Virtuality is a 2 hour TV movie (and possible pilot for a series) from Trek and BSG vets Ron Moore and Michael Taylor. Set aboard "Earth’s first starship", Virtuality is the first new space-based sci-fi on network television since Star Trek Enterprise went off the air in 2005. To get you ready, we have all you need to know below including a synopsis, previews, interview snippets and more.
“Virtuality” [Two-hour Back-door Pilot]
US: Airing June 26th on Fox at 8 PM (7 Central)
UPDATE: Available to watch ONLINE AT FOX.com
Synopsis: The crew of the Phaeton is approaching the go/no-go point of their epic 10-year journey through outer space. With the fate of Earth in their hands, the pressure is intense. The best bet for helping the crew members maintain their sanity is the cutting-edge virtual reality technology installed on the ship. It’s the perfect stress-reliever until they realize a glitch in the system has unleashed a virus on to the ship. Tensions mount as the crew decides how to contain the virus and complete their mission. Meanwhile, their lives are being taped for a reality show back on Earth.
Promo (Fox – USA)
12-minute extended preview
Trailer for the webisode series "Edge of Never"
IMAGES [more at SpoilerTV]
REVIEWS – mostly positive – wanting more
A selected look at some of the reviews–mostly positive, but with reservations about the abrupt conclusion with unanswered questions
[SCI FI Wire]
The series is edgy and feels a bit distant, and not because it takes place in outer space. Still, it would have been a series worth watching…On the other hand, as a movie, Virtuality leaves us hanging in every way you can imagine. There are plenty of surprises and questions asked. But don’t expect any answers.
…it is an impressively credentialed and stylish bit of television moviemaking, an exploration not merely of our practical dependence on technology but also of our psychological and nearly eroticized addiction to it…it wants you to drive over to [your friends] houses, park the car, knock on the door and deliver a bundt cake and a hug. Like so much glossy science fiction in which the white spacesuits are trotted out, it yearns for the old folkways — now go bake.
I didn’t always buy what "Virtuality" was selling, but I didn’t doubt that a foundation was being laid for something really interesting…What I do know is that "Virtuality" isn’t a satisfying movie, but it’s a tantalizing pilot and the viewer who see these two hours will want to see more, so you’d better show some enthusiasm, starting Friday night, but really starting on Monday morning.
[EW — Grade: B]
…boasts an interesting cast (including Clea DuVall) and an Alien-invoking vibe (if no aliens). Though it’s billed as a stand-alone movie, the result screams ”failed pilot” loud enough to be heard in space.
There are some interesting ideas amid the stylistic wreckage, but they’re hard to sort out and — by necessity, because this is a pilot — they don’t end up anywhere…Virtuality counts as an interesting experiment, and it’s better than most of the networks’ summer offerings. But because there aren’t likely to be answers provided by additional episodes, it can only be unequivocally recommended to Galactica acolytes and curio collectors.
[Los Angeles Times]
It is not a movie — it ends unfinished, just as it’s really beginning — but that does not mean you should pass it by…this is smart, handsome TV, a witty, measured mix of sci-fi, soap and satire that offers new twists on old tropes.
…I think "Virtuality" works as a character drama, as an observant commentary on our technology-obsessed culture and as a mystery-thriller, I don’t want you to spend your precious free time on it if you think you’ll end up frustrated with its lack of resolution. So it’s your call.
[The Boston Globe]
As a setup, the two creepily atmospheric hours are promising and thought-provoking…The different elements hang together as a nicely faceted whole – until the final minutes, that is.
Co-creators Ron Moore and Michael Taylor On Whats Next If Show Gets Picked Up
"Virtuality" is considered a back-door pilot, meaning that it’s being aired in the hopes that it attracts a large enough audience for Fox to greenlight a full series. In the past, co-creator Michael Taylor has said that he didn’t think a series pickup was likely, but Taylor told SCI FI Wire that they’ve crafted a series that could easily be launched out of tonight’s pilot-turned-movie in the event that the show does get picked up:
"Fox is calling it a movie, but they want a lot of eyeballs on it too," Taylor added. "So we’ve conceived a whole season; we conceived multiple seasons. We know where this show is going, and it’s going some really weird and interesting places. And that first season? Wow. It becomes an exciting thrill ride. It’s a thriller, a story still about technology, it’s a beautiful, crazy stew, and it’s a hell of a ride."
Taylor expanded further on that line of thought:
"Creatively, you have to have an idea where your show is going," Taylor explained. "On the other hand, on Battlestar, Ron always had a sense where the show was going, but the journey was the thing. I don’t think we really ever planned more than half a season’s worth, more than 10 or so episodes at a time, because you also want the opportunity, when you have a strong concept, have a strong situation in place, to let that change. You want to let the characters and things that happen to the characters, situations you had not conceived of when you start thinking of a series, start to change where you’re going."
Meanwhile, fellow co-creator Ron Moore is on record with his hope that strong reviews and ratings will provide the opportunity for the show to be picked up as a full series. Here’s what he told SCI FI Wire we’d see if it indeed got picked up:
I think they would be extensions of what you see in the pilot. We would be following all of those storylines. The green-eyed man [Jimmi Simpson] is obviously a big player, and what’s his connection to what’s happening in the virtual world? Is there a connection between him and events in the real world? The biggest mystery of all is "Well, what happened to Pike [Coster-Waldau]?" What did Pike see in his vision? Did he have a foreboding? Did he know what was going happen to him in that airlock? Is that part of what he saw in his vision? Did he start believing in the reality of anything that was happening?
I think some of the fundamental questions on the show go to things like "What is real? What is not real in this story? What is manipulation? What is not manipulation?" If we went to series we would continue to explore that, and we’d play different characters starting to unravel different mysteries. What are they telling them from Earth, and is that true? Are they just being paranoid? Is somebody aboard manipulating their messages, the virtual reality? There are a lot of mysteries and certain interesting things that were set up that we would continue to play if the show went to series.
Ron Moore On The Virtual Reality of Virtuality
Ron Moore fielded a question by io9 about how the show’s virtual reality differs from what we’ve seen in Star Trek, via the holodeck:
Well, it’s a different concept. The holodeck is a space, and you would go into [it] and 3D forms were created in front of you… This is truly a virtual world, much more akin to a virtual headset. Whereas you have an experiential ability touch things [you’re not going into an actual space], so it’s a different sort of mechanics. At the story level, we’re not explaining the idea that if you die in the virtual space, you die in the real space. [Instead, if you die in the virtual space, you just wake up.]
It’s more like gaming is now. You game, you don’t get killed, you wake up. We’re using it much more psychologically now. The experiences that the astronauts have aboard the spaceship in the virtual space are things that are psychologically motivated. They go in there in and do things for entertainment. [And this reveals something about their personalities, and where they want to spend their time.] When things go wrong in that space, how is it going to affect them in the real world? How does the virtual space affect the real world storyline, and vice versa?
- Erik Jensen, who plays the ship’s engineer Dr. Jules Braun on the show, talks about virtual reality element of the show. [SCI FI Wire]
- Plus stars Siena Guillory (who plays Rika Goddard, the ship’s exobiologist) and Clea DuVall (Sue Parsons, the ship’s pilot) talk about the approach they took to portraying their characters. [io9]
- Rounding out the interview links, The Futon Critic also conducted one with the cast and crew. Check it out here.
- The Emmy Award-winning crew behind "Battlestar Galactica" is involved in "Virtuality", and VFX supervisor Gary Hutzel talked about the VFX of the series with Airlock Alpha.
- Keeping with the BSG tradition, airlocks will apparently play a role in the show…[E! Online]
- Given the importance virtual reality plays in the movie, SCI FI Wire takes a look at the nearly 80-year history of VR.
- Gene Farber and Jose Pablo Cantillo play "two of the most complex gay male characters ever to appear on a sci-fi TV show" according to AfterElton.
Gene Farber (as Val Orlovsky) and Jose Pablo Cantillo (as Manny Rodriguez)