Virtuality: It Shouldn't Just Be A Pilot, Reviews Suggest
Virtuality: It Shouldn't Just Be A Pilot, Reviews Suggest
Unlike most, I have yet to see Virtuality, that two-hour special which airs this Friday night on Fox.  I'm no sci-fi head either, but after reading up on the show for the past week or so, I'm actually intrigued as to how this will turn out.  Imagine this: twelve astronauts head to a ten-year mission to some far-flung star system.  Part of the show's funding comes from some television network, which means the whole mission is a reality show for the folks back home--probably meant to forget that the mission they're watching is ultimately for their survival.  Chaos?  Sure, so those virtual reality modules are made so they can retreat to their custom-made scenarios and unwind.  And then that, too, gets messed up.

Intriguing, right?  Catch is, Virtuality is just a two-hour special at the moment.  Sure, this thing--co-written by Battlestar Galactica's Ronald D. Moore and Michael Taylor--is supposed to be a series, but Fox decided not to pick it up as one, but instead air the pilot as it is.  The creators themselves have hoped that it becomes the case, although they also admit that the possibility is slim.

Perhaps it's a shame that it'll be the case.  I've seen early reviews online about the special, and they all seem to go towards one thing: it's a shame it's just a pilot.

"Virtuality doesn't work as a self-contained experience," wrote The Star-Ledger's Alan Sepinwall.  "While there's action and drama, at the movie's heart are several mysteries that don't come close to being solved.  But there are enough intriguing, albeit deliberately unfinished, ideas in there to make it worth a look at for any fan not only of [BSG], but the kind of thoughtful science fiction it represented."

"Just when things start to get really interesting, the so-called movie is over,"'s Heather Havrilesky wrote.  "Remember how some of the very best episodes of [BSG] ended with truly breathtaking cliffhangers?  Well, Virtuality is just like that, only it's not a series, it's a stand-alone movie.  Guess you'll have to wait forever to find out what happens next!"

The Chicago Tribune's Maureen Ryan perhaps summed it best--by quoting co-creator Taylor himself.  "It's a little more challenging than your typical network fare," he said in an interview with the critic.  "But it's a pilot ... It's laying out the situation.  We had planned for it to become a streamlined, thoughtful but adventurous and fun show--something of a thriller."

That's only just three reviews--and I've only seen those three at this point--but the point is clear: it will leave you wanting more.  Or, you shouldn't watch it because it'll leave you hanging but you'll know it's over just when you start asking questions.  Or, in the Havrilesky's words, "Why torture us with what might have been?  Why air a two-hour pilot that only works as a pilot, with a cliffhanger ending that's sure to piss off more than a few casual viewers thinking they just tuned in for, well, for an actual movie, with an actual ending?"

On my part, of course, I've yet to figure out what I think about this--and that'll probably happen by Friday night, and only by Friday night.  But I rarely make theories about a show solely on the basis of the descriptions I've read--I haven't even done so for the other sci-fi (of sorts) series I follow, Dollhouse.  But I'm already sensing that there will be people who'll like this, get really disappointed that it doesn't offer anything but unanswered questions, and start an online petition.  Unless that is the point...

-Henrik Batallones, BuddyTV Staff Columnist
(Image courtesy of Fox)