Plot details for Ronald D Moore’s VIRTUALITY

     May 21, 2008

Written by Nicole Pedersen

I think I speak for everyone when I say that Ronald D Moore is as close to a sci-fi genius as you can get without digging up graves. He revolutionized the medium with his dark, character-driven “Battlestar Galactica” update, plus he was hand-plucked from obscurity by Gene Roddenberry to work on “Star Trek: TNG.” Those are pretty impressive credentials – in geek circles anyway.

Still, when I heard the breakdown for his new Fox pilot “Virtuality” I couldn’t help but think – oh man, Moore has written one too many holodeck episodes. The plot outline is as follows: 12 American astronauts board an inter-stellar spaceship for a ten year mission into deep space. To wile away the time the crew are given access to elaborate virtual reality modules, you know just a pod to kick back in and hang with Einstein or Jack the Ripper – sound familiar? A computer virus attacks the modules, creating all kinds of chaos for the crew. On top of everything, NASA is filming them and broadcasting the footage on Earth as a reality TV show – “Big Brother” in space!

So, not earth-shatteringly original, right? Well, it seems I didn’t just christen Ronald D Moore a sci-fi genius for nothing. io9 has gotten hold of some “Virtuality” script pages that are being used to cast the pilot, and they probably reveal more than Fox intended.

I was especially interested in an entity called ‘the Green Eyed Man.’ He is an apparition that appears to all of the astronauts inside their VR fantasy modules, and is the literal manifestation of the ‘computer bug’ in the system. He kills each in gruesome ways and even rapes the ship’s female computer whiz, Billie. And if virtual rape and murder aren’t enough to convince you that Moore has still got cred, “Virtuality” also features a gay couple, Manny and Val, and a ship’s doctor suffering from Parkinson’s disease.

The standout character, for weirdness anyway, appears to be the ship’s shrink, Roger Fallon. He is the author of a crazy-popular self-help book back on Earth, but in space seems more concerned with ratings for the reality TV streams that he is producing for NASA. He is manipulative yet oddly compelling – just not to his wife. She is having a virtual affair with the ship’s captain, Frank Pike. You heard me – the guy’s name is Captain Pike.

The bottom line is that “Virtuality” looks dark enough to satisfy hard-core fans of “Battlestar Galactica.” Now if Moore can get Fox to lay off the series, as he attempted to do when the Sci-Fi channel started monkeying with “Battlestar,” he may have another hit on his hands. If not, there’s always “Caprica” to look forward to.

If you want more “Virtuality” details and spoilers, check out io9’s exclusive here.

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