VR5 : review


13 50-minute episodes

SF elements

Virtual reality; conspiracy theories


Sydney Bloom works as a telephone engineer, but she's also a computer whizz playing with Virtual Reality (VR). One day she accidentally discovers that she can take other people into VR5 (full immersion VR) with her, just by calling them up on the telephone. Once inside, she can find out about them, but afterwards, they have little or no memory of the incident. For some reason Sydney seems to be the only one who can take people into VR5. The shadowy 'Committee' discover her talent, and co-opt her to do investigations for them.

(Amazingly, whoever Sydney phones, they always answer within two rings! She never gets an answering machine, an engaged tone, the wrong number, a secretary, or just plain no reply.)

This starts out as a fairly straightforward thriller/detective style series, but quickly develops into a much more interesting conspiracies-within-conspiracies story, as Sydney struggles to discover what really happened on that fateful night in 1978 when her father and twin sister were killed in a car accident, and her mother's brain was fried by a failed suicide bid. Even episodes that appear to be straightforward investigations have clues that build up to an explanation of what is really going on.

Sydney is an interesting character: she was badly damaged by the deaths of her father and sister, and is withdrawn, preferring computers to people, and working unwillingly for the Committee. The scenes in VR have a dreamlike quality, and are rather confusing at first. Also, because of the complex, slowly developing plot arc, not everything that happens in an episode is explained in that episode. This makes the series different and interesting. But it was probably for just these reason that it didn't really catch on, and the plug was pulled after just 13 episodes, leaving us at a cliff-hanger (but enough has been revealed up to that point that we can fill in most of the rest ourselves). That is a great pity, because it was developing into a really good story.

Rating: 3

[ unmissable | great stuff | worth watching | mind candy | unwatchable | unfinishable ]

reviewed 20 December 1997