Time Again and World

"Don't even try to understand it, professor, it will just give you a headache." — Quinn, explaining the alt-world and pretty much summing up the episode.

Review by Mike Truman


Mention “Time Again and World” to most Sliders fans, and the only thing they’ll have to say about it is: “Don’t you mean ‘Time and Again World?'” Yep, this episode’s biggest claim to fame is that no one can remember its title. It has a recycled storyline, blatant internal continuity errors, and isn’t all that quotable. While I don’t consider it the least entertaining episode of the season, it is easily the most forgettable.

Our starting world looks pretty normal except the women have the ability to grow facial hair. Yeah, go back and read that sentence again, I don’t mind. Facial hair… and we wonder why writer Jacob Epstein was burned out? It’s complex alt-histories like these that can really tax one’s creative capacity. And oh yeah, Wade witnesses a murder but the group must slide out.

They arrive on a world eerily similar to the last one. Everything looks the same except here the women are clean-shaven. This world also seems to be behind by a few moments as the exact same scene replays itself. This time, Wade intervenes and the man murdered on the previous world guns down his would-be assassin. Problem is, that assassin is a cop. Oops, Wade’s bad.

Wade, torn up by her involvement in the murder, decides she will help the police even after being accosted by two thugs telling her to keep her mouth shut. She tells the cops what the dying men of both worlds told her and the police thank her for cracking the case. There’s only one thing that leaves her uneasy-the two thugs work for the police. Confused yet? Changed stations? Stop, here comes the good part. Good for laughing, that is.

You see, the main divergence for this world is that Edgar Hoover took over upon JFK’s assassination and turned the country into his own police state. He even went so far as to outlaw the Constitution and destroy every single copy of it but one, which of course fell into the Sliders’ hands on the previous world. Though it’s only been thirty-three years or so, no one remembers anything about the Constitution. That’s probably because they’re too distracted by the flashy skirt ensemble Hoover instituted for the nation’s finest.

To save the day, Quinn and Wade team up with the Noxzema Girl (Rebecca Gayheart) and her crusading father, a judge being held for possession of the Constitution — and cop killing, but that’s conveniently forgotten. Noxzema Girl really doesn’t have much more of a role here other than to look hot, which she does quite nicely.

In the end her father survives, some bad guys lose and the Constitution is spread over the Internet like a virus. We even get to see it infect all of the United States in a pointless overhead shot that I believe was ripped off from MCI. Unfortunately, everyone was too busy surfing the ‘Net for porn to notice.

If I can be serious for a moment, this has got to be the most contrived plot I’ve seen since they made Wade’s double a commander in the pilot. As if no one remembers the Constitution? And why would Judge Nassau go through all the trouble of getting the Constitution read on air when he could easily send it through a perfectly functioning Internet? Is he some sort of a moron? And how come the Sliders are so bewildered by their situation? Wade tells us they spent a full two weeks on the previous world. If Judge Nassau is trafficking Constitutions on both worlds, something ought to be ringing a bell.

Whatever problems we may have with the plot, the production errors easily trump them. Once again, the timeline makes no sense. With supposedly only thirty-six hours to the slide, they ought to be sliding out in the morning; they slide out at night. But it gets much worse. This slide way overshoots thirty-six hours. By counting the amount of times day turns to night and the context clues provided by the props and characters, I estimate they were there at minimum 51 hours. I say it here and I know I will say it many more times later — there is no excuse for such basic timeline errors. A quick revision of the script will turn it up every time. Of course in this case, I think they were also betrayed by their props. If you’re going to take close-up shots of clocks, make sure they’re correct!

The show was really into recycling its establishing shots. It happens both at the Top Hat and at Doppler. This wouldn’t normally be a problem, but they should have taken care to edit out Quinn pulling up to Doppler in his BMW from the pilot. We also have bad scene splicing. People who are clearly shown exiting reappear in different spots inside moments later. Judging by the sling on her arm, Noxzema Girl is injured at some point in the episode. Damned if I can find that scene! Did it happen while she was jumping into the car? It’s too soon to say that this show is notorious for these kinds of errors, but we’re quickly getting there.

There are also bits of contradictory dialogue. The dying words of two men clearly say the meeting will go down at eight o’clock. Wade repeats this to the police, yet Quinn tells Noxzema Girl ten o’clock. In a more comical moment, Rembrandt declares they’ll get into the club by flashing the “mean green.” Yet his currency is clearly purple. Much of problems with “Time Again and World” can be attributed to this being the first episode produced for the second season, but it’s still no excuse. It had to have been in the can for months before it aired. Ever hear of a touch up?

Or how about a new plot? Is there any other critical document to freedom we can remove and check the consequences? ‘Next week, the Sliders arrive on a world where the Magna Carta has been stolen…’ It’s getting old. Speaking of recycling, does anyone else feel as if this story was something left on the table from the first season that they didn’t get around to due to the hiatus? I have no information to qualify that statement; it is merely a gut reaction. Although the mere fact that Jacob Epstein is the author gives my suspicion some credence. Epstein is not as involved with the scripts as he was last year.

I actually like the idea of sliding between two nearly identical worlds. Why not? It’s never fully explained by the show just where dimensions exist in space-time. Doesn’t it seem logical that dimensions that spin off from each other would tend to be in the same region? They’d seem natural targets for a wounded timer. By that extension, we could also argue that’s why every earth they seem to encounter is not only habitable but tends to speak English. The lag in timing between the two worlds is a lot harder to explain, but in the interest of plot development, I suppose we’ll have to let it slide this time. It would be a lot easier to swallow had this episode been worth the contrivance.

“Time Again and World” is too riddled with mistakes to be considered adequate. It pains me to do it, but I can’t in good faith give it two stars. Somebody hire an editor and try again.

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