Syfy has not only canceled Caprica, but has pulled it from its schedule, promising to air the first season's remaining episodes some time in 2011.
Look, it's not as if you couldn't see this coming. Hell, you could see it coming the moment the idea of a space-adventure-less, soap opera prequel to Battlestar Galactica was bandied about, and Caprica's pilot pretty much confirmed that this was not a show interested in wooing either Galactica's fans or Syfy's traditional viewership (which Syfy is now trying to with the just-announced, and hilariously-titled, Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome). Nor, to be honest, can I find it in my heart to grieve too much for a show that seemed already, in its last few episodes, to be veering towards Galactica's mythology in an all too familiar way. I liked some things about Caprica, and thought that it had serious problems, and if I ever manage to watch the entire first season I might write about both, but the one aspect of the show that kept me coming back was that it seemed disconnected from Battlestar Galactica, and a lot more thoughtful and interesting about issues--religion and religious fundamentalism, prejudice, terrorism--than Galactica ever was. In the episodes aired this fall, however, the handling of some of these issues verged on Galactica-esque ham-handedness, and one character was even revealed to be in contact with Six-esque projection. Which means that even if the second season had happened, I might not have tuned in.
So what's frustrating to me this morning isn't so much the news of Caprica's death as the fact that that death is just the latest in a long line of flawed-but-interesting science fiction series (with, incidentally, meaty and prominent roles for women)--The Middleman, The Sarah Connor Chronicles, Dollhouse--that have been killed off over the last few years, leaving science fiction fans with a pretty barren TV landscape populated mostly by shlocky Spy Fi, feather-light monster of the week series, and third-rate Galactica and Lost imitations. There's a reason that every single show that I've written positively and at length about in the last year has been a mainstream series--because no one is doing interesting, or even particularly watchable, work in TV science fiction, and though things are slightly better for fantasy (I may not like True Blood but I can respect its accomplishments, and I'm looking forward to HBO's Song of Ice and Fire) and horror (please let The Walking Dead be good), I'm not seeing much hope on the horizon for science fiction. Right now, the only show that approaches decent science fiction on TV is Doctor Who, and that should be a sad commentary even for people who love it.