Sliders: The Mindgame Court
There may just be a TV-within-your-TV in every single Sliders episode. Why has Marshall McLuhan not called me yet???
Today I write about my favourite Season 1 episode, hands down. It has the best story, in the sense of completeness, fantasy, plausibility, complexity, and emotional impact. And my favourite part of it is Mindgame . . .
Want to play? It's simple! =D
First, the captains of both teams each take a buzzer. Then the referee says something like, "One hundred scientists surveyed, top three answers are on the board: name a feature of relativity." The captain who buzzes first gets to answer, and if his answer is the most popular one, he gets the ball for his team.
In the event that his answer doesn't top the board, the other captain is given a crack at the question so he can "steal" the ball. (You know, Family Fortunes was always one of my favourite game shows.)
Once it is clear which team has possession of the ball, another question is read--one which must be answered with a list. Only the player holding the ball is allowed to speak, and he must do so without getting tagged by the players on the other team. If he is at risk of being tagged, he can pass the ball to a teammate who will finish the answer for him.
(I can do three: Brachiosaurus, Diplodocus and Supersaurus)
When the answer has been completed, whoever is holding the ball can slam it down on one of the court's thirty-six squares to claim it for his team. And then the other team gets a chance with the ball.
It is indeed a "mind game" . . . but inasmuch as there is no actual problem solving going on, it is about as mentally demanding as Trivial Pursuit. (Not that I'm complaining. That's the only board game I do well at.)
But there's no denying that the game is physically rigorous--and I can imagine that even in this world, where famous physicists have the sort of celebrity status our world awards to athletes, there are some of them who see Mindgame the way some of us see our own professional sports. That is, all Roman excess and no Greek values.
Then again, perhaps the appeal is in the strategy. It's not just about collecting the most number of squares on the court, but about collecting the squares that will let you take the other team's squares and keep your own squares safe.
If you block a line of the other team's squares by claiming the squares on both ends, then your team can take all the inner squares. But of course, you have to do this before the clock runs out on your turn!
Mindgame is reason enough for me to want to slide into this world every Saturday. (Well, every Saturday after my German lessons.) I could never play on a professional or even collegiate level, of course, but I'm sure I'd acquit myself decently in a game of pickup Mindgame at a community court.
If I play often enough, I may even take some of the star athletes seriously. Which finally brings me to the character twist. You see, in our world, we don't have the best opinion of professional athletes. We tend to think that people who make millions by being bigger, faster and stronger than the competition, though only in the bubble of some field or court, are inferior to those who must fall back on intellectual skills (like, you know, bookkeeping) in order to make an average living. And we've all probably said something like, "In an ideal world, _____ would make more money than entertainers," at one point in the past. This world accepts the challenge.
(Yes, I'm still counting)
So what happens when you take two Physics geniuses and make them really big stars? So I don't give away any (more) spoilers, let's just say that no profession is immune to the corruption that comes from celebrity status and the lure of money. (But we could have learned this from our own history . . .)
It can be sobering to think that the main reason you're not a huge jerk is that your circumstances have kept you in line. (Your conscience? What's that?) We all like to think we're more moral than this, but do we really know?
Your Turn to Slide: If your profession or specialty had celebrity status in another world, how big a star would you be?
Nota Bene: Only after I published the last Sliders post did I realise that I had, just like the Fox broadcasting company before me, put the Season 1 episodes in the wrong order. So the last post has been archived as "Episode 9", while this one shall be archived as "Episode 8".