Season premiere of 'Caprica,' Tuesday on Syfy
REASON TO WATCH: When humans aspire to live on in a virtual world "in which death has been conquered," are they playing with faith, or with fire? That's just one key question in "Caprica," a sprawling adult thriller of a tech-obsessed world overflowing with intrigue — in family rivalries, corporate takeovers, criminal factions, religious sects, terrorist cells and among their many intersections.
WHAT IT'S ABOUT: This show's near-future urban landscape looks pretty much like ours. Neon nights, rainy days, weekend sports at the stadium. But Capricans live in fear of terror from an outcast religion of "monotheists." Are these misunderstood believers? Ruthless zealots? Or just thrill-seekers who get off on power and violence?
The answers are as provocatively elusive here as in creator Ronald D. Moore's previous gem, "Battlestar Galactica." Moore essentially tackles what drives humans and civilizations as they mature — money, moral dilemmas, power, spirituality, pleasure and that old bugaboo, progress.
"Caprica" embodies this not in societies at war, but within family dynamics. Eric Stoltz is a techno-mogul losing his bearings after his genius/terrorist daughter's death, though he suspects that Zoe's "synaptic records" and emotions — in other words, her self — may be still "alive" within a cybernetic robot he created. Esai Morales is his frenemy, a lawyer from a minority known for mobsters, struggling with his own downward spiral after his teen daughter's death in the same attack.
MY SAY: As the adults overreach to resurrect their family connections, the ends matter more than the means, to the point that even the ends don't matter anymore. The kids seem the more thoughtful players here, their schemes certainly less toxic than those of parents driven to blackmail and murder in pursuit of the same heedless self-satisfaction of which teens are so often accused.
If this review feels big on broad themes and light on specifics, suffice to say that "Caprica" is keenly produced to teem with visceral detail. It's the kind of intoxicating tale you have to just let wash over you.
BOTTOM LINE: The densely packed plots can be confusing, but "Caprica" is so palpably throbbing with passion that turning away doesn't feel like an option. Delving deeper does.
Returns at 10 p.m. EDT Tuesday n Syfy (after a 10a.m.-8 p.m. marathon of all previous episodes)