'Sliders' Slips Fun Into Time-Travel Formula
March 22, 1995
By Matt Roush
To slide; perchance, to go "Whee!" A jaunty fantasy that's
fit for family consumption, Sliders promises a fun ride, so
long as nobody expects the destination to be very profound.
Don't confuse Sliders' frantic antics with everyday time
travel. And don't be fuddled by the physics-class jabber of a
"multidimensional space-time continuum." All you need to know
is that beefy brainiac Jerry O'Connell has created a gateway
in his San Francisco basement to an infinite number of
Slide through his kaleidoscopic wormhole, and you never
know where you'll pop out. Things might look and sound the
same, but something's always entertainingly askew.
Red lights mean "go." Immigrants flood into Mexico. Elvis
lives. The Cold War went the other way. In short: "Same
planet, different dimension."
In the familiar genre tradition of Quantum Leap and Star
Trek: Voyager, all the heroes want is to get back home, to
the real Earth. If Fox lets them, that could take years -
years of topsy-turvy misadventures executed with a puckish
lack of pretension. That contrasts with the self-important
weekly headache of VR 5.
In tonight's two-hour pilot, much of the story is a rescue
plot set in a Soviet-run USA, where The People's Court is
overseen by "Commissar" Wapner and PBS fund-raising can get
sinister: "Pledge, or else. We know who you are."
Cute, until the action intensifies into clumsy carnage.
O'Connell, unrecognizable from the pint-size pudge of
Stand by Me, is among Fox's more affable heartthrobs, matched
nicely by Sabrina Lloyd as his best pal, who harbors a crush.
Less agreeable are the stock supporting characters, broadly
played: John Rhys-Davies as a pompous prof and Cleavant
Derricks as an R&B singer who lives up to his "Crying Man"
nickname. They will either tickle or irritate you.
As for Sliders: If you're game, it will transport you.