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Harsh Realm : The Ultimate Mind Game - The Complete Series (Three-Disc Collector's Edition) (1999)

Scott Bairstow , D.B. Sweeney  |  NR |  DVD
3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)

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Product Details

  • Actors: Scott Bairstow, D.B. Sweeney, Terry O'Quinn, Rachel Hayward, Max Martini
  • Format: Color, Closed-captioned, Dubbed, Full Screen, NTSC, Subtitled
  • Language: English (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround), French (Dolby Digital 2.0 Surround)
  • Subtitles: English, Spanish
  • Dubbed: English, French
  • Region: Region 1 (U.S. and Canada only. Read more about DVD formats.)
  • Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1
  • Number of discs: 3
  • Rated: NR (Not Rated)
  • Studio: Fox Home Entertainment
  • DVD Release Date: August 24, 2004
  • Run Time: 387 minutes
  • Average Customer Review: 3.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (41 customer reviews)
  • ASIN: B00028HOMM
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #175,926 in Movies & TV (See Top 100 in Movies & TV)
  • Learn more about "Harsh Realm : The Ultimate Mind Game - The Complete Series (Three-Disc Collector's Edition)" on IMDb

Special Features

  • All nine episodes, including six that never aired on TV
  • Commentary by Chris Carter and director Dan Sackheim on the pilot
  • Inside the Harsh Realm: making-of featurette
  • Creating the logo and title sequence

Editorial Reviews

Product Description

The virtual world becomes a dangerous reality in Chris Carter's Harsh Realm. It's the ultimate mind game when a soldier testing a military war game discovers that the only way out… is to kill the top player! The complete series debuts on DVD in August, including killer extras and 6 additional episodes that never aired on network TV!

The dark and fantastic Harsh Realm, a science fiction series about a war fought by flesh-and-blood humans trapped inside virtual reality, was launched by The X-Files creator Chris Carter in 1999 and died a regrettable, premature death on the Fox channel after three episodes. The remaining six shows found sanctuary on the FX network, and then Harsh Realm slipped into history, its wild story, based on a comic book, far from resolved. Perhaps Harsh Realm's ratings failure had something to do with its broad similarities to the hugely popular The Matrix, released only a few months before, or, for that matter, David Cronenberg's 1999 eXistenZ, in which characters fight for their lives inside a video game. Whatever the reason, enough time has passed to take an objective look at Harsh Realm, and there is a lot to be admired in its high level of imagination, complex plotting, and cutting-edge production values.

Scott Bairstow stars as U.S. Army Lieutenant Tom Hobbes, a decorated hero who risked his life rescuing a buddy, Major Mel Waters (Max Martini), during a peacekeeping mission in the former Yugoslavia. Set to return to civilian life and marry his fiancée, Sophie (Samantha Mathis), Hobbes is summoned by a mysterious superior (Lance Henriksen) and asked to test-run Harsh Realm, a virtual reality war game devised by the Pentagon. Once he begins, however, Hobbes is mentally imprisoned in the dangerous game (his body, along with those of hundreds of other "volunteers," is cared for in a secret military hospital), where he is identified by other, desperate captives as the savior they've been awaiting. D.B. Sweeney is very good as another soldier, Mike Pinocchio, whose sense of mission is re-awakened by Hobbes and who becomes a partner in an endless effort to defeat a madman named Santiago (Terry O'Quinn), who rules Harsh Realm from within. As with The X-Files, the nine episodes in this boxed set are each very striking on their own terms, with post-apocalyptic sets, constant surprises, and that special Chris Carter touch (fans of his Millennium will like Harsh Realm, too) that makes every story look and feel like a collision of a nightmare and a crisis of faith. --Tom Keogh

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
49 of 50 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Potential not realized as series is cancelled too soon September 5, 2004
"Harsh Realm" was meant to be Fox's Great White Hope for the 1999 season. Created by "The X-Files" Chris Carter, the show borrowed pages from "The X-Files" and "The Matrix. General Santiago (O'Quinn) has taken over a virtual reality program named Harsh Realm. Originally developed by the military to give a realistic simulation of how the world would react to a terrorist strike, the military has sent in a number of operatives to take out the elusive Santiago but none have returned. Lt. Hobbes (Bairstow) plans on leaving the military in a month after serving for five years in war torn areas around the world. A hero for saving a friend at the expense of his own life, Hobbes is asked by his C.O. (Henriksen) to go into the game and beat Santiago bringing it to an end. He's told nothing else about Harsh Realm or about the "occupants" that exist there. What he finds is a virtual reality simulation of the real world. With the help of Mike Pinnochio (D. B. Sweeney) Hobbes must try and complete his mission and find a way out of Harsh Realm to his fiancé (Samantha Mathis) and the life he left behind.

Critically drubbed and abandoned by its audience within the first week of its premiere, "Harsh Realm" was a rare failure for Carter as it was cancelled after only airing three episodes. Carter and Fox also faced legal action when James D. Hudnall and Andrew Paquette the creators of the comic book series "Harsh Realm" sued Fox and won recognition that their work was the basis for Carter's series. While the basic premise and title were similar enough to suggest that Carter had been influenced by the comic book series, "Harsh Realm" the TV series departed radically from the initial premise of Hudnall and Paquette's creation.
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17 of 18 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Wasted potential, thanks Fox October 9, 2004
Harsh Realm, created by X-Files and Milennium creator Chris Carter, was just one of many prime time sci-fi dramas that died a quick death on Fox. Three episodes were aired when it originally premiered in 1999, with the other six episodes aired on Fox's FX cable network the following year. The sad part about Harsh Realm, is that there was plenty of promise and potential, but none of it ever got to get off the ground thanks to yet another brilliant idea from the bigwigs at Fox. The story revolves around Army Lieutenant Tom Hobbes (Scott Bairstow), called back into action to supposedly test run a virtual reality war game called Harsh Realm. He becomes trapped inside, with hundreds of others who identify him as the "savior" they have been awaiting. Plenty of comparisons to the Matrix (which was released earlier that year) could be a turn off to some, but Harsh Realm was never given the chance to take off like it could have. The rest of the cast includes D.B Sweeney as a fellow trapped soldier, Milennium alumnus Terry O'Quinn as deranged Harsh Realm dictator Santiago, and Samantha Mathis as Tom's estranged fiance. Now that Harsh Realm is on DVD, it's worth checking out, and we can thank Fox once again for squandering good potential (Firefly anyone?).
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16 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Harsh Reality for Harsh Realm July 29, 2004
Chris Carter's third show was never allowed to develop from its short appearance due to a miserable marketing campaign on the part of the Fox network. I am a fan of Chris Carter's work, and had been eagerly awaiting the premiere of this show. Surprisingly, I had a difficult time trying to find out when the show would be premiering, since Fox was not promoting it. By accident, I tuned in on the night of the series premiere, and caught the tail end of the prologue. Fox claims that the numbers weren't there for the premiere, and cancelled the show after just three episodes. It's unrealistic to think that viewers would tune in when there's no advertisement for the show. As such Harsh Realm suffered from the harsh realities of marketing gone wrong.

I think Harsh Realm had another thing going against it: it was the replacement of Chris Carter's second series Millennium, which had started to develop a loyal fan base. Millennium was and still is a remarkable show, and I believe a lot of the fans, including myself, expected an equally remarkable show as a successor. So, at the beginning, Harsh Realm had big shoes to fill.

The series pilot was not the best of Chris Carter's work (except for the final scene of the episode, when the viewer realizes how widespread the problem is), though the story had only just started. The two subsequent episodes continued to reveal the plot that was introduced in the pilot. Only after the third episode "Inga Fossa" is there enough told to proceed to the first stand-alone episode. Unfortunately, until the FX cable network debuted these episodes a year later did anyone get the chance to see the remaining 6 episodes of the series.

I have seen some of the remaining six episodes that aired later on FX.
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28 of 35 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A creator of the comic chimes in August 24, 2004
Format:DVD|Verified Purchase
I was the writer of the Harsh Realm comic. I can tell you the lawsuit against the show had nothing to do with its cancellation.

The show premiered against the baseball playoffs in the dire Friday nights at nine time slot. The head of Fox TV at the time was really cancel happy as other people have noted, but I get the impression from talking to people behind the scenes that Carter and Fox were having run ins unrelated to our lawsuit.

Anyway, the show deviates from the comic in that the comic is set in the future and deals with pocket universes, not virtual reality. But the basic storyline is the same. Instead of a mad general hunted by a soldier, ala Apocalypse Now, my story dealt with a detective hired to find a missing teenager who went into a world designed to work like a medieval fantasy world. The teenager, it turns out, went native and became mad with power and was creating havoc in that world.

Anyway, we got the credits we wanted in our settlement. I don't hold any grudges and the show is halfway decent. It would have been a lot more interesting if they stuck to the comic, though.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars A so very short but very good series.
To be honest the pilot was rather weak, but I have seen that before.
It never got a chance to mature, but even in the 9 shows that were made it improved so much. Read more
Published 7 months ago by Craig M. Houck
4.0 out of 5 stars Good show... too short.
While the show was really just starting to ramp up into its mythology, you'll be left disappointed that this was another show quickly killed by FOX. Read more
Published 10 months ago by Debbie Benoit
5.0 out of 5 stars Excellent original show
For those not familiar with Harsh Realm it was a short lived TV show on the Fox network produced and written by the same people who brought the show The X-Files to television. Read more
Published 11 months ago by Cyril J. Martinez
5.0 out of 5 stars Box set
Received promptly in perfect condition.

The TV series was really fun and I wish it wouldn't have ended. Read more
Published on April 23, 2012 by ne1scott
5.0 out of 5 stars Greatest show ever
This was one of the best TV shows ever, I remember seeing the few they had on TV. I just wish they could have had a better ending but given what they had to work with I can... Read more
Published on August 2, 2010 by Glowplug
5.0 out of 5 stars Harsh Realm Showed Us TV's Potential
Unlike many here, I'm reviewing the product, a three-disc DVD box set, that I actually purchased and watched. Read more
Published on February 5, 2010 by Travis W. Mckee
3.0 out of 5 stars Chris Carter is not Joss Whedon
Average to below average TV fair. Granted I've only gone through Disc 1, but as much as he probably wants to be, Chris Carter doesn't have the ingenuity (he had to rip off the... Read more
Published on December 21, 2009 by JC
4.0 out of 5 stars Cancelled,eh? Welcome to HARSH REALM.
After seeing the most recent X-Files movie, I heard an audience member mention that one character, Inga Fossa, had the same name in the TV show Harsh Realm. Read more
Published on August 3, 2008 by The Matrix Fan
4.0 out of 5 stars Nothing Harsh about this show
There's just no excuse for this show being canceled. It was a brilliant concept that had limitless possibilities for several seasons worth of interesting story lines. Read more
Published on May 5, 2008 by Griffen
3.0 out of 5 stars Missed Potential
Chris Carter's Harsh Realm only lasted three episodes on television but the potential was there for much more. Read more
Published on May 3, 2008 by Bryan A. Pfleeger
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