Why Caprica was no Haven (To Me) – Reflections A Week Removed From Cancellation

Confession #1: I watched Caprica out of loyalty to Battlestar Galactica. BSG brought me back to the scifi genre. Somewhere between leaving college and rebuilding my life after my divorce I stopped watching science fiction. Somewhere between the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager television shows simultaneously airing I decided to focus on my career and my post graduate education. Somewhere between Shooter Jr being born and actually paying for cable television I lost track of shows like Andromeda, Farscape, and Babylon 5. But BSG brought me back and I owed BSG, Ronald D. Moore, and everyone else involved to watch Caprica.

Science fiction was not a new addiction for me by any means. I grew up on the original Battlestar Galactica, Star Wars, Star Trek original series reruns, Buck Rogers, Doctor Who, Starblazers, Robotech, Tron, 2010, The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai, The Last Starfighter, Ice Pirates, Back to the Future, Transformers, the original V, and Star Trek The Next Generation just to name a few. I never stopped liking science fiction, I just stopped making time for it. Battlestar Galactica changed all of that. It was the right show at the right time and I was in the right place to re-immerse myself into the goodness of scifi with shows like Eureka, Warehouse 13, Sanctuary, Stargate Universe, and Haven.

I loved BSG and watched it from soup to nuts. I bought the entire DVD collection including Razor and The Plan. I even liked the ending. I wanted to learn more about Ronald D Moore’s Galactica Universe, I wanted to say thank you to everyone involved in BSG, and no matter what Caprica turned out to be I was going to watch it.

Confession #2: I watched Caprica even though I didn’t like it. I know many fans enjoyed Caprica for what it was, and I respect the people that did. It wasn’t a bad show by any means. In fact, it had many of the things that made Battlestar Galactica great. Personally, I struggled with identifying with a protagonist, I struggled with the deep dark overtones of the show, I struggled with character relationships that didn’t mesh well or were outright strained, and I struggled with finding the true storyline of the show.  Right now in my life, I just prefer more hopeful, light-hearted shows. I was optimistic that like Star Trek The Next Generation , Caprica would eventually catch my full and undivided attention and be well worth gutting it out.  In the meantime, I was satisfied with occasional glimpses of Teryl Rothery who will always be in my mind as the warm friend in Stargate SG-1 that had prematurely and unfortunately departed our presence.

Confession #3: I watched Haven because I really liked that show! Recently I wrote a blog article for the newcomer SyFy show Haven.  I wasn’t expecting to like that show from the promos and watched it out of shear accident. Haven instantly captivated me and drew me in to continue to watch it. I swear that show got better each episode right up until the half season finale, and I’m anxiously awaiting Haven’s return. Even though main characters do die and leave the story, there are still plenty of characters to identify with and route for. Several of the characters have relationships that are just flat out fun to watch, and the story has become riveting to me. I actually care about what happens to Haven and the people that live there.

Both Haven and Caprica premiered on SyFy in 2010. Caprica is now cancelled and Haven renewed for another thirteen episodes. I have listened to or read a plethora of reasons why Caprica was cancelled: poor ratings, inconsistent airings, poor promotion, back-to-back grim or dark shows with SGU and Caprica on Tuesdays, Caprica wasn’t given a chance to hit its stride, Caprica was too expensive to make, Caprica had no clear protagonist, Caprica didn’t have any space battles, more emphasis was needed with another BSG offshoot series called Blood and Chrome, and Caprica had a hard story to identify or follow.

Good shows have endured long times in between seasons before. BSG on SyFy, the Soprano’s on HBO, and Futurama on Comedy Central are a few successful examples. Good shows have weathered night changes too like Frazier or Big Bang Theory. If the show is good enough and the ratings are high enough it is difficult to completely kill a show.

Confession #4: I stuck with Heroes way too long. Sometimes mediocre shows have attempted to reinvent their format to try and save themselves. For example, recall the radical format changes the original V series , the TV show War of the Worlds  (late 1980’s), or the new Knight Rider went through. A format change in a show can eek out a little more story, but is it worth it? Heroes seemed to reinvent itself each season with dwindling success. Heroes creator Tim Kring even attempted to complete the story. I think we are all thankful we weren’t forced to watch that. Some shows are better off going out earlier than later.

In this day and age of instant mass communication tools, I’m not sure that poor promotion matters. There is sufficient community word of mouth through blogs, tweets, podcasts, and old fashioned conversations that if a show warrants media coverage, there will be coverage. Look at upshoot web series like The Guild and Legend of Neal. If a show is good enough, word will get out.

There are a few things that do matter. The cost of producing a show always matters. Star Wars almost didn’t make it on the screen because of budget issues. I thank George Lucas for pulling off that miracle quite often. Having a good story always matters.  Keeping your original fan base happy matters (i.e. space battles for Caprica). And having your viewers identify with a character matters.

Would SyFy have kept Caprica if it stayed on the same night with less than seven months in between episodes? It’s hard to say. Although I will admit following Haven would have been next to impossible if it was spread out the way Caprica was, especially since each episode had a new danger to focus on. Seeing how those dangers fit together would have been tough.

Most major companies have some sort of strategic planning and SyFy probably does too. SyFy is now faced with increasing competition from the likes of HBO with True Blood or AMC with the new series The Walking Dead. Perhaps SyFy had to cut its loses early to be competitive and reinvest the money it was throwing at Caprica into shows that would fare better like Blood and Chrome.

Confession #5: My brain is littered with SciFi shows I wish would have lasted longer. I’m glad Haven was given thirteen more episodes, and I hope the show either gets more episodes, or is able to satisfactorily wrap up its storyline with the thirteen episodes it has. There are too many recent scifi series that have ended before their time: Sarah Conner Chronicles, Dollhouse, Bionic Woman, PainKiller Jane, and FlashForward. I’ll even throw in Defying Gravity since I was able to watch it with Mrs. Shooter. Hopefully, Caprica will be able to finish without leaving too much dangling for its fans.

Confession #6: I am still interested in the ending to Caprica. I’ve gone this far. I’ve watched the entire BSG series. I’ve watched every episode of Caprica. I want to see how it ends. But I will no longer be personally invested in Caprica. I’ll save my investment for shows like Haven.

Do you have something to say about Caprica’s Cancellation? Leave a comment below. I’d love to read your thoughts!

Until next time…

~Shooter Out

9 Responses to "Why Caprica was no Haven (To Me) – Reflections A Week Removed From Cancellation"
  1. Jennifer says:

    I disliked the pilot of Caprica so much that I couldn’t stand to stick with it, so I am actually pleased at its cancellation. I didn’t like any characters, and found Zoe incredibly unpleasant (and she’s in it multiple times to boot), and the world was surprisingly creepy.

  2. cy-curious says:

    I’m not going to miss “Caprica” all that much, I’m sorry to say… It had moments of brilliance towards the end of the first clutch of episodes, but these last few seem to have had an awful lot of killing/dying that only seemed to render the plot murkier to me. Plus, I was pretty invested in the Zoe-bot, and missed her/its presence.

    Right now, “Fringe” is filling the place in my heart that’s been empty since BSG ended…

  3. Boxytheboxed says:

    I think you really got it with Caprica- there vas way too much going on. I sort of liked it, but was never really sure what was going on. Between the odd airings, my sister canceling the DVR recordings of episodes, and the mixed-up story, I never really know what was going on. I really liked the characters of Adama and Daniel Graystone, but was never really sure what they were doing, or why. And seriously where the hell did Zoe go? I feel like every time I watched the show, I had missed an episode in between. What a waste of great ideas 🙁

  4. Thotfullguy says:

    For me, Caprica was the best thing on TV toady. I thot I was in small, small minority with that opinion, but I was pleasantly surprised to see how many people on the forum were really upset that it was cancelled. And while few of even that group would agree that it was the best thing on tv, at least there was passion for it.
    Now that the dust has settled I’ll admit that the show had flaws, but I so wanted it to have a life and get to flex it’s muscles. Caprica is a frankenstein story combined with the story of a falling civilization that mirrors our own.
    I happen to be draw to this new and innovative trend in tv where there is now clear protagonnist or where the protagonist is a despicable character and all too real and human—Weeds, Mad Men, Deadwood and there’s others. But I can understand how that’s not to everyone’s tastes.
    Caprica may have lived longer on AMC or FX or Showtime. Oh well. I’ll miss you Caprica.

  5. Shooter says:

    Thotfullguy,

    I’m not saying I need a squeaky clean protagonist that’s all heroic 24/7. I’m also not saying Caprica definitely needed one. What I’m saying is that Caprica was difficult for me to follow without having a clearly identified protagonist, flaws or not.

    In the original BSG the Adamas and Starbuck were very one dimensional protagonists. I started the new BSG thinking they would be the protagonists this time too. At the end of the show I found myself more drawn to the Helo-Athena storyline or the Saul and Ellen Tigh storyline. Yes, all of these characters had their flaws, but in the end they all lived their lives with values that I could identify with. Baltar, Caprica Six, Admiral Adama and Laura Roslin all had their moments and brought different viewpoints to the show as well. I think in the end we all could clearly identify a true enemy in Cavil. But at this point in time I couldn’t tell you who was who in Caprica and it was distracting from my enjoyment of the show.

    I did continue to watch Caprica in the hopes of identifying a protagnist that would make following the show easier for me. Who knows? In time, the show would have probably shown that to us. It’s too bad that it will never be given that chance. I’m hoping the money being diverted from Caprica’s production will be utilized to give us even better programming next year.

    Are you looking foward to the Blood and Chrome Web series?

    ~Shooter Out

  6. Thotfullguy says:

    Thanks for clarifying.
    Caprica for sure had flaws, and the creators went on record saying they didn’t decide what the show was until halfway through. And it was hard to follow …and while the Greystone stuff was totally satisfying to me, the Joseph Adama stuff disappointed by and large.

    So in BSG for example if the Helo-Athena storyline and the Saul and Ellen Tigh storyline had not emerged, would you have been turned off by the show?
    Sounds like it’s really important for you to have a protagonist that’s at least somehow “The good guy”. I can respect that, but for me that’s not a requirement for me. My tastes these days lean toward the dark stuff. Deadwood is a show for example, I would watch forever —but it too was canceled sadly.

    It’s awesome that we live in such a rich age where there’s something for everyone—in all shades.

    Oh yes, I’m definitely looking forward to Blood and Chrome. Anything from the Galactica universe …can’t get enough.

  7. Shooter says:

    ThotFullGuy,

    Wow, you asked a really good question. “If the Helo-Athena storyline and the Saul and Ellen Tigh storyline had not emerged, would you have been turned off by the show?”

    One of the main reasons I was initally drawn to RDM’s BSG was indeed the space battles and the storyline from the original BSG. But by the time season 2 ended it was apparent that BSG was darker than just about anything I had previously committed to watch on TV. This was also before the Saul and Ellen Tigh and Helo-Athena storylines had emerged to their final form. I very well might have started to shut off the series then.

    However, this is precisely when Galactica Watercooler (GWC) began to podcast. This is also precisely when I began to listen to podcasts. Thanks to those links, I was able to stay interested in the show through the insights of others and see different sides to the show. I’m glad I did because in the end I really did enjoy RDM’s BSG.

    Now as for Caprica, I had already wanted to watch Caprica until it found it’s groove. I knew it took Star Trek TNG until the 3rd season to find itself and I had seen what happed to Firefly when it was given an early cancellation. I also wanted to watch Caprica out of loyalty to RDM’s BSG, and as I stated before I enjoyed watching Caprica for the awesome CGI/Effects and to catch glimpses of Teryl Rothery. But with all the shows crowding my DVR and over 250 DVDs in the Netflix queue (both of which did not exist in my house when RDM’s BSG was airing) I’m not sure I would have continued to watch it forever without being able to identify with at least one Caprica Character or commit to a storyline.

    As I also stated in the blog post, I watched Heroes way too long. If Caprica didn’t start showing a storyline or character that captivated me (and that storyline/character could have changed or evolved over time, too, it didn’t need to be the same) I probably would have pulled the trigger to stop watching Caprica somewhere in the middle or end of the second season. Without the character or storyline I could commit to, I doubt any podcast or the GWC community would have been able to bring me back in this time. I’ve become a lot more consumer savy in the past four years. But at the same time I have to believe the Caprica production team and writers would have been able to show me something by the second season I could have enjoyed, don’t you?

    Unfortunately we will never know. In the meantime I’m looking forward to seeing what SyFy has to offer that is going to replace Caprica. I’m optomistic that it will be even better than Caprica.

    ~Shooter Out

  8. StrikitRich says:

    I too thought Caprica was slow and bland, and it was…until the final 5 episodes. Everything there gelled into place and the episodes ROCKED. Lacey? OMG!!

    The only loose thread that comes to mind was Tamara. She seemed to get forgotten at the end.

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