I could certainly tell the difference. (Pilot, Part Two)

Yes, I know. The Pilot of Sliders is actually a feature-length episode, and not a two-parter. But there are reasons for splitting in to two. One is that my post on the first half was so fucking long that if I tried to do the whole thing in one go, I’d have broken the internet.

The other reason is that the second half of Sliders is actually a point for point, scene for scene, act for act outline of how most episodes will play out. I hadn’t noticed this until I mentally mapped out the plots for the halves. The second half is more like sliders by numbers than half the episodes of the first season.

In any case, Quinn has yet to come out of the Vortex. In fact, he never comes out, and the rest of the team mourns his loss for five more seasons.

Just kidding! He comes out, like, two seconds after Wade was crying about it.

If he really put his arm out like that, it would be SO broken.

Quinn sticks his landing like a champ and everyone is so relieved! Wade is still a little teary, though, the cutie. Quinn sees this this and actually says “what’s with the tears, you hit your head or something?” To which Wade actually replies “yeah, maybe I should get it examined.” These two idiots are perfect for each other.

Rembrandt, being a man who is devoted to his work, wants to get to Candlestick Park in enough time to sing the anthem. But he’s in a bind, because his Caddy is still on Ice World! What a drag! Now he’s got something to bring up every five minutes to make Quinn feel bad.

Eventually you will be merged with a fraternal double and I will regret this moment.

Rembrandt settles for a taxi, Wade goes to phone her parents, and Quinn & Arturo, being loners, I guess (so much for Quinn being a Number One Son), go for a walk. They’re having a nice chat about the interdimension and how Quinn is a little bummed out about being home. Arturo reminds him (and us, unfortunately) about the CG tornado they were almost killed (or whatever) by. Quinn is unfazed by the tornado, but he is fazed by the fact that they’re in a park instead of the basement. Arturo posits that it’s probably what Alt-Quinn was trying to tell him, which is a pretty paper thin guess as to a really important piece of sliding advice would be. But before Quinn can say “yeah, it was probably more important than that,” Arturo is himself fazed by this:

It's even the same hack sculptor on this world!

It’s Lenin! Ho boy! Y’know what this means? More wacky sliding adventures are to come, because our Bros are definitely NOT HOME YET. Meanwhile, Wade tries to make a phone call, but the phone company is a bunch of NARCS and tell her she’s in violation of something and that they’re sending some goons to her booth. She’s confused by this, but probably would have been less confused had she looked at the booth before entering it:

More like NARC's NARCophone and NARCograph.

Rembrandt is also not doing so well. He’s run into a toll booth! (Not to mention the fact that his cab driver, Pavel or “Pay-Vell,” as Remmy calls him [oof], doesn’t speak English [and also they turn on the Radio and they’re playing the Russian National Anthem {to which Remmy says “Must be playing a Canadian team” <which turns out to be the first instance of Canadian jokes on Sliders, which make sense in the first two seasons that are filmed in Canada, but stops making sense once production moves to LA.>}])

Anyways, the Toll Booth. Pavel asks Remmy for money for the toll, and Remmy’s like, “aight, I’ll flash the mean green!” Pavel runs out of the cab. He’s like, freaking out about Remmy’s mean green:

I am, like, freaking out about this mean green.

Which prompts the narc in the tool booth to call her fellow narcs on Remmy:

Some crazy Alderman is totally getting re-elected for this.

Rembrandt gets a pretty great line when he melts into the back seat: “y’all wanted exact change, is that it?” By great line, I mean, not so great, but kind of funny. I would probably have already soaked Pavel’s cab in urine if I had four billion machine guns pointed at me. Rembrandt, in his cowardice, proves to be more of a man than I.

In another part of this zany red-state, Quinn, Arturo, and Wade are seeing some crazy things. Look, here’s the sleeping hobo from part one!

In this world, I AM Campus Security!

As night falls (like, really, really quickly, I might add), they come to a busy part of town. By busy I mean that every car is on fire and people are being slaughtered in the streets. Seriously, people are being gunned down! The Sliders take that one with an inappropriate amount of stride, I feel. They are like, so chill about street-side executions. Also, old ladies are thrown into cars without reason! The commie thugs who throw old ladies into cars though are pretty sloppy about it, though. This guys lets his imposing (beige) trenchcoat hang out of the car:

Either he doesn't give a fuck, or he DOESN'T give a FUCK.

Okay, maybe the Sliders aren’t that chill about public executions, but the Professor is without a doubt in the mood for food. The dude has serious munchies, and he’s like “DAWG GOTTA EAT.”

Wade is flabbergasted at the offer to 'nibble on his sausage.'

But Arturo pulls a Rembrandt (which somehow I feel is going to be a phrase I use kind of often in the future) and gives this long-hair the Mean Green. The Long-Hair is like “bro, no dice,” and hands him the …Rad Red? Whatever, he hands him this:

No, sir, I do not want a flyer for your Rave.

That money looks really dumb. But Arturo thinks it’s pretty cool, which I guess shows on his face plainly, because Long-Hair is like “dawg, come with.” Wade is also concerned that these bros are about to be up in her BIZ because of her Phone Booth Kerfuffle:

We are about to be up in your BIZ because of your Phone Booth Kerfuffle.

(I should add that the above screencap came from before Arturo handled his sausage, which means that those NARCs were munching on sausage, saw the Sliders bee-lining for the sausage cart, got way out of the way of them, then started chasing them again. Instead of just, y’know, waiting for them to buy a sausage and then arresting them. This is why communism failed.)

It’s pretty funny that Wade says “It’s the phone company. I disobeyed their commands and now they’re after me,” and everyone else doesn’t think that’s the silliest thing anyone could ever say ever. But no matter, they’re on the run now!

If I had a nickel for every time these chumps were on the run...

Take notice of the whitish blur in the top-right corner. That’s Arturo’s sausage, that he tossed away with a groan! Comedic genius. No, I’m serious.

Anyways, the Sliders escape the clutches of the EVIL PHONE COMPANY by hiding behind some stuff:

Stuff. Works every time.

Having evaded the EVIL PHONE COMPANY (I capitalize this because of its ridiculousness), Long-Hair takes the Sliders to… nothing!

Not a show-er...

Just kidding! He flips a switch, and voila:

...but a grow-er.

He keeps referring to Wade as “Commander,” which is weird, because Wade is obviously just a Computer Store Worker and hopeless romantic (towards Quinn, at least) and will always be so no matter what Universe they are in. Or something. But who cares about that, when there’s actually a REVOLUTION:

Or just some stoners. With guns.

And when I say REVOLUTION, I actually mean “a few people with guns and computers. In a… abandoned sewer? Bunker? Underground… thing?” They’re rag-tag! That’s charming! I’m rooting for them! I love America! Fuck Russia! Was this episode written in the 80s? Isn’t the Cold War over? I guess not for this stallion:

AMERICA! FUCK YEAH!

Yes, that is a dude with an american flag bandana around his neck making out with Wade. Hardcore Making Out with Wade. Quinn looks like he’s worried about her. Which is probably because Quinn has A) never made out with anyone, B) has the secret hots for Wade, and C) has never even seen anyone making out anyways. After making out with Wade FOR-EVER, the lead black dude says “Welcome to the Revolution,” which is a pretty awesome thing to say to some people after making out with one of their friends for an hour.

But seriously, they have such stunned expressions! They look more shocked that this strapping african-american fellow would MO Huge with Wade than they looked at the sight of urban squalor and fascism! Which is pretty funny, considering Communism is supposed to be the Left, and Fascism the Right, but all the things we see in this episode clearly fall in to the classic sci-fi trope of “fascistic dystopia.” I mean, there’s a difference between political fascism/communism and, I don’t know, governmental fascism/communism? I mean governmental in the ‘what we do to our citizens’ kind of way. This “Soviet World” just seems a little confused to me, is all. But I digress.

Quinn & Arturo are strung up by the wrists. In the morning (I guess), a babe in an American Flag shirt and High-Waisted Pants (good to know it’s still the 90s in Soviet World) cuts them loose and brings them to Wilkins (our strapping young black dude who was making out with Wade). Wilkins is wearing the best shirt ever of all time:

Seriously, if someone wants to search Etsy for this...

Arturo is so pissed at him for making him sleep funny! He calls him a ‘blistering idiot!’ That, I’m pretty sure, is the first time Arturo has called someone that. It will, by no means, be the last. Anyways, the Resistance is all “we didn’t believe you were from an alternate universe, because why would we that’s ridiculous,” but then in the next sentence they’re like “but anyways now we do believe you,” and Arturo is like “actually, I think that’s ridiculous,” but the Resistance tells him that their Wade (or I guess Alt-Wade) is a totally huge big deal commander. Wade is impressed with herself:

Look guys! I got my braces off!

They inform our heroes (HA!) that Wade’s being held prisoner at a converted college campus now prison. Which, of course, is being run by none other than Alt-TURO. (As in, a double of the Professor.) Arturo is very stuffy when he hears this:

Seriously, if you look up "stuffy" in the dictionary...

Quinn, being nosy, asks Wilkins how he realized Wade wasn’t Alt-Wade. Wilkins, giving Wade the most obvious “I am looking you up and down obviously because I don’t have to look you up and down because I have seen your whole body without clothes on,” and says “Wade is my commanding officer, and my lover.” Quinn dies inside a little, but then Wilkins says “the two may look identical, but I could certainly tell the difference,” and Quinn dies all the way inside.

Apparently this is a Sexual Revolution now instead of an American Revolution.

Okay, whatever. Quinn is a child. But then they get into the HISTORY. After the curly haired resistance fighter tells Arturo their sob story about how he used to be a surgeon and Wilkins was an airline pilot (snicker snicker), he let’s out some funny line about “it’s liberty or death for all of us.” Arturo, to avoid laughing in his face, asks him how America got this way.

Have you seen my sausage? It fits easily into my hand, like this...

So, Soviet World Alternate History:

•We lost the Korean War

•This leads to Russia successfully invading China.

•Then Europe, then South America.

•Because of this, America becomes Economically isolated from everywhere else in the World. The Red Half of the World had access to technology and wealth, while America had no money to do anything with, and collapsed in on itself.

•Funny how the last thing is sort of happening to America right now without any sort of Red Scare involved.

Arturo remarks to erryone about how that’s a real-world example of Our World’s Domino Theory:

Guys, let's get a pizza.

While Arturo is having that heady discussion, Wade is watching Primetime Television:

Yeah, we're rapping with pillow cases! Yeah!

That rap group has great lines like “because the in-di-vi-du-al is EVIL.” Thrilling. Anyways, they change the channel, and that’s how we find out how Rembrandt is doing!

Rembrandt has finally made it as a TV STAH.

He’s being put to trial on the PEOPLE’S COURT. Get it? The People’s Court! It’s like how The Rock used to have all those signature moves like “The People’s Elbow” and “The People’s Eyebrow” and they had these vaguely communist undertones but there was nothing at all vaguely communist about The Rock, and how that analogy to The Rock’s signature moves is similar to how calling a show The People’s Court also has vaguely communist undertones but otherwise is not really that communist.

Anyways, this sequence is pretty funny (I mean, come on: “Comrade Wapner!”). It’s things like this that make me agree with the “Humor” angle on Sliders. The little things about our culture that can be shifted a little bit to make a funny like poke. The “Comrade Rap” was a failure in this. That was similar to the Radio Jock from Part One, where it seemed like the bit was written after reading about shock radio. That rap was written like someone who had seen the fake raps about science on Bill Nye and thought that A) that was actual Rap Music, and B) that Bill Nye was actually a primetime television show.

The People’s Court, though, is a spot on inversion of reality. It also puts Rembrandt in a position where his confused anxiety kind of comic relief makes sense. At this point, if Remmy is in a dramatic, serious situation, it’s going to read wrong, because he’s overacting his way through it. But in something like The People’s Court, he’s perfect. He fits with the material.

That won’t be true forever. One of the best parts about the show is the growth of Rembrant Brown, not only as a character (about which, stick with this, because WOW), but of the way Cleavant Derricks gets a hold of him in an acting sense. When we get to “The King is Back” this season, you’ll see what I mean.

Anyways, Rembrandt gets sentenced to 15 years in a GULAG! (To which Rembrandt says “don’t you mean 15 dollars?”)

Note how his hair is still PERFECT.

It turns out that Remmy’s going to be held, briefly before being moved to a Gulag, in the same place where Alt-Wade is being held, briefly before being executed. Now we have a last-act plan! TOTALLY HUGE SHOOTOUT IN A SCHOOL-TURNED-PRISON!

To sneak into the School-Turned-Prison, they get our Arturo to pose as Alt-Turo:

Because of course the Resistance keeps Plus-Size Russian Officer Costumes handy at all times.

Obviously this goes well… until they get the alarm set off on them, which prompts the SHOOTOUT!

All those late night LAN games of Red Alert finally paying off...

Naturally, they get everyone out of jail easy (because that’s always the easy part). It’s just the getting out safely that’s the hard part! Wade is busy dodging bullets while this dude does that dope Two-Guns-Pow thing:

DO A BARREL ROLL

Quinn, faced with a gun in his face, pulls his Karate Skillz out of his ASS and drop kicks this guy:

FINISH HIM

He almost shoots him in the face, too (WHAT), but then pistol whips him instead. What a good guy! Then he runs around shouting “WAAADE,” which, much like Professor calling people “blistering idiots,” is something we will have to get used to.

Then this happens:

FUCK SCIENCE.

Arturo does a real barrel roll under a truck and hops in. Rembrant, being a man of sense and inaction, just opens the door. But then they drive off! Quinn finds Wade (who looks oddly perplexed at him, but that’s probably because shit is blowing up like crazy), and they go to a truck! Everyone is on a truck now! Success!

Oh, wait, it’s not success until someone stands up in a Jeep and shoots a bazooka at something.

There we go.

Now it’s a success! Everyone is so excited! (Also wouldn’t like, A BILLION soviet trucks be chasing them?! I guess not.) Quinn is so stoked! Rembrandt is so stoked! Wade is asleep:

Too much birthday.

Oh, no! She’s not asleep! Thanks to the tried and true “I pull my hand away from their back for a second and see blood,” we know that’s she’s been shot! WAAADE! NOOO!

I like my Sliders with extra Ketchup. (TIDDY BOOM!)

No jokes now, though.

Quinn just wanted to have fun. He made a wild invention, brought some friends over, and had an adventure. Sure, Ice World was a drag, and they almost died, but everyone got out of it okay. Rembrandt was pissed about the car, but that’s just a thing, anyways. Quinn just was a young man who loved Science. He brought the two people who meant the most to him along on this ride because he was proud of it. He wanted to share this amazing thing with the people he loves most (though he might not admit it to himself).

And now one of them is dead. Rembrandt, too, realizes that this trip is not only a trip, it is also very serious. All of the sudden, there’s no humor on his face:

Just sorrow.

He’s been through a lot on this ride, and done an admirable job of taking it all in, but this stops him. He crumples to the ground, in tears. Quinn is shaking back and forth, horrified that his best friend’s blood is on his hands— literally and metaphorically, after all, if he’d never pulled her away from Wilkins, she’d probably be okay.The weight of every World is on my shoulders.

But then the best thing that ever happened to Quinn happens again. He hears his name, and realizes that the greatest, most amazing part of being able to slide between dimensions, is that there’s more than one of everything:

It's deeper than just "buds," now.

It was Alt-Wade that died, not Our Wade. Which could almost be a cheap one, but it isn’t. Not here. Wade asks what’s going on, and Quinn won’t tell her. He tells her not to look, and he looks her straight in the eye and tells her that he will get her home.

You should probably get that in writing, hon.

Back at HQ, Rembrandt is singing “Amazing Grace” over the Resistance fighter’s dead bodies:

How about a little more vibrato, Remmy?

All around, plans are being made. The Resistance may have lost a leader, but they’re stronger than ever. They’ve heard reports of other cells taking up arms around the country. It’s a small movement, but it has faith, it has conviction. And, pretty surely, all that conviction wouldn’t have really been found if it wasn’t for the Sliders. So even though they had a vague hand in a lot of death, they also inspired something that could make that death worth something.

But they can’t stay around to find out if the Resistance is successful. They’ve got a Home to get back to. But before they do that, they’ve got to have a spirited nighttime run away from a last set of NARCS:

My friends run through the dark in the alleys in the night, hey hey.

They get back to that shitty Lenin statue, but for a minute it looks like Quinn’s dope-ass cellphone isn’t going to work! But then it does:

It's really hard to look Cool when you're sliding, I guess.

YEAHHH! WORMHOLLLLEEEE:

Then you take a left past the uvula...

And they’re home! Yeah! They are so excited to be home. They’re like “now that we’re home, let’s go to Quinn’s at eat all his Mom’s food!” So they do. But first, they get to Quinn’s gate.

I may have just thought I saw a friend Die, but I am also very serious about opening this Gate.

Quinn gets real solemn and says “this gate has been squeaking since i was 12” or something. The implication is that if it squeaks, they are home, and if it doesn’t, they are not home. This is obviously the dumbest litmus test EVER. A thousand things could happen to a gate to make it not squeak! It could be the weather! It could be your gardener oiling it! UGH! But anyways, the gate squeaks, and soon they are high-fiving each other and hanging out with Quinn’s mom:

Why are there SO MANY PATTERNS in Quinn's house?

Immediately they are having a great time at dinner. They are chatting like they are old friends! They are connected by this crazy thing that just happened to them! BFFS 4EVZ!

We are NOT "BFFS 4 EVZ."

Meanwhile, Arturo pulls a Doc Brown and says “Guys, let’s destroy the Sliding Machine, I’m going to make a comparison to Einstein regretting the Atom Bomb, and also be very serious.”

And by very serious I mean very DRUNK.

Quinn, is probably thinking “Dude, that thing is in my basement and also I made it WITH MY BARE HANDS maybe we, y’know, shouldn’t destroy it?” But he actually says “but there are probably totally dope worlds without War or Cancer.”

Yeah, dude. War. Cancer. BOO YAH!

To which Arturo wisely points out that there are probably other worlds that have worse Wars and worse Cancers. Which is pretty valid. But anyways, being BFFs now, they toast to things that they dig. Quinn is pretty boring, he’s like “to wherever you are.” He clearly expects the others to follow his lead and make a complete sentence. But instead, Remmy says “and whatever your struggles,” because he’s a man concerned with the oppressed (just kidding, he only cares about himself [also, that is already becoming less true]), Wade says “to the revolution,” because she got laid (though how bad must Wilkins feel about having sex with someone who wasn’t his girlfriend the night before his real girlfriend is killed), and Arturo says “and to the end of a journey,” because he’s optimistic (and just wants these other idiots to shut up so he can drink more.)

But pretty much as soon as they finish toasting, life drops a bomb on ’em:

SHA-BAMP-A-DA-BWOWWRRR.

In case you weren’t paying attention, that’s Quinn’s dad. Quinn’s dead dad. Who is alive. And standing in front of them. Clearly not dead. Wah-wah, you’re not Home!!!

Thoughts, guys?

"Drag."

"Drag."

"Drag."

"Bummer."

Having established that they are not Home, Quinn decides that he doesn’t give a F U C K, and he’s going to R A G E.

I'mma ruin ya carpet all up wit dis GRAPE JUICE.

Fade to Black. The adventure has now begun. I’m sure the next episode will begin with Quinn apologizing to his Mom about the carpet, and Wade getting some soda water to clean it up. Rembrandt will go in the other room and tussle with Quinn’s dad, and Arturo will sit silently at the dinner table, continuing to drink himself into a stupor.

Or, y’know not. SEE YOU NEXT WEEK!

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Well, I wouldn’t go that far. (Pilot, Part One)

The story goes like this: Tracy Tormé read an article (the way that he never elaborates on that part of the story makes it seem like he was sitting in the doctor’s office waiting for some unseemly exam). The article was about the American Revolution, and how at one point George Washington was almost hit by a British bullet. Tracy realized that if that bullet had hit ol’ G.W. anywhere else, he’d be dead, and we as Americans would be screwed. He, being a nerd, probably formed the thought like this: “Man, in a parallel universe, we’d be screwed.”

Robert K. Weiss, apparently also a nerd (and as a man who directed multiple music videos for Weird Al, this is negligibly debatable), was thinking how cool a show about parallel universes would be. He was thinking about The Twilight Zone, he was thinking about Time Tunnel (but ‘sideways’). He was probably thinking about Spock with a Beard. He was thinking about how it’s a concept that hadn’t actually been done to death, wrung out to dry, thrown in the television graveyard.

So these two nerds (and as for Tracy’s nerd-cred, he wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation in it’s first two seasons, and apparently made up Lwaxana Troi, which I just learned this morning and am going to have trouble forgiving him for. Also, nerd. [says the dude writing a blog about Sliders]) got to talking. They were thinking about developing a show together, and in the course of what one imagines was like, two seconds, they both agreed that parallel universes was the way to go.

So where does that bring us? It brings us to March 22nd, 1995 in the real world, watching FOX and eating, I don’t know, Doritos and drinking some Ecto-Cooler. We’re wearing cut-off Guess jeans and wearing a Garfield tank-top. Valeri Polyakov came back from outer space with a merit badge for “long-ass time in space.” It’s the 90s, baby.

But when this new show comes on the air, we’ve shifted back in time a little bit. It’s 1994, and it’s September, and, like I said last time, we’re in a San Francisco basement.

Did I mention that we're in a San Francisco basement?

Someone rewinds a tape. On a television screen, a young man extolls the virtues of a “big, weird thing.” He tells us that we should have seen it, that it came out of nowhere, that it made some sort of a whooshing sound. Then a woman’s voice shouts “Quinn!” Now we have a name for our way-too-excited-about-a-big-weird-thing nerdy (yet just handsome enough to look like a jock still) fellow. Though we don’t quite know for sure he’s a nerd, but he’s definitely nerding out on this “big weird thing.” This “Quinn” fellow pulls a pre-Blair Witch-Blair Witch, looks us viewers right in the (camera)eye, and tells us he just knocked out the power.

I love to tell Ghost Stories to Myself in my Basement and film them. Like you do.

All in all, it”s not a bad way to start a series. We have mystery— what on Earth is this “big weird thing?” We have a character that already is someone we can like— he looks genuinely excited about this big, weird thing. Which is important, because it shows us that this young everyman here is really impressed with something. There’s wonder to be had, and that flip of the flashlight into darkness is our invitation to find out what it is. It’s a finger waving “come on!” It’s an open door.

Let’s follow this Quinn fellow and see where he takes us. Who is he, anyways?

The show chooses a pretty smart way to force feed us some information about who this dude is: it pans across a cluttered room while the main credits roll. Which is also how we are first greeted with this font:

Every time I see this font in real life, I get overly excited.

Let’s list the things we pan across in Quinn’s room:

•”You Are Here” cosmos poster.

•Basketball hoop with dunked sweatshirt.

•Sharks hockey jacket with hockey stick wrapped around sleeve

•A telescope with a bumper sticker that says “I Brake for Asteroids”

•In the background, we see a shelf lined with trophies—whether for science or sports, it is unclear.

•Quinn’s desk, with Globe, tiny wood-stick sculptures, ancient and huge laptop, mass clutter.

•Surfboard

•In front of a poster which appears to be a Magic Eye of the Cosmos, a dresser that has a baseball glove and dinosaur toys on it.

•A 49ers hat on what I guess is an exercise machine? Also, the floor is dirty and has clothes everywhere.

•A cat! A fuzzy furry cat! Meow!

•This guy:

My pillow is made of Granite.

So who is Quinn? Apparently Quinn is an amalgam of everything that a four to ten year-old would be into. He loves S P O R T S, like sooo much. But then he loves the COSMOS. He surfs and plays basketball and baseball and works out! But then he wears glasses and has a telescope and reads some book called HYPERSPACE.

Taken as a list of these things, Quinn is an attempt to appeal to literally every 18-34 demographic male ever. But, if we’re going by the glasses, the nerd sect of that demographic is just barely winning. Yet a man is not made by his things. Who is Quinn, really? (Other than someone who listens to a Howard Stern-esque [and by esque I mean the radio announcer is written by someone who seems like someone told them about Howard Stern and thought ‘how edgy!’] radio show that’s hosting a Miss Nude Feminist Pageant. On the radio. Gosh, I’m sure this radio show won’t figure at all into the plot of this episode.)

LEGGO MY EGGO

Quinn is a 20-something dude who lives with his Mother. His mother who very casually refers to his Dead Father. His Dead Father who Quinn says was hit by a Car. Quinn and his Mom’s relationship is really, really strange, but it’s sort of endearing. Like, endearing in the way that any middle-aged woman who starts talking to her dead husband is endearing. Quinn’s Mom says that his Father had “too much on his mind.” To which Quinn makes a sassy face and says: “better than too little.”

At this point, that’s basically Quinn in a nutshell. He’s an overachiever, he’s overly-confident in a way that probably is covering for some inner uncertainty (this I’m getting from the way his face shifts from Stoked to Oh Shit when his Mom yells his name in the opening video). But this back-and-forth between Mother and Son reveals also that Quinn is kind of just an all-around good guy. He might live with his Mother, but he totally loves her.

But he also loves his work. And, as a slap in the face to the five thousand Sports Team Posters he had in his room, his work is SCIENCE.

With a Remote Control THIS big, think of how many Channels I could flip to!

Quinn is trying to invent the worlds first Anti-Gravity device! How cute! But sadly, there is no video of Quinn’s cat freaking the fuck out as he floats it into a ceiling fan (in the name of science!) Instead, there is something else entirely:

MAXIMUM SCIENCE FACE

Hmm, that’s not Quinn’s “big, weird thing,” is it?

It is, but Quinn doesn’t know exactly what it is. He’s pretty sure it’s a gateway, but to where? And why? How? Too many questions, and not enough time. Quinn’s got to go to CLASS!

GOTTA GET TO CHURCH. I mean, school.

As he runs across campus, Quinn passes a homeless dude who spouts some Commie propaganda. That’s weird. I feel like Campus Security would be ALL over that dude’s ass in like, three seconds. But maybe that’s just a 90s thing. “It’s the 90s, baby! Communist Hobos are back!” Also, Quinn passes what is maybe the worst ever statue of Abe Lincoln. These two things are not related. Do not keep them in mind.

But how could you when you’ve got class with THIS DUDE:

That Tie is made of MITHRIL.

Maximilian P. Arturo, professor of cosmology and ontology, erryone. He is having a bad day! He’s teaching a class full of no good students who can’t handle all the heady shit he’s loading on them. We’re supposed to believe that he’s teaching the most advanced concepts that theoretical physics has to offer. Surely this group of students is a group of the most serious individuals on the face of academia.

Losers.

Instead, we’ve got some 90s magazine cover models, Quinn, and a man who is too stoned to be allowed on National Television:

Yo, reverse the polarity of the neutron flow in that bong, dude.

Conrad Bennish, jr. does not know the answer to Arturo’s question, but I have a feeling someone else does!

A douche in the name of gnosis.

Quinn knows exactly what the Professor is talking about. He’s miles ahead of the game, but for some reason he doesn’t want to let ol’ Max know. Quinn’s private show of know-it-all at first looks like he’s being an asshole, but really he’s doing it out of a strange respect for Arturo. Quinn could easily be a teacher’s pet, answering every question correctly, sucking up, brown-nosing. But he respects Arturo too much— he knows that Max deserves better than that. Just take the following scene where Quinn tells his classmates how amazing Arturo’s theories and papers are— it’s pure love!

The conflict in Quinn is that as much as he’s love to be an equal to Arturo, he also knows he’s better: smarter, younger, hungrier. Quinn knows this, and it embarasses him.

But before we get too heavy, we have to see the see the last nail in the coffin of Quinn as a jock— the final triumph of Quinn as a nerd:

Deals so quick you’d think you could hear them… change… pitch?

Yes, Quinn works at a Computer Superstore. Of course he does! Of course his boss is a total dweeb! But what is maybe not so obvious is who Quinn works, and also appears to be good friends, with:

Hi, I'm the apogee of 90s cute!

Wade Welles, everybody. We’re 3/4ths of the way through assembling our team (spoilers)!

Okay, I’ve been joking through the last paragraphs, so I’ll settle down a little bit. Quinn and Wade’s relationship is important, and totally flies in the face of what the Youth Boy and Girl leads should be doing on a Network Television show.

Wade is very very very besotted with Quinn. But it’s also very unsexual— it’s geek love. It’s like a high school crush, maybe even middle school! In either case, it’s very adorable. She’s trying to get tickets for a hockey game to take Quinn! She feels embarrassed that she mentions an ex-boyfriend around him! More importantly, though, Quinn doesn’t notice it an iota. He goes right to his work station and calculates equations:

Hacking the Planet whilst on the clock. Like a boss.

Dude, Quinn. The cutest girl in the MULTIVERSE is throwing herself at you, and you’re busy COMPUTING? Let’s keep in mind, though, that while Wade is throwing herself at Quinn, we are never really embarrassed for her. We might be embarrassed for Quinn, but it’s kind of clear that this back and forth of Wade trying and Quinn not getting it has gone on for a little while, and probably isn’t going to either stop or actually damage their friendship. This is a crucial fact to their relationship. It’s easy to imagine that if they hooked up, they’d probably stop being friends afterwards. So anyone who wants to jump on the ‘shipper’ boat is basically advocating for them to hate each other. Huh.

Alas, though, we must leave Wade and the fun-filled world of Doppler and return to the dark magicks of the “big, weird thing.”

Quinn and the Vortex compare "O" faces.

Quinn’s actually gotten a lot further along with his “big, weird thing” research than we’d thought! He’s now decided for certain that it’s a gateway to some other …something, and he’s been throwing random objects into the vortex (including a T-Rex! Later that T-Rex will grow into a real T-Rex and Quinn will have a tearful reunion with it. That’s the series finale, I bet). But even though he’s turned a cellphone (a cellphone that is so big, btw. I am afraid to imagine how big the Timer would have been if this show was made in the 80s) into a Timer that will make objects come back out of the Vortex (and let’s be frank, here: I am somehow perfectly willing to accept that he would accidentally create a hole in the fabric of time and space, but somehow I find it completely ridiculous that he would be able to invent a device [out of a cell phone, no less!] that controls how long you stay on the other side), Quinn is not satisfied with his tests.

I am not satisfied with my tests.

The next day, Quinn records a heartfelt message of love and potential future regret to his Mother (Best Son Ever Merit Badge), but he can’t resist. He’s going in, baby! He’s going to throw himself to the whims of the Big Weird Thing! He’s setting his dope cell phone machine of magick for 15 minutes and taking the BIG P L U U U N N N G G G E E E ! ! !

I feel like that would tickle. Do Vortexes tickle?

Yeah, it's definitely tickling him.

And, after a semi-over-long CG journey through a wormhole, Quinn lands on the other side… and lands back in his basement. What a drag! I guess the wormhole just sort of keeps you in a fugue state or in a no-space or something. Understandably, Quinn is totally bummed out and goes out for a drive.

But things get weird on the drive. First off, that Howard Stern-lite guy on the radio is talking about all sorts of nonsense! Global cooling! JFK lives! Vinyl wins the war (the way he talks about CDs rolling off the belt is pretty funny though)! Americans wanting jobs in Mexico! It’s bananas!

Not only that, but for some reason, everyone is honking at Quinn when he’s stopped at red lights! They drive on the red ones! They stop on the greens! What the hell is with that? More importantly, why is ELVIS STILL ALIVE (baby)???

In this world, they make all the billboards in MS Paint.

Quinn drives home, because he’s totally freaked out, and is greeted by the sight of his Totally-Preggers-Mom, who got knocked up by the Gardener, Jake. Go, Jake! Just kidding, that’s gross. But before Quinn can beat the crap out of the Gardener for doing that to his Mom, he gets a phone call:

Gotta pay your phone bills, dude.

Yes, Quinn was in an alternate dimension! Yes! He was!

Let’s pause for a second and take in the fact that a show where the premise is interdimensional travel chose to depict it’s first alternate dimension as a laundry list of tropes for ‘opposite world.’ Elvis is still alive? Give me a break. I mean, I get it. The show has to paint with the big brush, keep the suspense up, hint at the mundanities that can be affected by history (or something). But the show sort of fumbles when it shows something that’s really funny to us viewers, but frames it in a dramatic light. Quinn’s reaction and the background music are all amped up for drama, but we’re looking at a shitty poster of Elvis.

Quinn, though, is too busy freaking out to realize this (also, he is not that self-aware). He runs to class immediately to go tell Arturo how cool Science is, but when he gets there, Arturo is TOTALLY PISSED at something Quinn had said to him about his theories. Wait, whut? Quinn was just in a parallel Elvis dimension! When would he have had the time to utter something disrespectful enough to earn this face:

Smelt it, dealt it (in the name of Science).

The fun (not fun) doesn’t stop there, though. Quinn goes to work, and Wade tells him that he just got fired! Quinn can’t believe it—

Smooth, Mallory. Smooth.

It turns out that Quinn told his boss to put a computer up his ass, and then made out with Wade! Say What! Also, Quinn is so dense he can’t possibly imagine kissing Wade. “We’re buds!” he says to her. Poor girl. She should go hook up with Arturo and talk about how lame Quinn is.

Quinn runs back to his house because he is having such a bad day. But when he gets down to his Cyber-Cave (basement), he finds that someone has solved some really important equation! (Y’know, I don’t think anyone ever really explains what this equation is, or why it’s so important. But it’s like, really hard, or something, so someone would have to be pretty dang smart to figure it out.) What sort of trickster god could have done such a thing?!?

Why, Quinn Mallory, of course:

It's like looking into a mirror. Except not.

Wait, whuuut! It turns out, a double of Quinn Mallory from another parallel universe journeyed to our world and starting fucking with Quinn’s shit (that’s really good timing, isn’t it? He just happened to hop into this universe right as Quinn was hopping around in another). He spouts some scientific mumbo jumbo, looks really smarmy, talks about his wife (wait, wasn’t he just kissing Wade?), and tells Quinn that he’s a slider.

What? He’s a hamburger? No, he’s an interdimensional traveler, but it doesn’t seem catchy enough to call your TV show “Interdimensional Travelers.” Quinn’s a dork, but he’s not dorky enough to coin a phrase for himself. At least, not on this world (tiddy-boom!)

Alt-Quinn seems to me like the Quinn that FOX actually wanted our Quinn to be: he dresses better, he’s more charismatic, he kisses girls. (Stick around with this until Season 3 and that last sentence will seem really funny.) The thing about Alt-Quinn though, is that while he appears to be smarter, he lacks the caution and, I don’t know, humanity that Our-Quinn does. But he’s important, because he tells Quinn (and us!) about all the possibilities of Sliding. But he’s new to it to, and that sets a spark in Our-Quinn’s head. He’s thinking “Man, I’m on Slide #1, and all I got was a lousy Elvis poster? I bet I can do better.”

But before they can make out and give Jerry O’Connell fans an explosion of love, Alt-Quinn is summoned back home by his own timer. His vortex, though, is inconveniently really, really loud, and he gets sucked in before being able to give Our-Quinn some absolutely crucial piece of advice.

If you only listened to me, you could have avoided "Easy Slider!"

Quinn is excited about this, whether or not he knows the secret Sliding advice his double never gave him. But, lo! Wade & Arturo are on his doorstep, wanting to get a piece of him!

All of the sudden, though, we cut to a shot to remind us that we’re still in San Francisco, and pan to a mysteriously Rad Ride:

This car is the most important character on the show.

Inside this apartment, we see a cigar-chomping old fellow dancing along (a little creepily) to this dope-ass jam:

Ladies and gentlemen: Rembrandt Brown, former lead singer of the Spinning Topps. He’s an RnB singer, who has run into a bit of a dry spell, career wise. I’m being nice— Rembrandt is a wash-up, a has-been, a man who floundered a solo career while his old group shined. I should also add that his claim to fame was being able to cry tears. Individually out of each eye. On command. Dope.

Love Explosion, Explosion of Love.

Rembrandt is planning a huge comeback! He’s going to have a career insurgence! He’s going to take over the charts and win big and show his old group he never needed them! Or, he’s going to sing the National Anthem over at Candlestick Park.

So Rembrandt is maybe a little insane. That’s fine. He’s also a master of his image, a man with a finger on the pulse of 90s society, as evidenced by his lapel:

I'm still trying to figure out if this is offensive or not.

I have to admit that while in the five minutes we’ve known him for, Rembrandt is a troubling character. He’s obviously going to be the comic relief, but he’s painted with such broad and high-octane strokes, in a semi-offensive “loud and crazy Black Dude” way. However, the “Cause-Ribbon” joke is pretty funny. It’s kind of a quintessentially 90s joke, and pokes fun at people who would wear those ribbons without really understanding what they were supporting. If Rembrandt is the everyman on the Sliding Team, then the show is taking the stance that the everyman of 1994 is a total idiot.

The face of the people.

But then we’re back in Quinn’s basement (“the batcave!” Wade exclaims, forever sealing herself in my heart), watching Wade & Arturo look around. Quinn’s busy hacking his cellphone, and Arturo is busy laying into Quinn about being too smart. It’s pretty telling that the most egregious fault of Quinn’s genius is that he’s “unpublished.”

You never talk about a dude's publishing history like that, man.

Quinn tells Arturo that his dope-ass cellphone can open portals to other dimensions. Arturo goes on the scientific warpath, saying that it’s all theoretical, that it’s a scientific impossibility, blah blah science science:

WTF is this dude talking about?

Quinn, inspired by Alt-Quinn’s smarminess, put on his own best try at looking smarmy (he does a pretty good job), and answers Arturo by whipping it out.

I'm a great big shining star.

Whipping out a Vortex, that is! Wade & Arturo are understandably impressed. Wade is firmly seated in the “DUDE LETS FUCKIN JUMP IN THIS BIG WEIRD THING” camp, and Arturo is more reserved. He’s like “let’s study this.” Wade thinks that’s dumb. She’s like “Quinn & I are gonna take a spin around the universe.” Yeah, Wade, he definitely meant this to be a date. That’s why he brought a stuffy englishman who is more than twice your age.

In any case, they are totally going to go sliding together. I should add that while they’re figuring all this out, the camera is situated behind the Vortex, giving everyone in the scene mass Vortex-Face:

Maybe she's born with it. Maybe it's unified string theory.

Quinn, though, gets performance anxiety or something and worries that there isn’t enough power in his dope-ass cellphone to take all three of them in the Vortex. Quinn, not being a man to do things in small pieces, cranks up his dope-ass cellphone to ELEVEN:

FEEEEED ME!

Rembrandt, meanwhile, has taken a short cut to get to the stadium sooner. He is so worried about missing his big comeback! But watch out, Remmy— you’ll soon have five years worth of pain and suffering on your mind (spoiler alert). Quinn’s over-powering of the dope-ass cellphone causes a pretty silly thing to occur:

We will think back on this moment when they start driving Hummers through the Vortex.

A quick dip through the wormhole, and they’re on an iceberg! It’s iceberg world! Arturo swears God drives a Caddy, and Wade proclaims the wormhole to be better than sex! Arturo disagrees. Playaa.

In any case, it’s very cold, and Quinn’s house, while still standing, is totally abandoned and frozen. Well, mostly abandoned. They conveniently forgot to take that picture of Quinn’s family off of their frozen freezer. Now Quinn knows that he had a sister on this world! And his dog didn’t run away! Whoa. Crazy. But they’re probably all dead and frozen somewhere, whether from a shifting of the Earth’s axis, or from nuclear winter (they can’t decide, so neither will I). Bummer.

In any case, drawn by the call of a apoplectic Rembrandt (his wheels! his beautiful wheels!), Quinn, Wade, & Arturo venture outside, where they are greeted by this beautiful sight:

Wait, so WHERE is Quinn's house? On a cliff?

Here’s the dialogue:

Wade: Hell really did freeze over.

Quinn: We’re not in Kansas anymore.

Arturo rolls his eyes at how stupid they both are.

Anyways, they all huddle up in Rembrandt’s Ride and talk about how Sliding works (some of the basics: time is concurrent, the use of roulette wheel analogies is acceptable), and Rembrandt calls Quinn “Q-Ball.”

We’re here! The four leads are in the same place at the same time! Sliding Team Assembled!

Now let’s talk about the Sliders as a group of characters and the archetypes they represent. A brief second of thinking in those terms reveals some subversion, though. Generally on a scientific TV show, there’s supposed to be one person who is the ‘everyman,’ the person who needs to be explained things. On Sliders, almost everyone takes turns in this role (except Quinn, maybe, unless it’s about something to do with feelings). Likewise, different characters take turns being the ‘mentor’ figure. It’s easy to assume a Teacher/Student relationship with Quinn & Arturo, but it isn’t that cut-and-dry. It’s a rich relationship that sets up conflict and respect.

The thing about archetypes though, is that they aren’t really how relationships work in real life. We slip into different roles constantly depending on who we’re interacting with. In general on Television Shows (or at least shows in the mid-90s), it doesn’t work this way. People are set up to be in situations where they best suit a certain archetype, and then they stick to it. Within the group of Sliders, there’s no chance for any of the characters to be easily pigeonholed. Wade doesn’t fit into an easy ‘girlfriend’ role, nor is she strictly comic relief. In a lot of ways, Wade starts as the voice of the general youth. Rembrandt and Arturo are too old in a lot of ways. Quinn might be the ‘youth sex symbol,’ though that’s not quite right, either.

But why try to put these characters who don’t fit into easy molds into easy molds? Because this is network television, this is FOX, it’s airing during a time when The X-Files is gaining popularity, and there isn’t any other show that’s more based on archetypes than the skeptic/believer dynamic Scully and Mulder have (at least at that time of the show’s run).

The problem is this: Sliders, at it’s root, is a science fiction show, and that’s already hard for a network to promote. But Sliders also doesn’t want to be strictly a science-fiction show: otherwise all of the characters would be professors or scientists. Rembrandt is a washed-up RnB singer! That doesn’t belong on a sci-fi show! Sliders doesn’t want to play by the ‘rules,’ but the ‘rules’ are being written by FOX.

So it’s clear, before we’re halfway through the pilot, that this is going to be a problem. It’s also a problem inherent in the concept: a show about infinite worlds has an infinite amount of stories that can be told, and no two people are going to be able to agree on what sorts of stories they want to tell.

Anyways, where were we?

Right. Things are picking up in Remmy’s Car. Wade hears a noise from outside, and Rembrandt rolls down the window to see:

I am the worst.

Huh. So can we unpack that? I’m all about infusing humor into things, but that atrocious CG tornado might be a little bit of a stretch. Y’know, it’s weird, I could have sworn that I remembered reading the shooting script and there was a bit where the script said “They’re being menaced by a corny CG tornado.” And I was going to write at length about how you can’t actually show that kind of meta shit on TV without it blowing up in your face. But that’s not actually in the script. But that CG tornado is so fucking stupid that it doesn’t really matter anyways.

In any case, Remmy looks at a shitty CG tornado and freaks out:

I Yam what I Yam.

The tornado ends up ripping the room off of Remmy’s Ride, and the group springs into action. They’re all screaming at Quinn— “Dude, you gotta activate the timer!” and Quinn is like “you mean my dope-ass cellphone?” and they’re like “seriously?” And he’s like “I’m not sure it is a good idea to activate the Timer before the time I had previously set it to runs out.” Which is fair. If you put popcorn in the microwave for a minute and take it out after five seconds, you aren’t going to be having a good time at movie night.

But, y’know, there’s a huge shitty CG tornado about to kill them all, so I guess this time we can munch on hard kernels.

Spent all our CG money on the Vortex. Again. For the first time.

On the other side of the Vortex, we’re treated to what will become a staple of Sliders: the comedic “everyone falls on everyone else” gag! The professor has some crazy inertia up in that vortex. Rembrandt says “that trip was a trip,” which sums up everything that is right and also everything that is SO wrong with his character. Wade & Arturo also share a moment:

We are sharing a moment.

Rembrandt proves that he is wearing the highest-waisted pants a middle-aged man could possibly wear:

Junk-Watch, 1994.

But where’s Quinn!? Did he make it out of the Caddy? Wade is not happy about this idea. She tells everyone to go back and get him, but Arturo, taking a turn as the voice of reason, says that that open Vortex could lead back to an infinite number of universes. The roulette wheel is still spinning, so to speak. Okay, he doesn’t talk about a roulette wheel, but he could have if he wanted to.

Wade walks up to the Vortex in tears, hoping that Quinn is alright:

I'm with you, girl.

But the Vortex has no answers:

When I have nothing to say, my lips are sealed.

And this, if we’re watching this in syndication, is where the screen cuts black.

TO BE CONTINUED.

90s, baby. Cryin’ Man is back.

The Human Spirit of Adventure. Or, "look at the corner of this white room."

It’s difficult to make a crucial decision: where to begin? Naturally at a personal, or explanatory beginning: this is, or is going to be, a blog about Sliders. That invites more questions, and one that isn’t out-of-place: “what is Sliders?”

Well, I’ll tell you: Sliders was a science-fiction television show that ran on Fox from 1995-1997, and the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) from 1998-2000. It was created by Tracy Tormé and Robert Weiss, and deals with alternate realities.

Let’s complicate that: Sliders was a sci-fi/comedy/action/adventure/drama television show that ran for one season on Fox, then was cancelled. Then was brought back mid-season and cancelled again. Production then moved to Los Angeles, where Fox gave it one more season before canceling it again. The Sci-Fi Channel then picked up the show, where it ran for two more seasons before being cancelled for the last time. By this time, none of the original production team, or creators were involved, and the show only had one of the original cast members left.

But that’s the nitty-gritty. It still leaves some questions open, but those questions are linked together pretty squarely— So what is Sliders about? and Why write about Sliders?

Sliders is about four people who travel between alternate dimensions. It’s always Earth, and it’s always the present year. So let’s talk about alternate dimensions.

There’s an idea that for every choice made, for every event that occurs, a split is made in space and time. That there exists beyond our World different worlds where these choices went in other directions. For instance, a universe where people who died are alive (or vice versa), nations that collapsed are still strong (or vice versa). Or maybe even smaller things that butterfly out into huge changes, like instead of forgetting to water the plants one hot summer day, leading to those plants dying and your room mate never forgiving you for your laziness, prompts them to move out, leaving you unable to find a new room mate and having to leave your apartment, whereby a series of unfortunate events leads to you homeless, drug-added, and later dead— in another Universe, you remembered to water the plant— everything else is different now, and you aren’t dead.

That’s an extreme example, but do you see where I’m going here? The idea of alternate dimensions, or parallel universes, or the multiverse, or whatever you want to call it, is an incredibly powerful one. It’s a concept that has something for everyone.

It’s an inherently nerdy concept. History geeks can get off on it because they can use their knowledge to think of thousands of different options (like if George Washington died before becoming President or some story like that [an historical anecdote that will prove important soon]). But the idea of alternate dimensions is moving on a personal level. If you’ve made a bad choice, maybe there’s another world where you haven’t. On the flip side, people who have it good shouldn’t take it for granted— maybe there’s a world where it didn’t work out so well.

—All of the above is pretty corny, sure. But let’s remember: this isn’t a blog about theoretical physics. It’s a blog about a cancelled sci-fi TV show from the 90s.

And here’s where it’s very important for me to point something out: Sliders is in no way a perfect show. It actually is mostly a pretty bad show. So why write about Sliders? Because the idea of Sliders is powerful enough to warrant it.

Furthermore, when Sliders is good, it’s very good. And when it’s really bad, it’s really pretty funny. It’s also a pretty good story about the difficulties of making a television show. And, speaking in-universe, it actually turns out to be a horribly tragic story about four accidental wanderers.

But the tragedy comes later. At first is adventure, friendship, and wonder.

So let’s start this where it should really start:

in a San Francisco basement…