Caprica differs significantly from its parent series. Ronald D. Moore had strong feelings on the matter, explaining his position that "...you don't try to repeat the formula," and going on to say, "...everything about Caprica was designed specifically to not repeat what we had done in Galactica." Although a critical success, Galactica had a predominantly male audience, and both Moore and the network felt the "war in space" backdrop was a major deterrent to female viewers. With these considerations, and Caprica's storyline already focused on events taking place prior to the two Cylon Wars, the series has a different tone, content, and style. While Caprica contains references to elements of the Battlestar universe, the series was intended to be accessible to new fans.
Whereas the dark, post-apocalyptic reimagined Battlestar Galactica series revolved around a final struggle for survival, Caprica is concerned with a world intoxicated by success. Ronald D. Moore states: "It's about a society that's running out of control with a wild-eyed glint in its eye." The Twelve Colonies are at their peak: self-involved, oblivious, and mesmerized by the seemingly unlimited promise of technology. Framed by the conflict between the Adamas and the Graystones over the resurrection of loved ones lost in an act of terrorism, the series was meant to explore ethical implications of advances in artificial intelligence and robotics.
Caprica is grounded in urban locales rather than in space, and focuses on corporate, political, familial, and personal intrigue, similar in approach to a Greek tragedy. With wealth, corporate intrigue, and the troubled relationship between two families at its center, Moore himself has likened Caprica to the 1980s prime time soap opera Dallas," Like Battlestar Galactica, Caprica had a story arc format.Joseph Adama is the father of future Battlestar commander Bill Adama. In the act of terrorism that sets the story in motion, Joseph loses his wife and daughter. His family – his son, Willie, his brother, Sam, and his mother-in-law – deal with aftermath of their loss.
Ethnicity is a recurring theme in Caprica. The series takes place before the Twelve Colonies are unified under one government. Relations between the diverse worlds are contentious and discrimination is pervasive. Tauron's native language is represented by Ancient Greek, and given an emphasis on vengeance and organized crime. After Joseph's sense of propriety is energized in the pilot's third act, he confesses to his son that he changed his last name to hide his background. Introduced as Adams, Joseph then reclaims his surname, Adama. He is also referred to as "Yusif" by fellow Taurons in private conversations, and Joseph is a "Capricanized" rendition of his original Tauron name. More Tauron personal names mentioned, like "Khalil," emphasize the Other-ness of Tauron culture on a Caprican world.
One of the show's main driving points is religious belief. Colonial culture is influenced by mainstream Polytheism, the religious belief in multiple gods which is characteristic of the ancient Greek and Roman traditions. Characters are shown praying to Athena and Jupiter, Greek and Roman deities, respectively. Monotheism (belief in one god only) is depicted as a fringe belief, as practised by the cult the Soldiers of The One (STO) from the planet Gemenon. This belief is regarded as disruptive and potentially hostile. The character Clarice Willow and her family are clandestine members of that cult.
Group marriage is portrayed as a perfectly normal, if atypical, lifestyle choice on Caprica, at least among Athenian devotees and clergy. Homosexuality, same-sex marriage, and adoption by same sex couples are all depicted as a normal and seemingly non-controversial part of Colonial culture. Recreational drugs have been legalized before the events in the pilot, and are mildly stigmatized in Colonial society. In the multiple storylines that make up the series, there is a sense of retribution which seems to be part of Colonial culture; this is made explicit and prominent in Tauron culture, reflected in a Tauron cultural value holding that if someone is wronged, there is a price to pay that often ends in death of the offender. Daniel Graystone temporarily lost control of his company through an act of retribution by Tauron business rival Tomas Vergis, because of offenses committed against Vergis. Daniel then regained control of his company through acts of retribution and intimidation against his foes, which included the death of Vergis in a Tauron suicide practice. The technology of the computer generated V-world, makes the death of one's "avatar" of little consequence, an attitude towards death that will increasingly become part of Colonial culture. However, in New Cap City, a mysterious but enormously popular V-world game, players are permanently banned from returning once their avatar dies therein.
The production design often includes elements of 1950s America to reinforce the sense of viewing the past in comparison to the world seen in Battlestar Galactica.
The script for the two-hour pilot concluded with Daniel Graystone coining the term "Cylon": "A cybernetic lifeform node, a Cylon."
Caprica's tagline is: "The future of humanity begins with a choice." Originally, for the pilot it was: "The battle for humanity has a beginning." Previously, it was reported as: "The end of humanity has a beginning."
Three of the twelve Colonial worlds are depicted in the show; Caprica, Gemenon and Tauron with most of the characters identified as being from one of the three planets except Sister Clarice Willow who stated she was born on Sagittaron.
According to series producer Jane Espenson, "The pilot centered on a very dark moment, this terrorist attack. When we rejoin the show, everyone will still be reeling from [the tragedy], but they'll be beginning, almost subconsciously, to slip back into the patterns of life in which you might catch yourself laughing, making a dark joke at your own behalf, or noticing the absurdities of life again. Caprica is set in an interesting world with technological wonders that are going to be amazing to watch, too. So expect some fun, some funny, and some dazzle."
A key plot detail is the passage of a virtual avatar from a simulated world into the real world by installing the avatar software into a "meta-cognitive processor" which is inserted into a robot. The avatar represents the independent and on-going non-corporeal existence of Daniel Graystone's daughter, Zoe, who ends up being the first Colonial Cylon.
The Twelve Colonies are at peace, 58 years before the rebooted series, when an act of religious fanaticism brings together Joseph Adama, a lawyer with ties to the criminal underworld, and wealthy technologist Daniel Graystone, both of whom lost family members. Grief-stricken by the loss of his daughter and fueled by obsession, Daniel sets out to bring her back, using his considerable wealth and sprawling technology corporation. Offered the chance of his own daughter being restored, Joseph wrestles with the notion until he comes face to face with its reality.
On April 21, 2009, an uncut and unrated extended version of the pilot was released as a download from online digital media stores and as a complete DVD with commentary, deleted scenes, and video blogs.
During the second season of Battlestar Galactica, series developer Ronald D. Moore and production partner David Eick started speculating about the Battlestar Galactica universe prior to the Cylons. Unable to dedicate serious time to the notion, it remained in the concept stage of development until in early 2006, screenwriter Remi Aubuchon, unaware of the ideas about a Battlestar Galactica prequel, proposed a film about artificial intelligence to Universal Pictures. Though Universal Pictures turned down the project as a movie, Universal Television executives felt Moore and Eick might be interested in Aubuchon's take on the subject and arranged a meeting. Merging the existing thoughts for a Battlestar Galactica prequel with those Aubuchon brought to the table, a general outline for a series emerged.
While the Sci-Fi Channel management was enthusiastic about the idea, they had been engaged in a struggle with Moore about Battlestar Galactica's long storylines, which the network felt kept new viewers from joining. Although Moore's subsequent retooling garnered negative criticism from fans and press alike, and the Sci-Fi Channel eventually admitted that standalone episodes did not work for the show, the network balked at the prospect of another series with a story-arc-heavy format and Caprica got stuck in "development hell".
With Eick and Moore's announcement that Battlestar Galactica was going to end with its fourth season, and after a drawn out pre-development cycle, on March 18, 2008, the Sci-Fi Channel announced that Caprica had been picked up as a two-hour backdoor pilot event, indicating a possible commitment to a series, contingent on ratings. On July 20 of the same year, Sci-Fi announced it was considering picking up Caprica directly as a weekly series, and would make the pilot an extended season premiere. Finally, on December 2, Sci-Fi gave the go-ahead to expand the project into a full series. Production was resumed in July 2009 for an anticipated series premiere in early 2010. The series premiered on January 22, 2010.
Universal Media Studios developed the show, in conjunction with Remi Aubuchon and the executive producers of Battlestar Galactica, Ronald D. Moore and David Eick. Aubuchon co-created the show and worked on the pilot, then left to become executive producer of Persons Unknown. The pilot was directed by Friday Night Lights veteran Jeffrey Reiner. Battlestar Galactica's Jane Espenson, Michael Taylor, and Ryan Mottesheard, Pushing Daisies' Kath Lingenfelter, and Friday Night Lights Patrick Massett and John Zinman joined the writing staff. Moore ran the writers room initially, but handed off to Espenson, who was promoted to executive producer and was Caprica's showrunner until November 15, 2009, when it was announced that Kevin Murphy, who had joined as executive producer in October, would assume the role.
Eric Stoltz received the script while filming a movie, and he left it in his hotel room for several days without reading it. When it was stolen by a maid who had been paid off by a Battlestar fan, he realized how passionate the fandom was, and knew he had to read it. Paula Malcomson originally tested for the role of Sister Clarice Willow; however, Jeffrey Reiner felt she would make a great Amanda Graystone. On April 28, 2009, Sasha Roiz's role was expanded to full series regular. Brian Markinson was also upgraded from guest star to series regular after the pilot episode.Main cast
Eric Stoltz as Daniel Graystone – Husband of Amanda and father of Zoe
Esai Morales as Joseph Adama – Father of William and Tamara
Paula Malcomson as Amanda Graystone – Wife of Daniel and mother of Zoe
Alessandra Torresani as Zoe Graystone – Daughter of Daniel and Amanda
Magda Apanowicz as Lacy Rand – Zoe's best friend
Sasha Roiz as Sam Adama – Brother of Joseph
Brian Markinson as Jordan Duram – An agent for the Global Defense Department
Polly Walker as Sister Clarice Willow – Headmistress at Athena Academy
Sina Najafi as William "Willie" Adama
Genevieve Buechner as Tamara Adama
Hiro Kanagawa as Cyrus Xander
Patton Oswalt as Baxter Sarno
Julius Chapple as Larry
John Pyper-Ferguson as Tomas Vergis
Alex Arsenault as Philomon
Peter Wingfield as Gara Singh
Luciana Carro as Priyah Magnus
Panou as Olaf Willow
Scott Porter as Nestor Willow
Karen Elizabeth Austin as Ruth
Richard Harmon as Tad Thorean (Heracles)
James Marsters as Barnabas Greeley
Avan Jogia as Ben Stark
Teryl Rothery as Evelyn
Christian Tessier as Francis
The show was shot in and around Vancouver, British Columbia. In the pilot, exterior shots feature many regional landmarks, often augmented using CG imagery. Many of the external scenes were filmed in the Yaletown area of the city, including one distinctive shot of the old railway turntable next to the Roundhouse at Davie and Pacific. The city's library is also featured in one shot (when Daniel and Joseph meet for the first time), just as it was in scenes set in Caprica City in various episodes of Battlestar Galactica.
Vancouver's SkyTrain and one of its stations (Granville) feature in the sequence prior to the terrorist explosion. The production chose to keep the same font and sign style used by the real SkyTrain, but with rebadged signs featuring the name "Caprica City". Several structures found in the financial district of Dubai, U.A.E. have been digitally added to the images of Caprica City to enhance its futuristic look, including one of the Emirates Towers, the Khalifa Tower, and the Dubai Metro.
The exterior shots of the school attended by Zoe Graystone, Lacy Rand and several other characters were filmed outside the Vancouver School of Theology, on the campus of the University of British Columbia.
When Daniel takes Joseph and William to the Pyramid sports match, the colors of Caprica's team (the Buccaneers) are identical to those of Vancouver's real life hockey team, the Canucks. Navy and green stripes adorn the walls outside the team dressing room, suggesting that the scenes were filmed at Rogers Arena.
One of the encounters between Daniel Graystone and Tomas Vergis was filmed in the University of British Columbia's Museum of Anthropology. The sculpture "The Raven and the First Men" was in the background.
There was also significant filming at Central City Shopping Centre in Surrey, BC, and much of the Simon Fraser University Surrey Campus was transformed to represent various locations in Caprica. For instance, the mezzanine and registrar's office at SFU were used to represent the Caprica Inter-colonial Space Port.
The interior shots of Graystone Industries were almost exclusively filmed at BCIT's Aerospace Technology Campus in Richmond, BC.
The filming of "Little Tauron" was done in and around Vancouver's Chinatown district with a small number of stores in the area having Greek language signs (ancient and modern Greek was used as the language of the Taurons in Caprica) while the rest of the shops retained their Chinese language signs for the duration of the filming.
Bear McCreary served as the composer for Caprica. His soundtrack for the show was almost entirely orchestral. As on Battlestar Galactica, character themes are used extensively; however, world ethnic influences play a much smaller role. The full ethnic percussion ensemble, including taiko, frame drums, dumbeks, chang changs, tsuzumis and other instruments, was brought in, although used much more sparingly than on Battlestar. The "Tauron Theme" draws inspiration from Russian folk music.
Todd Fancey, best known as a long-time member of the popular indie band New Pornographers, composed "V-Club", a rhythm-intensive track that serves as the theme music for club scenes in the series. This theme was featured prominently in the first preview clip for the new series.
The soundtrack for the Caprica pilot was released on June 16, 2009, by La-La Land Records, and contains 18 tracks. On July 30, 2013, La-La Land Records released a follow-up compilation of music from across the first (and only) season of the show.
Caprica received generally positive reviews.
Home Media Magazine's John Latchem wrote that Caprica has "all the same dark overtones and richness of character that fans have come to expect from Galactica." He also wrote that the show "[evokes] a feeling similar to Gattaca in its depiction of a potential near future, while infusing elements of the Matrix and Terminator movies to set up a bridge to the events viewers know will unfold."
The Futon Critic's Brian Ford Sullivan found the first fifteen minutes "A weird mix of teen angst, hedonism and virtual reality ... once established, the world of Caprica has the potential to be just as compelling, interesting and multi faceted as its "sequel" – minus of course the cool stuff blowing up in space. In just 92 minutes, Caprica manages to dish out a surprisingly dense, but not too overwhelming, array of plot threads."
Rob Owen of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette gave the pilot four out of four stars, stating, "Caprica gives a more forceful, potential-filled first impression than the Battlestar Galactica pilot/miniseries." The Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall found the story intriguing, and Stoltz' and Morales' performances excellent, while director Jeffrey Reiner "creates an absolutely gorgeous looking pilot episode."
Joanna Weiss of The Boston Globe wrote that "if this episode is any indication, Caprica will be sinister [and] compelling" and "while the technology is inventive, human emotion still drives the plot." Mark A. Perigard of Boston Herald gave it a B+, stating that the pilot felt more like an intellectual puzzle and lacked the life-or-death intensity of Battlestar Galactica. Lewis Wallace of Wired News rated the pilot an 8/10, saying that Caprica has inherited from Battlestar "the lean writing, the strong acting, the exceptional soundtrack by Bear McCreary", and that "the characters are richly drawn and ripe for further exploration."
Maureen Ryan of Chicago Tribune gave it 3.5 out of 4 stars, with particular praise for the casting of Stoltz, Morales, Malcomson, and Walker. The A.V. Club's Noel Murray said of the show, "Some BSG stalwarts may have some difficulty with the muted science fiction/action elements, but it’s a lovely piece of work on its own merits, imbued with real visual poetry by director Jeffrey Reiner."
Ken Tucker from Entertainment Weekly called Caprica "One of the 10 Best Shows on Now", in March 2010.
The New York Times' Mike Hale described Caprica as "the child of Galactica" that "hasn’t yet developed enough humor or authentic domestic drama" to reach beyond Battlestar Galactica's fan base. Hale concluded that, compared to its predecessor, "Caprica is, almost by default, a more ordinary show."
Metacritic listed the show as having a score of 72 from critics, indicating "Generally favorable reviews."
The series earned generally modest ratings, peaking with 1.6 million viewers for the mid-season finale. Season 1.5 debuted with lower ratings, drawing fewer than 900,000 viewers for each episode. Citing these low ratings, Syfy canceled the program on October 27, 2010, and removed the remaining five episodes of the series from its broadcast schedule. The remaining five episodes aired as previously scheduled on Space in Canada, but were not broadcast in the United States until January 4, 2011.
In January 2011, props for the series were auctioned off on eBay.
The rights to broadcast the series were picked up by Sky1 in the United Kingdom and Ireland, and Space in Canada. Caprica commenced airing in Australia on free-to-air digital channel 7mate on September 30, 2010.
The first half of the first season ("Season 1.0") was released on DVD in region 1 on October 5, 2010, and the second half of the season ("Season 1.5") was released on December 21, 2010.
The complete series was released on Blu-ray in France on October 25, 2011. The Region B Blu-ray set is presented in 1080p (the referenced page is incorrect, see their own back cover image) and contains all 18 episodes aired and a selection of bonus features. The set features an English DTS HD Master Audio 5.1 track as well as an English and French Audio 3D one, and comes with English and French subtitles. The series was also released on Blu-ray in Germany and Scandinavia in 2015, and in the UK as part of the Battlestar Galactica – Ultimate Collection boxed set.