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precarious since 1997 | by maryann johanson

Sliders: Dual Dimension Edition: The First and Second Seasons (review)

How did I miss getting into Sliders the first time around, when it aired on Fox and then the Sci-Fi Channel? It’s totally my kind of show: escapist and science fictional, and there’s a really cute guy, that chubby kid from Stand by Me who grew up so nice. College student Quinn (the no-longer-chubby Jerry O’Connell), who’s “too smart for his own good,” according to his mom, accidentally invents a portable wormhole generator that opens doorways into alternate universes. Intrigued and adventurous, Quinn, his physics prof Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), and his would-be maybe girlfriend, Wade (Sabrina Lloyd), hop in; washed-up R&B singer Rembrandt (Cleavant Derricks) gets caught up in the wormhole by mistake. But wouldn’t ya know? Yet another accident means they can’t get home unless they randomly come upon their particular version of San Francisco among the millions, billions, or squillions of parallel Earths there may be. *sigh* With John Landis as one of the executive producers and Star Trek: The Next Generation vet Tracy Tormé as one of the creators, you can be sure it’s fairly cool and interesting. And sure enough, these 23 episodes — all 10 from the 1995 premiere season and all 13 from the followup 1996 season — are a crash course in the SF subgenre of the alternate universe, exploring worlds where dinosaurs still exist, where commie Russia has taken over America, where penicillin or nuclear power have never been discovered, where (in the real fantasy for the kind of geeks who like this show) smartness makes you cool and famous. It’s funny (“I’ve been to a world where the Cubs have won three world series,” says an alternate Sliding Quinn), witty (the Oakland Raiders are a troop of rebels in a British-ruled American monarchy), and self-aware (there’s lots of snide commentary on their own penchant for trying to change things for the better on every world they land in). But as often as it’s scientifically — and science fictionally — clever, it’s frequently a tad naivé from political and interpersonal perspectives. Still, this is compulsively watchable popcorn TV, fluffy and fun, more compelling in the aggregate than each individual episode might be, with little clues sprinkled here and there that contribute to a larger intrigue. The picture is full-frame, the sound mono, but the most distinctive thing about this set is the packaging, in which the discs slide into a block of soft foam — it looks cool, like the six discs are floating, but it’s rather precarious and makes me fear for the safety of the discs.

MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

posted in:
tv on dvd

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