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Talk Back: FOX's "Virtuality"

I'm really bummed that more people didn't tune in to watch Friday night's broadcast of Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor's superlative two-hour pilot for Virtuality, directed by Peter Berg.

You read my advance review of the gripping and haunting two-hour pilot of FOX's Virtuality but, now that it's aired, I am curious to hear what you think. (Missed the two-hour pilot? You can watch the whole thing at Hulu.)

According to Hollywood Reporter's The Live Feed, "The two-hour premiere of Ron Moore's sci-fi pilot drew only 1.8 million viewers and received a 0.5 adult demo rating -- tying ABC's "The Goode Family" as the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network Friday night and putting Fox into fourth place for the evening."

What I'm wondering is: why didn't more of you tune in to watch what was one of the more original and unique projects to come along in a long time? Were you put off by the twisty subject matter? Or was it the fact that it seemed pretty unlikely that it would go to series? Did you DVR the pilot and save it for later?

For those of you who did tune in, I'm wondering what you thought of Virtuality overall. Were you intrigued by its through-the-looking-glass-and-down-the-rabbit-hole exploration of reality in its various incarnations? Did you spark to the characters and their virtual worlds? Was your interest piqued by the enigmatic Green Eyed Man? Did you pick up that Billie Kashmiri's alter ego was singing a Japanese rock version of The Munsters theme song?

And, most importantly, would you have watched a Virtuality series?

Talk back here.

Comments

Nicole said…
I really enjoyed it, and love the idea of not only a space reality show, but a psychiatrist/producer. That character is bound to go insane from rationalization. The characters seem interesting so far, though I am hoping that the gay couple isn't reduced to cooking, bitching and crying.

My husband caught the Japanese Munsters cover - but on the subject of Billie, I found the rape scene went a bit too far for me. I still feel queasy and horrible thinking of it, and I can't imagine that a viewer who was assaulted would be comfortable with it. I didn't need to see Billie in her bed, helpless to stop what was happening - especially when she'd been so kick ass in her virtual world.

I DVRed it, as we were in the middle of something when I remembered it was on. I do hope more people watch - I do want to see where they're going with it!
Anonymous said…
I really loved Virtuality and am bummed that it won't be a series. I almost didn't watch it because I knew that it hadn't been picked up, but tried it out anyway. I was hoping that lots of people would watch and that someone besides Fox would pick it up because of the interest (sadly, it doesn't sound like that will happen either). I was instantly drawn in and really want to know what happens next for everyone. I think that Virtuality could be every bit as good as BSG and that it's really a shame that it's not going to have a chance to become the great series that it could be.
Tempest said…
I really enjoyed Virtuality and would love to see where they would take it in a series. I'm hoping that DVR and internet viewing will up the numbers . . . I have to wonder if a lot of people didn't want to get invested in the plot knowing Fox's track record.

I found the rape scene disturbing, too; however, I think that was the point. I really appreciated that they didn't glamorize or minimize the effects. What disturbed me more was the fact that Captain Pike gets an epiphany and poor Billie gets raped.

As for the subject matter, I found it intriguing and I'm a little miffed that studio execs think this is too dense for us. Please, give us some credit. But then, I've always been an Alice fan, so looking glass explorations nearly always go over well with me.

Honestly, someone needs to start a network that just picks up all the great stuff the other networks either cancel or reject. Imagine a network that rescues Pushing Daisies, The Unusuals, and Life. A network where Virtuality stands a chance. A network poised to rescue Chuck if need be.
Anonymous said…
(Another Anonymous) I was dying to see "Virtuality" based on all the reviews I had read about it and the fact that Ron Moore had written it. Thus, I was shocked to find it was NOT something I would recommend or watch as a TV series. I found the characters stereotypical, ludicrous and unappealing. And as a woman viewer I was particuarlly appalled at the way women were depicted. I did not identify when any of the characters and did not like a single one. I also did not think they could have passed the psych examine to go on such a vital mission to save Earth. So the entire 2 hours left a bitter taste in mouth. Now that I've seen it, I would not recommend it to anyone.
ted23 said…
@Another Anonymous: Maybe you should just stick to Ghost Whisperer then and leave the complex stuff to the rest of us, okay?

@Everyone Else: I thought it was amazingly layered and fantastic to see a network series embrace its sci fi roots and play around with perceptions of reality. I would definitely watch this show. Just not on Fox, which would can it after a week or two.
Sean said…
I loved it! I did catch the "Munsters" thing...I had to immediately rewind the DVR so I could be sure I heard what I thought I was hearing.

There were a few moments of genuine surprise for me along the way, which I thought was great, and the end left me with a million questions. I thought it set up the premise wonderfully, and I definitely would have gone along for the ride. Even though it's kind of maddening not to have answers to the questions raised by the pilot, it was worth watching.
Anonymous said…
I really enjoyed it, and would have definitely watched it. As a woman, I was definitely NOT offended. I can't believe that an examination of psychological rape is more offensive than the Dollhouse episode which basically prostitutes the lead character. (I'm not slamming Dollhouse, I don't really care for it, just sort of boring...just that reaction about Virtuality seems sort of over the top.)

From other blogs, it sounds like the real issue barring this series from being picked up was expense. The actors are not A-list, but not unknowns either, and probably not cheap. And Moore, Berg, et al don't work for nothing...they are pretty big names at this point. CGI and other special effects would have been expensive for this show.

It should be put on iTunes a la Dr. Horrible...if people are big enough fans to pay for it, that sends more of a message. In fact, that might be a great way to let people have more of a say in their TV programming: "here's 10 pilots. Buy the one you like the most, and we'll put it on the air." Radical, I know. I'm a revolutionary!!
HipHopAnonymous said…
Wow. I'm really surprised at all the positive reactions here. I thought the pilot was pretty dreadful myself. Granted there were some interesting elements introduced, but I found the contrived reality-TV aspect to be truly unwatchable. If I wanted to watch Big Brother or The Real World (and I don't), I could very easily do so in earnest without having to watch a sci-fi knock-off.

And while I liked the idea of alternating between life aboard a spaceship and the virtual world of the crew's modules, I didn't find the show's efforts at questioning reality to be particularly profound or authentic, mostly just cliche. Seemed to be treading over the same tired ground as the Matrix, Existenz, VR5, Harsh Realm, Open Your Eyes, Life On Mars, and a slew of other stuff I'm probably forgetting.
And I didn't find much particularly fresh or original about Virtuality's take on the subject. Personally I'm not surprised that Fox passed on it, or that so few people cared enough to tune in. IMHO, they didn't miss much.
Mrs. James Ford said…
I thought the pilot was just so-so. Really hated the reality show aspect of it. It got much better once they stopped referring to it in the second hour. They should've just cut out the reality show aspect period.
Anonymous said…
To Ted23: To presume I would enjoy "Ghost Whisperer" because I did not like "Virtuality" is equally offensive. I don't like that show either. I'm a dedicated "BSG" fan which showed cased Ron Moore's writing much better. In "BSG" the characters were vastly more relatable and interesting to watch.
Heatherette said…
I also thought that the reality TV thread was unnecessary and thought that having the psychiatrist also be the producer was just ludicrous. What I did like was the "real" world vs. "virtual" world debates and the questions that brought up.
Ally said…
I really wanted to like it after your (And others) rave review. I liked some of it, but found it overall too long and a bit sluggish in pace.
stevelmynt said…
I did not like it and I usually like all science fiction. I thought it was incredibly slow, dragged out. It felt like everything happened in slow motion. And I'm not just an action scifi, or scyfy, junkie.
Page48 said…
It's possible that the last 90 minutes really popped, but I airlocked it after the first 30. I can snooze with the TV off just as easily as on.
Debra said…
I recorded it, and just finished watching it. I really liked it, and am disappointed to learn that it won't become a series...
Lou Zucaro said…
I was extremely disappointed with the pilot. I talked about it a bit today on our podcast (pause.com, it'll go live tomorrow), but I just didn't think it worked, story-wise.

First off, I tend to get annoyed with movies or TV shows that deal with virtual reality when they have strange things happen (a guy in the virtual world who wasn't programmed to be there) without any explanation of why / how that happened. Even if the explanation is cheesy, derivative or downright implausable (TRON, cough), at least there IS one.

In Virtuality, there was nothing. We're just supposed to buy into the fact that somehow, a guy (or representation of a guy) got into a computer program and knows stuff about the real lives of the people he encounters there.

It was just dumb. Plus, the characters were, as another poster or two here have mentioned, pretty cardboard and stereotypical. I have to admit that I was amused that Billie's VR fantasy was her being a Sydney Bristow-like character...that was fun (and, yeah, the Munsters theme was pretty obvious since, you know, it was the Munsters theme), but the rest of them I really didn't care much about.

Also, I'd never seen Nikolaj Coster-Waldau before in anything, and I have to say I was put off a bit by what seemed like his constant struggle to hide his accent.

Admittedly, there were some fun moments...the go/no-go sequence and finally "blasting off" toward deep space was nicely done, I thought. And like I said, I enjoyed Billie's VR stuff a little bit. But those aside, I was mostly bored and waiting for something to happen.

It never did.

I'm a little tired of "ghost in the machine" stories, especially in which the machine decides to dump somebody out of an airlock. How many times are we going to see this in sci-fi stuff?

Finally in the end, there was no indication really of where things would have gone, had they gone someplace.

When Rika puts on Pike's VR set and is inside his wild west fantasy, and he's in there and tells her (whatever it is he said at the end), the only thing I could think of was that EVERYthing we'd just witness was virtual, and not much of reality at all.

If that's the case, it should have been more obvious, and there needed to be some kind of tie to whatever the real reality was.

If you'd watched the Matrix without ever learning the truth about which parts of what you were seeing were real and which parts were virtual, it would have been a pretty lame movie.

Letting us, the audience, in on SOMEthing more than what we got should have been crucial to the writers. There still would have been plenty of opportunity to follow along with the characters to see how they learn about the situation they're in and how they deal with it (and perhaps, ultimately, how they break free).

But as it stood, it was just a whole lot of Nothing's Going On, a few moments of Oh That Was Kinda Neat and and ending that you couldn't really say much more about than WTF?!
Anonymous said…
I loved the film and know at least 9 other ppl who loved it. WE WANT MORE VITUALITY!!!!

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