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Sci Fi's 'Caprica' might go straight to series

CapricaTCA -- By James Hibberd and Barry Garron

Sci Fi Channel's "Battlestar Galactica" prequel "Caprica" might not air as a backdoor pilot after all.

It might go straight to series.

"We’re not sure if it’s going to air as a backdoor pilot," says Sci Fi Channel's executive vp of programming Mark Stern at the Television Critics Association press tour. "We’re going to take a look at it and maybe just order it as a series from there. We are going to take delivery on it in a couple of weeks and then decide whether to air it as a standalone movie or as the premiere of a new series."

Sci Fi had a panel for "Caprica" during the network's TCA session, where showrunner Ron Moore and cast members took the stage to answer questions from critics. The project has long been called a two-hour backdoor pilot, and is supposed to air sometime this fall. An upgrade to a series order would likely  push its air date until sometime next year, a Sci Fi spokesperson says. Certainly the very act of paneling a mere pilot at the critics tour suggests network enthusiasm for the project.

Moore says that it won’t matter that people already know how the prequel story ends. In fact, he's counting on that to add suspense.

"The tension comes from the fact that you do know where it’s going," he says. "All of this -- this world you’re about to visit -- is doomed, in some shape or form.You know how WWII turns out. You know the Nazis are going to lose. But that doesn’t mean you can’t tell compelling stories."

"Caprica" takes place 51 years before the events in "Galactica," and the 12 colonies are not always peacefully co-existing. Also, there will be no flash-forwards to the current series ("intercutting the two would feel very oil and water," he says).

" 'Caprica' is a different animal," he says. "It’s about a vibrantsociety that is at the height of its power and the height of itsdecadence. It’s going to come apart. It’s sort of like a rollercoaster. Has a completely different tone, completely different mood, completely different way of telling stories.  It's shot very different, and I think I was particularly attracted to the idea of doing a science fiction piece that was not built on a foundation of action adventure.  It wasn't about Vipers and it wasn't about the Cylons attacking every other week.  It was really a character piece."

The action will be firmly grounded on the planet of Caprica ratherthan lots of space-based jumping around between different locations.Executive producer David Eick said technological emphasis in the newshow will be on artificial intelligence instead of space travel.

"That’s what’s new on this show, rather than space travel, which we take as an existing technology," Eick says.

"It's predominantly going to be [set in] an urban city," Moore adds.

Though there is an actor who plays a very young William Adama, other characters and their families will not regularly appear in the show.

"I'd like to hope that we probably don't do that," Moore says.

Also: Sci Fi also announced three new series -- see THR.com story here.