, Caprica.

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Comments

  • percane

    i’m not a fan of caprica, but i think the single biggest mistake syfy made, and it’s a mistake they’ve made before, is moving their sci-fi lineup to tuesdays. years ago they killed farscape the same way. fridays has always been a good day for that lineup, in large part because the “big 4″ networks avoid friday like the plague. tuesday has some of the highest rated shows of the entire lineup (particulary CBS) syfy just can’t compete on that day, and they shouldn’t try.

  • Anonymous

    Caprica had a lot of potential, it’s true. I think the problem is that they, like BSG before it, didn’t focus on the Cylons, AI, and the underlying technology enough. They should have focused more on Gemenon and the possible ruins from refugees of Kobol and their own Resurrection Technology from antiquity. Having a storyline that links the Monotheistic Religion of Atia/Clarice Willow with the ancient history of Kobol WOULD HAVE BEEN MUCH MORE INTERESTING.

    Also, having Head Characters that no one else can see while in the virtual world would have been cool if it too were somehow linked to technology from Kobol.

    It seems to me that the showrunners of BSG and Caprica didn’t even know the full potential of their own story.

  • Nonja

    The 16 year old girl Cylons concept blows goats

  • http://twitter.com/chiblade Micah Schwantner

    Neither BSG nor Caprica really touched on the potential of their premises. But BSG filled in the gaps with fights and stuff blowing up and Lost style mythology. Caprica filled the gaps with unlikable characters acting in inscrutable ways and debating religion.

    Guess which one audiences liked more.

  • DS

    I loved every second of it, warts and all. Warehouse 13 is awful, but its mindless. and thats what US audiences want.

  • Lion_okitkat

    I just couldn’t get into it. Like BSG before it I feel there just wasn’t much story there to began with. Should have been a mini-series instead of an ongoing. Not everything has to last 4 or 5 series, sometimes you find more success in a mini.

  • Kalorama

    I actually enjoyed Caprica much more than the last couple of seasons of BSG. I’m sorry to see it go, but hardly surprised.

  • Ralph

    I liked that none of the characters was likeable. It made them real. Sometimes, there are no good guys/gals. Just real people: emotional, confused, acting in their own self-interest.

    As to characters-nothing’s inconsistent about Adama-he’s a lawyer who represents the mob-and threatening someone’s mother is consistent with that character. I also wouldn’t say that he and Graystone were really friends. Graystone not being a genius-smart people often miss obvious things. From his perspective, it might take a while to draw the conclusion we knew as viewers.

    Also, I agree, Fridays is much better than Tuesdays.

  • Ericrocksmyworld

    Do cable networks use sweeps? If so, it makes sense to stop the show before November sweeps and burn off the rest of the episodes in January or March or another non-sweeps month.

  • squidbilly

    I don’t know why people have an issue with a girl’s psyche being in the body of the first Cylon, if one can accept Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Xena why not this? Or was it the fact that she wasn’t doing enough killing as the Cylon, which urks some people. I liked “Ghost in the Shell” aspect and wished I could have seen it develop as the show continued.

    I do agree that they should have spent some more time on the tech aspects and a little less on all the various dramas…maybe too many story lines too soon and not enough focus.

    But considering this was only the first season (and not the whole first season) I think It deserved more of a chance…Heck, they’ve given SGU more time and that was a grim bitch-fest in space, for the first half of the first season…but has improved.

  • Talmerian

    Hah! I didn’t even know the season had started. That’s awesome. Did they pull it from Hulu or something?

    Another point that this brings up is: How many viewers were watching online? I don’t mean illegally, I mean not watching during the air time and watching at their convenience on their computers. I read somewhere that Nielsen has no metric for figuring out ratings when online viewing is included. Doesn’t that make ratings even more obsolete?

  • Talmerian

    Isn’t this the second season?

  • http://www.doorq.com Jody

    I thought the series found its footing before the hiatus. The last five, building up to the explosion and the almost-suicide, were quite fun. I could see the direction they were taking the show in. Post hiatus? No frakking clue.

    I read that the post-hiatus episodes were done under a different showrunner. Espenson had been (forced???) to step down at the end of the first batch. That whole closing of dangling plot lines that the article writer noted, struck me as a way to stake Espenson’s choices and go in a different direction. It really didn’t work.

  • Save SciFi

    Lets see, “Imagin Greater” was missing Imagine Greater ScIFi”…..
    Then there was the move of the show from its timeslot on Friday, the prime timeslot to do something NOT scifi…. Wrestling.

    Come on! The new owners do not get SciFi. You are talking about the NBC who killed Star Trek after we JUST landed on the moon. And NBC’s new owners COMCAST who is known to absolutely go against the fan base for TechTV. But rather then return the shows they canceled they just fired the CEO who took over, but proceeded with a poorly though through program change. 40-60 million viewers on TechTV, G4 was 4-6 million, merged they ended up with 2-3….. And still it more flash then substance like it HAD.

    Caprica spin off had its own faults. But now we are left with StarGate Universe. Never mind NBC/Comcast canceled Atlantis and the other real SciFi shows…..

    Its clear they are introducing program changes to fit their desires and understandings.
    It is clearly no longer a channel for SciFi.

    I will be surprised if the OTHER spin off planned comes off.
    And honestly, they don’t have to invest much. Even airing shows that in the past previously aired. We use to have a channel called TV Heaven where I live, kinda the model for Cable TV now.

    Have a day for classics, a day for their ‘b-movie’ crap, and a day for their ghost hunting reality shows… but leave FRIDAY as tried and true SciFi new, old, and other. Wrestling has NO place with the audience. And the watered down crap they are doing like the Beast thing that just STINKS!….

    I was personally just getting into Caprica and it was finally making sense…. although not top on my list…. They need to go back to what is SciFi and understand what it is and is not…

  • Speek1

    Both Dave Howe, Mark Stern and anyone else in the SyFy hierarchy will need to face these facts.

    Science Fiction fans for the most part couldn’t give a rat’s ass about SyFy picking up WWE Smackdown. If they can’t watch what’s on SyFy’s Friday schedule, they’ll find something else. Period.

    SyFy’s dismantling/re-slotting of Sci-Fi Fridays (something that was more or less an institution to fans) to Tuesdays, is failing. True enough, Eureka and Warehouse 13 did well on that day, but that’s during the summer, traditionally. When all is said and done, Caprica may not be the only casualty of this move. Their other flagship show, SGU, did good numbers on Fridays, but is now circling the drain. They need to rethink their WWE commitment, reschedule it to another night and re-institute Sci-Fi Fridays. Otherwise, no matter what they slot on Tuesdays, it will fail since SyFy is definitely out of their depth competing with the major networks hit shows for that night’s viewership.

  • Dragos

    It would be great if they were making a movie to finish the series…

  • squidbilly

    It’s the first season of Caprica, it was just broken up in its broadcasting.

  • Dragos

    This is season 1.5… well it should have been.

  • Speek1

    I’m not counting on it. The actors’ contracts were extended to Nov. 15th pending the decision to whether to pick up a second season. That decision is a done deal. If NBC didn’t go for Tim Kring’s pitch to wrap up “Heroes”‘s storylines with a movie, I highly doubt SyFy Channel (another NBC-Universal subsidiary) will do it either, especially given the fact they just greenlit “BSG: Blood and Chrome” as a 2 hr. movie/backdoor pilot.

  • cgc

    This was one of the few shows that actually made me think and I absolutely loved it. Such a shame it has been canceled. Defying gravity was much more soap opera-ish but there’s another intelligent show that was pulled pre maturely. BSG was an incredible series with many layers and Caprica offered a chance to gain much more insight into these layers. Funny that I’m spending my precious free time even writing this but I am really pissed off that they canceled it!

  • Tokyod16

    I just found out the show was back yesterday?!? How about a little advertising?

  • Tomfitz1

    I know what really killed CAPRICA, they killed off Spike (aka James Marsters) way too soon.

    It’s bad luck to kill such a terrific character.

    I’m just wondering …. what ever happened to Warehouse 13? I was watching the second season back in sept. and then bang!, it fell off the grid.
    Was it cancelled?

  • Proman

    sif, that’s the best part

  • Anonymous

    The show wasn’t very good *shrug* it won’t be missed.

  • Gobo

    I began as a BSG fan of the 70′s and found a way to tolerate the hi-tech motorcycles of the 80′s. When they recast/rewrote the roles for the new millenium I positioned to rail against it- then was won over by some really slick writing/acting of the new BSG cast (even stopped winging about the whining Apollo)

    Then came the announcement of Caprica, how exciting, how unique, what fun this is going to be . . . .

    Then the actual show – what the hell were the writers trying to do? The prequel story was written by the dialoge in BSG – you can’t rewrite the Adama family story – - or take 1/2 your first season to figure out where your characters will go.

    Think of BSG, the story starts, really 1/2 hour before an apocalypse. With Caprica it started 50 years before the Apocalypse and I hate to say it, but we just don’t have the patience to sit through 50 years in pseudo-real-time.

    Until and unless caprica figures out what it wants to say and how it wants to get us to the first Cylon rebellion we don’t have the time to watch pretty people on tv. (wait, did I just really say that?) and belive me they had some truly pretty people for us to watch. . . .

  • Paine14

    The second season ended. Not cancelled.

  • Sir Manley Johnson

    SyFy? Do they need some penicillin?

  • Sir Manley Johnson

    Define “blows goats”

  • http://khiaao.blogspot.com Khiaao

    I think Caprica would be better on HBO or Showtime.. more violence and nudity :)

  • CJG

    Maybe it was said, but putting the pilot on DVD before airing it was a mistake and the waiting like a year after the parent show ended to start the spin-off killed any momentum it may have gained from BSG.
    Why did they do that anyhow???

  • Atomic Shop

    Regarding pulling the show early for the ratings: Commercial time on Network TV prime time and the “prime” Cable TV time periods (read: original programming) are sold to advertisers 3-6 months in advance with a guarantee the programming will deliver a specific audience. Let’s say that SyFy guarantees 2 million viewers in the time slot – if Caprica was pulling less than 1 million, that means SyFy owed the advertisers another million viewers and would have to use commercial inventory in another prime show in order to “Make Good” on that guarantee and run those commercials another time. This is why it makes perfect business sense for SyFy to pull Caprica now…minimize the make goods…and run the episodes at a later time where they can adjust down the guarantees.

  • Anonymous

    I think Blood and Chrome will fare better because unfortunately there were a lot of BSG fans that shyed away from Caprica because it lacked in it’s predecessors Space Opera feel. –For some it wasn’t the space opera that was missing but mystical roots that were cemented down in Battlestar were missing until the second act of the fist season. I am one of those fans that needed what “Unvaquished” and “What We Lock Away” finally introduced…that feel that something ‘bigger’ in the universe was helping in initiating all of these events, leading to ‘the fall’ and beyond. It’s a shame that it has been pulled before it really got going. Ron Moore recently said that more BSG tie-in would appear and that they had a road map, a plan(–pun intended) if a second season would be green-lighted. –Well Blood and Chrome seems to be talking place @ 10 years after Caprica, so I think it is fair to say, we may get that space opera feel back, but also ‘role-over’ plots could come into play for Caprica through back door channels of relations through Caprica characters. This is why I think it’s no coincidence that Caprica was axed only a week after the upgrade announcement of Blood and Chrome. Battlestar was great and Caprica was also very good…to combine them would be steller as Caprica really was the backwards way of showing the same issues presented in Battlestar. Can Blood and Chrome be good? Yes, because if it happened before, it will happen again.

  • Zac

    i couldnt sit thru 4 episodes of Caprica so im not surprised or disappointed on its cancellation, but i have to bust your balls on this.. “pushing them out until some unspecified date in the first quarter of next year is a pretty weird, vague move” ..really? you dont think they could squeeze it in between smackdown and megapirahna? yeah that would totally throw a wrench in the meticulous thought they put into their line ups… seriously the bigger mystery is why they dont playout those last 5 episodes if theyre done, because most of the stuff they air outside of the original series is pretty weird and vague

  • Anonymous

    Great analysis. The only point at which I disagree with you is simply the ultimate result – It seemed clear to me that there must be a direct link between the religious beliefs of the Cylons in BSG and the fact that you had monotheists creating avatars that can be put inside the body of a Cylon. Exactly how it went down I can’t say, but that much seemed obvious to me at least. Anyway, let’s hope that Blood and Chrome is better.

  • KTB

    Caprica went off the track when they focused waaaaay too much on the “mono-theists” and STU. That was a plotline they should have done away with quickly this year. That, more than anything else, dragged the series down.

  • DaVeO

    Sorry, I’m still shaking my head in amazement having just found out that SyFy airs wrestling. Forgive me I’m Canadian, our sci-fi channel doesn’t do that.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Royce-Earnest-Jr/515733979 Royce Earnest Jr

    Sy Fy certainly didn’t do Caprica any favors by switching it to Tuesday, but, ultimately I just found it boring.

  • Atombliss

    Caprica was yet to come of age this program was going places, I hated Battle Star Gaslactica, that was kid stuff. The problem with Caprica people didn;t know what it was I didn’t at first. As I wait for it to come on to night, and bamb, I will never watch SIfly again, death to Sifi.

  • Googolplexs

    Yes I would like to say it appears that the Syfy pushing the dead in the water Star gate down people throats forever, the Caprica series was a plesent change. I quit watching star gate about a eon ago, and the stupid Syfy movies they make are not even worth watching unless you were about 3 years old. Syfy is done as is most of these ultra cheap sifi horror movies.

  • http://twitter.com/silversunstop G Geyer

    I only watched online I have no tv and when I did I had no cable I really appreciated all the episodes were on hulu. And even though I agree some aspects could have been more focused and consistent, what I loved about Caprica was that it was about the beginning of BSG and elaborated on all the theory, philosophy, and concepts which is why I watched BSG. More on the technology and a little less religion would have been nice, but new cap city and the mob was enough shooting for me.

  • keiko

    anyone seen the last few eps that wrap up the season? it annoys me how inconsistent everything seems to bsg. i thought the cylons got their religion form the final 5, not sister clarice. why does zoe have a humanoid body, but no other cylons can figure out how to get one too. they also imply that zoe leads the cylons but never mentioned in bsg. any thoughts?

  • Mark

    She was my favorite character, not sure what you are on about. Hopefully she’ll be in ‘blood and chrome’ but I doubt it.

  • Jsmith

    Let’s be totally honest, forget about whether Caprica was good or bad, that’s primarily subjective.  The fact is media based SF fans, want a specific type of SF, and character driven is not one of the categories. Archetypes, yes, bad-ass hot chick with a gun, check, stalwart commander, check,
    hot shot fighter pilot, yep, hot cyborg, or alien girl check.  Add elements like that you’ve struck gold.  Now that doesn’t mean you can’t slip the occasionally really tightly scripted and thought provoking story in that mix, but if you don’t have the initial mix the media SF crowd is not going to be there for the long haul. 

  • tayriley

    i completely disagree. i am still sad that ‘caprica’ ended. i LOVED that it explored the psychological aspects that led to the creation of cylons in the first place. a spinoff DOES NOT have to be in the same tone and style as the original, it should have its own voice. all you boys that hated caprica likely just hate it because it ISN’T BSG, instead of giving it a fair chance as a fresh new show. and dude, just cause you get a hard-on for action sequences, doesn’t mean everyone else does too. 

  • http://society50.com wmac

    A very good analysis. I agree with every single point.

    But I also liked that it was not totally a BSG theme. It could be a much more interesting and modern one.