I finally managed to write-up the interview with Ron D Moore from last Thursday. This was the first time ever I participated in such a conference call, so it was exciting to experience it all. Basically anybody was allowed to ask questions, so there was a great mix of different type of topics Moore talked about. I cut out some of the questions that I didn’t find that interesting, but it still turned out to be quite a lengthy interview. So: I’ve cut it in two. Here’s the first part, later today I’ll post the second part:

Q: Ron, one of the biggest questions people keep asking me about Virtuality is how is it different from on Star Trek when you would have holodeck episodes and people would get lost in the holodeck.  How is this different from that sort of scenario?

Ron Moore: Well, it’s a different concept. The holodeck is a physical space that you would go into and three dimensional forms were actually physically created in front of you that you could feel and touch and interact with, etc. The computer would generate them as long as you were in them. This is truly a virtual space, which is much more akin to putting on contemporary, sort of virtual headsets, but sort of taking it to the next level where you do have an experiential sort of ability to touch and sense and taste and smell things in your mind, so it’s different sort of on the mechanical level.

In terms of the story level, we’re not playing the idea that if you die in the virtual space you die in the real space. It’s not … from that sense. It doesn’t have the safety programs like it did in the holodeck where the safety is off and if you get killed in here you get killed. It’s a very different thing.

Q: So in Virtuality if you die inside the virtual headset you don’t die in reality or you do?

Ron Moore: You don’t. No. It’s more like how gaming is now. You go on-line. You play a game and you get killed and you’re kicked out of the program because you’re dead, but you’re not dead in real life.

We’re using these much more psychologically as well. It doesn’t sound like you’ve seen the pilot, but essentially the experience is that the astronauts aboard the Phaeton have, in virtual space, are sort of things that just sort of are psychologically motivated. They go in there and they do things for entertainment and to sort of pass the time of day while they’re on this very, very long-range mission, but you’re learning things about them personally and about where did they want to spend their time and when things go wrong in that space how does it then influence them in the real world. That was the thing I was most interested in.

The concept was how the virtual space impacted the real story that was going on aboard the spacecraft and vice-versa. What’s the sort of interaction between the two?


Q: My question is sort of following up on that, but comparing it to Battlestar. The nature of Battlestar, you had to be very serious dealing with the space ship and everything. Does Virtuality allow you to have a little bit more fun with the concept of people in space?

Ron Moore: Oh, yes. It’s a much less serious situation than Battlestar was dealing with. Battlestar was literally a post-apocalyptic show where the future of humanity rode on their every decision and death was stalking them continuously. So it’s not set up in the same way. The crew aboard Phaeton signed up for what just seemed like a very straight-ahead mission of exploration and they were chosen with that in mind. They were also chosen to participate in this sort of reality show that’s being broadcast back to Earth.

So there was a conscious attempt on the part of the people who put the crew together to sort of have an interesting mix of people. There are debates within the crew themselves who was chosen just for sort of their demographic content and who was legitimately supposed to be there. Now you’ve got a groups of 12 people stuck in a metal tube going in a straight line for a decade or so and that’s going to just sort of produce a lot of tensions and frictions and manipulations and sort of cross problems between the characters. It has a stronger element of fun and suspense and sort of interesting plot terms in terms of what characters will do with one another than did Battlestar. Battlestar was very driven by the internal pressures of the huge weight that was on all of their shoulders from the beginning of the miniseries.

Q: So a little more opportunity for humor maybe?

Ron Moore: Oh, yes. There’s definitely more humor. There’s more humor probably in the first ten minutes of Virtuality than there was in the run of Battlestar, let’s put it that way.

Q: When did you come up with the idea of blending a sci-fi thriller with a reality show element to it?

Ron Moore: It was sort of in stages. When we first started talking about the concept it was about a long-range space mission, which I was intrigued with. Like I said before, I was interested in the idea of what do you do with 12 people in a metal tube for that long. I thought there were interesting dramatic possibilities right there and, okay, what would they realistically need to do. What would NASA or the space confederation do at that point to keep them from going crazy? They’d probably have a really advanced virtual reality program to help them while away the hours and there’s interaction between those two worlds.

Somewhere in those discussions we started talking about when they would be broadcasting pieces back to earth, obviously, like astronauts do today, and hey, what if they made a reality show out of that? Then it all kind of started to come together. You had these three layers of storytelling going on in the show where you had what was happening in the real world on the ship, what was happening in the virtual space and then what was the reality show that was seen back on earth. Were the needs of the reality show starting to impact what was happening on the spacecraft? Were people being manipulated in order to make better drama for the reality show? The astronauts themselves would start to wonder about are they telling us the truth about what’s happening back on earth or is that something to just get us to be upset for the cameras. It did sort of become this really interesting sort of psychological crucible that they would all be put in.

Q: It sounds like there’s a lot going on, because you have the mission to save earth. You have the virtual reality module. You have the virus. Then you have the streaming reality show. When you were writing it were there any major hurdles or blind alleys? Did it get confusing?

Ron Moore: Yes. I mean it was a tough thing to juggle. It’s a very ambitious piece and I think that was the reaction on the part of Fox when they saw it. It’s a very challenging, very complicated piece of work and there are a lot of moving parts. We knew that sort of going in and writing the script wasn’t easy. There was a lot of sort of trying to decide how much time you spend in any one of these three categories and at what point do you shift from the audience’s point of view from one to the other. What’s the language for that? Where are we going to introduce certain characters? How often do you go to the first person confessionals and the reality show, etc., etc.? So there were a lot of just complicated questions. Then those same questions were there in the editing process. When do you go to which piece of material? I think it was a really interesting challenge.


Q: Is all of the VR avatar style characters or is it real looking people?

Ron Moore: The actors play themselves in the virtual space. What we did in production was all of the virtual reality scenes are shot in green screen and all of the sets are green-scene sets, so for instance, the piece opens with an extended sort of piece in a virtual space of the Civil War for the lead character. None of that was shot on location. None of it was a set that we built. It was all done in the computer on a green screen stage. We kept that language for all of the virtual pieces to sort of give all of the virtual reality a sense of continuity so that you always sort of intuitively felt that you were in a virtual space even if the background looked photo reeled, so all of that is done against green.

Q: I was at Comicon last year for TV Guide and I understood that this was originally supposed to be a pilot for a series, right?

Ron Moore: It is a pilot. It’s a pilot for a series and Fox is going to broadcast it as a two-hour movie. It was a two-hour pilot, so they’re broadcasting it as a two-hour movie, but in my mind it’s a pilot. It’s always been a pilot.

Q: So it still can become a series?

Ron Moore: I think you never say never. They haven’t picked it up to date. Their attitude, I think, is kind of wait and see. I think they want to see what the reaction is going to be. What are the critics going to say? Is it going to get word of mouth? Are fans going to gravitate to it or is the science fiction community really going to turn up for it? Is there going to be a certain buzz and excitement? I think right now it doesn’t look like it’s going to series, but I think if enough people watched and enough people got excited about it anything is possible.

Q: Do you think this is a story that can be told in two hours?

Ron Moore: Well, you’ll see. It certainly does not resolve itself in two hours. I mean it sets up for a show, so it’s got some pretty heavy things that go down in it and kind of leaves you going, “Whoa! Where is that going?” by the end of it.

Q: Just going back to the whole reality TV, which you use as a story point in this film, why do you think people have become so obsessed with reality TV? What’s the attraction to it? What made you want to include it in this particular story?

Ron Moore: The first are two kind of complicated questions and I’m not sure what the answers are. At first I think I was certainly one of the skeptics that reality TV was going to be with us for any great period of time. Certainly, that’s been proven wrong. There seems to be a fundamental interest of people watching other real people or at least what they perceive as real people as opposed to watching fictional programming. There’s certainly something. There’s a powerful draw there of us wanting to look in on other people’s lives and seeing them pretty much as they actually exist.

Why we include it in the show was it just felt like it’s become such a staple of pop culture at this point in time. It seemed interesting to then incorporate it into a science fiction setting, which was something that we had never seen before or heard of and thought that’s an interesting sort of spin on it. We’ve all seen video that’s been broadcast back by the astronauts from the Apollo missions to the Space Shuttle, but we’ve never seen it done in a format where it’s trying to be a reality show at the same time. I thought that’s an interesting challenge. It’s kind of a different hook for the audience and it might be kind of a cool angle for the show.

Come back later for Part 2 of this interview.

Virtuality premieres on Friday 26th June at 8.00pm on Fox.

TV Preview: Virtuality

June 15th, 2009

Last Thursday I got to participate in a conference call with Ron D Moore (Battlestar Galactica, Carnivale, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine) about his latest show Virtuality. So far that might be one of the highlights of my blogging career (that and the press conference with Stephen Fry, which btw I still have to blog about), I even managed to ask a question! I haven’t written up that interview yet, but I thought I’d first do a quick introduction post on what Virtuality is about.

Virtuality is a 2 hour long TV movie airing on Friday 26th June, which will serve as (hopefully, if it’s any good) a pilot to an actual series. Fox hasn’t picked it up yet, but I’m guessing they’re waiting to see how the pilot does before taking any action. Here’s the press release from Fox:

Aboard Earth’s first starship, the Phaeton, a crew of 12 astronauts is on the verge of embarking on an epic 10-year journey crucial to the survival of life on Earth. They have reached the “go” or “no go” point, the critical part of the journey where the crew must commit to traveling to a distant solar system millions of miles away. If they “go,” they cannot turn back.


To give the crew a measure of privacy as well as a vital recreational outlet on the long journey, the ship has been equipped with revolutionary virtual reality modules. Each crew member can assume adventurous, avatar-like identities as they explore self-created worlds and scenarios, or simply spend quality down time as themselves in the ultra-life-like simulators. From a war hero to a rock star to secret lovers on an island, these are their psychological lifelines, and each module’s unique setting was chosen by the crew member before departing Earth.

But there is a bug in the system.

As crew members go in and out of reality, they realize that a virus has entered their private world. Questions are raised, and suspicions fanned: Is someone on the crew responsible? When the interloper’s intrusions cross a violent and disturbing line, the ship’s commander makes a difficult decision to shut down the modules. But before he can, a tragic event threatens the mission. Is it an accident or a crime? Real or virtual? Whatever the case, it’s too late to turn back, so the group ventures forth into space, fearing that they may be harboring a person or presence determined to derail their vital mission. Meanwhile, tensions are heightened even further as surveillance cameras capture their every move for a reality series back on Earth.

From what I’ve heard the reality show aspect to it, sounds like a lot of fun. It will also keep the viewer (as in us, not the viewers in the show on that Earth) wondering the entire time whether or not the information the crew get is real, or just a means to make the reality show more interesting.


I love the concept of Virtuality, but because it’s Fox I’m not too sure whether or not to even keep my hopes up that it might be picked up (although they did renew Dollhouse). They’ve put Virtuality in a Friday death slot, and so far I haven’t seen that much marketing for it. There’s not even a trailer out yet and it’s being aired in two weeks time! 

Later this week I’ll post the interview with Ron D Moore here on my blog, plus another blog post introducing all the different characters. What do you think so far of Virtuality?

TV Preview: Hank

June 9th, 2009

Some shows just look awful from the start. Here’s the description from ABC:

Sometimes scaling back is the best way to get ahead. Wall Street legend Hank Pryor (Kelsey Grammer) and his wife Tilly have been living the high life in New York City. That is until Hank is forced out of his CEO job and has to move his family back home to the small town of River Bend.

A self-made man, Hank is used to running the show, but now that he’s lost almost everything, can he learn how to hang with his family? The Pryors have had to seriously downsize their lives — even their king-sized bed won’t fit in their modest new home. Tilly’s not too pleased to be back in the same zip code as her family — especially her badgering brother Grady. Hank’s offbeat son Henry worries about fitting in with a new crowd and his daughter Maddie would rather talk on her cell phone than be anywhere near her Dad. But every great businessman knows that the key to success is to turn setbacks into opportunities. Hank has big plans to get ahead in business… and to reconnect with his family. It may take a while for an industrial giant to figure out how to mingle with the little people — like his family — but Hank’s up for the challenge. Like that smaller bed… Turns out that wasn’t such a bad idea after all.

And the trailer:

[Watch on MissGeeky.com]

Described as a cross between Grey’s Anatomy and L.A. Law, The Deep End does look it’s attempting to look like those two shows. Here’s the description from ABC:

Sterling Law is one of L.A.’s most prestigious law firms. Each year it recruits four new young lawyers from the finest law schools worldwide. It will nurture, guide and shape these recruits into the best damned lawyers they can possibly be — or else.

This year the lucky four are Dylan (Matt Long), a blue collar kid made-good; Addy (Tina Majorino), a sweet mid-Westerner with a lethal legal mind; Beth (Leah Pipes), a brilliant Brentwood babe; and Liam (Ben Lawson), an Australian with serious drive. Sterling Law is under the control of ruthless senior partner Cliff Huddle (Billy Zane), aka “The Prince of Darkness.”

And the trailer:

Another new series on Fox, and this one doesn’t sound interesting at all:

In the tradition of Malcolm in the Middle and The Bernie Mac Show, SONS OF TUCSON is a family comedy about three brothers who hire a charming, wayward schemer to stand in as their father when their real one goes to prison.

It could turn out fun, but the clips so far don’t look that brilliant:

TV Preview: Eastwick

May 27th, 2009

I still haven’t seen The Witches of Eastwick, but maybe now I should finally take the time to do so. This new re-imagining of the book/film has been picked up by ABC and stars Rebecca Romijn (Ugly Betty, X-Men) as Roxanne Torcoletti, a flaky artist, Lindsay Price (Lipstick Jungle) as Joanna Frankel, the local reporter, and Jamie Ray Newman (Veronica Mars) as Kat Gardener, a doormat wife and mom. Their lives are changed when charismatic Darryl Van Horne (Paul Gross from Due South) moves to their seaside village of Eastwick and their supernatural powers are slowly unleashed.

Here’s the trailer:

I do really like the premise of Eastwick, although it does sound a lot like a cross between Desperate Housewives and Charmed. Still definitely one I’ll keep my eye on.

TV Preview: Happy Town

May 26th, 2009

Okay, if you watch this trailer, you’ve got to see it at least half of it. The beginning of the trailer really makes it out as if it’s some Everwood type of series, but it isn’t at all. Here’s the description from ABC (I hadn’t read the description before watching the trailer; otherwise I wouldn’t have been that surprised):

For the past seven years Haplin, Minnesota’s lived up to its nickname, Happy Town. Even the air is sweet with the smell of bread from the industrial bakery. Unfortunately, everything is about to change. 

Seven years ago, an unknown psycho, nick-named “The Magic Man” kidnapped seven children before Sheriff Griffin Conroy chased him away. But the discovery of a local’s gruesome murder and the disappearance of a new child have everyone whispering the Magic Man is back. Now, Mayor Haplin has ordered Deputy Tommy Conroy to replace his father as Sheriff — whether he wants the job, or not. Tommy knows better than to cross the town royalty, whose bakery employs half the town, including his wife. As Tommy begins investigating, his friends and neighbors become suspects and the quiet small town life he’s always cherished begins to sour. But Tommy’s not the only one investigating Haplin. A mysterious young woman has just arrived in town, and she’s quietly searching for answers about her family’s history with the residents of Happy Town. 

And the trailer:

It’s weird that the description of the series, manly focuses on the sheriff, while the trailer focuses on the new girl. I doubt this series will survive; thiller-y who-dunnit shows with only a red line as plot rarely do well on TV. And even if the first season turns out okay, it won’t last beyond that.

TV Preview: Past Life

May 25th, 2009

Ouch, this series just looks baaaaad. It’s been picked up Fox for the fall, but I don’t have that much faith in it.

Here’s the description from Fox:

From writer David Hudgins (Friday Night Lights), and inspired by the book The Reincarnationist by M.J. Rose, comes PAST LIFE, a new drama series about an unlikely pair of past-life detectives who investigate whether what is happening to you today is the result of who you were before.

Starring Kelli Giddish, Nick Bishop, Ravi Patel and Richard Schiff. Here are a couple of clips:

A whole TV show about reincarnation? Who wants to take bets how quick this will be canceled?

TV Preview: Cougar Town

May 22nd, 2009

I almost ignored this series completely. Cougar Town? Seriously? But then I found out it written/produced/directed by Bill Lawrence, the mastermind behind Scrubs. While the last couple of seasons of Scrubs haven’t been too great, you can’t ignore the brilliance of those first seasons. Maybe what Lawrence needed was a new focus and Cougar Town might be just that.

Here’s the description from ABC:

Can a woman of a certain age be a mom, a successful career woman and still be on the prowl? Jules Cobb (Courteney Cox) is about to give it a try. 

In a small Florida town, the center of high society is the Cougars high school football team… which is wildly appropriate since this town is the natural habitat for over-tanned, under-dressed divorcées prowling for younger men. Jules desperately doesn’t want to be one of them, but with an ugly divorce behind her and 40 staring right back at her, she’s longing for a little more action in her life. The available men her own age, like her silver fox of a neighbor, Grayson Ellis, only seem interested in dating barely legal hotties — which is awkward considering he’s also her teenage son Tad’s therapist. Egged on by her very married and very irreverent best friend Elle and her determined assistant Laurie, Jules reluctantly dips her toe back into the dating pool. To her surprise, she hits it off with a nice young guy named Bobby — emphasis on the young — and discovers this gal still has the goods. 

And here’s the trailer:

Hmm, not sure about it, but it could turn out fun.

TV Preview: V

May 22nd, 2009

V is one of those TV shows I remember having watched completely, but don’t remember the actual specifics from. I was I think 10ish at the time, and I haven’t rewatched it since. Anyway, they’ve now announced that ABC has picked up a remake of V for the 2009-2010 season.

Here’s the description from Wikipedia:

The world awakens to find spaceships hovering over all major cities. Though the aliens claim to come in peace, some do not believe them. Homeland Security agent Erica Evans discovers that the aliens have plans to infiltrate our governments and businesses in a plot to take over the planet. Erica joins the resistance movement, which includes Ryan, an alien who wants to save humanity. However, the aliens have recruited earth’s youth, including Erica’s son, to serve unknowingly as spies.

So far the cast sounds great: Elizabeth Mitchell (Juliet from Lost) will play the Homeland Security agent mentioned in the snippet above. Morena Baccarin (Firefly) will play  the leader of the aliens, Anna. Joel Gretsch (Taken, The 4400) will play Father Jack Landry. And Scott Wolf will play the reporter Chad Decker.

So far the pilot has already been shot, and there are a couple of clips available:

I wonder if they’ll stick with this cast; judging from the small clips above, they do all seem to fit in their roles. But you never know, right? I do like the look of this version V, and it’s about time there’s another sci-fi on TV. I can’t wait to see the pilot!

Via Blogomatic3000