In this day in age it’s not surprising to see a spinoff of a popular television series. Why come up with something new when you have an existing fanbase you can tap into and be almost guaranteed an instant viewership. Unfortunately the spinoffs don’t always live up to the hype or are simply not as good as the original series. With Sci Fi’s latest series, Caprica, fans are fortunate that the production team behind Battlestar Galactica are involved and have made sure that the new series is just as good as the show it’s spun from.

Set 58 years before the fall of the 12 Colonies, Caprica is a prequel that explores the events that led to the destruction of humanity. It’s the story of two families, the Graystones and the Adamas, and how they deal with a tragedy that influences the events that lead to the creation of Cylons. Two families that influence the path that humanity takes in the creation of artificial intelligence. Caprica is similar to its predecessor then many would believe. It’s all about the characters and the story.

Produced as a backdoor pilot, Caprica focuses on the families of Joseph Adama, played by Esai Morales, and Daniel Graystone, played by Eric Stolz. Yes, the same Joseph Adama that is father to Galactica’s Captain William Adama and just like his son, Joseph is a man with flaws. An immigrant from Tauron, Adama finds a home on Caprica and works his way up the social ladder as a lawyer. Unfortunately his ties to home run too deep and he finds himself in bed with Tauron organized crime, of which his brother is deeply involved in. One thing that was extremely interesting was the deep look into the divide between the Colonies and its people. We get a real sense of the arrogance of Capricans and their discriminatory outlook on people from other planets. It’ll be interesting to see it more fully explored.

Graystone is the head of one of the biggest corporations within the 12 Colonies. A brilliant scientist, he’s currently working on a robotic soldier for the Caprican military, a soldier that eventually becomes the Cylon and the destroyer of humanity. Unfortunately tragedy befalls on Adama and Graystone when a religious zealot performs a suicide bombing on a train within Caprica City, killing hundreds. The victims include Graystone’s daughter, Zoe, and Adama’s wife and daughter. Unbeknown to Graystone, his daughter Zoe is a computer genius and has managed to deposit her consciousness within a virtual world. It’s Gratstone’s ambitious attempt to transplant his daughters consciousness within one of his Cylons that will be the focus of the series.

Caprica has a clean and polished look compared to its predecessor. It’s a world much like ours, with technology that wouldn’t look out of place in this day in age. Many of the costumes have a 1950’s feel to it, probably to evoke that the series takes place in the past and to also align it with a time of wonderment and the start of a technological boom. Caprica looks and feels like a society that integrates its progressive technology into a livable existence.

Stolz and Morales do an excellent job with their roles, bringing just the right amount of obsession and sympathy to their characters. Alessandra Torresani does a great job as Zoe Graystone and rounding out the cast is Paula Malcomson as Graystone, Daniel’s wife Amanda, Sasha Roiz as Adama’s brother Sam Adama and Sina Najafi as the young Bill Adama. The entire cast put in an excellent effort and must be commended for their work.

There were a couple things that did bother me, but hopefully it can be explained as the series progresses. For example, we meet the young Bill Adama when he’s 11 years old and the series claims that it’s taking place 58 years prior to the second Cylon War. That would make Adama 69 years old when Galactica premiered. Now I don’t know about the physiology then, but I don’t think Adama is 69 years old. I would have placed him in his late 50s. The other thing was the use of the Tauron language. Now I know this is nitpicking, but according to previous Galactica canon everyone spoke the same language. The differing colonies had different accents, but it was the same language. Lastly was the projection of Tauron as being a poor colony. Again, in previous lore, Tauron was one of the wealthy and education colonies along with Caprica. This is all nitpicking at this point since the series really hasn’t started and been given a chance to explain things.

Overall, Caprica was very impressive. The inevitable exploration of the deeper themes that ran through Galactica, from family dynamics, religious fanaticism and racism will make for an intriguing series. Caprica will be grounded in human drama and that will only make it shine. There’s plenty of time until Caprica premiers on Sci Fi, with an expected date sometime in 2010. So until then, rent this. You won’t be disappointed.