Athleticism is put in its proper place — recreation — in a world that treats its most accomplished intellectuals as superstars. Quinn and Arturo arrive as conquering heroes, fresh from their greatest achievement — sliding! The two decide to assume the lives of their doubles in order to find the machine that will get them home. This requires Quinn competing in the Mindgame Tournament, this America’s answer to the NCAA Basketball championships. If competing in a game he doesn’t understand isn’t bad enough, it gets much worse when he finds out how much his double owes the Mafia in bad gambling debts. Meanwhile, Arturo is reunited with his late wife — who is suing him for divorce. Once it becomes clear there is no sliding machine and that his double’s a fraud, Quinn attempts to do the right thing by winning the championship for his coach against the wishes of the mob.
It’s brains over brawn on a world where classical intellect and knowledge are the cornerstones of civilization.
The questions are flashed very briefly on the screen but their detail warrants freeze-frame analysis.
Q: What is the Linnaean system of classification for flora & fauna?
Q: Name the five dinosaurs that belong to the sauropod group.
Q: Name the eight units of measure beginning with the letter “P.”
Q: Name the six craters on the dark side of the moon.
Q: Name the different types of dynamic gas flow.
Q: What are the first eight lines of the standard Shellen eye chart?
Q: Who were the first eight men to orbit the earth?
Q: What are the layers of the Earth’s Atmosphere?
Q: What are four types of lasers?
Q: What are the five traditional branches of chemistry?
Q: From the softest to hardest, what is the Moh’s scale of mineral hardness?
Q: Name a common characteristic of string theory? Quinn give his answer as Multiple dimensions though it’s not the most correct answer. He’s unhappy with the #1 answer given by M.I.T. (infinite density) because string theory, the building block for sliding, was his specialty at university. Needless to say, he knows the #1 answer isn’t true.
Q: In the human head, what are the 12 cranial nerves?
Q: Name the four heaviest chemical elements?
Q: What is * (Pi) to 13 places?
“Intellectual refinement is one thing. Moral refinement is something different.” — Arturo’s musing about Einstein World.
When Quinn, Rembrandt and Wade are being chased by the mobsters backstage at the Mindfield, they run right past two guys in togas and a huge Einstein bust.
While the history of this world isn’t explained in great detail, the basics of Einstein World are pretty simple: smart equals cool. Here, people walk around with books while boom boxes blast classical music and songs about famous authors.
Everything in this world essentially mirrors Earth Prime with the exception that professional sports, like football and basketball never reached the same popularity here. There is athletic competition, but it comes in the form of “Mindgame,” a court-played hybrid of the board game “Othello” and the game show “Family Feud.”
In Mindgame, teams of three players are led by captains who square off with one another at the center of a sectioned, numbered court and must beat each other to a buzzer to answer a scientific trivia question, often containing multiple answers.
The captain that wins gets his team possession of a basketball-sized ball which is thrown in-play to his fellow players after the referee reads a question. As long as a player has the ball, he must provide an answer to the question in order to move around the floor, all while trying to avoid getting tagged by an opposing player. Tags are made by touching to a holster-like device worn on the hip of all players.
The player with the ball works toward getting to a certain numbered square (out of 36 squares total) on the court but can only do so after he’s answered the entire question completely. Strategically, if a player captures the right square, his team can take over all of the squares that lay in between that square and another square already captured.
A game lasts for three periods, 60 minutes total, and points are given out depending on how many squares a team captures. In the end, the team with the most squares wins.
Yes, it probably sounds complicated, which is why only geniuses can play — and the Quinn on this world was one of the best. An All-American academic decathlete, most valuable player in the California High School academic championship, and TV Physicist of the Year. Here, Quinn is the Michael Jordan of Mindgame and he’s in good company; Carl Sagan and Stephen Hawking were both also Mindgame superstars in their days, in fact, Hawking wrote a book on how to achieve technical superiority in the game. The Mindgame college championships have been played for 27 years.
Such a world of elevated intellect seems to be a terrific place for Quinn and Arturo’s doubles to display their supreme intellect but alas, they have squandered their opportunities. Alt-Quinn here is an academic superstar complete with magazine covers and shoe company endorsements but who has who essentially turned bad. After developing mob ties, becoming immersed in gambling debts and evading his taxes, he’s now wanted by the FBI. Alt-Arturo is a popular, touring orator and chairman of the University of California but his wandering eye has ruined his marriage. Both have dropped out of sight.
The working title for this episode in pre-production was “Genius.”
· · ·
Tracy Tormé says that it was Robert K. Weiss who came up with the working concept for Mindgame. “That was all Bob’s idea, he really worked hard on that,” he said. “I didn’t have much to do with it and I don’t know a lot about it but I remember that he spent a lot of time just trying to make the game as good as he could.”
Whoever thought it up, it didn’t rank high on Tormé’s list of first season episodes. “My least favourite was ‘Eggheads,’ — that was the thinnest in terms of the plotting.”
|Scott Smith Miller
|Scott Smith Miller & Jacob Epstein
|The Weaker Sex
|The King is Back
“Eggheads” attacks the cult of celebrity with a smart edge while placing Quinn and Arturo through the wringer morally and ethically. Where do you end and your double begin?
While Quinn struggles with fame in a world where intellect is prized, Arturo tries for a reconciliation with a long-lost love.