Archive for the 'reviews' Category

Virtuality takes off, but with nowhere to land?

That’s the question asked by the Boston Globe. Reviewer Matthew Gilbert says the show left him wanting more, but he was hesitant to recommend it because he knows its prospects at renewal are so dim. Take another moment to read our posts here and here. Then contact FOX and SyFy and ask them to support good television!

Time Magazine calls Virtuality better than any network pilot up for next Fall

That’s the word from James Poniewozik, TIME magazine’s pop culture columnist. In his review, he also makes mention of the good amount of publicity FOX is giving to a show with such slim chances of getting picked up. Things that make you go hmmm…

But it’s also well acted and extremely well-directed (by Friday Night Lights’ Peter Berg). Its vision of space is much of a piece with BSG’s unglamorized close quarters, but it has a look all its own; there’s a particularly beautiful sequence in which the ship uses the gravitational field of Neptune as a slingshot and unfolds its booster mechanism like complex jewelry against the planetary backdrop.

Like BSG, it’s shot under with dread, because of the story of mankind racing annihilation, but it has an easier humor than BSG did, and quickly finds its own voice. The confessional interviews with the cast members—a big plus of the reality-TV plot—both establish character quickly and weave together the different story themes. And like BSG, it’s suffused with big ideas, particularly about the nature of consciousness and about whether a “virtual” experience—or assault—is any less legitimate than a “real” one.

Read the full review here.

LA Times review

This comes courtesy of The Drex Files.

virt_review1

Early reviews, pt. 2

A couple more reviews to check out.

Maureen Ryan at the Chicago Tribune gives her review, along with an interview with Michael Taylor:

Though there is a chance — a very small chance — that “Virtuality” could spring back to life at Fox, other possibilities for the show have been explored, notably a new home on Sci Fi or a partnership deal with DirecTV. But so far, those journeys of network exploration have come to naught (and Taylor was unaware of any concrete plans for a DVD release).

Yet it’s hard not to imagine that if HBO, AMC or FX were to do a space story, this is the kind of sophisticated, thoughtful and quietly irreverent show they’d commission.

Script PhD also has their review up:

The most attractive aspect of Virtuality is how hip, modern and current it feels. With sleek, bright sets, fast-paced camera action from director Pete Berg, and gorgeous computer generated imaging of outer space and the virtual reality scenes, the show departs visually from the austerity that is often a sci-fi staple. It is also a shrewd, tongue-in-cheek satire about our obsession with “celebrity” against the backdrop of an all too plausible environmental reality here on Earth. The action aboard the Phaeton is being broadcast back on Earth as the most popular reality show of all time, “The Edge of Never,” being seen by billions every week. Orchestrated by Dr. Roger Fallon (James D’Arcy), whose simultaneous roles as reality show producer and on-board psychologist come into conflict, the show combines the drama of Earth’s impending doom and the search for other habitable planets with our modern televised voyeurism. Hosted by the well-meaning but invasive Billie Kashmiri (Kerry Bishé), the show meticulously follows every facet of the crew’s quotidian existence, complete with ubiquitous cameras throughout the ship, Big Brother-style confessional rooms, and manufactured conflict to entertain the masses. Combining Star Trek and The Hills, Virtuality adds yet another layer to the confounding question of what is real, what is virtual, and where the twain shall meet. All of this action and philosophy culminates in a shocking surprise twist that you will never see coming. It will test the sense of trust and camaraderie aboard the vessel, raise questions about the boundaries of escapism in a virtual world, and put in danger the crew’s psychological capacity for their ten-year mission in outer space.

Early reviews begin rolling in

With the show airing this Friday, we’ll probably see a lot more of these in the next couple of days.

UGO/Virtuality – What I Liked…What Fox Probably Didn’t

Clique Clack/Virtuality: Great Concept, But Does It Deliver?

Hartford Courant/Virtuality Goes Nowhere

Fort Worth Star-Telegram/Virtuality Leads Off Our Critics’ Fab Five

I’m hearing a lot of people say that, as a 2-hour movie, Virtuality doesn’t work because it leaves so much hanging in the air. I think I might know a way of resolving that…

The Futon Critic reviews Virtuality

For anyone who’s gotten a look at the script —  or read our review — it looks like the finished product may have turned out a little differently. Head on over to the Futon Critic to check it out.

“I want a go/no-go decision from everyone.”

Congratulations you sly fox. Mr. Ron Moore, leader of men, you’ve done it again. After having read the script for Virtuality’s pilot episode, I’m having a hard time imagining how FOX could say no to it, because this might be one of the most original ideas we’ve seen in a long time.

There’s a lot we know already, so a thousand pardons as I retread some old ground. Virtuality is set aboard Earth’s first starship, the Phaeton. If everything goes according to plan (lol), in five years the Phaeton will reach the star Eridani, ten and a half light-years from Earth. We aren’t told what exactly the crew will do once they get there, but I’d say the safe bet is some sort of extra-solar colonization attempt. In typical Moore fashion, we’re not given a lot of background info, but it’s hinted at that Earth isn’t exactly an ecological paradise. You know, like she is today.

So the Phaeton, on it’s way out of the solar system, has just reached Neptune, and the go/no-go point in it’s mission. A no-go will turn the ship around and send it back to Earth, but a go will sling-shot them around Neptune and toward Eridani. Before the go order can be handed down, we learn that Eyal Meyer, the ship’s doctor, has just diagnosed himself with Parkinson’s Disease and it’s entirely possible he won’t make it the entire trip.

Ten years is a long time, and so the crew won’t go stir crazy and kill each other, the Phaeton has been outfitted with virtual reality “modules”. Crew members can create their own virtual environments and let loose when the stresses of long-term space travel get to be too much. The thing is, there’s a glitch in the system. A nameless man with green eyes is turning up in the crew’s simulations and killing them. Unlike The Matrix, being killed in the system won’t kill you in real life, and at first the glitch is ignored, that is until the green-eyed man attacks and rapes Billie Kashmiri, the Phaeton’s resident computer specialist. After the attack, Captain Frank Pike orders the virtual modules to be taken offline until they can be repaired, which of course pisses everyone else off.

Such drama, amirite? Well go buy a hat and get ready to hold the f*** onto it, because it doesn’t end there. A mission as ambitious as the Phaeton’s has to cost a huge amount of money. Back on Earth, we find that a huge corporation known as the Consortium is co-financing the Phaeton mission. In exchange, the ship and her crew have been turned into one giant reality television show. Cameras, a confessional room, it’s just like The Real World in space, except without all the alcohol and sex (well maybe a little sex). Directing and executive-producing the show is Roger Fallon, who also happens to be the Phaeton’s therapist. Of course, this conflict of interest puts him at odds with Captain Pike, and if that didn’t, Pike’s affair with Fallon’s wife sure would.

Obviously, in light of all this, the crew decides to go forward with the mission. If they didn’t, you wouldn’t have much of a TV series, would you? I don’t want to spoil too much, but I will say this. The show is going to set up a situation, and then pull the rug out from under you in the last fifteen minutes. It all ends on a big cliffhanger that really changes the game.

One thing I do know, Virtuality is going to be a moody show. Battlestar Galactica already kind of has a monopoly on characters who spend most of their time frowning, but I think this is set to take things one step further. You see it already in how the characters interact with each other. The Captain’s having an affair with the therapist’s wife. The therapist has to worry about the crew’s psychological well-being and at the same time make sure the reality show is dramatic enough. There’s a married couple, a homosexual couple, and after six months in space, the bickering is already starting to set in. I mean, I get off an hour long flight from Austin to Dallas looking for someone to kill, so I can only imagine being crammed inside a metal tube with eleven other people for ten years. The show can go in so many different directions and I’m really excited to see what Moore does with it.

With BSG (and I’m sure Caprica and Virtuality will follow) redefining typical science fiction conventions left and right, I’ve always wondered if Moore could do what he’s doing without his time writing for Star Trek. Gene Roddenberry’s vision of an “I’m okay, you’re okay,” futuristic utopia has taken it’s share of criticism. And I think a lot of the show’s writers may have felt boxed in by that universe’s conventions. With Battlestar, it felt like Moore was spitting in the face of every single one of them. It’s paid off beautifully, as BSG is one of best show’s on television today, and it’s proved that there’s more than one way to do good science fiction. Just something to think about.

I do wonder if Virtuality will be as heavily serialized as Battlestar Galactica is. A big network like FOX might want the writers to do more stand-alone episodes, to keep a steady stream of new viewers coming in during the show’s run. Moore might oblige them, or bring down the pimp cane and say, “I got Bob Dylan in space and made it awesome,” while the FOX execs bow down and leave him alone. I love the serialized stuff, so he can bring as much of that on as he’d like. I’ll watch every episode.

With season 4.5 of Battlestar Galactica not bowing until January, the possibility that Caprica will be held-off until the Spring, and Virtuality set as a mid-season replacement, it’s going to be a long six months. But judging from the script, and Ron Moore’s long track record of slapping us upside the head with great storytelling, it’ll be well worth it, and I don’t think fans will be disappointed.


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