Virtuality: A Backdoor Pilot Takes Flight

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The summer schedule and its many openings encourage the insertion of backdoor pilots, the hopeful yet often unsuccessful one-off movies that could lead to a full series or mini-series but usually end up as a topic in a "Remember that TV movie with Louis Gossett, Jr...." conversation. The critical reception has not been warm for Virtuality, Fox's backdoor pilot premiering tonight, so enjoy it while it lasts.

Virtuality [8 PM, Fox]

Director Peter Berg and BSG's Ron Moore and Michael Taylor bring some heavy sci-fi to Fox. Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, Clea DuVall and Sienna Guillory star as astronauts who use some kind of virtual reality machine to deal with a long space mission. Similar to Star Trek's holodeck, this machine causes muchas problemas as the crew no longer knows what is real and what is simulated. Analogy to contemporary society? Yes. On Fox's fall schedule? No.

Farrah's Story [9 PM, NBC] & 20/20 [10 PM, ABC]

Last night, NBC, ABC and MTV responded quickly to the pair of celebrity passings with sobering news specials, and the networks give us one more night to remember Farrah Fawcett. The Farrah documentary aired on NBC last month but will be all the more poignant now, and there's a chance ABC will repeat the Barbara Walters special from last night about Farrah or have more Michael Jackson coverage or Brian Ross could be investigating something.

Let Freedom Hum: An Evening of Comedy Hosted by Martin Short [10 PM, TBS]

The Just for Laughs Festival in Chicago is a fun time, and hopefully this special showcases some of the excitement of live comedy. Televised stand-up comedy is not as exciting, but host Martin Short and comics Greg Giraldo, Jeremy Hotz, Kathleen Madigan and Tom Papa will do their darnedest to make you feel the joy of jokes.

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Summer Catch [10 PM, MTV]

Before Jessica Biel was an international celebrity, she was a TV hottie looking to establish herself as a film actress. Summer Catch was one of the first steps in that direction, with Biel playing a sort of femme fatale opposite Freddie Prinze, Jr.'s minor leaguer with promise. Other than a few hot pool scenes and a whole lotta Matthew Lillard, there's not much here, but I remember seeing this the weekend before 9/11 happened. Such a simpler time.



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