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'Caprica': It's back, and so is Eric Stoltz

January 22, 2010 | 10:16 pm

Tonight was the re-premiere of "Caprica" on Syfy. (The pilot episode aired early last year, and has since gone to DVD.) If you did not see the pilot, or the subsequent re-airing of the pilot, or get the DVD, or watch it online (or even on Hulu), then here's a quick summary.

It's the planet of Caprica, and the prosperous capital city of Caprica City, 58 years before the catastrophic events of "Battlestar Galactica." Things seem to be going OK, except for a rebellious teen's plan to join a revolutionary organization on another planet. Eh, that stuff happens to teens. Then, the spark that ignites both series: a young man blows himself up on a train in the service of that same revolutionary group.  Dan2 Aboard the train are Zoe Graystone, daughter of tech tycoon Daniel and doctor mom Amanda, and Tamara Adams, daughter of lawyer-with-underworld-ties Joseph Adams (which is really Adama). Yes, he's the dad of the future Admiral William Adama of the Battlestar Galactica.

Daniel can't let go, and attempts to remake his dead daughter using avatar (yes, that kind) technology pulled from a virtual reality world. It turns out that Daniel's daughter was a genius, and had enhanced and copied her avatar. He downloads it into a cybernetic lifeform that he's created as a weapon, and a cylon is born.  She's hiding the fact that she's alive from him for now.  And Joseph, who's seen these avatars and knows what Daniel is trying to do, wants to make sure that his daughter can come back as well.

Colorful characters like Zoe's mom, Joseph's hit-man brother Sam Adama, and Zoe's best friend Lacy Rand round out the group. For fans of "BSG," it's almost a must-watch (or should be). Another reason to watch is actor Eric Stoltz, who takes on the role of genius and grieving father Daniel Graystone. The busy actor/director hasn't had a long-running character on the air since he worked on "Chicago Hope," but looks to make an impression here.  We got to ask him 10 questions:

With the acclaim for "Avatar" and the quality of "Battlestar Galactica," sci-fi is being seen in a different light. Are you a big fan of the genre and did that color your decision to join "Caprica"?
I've been pretty lucky -- or slothful -- in that I've never been a "career builder," I take the jobs that come along that feel right, and that's left me fairly open to all genres, really. But with "Caprica," the complex, dark and very smart script was the draw.

Dan1 Paula Malcomson [who plays Amanda Graystone] described Daniel Graystone as a "Bill Gates-type" on "Caprica." How would you describe him?
That's fairly accurate. With some Oppenheimer, some Dr. Frankenstein, and a little Icarus tossed in as well. A driven, ambitious, creative man who is on the verge of recognizing his limitations and flaws -- always an interesting place to be.

What's his relationship like with Alessandra Torresani's Zoe (pre-train explosion)?
Well, fatherhood is clearly not his strong suit -- I think when she was a very young child they were close, but as she hit the difficult teen years, he put all his frustrations and confusion about parenting into his work -- the one area he excels in.

What's his relationship like with Malcomson's Amanda (post-train explosion)?
Dan3p Like any couple who have been in a good solid long-term relationship, they have a very strong foundation for when tragedy strikes. This foundation will be tested -- repeatedly -- as they try to find outlets for their grief. But I think they are one of those curious couples who kind of thrill at the challenge of remaining together through thick and thin.

Sasha Roiz called the mood of the show a bit "ominous." Can you give a quick description of the culture on Caprica?
In the city itself, there are pockets of violence, the disaffected poor bumping up against the isolated and privileged rich. It's a near future dystopia struggling to find its way -- a society at an interesting breaking point, with two conflicting historical dispensations at their peak, each one kind of canceling out the other -- which will lead to another movement that has to take place so that the culture can move forward...

We do all know what is going to happen, so how do you 'keep it in the moment?'
Well, we all know what's going to happen to us at some point in this life, there are no surprises, really -- the question is how do we enjoy the ride....How do we navigate the waters of chance and choice and blessings and loss?

Danzoe For anyone who's seen the pilot, we know how his 'daughter' ends up. How far ahead do you read?
As far ahead as they write.

Do you know the rules to the pyramid game that's so popular throughout the 12 Colonies?
Not only do I know them, but in one show we even had a scene that showed me playing it -- rather poorly, I'm afraid. But the editors made me look better than I had a right to, as they always do. Then the scene was cut from the show, as it should have been.

Aside from "Caprica," what else have you been working on?
I'll be directing some more "Private Practice" episodes when we wrap "Caprica." And I have an indie film, "Fortunate Sons," a smart, emotional, funny passion project that I am determined to direct. I also just completed an indie film called "Fort McCoy," a true story of one of the few WWII internment camps that was actually in the United States.

Are you ready to join this "BSG" world and all that goes with sci-fi hits? We're on the positive here!
It's not something that has even crossed my mind. We're just trying to make a good show here, and we're so caught up in the day-to-day work that we can barely think about how it may or may not be received. Hopefully people will enjoy it, and watch it.

-- Jevon Phillips

Photos: Top and middle right: Daniel Graystone (Eric Stoltz). Middle left: Daniel and Amanda Graystone (Paula Malcomson). Bottom: Zoe (Alessandra Torresani) and Daniel Graystone. Credit: Syfy.

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The rest of the "Caprica" countdown, and news on the show

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