Sliders in New Fox Series Explore Parallel Universes
March 29, 1995
The Miami Herald, p 2E.
By Stephen Cole Smith
(for the Fort Worth Star-Telegram)
* Sliders, 9 p.m. Wednesdays, Fox, channels 7 and 29
The Fox network, having hope that there's still a little room left on viewers' plates for science fiction, is offering a new, comparatively lighthearted Wednesday night series that could find an audience with younger viewers. Sliders is a bit facile for adults, but could keep kids interested.
Sliders, which premiered March 22 with a two-hour episode, moves into its regular time slot tonight. It replaces Party of Five, which has completed its run for the season, for the next 13 weeks. If the sci-fi series does well in its regular 9-10 p.m. time slot, following Beverly Hills, 90210, it may earn a spot on Fox's fall lineup and might even convince the network it really doesn't need the low-rated Party anymore.
Jerry O'Connell, veteran of a syndicated series called My Secret Life that was sort of an updated Superman saga, heads the cast of Sliders as Quinn Mallory, a handsome but scatterbrained boy genius who would rather putter in his basement laboratory than attend classes.
This upsets blustery Professor Maximilian Arturo, but then "everything" upsets Arturo. He's played by John Rhys-Davies (Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade), one of those big- bellied British actors who love to hear themselves enunciate. Think of Sebastian Cabot in Family Affair, but with an attitude.
Quinn also works part time in a computer store, where he is smarter than his dim boss, and the object of the unrequited affection of co-worker Wade (Sabrina Lloyd).
In a nutshell, Quinn invents a machine that creates a "worm hole" into an infinite number of parallel worlds. One world may look just like ours, except that red lights mean "go," green lights mean "stop," Elvis is alive and President Kennedy married Marilyn Monroe.
Another parallel world is a frozen wasteland, sort of like parts of this script.
In the pilot episode, Quinn took the blustering professor and pal Wade on a "slide" from their world to another (you never know which parallel world you'll hit), and he mistakenly cranked up the power on his machine. The worm hole left the basement, entered the street, and sucked up has-been soul singer Rembrandt "Crying Man" Brown and his big red Cadillac.
Now, essentially, Quinn has lost the ability to beam his buddies back home, and they must bounce around hit-or-miss, or at least as long as Sliders stays on the air.
The pilot really wasn't bad, but I'm not sure I want to come back week after week. Quantum Leap has covered this ground before, and Fox's own VR.5 and The X-Files have more style.
Still, there are some good opportunities for satire, and Sliders takes advantage. With luck, it could stick around.