Subject:    Captain Infinity's review of "Net Worth"
From:       Captain Infinity
Date:       1999/01/12
Message-ID: <>

Spoiler Spaceship exhaust for the Slider's episode "Net Worth":

 "Anyway, like I was sayin', shrimp is the fruit of the sea. 
  You can barbecue it,
   boil it,
    broil it,
     bake it,
      saute it. 
        shrimp creole, 
         shrimp gumbo.
          Pan fried, 
           deep fried,
             There's pineapple shrimp, 
              lemon shrimp,
               coconut shrimp,
                pepper shrimp,
                 shrimp soup,
                  shrimp stew,
                   shrimp salad,
                    shrimp and potatoes,
                     shrimp burger,
                      shrimp sandwich.
                  That...that's about it."  --Bubba Blue, "Forrest Gump"

"Net Worth" held such promise.  The producers and writers of this show
know about "online", and there's certainly no shortage of folk who could
advise them about "online romances".  But when I heard Juliet's computer
say "you've got mail" I knew we had hacked into a story written by
someone who thinks AOL is the internet...and that we were in for a bumpy
ride on a rickety roller coaster.  "Hacked" is the keyword.

(What's that you say?  Her name wasn't Juliet?  You're right.  But it
doesn't matter, because even if it had been it wouldn't have helped the
story.  You'll see why.)

Actually, things felt "wrong" from the very beginning.  I liked the idea
of them sliding into a world where a physical obstruction blocks them,
inches from each other (I think the "sliding into solid objects" idea
holds promise, too, if a good writer can pull it off.  Imagine a world
where the inhabitants have the power to phase as energy through mass.
Someone getting "stuck" would clearly be an outsider.  But I digress.)

The first thing that bothered me was the attack by a gang of would-be
thugs who were clearly rejected auditionists for a bad remake of "A
Clockwork Orange".  Then the zap-ray from the building across the
street.  Then the impotent "security guards" in the building, seen once
and never again, not even at the end when they are called. (I'd like to
have seen their faces as they found one group of Offliners pointing
automatic weapons at a second group of Offliners, while an Onliner makes
kissy-face with yet another Offliner on the bed in the corner.  It would
certainly be something to talk about over coffee and donuts in the break
room the next day.)  My brow was knitted before the first Propecia
commercial, and I feared a clunker episode.

As a victim of an online romance myself, I can state as a fact that
Juliet's first meeting with "Rick" was totally bunk.  People who know
each other well online do not act that way when they meet face to face.
That she did not question Quinn's identity within ten seconds told me
that the writer was taking shortcuts, ignoring the need to get the
audience to "suspend disbelief" by *totally ignoring* the fact that such
disbelief exists.  This was sloppy and insulting writing.

The girl playing the lead was not a bad actress, she just had bad
material to play.  Romeo (Rick) on the other hand, was as bland an actor
as I ever hope to see.  The Lead Thug (can you tell I've forgotten
everyone's name?) could have taken the episode from bad drama to bad
camp if he had tried a little harder.  Hey, if someone is going to put a
weapon in my hand and a giant eyelash tattoo on my face, you had better
believe I'm going to slip into "Killer Klown" mode.

The greatest problem I had with the episode was the feeling that this
world was not populated.  It was empty.  I felt no sense of danger from
any "outside forces", because no one lived there.  The characters came
and went as they pleased, taking great pains to make it look like they
were struggling to get somewhere, but it was a cakewalk.  The fact that
the building recognized Juliet when it welcomed her back in with a
retina scan told me that Onliners come and go from the building as they
please.  So what was the big deal with the garbage chute?  If she can
scan her way in, she can certainly scan her way out.  Plus, when it
scanned her in, the transparent doorway politely stayed open until the
last of the long parade of thugs had entered.  I guess if you have an
escort, any number of Offliners are welcome to enter.  

In "Romeo and Juliet", the families kept the lovers apart.  In this
story it was supposedly the society fulfilling this function.  But the
way everyone moved from one society to the other, I never felt that this
separation was any more than lip service paid to motivate shallow
characters through a ridiculous plot.  It was as transparent as the
walls of the Onliner's building.

And speaking of those, why the huge windows looking out on the outside
if no one inside "thinks about it at all"?

There were just too many contradictory items and events to make this one
palatable.  Rick, an Offliner since birth, finds a fully functional
link...and knows how to use it?  Even to the point of hacking it so that
it clamps down on an unauthorized user?  The thugs have a burning desire
to get in the building, and a bazooka capable of blowing away the entire
floor of a building...but they never use such on the puny transparent
doors of the online building?  Doors that are protected by automatic zap
rays, conceivably because they're so vulnerable to such attacks that
shoving someone into one of them is enough to set off the ray?

Many parts of this episode reminded me of the recently re-run "Welcome
To Paradox" episode "Hemeac".  I found "Hemeac" to be boring, overall,
but even it had more real tension than "Net Worth"...and better acting.
Had the Sliders been removed from "Net Worth" there may have been enough
available time to make this episode enjoyable.  Not to dis the Sliders,
but they added nothing to this episode.  Remmy and Colin were unused,
wasted, Maggie was (as usual lately) too much the doe-eyed puppy-love
teenager, and Quinn displayed none of the problem-solving brilliance I
expect and want to see from him.  He should have been wearing and using
a head link within minutes...and making improvements to it.

And I gather from the previews that the next episode will be another
"Evil twin from a mirror dimension" episode.  Slider's seems to be
sliding into creative bankruptcy.  This is depressing, as the show has
always held such promise.  After all, there's "a thousand worlds" out why are they visiting the boring and implausible ones?

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