Virtual Season

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Synonyms: fanfiction season, alternate season, unaired season
See also: Denialfic, Futurefic, fix-it
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Virtual seasons are a form of fanac where fic writers write an unofficial continuation of a show that has been cancelled, is on hiatus, or to replace a season which is considered to have jumped the shark, or needs denying.

They are often done as collaborations with different writers contributing individual stories as episodes, often with the new episodes "airing" at the same time the show would've aired. Sometimes they are multimedia projects with accompanying fanart or trailers. Some fans go as far as to make fan films such as Star Trek, The New Voyages.

Sometimes virtual seasons can be the project of a single author. One famous example is the Buffy Season Noir by Anna S.

Many virtual seasons are presented with elaborate ancillary apparatus. These vary widely, but frequently include character descriptions, title pages, brief synopses of episodes (similar to those in television program guides), and background on the world of the series. In some instances, the episodes of a virtual season are published weekly or biweekly in a semblance of the schedule of an actual television series. In such a case, promotional "ads" may be created for upcoming episodes.

Origins

detail from flyer for Moonbeam #5/6, click to read

The very first virtual season was in 1979 in the print zine Moonbeam #5/6. It was a zine that took Space: 1999 into its third season. From the flyer for that issue: "We're aiming for 24 different episodes, at about 20 pages each (typed and double-spaced). Stories exceeding that length may be considered as 2-part episodes."

Another early virtual season was for Forever Knight. The show was canceled in 1996, but followed shortly by a virtual fourth season (known as V4S).

Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman was cancelled in 1997 and spawned several virtual seasons, which continued the trend.

Some Fan Comments

Some White Collar fans in 2014 discussed creating a virtual season for their fandom. Some excerpts are below:

Since our beloved show will unfortunately be over soon, I was wondering if there is any interest in continuing the adventures of Neal and Peter by doing a virtual season (or two...or three...). I just cannot accept the fact that there are only six new episodes left for us to enjoy. :-( So, if there are enough writers interested and willing to participate in a virtual season, I'd be more than happy to organize one.For anyone who's not familiar with the concept of virtual seasons - this is basically a fan-based continuation of a TV show. There's no limit to the possibilities, which is the beauty of a virtual season. It can be a continuation of canon (in this case, we would have to wait until season 6 has aired and follow these events), it can be an alternative to an already aired season, it can focus on a specific character (e.g., a Mozzie spin-off) or it could be completely pre-series. Authors can decide to collaborate on a story arc that spans the entire virtual season or just write stand alones. The sky's the limit! But the first step is to find enough writers (and, ideally, artists!), so... What say you all?

... interest-wise, it'd also depend a little on what the plan is. The "continuation of canon" option would interest me most, so I would probably be more on board with that than a spin-off for a secondary character. I've heard of virtual seasons before, but I gotta admit that I never read one -- would the episodes be written in script form or how does that work?
...the episodes of virtual seasons, they are written in regular story form, not script form. They should follow (but don't have to follow) the episode format of teaser - act 1 through 3 or 4 - epilogue. Normally, stories should be about 10K to 15K long. Depending on what the focus is on, each author might have to incorporate a small portion of a pre-planned story arc into their episode (e.g. if we had the music box as our season's story arc, you could write a stand alone story but would be asked to incorporate a short scene in which Mozzie tells Neal that he's been trying to find out information but has been unsuccessful so far). This sort of thing takes a bit of planning, obviously, but this fandom has made any kind of challenges (from Big Bangs to fic exchanges) so easy until now, I have no worries that getting a virtual season organized won't be a problem. :)
I think I might be interested. I did a virtual season when I was in the Torchwood fandom and had a lot of fun with it. [1]

Further Reading and Meta

Sites Listing Virtual Seasons

  • MZP - one of the largest virtual season sites currently running, MZP is a "virtual network" comprising original series and continuations, as well as 'Buffyverse' fiction.
  • untitled site

List of Shows with Virtual Seasons

The Adventures of Sinbad

Alias Smith and Jones

American Gothic

Angel

Battlestar Galactica (1978)

Beast Wars

Beauty and the Beast

Blood Ties

Brimstone

Buffy the Vampire Slayer

Dark Angel

Dark Matter

Dark Shadows

Doctor Who

Due South

Farscape

Firefly

Forever Knight

Gargoyles

Harsh Realm

Hercules

Highlander

Invisible Man

JAG

Kung Fu: The Legend Continues

Lois & Clark

The Lone Gunmen

MacGyver

Magnificent 7

Millennium

Quantum Leap

The Pretender

Prey

Sliders

Space: Above and Beyond

Sports Night

Spy Game

Stargate Atlantis

Stargate SG-1

Voyager

Starsky & Hutch

Strange Luck

Supernatural

The Sentinel

Transformers

X-Files

Xena: Warrior Princess

References