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June 27, 2009

Fox's 'Virtuality' tanks

V_day-8_0150 Fox executives aren't going to lose any sleep over their decision to air "Virtuality" in the summer.

The two-hour premiere of Ron Moore's sci-fi pilot drew only 1.8 million viewers and received a 0.5 adult demo rating -- tying ABC's "The Goode Family" as the lowest-rated program on a major broadcast network Friday night and putting Fox into fourth place for the evening.

Considering its airless time period, Fox didn't forsake this project entirely. The network generated a fair amount of publicity for the program in recent weeks rather than simply throwing it on. Critics were pretty warm to the story, which followed astronauts on a mission to save the planet (some whined that spending time watching a two-hour movie that probably wouldn't get a series order was pointless -- but one could say that about every new show that airs in the fall that could get axed at any moment).

The performance should also give some comfort to "Dollhouse" fans, since it shows once again that making sci-fi work on a broadcast network on Friday nights can be a steep hill.

NBC won the night with a repeat of "Farrah's Story" (4.6 million, 1.1) and a Michael Jackson-centric "Dateline" (6.6 million, 2.0), the latter was the highest-rated program last night. 

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