Fox has this knack for buying and then killing shows. Shows people like. Shows that are good. I know they are in it for the money and the money comes from advertising...but the advertising is for us, the viewer. And no matter how small the audience of a show, there is still an audience. Killing and killing and...killing shows over and over does something: it alienates your audience. And when your audience is alienated, so is the advertisers audience.
You may be asking yourself: What is this woman talking about? Let me tell you.
Tonight FOX aired a "TV Movie", which wasn't really a movie but a back-door pilot for a show they clearly have no intention of ever making into a full show, seeing as they have essentially buried it in the summer, on a Friday, the week before the 4th of July. I can really only assume the reason they even aired it at all was that there were no stupid episodes of "reality" TV left and/or so many Ron Moore/BSG fans asked them to (or the advertisers to) and they relented and plopped it down. Now, they did move it from tomorrow night to tonight, but that isn't really saying much as it is still Friday night: The day shows go to die (Terminator, anyone?). I heard people say, "They've started promoting it and put it on Friday instead", well yes they did, however this is FOX we are talking about. They praised New Amsterdam up and down as a great show and promoted the crap out of it until...nothing. And then it was aired to little fanfare, was moved around, disappeared and then died. It was a pretty good show, though it had some plot problems, yet FOX, as they always did, cancelled it. Remember Firefly? That great space-western from Joss Whedon that everyone loved so much they made a feature length movie to give some kind of peace, of sorts? Same thing. Terminator? Ditto! In other words...FOX is the #1 network for shows to die a quick death on no matter their quality.
Now on to Virtuality. I don't know why it isn't on Sci Fi, lord knows they need a show now that Battlestar is gone and Caprica isn't on until who-knows-when, but it's on FOX. It was written by Ron Moore, directed by Peter Berg and stars some pretty unknown, but very good, actors. Yes, the story is very sci-fi but true to Moore-form, the show is less about science fiction and "boldly going" to new planets to meet the "alien of the week" and more about the characters and some type of social commentary; this time our dependence on technology.
Basically the story is about the crew of the Phaeton, on a mission to Epsilon Eridani to search for possible other lifeforms. It's a trip that will take roughly 10 years and so, installed aboard the ship are virtual reality modules to help the crew detach from life on board a spaceship. The crew are also part of a reality television show that is broadcast back to Earth called The Edge of Never, paid for by some type of secret (it seems) corporation.
The "movie" covers the decision to go or no-go on the mission, which must be decided by the time they reach Neptune. They can continue on...or head back to Earth. However, Earth is having it's own issues and it appears it will be uninhabitable in about 100 years, so going forward would allow the search for a new home perhaps.
But that isn't all that is going on during the two hour show. Strange things begin to happen with the virtual-reality modules. Things like a strange man showing up...in everyone's program. A man not programmed by anyone, it seems. He shoots the captain, Frank, in two separate incidences, causing him to review the simulation again which leaves him strangely excited and upbeat...until his "death" at the hands of a malfunctioning airlock; but is he really dead? The strange man pushes the ill Dr.Meyer off a cliff in his simulation causing him to also become strangely euphoric and relaxed. However, he doesn't bring joy to EVERY crew member. He rapes the shows host, Billie, during her adventure fantasy...something she did not want and yet he clearly tells her she does. I'm not sure of the significance of his visit to Joy Bryant's character in the OB/GYN office, but it can't be good. Who is he? Is he really there? A program malfunction? A glitch? A, so called, Ghost In the Machine? Is he sent there by the corporation to "create" ratings by offing the crew? Can you imaging a better ratings pull than a ship out in space, full of people that are being killed, with no way to get help? If I was a TV Exec, I'd see giant dollar signs at that proposition.
Will we ever find out what Frank wants to show Rika when she follows him "down the rabbit hole", as he mentioned to her in his secret simulation he created (and somehow lives in, as himself, his DEAD self) for her? I don't know...but I want to know. I want to see where this is going. And I can see it going before or after Fringe! Nestled right in there with another, proven, sci-fi show. Come on FOX...do something right for a change! Make this glorious, tasty, beautiful Ron Moore-treat into a series you finish! You already have a built-in geek crowd with Moore attached!