Virtuality: Review & Discussion

Published 6 years ago by , Updated June 27th, 2009 at 9:26 am,

virtuality day 10 0361 Virtuality: Review & Discussion

This is a DVR spoiler-free review.

Follow me through the mirror, down the rabbit hole.  Trust me, it has to be this way.

A rabbit hole indeed.  Ronald D. Moore has done it again giving us some brilliant writing with Virtuality as far as I’m concerned and Fox not sticking to the original plan of creating a series out of his concept is not only their loss, but ours as well.

We have 12 astronauts on a 10-year journey that becomes a potential rescue mission to save humanity.  Their space faring vessel is named the Phaeton.

The show opens with a scene that introduces the Virtual Reality system (VR) world from the ship.  We’re also almost immediately introduced to the glitch that we’ve been told about in the studio press releases.  I think glitch might be an understatement, but that’s just me.

Despite the youthful cast, there’s sufficient maturity portrayed from the characters to calm my concerns about a disconnect with older viewers.

We also know that the mission on-board the Phaeton is broadcast back to Earth as a reality television program.  I thought that angle would be distracting but Moore used this angle smoothly to fill us in on character perspectives as they updated their personal video diaries for the show.

The interpersonal relationships are well done and are developed through personal interaction on the mission and also within the VR system.  Yes, crew members can share their VR worlds with each other.

Moore employs the The VR system in a number of ways;  It serves as an emotional escape for the crew, as well as a kind of control system with certain processes within the ship.

The VR system does have its issues that we’re introduced to early on and throughout the movie.  Moore is at it again with his dark mindset as he broaches some sensitive social issues with the VR system.  We are asked to ponder the idea of whether actions conducted within the imaginary VR world is really what it is, or not.  He further uses the VR system to introduce even deeper issues but I’ll leave that for you to experience when you get to your DVR’d version.

In regards to the VR system glitch, I can’t decide what the source is but it’s fascinating and has captured my imagination.

virtuality Virtuality: Review & Discussion

The movie ended in such a way that Moore seems convinced that it will be picked up as a series.  If it isn’t, we are left to our imaginations as to how the story continues.

After All Is Said And Done

In mid-2008, Fox was looking at Virtuality as a series.  In January of 2009, Fox felt like the premise needed to be retooled because the story was too dense.  (Why do they consistently need to change material from successful showrunners?)  In May of ’08, they reduced their order from a series to a 2-hour movie.

I feel like this has a ton of promise as a series.  A lot was introduced to us in these two hours.  Actually, it was only 1 hour and 25 minutes of movie in the 2 hours of air time.  But it had to be jammed packed full of details – They only gave Moore so much time to present his vision, but he did so very well.

I like the fact that Ronald D. Moore could present something to us that was not Battlestar Galactica and make it as original or fresh as he did – At least in combining various facets of sci-fi into Virtuality.

Ideas On Carrying Forward A Series

What points could be used to further this project along as a series?  Plenty.

We have the challenges of the long trip itself, the relationships between crew members, some of which were tense while others were inappropriate.  We also have the challenges of the VR system: What’s wrong with the VR system and how do they dare use it with the present glitch?  The VR system introduces the question of blurring lines between fantasy and reality.

It’s a shame NBC passed on this. They could have used this to help their ratings, but it was too “science fiction” for them.  Fox thought it was too dense before having it rewritten.  They obviously have a marketing focus that does not trust the viewer to get it.  Alas, it is television.

Did I miss anything?  Have you seen something I missed or overlooked?  Let us know if you enjoyed this show like I did.  We would love to hear what you thought.

With respect to those who DVR’d the movie, try to keep your comments spoiler free or include spoiler warnings at the front of your comments so time-shifted viewers don’t have the experience spoiled for them.


TAGS: Virtuality
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  1. Um, No. Take 2001, add in Lost, the Matrix, and your basic doomed Earth scenario, the beginnings of convoluted storylines that would force others to have to buy the shows on DVD in order to catch up(WTF ever happened to stand alone episodes of TV series?)and you have yet another mess which passes for ‘entertainment’ in today’s market. One word. Pass.

  2. That is definitely one way to look at it, but I was surprised I came away enjoying the time spent watching the show.

    I’m missing the MATRIX reference, unless I’m too fixated on the “holodeck” affect to have seen that… now that I reflect on it, I think that is what you mean. Correct T?

  3. I LOVED this! It was so much better than I thought it would be. I would absolutely watch this if it was a series, although if Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is gone, that would be a big negative.

  4. I thought it was GREAT.
    At least Fox didnt dilute the final Product.
    but they probably thought as a 2 hour film they were throwing it away so, it didnt matter if they left it intact.

  5. Yes, the whole “Living in a Simulated world” scenario ala Matrix. From the “hints” dropped there would also probably be a “Virtual” pregnancy, a “Virtual” baby(which also could lead to who’s the daddy and even a “virtual” kidnapping…too 24 for my taste)

    The only thing I actually “liked” was the proposed method of propulsion of the ship(which looked like it was dropping mini-nukes and then riding the blastfield but I think there may have been a few Issues with changing Momentum that quickly…)

  6. I liked the concept and ideas. True SF for a change. But except for the Captain the cast seemed a little bland and uninteresting. I guess they wanted them to look academic and scientisty but you need interesting characters for a tv show.

  7. I enjoyed this and I was really impressed with the acting. I agree it definitely has potential. I would give the series a try, if I get the chance to.

  8. My expectations weren’t very high, but I enjoyed the show very much and would have continued watching the series. The reality show parts were stupid, but I though the virtual reality was pretty good even though it was basically the same as the one in Caprica. I have a full review in my blog.

  9. Are there any Black men in this future look at most of your Sci-fi show StarGate SG1 but what off the show id Christopher judge Teal’c and Atlantis don’t forget the OG Star trek the only Black Female seen most on camera was a communication officer and don’t forget the Next Generation LT.Cdr LaForge but Worf was a black Klingon Ensign Travis on Enterprise Star Trek Voyager Who would have thought That Black People were ge it on with Vulcans in the future to produce Commander Tuvok but wait he was passed over by his Kaptain Janeway for Rebel from the Marquis who form what he look like he could have been Native American?
    I could be wrong but you just have your Supporting Negro category are any more shows and movies

    There’s the ‘Supporting Negro’ category that we’ve had to deal with since Hattie McDaniel won an Oscar for it in 1940 for her portrayal as Mammie in ‘Gone with the Wind’ (anybody else find it completely messed up that her character was actually NAMED after a specific stereotype? As time goes on, black actors were forced into supporting roles even when they were better actors than the white leads they shadowed (Will Smith in ‘Bagger Vance’, Bill Duke in ‘Predator’, Djimon in ‘Gladiator’, Morgan Freeman in category of movies where the only significant black character is the first to die Plus Almost all black movies that make it to the mainstream simply MUST involve at least two of the following: gangsters, sports, cheating black men, bitter black women, music, and Soul Food – the last item, which has a movie of the same name, is probably the most ridiculous of all. Do you think Tom Hanks would ever star in a movie called ‘Casserole’?

    Let’s not forget, of course, those movies where minority roles are snatched away from minorities altogether and filled by whites. This used to be a category suffered almost exclusively by Native Americans in every movie from John Wayne’s ‘The Searchers’ to Daniel Day Lewis in ‘Last of the Mohicans’. Remember that ‘crying Indian’ from the Don’t Litter commercials? He was Sicilian. Black people, however, are being newly banged over the head with this category for the first time since the days of Al Jolson with Robert Downey Jr.’s portrayal as a black man in ‘Tropic Thunder.’ I refuse to see this movie, because I know that as soon as I hear RDJ try to talk like a black person, I am going to go completely ape crap and stab myself with a fork.

    This T.V. Show Virtuality is following the same road map as the other issues with movies and tv when it come to race just mentioned. Again Are there any Black Men in this show or in this protrayal of the future of Virtuality? We don’t know but sofar I ani’t seen any yet if this is supposed to be in the future with all this technology and spaceflights to other galaxcies.

    I’m glad it did not have one thing or any other is it didn’t involve the typical monolithic cast of modern no-talent black actors: Taye Diggs, Sanaa Lathan, Morris Chesnut, Nia Long, Omar Epps, etc. Understanding WHY black films can’t break the shackles of stereotypical subjects is the most enraging reality of all: they simply wouldn’t work.

    Anybody who needs proof that racism isn’t dead and that black people and white people are nowhere near being on equal social footing only needs to think to himself why black equivalents of historical epics (a black ‘Gladiator’), existential pieces (a black ‘The Truman Show’), non-musical/non-sports biographies (a black ‘Capote’), horror flicks (a black ‘Exorcist’), adventure films (a black ‘Indiana Jones’), or sci-fi (a black ‘Star Wars’) generally aren’t commercially viable – it’s because white people ain’t interested in that stuff.

  10. What a burdon life must be for you JB.

    So much racism to analize, so little time…

  11. Racism can’t die because we can’t control what individual people think. Get over it, racism will ALWAYS exist, there’s no magic law that you can pass to make people not be racist…

    I’m sorry, but EVERYONE is racist, including you JB. You try to deny it, then you’re a racist AND a liar. You seem really focused on looking for minorities in shows and movies, almost obsessive. I’m sorry, but looking to fill roles based on if they are a minority, whether you’re for OR against it, is still racist. When I watch a show, I judge the character on how well they fill the role, not by what race they are. I’m a minority, but I really don’t care about how many people of my race is in a show or movie unless it would have made more sense but they didn’t for whatever reason, *cough*Last Airbender*cough*, but really, if I find something offensive or not to my liking, I simply don’t watch it or buy into it. It’s a free country, and I actually believe that unfortunately means people are free to be racist. Fighting racism with racism the other direction is still racism, that’s why I don’t believe in any of those stupid concepts…

    Anyway, just watch the show and enjoy it for what it is. Or don’t watch it…

  12. Oh, forgot to clarify, I was saying everyone is racist or prejudice in one way or another, there’s almost no way around it. No matter how hard you try to be completely fair and objective, there will always be some preconceived notion of a certain race or group that will get a different reaction out of you compared to others whether conscious or subconscious.

  13. This comment section is not for this kind of opinion. Let it go guys. No further tirades like this will be tolerated on this thread.

  14. I enjoyed the show/movie a great deal. Of course there are flaws in it but lets blame them on Fox. I like my science fiction with human density and not with simplistic concepts of good and bad like Transformers. I shouldn’t nag on Transformers after all it was made for children from the get go.If this had been a series I would expect the Commander would appear to everyone through the VR thingy.

    Of the flaws my main one is that it seems a bit weak that everyone would not notice the same asshole in their programs a lot sooner. I can’t think the ratings were any good for this. So lets just continue to wonder what if?

    With respect to the racial thing, I thought they tried hard to show diversity. Whites, Asian, Black, Hispanic, a balance of genders, a gay couple, a character in a wheel chair, of the white characters many are ethnic. I think this approach is typical of Moore look at BSG.

    Shame on NBC/Sci-Fi channel, shame on Fox for mucking with it. With the Leno move I can see where NBC wouldn’t do it but certainly Sci-Fi could find a spot for it. Oh wait they are too busy with WWF and shelving Eureka for Ghost Hunters and really bad made for tv films. A show like this would not increase their demographics and that seems to be what the fols there are after.

  15. I found this “movie” to be lacking. In the beginning I found myself lost and confused on what was going on. When I finally started getting into the “movie” near the end…… well it was over. I could very much see this as a TV series but for me as a movie in it self it completely and utterly failed. It had a lot of potential that could be filled as a TV Series, so we can only hope.

  16. Excellent, excellent as a pilot. Great writing, cast, production values and direction. As a movie, it was frustrating because I want to eventually KNOW some answers. Isn’t there a network out there that isn’t afraid of smart television? I know it’s all about money, but sci fi fans are savvy people and they’re ideal for targeting certain products. Come on FOX, SyFy, anyone? Don’t let the great potential of this production die.

  17. I understood some of the hints at the end as meaning that the whole thing could be in a bigger “holodeck” and simulated entriely, perhaps to create ratings. Which could help explain the captain “dying” and the doc knowing a secret.

  18. I TIVOed it and we watched it last nice – what a high concept -
    I grew up reading scifi so I just rolled along with the whole thing, from the space exploration mission, to the dark edginess of the “reality show”, the dark side of holodeck as zone of comfort/fantasy/control interface (yeah, I know its VR, but it flips the whole ST: TNG reliance on holodecks on its ear!). And maybe its a spiritual breakthrough in VR? he he

    Great visuals and music – yep, its way too dense and too good for mainstream TV in the 00s – how could it ever go fulltime?
    Such potential, and such a shame – but Bab5 wouldn’t have survived if introduced today …

  19. Was sick for awhile and came back home to find this DVRd so watched it, assuming from it was the beginning of a series. I wish I checked it out first as I really enjoyed it and especially after that ending hoped that it would continue. The music was great, the “explosion-go” visuals were a wonder to watch, the cast were exactly what they were supposed to be for this story, and the story lines had me caught enought to want to know where it goes from here.

    I loved the way it flowed from Real life to Reality to VR (Matrix was great, but it started w/Star Trek) and back again with the same characters in each. Putting character favs aside I thought that the way they interacted kept you watching, especially when they would all talk over one another with several issues going at once.

    There are so many paths running from the source here that need to be followed up on…the interpersonnal issues, the TV show (eh), the “is the reality real” scenario, Doomsday, and the VR “glitch”.

    The glitch alone is a huge undertaking and could cover so much area. It was different for everyone; a molester, an assassin, a murderer (although interpreted by the character as a sort of re-birth), an OB/GYN doctor (hope of a child), and when the captain re-played his VR scene over to see what happened, he showed it continuing past death into the “light” and stars (definite reminder of Brainstorm when Christopher Walken plays someone’s death (brainwaves) into his own mind and lets it run past when that person’s brainwaves stopped, seeing what happens after we are truly dead).

    Oh, I forgot to mention the whole “what are we doing here, where are we going and what is out there” path. For those who remember it, sort of along the lines of 2001: A Space Odyssey theme, and as long as I brought it up, Krubrik’s spacestation was what I thought of when I saw this one, no?

    Yes, I’m showing my age. I tried to get some of my thoughts across without giving too much away. I really hope that SciFi picks this up…too many times really good shows are dropped because our society can’t handle anything thought provoking (yes, WAYYYY too dark and deep!).

  20. I’m very dissappointed that this may not become a series. I crave the “density” potential of this premise. The overall was done so well (plot/acting/characters/music/scene artistry)that I was reminded of some of the stellar series produced by HBO.

    Please don’t “dumb down” all broadcast media selections.

    AT LAST – a show with incredibly interesting possibilities!!!! Yes, it had a Solaris/2001/Ridley Scott/Naked Sun feel, but additional fresh elements that could take it almost anywhere. I found it all captivating, and I want to see MORE!

    What is reality?

  21. I just caught it and I can only say WOW! This would have been an amazing show, and it was certainly right up there with Lost’s pilot. One of the best made for TV things I’ve ever seen… so many possibilties. We’re really going to miss out on a great story.

  22. Indeed Josh. Indeed.

  23. Excelent movie,CGI was well illistrated,The ship looked realistic,the storyline is reasonable,the suspence is well ingrained to a excellent level but is lacking some of the mystery to who done it.I think this would do excelent for a regular movie if sent back to the editors and new filmed scenes added.It’s virtual rape seen may have been what caused the issue for getting the piolot series contract,it may be over rated for public TV.