You May Never Get To See Ron Moore's Masterpiece

We've been excited about Ron Moore's new show Virtuality since we first read the pilot script ages ago. So it's heartbreaking to hear that Fox is sending it back to the drawing board. Minor spoilers:

For those of you who missed reading about it before, Virtuality follows the crew of the starship Phaeton, a pioneering interstellar vessel. Cramped into close quarters, the crew only has one outlet: a virtual reality system that lets them be anyone or do anything. But there's a glitch in the VR system that starts putting people in real danger. And meanwhile, the crew of the ship is forced to take part in a kind of "reality TV" show for the amusement of everyone stuck behind on Earth — and the show's sadistic producer is also the ship's therapist.

In other words, it's just the blend of twisted, bleak and thought-provoking you'd expect from the reinventor of Battlestar Galactica. (And it's much smarter than you'd expect from the one-sentence description: "interstellar ship where everyone uses virtual reality, until the VR goes wrong.")

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Fox is currently looking at the Virtuality pilot, which was shot a while back. The pilot is structured as a TV movie, or "back-door pilot," whcih means it could air on its own, to test the waters for an ongoing series. But rather ominously, the Reporter says the pilot "might stay in consideration for May and be reworked as a more mainstream drama." That makes it sound like the pilot could possibly air in its current form, or it could be reworked, or it could just disappear.

In any case, the article makes it clear Fox is less excited about Virtuality than about Boldly Going Nowhere, the new science fiction comedy from the makers of It's Always Sunny In Philadelphia.

I'm not really sure how you go about remaking Virtuality as a more "mainstream" drama. One easy "fix" is to get rid of the show's gay married couple (Manny and Val, pictured above). Apart from that, what do you do? The current fad seems to be for shows that appear to be realistic dramas at first, until you realize they have science fictional elements. (Like Lost, or Eleventh Hour.) But how do you do that with Virtuality? Have it not set on a spaceship?

Having read (almost all of) the pilot script, I'm at a loss to know what "more mainstream" means in this instance. The show is maybe slightly more mainstream than Battlestar Galactica, but it's definitely not going to be another Desperate Housewives. It's too weird, too snarky and too twisty for that.

In happier news, it sounds as though Wendy and Lisa (the former Prince bandmates who already do the music for Heroes) are lined up to do the music for Virtuality (We interviewed them here). They also have a new CD coming out (and available for download), their first in a decade. It's great stuff.

[Galactica Sitrep]