“The men love a good planking.” – Mister Brice.
Review by Mike Truman
Avast, mateys, for I am about to tell you the tale of “Heavy Metal,” a rousing yarn of adventures on the high seas, plunder, and hot, hot sex. Aye, ye heard me.
I suppose it was only a matter of time before Sliders got around to pirates. The question would be, what sort of pirates? Today’s pirates that hail from hidden pirate islands, raiding ships in quick strikes with modern weapons? Or the Caribbean pirates of old symbolized by a love of rum and the Jolly Roger? The production team decided, why not both? Hence, heavily armed pirates on modern vessels who raid ships for antique furniture and oil paintings while mandating one parrot or eye patch per sailor.
Our team gets involved with these scurvy dogs when the timer malfunctions and dumps them deep in the Pacific Ocean, where they are rescued by a merchant vessel that doesn’t ask too many questions. Diana chastises Rembrandt and Maggie for not changing the batteries – I’m not making this up – and declares that while her PDL can recharge the timer, she dare not open the device this far outside the sliding radius. Their only hope is to get back to California, but they’re sailing to Hawaii. “We could mutiny,” Mallory suggests, only to immediately take it back when pirates attack.
This gang of capable thugs is led by Paxton (Robert Cuccioli), a charismatic leader who takes a shine to Maggie. The team changes sides so they can hitch a ride to the mainland, and thus a steamy affair begins between the two. Let’s give Maggie some credit – she has managed to keep her pants on since the Dangerbunny days of season three. With Quinn out of the picture, she’s free to explore new relationships. This plot is solid; I’m just not personally invested in it. I don’t really ever feel Maggie’s going to leave the team for Paxton. It’s a fling between two lonely people who have lost their loved ones and must find the courage each day to get up and continue the fight. For you romantics out there, I hope you enjoyed. For the cynics, let’s move on to the rest of the story.
Piracy remains a professional career option in the Pacific because sea shipping is the only game in town. There are no airplanes sharing the load. It’s not that the world is technologically backward; it’s just missing a critical component – aluminum. No, it’s not in short supply. It doesn’t exist at all. As Diana tells us, the period table of elements goes right from atomic number 12 to 14.
Of course, if this were truly the case, the crew would have a lot more to worry about then returning to the sliding radius – they’d have to worry about what happens when dealing with different laws of physics. You can’t just skip an element. The Periodic table isn’t just a sequential listing; it’s arranged both vertically and horizontally. No aluminum would also rule out boron and thallium, as well as affect God knows how many other chemical compounds. I’ve already belabored this, but doesn’t anyone on this staff have an inkling of how science works? There are easier ways to rule out mass flight without resorting to this silliness.
Anyway, even the loss of aluminum isn’t stopping progress; new carbon fibers have been developed to form strong but lightweight aircraft. To preserve their way of life, Paxton and his men are hitting as many depots that contain this valuable cargo as possible. This has bought them the ire of the Coast Guard, who are determined to wipe out the pirate menace. Which under normal circumstances, I think we’d all cheer. That’s been a recurring issue this season – the Sliders are often teaming up with nominal villains. Yeah, these rebels flaunt the government by preserving their way of life, but so did the Confederate states.
After a successful pirate raid in San Diego, the Coast Guard strikes back hard and captures Mallory and Paxton’s first mate, Brice (Claudette Mink, last seen in “Slide Like an Egyptian”). Without any planning or discussion, we cut to Maggie and company attempting to trade the carbon fibers for the hostages. The Coast Guard double crosses them only to be triple crossed by the pirates. Our team slides away while Paxton gives consideration to hanging up his cutlass for pilot’s wings.
I’d now like to devote the rest of this review to outlining the proper ways of pirate fighting as illustrated by the battles of Acts 3 and 4.
Follow these simple instructions and you too can stage a dramatic pirate battle.
There are loads of other things that really start to weigh the episode down if you think too long about them (Since when can Rembrandt swim? How fast is this pirate ship if it can go to Baja from two days out from Hawaii in just a few hours?), but I find I was distracted enough by the glaring errors to pay these trifles much mind on my first viewing. Not a stellar outing from Black, though in his defense, I’d wager most of the ridiculous fighting sequences can be pinned on director Guy Magar. After getting saddled with the static “The Unstuck Man,” he may have let things get a tad bit out of hand. But that’s what happens when ye mess with pirates, bilge rats. Ye end up in Davy Jones’ locker.
|Previously: Review: A Thousand Deaths||Next: Review: To Catch a Slider|