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The Telefile
<I>Virtuality</I>: Too Much of A Mediocre Thing

I have mixed feelings about the Virtuality TV-movie (or pilot, according to Ron Moore) that aired on Friday night. On the one hand, it had an interesting take on what is and isn't real, all set in the world of deep space. I thought that had a great deal of potential. On the other hand, there was too much going on with the multiple virtual worlds, the crisis on earth, the computer virus, the reality show, the interpersonal relationships, the doctor's illness and the mission. All of these wild ideas, with too little attention focused on any of them to really make it all one cohesive story. The whole movie came across as kind of muddled and while I did think it got better in the second hour, the first sluggish hour almost caused me to turn off my TV.

I liked the idea of a long term deep space mission, but it seemed a little far-fetched. I know this is science fiction, but some more scientifically knowledgeable folks in our forums have pointed out the implausibility of this particular mission in great detail. But even as a more casual viewer, I still thought that most of this would have been a stretch. The concept of them sending this TV series back to Earth from deep space in a timely manner (with ratings updates and everything!), was the concept which initially made me scratch my head. I would watch that reality show, but I don't think that's going to happen in my lifetime.

However, the accuracy or inaccuracy of the science was probably something that at least I could have gotten past, if the show had gone to series, had I actually cared about any of these characters. After this two-hour installment, I didn't feel particularly connected to any of them or their mission. The two actors I like most, Jimmi Simpson and Clea DuVall, probably had the least to do in this movie, which really didn't help... for me at least. I guess the mystery computer virus (embodied by Simpson) would have been more fleshed out in future episodes, but judging by the practically non-existent ratings for this TV-Movie (which was pretty much just dumped in the middle of the summer with little promotion), it doesn't look like we'll have a chance to find out.

I could speculate on if I think they are really lying about the problems on Earth to keep the folks on the mission, who actually caused Roger's accident, if they'll actually make it back, if the entire ship is really just a virtual world, etc... however that all seems pretty pointless if we're not going to get any further installments. Which means, that as a TV-movie, it was pretty unsatisfying, because there were a million questions raised and really not very many were answered. That's not necessarily the fault of the writers, Ron Moore and Michael Taylor, who envisioned this as a full series, not a two-hour movie, which Fox randomly decided to air on the off-chance that audiences might really like it. But, they are to blame for the fact that it wasn't written well enough to keep the attention of those potential loyal fans.

If you missed it, and likely you probably did, and want to catch it, the video is below.

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