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“By Your Command” – Caprica‘s Pilot Shines

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I just experienced a fangasm.

If you are a Battlestar Galactica fan still reeling from the show's recent ending you will surely have heard about Caprica, BSG's upcoming spin-off. For me it was three simple words, uttered by the synthetic voice of the colony's first ever Cylon, which marked the high point of what I can only describe as a brilliant start to a very promising new show.

In a rather unusual move, Universal Studios has released Caprica's pilot episode in an unrated, uncut format exclusively on DVD, well ahead of the show's TV debut in 2010. Mild spoilers ahead.

Caprica CityHaving just watched the pilot, I can see plenty of reasons for Universal's unusual move. Right from the outset, Caprica hits us with scenes of sex, violence, and brutality, following closely in the footsteps of its predecessor's own explosive pilot episode.

There is reason for all this. Caprica's beginning does a great job of establishing a believable setting where a technological society analogous to our own near future is beset by the same issues of religious zealotry, terrorism, racism, and corruption as the world we ourselves live in.

This is definitely not The Jetsons. Much like its predecessor, Caprica's overt technological elements only serve as background to what is essentially a character-driven drama, where the interactions between conflicted, morally ambiguous protagonists are key. Ethics, or rather the consequences of their absence, play as prominent a role in Caprica's first episode as they ever did in Galactica's darkest moments.

If this beginning is anything to go by it would seem that, against all hope, Galactica may have have actually spawned a worthy successor. Indeed, Caprica may prove to be another example that well-written science fiction television can go beyond mere shiny gadgets and special effects, providing instead an effective vehicle for introspection into our increasingly technological existence.

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