Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Has VIRTUALITY just been “Foxed”?

As several of you have emailed us to point out, Fox did their TCA presentation in Los Angeles the other day, and BATTLESTAR fans (as well as those poor Whedon fans) are soaking up a short but ominous statement by Fox exec Kevin Reilly about the 2-hour pilot for Ron Moore and Michael Taylor’s new SciFi show VIRTUALITY:

"It could air as is, and there's a certain segment of the audience that would flip over it, but it is, I think, right now a little bit too dense," Reilly said. "They shot a two-hour pilot, and I think the storytelling probably would have been served as a one-hour, so they're going in, and they're recutting, and we're going to look at it. It's pretty cool."

As we have mentioned before, there are signs on the wall that Fox has lost their appetite for this adventurous and smart pilot, even though they seemed excited about the great script that went into production last summer. Meanwhile, Fox is completely reshooting the pilot for another SciFi show they had been even more excited about publicly, BOLDLY GOING NOWHERE.

Are BSG fans getting their first taste of yet another case of a cool new sci-fi show “getting Foxed”? (Whedon fans: please don’t start crying, I can’t take it anymore. Seriously.)

It will be a darned frakkin shame if this project doesn’t make it to air. The script we got our hands on last year was pretty terrific and definitely something BSG fans will be interested in. Is Fox’s recent recommitment to SFF programming wavering already? Let’s hope not. And if they dump VIRTUALITY? Well…it sure would be great if HBO did a Sci-Fi show…look what they just did with vampires.

Meanwhile, Televisionary has procured an exclusive statement from Michael Taylor responding to this TCA news:

"Ron and I think the show is great as is. A lot of people definitely would dig it, and not just the Battlestar audience; this could have an even wider appeal, and as a network show it should. And we've also already cut it down quite a bit from its original two-hour run time to satisfy network concerns about pace and to prune some storylines.

But at the same time, Reilly's right about it being a little dense. It's dense in the same way Battlestar was/is, in that it introduces a bunch of complex, intriguing characters, along with a compelling sci-fi scenario with several layers to it. In other words, it's dense in the way good science fiction often is. The pilot puts a bunch of balls in the air but I think it does a great job of juggling those balls and setting up the scenario up in a way that makes it easy for the audience to understand without having to be hit over the heads with a lot of heavy-handed exposition. That said, it's definitely challenging material, the kind of story you need and want to pay attention to, especially in the pilot. But to us that's what made it so much fun to create, and what will ultimately pay off in series, by allowing us to tell exciting layered stories in the mold of shows like Lost (and Battlestar, of course)…”

What about you, dear readers? As some of you know, the pilot script was recently made available at SpoilerTV for anyone to see. Have you read it, and what did you think?


kari said...

How nice! TV that's too smart for us dingdongs. No wonder my watch list is growing shorter and shorter...

Adam Whitehead said...

HBO could be in the market for an SF series. They've done horror (kind of) with TRUE BLOOD and have got fantasy series A GAME OF THRONES (based on George RR Martin's excellent novels) in pre-production. An SF show would be the next logical step for them.

Ratchet said...

Remember people, FOX don't generally cater to a niche audience. If a show doesn't garner a relatively huge number of viewers, it's outta here. Quality isn't a factor, and quality doesn't translate to quantity of viewers either.

Anonymous said...

I wish Virtuality had ended up at another network. I am tired of 'dumb' tv lacking in complexity. I WANT complex damnit!! Although any 'network' tv would probably handle it the same way. Too bad this didn't start at HBO, Showtime, FX, AMC, any number of outlets that have become my choice to turn to rather than network. I am afraid this program will either be tossed away or frittered away. There is so much tv on the air that asks nothing of its audience. I turn back to books more and more. ...perhaps that isn't such a bad thing.

crone51 said...

I would love to read the script but I fear going anywhere near Spoiler TV this close to the BSG premiere.

Yes! HBO! I am getting really tired of these silly networks. I am willing to pay more for less garbage. Or something.

I am so tempted to get spoiled. Oh my gods, keep me strong....

Anonymous said...

The script is fantastic - I enjoyed it immensely. I shudder to think what's being done to it now :(

ProgGrrl said...

@crone: follow that spoilerTV link, it takes you right to the page with the script. Just follow that and I doubt you'd see any current BSG spoilers...

Nathan said...

I've still never forgiven HBO for cancelling Carnivale. Or cutting Deadwood short. But mainly for cancelling the only show I think may have been better than BSG (please don't shoot me!). I'd be happier if Virtuality went to Showtime instead... but I'll take anything over FOX.

crone51 said...

Showtime is fine with me.. AMC would be fine as well. When I am Galactic Overlord(ess) I shall make it so.

Nathan said...

@crone51: Here's hoping you assume your throne before FOX ruins or cancels this show! :-)

Master Prudent said...

I can't help thinking that the bits that FOX thinks are superfluous are (a) those that give depth to the supporting characters and set up possible future storylines and (b) the little pieces of world-building (like the rationale for the crew acquiescing to the whole tv thing). If it does air as a one-hour I'm guessing that it focuses on the quiet power struggle and the mystery antagonist.

While FOX might think it’s cutting out the boring bits I think it’s serving us the main meal while withholding dessert.

Ciel said...

"Too dense" i.e. "We need it to be simpler so idiots can understand what is going on."

Anonymous said...

It really is a shame, why can't FOX just choose to pass shows over to networks that will actually give them a chance?

I'm sure any idiot can make a FOX show, to do so one would need:'

-a dash of pretty girls, they should all be dressed as slutty as possible (without any nudity ofcourse).

-explosions every 5 minutes

-the first 5 minutes after every commercial break should be a repeat of the 5 minutes before the commercial break.

-Lots and lots of one liners

-stand alone episodes only

-uhu, more explosions

-happy endings to people with good christian morales (death to everyone else)

Ashoka Raza said...

Maybe I read too many Archie comics as a kid...

FOX (Betty) wants her relationship with RDM (Archie) to be "exclusive".

But you know that Archie...
He & SciFi (Veronica) are still "involved".

So Betty threatens to cancel "Virtuality" (a date for frosty milkshakes) unless Archie picks her over Veronica.

It's a tough choice for our boy.
Archie will have to talk it over with his best bud, David Eick (Jughead, of course!).


The What said...

Meanwhile Archie has a few other girls on the side, besides these two. Jughead marvels, laughing...

Anonymous said...

I was really excited about Virtuality from the moment it was announced and then when they signed Clea Duvall to play Sue, I was even more intrigued. Read the script last week and did find it a little hard to follow on the page but surely on screen it would be very easy to follow. Too bad Fox is mucking with it. My favorite storyline was the rather dark one for Billie and Sue, I hope they leave that intact.

Anonymous said...

Imagine the wailing of we fans of both Whedon and BSG. We're already worrried for Dollhouse and now THIS?

It may end up being a good thing though if HBO gets their hands on it. RDM needs to go to HBO again.

Can you just IMAGINE what BSG would have been like without network filters? Whoa.

Anonymous said...

Network execs are not all pinheads. Some of them are extremely bright. Some actually have really good creative sensibility. And Kevin Reilly has both. And there's nothing ominous at all about his statement. Most pilots are an hour anyway. We should take heart that he's upfront aboiut his thoughts -- some executives decidedly aren't -- and willing to consider another cut of the show. Also, there's a difference between complex and complicated. I've read the script and, granted, I'm no genius, but I had to back-track a few times. BTW, Fox gave us X-Files and a few other quality shows.

Aspasia said...

Yeah, FOX gave us X-Files...back in the halcyon days. FOX wasn't a major player back then if I recall correctly, so they could afford to be more 'edgy' in their entertainment offerings. In fact, they wanted someone "sexier" and blonde to play Scully but Carter convinced them to go with Gillian Anderson. If XF was trying to premiere to today's FOX, Gillian wouldn't stand a chance. There was a major shift between the time X-Files premiered sixteen years ago, which is like the Jurassic period in TV time, and now.

Anonymous said...

I really like this blog, but now that I've seen you often linking to the abomination that is SpoilerTV, I think I'm going to have to prohibit myself from coming here.

In case you're not aware most everything that this guy posts is highly illegal in some way or certainly against most established (but unspoken) bilaws in regard to the TV business. He frequently steals others' content without any remorse and passes it off as his own. Not to mention ignoring the copyrights on scripts (which you've linked to) and casting sides.

Maybe it's the fact that he's overseas that he thinks he is somehow immune to legal action, but I hope he'll get what's coming to him.

I'd hope that you don't associate yourself with him any further..

ProgGrrl said...

@Anon 1/18 1:38am: Actually, we've only linked to SpoilerTV once to link to the script...and once to warn our readers to avoid the site if they want to avoid massive season 4.5 spoilers for 413 that came out in the past few weeks. That's it, really.

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