Feb 16 2010 3:16pm

Beating Caprica Withdrawal

I think I’ve become unhealthily addicted to Caprica. Only a two-hour pilot and two regular episodes in, and it’s killing me that there was no new episode to dissect here this week. It’s especially difficult with the promise of hot group marriage bedroom action being flaunted in the previews for the next episode!

However, I’m choosing to look at the bright side and see this week’s Caprica drought as a positive thing. First, those of you who haven’t yet watched the show have until Friday to get completely caught up. Find four hours this week, cuddle up to SyFy.com, and watch this show. You won’t regret it. I mean, you might regret it if you’re one of those weirdos who doesn’t like great writing or sexy people...

To pass the time this week, though, I thought I'd bring up an important question regarding some of Caprica’s main characters. So saddle up, and get ready for an engaging debate. Ready?

Richie Cunningham

Potsie Weber

The Fonz


**Caprica returns this Friday, the 19th, at 9:00PM ET**

Teresa Jusino was born on the same day that Skylab fell. Coincidence? She doesn't think so. She is a contributor to PinkRaygun.com, a webzine examining geekery from a feminine perspective. Her work has also been seen on PopMatters.com, on the sadly-defunct literary site CentralBooking.com, edited by Kevin Smokler, and in the Elmont Life community newspaper. She is currently writing a web series for Pareidolia Films called The Pack, which is set to debut Summer 2010! Get Twitterpated with Teresa, Follow The Pack or visit her at The Teresa Jusino Experience.

Alex Brown
1. AlexBrown
Your not the only one going through withdrawal. I didn't know they didn't show one last week until I spent 20 minutes rummaging through the bins of Hulu.com and Syfy.com desperately seeking Caprica. So, instead, I just re-watched "Reins" and felt marginally better.

By the bye, how cute is The Fonz's hubby? He's so NPH it makes me hurt :)
James Goetsch
2. Jedikalos
I love the show too, but I can't help being haunted still by that last hour of BG, which makes me think thoughts like: Hmmm, that creepy school counselor is REALLY being guided by God, Zooey really is God's chosen instrument to raise up the Cylons as God's scourge to drive the remnants of the twelve colonies to ancient earth so that one little girl can live a miserable, short, life married to neanderthal-like creatures so that our present day earth can come about (haunted by angels Six and Baltar, who will watch Ron Moore read a National Geographic), and where did Angel Starbuck . . . oh, never mind.
Teresa Jusino
3. TeresaJusino
NPH? Really? He's definitely a cutie, but I don't see NPH.

I love how you're "rummaging through the bins" of Hulu. :) We HAVE come a long way from recording things on blank VHS tapes, haven't we! :)
Teresa Jusino
4. TeresaJusino
@Jedikalos - See, the thing is, there's a difference between whether there actually is One God with a Plan, and people taking it upon themselves to interpret what that plan is and coming up with myriad ways to enact it. The religious discourse on Caprica AND BSG is compelling, because even if the "answer" IS that there is a God with a Plan, that's not the story. The STORY is that whether that truth exists or not, people react to it differently, and it's those reactions that are fascinating to watch.

This is why I don't understand how people can let dissatisfaction with BSG's ending taint or cancel out their enjoyment of the series as a whole. Because no matter what the "answer" is at the end, the writing that got us there was great, and the character struggles don't change no matter what the answer is. William Adama didn't give any more of a frak about religion at the end of BSG than he did at the beginning. He was too busy dealing with the death of the woman he loved. That's great television. I feel like people have focused in so much on the fact that God was an answer, that they've forgotten that that's not really what the final episode of BSG was about AT ALL.
Pablo Defendini
5. pablodefendini
Hm. I still owe you that drink, don't I?
Teresa Jusino
6. TeresaJusino
@pablodefendini - HA! Indeed. Just don't break a pint of beer over my head for disagreeing with you, and we'll be good! :)
7. latinageek
I can't remember Potsie well enough to compare him to Adams->Adama but Richie and the Fonz is pretty accurate. :)

I agree that we don't know if the Soldiers of the One are really God's instrument but I can easily see that it could be. The BSG god was definitely violent and liked ripping families apart. Plus it would seem logical that Caprica's series finale (years from now!) would strongly tie in to that aspect of BSG.
Jonah Feldman
8. relogical
I don't get why there is a religious conflict on Caprica in the first place. It just seems inserted gratuitously to relate to current events. So far, we have no reason provided as to why the polytheist majority can't say "Live and let live" about other religions, and why the monotheists are so oppressed that they launch suicide bombings. In real life, both sides actually have motivations, instead of just playing out the roles.

I like the show so far, but it feels like they put in the religious aspect without respect to the reasons why a religious struggle occurs in the first place.
Joseph Lewis Szabo III
9. pointman74250
I know what you mean Teresa. I, like thousands of others, bought the DVD of the pilot months ago - MONTHS AGO - before the first official episode came out and had to wait to see what happened next.

It nearly killed me.

Now, I have to go without a new episode for one week.

It's better then months I guess.
Alex Brown
11. AlexBrown
@Teresa: I didn't mean NPH by looks, just that he reminds me of how NPH talks about David (especially on Twitter). It brings the squee out in me :)

Man, up until last year when Comcast went all evil corporate overlord on me and forced me into getting a cable box that is incompatible with my VCR I used to tape everything. I now refuse to get a DVR because I've a perfectly good VCR sitting unused, and I like VHS tapes better. I've a stack of the last season of Magnum, PI I taped off telly 2 years ago that I fully intend to watch...eventually...maybe when Caprica goes on break again...

@Jedi: Really? I never think much about BSG in terms of this show, just like I never thought about Friends when I was forced at gunpoint to watch Joey. They are 2 different worlds to me. I will admit, however, to really wishing Head Six and Head Baltar would just show up in the background or something...
Teresa Jusino
12. TeresaJusino
@latinageek - basically, Potsie was Richie's non-ridiculous, preppie best friend. :) Ralph Malph was the other one, and Adama's definitely not him.

@relogical - well, it IS only 4 eps in. I'm sure the reasons will be made more apparent, and/or that they'll go into how the conflict evolved. But, I mean, does the real life religious conflict in the world really have a reason? Why don't the Jews and the Muslims in the Middle East just live and let live, you know? Why don't the fundamentalist Christians and the atheists live and let live in this country? I mean, I'm sure each side could find "a reason" if they go back far enough. But the truth is, in conflicts like this, there never IS a reason other than "you're different than me...and I don't like that." You can try to blame a specific event or cause, but usually it's just an excuse.

Also, until the bombing on Caprica, the SOTO seemed to be treated like a weirdo cult, but not taken seriously. That's usually how it starts. A group exists unnoticed for a long time, then they do something crazy that gets in the news, and suddenly everyone is choosing sides. That's actually what I like about the way the conflict has been presented so far on Caprica. It's very realistic, even in its seeming randomness.

I went to a panel discussion featuring editors from Marvel Comics, and one of them said something really interesting in response to someone who said that some character's motivations made no sense and seemed all over the place. He said "Only in fiction are characters expected to only have ONE reason for doing something, or ONE driving motivation." Interesting what we'll allow in real life but not in our pop culture entertainment.

@pointman74250 - I KNOW! I was living off of that pilot for months, too! But once this new episode comes on Friday, I don't see any reason why there'd be another break after this. Stupid Olympics. :)
Teresa Jusino
13. TeresaJusino
Milo1313 @11 - Ah, yes! :) That whole SCENE on Caprica was the epitome of ADORABLE. :) "Why are you so desperately in love with me?" "Because I have issues." SQUEE.

Then Joseph had to go and RUIN IT by bringing his VENGEANCE. Damn. What a buzzkill.
rick gregory
14. rickg
The BSG thing just offends some people who seem to be militant about their atheism. Given the reliance on God and prophecy throughout the series I fail to see why were shocked or how they watched 4 years of a series with obvious religious overtones.. Even comments like "I agree that we don't know if the Soldiers of the One are really God's instrument but I can easily see that it could be" reveal a mindset that just isn't comfortable with religion as a part of life.

I lean toward Teresa's attitude - it's the interpretations that intrigue me, not whether their God is active in the world or not. For example, the Capricans are fairly bigoted people toward the Taurons and perhaps others.

As for tolerance toward other religions... that's belied by our history where both monotheistic and polytheistic societies have shown intolerance toward other belief systems. After all, you're talking about the root nature of reality - it's a pretty fundamental thing to not agree on and a lot of other things about s society spring from how it views the nature of reality.

I'm interested in seeing the various things like group marriages play out since they're situations rarely seen on US network TV - i just hope this doesn't become a SF soap opera but sticks with the main story - the rise of the cylons from the experiences of one teen girl and some technology.
15. ajohn
SyFy.com: caprica..."not available in your location" which happens to be the UK. Could you please not assume that all your readers are American?
Teresa Jusino
16. TeresaJusino
@rickg - "Given the reliance on God and prophecy throughout the series I fail to see why were shocked or how they watched 4 years of a series with obvious religious overtones..."

That is exactly my feeling about it. I don't get how people can call the ending of BSG a "bad ending" or "bad writing." They can not like how it ended. That's fine. But when they say that it was poorly done, because the end was a "deus ex machina?" Guess what? Deus was Machinating the WHOLE TIME. That wasn't a secret. The only thing that varied were people's perceptions of what was happening, and in the end, there was a 50-50 chance of it being related to, um, Deus.

@ajohn - Sorry, but as Caprica started airing later in the UK than it did here, and this article was geared toward getting people caught up after episode four, I didn't think it necessary to specify. Reference to Syfy.com was an attempt to get people to catch up to the most recent episode aired. Also, I assumed that viewers in the UK are intelligent enough to know that television websites from the US wouldn't be viewable from where they are. Much like I can't watch Doctor Who episodes when they first air, but have to wait until they're on BBC America. Sorry if I offended anyone by assuming that people might know these things. I'll do my best to assume ignorance next time.

If you would have mentioned your difficulty in a less snarky way or asked for an alternative, I might have said something like "Thank you for bringing that up! UK viewers, you should be able to watch your most current episodes of Caprica on the Sky 1 website under their 'Watch TV Online' tab." Or, you could've mentioned that yourself and, you know, have been helpful.
James Goetsch
17. Jedikalos
@teresaj and rickg

I'm not against faith and religion being part of the story. It's just that in the earlier episodes it was all made ambiuous. Was Baltar mad or was he really seeing Head 6? Was the Prez really having visions, or just side effects of her illness? This made it like religious questions are in real life, full of ambiguity, where you could read it either way and have to think about it. But in the finale they did away with all that and made it explicit: we see the angels and the miracles are made so explicit (the breeding compatibility between the colonists and the pre-humans, for ex.) that it just seemed to me to lack subtlety and be over the top.
And Ron Moore reading National Geographic while actual angels read it over his shoulder is SO unlike the BSG I loved.
And I do love Caprica! It has nuance, just like most of BSG except its last hour!

An Atheist who doesn't mind stories with religous themes, but wishes mightily for nuance and subtlety that can make us all think about it :)
Teresa Jusino
18. TeresaJusino
@Jedikalos - I totally get what you're saying. And actually, your comment is one of the explanations for dissatisfaction with the ending that I've understood most, so thank you for that.

I guess it's true that you can't please all the people all the time. Take Lost, for example. So many fans are pissed off at it BECAUSE of its ambiguity. They want ANSWERS. NOW. They, for some reason, have stopped trusting the story that they've loved for years, because they need something concrete now that the show is ending, and it seems like, for a lot of people, the concrete answers we HAVE gotten so far aren't enough. The second questions start getting answered, there's always the risk that people aren't going to like the answers that writers have come up with.

Maybe I find the negative reaction to BSG so puzzling BECAUSE I'm a writer, and more than that, a writer who's come to dislike ambiguous "leave it up to the reader/audience" endings. And it's not as if I haven't done that. Sometimes, that IS the only ending. But more and more, I believe that if you're going to write anything, there's no point in doing it if you don't commit to a point of view. Otherwise, everything would be a Choose-Your-Own-Adventure book.

Maybe I find the negative reaction puzzling because religion, spirituality, and all things God-related are still quite important to me, despite my not practicing anymore. But I wonder why it is that when the issue is religion, a TV show HAS to be ambiguous? I wonder, would your desire for ambiguity still hold if the issue was simply "Were the humans or the Cylons to blame for the wars between the two?" If there were simply two sides, would you mind then if one side were declared mostly at fault by the writer? Is it the fact that something God-like was in the mix that makes you see ambiguity as the only option? Or would you choose ambiguity no matter what? I genuinely just want to know, I'm not trying to pick on you! :)

As for me, I what made the BSG ending work WAS that commitment to a point of view, and that would've been the case even if they had decided that all the God stuff brought up by the monotheistic cylons was all a crock of s#@t. But you know what? That "religion is a crock of s#@t" point of view has BEEN DONE in sci-fi. It's not new. There's plenty of other outlets for that viewpoint. I admired that this had a take on a sci-fi show that was a little different, and it wasn't afraid to BE different. It expressed a viewpoint that I share to a large degree, and it's something I don't get to see too often in this genre that I love...so, I liked that.
James Goetsch
19. Jedikalos

Thanks for your excellent response. Its not so much for me that God was in the mix--rather that it was so heavy-handedly in the mix and very much unlike the tenor of the show up to then, which always made room for the struggle between faith and doubt. Case in point is Starbuck just vanishing. All of a sudden I am in some kind of Cecil B. Demille "Ten Commandments" territory, with literal supernatural events being portrayed. Angels talking thousands of years later. Literal miracles with no room for any other interpretation. I'm definitely NOT coming from the "religion is a crock" viewpoint, but from the point of view that real faith always required a bit of fear and trembling to be at all realistic to me (in my view faith and doubt are partners--literal miracles and angels and all take away the doubt, and for me, then, the dramatic element of faith, and so forth). A prophet might seem to just be crazy--or might just NOT be--and there we see the doubt and faith dancing in essential partnership.

Again, thanks for the comments.
Ian Tregillis
20. ITregillis
Milo1313 @ 11:
Man, up until last year when Comcast went all evil corporate overlord on me and forced me into getting a cable box that is incompatible with my VCR I used to tape everything.

Amen to that. DVRs are great, but they don't have infinite storage space. I still have all my MST3K episodes on tape, all watchable, even the ones pushing 20 years old.

Anyway, little Bill Adama's uncle is totally the Fonz.
Teresa Jusino
21. TeresaJusino
@ITregillis - Heh. I sent this post to Sasha Roiz via Twitter (@sasharoiz), and he enjoyed it and said something like "Does that mean Willie's Chachi?" :)

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