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Virtuality: a bomb or da bomb? (Wait, are the kids still saying ‘da bomb?’)

In television on 06/25/2009 at 10:23 am

So there’s this movie on Fox tomorrow night. It’s called Virtuality. Its brass include Ronald D. Moore, the brain behind the crazy good, addictive Battlestar Galactica. So far, so good. Yet this proposed sci-fi series has been stalled and hot-potatoed and finally rejected by Fox. However, probably on account of the cost, Fox had the pilot recut as this two-hour movie, which was originally scheduled for early July and then moved up to Friday night, June 26, from 8-10 p.m. ET.

What’s all the fuss about? It’s set aboard Earth’s first starship, Phaeton, on which the astronauts keep themselves sane over the 10-year voyage with personal pod-type virtual reality simulators. Oh, yeah. The ship is also a flying Big Brother set, with the voyage being filmed for a reality series being broadcast back to Earth (which, if approved as a series, would have been a separate online series). Anyway, then some glitch in the VR pods reveals either sabotage by someone on board or a very bad snafu. And just as this bad thing happens, they find themselves at a crucial point in the voyage, causing them to have to resort to the Fish or Cut Bait protocol. Having watched a 12-minute trailer, I can say I have no idea what the hell is going on. But I am always sci-fi curious, so I’m going to tune in.

Problem? When the hell is this show on? Friday at 8 p.m. seems like the best bet, judging by my Videotron digital cable onscreen TV listings, and all reviews and even Fox’s own site. But I just saw a promo on Fox, this Thursday morning, saying it airs “tonight at 8 p.m.” Oh and about that Fox site, when I went to fox.com’s schedule and clicked on Virtuality in the Friday listing and then clicked on the hyperlinked “Visit the Fox movie special Virtuality site”, it took me to rottentomatoes.com! Could this show be more plagued with bad karma?

The New York Daily News says not to bother, because it’s boring.

Alan Sepinwall over the New Jersey Star-Ledger says the movie looks as expensive as it apparently was and that it contains intriguing ideas that could put it level with Battlestar Galactica, but that it ends when the action is only beginning. As though, as originally intended, this were the beginning of a series. He points out that it’s probably unwise to hope that good ratings will give Virtuality a second life as a series, but wishes he could see the series that this pilot hints at.

— Denise Duguay

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  1. […] and elsewhere, it’s too bad that this sci-fi drama got the greenlight over the superior Virtuality, which was dropped as a series but aired earlier this summer as a standalone movie. It too involved […]

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