Virtuality: The Next Best Show You May Not See

If you happened to miss Virtuality's premiere on FOX, it wouldn't surprise me. If not for the GWC hivemind, I would have. In my opinion, it wasn't promoted very well. Far be it for me to question the marketing decisions of a highly successful network -- but they dropped the ball.

Created by Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor, Virtuality is set aboard the Phaeton on a ten-year journey to explore the nearby star system Epsilon Eridani. A corporation known as the Consortium partially funds the project via a Reality TV show called Edge of Never: Life on the Phaeton which chronicles the experiences of the 12-person crew. Months after leaving Earth they are informed that their planet will become inhospitable within the next 100 years, thus changing the priorities of the mission from exploration to the survival of the human race.

The Phaeton is equipped to sustain the crew on its trek across the stars with living quarters, virtual reality headsets, and a botany... ahem... bay where their food is grown. The virtual reality modules play an integral part in the drama. There is a literal ghost in the machine that wreaks havoc on the crew's experiences in the virtual world.

FOX broadcast Virtuality as a TV movie, yet it was intended to be a full-blown series. As a result, a web campaign has been launched to bring it back as a series. You can visit http://virtuality-tv.info/Renewal/ and show your support.

Hopefully, the potential for this show won't be cut short. Like most great science fiction, Virtuality could be used as an allegory for our present society. The major themes for this show are the nature of reality and self-deception. Virtuality could make commentaries on two of society's recent obsessions: social networking and Reality TV. How do these affect our lives? What is reality? Is it a matter of perspective?

For me, the most intriguing moment of the show happened when the commander named Frank Pike replayed his experience in virtual reality. In the opening sequence Frank is playing an American Civil War scenario. His troop is ambushed. Frank stops the simulation and is met by the anomaly that shoots and kills Pike. In his quarters later, Frank plays the simulation at a slower rate to capture what happened at his time of death. It reminded me of a scene from a 1983 film called Brainstorm. Frank watches as his "soul" follows a bright light, travels down the corridors of the Phaeton and floats into space. This has a profound effect on Pike. It also opens up questions to the audience. Is death the end? Can you upload/download a soul?

If Virtuality does not get picked up as a series, I hope that some of these interesting concepts make their way into the upcoming series Caprica. Only time will tell.

7 Responses to "Virtuality: The Next Best Show You May Not See"
  1. Bedlam says:

    The show wasn’t very good in my opinion. It seemed to have stolen a few concepts from other shows and the cast had no chemistry in my opinion. The only thing that might save the show for me, if it were to come back, would be if the lead character, who was the best character in this pilot before he was killed off, were to come back and be a counter point to the rogue program that’s attacking the crew. Otherwise I would have to respectfully disagree. The show is unoriginal and not well written. It combines elements of Sunrises, Supernova, and Star Trek: TNG. I could see why the network ditched the show.

  2. ThotFullGuy says:

    Wow. Awesome review Frakintalos. There’s SO much stuff out there to watch these days, it’s hard to know what to spend time on. Thanks to you, I’m definitely gonna give Virtuallity a try. I love shows that challenge the mind and perspective, so I can’t wait to check it out!

  3. Frakkintalos says:

    Sorry Lady D. It appears it has been totally removed. Not on Hulu. Not on FOX. It’s as if it never existed. Spooky.

  4. Solai says:

    Great review ‘talos. I thot the show was good, definitely an interesting concept. I would like to know what a person who wasn’t familiar with BSG thot about it as I definitely recognized certain elements as RDMs. My favorite choice was presenting a gay couple right up front which for me was RDM’s way of saying, “Yeah, um, sorry I didn’t really address homosexuality in BSG and when I did they turned out to be psychopathic or evil or both. My bad. Here you go, a positive healthy gay relationship.”

  5. Casilda says:

    Agreed with the above, great review ‘talos. I had seen on a few different genre news sites that it was going to be on July 4 (talk about a crappy time slot!), and it was only because of Twitter that I knew they had changed the date to June… even my TV thought that it was supposed to be on July 4. Sigh.

    I really liked Virtuality (and so did my spouse – he watched and likes BSG, but isn’t as into it as I am), I think it has a lot of potential to be a very challenging (in a good way) show. Unfortunately, that doesn’t appear to be what the networks want, Dollhouse excepted.

    Also – Solai’s got it right re: RDM and the gay couple. I loved the diversity and conflict in the cast, and if this never comes back I’ll be very sad. 🙁

  6. DawnAZ says:

    I enjoyed the show. Watched it twice- once on a shitty feed online and then off my DVR. I’m disappointed it won’t get picked up because I thought it had potential. So instead I’m liking Defying Gravity, though I think I’m the only one here who likes it.

    I felt the reality-feel of the show was its best point, it really kept you wondering what was truth and was was fiction within the show. I’ll cross my fingers.

  7. Phil says:

    Great review! I was intrigued by the show. Have to admit that my interest waned a little in the middle, but the ending had me wanting more…

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