Caprica, Good Riddance
For once, I’m not disappointed when SyFy cancels a series before its time. Caprica is now thankfully put out of my misery. But let this be a lesson to all the writers out there as an exemplary example of how NOT to write. Let me demonstrate many of the missteps that defined Caprica’s demise.
- Broken Promises
I don’t know if I got this impression from promos or from early episodes, but I was promised to learn the origin of the Cylons. That’s literally all I cared about. I wanted to see early Cylons,”By-your-command” and all that. Cylons. Not weird religions and terrorists. Not corporate politics. Not marital difficulties. CYLONS. Where the fuck were the Cylons??
When you make your readers a promise, in other words, you set an expectation, you form a “contract” with the reader/viewer. The same thing happened in Battlestar Galactica. “They have a plan.” What plan?? We never found out. Compare with “I’ll be back.”
DO NOT BREAK YOUR PROMISES WITH THE READER/VIEWER. DELIVER!
- Lousy/Non-existent Setting, Bad World Building
Umm….why does Caprica look exactly like Earth? Everything except the alphabet is identical. Are sets really that expensive? When they went into a CG world it was much better, but overall, there was absolutely nothing interesting or intriguing about the setting. Not only that, but none of the tech really made any sense. It was inconsistent and self-contradictory, some hi-tech, some ridiculously low-tech. I had a hard time suspending disbelief.
I DON’T READ/WATCH SCI-FI (or SyFy) TO SEE MY OWN BACKYARD! BE CREATIVE!
- Flat Characters
I didn’t get it. Girls as monotheistic terrorists? Really? Why? I didn’t get any of it. The girl-turned-pre-Cylon Zoe sorta sat around and did nothing…and still does very little. You’re a goddamn Cylon, start wrecking shit! Yeah, it took Anakin 3 damn movies to turn in Darth Vader, but Anakin was driven. Zoe is just boring as hell. It’s like a bunch of talentless gamers wrote this thing after an all-night WoW battle. Really? She’s the mother of all Cylons? REEALLLY????
YOUR CHARACTERS DRIVE THE STORY! IF THEY DON’T CARE, NEITHER WILL THE READER/VIEWER!
- Random Subplots
I literally have no idea what they were trying to achieve in Caprica. I thought it was about Cylons, but there’s terrorists, businessmen, Taurons (rhymes with morons), and really no one I cared about. Yeah, the subplots had some drama, but so what? They didn’t matter. All that mattered was that the Cylons will destroy their world. Cyyylllonnss. Ass-kicking terminators.
STICK TO THE POINT. MAKE SURE YOU HAVE A POINT. THEN MAKE THE POINT!
Stories are allegorical. Caprica wasn’t. The sad thing is that I could see them trying. Terrorism. The internet. Virtual reality. Let’s just mix these all up and see what happens. I really love it during cooking shows when the contestants pull ingredients out of the hat and make a dish. Sometimes it’s great, sometimes horrible. To me, Caprica illustrates the latter, a random assortment of good ideas that produce disgusting slop.
MAKE THE STORY MATTER(relevant) TO THE READER/VIEWER. THE STORY IS ABOUT THEM, NOT ABOUT YOU. IF THEY DON’T “GET IT”, YOU WILL BE CANCELED (not be published).
I hope this illustrates how a perfectly conceived piece of creativity can turn into utter crap. When working on NaNoWriMo or whatever your next project is, keep this lesson in mind. It’s perfectly fine (and expected) to have any and all of these issues during your first draft, so don’t sweat it. Just don’t let them get into production/print.
I totally agree with you. I gutted it out for the end of Battlestar Gallactica only because I'd invested so much time in the story, but I wasn't thrilled with the direct it went. I sat thru a couple episodes of Caprica and decided to cut my losses. I could tell just from that little of it that it was going to suck so bad it wasn't worth it. My Hubby put in more time and this season even he hates it. Good riddance to it.ReplyDelete
WORD. So disappointing-- I am glad to know it got canned!ReplyDelete
@Mara: Sorry you watched that much.ReplyDelete
@ann: WORD indeed.
I think sometimes it's useful to study failure cases...and this is a doozy. :)
Sadly I have to agree. I think the show had a lot of potential... but great case in point on writing.ReplyDelete
BSG - loved it though wasn't totally satisfied with the ending. Caprica, didn't make it past a few episodes of season 1 for the reasons listed above.
You're not upset are you Andrew :)ReplyDelete
Loved your points to keep in mind though, so something good came out of the series.
Oh, and good luck with NaNo.ReplyDelete
@Jakob: And yet they also cancel great shows with awesome writing. Go figure.ReplyDelete
@Donna: It's more that I'm better able to analyze things now. Crap is crap no matter what the media.