Wednesday, April 14, 2010

Web 2.0 Wayback Machine :: VR-5 {1995}

image:: photo from 1995 EW article, on

Fifteen years ago, Fox aired a high concept sci-fi show on Friday night called VR-5. It was the lead-in to The X-Files at the 8PM slot, long before it was successful {ranked #71 for the 1994-1995 season}. VR-5 was quirky and required you to pay attention to what was going on. 

The show starred Lori Singer as Sidney Bloom, a mousy daughter of a neurobiologist who cleans up well, who stumbles across the realm of virtual reality along with a healthy dose of traumatic memories and paranoid intrigue. Sidney sees the virtual realm as a way to save her comatose mother played by Louise Fletcher.  Michael Easton is one of her few friends and Anthony Head is the representative of "The Committee" and serves up two parts attraction and three parts danger to make things interesting for Bloom.

One of the things I recalled were the use of vivid colour chroma to depict the virtual reality sequences. From what I recall, the writing wasn't too bad and could have had a cult following if it were on for more than two months—it aired from March to May of 1995 {ep. guide}. It had cameos by Penn Jillette and Adam Baldwin, as well as Robert Picardo and Louise Fletcher was a regular, both from the Star Trek franchise. There were also plenty of cultural references and a distinct homage to noir.

This clip is an homage to the old UK series of The Avengers and highlights the surreal nature of the virtual reality sequences::

This scene features Anthony Head and Markie Post::

Ah, VR-5. I was sad, but not surprised when was cancelled. It was part of a long string of Fox shows that were interesting, but never really given a chance to find an audience. Around 1997-8, I recall watching reruns on the then SciFi network, now Scyfy, and got to see the entire series. After seeing clips on YouTube, I'm surprised how well the show holds up, but it's clear of how dated it is, given all the TV that's transpired in 15 years and the career of Joss Whedon. I'm surprised the Scyfy network doesn't try to resurrect the show. There is a cult following surrounding the show, but I'm not sure how big it is. I'm sure it could be produced now at a lower cost {costs were relatively high for the effects in 1995} and it sure would be a hell of a lot more interesting than Craprica.

Twitterversion:: The #Web2_0WaybackMachine VR-5 aired on Fox for 2 months in 1995 w/all the makings of a cult hit. @Prof_K

Song:: Spiritualized-'Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space'