The Good, the Bad and the Wealthy

"Ah, from a world of dust to a world of dung." — Arturo

Review by Mike Truman


B-
Good

You said it, Professor. The Sliders really stepped in it this time.

On a world where Texas encompasses half of what we consider to be the United States, Quinn is mistaken for a crack gunfighter when he apparently shoots down one of the best in the business. Here, legal disputes are settled by duels and Quinn is now the hottest commodity in San Francisco. Will Quinn fight for the little guy or join forces with the big, bad corporation? And what will happen to him when people discover he couldn’t get past round two of “Duck Hunt” if his life depended on it?

I wasn’t impressed with this episode the first time I saw it and time has tempered that initial reaction only slightly. The strength of this episode lies in the details, but the plot could have used a bit more work.

Let’s breakdown this episode by its title:

The Good

While the society treats Quinn like a hero for gunning down a notorious lawyer, Quinn is torn apart by the incident. “Dead is dead, Professor,” he replies when Arturo tries to comfort him. It’s good to see that killing someone still means something, even when it is an act of self-defense. On too many television shows, people are killed every minute and no one bats an eye. Not this one. His relief is tangible when he learns it was not his bullet that took down that man. Jerry O’Connell does a terrific job in this episode. His facial expressions are priceless, particularly after he successfully bluffs his way through a challenge in Bullock’s office. Quinn’s dodged a bullet and he knows it.

Quinn may not be much of a marksman, but Rembrandt is quite the card shark. “Crying Man Slim” is an expert on all things poker and here poker is how stocks are gained and lost. Ridiculous? Sure. But a part of me has to admit that having poker tournaments replace the stock market seems as viable a system as what we’ve going now, and perhaps a little less arbitrary. Regardless, it’s a rather scathing indictment of our financial institutions and exactly the sort of thing a Sliders episode should include.

Give props to the prop department. This episode is littered with visual alt-history jokes. We have signs boasting “shotguns made to order,” gunfighter bubblegum cards, etc. The President here? Why George Bush of course. Mr. Bush is one of a long line of famous Texan presidents including LBJ and Sam Houston. When Quinn is able to name them all, Wade remarks, “It scares me that you know that.” Is Quinn great or what?

Unfortunately, that about does it for the good. Now it’s time for:

The Bad

The flow of this show is terrible. We jump from scene to scene with only the loosest of threads contrived to tie them together. Wade goes outside to get some aspirin and she runs into the Hardaways. Quinn leaves the stock market to get something from the hotel and he runs into the Hardaways. Walking down the street? Why, it’s the Hardaways! It seems all the Hardaways do must be hang out outside by the way the Sliders keep bumping into them.

All this time running out leaves any Slider not named Quinn more or less out of the action. Rembrandt gets to play some cards at least, but poor Arturo and Wade spend much of the time just watching other people. Will someone please give Wade something to do this season? She’s a great character played by a fine actress — utilize her!

In fact why don’t we write more Wade and get rid of Jamie (played by Keegan MacIntosh)? Could this kid be any more annoying if he tried? Admittedly, I’m not fond of using kids in this show. I found Sigmund, the boy from Eggheads, to be equally intolerable. The cute factor does nothing for me.

The episode pretty much falls apart at the end and I wasn’t really shocked by that development. I think it’s because deep down, I knew what everything was leading up to — another speech from Quinn. Quinn’s plea for this world to reject violence at the end is a cop out, plain and simple. Dude, these people shoot each other every day. It’s a way of life here. They’re not going to change because one guy wussed out of a gunfight. And what was Priscilla thinking dragging Jamie in front of Bullock’s gun? Talk about poor parenting instincts!

And then there’s the tribute to the classic western Shane. This is apparently all Tormé’s doing and I can only suppose he had dipped a little too far into the tequila when he decided to make these revisions to the script. Correct me if I’m wrong, but one of the ironies of the original film is that Shane, the hero, is dead. Quinn is merely gone. Personally, I could have done without it. I could really have done without Jamie calling out for Quinn. And was it just me, or was the final scene edited and re-spliced in the wrong order? One scene has Quinn right between Jamie and his mother; the next he’s gone; the next he’s back. It almost looks like the true closing lines of the episode were moved up so Jamie could finish with the “Shane” parody. Sloppy work people and for very little payoff.

The Rest

Any world that kills its own lawyers must be doing something right in my book, but I suspect this system of justice just wouldn’t work in practice. There’d be far too much of a temptation for vigilantism when “Right” and “Wrong” have no meaning. This is justice by fiat and I can’t see a seemingly democratic society standing for it.

And where oh where is resident Sliders lawyer Ross J. Kelley? If there was an episode suited for his particular brand of talents, this was it? He even could have been called Ross Jay to fit in with Billy Ray, Jim Bob and every other gunslinger in this town. We can only assume that Ross had long since been “out negotiated” when the Sliders arrived.

When all is said and done, “The Good, the Bad and the Wealthy” just isn’t that compelling. Tormé himself admits that the concept had merit, but it was difficult to execute. Maybe he’s right. Or maybe the Western genre truly is dead.

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