Data World

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 63, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Joel Metzger
  • directed by Jerry O'Connell
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Edward Ledding, Jerry O'Connell, & Marc Scott Zicree
  • Production # K2808
Story: Trapped inside a completely virtual version of the Chandler Hotel, Quinn and company must face off against the omnipotent mind of the hotel's founder Archibald Chandler (Roy Dotrice). Can mind triumph over virtual matter, or will old-fashioned brawn be more effective?

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.

There are a lot of good things about this episode, including a compelling guest villain and the anticipation of many elements of the popular "Matrix" film franchise, but it's still rough around the edges and can't quite rise above the fact that it boils down to one big inconsequential capture-and-escape routine. And it feels like virtual reality has really been overdone on "Sliders" recently.

After examining the scope of this story, perhaps it would be better titled "Data Hotel". Early portions examine the concept of "the empties", people whose minds have been sucked into the virtual resort, presumably by making contact with the doors to the Chandler Hotel.... ultimately that has to be a relatively small percentage of this WORLD's total population. Okay, so where are all the other people on this world who have NOT been sucked into this one man's virtual dream? Would they not realize that something's wrong in the area of the Chandler, and pull its electrical plug? This eats into the credibility of the premise, specifically the villain's dominance over everything else. Too bad the episode didn't spend a bit of time exploring this idea in place of some of its padding.

The story also plays it a bit fast and loose with regard to all the metaphors equating computer architecture with real objects. The writer seems to change his mind about whether Maggie is deleted or compressed, and the idea of a hidden directory looking like a cosy file storeroom that our characters can walk into is all a bit too convenient. Still, the episode has a lot of fun with its concepts and remains entertaining.

Where the episode works best is in Roy Dotrice's performance as villain Archibald Chandler, as he takes the sometimes corny ideas and makes them charismatic and compelling. Interesting is the fact that this is the first and only time in any world that we meet the man who probably started all versions of the Chandler Hotel, giving the character an extra sense of importance. I still disliked the scenes where old Archibald exerts his absolute power over the Sliders and makes them beg, mostly from a writing standpoint. It emphasizes how one-dimensional this arena is, grating against the variety that makes the rest of the story work, and the actors are so much more interesting and compelling in nearly every other scene. Thankfully, the greater variety reigns in terms of where most of the screen time is spent.

Jerry O'Connell is another enjoyably strong presence in this story, getting top marks for acting and decent ones for directing. Cleavant Derricks and Kari Wuhrer do a good job of supporting him in this one. Colin is once more sadly sidelined for most of the story again, until the end when he gets a bit of a spotlight action scene that gives his character some usefulness to the team.

Sadly, neither action nor logic are this episode's strengths, and the conflict is sadly one-dimensional. The chess game provides a great motif, and looks as if it might lead somewhere.... but after a very well-informed display of a textbook opening sequence, the chess game is abandoned, and we're left wondering if there was any point to it, or if the outcome of the game had any stakes attached, should our characters finish it. I do in fact feel cheated out of at least seeing it go far enough to suggest who had the upper hand, after anticipation had been built up so well.

One can't help in hindsight to compare the concluding action scenes with those of "The Matrix", and "Data World" does not fare very well. There just isn't enough sense of why the characters invest in these fake struggles or why they need to win. It seems too much like the bearded hippie is doing everything on his computer, and we should just wait for him to reboot the system instead of monkeying with everyone else's icons. Worst of all are the antics of the female action villain here. Are gymnastics supposed to be threatening in any way? A good dose of Indiana Jones' pistol is what these scenes seem to need most.

Technically, since we are at the Chandler Hotel instead of the old Dominion, perhaps we shouldn't be wishing for our old favourite character Gomez Calhoun, yet a story like this would definitely go up a notch if it had been set-up to feature familiar recurring characters the way that "Sliders" did originally in earlier seasons.

Well, this episode represents a pleasant enough way to spend an hour, but won't win any prizes for originality or finesse. The best part is definitely Roy Dotrice's realization of our favourite sliding hotel's founder, and it's too bad we couldn't have had him in a few other more interesting stories.

This story has become available on DVD. Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Season 4 DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
Season 4 DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "Way Out West"

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