I’ve been thinking for days about what words to use to describe FOX’s Friday night offering this week, Virtuality, the movie slash pilot slash 2 hour “event.” The show was originally set to air on July 4, a night in the US when virtually (see what I did there) no one watches new shows that don’t include a fireworks spectacular, in an effort to offset production costs from the expensive pilot. That was fine, when FOX was airing it on the lowest rated Saturday night in the summer, but something funny happened along the way.
FOX quietly moved the show up a week and a day early, to a Friday night, when their average viewership has been 3.5 mil. They had conference calls with Ronald D Moore and Michael Taylor (the creators). They scheduled press with Clea DuVall and Sienna Guillory (two of the stars). And suddenly the idea that this once-and-done show will be over after Friday doesn’t seem as true as it once was. And I have to say, I’m incredibly excited at the idea that it’s not as dead as we thought.
FOX’s official description reads –
As the crew of the Phaeton approaches the go/no-go point of their epic 10-year journey through outer space, the fate of Earth rests in their hands. The pressure is intense, and 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 a glitch in the system unleashes a virus onto the ship. Tensions mount as the crew decides how to contain the virus and complete their mission. Meanwhile, every step of the journey and every minute of the crew members’ lives are being taped for a reality show back on Earth.
I don’t want to give too much away other than what they put in their description, because the reveals that are put into this 2 hour “pilot/movie” are worth keeping quiet. I will say that I’ve been struggling to put into words my full thoughts on what I watched. As pilots go, this show is an all over the place set up for what I think could really be an amazing series, one that I would set my DVR for and watch repeatedly. Combining 12 characters and their relationships (2 married couples, 1 gay couple, other cute people, some angry, some depressed), with the science fiction stories (like the glitch in the Virtual Reality system brings them apart and together) and the reality show that they are a part of, there is enough story to be mined for years to come. But as a movie? I’m left wanting more. No, needing more, because where we got to at the end of 2 hours is incredibly unfulfilling.
Nikolaj Coster-Waldau is charming and brooding and beautiful (I have loved him since New Amsterdam), and Kerry Bishe’s Billie was lovely and sympathetic. Additionally, one of the stories, slight spoiler alert, actually brought tears to my eyes! Surprisingly, since I always don’t like someone, I can honestly say that there was no one in the cast that I disliked. And did I mention that one of my favorite people in the world, Peter Berg, was the director, and he did some incredible stuff? Because he was, and he did, and it added that much more to an already visually stimulating series! In “short”, watch tonight’s “pilot/movie” and join me in my small campaign to get this show to series!
Premiere: Friday, June 26 on FOX 8/7c