Remember, guys, that we’re supposed to be watching this after “Summer of Love,” not before, as FOX would have you think. If you recall at the end of “Love,” a huge tidal wave (or actually what appears to be a miniature tidal wave magnified to the Uggh-th degree) was about to destroy the Sliders.
Anyways, here they are! Not dead! Hanging on to something! Rembrandt is making lots of seafood references (stopping just short of sticking his tongue out with a mouthful of food)! He also says that Quinn can’t “control his vortex,” which probably hits too close to the bone for Quinn. He hasn’t gotten to make out with anyone yet! Wade and Rembrandt have both gotten laid!
Interdimensional sexuality aside, this is happening:
So, even though that shit-ass tidal wave was like, ten seconds to squashing them, they manage to get to the very top of that building, then get outside, then climb to the very top, then wait out the tidal wave (which somehow didn’t just knock that building RIGHT OVER), then manage to hang on for hours until it was broad daylight [it’s pretty clear it wasn’t like, 5AM when they slid out of Hippie World, so how could it already be like, 1PM on Tidal World])?
Regardless of how inane this all is, at least we’re striving for continuity. That was a joke. Also a joke is this ‘shark’:
There’s your teaser! The rest of the episode is waiting for 35 minutes until the next window opens!
Just kidding. Instead, the rest of the episode is just the Pilot, Part Three.
Not really just kidding on that one, but we’ll return to it in a little bit.
Yeah, so obviously they make it out off the building. With absolutely zero tension, they manage to make it off of the top of the building, avoiding the shark. Oh god, the shark. It’s moments like these that make me wonder what the hell this show is trying to do. I can’t speak for viewers in 1995, but was that shark still not the worse shark ever? Even though it’s not implied anywhere by any of the writers or staff, etc, the shark still lets the audience imply, by dint of its abnormal size and all around un-shark-ness, that it’s just another way the world they’re on is. The show, with that fucking shark, is actively asking the audience to say “it’s a parallel world, who cares?” That phrase will stick around to haunt us all, I promise.
But still, I have to applaud at least the commitment on the writers at this point to include these ‘bookending’ worlds. It’s just tough when bookender worlds are obviously written the writers have a ‘big concept world’ and need an extra five minutes to pad the rest out. Again, that problem will come back to haunt us all.
But for now, they escape the shark and all that it implies. They make it into a fountain in broad daylight:
No one apparently is flummoxed by the fact a huge vortex opened up and dispensed four wet hippies into a fountain. But they are too busy bowing to …them?
After Wade almost gets hit by a car because she llllooooovvessss gossip rags, the Sliders discover that Arturo seems to be some kind of a bigwig. Or an axe murderer, since this ”hotel manager” dude is absolutely terrified of Arturo taking his head off?
Anyways, they get to check into a hotel for free! And get to dress up nice! Nice, I should add though, is sort of relative. To what, I don’t know. What is Wade wearing!?
Honey, please. You are not a secretary. Though I guess everyone is dressed like one, too. Wade keeps reading about this “Prince Harold” who keeps having orgies with old women. That’s gross. Quinn’s like “england is weird I don’t like england” and Arturo says something to the effect of “they’re waiting for a precocious college kid to show them the error of their ways.” Translation: “FORESHADOWING JACKHAMMER.” But then, on the television, is trouble:
Well, dang. So much for “no involvement!” They steal some cash (no, really), food, and a car, and are feeling pretty solid about it:
And now we introduce what is my favorite element of early episodes of Sliders: Arturo reading a “World Almanac” sort of thing and learning everything about this parallel universe, in an easy to understand manner.
So we learn that on this world:
•George Washington died. But like, earlier than on our world.
•Due to this dying thing, the Founding Fathers never founded shit.
•Because of the American Revolution being a non-starter, no other countries rallied behind our good example.
•The world is now ruled by a small amount of monarchies.
•Blah blah blah The King’s Dead blah blah blah Prince Harold’s next in line blah blah blah Alt-Turo is regent in his stead.
—So you see, here we have the alternate world that inspired the whole show. If you recall, it was an article about G.Wash having a brush with death with the brits that got Ol’ Tormé thinking about how cool alternate history is, and here we are.
It might be a little easy for Arturo to seemingly read all of that in an almanac, but he’s a smart guy. I’m sure he’s just putting the pieces together. In any case, it’s so far the most fleshed-out alternate history we’ve had yet, and I must say it’s pretty cool.
Not cool, though, is automotive troubles:
The funniest part of this scene of course is that Arturo stays in the car while the others push it through the woods. Also funny is that these woods are where Oakland is in real life. Sucks to be Oakland! They’re still (okay, Arturo is) pontificating about what would have allowed monarchy to continue on a world when the Army shows up:
Eyepatch-double-of-Quinn-&-Wade’s-Computer-Store-Boss is like “oh what’s up you wanna watch us totally smoke this dude?” and the sliders are like “no dude we aren’t really into smoking a dude.” Then they leave, and Arturo’s like “dawgs let’s bounce” but Quinn’s like “non-involvement SHMYON SHMYNVOLVEMENT let’s help this dude they’re about to smoke,” and erryone else is like “totally.”
So they go to help this dude, and since Wade <3’s gossip rags so much, she recognizes him immediately. It’s the Prince! Of AMERICA!
Wah-wah. I bet that rankles, Arturo. Your double on this world was plotting to kill the Prince. I wonder why. Anyways, they go back to their car which is totally stripped, and are promptly captured by the Raiders. The Oakland Raiders.
Quinn, being a genius, and also a man who doesn’t want a snotty british woman to stab him in the face, offers up Arturo and The Prince as hostages.
This sounds smart. Go have fun with your new idiot friends, idiot Quinn. We’re going to hang out with the Sheriff of San Fran himself!
Look at that guy! He’s smarmy! He’s an asshole! He’s self-centered! He wrote this book:
He’s also ruthless, obsessed with public opinion, but hates the public. He only wants power! And he’ll stop at nothing to get it! Including, it would seem, ordering a ‘hunting accident’ on the Prince so he can become THE KING OF AMERICA.
His character is written in broad strokes. You can tell the writers were imagining him to, like, twirl a moustache or something. But John Rhys-Davies, being the best, adds a whole slew of tics and little moments that give the guy, if not some humanity, then at least some weight (har har), some realism. Which is to say, he does his job as an actor.
The idea of “doubles” is one of the more interesting bits of Sliders, when played right. It feeds right into the “not only is anything possible historically, also anything is possible in my life” idea. The notion that if you wanted to change your life, in another world, it is changed. There are only a couple of episodes that adequately tap into that, though. Most of the time doubles are used for comic relief (here, mostly), bait-and-switchers (Greatfellas, Double Cross, The King is Back, Pilot), or ridiculous enemies (The Other Slide of Darkness) (also my god how bad some of these episode titles are). Sheriff Arturo here isn’t really the ‘anything is possible’ kind of double, he’s a comedic-adversary mix. But because Rhys-Davies has fun with it (and that brings up the other fact that having “doubles” on a show is a real treat for actors who give a shit), he sells it.
But there’s a problem with Alt-Turo, too. The problem is that he’s exactly the same Alt-Turo that we saw in the Pilot. He has the same position! Now, we never meet Soviet-Arturo, but it isn’t hard to imagine that they’d act much the same. Now all we need is for Quinn to start spouting Robin Hood rhetoric and lead the Oakland Raiders on a revolution.
Oh. In case you can’t tell, that’s a picture of Quinn spouting Robin Hood rhetoric and leading the Oakland Raiders to a revolution. To this dope-ass rock jjaamm (by Mark Mothersbaugh of DEVO, of course!), Quinn leads the Raiders to glory!
Or, he leads a bunch of scruffy jerks to steal cars from Old Women.
So now we’ve got a real problem. The Sliders have slid onto a world where another country’s government has been grafted onto their own. They don’t like it, so they more or less lead a revolution that in theory could have global consequences. Sure, fine, whatever, I thought the first episode was fine.
BUT THIS IS THE THIRD EPISODE OF THE SERIES AND WE ARE ALREADY POINT BLANK RIPPING OFF THE PILOT.
Is it really that hard to think of ideas for a show about parallel universes? Apparently it is. It’s also endemic of that classic sci-fi show trope where the government of what city they land on in the capital of THE WORLD. Like on Star Trek, they’re always beaming down and talking to one dude about the WHOLE PLANET. I don’t care how utopian you think yourself to be, it will never work like that.
Likewise, why would the seat of ALL British authority be located in San Francisco? Why wouldn’t it be in ENGLAND?
The answer is, sadly, that we shouldn’t be thinking or caring about that, we should be thinking about this guy:
The Prince, unlike PRINCE, is not a sexy man. Nor is he good with the ladies. A good chunk of the episode is given to him hitting on Wade. His only real line is like “dang grl u hot,” though in his defense, he gives a pretty good cringe after that one. Wade, for some reason, doesn’t just punch him. She goes on about how life is “complicated” and that her “mullet needs time to dry” or something. There is gold in the fact that the Prince says “you’re in love with Quinn” to her, which freezes her for long enough for us, the ‘shippers’ to know that “YES YES SHE DOES” but she says out loud “NO NO I DON’T.” Or something. Blah blah.
Equally blah blah is the main plot, which amounts to “Quinn’s captured let’s rescue him and also INVENT DEMOCRACY.” Which, as played for laughs, is pretty golden.
Also golden is Arturo’s ‘revolution’ hat:
Actually, this is the point where “Prince of Wails” actually improves upon the Pilot. Prince Harold begins the episode as an ignorant ninny, unknowing that people suffer in his country, or anywhere, really. He realizes his ignorance in a world full of people like Alt-Turo, who would go so far as to kill to achieve what they want. He learns something, is what I mean. No one really learned anything in the Pilot. The America vs. Russia rebels learned that if they had enough bazookas, they could blow up at least one guard tower. They’ll probably all be killed in a week.
Here, it’s different. I’m not implying that they’ll be successful in introducing Democracy (like you do) into a country. I’m sure that will fail. But it will be a spectacular failure, one that will make the whole world think. People will discover documents about the dead old Americans who would’ve been the founding fathers. They’ll try again. More people will learn. A difference was made without anybody dying. (Though I imagine they’re definitely going to Hang Alt-Turo.)
Of course, there’s always the question: did this world really need “saving?” I mean, obviously, at this point, Quinn ended up more leading the Raiders because it was either make his “Robin Hood” speech or watch the Raiders slaughter Arturo, but still. Once he got Arturo free, couldn’t he have just taken the Sliders to some hotel and waited it out? Maybe.
There’s nothing really, other than Alt-Turo, that’s visibly wrong with this Universe. Sure, there’s a slum, but it’s small, and just because there’s a grouping of like, 15 hobos doesn’t mean the entire world’s government is fucked and needs changing.
But that’s the kind of thinking that you’d do if you actually stopped to, y’know, think. Instead of snog:
Quinn’s had it with the history lesson. He’s outta here!
Yes, the lead Oakland Raider has the hottz for Q-Ball, and Prince Harold asks Wade to be his Queen. Arturo is already long gone, and will hear about all this snogging later and be totes jelly. Rembrandt changes the shape of British World’s future by telling them James Brown is the Godfather of Soul. Unsurprisingly, they do not know who James Brown is. And why would he suddenly get to be the Godfather of Soul, anyways!?
As they both know, Englebert Humperdinck is forever the Godfather of Soul. THUNDERBOLT! Episode over!
AND NEXT WEEK: Coldplay is born…