Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Oh, to Be Caprican

With last week's explosive start to Ronald Moore's new Syfy drama Caprica - a prequel series set 50 years before that of the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica - viewers indulged in following the unfurling family drama between the crestfallen Greystones and the stoic Adamas. Named for the capital planet in a system of 12 colonies, Caprica introduces its audience into an immersive universe where planetary origin determines one's culture or race, where religion steps beyond personal belief and into cultural imposition, and where the importance of the question, "What makes a person a person?" has only increased with the presence of technology. Fans - former and new - are ready to be the flies on the wall as these characters explore contemporary issues through trials, tribulations, and science fiction metaphors. Of course, as fans of Caprica's parent series should expect, Moore and Syfy have taken it one step further, encouraging show-fans to involve themselves and participate in the world they have created. Following the airing of Caprica's pilot episode, Syfy began an online, newspaper blog written by persons portraying fictitious news-writers from Caprica's immersive universe:

Television shows have been leaking onto the web in large and small ways - looking to stimulate their audiences past their alloted 22, 44, or 55 minute time slots. Typically, this translates into four* separate methods by which television show runners/producers attempt to occupy their audiences - viral marketing, canonical web-series, officiated websites, and open forum. However, none of these allow the audience to actively interact with their show's respective universe. By reading and commenting on The Caprican, audience members not only can read in-universe breaking news, but explore the colonial stock market, interplanetary sports, Caprican style and clothing, and even colonial politics. Commenters take on personas as if they are citizens of the colonies themselves, attacking or defending news articles and their implications. Now Caprica's audience no longer has to remain in casual observation, but can follow in a somewhat-canonical sphere. Outraged by the media's portrayal of Taurons? Should Libran finally fund its own pyramid team? Pick a planet, adopt a personality, and let readers know what you think.

Of course, what commenters say about specific plot points aren't taken as cannon, but my impression is that the articles themselves will reflect, in most respects, facts consistent with both the universe's history and the events on the show. I hope Syfy executives (and fans) allow The Caprican writers the freedom to interpret those facts with a Caprican skew (I would feel short-changed otherwise). Who knows? Maybe - someday - we'll get to see The Scorpia Inquirer or The Picon Post floating around our inter-webs and fans will get to explore the diverging view each planet's citizens have of core events in the series. Plus, who doesn't love a make-believe media war? Needless to say, it's an exciting time for television, its audience, and the showrunners themselves. While not exactly ground-breaking, The Caprican brings us just a small step closer to audiences having active influence in televised, imaginary worlds

*- I've intentionally excluded video games and wikis. While video games provide a similar kind of activity and it's arguable that forums are near-synonymous with wikis,video games are both atypical and usually non-canonical where the more dependable and oft-used wikis are typically created and maintained by devout fans - not producers or showrunners.


Jstone said...

for you PS3 or PSP owners you can download the first episode for free...you know...in case you don't have Hulu or a DVR...or On Demand...

Ozkirbas said...

Or the uncut DVD

Ozkirbas said...

Also, for people who may be intrigued (or otherwise) - EW has thrown up a fantastic review of the pilot episode: