Lipschitz Live

"Did you have sex with her?" — The first reaction of both Lipschitz and his producer upon Quinn revealing he'd met his female double.

Review by Mike Truman


The Sliders take a welcome break from Kromaggs and neo-Nazis this week to yuck it up in an America dominated by a single television show. With no greater ambitions than a few laughs, “Lipschitz Live” meets this low standard. If you’re capable of leaving it at that, you may enjoy this outing. If not, it’s going to annoy the heck out of you.

This very brief adventure begins because of an oversaturation of complex RF radiation in the EM spectrum (Quinn’s words; we’re going to just have to trust him.) In other words, television — lots and lots of television; it’s so predominant even hobos have satellite TV hookups next to their trash fires. All this interference prevents the vortex from locking on to a single fixed spot, so it compensates by spitting Quinn and Colin out in different alleys and Rembrandt and Maggie on to the ledge of a high-rise building. The race is on to reunite at the Chandler Hotel before the next slide. Wackiness ensues.

Quinn’s adventure leads him to the titular talk show, Lipschitz Live, with your host, Barry Lipschitz (Charlie Brill)! This is an on-the-nose parody of daytime television; hosts like Jerry Springer and Jenny Jones are often charged with catering to the lowest common denominator, and yet that’s what brings in the ratings. Lipschitz Live takes it to an extreme; not only is it the hottest program on television, it’s the only program. If you’re not up to date with Lipschitz, then you simply don’t know what’s going on in the world. Yet if all you watch is the show, you’re guaranteed to be an ignoramus. Call it a parallel version of Fox News with chair fights.

Who are the kinds of people that watch Lipschitz Live? People like Hal the bartender (Scott Kloes) and the Chandler’s desk clerk (obstensibly Gomez Calhoun, but never named in the episode and played by actor Israel Juarbe). They know the importance of staying up to date, so much so they spend most of their time at work watching television. Hal is openly dismissive of Quinn’s love of books: “That’s the trouble with you kids today, you know? You read too damn much.” Gomez can’t be bothered to help any of our Sliders, but he’s not above basking in their reflected glory; upon seeing Quinn on Lipschitz, he cries, “I know that guy! I was rude to him.”

Colin has the misfortune of being mistaken for his double the day this world’s Colin is to be married. This takes us down a side trip into corporate alt-America where only a handful of businesses remain. Like home, they’re busy ridding the planet of dreadful competition by merging into one single mega-conglomerate. Even further, they function like the kings and queens of old Europe, solidifying their rule through marriage. To Colin’s horror, they consummate them in the same manner.

Some of this works all right, but there are some crazy logic holes in it all. For it to work, Colin has to be the heir to the fortune of the largest corporation in the world. The wedding has to take place at the exact moment and the exact location of our Colin’s arrival. Colin’s fiancée Roxanne (Jennifer McComb) has to ignore the glaring personality differences between the two Colins. Most important, the other Colin has to walk away from his obligations, temporarily forgetting it will cost him billions upon billions of dollars. It’s ridiculous, and not in the ha-ha way.

The other two Sliders? Rembrandt and Maggie spend their time with alt-Colin, unaware they have the wrong guy despite alt-Colin’s flashy jewelry, exaggerated New York accent, and personality transplant. This is the part that will annoy the heck out of you. Remmy and Maggie aren’t stupid, and to let this continue for half the episode implies they’re as numb as the audience of Lipschitz Live.

But enough about plot. The only real question is whether or not the episode is funny. To me, it’s funny in the way Jay Leno is funny. (That is to say, it’s not that funny.) The best jokes are safe and somewhat predictable. Sometimes you chuckle, sometimes you groan. If you want outbursts of laughter, however, better break out your first season tapes.

The show is at its comedic best on the set of Lipschitz Live. Quinn has no place here, and his fish-out-of-water performance is good for a few laughs. Quinn’s excited rant about RF radiation garners nothing but yawns from Lipschitz’s studio audience. Seeing he’s lost them, Quinn is forced to switch to more titillating subjects such as Logan St. Claire, which immediately snaps everyone to attention. Between the antics of his fellow guest Arnie Potts (Jon Kassir) and Lipschitz’s harangues about interdimensional aliens stealing American jobs, it’s a near perfect train wreck. It proves too much for Quinn who repeatedly loses his temper. After Lipschitz declares he’d like to see Quinn’s so-called vortex, he barks, “Maybe you will, wise guy. Maybe you will.”

The corporate jokes are a bit stale. While I got a kick out of corporations taking on the trappings of 16th century European dealings between royalty (right down to the voyeurism), the rest of the satire isn’t sharp. William Shatner’s Tek War? Not terrible, but not exceptional either. I’m also not sure what to make of Colin’s stepfather also being named Mallory. Is this a somewhat sophisticated joke referencing the inbreeding of royalty? Or just your garden variety production screw up?

I did laugh at alt-Colin, but I’m not especially proud of it. It wasn’t the accent so much as the flippancy that amused me. He can’t understand why these two strangers think they know him, but he’s not going to question it. Whatever works so long as it suits his immediate needs.

The meta-jokes vary depending on your disposition. I guess I’m not a big enough fanboy, because these fourth wall breaks only ticked me off. Nothing about this episode was more lame or cringe worthy as Colin declaring he was going to go purchase that network that shows nothing but science fiction programming. Ha ha hah. Ugh.

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