Without A Trace Of Male Envy
(Lipschitz Live).


Screen shot 2013-04-07 at 5.35.47 PM

Last week, I dug deep, and found gold.

However fetid said gold was, it was still there. There was still some sort of kernel of worth, something that made the hour interesting. And sure, I might have been straining. Last week’s ‘thesis’ is mostly based on where I am as a human being. You could read that entry and wonder “Man, is he doing okay?” And I’d answer, “No, not really.”

But that’s alright. That’s not why you’re here.

Yet this week, what you’re here for… well, isn’t here.

I don’t know where it went. Sucked into the aether. Lost to time and space. Gone.

What I mean is, this isn’t an episode of Sliders.

And I don’t mean that in the “oh, this is soo bad” kind of way. Yes, it is, in fact, soo bad. But there’s a difference between this sort of ‘bad’ and the kind of ‘bad’ that defines “Time Again & World” as perhaps the absolute worst episode of the series. “Time Again & World,” at least, has the main cast acting as themselves. I don’t mean this in the “first cast best cast” sense. I mean it in the way that they are at least still readable as themselves. Arturo doesn’t, for example, start geeking out about tacos, or hiring a prostitute, or doing something that seems wholly out of the ordinary for him to do.

You may remember way back in my “Gillian of the Spirits” entry my distaste for the scene where Wade lights a prayer candle for Quinn. My dislike of that scene doesn’t stem from any sort of anti-religion or other sort of blasphemy. Instead it comes from the fact that it’s absolutely unbelievable to me that Wade would even think to light a prayer candle. Remember “Summer of Love?” or “Into The Mystic?” Or hell, any other episode with her in it. If the episode had added just one line to the effect of “I know this sounds strange, but…” then her lighting of the prayer candle would have been fine. Wade isn’t religious— she’s spiritual, but ascribes to a more free-spirit sort of spirituality. Rembrandt is the one who should have lit a candle. Wade should have reluctantly joined him.

The point I’m getting at is that none of the characters (except maybe Quinn, as ironic as that is) acts like themselves. Instead, they’re bent and broken into whatever shells of humans the script needs them to be. Charlie O’Connell isn’t a good enough actor for this to be a big deal. Rembrandt and Maggie, though, cause the episode real problems.

There comes a point when you maybe shouldn't bother anymore...

There comes a point when you maybe shouldn’t bother anymore…

For Rembrandt, it’s easy to miss the problem, because it’s a problem rooted deep in the character. “Lipschitz Live” would have you believe that no time has passed between “The King is Back” and now— Rembrandt has reverted to extreme comic relief. I’m pretty sure that hanging off of the edge of a building isn’t as bad as watching your best friend being dragged off by beings of pure hatred. But here we are, watching him scream and whine like he’s pining for his Cadillac again. It’s embarrassing to watch. And sure, Cleavant Derricks has the chops for it. But he also has the chops for so much more, and we’ve seen all of that ‘more’ throughout this whole season. I’m not saying the show can’t be funny (actually, maybe I am). But the show has to make it’s humor work with what we know about the characters. Remember “The Alternateville Horror?” That worked. This doesn’t. Mainly because it isn’t funny. (And do you really think that they’d be so fooled by the Colin double?)

Also not funny is Maggie. This is obvious, the “humor” section of “Just Say Yes” wasn’t so much embarrassing as it was offensive. This episode is no different. Here we have the last vestiges of n”Tough Fighter Pilot” drain away, leaving nothing more than a sniveling peril-monkey— something the show hasn’t really done to one of its main characters before. The real crux of how problematic this is is when Maggie hands Rembrandt the controls for the window washing platform, saying “you’re a man, you do it!”

“You’re a man, you do it!”

Because of course a woman couldn’t do it. A girl is supposed to be terrified. Rembrandt, are you terrified? That’s not very manly of you. You should feel ashamed that you have these girly feelings like “fear.” And again, here I am saying “Fuck You, Sliders.” AGAIN.

This show is a boy’s club. If you’re going to make a show about the human condition and what our actions mean about us, then you can’t leave out the majority of the population. Especially if you’re going to be actively sexist about it. Lest we forget that David Peckinpah made Wade go to a fucking Rape Camp because he thought it was a “funny” way to get rid of the character. Keith Damron wrote this shit heap of an episode— and oh did I shudder when I saw he wrote it— it’s more infuriating that the sexist under/overtones of this episode are so casually thrown around.

It's funny that this would be the episode where Quinn acts even remotely like the person he used to be.

It’s funny that this would be the episode where Quinn acts even remotely like the person he used to be.

Take for example, the ‘iconic’ line of the episode, where Quinn tells the crowd of Lipschitz Live about Logan St. Clair. “Did you have sex with her?” they ask. Quinn, thankfully, is disgusted. We as fans are supposed to take this as humorous. Which, no, not really, sorry.

But we’re also supposed to be pleased at the fact that a past adventure is being referenced. Which is fine in theory. But by framing it in such blatantly sexist tones, it accidentally opens us the hideous underbelly of the show. If you’ve forgotten, Logan St. Clair was supposed to be a recurring character until FOX straight-up told the show that Zoe McClellan wasn’t ‘hot’ enough to be on the show. Which is so blindingly infuriating. And by “Lipschitz Live” referencing Logan in terms of sexuality, the episode is adding to the barrage of sexism.

The thing is, though, that Logan St. Clair was a brilliant character not because she was a female double of Quinn. That was a good idea, sure. But she was also interesting because she was an extreme version of Quinn’s quest for knowledge. It’s not hard to believe that Quinn would turn into Logan eventually— just look at “World Killer.” Our Quinn had the ‘fortune’ of the sliding accident to check his hubris. Logan did not. Plus, Logan actually did try to seduce Quinn. That’s a complex situation for the show to take, and it’s one that I applauded. “Lipschitz Live,” though, ignores that complexity in order to make another joke about ‘sex.’ Another step on its path to fully put women in their ‘place.’ That kind of ‘humor’ has no place on any show I admire. It’s embarrassing, it’s infuriating.

I’d like to say that it isn’t Sliders. But that’s wishful thinking. This show’s emotional core is as rotten as its ideological one. So now we can add “sexism” to the list of things this show secretly is about, along with the “cynicism” we added last week.

STAY OUT OF MY TELEVISION.

STAY OUT OF MY TELEVISION.

You know what? I turned off this episode. I couldn’t watch it. It was boring, it was sexist, it wasn’t funny, Colin’s double is fucking stupid, the whole idea is lazy. The thing is, though, there’s a certain amount of inevitability to this episode that makes it even more unnecessary. It’s 1998, the whole Springer/Maury/Etc. ‘talk show’ craze is building up to full steam. It’s just as obvious for Sliders to ‘do’ Jerry Springer than it was for the show to do Twister in Season Three. But does it have anything to say about the daytime talk show reality television phenomenon?

No— it’s just fuel for Keith Damron’s idea of humor.

An evil kind of humor that goes unnoticed every day. A kind of humor that’s allowed to infest our society, and insult the majority of our own kind. Out of fear, out of jealousy, out of ignorance. That’s the thing— Sliders should do an episode that takes on the Patriarchy. But it doesn’t— it never could. It’s too caught up in the thing itself. If a mirror was held to this show, it would show nothing.

The demon's gaze looks out triumphantly over his vast domain.

The demon’s gaze looks out triumphantly over his vast domain.

With very few exceptions, this show is made by Vampires.

Here, you know what? Just watch this Peter Gabriel video. It does in 5 minutes what “Lipschitz Live” couldn’t do in 40—

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gxow3dobJm8

Next Week: please please please let me get what I want (Mother & Child).

 

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11 responses to “Without A Trace Of Male Envy (Lipschitz Live).”

  1. matthutaff says:

    Of all the episodes of Sliders produced, I never figured this would be the choke point for you. 🙂

  2. Thomas says:

    I enjoyed this episode for the most part. It seemed to bring back the comedy that was lost the past season and a half.

    • Ian McDuffie says:

      “The Alternateville Horror” was funny. The Nun’s story about taking a bath in “World Killer” was funny. The weird VR dick joke Rembrandt makes in “Virtual Slide” was funny. The humor is there— but it’s not rammed in our faces, which is (one of) the difference(s).

  3. Ian McDuffie says:

    BUT AMIRITE ABOUT THE PETER GABRIEL VIDEO?!?!?

  4. Quinn says:

    …in a sweater-vest?!

  5. Travis Else says:

    but…wasn’t the point of the “did you have sex with her?” line to MAKE FUN of people who cared about that stuff? You seemed to take it as the show embracing sexism and thoughtlessness, but I didn’t see it that way. Maybe I’m wrong, but I thought the whole Lipschitz program was to poke fun at season 3 and what Fox thought people wanted to see. Just throwin my hat in there. I thought it was a good episode.

    • Ian McDuffie says:

      Maybe that line was, but you can’t pair that idea with how Maggie’s treated in this episode— the two don’t match for tone. And if the episode is supposed to be a critique of Season Three, it could have telegraphed it in a much stronger way. I don’t think “Jerry Springer” is really a good comparison to “Movie-Rip-Off.” Sliders doing “Springer” is the same as Sliders doing “Twister.” But even “Electric Twister” had a more credible attempt to explain the workings of the world— and only accidentally hinted that it was a problem affecting the entire world. “Lipschitz” is too stupid to be a parody.

  6. Mark42 says:

    “… it’s more infuriating that the sexist under/overtones of this episode are so casually thrown around.[…]”
    This sounds similar to “The weaker Sex” but in the other direction. Where women are portrayed as peaceful,
    ultra-capable angels (who just happen to regard men as inferior). Of course the assassination attempt on Arturo

    has to be a man, because women are incapable of crime or violence. Cringeworthy… Just get used to it. The show is incapable of a healthy view of sex-relations.

  7. lovelypeace says:

    Yes, Maggie was annoying – “you’re a guy – you push the button.” Really? Season 3 Maggie never would have put up with Season 4 Maggie. She comes off like she has multiple personality disorder in this episode (and a lot of episodes, actually). I also kept waiting for Remmy and Maggie to ask where and how Colin got so much bling, so quickly. They had just landed on that Earth! It was so obvious that he wasn’t our Colin and just painful to go along with the premise for the sake of moving the story along. I just don’t care about the characters like I did in the beginning of the series.

    Remember when Alt-Colin was running through the audience giving everyone high-fives? Like it was the best thing that could ever happen to anyone was to be on that dumb show? That’s how I think these writers saw themselves. They seem to be giving themselves high-fives for writing and producing crap after completely destroying what made Sliders “Sliders”.

    It’s so annoying when you know that these characters could have been put in the same situation and if they were allowed to develop naturally (instead of fitting prearranged stereotypes), then it could have been a lot more interesting. (Or, at least, not as sexist). I still wonder why Maggie just pushed Colin and let him mouth off to her like that. She could have just decked the guy or kicked him “where it counts”. She’s supposed to be a freakin’ Marine! (At least, she was in Season 3). She could have made Alt-Colin shut up, if she really wanted to!

  8. Peter F Model says:

    I enjoyed this episode, but as indicated above this is not sliders. I saw the show send up those US shows where daughters become sex workers for money without their alcoholic monthers being aware, while her brother is having an affair with mom’s best friend. Very amusing.
    From a slider’s point of view, while I did not like the Maggie character initially, the one good thing about her was she was an aggressive and powerful woman – a bit annoying and in many ways un-military – but a good contrast with wade. Every time the show forgets this, as per this episode, it greatly annoys me. I must admit by the end of season 5 I liked maggie (unlike the combined Mallory character) What can I say, a good concept executed well for 2 (perhaps 3) seasons and totely stuffed up in season 4. Thank god Remmy stayed.