Jun 29, 2009
Thoughts on Virtuality
I watched the 2-hour pilot of Virtuality on Friday and long story short: I want to see more.
While not perfect, Virtuality is legitimate SF of the kind not seen on network TV. While I'm sure they took some liberties with the physics, Virtuality is plausible Hard SF. Lost, Firefly, Fringe, Battlestar Galactica, Dollhouse, Heroes and every other example of "genre" TV current on the airwaves has at least some elements that could be considered fantastical.
The only questionable item in Virtuality was the virtual reality system they used for R&R and escape from the reality TV cameras. It seemed to be a little too immersive for just the visors but it certainly didn't break any fundamental rules of physics or try to explain why genetic mutations would allow you to fly or predict the future. Cough *Heroes* Cough. This is the kind of SF that could get a new generation interested in space travel.
I was fairly impressed with every aspect of the show. The cast was great. The writing was good. The premise was solid. The effects were better than most on TV. The show wasn't predictable (the events toward the end of the pilot really surprised me). The plot threads they introduced were intriguing. While somethings could have been better, I didn't have too many complaints, especially for a pilot. Compared to Dollhouse or Fringe, Virtuality hit a home run.
I'm not sure why they were trying so hard to screw over the show. Maybe Ron Moore wanted too much money, maybe the SF budget is too high for the expected ratings, who knows? But they did dump the premiere show on a Friday night, in the middle of summer, against the opening weekend of Transformers 2 with almost zero advertisement. I don't get it. What did they expect to happen? Record ratings? Add to the fact that it was also running against specials commemorating the lives of Michael Jackson and Farrah Fawcett and it's no surprise it didn't do well. Pair it against Dollhouse and I guarantee it will find an audience.
Virtuality is definitely marketable. It has the spaceship and SF tropes to connect with the core geek audience but it also has the reality TV and relationship drama that could reach out to female viewers without alienating them with the more extreme SF tropes like aliens or time travel. More than Stargate, Heroes, or Fringe, I feel like Virtuality could be watched in mixed company. I've even heard from a source or two that the eye-candy on board the ship works both ways.
All in all, I'm disappointed that Virtuality did so poorly. The show has a lot of potential and I want to know what was going on. Who is the murderer on board? And what did the victim's last message mean? I would definitely tune in again to find out. The fact that I will most likely never know makes me hate the economics of network TV. Any chance the SyFy channel is looking for another show?
You can watch Virtuality on Hulu here if you enjoy the pain of knowing this decent show most likely died before it even aired.
Posted by Patrick at 6/29/2009 12:01:00 PM