Harsh Realm is a science fiction television series about humans trapped inside a virtual reality simulation. It was developed by Chris Carter, creator of The X-Files, Millennium, The Lone Gunmen and began airing on the Fox Network on October 8, 1999. The series fared poorly in the ratings and was removed from the schedule after just three of its nine episodes had aired. The remaining six episodes premiered on the FX Network. Repeats of the series began airing Fall 2007 on CBC Country Canada.
The term "harsh realm" originates from the "grunge speak" hoax of 1992, in which it meant 'bummer'.
The show was loosely based on a comic book by James D. Hudnall and Andrew Paquette. When the creators noticed the credits read "Created by Chris Carter", they sued Fox to get properly credited. The credits were changed to read "Inspired by the Harsh Realm comic book series, Created by James D. Hudnall and Andrew Paquette, Published by Harris Publications, Inc." The series was filmed in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada.
"Technology and the threat of nuclear annihilation in the last half of the 20th century have changed the world forever. They changed war and its consequences, as they have forever changed the battlefield and the warriors who must still fight there. It's been estimated that a nuclear device the size of a small suitcase, smuggled in and detonated in New York City would kill several million people instantly and many times that amount with radioactive fallout. This scenario prompted the DoD to create the project code named Harsh Realm. Using the 1990 census, satellite cartography and other classified data, the creators of Harsh Realm have created a virtual reality where landscapes and people are identical to our world, down to every man woman and child. By putting players into this simulated crisis scenario..." —An introductory video to Harsh Realm viewed by Tom Hobbes in the pilot episode, spoken by Gillian Anderson, who was Agent Scully in Carter's most famous show, The X-Files.
Harsh Realm is a military simulation programmed by the US Army and went online October 13, 1995. For several hours, there was no distinction between our world and Harsh Realm. At noon, a nuclear bomb the size of a briefcase was detonated in the simulated New York City of Harsh Realm. Four million people were killed instantly. ("Camera Obscura") From that point onwards, Harsh Realm became a training simulation for a post-apocalyptic disaster scenario. With this premise, Harsh Realm borrowed liberally from such genres as SF, Cyberpunk, alternate history, and Fantasy.
A box set with the 9 completed episodes, including those unaired on network television in the USA, was released on region 1 DVD on August 24, 2004. The box features two commentary tracks on the pilot episode by the show's creator and director as well as other minor special features. Also released on region 2 DVD.
Season 1 [The Complete Series]
1.03 Inga Fossa
1.04 Kein Ausgang
1.06 Three Percenters
1.07 Manus Domini
1.09 Camera Obscura