The popularity of “The X-Files” and such films as “Stargate” presumably has given rise to a new crop of shows with sci-fi tilts. Fox’s latest entry is “Sliders,” an ambitious undertaking that reels with special effects while chronicling the adventures of a grad student and his cohorts who discover the existence of other dimensions from which they “slide” back and forth.
The weblet deserves a gold star for its efforts to create unusual fare in the constrained environs of the small screen. The “Sliders” concept delves into time travel, relationships and good vs. evil in a unique domain. And in an hourlong format it would have succeeded on all fronts.
But the two-hour preem tosses in a plethora of storylines and special effects that too often distract from, rather than enhance, the show.
The debut kicks into motion when Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell) endeavors to determine how to access other universes through a remote-controlled vortex dubbed the Gateway.
Viewers learn through videotape snippets, which are part of the logbook Mallory keeps, that he has sent a number of objects through the Gateway but none has returned. The next step, he advises the camera, is to go himself.
Though O’Connell’s Mallory is fun to watch, he too often mirrors a college-age Marty McFly. And with the addition of his physics professor (John Rhys-Davies) to the team of sliders, the show takes on strains of a “Back to the Future” rehash.
Scribes Robert Weiss and Tracy Torme try to push the boundaries by creating different Earthlike dimensions.
Director Andy Tennant succeeds in getting his talented cast, especially O’Connell, to sell this out-there story concept. “Sliders” has some serious themes but mostly is delivered in an entertaining, lighthearted fashion.