History Files

VR 5

 

Science-fiction programmes from the US were thick on the ground in the 1990s, whilst British television produced next to nothing. In this example, made in 1995, brilliant young telephone engineer Sydney Bloom dabbles in virtual reality and, hacking into a computer connection which bridges dreams and reality, discovers how to dip into other people's minds via her computer and a handy modem. All it takes is a phone call to pull an outsider into her net. She communicates with her mother, who in real life is near vegetative, and her father, Joseph Bloom, played by David McCallum, who, along with her sister Samantha, were apparently killed in a car accident ten years before. This unusual ability brings her to the attention of Doctor Frank Morgan, a leading VR specialist, and through him, The Committee, a murky group which sets itself above governments to work - it says - for the good of mankind.

The title comes from the specification of the grades of virtual reality: one to five are the Computer Screen, Interactive Video Games, Flight Simulator, Cyber Space, and Virtual Sensory Reality - which is what Sydney has achieved.

Sydney's contact with The Committee is Anthony Head, famous for the long-running series of coffee advertisements. Because of him, Sydney has to undergo various VR-related adventures. The state-of-the-art special effects were high quality realisations of VR worlds, the best that the technology of the time could produce, and Sydney's physical involvement produced temporary worlds of vivid colour and nightmarish intensity.

The programme aired on Saturday nights on Sky One, at 8pm. In the US it ran for just 13 episodes before being cancelled. To be honest, it must have produced terminal bemusement in most of its audience long before that. In the end, little was resolved, and it was left to the viewer to decide whether anyone really survived the machinations of the Committee, or if it had all been a horrible VR5 trip.

 


REGULAR CAST

Sydney Bloom Lori Singer   Duncan Michael Easton
Doctor Frank Morgan Will Patton (Episodes 1-3 Only)
Oliver Sampson
Anthony Head (Episode 4 Onwards)

 


Creators: Adam Cherry, Geoffrey
  Hemwall, Michael Katleman,
  Jeannine Renshaw
and Thania
  St John
Executive Producers: John Sacret Young
Co-Executive Producer: Eric Blakeney
 
and Thania St John
Producer: Naomi Janzen and
  Jack Clements
Co-Producer: Geoffrey Hemwall
Associate Producer/Film Editor: Alan
  Baumgarten
Supervising Producer: Michael Katleman
Music: John Frizzell

 


Pilot

Sydney Bloom accidentally finds her way into Virtual Reality, plugging into other people's subconscious minds. When she plugs into the mind of a killer, she goes to a well-known professional in the VR field, and is sucked into a world of intrigue and espionage.

Helen Bloom Louise Fletcher

Dr Strangechild

A lead physicist in a Quantum Think-tank disappears, and Sydney is brought in to discover his whereabouts for a less-than-trustworthy directorate.

Dr Joseph Bloom David McCallum
Nora Bloom Louise Fletcher
With: Elya Baskin, Tom Towles and Nicholas Cascone

Sisters

Sydney becomes entangled in a dangerous game when she investigates the mind of a larcenous bank teller.

(Cast details unknown)

Love And Death

Sydney discovers that troubled Committee employee Jackson Boothe is an assassin when she tries to convince him to return to work, and is successful.

Helen Bloom Louise Fletcher
(Rest of cast details unknown)

5D

Sydney meets the man who is to be her new contact with the Committee and tries to discover the truth behind Morgan's death.

Dr Hunnicut Louis Turenne
Helen Bloom Louise Fletcher
Dr Joseph Bloom David McCallum
Oliver Sampson (intro) Tony Head

Escape

Sydney is kidnapped by the Committee in an attempt to discover her secrets, but after days of tortuous inquisition she finds a friend in the most unexpected of places.

With: David Selburg, Aileen Fitzpatrick,
  Dayton Callie
and Robert Kempf

Facing The Fire

Sydney is directed to help a psychiatrically unstable jet pilot recover his memories, but she recovers a memory of her own in the process.

Dr Hirsch Shirley Knight
Pilot Lance Jenkin Frank Converse
General Jenkin Neil McDonough
Dr Joseph Bloom David McCallum

Simon's Choice

A man with a death sentence who sent five agents to their deaths has a secret to hide, and Sydney has three days to discover it.

Simon Buchanan Robert Davi
Kon Ky Dustin Nguyen
Dr Joseph Bloom David McCallum

Send Me An Angel

Sydney returns to her childhood home in Pasadena, where she begins to relive memories of her past.

(Guest cast unknown) 

Control Freak

A hostage situation takes place in an airport control tower, and Oliver finds he is just as much a victim of the Committee's manoeuverings as Sydney and her father.

Kyle Jarvis Markus Flanagan
Ed Patterson Tom Mardirosian
Air Traffic Controller Stephen Root

The Many Faces Of Alex

Shadows of Oliver's past refuse to lie down as Sydney discovers a link to her father - who may not be dead after all. She is sent into VR by a disillusioned and indifferent Oliver and finds herself on an East German railway platform with Oliver and his former lover.

Dr J Bloom David McCallum
Samantha Bloom Tracey Needham
Amanda Flores/Alex Markie Post

Parallel Lives

With Sydney apparently dead, Duncan undergoes a confusing double-life experience in VR, along with Samantha, only to discover that it's Dr Bloom who is in control and is testing Duncan's loyalty.

Hugo Penn Jilétte
Kravitz Billy Burke
Samantha Bloom Tracey Needham
Dr Joseph Bloom David McCallum
Dr Frank Morgan Will Patton

Reunion

Syd finds her sister in the flesh at last, and the two of them go into VR with Duncan to discover the truth of Samantha's and Dr Bloom's disappearance, and also find a way of recovering Mrs Bloom's memory, wiped all those years ago to protect her family. Simultaneously, the rogue element in the Committee is dealt with.

Abanazi Turhan Bey
Samantha Bloom Tracey Needham
Dr Joseph Bloom David McCallum
Helen Bloom Louise Fletcher

  

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