A review of last night's "Caprica" coming up just as soon as I come back for happy hour...
Yesterday, I was feeling all pleased with myself for choosing to record all of NBC's Thursday comedies as a 2-hour-and-2-minute bloc, which solved the maddening problem of NBC letting a minute or two of each show to spill over into the next one's timeslot. Then I started watching "Caprica" on a DVR delay, and as we came to the final scene, the recording cut Zoe off in mid-sentence. When I ranted about this on Twitter, some people said the same happened to them, while others said their DVR listings knew the show was going to run a minute long, but there should be no excuse for this nonsense in this day and age, and it left such a bad taste in my mouth that I briefly contemplated using the moment as an excuse to kick "Caprica" to the curb.
And the only reason I'd be willing to think of such a thing is that I'm still finding "Caprica" to be a very promising, but at times very frustrating show. The Daniel/Zoe scenes from "Ghosts in the Machine" were mesmerizing: great performances from Eric Stoltz and Alessandra Torresani, an escalating mindgame, a disturbing view of how far Daniel will go to get what he wants (and, in turn, an explanation for why the real Zoe was so eager to run away) and by far the best use to date of the visual gimmick of letting us see Zoe standing in for the robot. There was that great moment out on the cliff where Daniel gives a heartfelt, non-manipulative plea for Zoe to make her presence known, and because we can see Torresani's face, we know he's getting through to her - just as we know that he immediately blows it by pulling out the gasoline can and turning back into the monster who's creating this slave race that will ultimately do so much damage.
Had the episode been nothing but that - had the "Caprica" producers been willing to ditch the soap opera-style episode construction for once and let all the other storylines fall by the wayside for a week - I think we could have had something incredible.
As it stands, those scenes were tremendous even intercut with the Amanda and Joseph Adama scenes. But their goodness only underscored how much the parts of the show that don't have to do directly with the girl-turned-robot aren't really working.
I have zero interest in anything to do with Clarice, Amanda and her brother, and only slightly more with Tomas Vergis or the doings in New Cap City. I appreciate that Joseph's being written with the same kind of indecisiveness that plagued grandson Lee on "Battlestar Galactica," but Jamie Bamber was more compelling at playing that confusion and inner struggle than Esai Morales has been so far. His best scenes tend to be when Joseph has decided on a course of action and is pursuing it relentlessly (as we saw briefly here after he double-Amp'ed up), but scene after scene of him looking wide-eyed, baffled and frustrated makes me grind my teeth.
(Speaking of the clan Adama, by the way, one of my Twitter followers suggested that the cross-dresser's riddle at the club was taken from a speech Bill Adama gives early in the "BSG" miniseries. This ring a bell with anybody else?)
One episode to go in this spring run. I recognize that every new show has growing pains, and that I was able to deal with them on "BSG" because I DVD-binged on it a few years after the show debuted. Watched week-to-week (particularly in a week where NBC/Universal's annoying scheduling tactics come into play), the flaws stick out more and tend to linger.
There's a really good show in here, as we saw with Daniel and Zoe, but it's in danger of being dragged down by the rest of it.
What did everybody else think?