During a panel about the state of the Battlestar Galactica franchise at this year’s WonderCon, Michael Taylor, the co-creator of Blood and Chrome—a Battlestar prequel that you may remember was green-lighted by SyFy back in 2010—screened a trailer for the two-hour pilot. This latest extension of the Battlestar universe revolves around 20-something William Adama, a recent Academy graduate. The images Taylor culled together and presented to the WonderCon audience were exciting—set in space and filled with Viper pilots, the look of it is much more in line with the original (reimagined) series than Caprica—if a bit depressing, since the show’s future is still uncertain.
Last anyone heard, SyFy’s enthusiasm for the project was waning and as a result, they were thinking of maybe, possibly, one day breaking the pilot up into pieces and delivering it to us as an online series instead of airing it in its entirety on TV. As much as I’d like to eventually see Blood & Chrome in one form or another, I understand SyFy’s ambivalence. Caprica really did kill the franchise’s momentum.
I liked Caprica but I was never fanatical about it. Set 58 years before Battlestar, the tone was just so different from the beloved series that came before it. Both were basically soap operas but the prequel was more of a character study. SyFy gave Caprica the go-ahead based on Battlestar’s success—it had a level of buzz and goodwill that was unprecedented for the network—believing that they had a built-in audience. And they did have those viewers, initially, but then everyone got bored.
People who watched Battlestar were so embroiled in that show’s drama (who can forget the days when we were all speculating about the identity of the final cylon?) but Caprica and the mysteries at the center of it just weren’t as fascinating—there wasn’t much to be fanatical about.
Like most networks, SyFy isn’t a big supporter of shows with high production costs (this is one reason why there are so many reality shows on TV today). Eureka, the most popular series they had, cost too much to make (as far as they were concerned) and was canceled—the upcoming fifth season will be its last. The Blood & Chrome trailer was no more than 20 seconds long but it was obvious that the visual effects cost a mint to produce. When you take cost issues and Caprica’s failure together, I wouldn’t be surprised if Blood & Chrome’s fate remains in limbo for a long time. But is that such a bad thing?
There’s this Portlandia sketch where Carrie Brownstein and Fred Armisen play a couple who become so hopelessly sucked in by Battlestar that they watch every single season on DVD. In a row. Days on end. This marathon Battlestar binge leads them to totally neglect all other facets of their lives—they lose track of time, they stop brushing their teeth, they’re fired from their jobs, they stop paying their utility bills. When Carrie and Fred finally reach the last episode of the final season, they’re so upset that they try to convince James Callis, Edward James Olmos, and Ronald D. Moore to film new episodes. The script that the pair write isn’t good, to say the least, and everyone just winds up watching Doctor Who and becoming engrossed in that.
I understand the impulse to want to create a franchise out of something that worked, both from a financial perspective—you want that money—and a fan perspective—you love that universe. But sometimes, I think, we should just leave things as they are—cherish the greatness of the original phenomenon (or in this case, the original reimagined phenomenon), call it a wrap, and then start watching Doctor Who from the beginning.
Would you embrace another BSG prequel? Has Caprica soured you on prequels? Should we all just move on?