Virtuality, the TV movie that may or may not be the pilot for a series, premiered on Fox on Friday. It is the creation of Ron Moore, who pioneered the depiction of extreme stress in space on his reimagined Battlestar Galactica series.
Some spoilers may follow.
The premise of Virtuality is that about fifty or so years in the future, the first start ship from Earth, Phaeton, is beginning a ten year round trip voyage to the star system of Epsilon Eriandi. In order to help pass the time, the twelve person crew indulges in virtual reality scenarios. The Captain, a Civil War buff, likes wearing the blue and doing battle with the Confederates. Another crewmembers performs rock songs in Japanese before a screaming crowd, so of a virtual reality version of Guitar Hero.
The expedition in Virtuality, which was initially said to be to find intelligent life in the Epsilon Eriandi, is partly being paid for by a vast and, in the best movie tradition, evil corporation called “the Consortium” by making the voyage of the Phaeton a reality TV series. The ship’s Psych Officer doubles as the producer of the show, which in the best tradition of reality TV involves “candid” interviews with the crew and heightened conflicts for the enjoyment of the viewing audience.
Naturally, things start to go wrong in the virtual reality scenarios. People are starting to get raped or even “killed” (not permanently) in the virtual reality games they play. A pair of the members of the crew are committing a kind of cyber adultery which they think is guilt free, since it only happens in their minds.
The mission of the Phaeton in Virtuality takes on a new urgency when the crew is informed that the Earth is going to suffer environmental collapse within a hundred years. Now the mission of the Phaeton in Virtuality is to find a new world for humans to live on.
But is all that entirely true? Or is it a story being told the crew of the Phaeton to make them decide to proceed with the expedition past the go/nogo decision point in the vicinity of Neptune? And this despite a health crisis, more interpersonal conflicts among the crew, and various breakdowns such as with the virtual reality software.
Or is what appears to be a bug in the virtual reality software actually a feature? What is real, after all? Maybe the whole expedition in Virtuality is just a virtual reality training mission? A member of the cast, dead in the “real world”, shows up again in a virtual reality world saying enigmatic things.
Virtuality deserves to be a TV series, if only that it is intelligent SF. It may be a little too intelligent for some people, as well as lacking phaser battles and ship to ship combat. Virtuality also aired on Fox in the Friday night death slot that has been the grave of many of cool SF series, such as Firefly and Terminator. Stay tuned.
Source: Virtuality, IMDB