Being a big fan of Battlestar Galactica (2004), I decided to check out the prequel Caprica. I am curious why the creators decided to use a 1930s style of dress for their citizens?

I found a blog about it, but couldn't find any official discussions from the creators. Is there any significance to it or are they just trying to be different?

  • Clarification question: Are you inviting speculation, or specifically looking for something from the writers/creators? – Izkata Jun 8 '12 at 2:22
  • I'm looking for some rationale from the creators, not speculation. – Dre Jun 8 '12 at 2:29

One of the things the show creators wanted to do with Caprica was make it more appealing for a larger audience, particularly women. It was the belief that by making more Earth-like, people who are turned off by science fiction would at least check it out.

Dave Howe, head of SciFi when Caprica was in development, and Ron Moore (RDM), the creator, told Variety at the time,

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."

While they don't explicitly acknowledge the retro style, in a press briefing, someone asked about the cues from Mad Men where they did:

During the panel, "Battlestar" overlord Ronald D. Moore said that the terrestrial "Caprica" will have a "completely different tone, a completely different mood” from its progenitor. And indeed, one critic pointed out that the "Caprica" art direction resembles "Mad Men." Executive producer Remi Aubuchon agreed with that description, saying "“there is a bit of a retro feel" to the show's look.

And in a later, video blog, "Caprican Stylz", they talked a little more about what they were trying to accomplish. Doug McLean, the art director for Caprica:

There were loose guidelines, we didn't want it be like "oh, we're going to off to be in a different sci-fi world" and everyone's driving hover cars. We also very strongly wanted to keep some of the retro elements that Battlestar had: that feeling there was a little bit of the past technologies and in the styles.

Brian Markinson, who played Jordan Duram, added,

It's plausible, it feels like something just around the corner: we're not talking space ships and ray guns: I carry a revolver.

Finally, David Eick, executive producer, explained,

It's the idea that we're colliding worlds, palates: if you were to put the movies Gattaca and Dark City next to each other, you'd have a sense of the kind of bilateral tone or design of what Caprica is.

  • It's sad that, by removing the science fiction look & feel, they managed to alienate the original audience :( – Andres F. Jun 3 '13 at 0:45
  • I removed the dead link for the time being (the video blog) as I wasn't able to find another one. If anyone's got one I missed, please edit it in! – Jenayah Dec 6 '18 at 20:44

I don't remember where I read this, but the producers wanted a futuristic feel, due to the advanced technology (such as spaceflight, the Cylons, and some other technologies), but they also wanted this to feel like it was in the past. That was both because, if you've seen all of Battlestar Galactica, you know it's about 150,000 years before now, but also to go with the repeated theme of "All of this has happened before and will happen again."

By going with a retro look (and there are elements from the 1930s through the 1950s - including some elements from speculative fiction and concept houses, cars, and such) from those eras, it gives viewers in 2010/2011 a visual cue that this is in the past -- it's not our future and not in the future. It's already happened.


I totally agree with what Tango said about it trying to evoke the past, and I would also add, that the art direction also subconsciously suggests to viewers that it's the past of the BSG 'verse, which was important to establish.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.