A pilot is a pilot, and that’s all well and good, but the first regular episode is really the judge of what a show will be like. Pilots are…well, they’re more like rough drafts of what the series will more-or-less be like, rather than a finished, fully-cooked idea. There’s usually a great gulf fixed between the pilot and the series it spawns. Case in point, the massive differences in cast, sets, style, and even music between the two pilot episodes of Star Trek: TOS and the actual series; or between the pilot movie of Babylon 5 and the series, or between the first pilot for Dollhouse and the series itself. There are a zillion examples. Hell, even the pilot for “Man From Atlantis” was massively different from any other episode.
Be that as it may, weak pilot doesn’t automatically equal good series, and I found last year’s two-hour introduction to Caprica pretty weak. Pretty damn weak indeed. There have been some substantial behind-the-scenes changes in personnel, some rumored drama with the network, problems with the scripts, and a kind of ‘why bother’ feeling inherent with prequels. The series was officially dubbed “Troubled” by me before it hit the air, and I’m far from the only person who’s gotten that impression. All these elements taken in concert filled me with pretty low expectations.
But you know what? It was actually pretty good. I totally did not see that coming.