Archive for May 2013

 
 

Looking Back on VR.5

“VR.5″ was my introduction to the internet, in some ways. It debuted in the spring of my freshman year in college, where I had internet access for the first time. It wasn’t my first time on-line, having been on local BBSes and Q-Link before then. Q-Link was a Commodore on-line service that would later become AOL.

In any case, I loved the show when it aired, even if critical response wasn’t initially great and the ratings — being a Friday night FOX show — never took off. Only “X-Files” ever survived that time slot. The road is paved with the dead bodies of all the other shows they tried in there, including the wonderful Bruce Campbell vehicle, “The Adventures of Brisco Country Jr.”

But VR.5 became a cause for me at the time, and I met up with a group of people on-line who also liked the show. Together, we did what we could to try to save it. We wrote letters, organized on-line somethings-or-others, etc. We didn’t send ketchup packets or flowers or weird things to the network executives. That came later. This was at a time when the internet was new enough that not every show had such a campaign. We dubbed ourselves “The Virtual Storm” and I became the “Media Relations” guy for it, just because I had gotten a couple of emails or postcards back from the networks I had written to. A local newspaper even interviewed me for the campaign. It was fun.

The show has been off the air for nearly 20 years now. Sci-Fi aired the 13 episodes once — including 3 FOX never aired — and there was a VHS release for the series, but that’s been it.

They’re testing the waters, though. If you want to see VR.5 released, perhaps in an on-demand way, go over to Amazon and sign up for alerts from them for when the show is available. It’s a minor thing that might go nowhere, but what the heck? Doesn’t hurt to try. Or to click once.

This got me to wanting to listen to the soundtrack again. I was shocked to see it had never been imported into iTunes, which I didn’t have until a decade after the soundtrack came out and was my first CD purchase. Thankfully, I found the CD easily enough, in the same folder as I had stored my Babylon 5 soundtracks, which is likely a topic for another post on another day.

But here’s what I wanted to show you:

vr5_cds

Two discs. One soundtrack. The disc on the left is the one you could purchase in stores or, I guess, on-line. Was Music Boulevard around yet? Amazon? Probably not. So let’s just say you bought that one at Sam Goody’s.

The other one — on the right — I got from the VR.5 production company as they closed down their offices and cleaned things out. I had emailed with them a couple of times during the VR.5 campaign, and they offered to send me the disc. As I recall now, this was a copy they gave out to their staff or at a Christmas party or a wrap party or something. It’s labelled “For Promotional Use” only, so maybe it’s amongst a batch they created to send to whatever kind of reviewers would listen to this kind of thing? I don’t know.

I just think it’s cool, so it’s the one I imported.

Excuse me now while I go listen to Dee Carstensen’s “To Dance Again” and vividly remember the visuals from the series that went along with it. I can still picture the rain coming down and Lori Singer clearing off her desk and thrashing a computer in the process.

Oh, wait, it’s on YouTube. Here you have it. (Someday, I’ll learn how to embed YouTube videos in this blog again…)

It’s All About the Voice. Right?

“The Voice” is a show made to directly take on “American Idol.” In the ratings these days, it’s winning. Its major conceit is that they care about the vocals more than anything. Famously, the auditions are held with the judges’ chairs turned away from the singer. The singers only get on the show if their voice is good enough to get them there. It doesn’t matter if you’re young or old, thin or fat. This is meant to produce a better sounding field of contestants free from the shackles of modern image-conscious creepiness.

Here, then, are your three winners of The Voice:

voice_winners_blog

And here are your two finalists this season on “American Idol”:

ai_finalists

What went wrong, NBC?

(Just for the record: I’m not calling Kree and Candice fat here. If anything, they look healthy compared to most reality TV show contestants… But if The Voice is built on the concept that it’s Voice Uber Alles, then they need to explain how it’s the skinny good looking folks who always win.)