Prequel series stars Eric Stoltz, Esai Morales

Caprica,” next year’s prequel series to “Battlestar Galactica,” will be set a generation earlier than the events of “BSG,” as an advanced but decadent human society gives birth to the cybernetic technology that will one day destroy it.

 

“It’s about a society that’s running out of control with a wild-eyed glint in its eye,” says “Galactica” mastermind Ron Moore, who penned the “Caprica’s” two-hour pilot with Remi Aubuchon.

 

“You can just feel it running out of control, with its youth culture and its moral choices. There’s doom in the air, but not doom in terms of the human spirit,” Moore says.

 

Set for production in the middle of this year and due to bow early next year, “Caprica” — named for the home planet of many of “BSG’s” human characters — is more family drama than sci-fi/action skein, Moore says, with Eric Stoltz playing the head of the family-owned Graystone Industries, a company on the cusp of a breakthrough in the artificial-intelligence technology that will eventually lead to the development of the genocidal Cylons.

 

Esai Morales is cast as Joseph Adama, an attorney with misgivings about where all of this cybernetic research is going — and, as such, is a rival to the ambitious Stoltz. Morales’ character is a link to “BSG,” in that he is the father of the battlestar Galactica’s commander, William Adama (played in the flagship skein by Edward James Olmos).

 

In short, the show’s stories and settings will be more congruent with Earth in the very near future than “BSG” has been.

 

Moore and the Sci Fi Channel are hoping that will help “Caprica’s” appeal.

 

“We want people to come to this who’ve never heard of ‘Battlestar Galactica,’ ” explains Sci Fi prexy Dave Howe, whose network has ordered 20 hours of the new series. “I think there was a barrier to entry for some viewers (for ‘Galactica’), since it had the backdrop of space and spaceships.”

 

Moore concurs, saying “We had viewers say that if they were able to trick their wives or girlfriends into watching ‘Galactica,’ they loved it.”

 

But with the name “Battlestar Galactica” “screaming science fiction,” he adds, “there was just such a high hurdle to get female viewers to even try it.”

 

That’s one reason Moore and his “Galactica” producing partner, David Eick, only toyed with spinoff possibilities for several years.

 

Discussions only got serious when Aubuchon, a former “Chicago Hope” and “24″ scribe, entered the picture.

 

Aubuchon had earlier made a cybernetics-themed movie pitch to Universal. U execs didn’t bite, but they did put him in touch with Moore and Eick across the lot.

 

“That started us talking about it in earnest,” explains Moore, who believes “Caprica’s” more ethereal brand will engage a broader audience.

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