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.
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.