My Ears Do Not Hear You (Electric Twister Acid Test).

There are strange things afoot in this week’s entry. Or, let me put it this way: I’ve never seen Stand By Me. So I feel like I’m missing out on something. Actually, the only thing I’ve seen Corey Feldman in that isn’t “The Two Coreys” is, well, this. At the very least I’m simply bewildered by the goofy-ass handshake this dude and Quinn engage in.

Like, is it a joke about Sliding? A secret recognition of their repressed homosexuality? WTF IS THAT HANDSHAKE?

That being said, I have to admit that after last week’s non-entity of a guest star, this “Corey Feldman” is actually not bad. He’s a little one-note (and the note is ‘dully gruff’), but I’m willing to accept that a dude who spends his life as an outcast under an electrified desert would be a little gruff and dull.

This is a joke about modern music criticism.

So here’s the skinny: this episode is the beginning of what is known as a distressing trend on the show. But even if we’re pretending to not know the future, as I’m doing (poorly), there’s still a little something that’s too hard not to notice.

Those moments where you hit "pause" to take a screencap and say, "aw yiss." Because you've hit "Mid-Blink" gold.

I mean, this scene looks like the first scene in Twister. Like, a lot.  And there’s the fact that they call the tornados “Twisters” instead of, y’know, “tornadoes.” I mean, I know that “twister” is a totally acceptable nickname for tornadoes, but shouldn’t we trying to make it less obvious that we’re “referencing” the movie Twister? Or should we make it rally obvious and put the world “twister” in the title, too, and maybe throw in some other pop culture reference that’s actually probably too obscure for your intended audience of drunk teenagers to understand? To be honest, I’m surprised they didn’t call the episode “Twisterslide” or something equally asinine.

SPRING BREAK FLASHBACK

It would be really, really easy to look at the bulletpoints of this episode— “electric” twisters, Corey Feldman— and say “wow, that sucked.” But that’s not exactly true. I mean, yeah, there are flaws. Corey Feldman’s beard is a flaw. You could argue that what we get for ‘alt-history’ is ridiculous (and about this: maybe I missed the one line that explains it, but are we actually supposed to believe that these, like, 20-30 people are the only humans left on Earth? Or was this a more localized thing that devastated only California and made it so the rest of the world couldn’t help out? If it’s the latter, then I will totally accept that it’s a little less ridiculous. If it’s the former, then we’re getting into a problem similar to Star Trek’s “I am the President of the Whole Planet” thing)— and while ‘electric tornadoes’ are a scientific impossibility, we have to give the episode points for at least even trying to explain them.

Look at this cave. Remember this cave. Hold this cave in your heart. It will be with you. For all time.

And even without all that, I was pretty engaged by the whole “dictator under the guise of good” village plot. I mean, sure it’s done to death, but never before on Sliders, and it wasn’t just tacked on to the more interesting ‘twister’ plot. The story, for all its strange difficulties, is actually pretty well put together. It’s not an obvious thing that the leader of the village would be partially responsible for the twisters. The fact that Corey Feldman is his son is a little more obvious. But still— there are sort of a lot of ‘new’ characters running around, and they all get something to do, a little moment to shine here and there.

Soon you'll be a Vampire, and later John Lithgow will murder you and leave you in a bathtub.

So I watch this episode and I’m enjoying it. And if I’m a “diehard” Sliders fan, that’s the opposite of what I’m supposed to do, right? Write off the majority of Season Three and beyond?

I don’t know what’s happening. Maybe it’s my excitement for watching actual episodess again instead of crummy comics. Maybe it’s the weather, maybe it’s my mood. Maybe I have no taste in anything. I’ve already (mentally) proved that I have differing tastes in Doctor Who episodes (I dug “Earthshock,” loved “Four to Doomsday,” thought “Time-Flight” was pretty alright), so maybe I also have crap taste in Sliders episodes? I don’t know.

I don’t claim to be an authority. This blog is one of opinion first, ask questions never. But so far I’m three episodes into Season Three and I’m having a great time. I would rate all of these episodes (yes, all) pretty high.

RIDE THE LIGHTNING

All of which is certainly not to say that I would rate this episode above “Luck of the Draw.” But lest we forget that Season One had “The Weaker Sex,” and Season Two was rife with turkeys. I don’t think my enjoyment of this episode is a case of “tempered expectations.” Or maybe that’s inaccurate— this is Sliders, you should be going into this with tempered expectations.

That said, this shot is totally awesome.

Here’s the thing, and it’s a thing that semi-unfortunately has to be brought up often. Sliders is without a doubt a product of its time. And it that time, television is a more powerful form of media. 1997 isn’t a pre-internet world, but the web at that point is still an infant. In this day and age, the internet is where culture lives and dies. Sliders wouldn’t work today (at least not as it was aired in ’97). It’s so reliant on 90s tropes and signifiers that it would either be torn apart by the fact of its sheer mediocrity, or just boiled down into a set of goofy memes and cheezeburger cats.

Funny that I should be reading about "The Twin Dilemma" as I type this up. (The joke being that this, too, is bad.)

So this episode is about Twisters. And it came out after Twister. But the 90s saw the beginning of the trend of Big Media “having the same idea at once by coincidence.” It started with Asteroids— today, it’s Vampires and Snow White. Sliders is no different— it’s just a very obvious casualty of this trend, because we can see that previous seasons don’t buck to the trend (“Fever”/Outbreak comparisons aside).

But even then, that argument relies on having the internet and being able to stream the show on demand. In 1997 there weren’t DVDs of Sliders (If there were even DVDs then— at the very least they weren’t the mass public’s form of media), there weren’t even VHS tapes unless you dubbed them yourself. We couldn’t have this kind of group discussion of the “dumbing down” of Sliders because there wasn’t a forum to do so outside of like, use.net groups. So for most people in 1997 (and I don’t mean Sliders diehards— I mean the general TV/Nielsen Viewing Public), “Electric Twister Acid Test” was a typical Sliders episode, not an out of the blue “what happened to my show” moment— this was your show.

SHRED THE DRAGON

And the thing is, at the end of this season, we’ll come to the point where the majority of episodes are like this, not like Season One. The vast majority of Sliders is an action adventure show steeped in 90s signifiers. So the argument of “Sliders shouldn’t have a kid skateboarding a tornado” doesn’t really hold water. Of course he’s shredding a twister! It’s 1997! The real criticism should be that he’s shredding it too late in the 90s for the joke— the moment is more Capri-Sun than %100.

 

I’ll cap this discussion there, mainly because comparing Sliders to a war between the aesthetics of Mass-Produced Juice Bags and Sonic Youth is the best thing I’ve ever written. But also because I’ll be returning to this time and time again. So for now, let’s just revel in the team bobsledding out of the Vortex. In all the glory of 1997.

"The Last Ride" of Dignity.

Next Week: All of this has happened before, and it will happen again —especially if you still kneecap that teenager (The Guardian [unless I do another Intro Post, since “The Guardian” is kind of a big deal]).

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He Became A Sculptor (Rules of the Game).

So, another week, another Elephant. This one is a little easier to spot, though. It’s very bright. It’s sunny. A sunny Elephant. Here it is: the show looks totally different now. It’s not moody or dark or rainy. There’s no fog or cold-breath. The sky is always blue. And that’s because the show doesn’t film in Vancouver anymore. No more Canada (but not no more Canada jokes). Here’s the skinny: one of the compromises Tracy Tormé had to make in order to secure a third season of Sliders from FOX (which was already a tricky situation— the show was definitely cancelled after Season Two) was that the show had to move to Los Angeles, California. Tormé at the time gave a reason like “we found a loophole in taxes,” but he was lying.

The real reason was that FOX wanted to replace the majority of the Production Team with their own people. To implement a Horde of “Yes Men” (so imagine a bunch of maniacal Jim Carreys yelling “go with it!”). These “Yes Men” (and more about them [and one in particular] later) would serve as liaisons to FOX, making sure that Tormé didn’t try any funny business like making the show interesting and intelligent. Remember that sneaky secret Bennish from “Invasion?” Well, that shit wasn’t going to fly no mo’.

The first indication of this new regime (other than the fact that it’s totally sunny all the time) is that this episode ran as Season Premiere instead of “Double Cross.”  So instead of a thoughtful mix of ‘excitement’ and ‘other more interesting things,’ we get what is basically to us 2012 viewers HUNGER GAMES HUNGER GAMES KATNISS KATNISS TEAM HAYMITCH.

"Nyay Nyae Nyodd Nyee Nyever Nyin Nyer Nyafor!"

It’s kind of interesting to watch this episode now in 2012. In the wake of The Hunger Games, people got all sorts of raw about how ‘derivative’ and ‘unoriginal’ that book was— how it’s basically “Battle Royale” for kids or something. I mean, sure— “Battle Royale” is something you could think of when you read The Hunger Games. But there are also a BAJILLION other things that The Hunger Games AND Battle Royale is reminiscent of (“Most Dangerous Game,” anyone?) Like, say, for instance, this episode.

So yes, this episode revolves around the sliders happening upon a world where there’s a nationally televised event that involves teams of humans trying not to die in an enclosed battleground. There are tons of lasers.

MAXIMUM NECK

And some robots.

Adding mechanical whirring sounds when these guys walk is NOT going to make me forget that the yoga mats attached to their legs are falling off.

And …I don’t know, action?

This is what happens when you use all of your money on Vortexes.

Even though I’m not making it seem that way, this episode is not devoid of character moments. They’re not perfect— Wade’s revelations about middle school aren’t particularly thrilling. The Professor’s journey, however, is the real Star of the Hour. While it’s a little silly that his blindness A) heals so quickly B) happens in the first place, Arturo’s reaction to this turn of events is really the meat of the hour (nuts to whats-her-name). He has a genuinely satisfying arc, going form grumpy to jerky to stubborn, trying to alienate the group to the point that they’d be willing to abandon him. But they won’t, and in a truly moving scene with Rembrandt, he learns that he doesn’t really want to be abandoned either.

Also this was starting to get awkward.

Arturo’s had a strange arc through this show. He’s more defined than Wade, but he rarely has a show-stealing episode. He’s an old man, getting too aged for this action, but still in love with the adventure. His life is defined by the contradiction between his jaded Salieri-like jealousy and his beaming pride for Quinn. That line he has to Quinn about “everyone wishing they have a student as good as him” is delivered perfectly— meant to be an aside, the shakiness of Arturo’s voice proves it to be utterly true. The Professor is truly worried if he’s letting his emotions slip that much.

Of course, I would be a bad person if I didn’t bring up the other elephant in the room. By which I mean the fact that we know for a fact that Rembrandt cannot swim and therefor couldn’t possibly be in the Navy. It’s a strange coice that came out of a desire to “define his character” more. But A) I’m not sure Remmy really needs any more definition, and B) the first time it’s brought up, it’s used as a joke at his expense. Now, like I said, we know he can’t swim— he said so himself. And while I’m well aware of that little thing called “retconning,” I think it’s a lot funnier to imagine that both things are true and Remmy was in the Navy despite the fact that he can’t swim.

Just buy some Skis at the SKI HAUS, guys!

Quinn’s actually the guy that gets short shrift in this episode. He’s defined by his vague guilt for “getting them into this,” (which I’m using the ‘campfire explanation of Sliding’ scene as an example) but for the most part, this episode is defined by his vaguely inexplicable (read: blondes) desire to hang out with Whats-her-name.

Obelisks aside, it is pretty grim (/unintentionally hilarious) that Quinn wins the game for Whats-her-name and then walks away from her corpse like it AINT NO THING.

As much as I support the use of “obelisks for no reason,” I do find it wildly convenient that the vortex was like, “oh you have a ridiculous and noble thing you need to do? Cool, I’ll wait.” I mean, the dope-ass cellphone is oddly forgiving. That said, it’s a little weird. Not to get all “I know best” on you guys (Editor’s Note: I do know best), but wouldn’t it have been way more interesting if the game ended, like, 3/4ths through the episode? I mean, I doubt production could pull off pacing that complicated, but I would like to see the outside world, and y’know, like, consequence, or something. I don’t know, I guess I understand the desire (mostly Quinn’s) to, like, help out and like, pay his dues. Whats-her-name was nice, and helped them out of a jam, and to Mr. Guilt Mallory, that justifies a wildly dangerous effort to make her “win.” Especially since they just overcame all odds and didn’t die in like, three seconds.

EVEN A BLIND PERSON CAN WIN THIS GAME

Probably the largest hole in this episode is the fact that they’re allowed to even “compete.” Also, I am sure the “plane” they slide to (which also, UGH) was televised. If this is a national sport, they’ll be filmed 24/7. Wouldn’t the gamemakers twirl their ridiculous beards and freak the fuck out? There are four strangers who infliltrated your game and are totally roasting your Cyber-Dogs.

"Oh my God, Quinn— They've got Wade's eyes!"

If we’re talking about flaws, then this is really the biggest one: what is happening in the Outside World? The sliders constantly admonish the skies, bemoaning the idea that a world/government would allow such a horrific game. But they never stop to ask why the fuck anyone would choose to compete in it. It’s never stated that you have to compete. It’s not forced, not mandatory. So at the end of day, it’s a conscious choice to come to these things and murder people. They may wonder what society must be like to allow the games, but it’s much more unnerving to wonder what kind of society willingly participates in them.

Whats-her-name: "Blah blah blah blah." Professor: "Nurrrrrr"

I keep calling this woman “whats-her-name,” but I’m not (wholly) trying to be funny. I honestly can’t remember, and there’s a pretty good reason for it. This woman is like a concrete block of non-personality. And, sure, I guess that could be a conscious acting choice, but I doubt it. It’s disheartening— last week we had a huge accomplishment in casting. This week we have someone one half-naked who looks like they were kind to be half-naked.

NURRRRRRRR

And this is what we want to open the season with. Popcorn, not paté. It’s a little like the argument from Season One: was “Fever” or “Summer of Love” a better episode to start with? The question of “Double Cross” vs. “Rules of the Game” is less difficult (it’s Dub Cross, duhhhh), but it is a little more complicated. Whereas “Fever” was exciting but a little clumsy, “Rules” is actually a fairly competent piece of action television. The pacing is remarkable (for this show, at least), and even if it relies on the script’s trope of “setpiece-to-setpiece,” it never seems clunky. Both these episodes are fun to watch. They’re both satisfying. But they’re satisfying for different reasons. Once again, the question becomes “What do we want Sliders to be?” And right now, as much as I want to just tell you that I want it to be “Double Cross” every week for-ever, I have to admit that I want it to be more. I am totally willing to accept a show that can have both “Double Cross” and “Rules of the Game.” Right now, these are both acceptable forms of entertainment; acceptable forms of the show. Of our show.

The question, now, is where else can we go?

Next Week: Vortex Bobsled, Tornado Skateboard (Electric Twister Acid Test).

The Difference Between an X and a Y (Double Cross).

Over there is an Elephant. Look at it. Accept the fact that it is in the room with us. And as we look at it, we will discuss it. We will name this Elephant, and attempt to dissolve it’s power. This Elephant that shares space in the room with us casts a very long shadow. We are stained by the knowledge we share of the future— this Elephant is the embodiment of this knowledge. We must kindly ask the Elephant to leave. We have work to do.

Welcome to Season Three. I’m making all of this elephant talk because Season Three is probably the most loathed season of television ever to be produced until Season Six of LOST (or basically until the internet got really big and people started caring about TV shows). Us Sliders fans are prone to big reactions, huge emotional baggage, a lot of dramatic talk about a very tiny show. Which is to say: If we know what’s going to happen, our enjoyment can easily be tainted. If you don’t know what’s going to take place, I’m not going to spoil it, but I will tease with this: by the end of the Season, one of these four people will be dead. A new Slider will join the team. And nothing is ever really the same again.

But here’s the thing— if you don’t know exactly what happens, isn’t that exciting? Tragic, sure, but it means that there’s going to be real change on this show. A lack of stagnation! A new character to get to know! On paper, this kind of radical change is terribly exciting. It’s something to look forward to while biting our nails in anticipation.

So here’s why I’m rambling about all of this. I’m not going to review Season Three the way you’d expect (I guess). I’m not going to say things like “this is a first example of this show being full of shit just like it ends up being.” I mean, if it’s a piece of shit, I’ll say it’s a piece of shit. But I’m going to feign ignorance on this shit. For Season Three, it’s going to be like I haven’t seen this shit before.

Because you know what? We can bitch and moan about what this Season does to ‘our‘ show, but the fact of the matter is we can’t just deny it (no matter how hard we try). It’s a part of Sliders, and it’s a part of TV as a whole. So it’s high-time for someone to attempt a defense of Season Three. (I’m also going to save the nitty-gritty behind-the-scenes info for next week, in case you’re wondering).

So, now that the Elephant has fucked off— what do we have here?

First off, holy shit the “ass-end of the Vortex” budget went through the roof!

Hate to see you go, Love to watch you leave.

It’s looking like something’s a little different about this Season. It’s like a longer time than usual has passed between seasons. One and Two had all of three days between them. But here we see our characters, and they look a lot different. Quinn got a haircut!

And now his head looks like a big wiener.

Rembrandt is back in his gaudiest best!

That material can't be comfortable. I bet Remmy smells terrible.

Wade got a haircut, too! And also is way into Leather now?

The days I miss her Mullet...

And OH MY GOD PROFESSOR PLEASE CUT YOUR HAIR

Professor of Frump.

So our team’s looking different. That’s fine. They can dress how the want. And of course none of it will matter when they get crushed by a shit CG train.

Ce n'ais pas un TRAIN.

Yeah, that Train is basically this episode’s equivalent of the Pilot’s Shit-CG Tornado. Anyways, once they escape the Tunnel of Love, we’re greeted with the actual dirt on this world, and also ROLLER BLADING BUSINESSMEN!

YEAHHHHHHH!

Okay, so I’mma lay it out here and say that dang this is some good stuff here. San Francisco is a borough of a Mega-City called San Angeles! Natural Resources are on a decline! Horses are endangered! Power blackouts are mandatory! Gas is hella pricey! Hot Dogs are extinct!

I don't know, it looks pretty good to me.

The thing is, I kind of really like how the sliders don’t just “find an almanac” to find out every little thing about this world’s alt-history. Because let’s be real: the “almanac” was bullshit. You can’t just “find an almanac” and be able to piece together every single little tiny deviation in like, two minutes. That’s ridiculous. Here they use their eyes, walk around, read a newspaper, look at a map. It just seems like a more natural way to get the lay of the alt-land. Good-bye, Almanac! We hardly knew ye.

Pourin' one out for my 'nac.

Anyways, before we can get too interested in alt-history, two things happen. First, Rembrandt gets assaulted by a hooker.

Sure, fine. Whatever.

I’m not going to say I’m surprised that Rembrandt would go for this. But getting into a car with a total stranger is universally known to be a bad idea, right? Like, it was still an unspoken/spoken rule in 1997, wasn’t it? I’m pretty sure this isn’t going to end up well for him, but for now at least The Professor is supportive.

GIT 'ER DONE.

After Rembrandt fucks off to the B-Plot, the rest of the sliders run into JANITORS ON MOPEDS!

Maximum Action.

They run for a little longer than I’m sure the audience cares to watch them for (including an excruciatingly gratuitous “drive over the camera” shot), and eventually they’re caught in a dead end that visibly isn’t actually a dead end. But LO! The head Janitor, in a reveal that’s ruined by obvious costuming, is a WOMAN! And she calls them SLIDERS!

HAYY BOIZ!

But thankfully that’s not what we cut to commercial for. We cut to commercial after she’s like “whoa, Professor.” Probably because his hair is atrocious.

Who replaced the Professor with a Lion?

So here’s the skinny on this Logan St. Clair. She works for Prototronics, a company of scientists that’s working on their own Sliding project. They’re having trouble making their wormholes link up with their coordinates. All of their test-probes (/basketballs) come back as fried chicken. The Alt-Turo on this world apparently got restless and Fried-Chicken’d himself.

Dude, the toilet was RIGHT THERE.

So the Sliders agree to help Logan to fix her Sliding Gear so they can use all of her dope-ass Eniacs to do that ‘auto-set’ thing they used to be totally into. But wait— there’s complication. This crappy computer readout drops a revelation on us:

Because sure, when you bend and stretch two things until they look exactly the same, that makes a match, right?

I know you can’t tell, but that means that Quinn and Logan are doubles. But alt-alt-doubles, seeing as Logan is, y’know, a woman. But that’s a pretty amazing thing for the show to do. It’s another great example of the widening nature of Sliding and the different ways you can apply the concepts. This episode, actually, does a lot in that regard. We have talk of ‘tracking wormholes,’ and a whole lot about ‘coordinates’ and how they apply to safe Sliding, and of course, we have a little thing called a ‘geographic stabilizer,’ which I am pretty dang sure hasn’t been mentioned on the show before now.

But let’s get back to Logan being an alt-Quinn. This revelation is followed by another revelation in which we find out that she’s actually not very nice of a lady, and tries to get Quinn to ditch his Bros and help her Slide by any means necessary. Which includes MAKING OUT.

EVERY MAN'S DREAM COME TRUE.

WOW. No, seriously. Wow. This scene, to it’s merit, isn’t really played for titillation. It’s creepy, and disarming. It’s a lot more adult than I’d usually give this show credit for. Logan is a manipulator. She’s a worthy human adversary. We’ve never actually seen one of those on the show before. And this episode is kind of making it seem like she’ll actually make it past this episode.

Not sure what to think about this whole "McDonald's" getup, though.

Of course, there’s more mystery and excitement to be had! It turns out that Logan St. Clair is not working in anyone’s best interests. Prototronics is inventing Sliding for the purpose of razing Worlds for their natural resources! She pushes Alt-Turo into a Death Vortex (which is the name of my new Metal band) because he discovers her plans! She’s trying to make love to herself to get what she wants! So she’s a villan. But she’s kind of remarkable in her ruthlessness. When you boil her down, you’re left with a Mad Scientist, but that complication about her being a Secret Mallory gives her a connection to the rest of the team that’s extremely compelling. I don’t know if what this show needs is a villan, but if this is what we’re going to get, then I’m satisfied.

And if Quinn's sated, so too am I.

Oh, yeah. Rembrandt definitely exists in this episode! Actually he gets a good amount of screen time, and his B-Plot is funny, but for the interest of time, I’m just going to post this picture:

Seriously, if I had the time to make a GIF of this Beefcake dancing...

At the end of the episode, it’s revealed that Logan switched the geographic stabilizers in their Dope-Ass Cellphones, so now the Sliders are going to be Sliding in a 400 mile radius around San Fran. It’s a bold move in an episode that’s full of them. I mean, that’s the thing you get from watching this episode for like, ten minutes. The show is different. It’s louder, it’s flashier, it’s a hell of a lot brighter. It’s the “make it more action” tract that haunted Season Two, but this time somehow, they’re doing a better job of it. At the very least they’re writing scripts that are designed for action. The pacing is remarkable, especially for this show.

And of course, nothing says ACTION more than a shot like this.

But the thing that makes this still Sliders and not anything else is that there’s still weight to it. The characters are still there, even if Quinn is getting a little more aloof than he’s been in a while, and they’re all dressing a little more Summer Beach Party. But the camaraderie’s still there. Also important that the big plot of this episode is about a ‘radical approach to Sliding.’ It has huge consequences, but it’s actually kind of small. Small things, huge stakes. It’s a really important detail that we spend time with Alt-Turo’s bereaved Wife— she’s collateral damage in a scheme that, frankly, we wouldn’t have even spent time with in earlier episodes.

His OTHER other Nooner.

But, of course, it’s not perfect. Wade is suddenly the best computer hacker in the world, which, I mean, fine, she worked at a computer store, so it’s not totally inconceivable. But the plucky little poetry major Wade from the Pilot doesn’t really seem like the “Hack the Planet” type. Plus, she spends the episode in a leather jacket and mini-skirt. It’s a little weird.

The worst part is that the show is still plagued with the laziest of production team fuck-ups. I mean, usually I’m not one to make “firing” jokes, but please tell me someone lost their job for this:

Don’t see what I’m talking about? Enhance.

Enhance

NOOOOOOOOOO!

UGH. That’s totally inexcusable (even if it is totally hilarious). But you just know that no one even noticed it until Sliders fans started making fan sites. And of course, the CG is still atrocious, and it looks like literally all the budget goes into making Vortexes look awesome.

Exhibit A:

This is literally the best CG the show ever had.

Exhibit B:

Next Stop: GROANsville.

Yeah, that’s bad. But still— these are nitpicks in what otherwise is a stellar opening to a season. If this is what you’re coming out of the gate with, then bring it on.

But here’s where I have to burst bubbles, and drop the real world back into it. This wasn’t the season premiere. It was supposed to be, sure. But FOX wanted the next episode, “Rules of the Game,” to open up the season. That episode has about five billion more guns, and is basically The Hunger Games for Horny Adults. So that’s a troubling idea, because obviously this should be what we should be trying to do, right? A perfect mix of action excitement, and science wonder. But no, we want guns, and girls.

And yes, girls. Logan St. Clair, a villan worthy of the show, never returns. Which seems like a colossal waste of effort on buildup. So what’s the deal? Where did she go? We could fan-wank it and say that Quinn’s act of giving her random coordinates in her Timer ultimately burnt her to a crisp. Or we could use the real reason: FOX didn’t think Zoe McClellan was attractive enough to warrant a return appearance.

Read that again:

FOX didn’t think she was attractive enough to be on the show.

I can’t really explain how that grates against every fiber of my being. And not just because it means we won’t have the character on the show again— which is tragic and unjust and a complete disappointment. But because that’s a hugely offensive and misogynistic decision. And it doesn’t even matter if it’s not true (which, of course, it isn’t), because that’s not what we’re watching the fucking show for. If we wanted Baywatch Babes, why the hell would the Professor be allowed on the show? For that matter, why would Rembrandt? Why would Wade? Why would Quinn have that dorky haircut?

It smacks of trouble. But like I said, I’m going to pretend I don’t know what’s going to happen. But a decision like that means that this episode is unimportant to the greater mission of Sliders. And that’s a problem, because this episode is awesome. Truly one of the best we’ve seen. We can’t have enough of episodes like this.

And, of course, we won’t.

Next Week: May the odds be ever in your favor! (Rules of the Game).

Call Me “Mom” (Sliders Comics: Deadly Secrets).

I’ve oft repeated that the design of these comics is to show what can’t be shown. To tell the stories that can’t be told. Usually, this is because they couldn’t tell these stories with the budget available. In this case, though, the story couldn’t be told simply because they didn’t want to tell it. Because this is an honest to goodness Wade-centric story. A story that treats her character to a back story, introducing her parents as more than just a couple of extras.

It’s a little bold, too. In the opening pages, we’re treated to an infant doused in its parent’s blood— an image even more intriguing once we discover that said infant is supposed to be Wade.

Yeah, you can definitely see FOX letting this on their network.

This is a big deal! The Sliders comics are taking a step in the direction of having their own voice! To put their own stamp on the series, and make us debate whether or not they’re “canon” or not. (Okay, we won’t do that. If we had the choice of what is “Canon” in Sliders,  “The Chasm” would eat a dick.) But still, to posit that those doubles of Wade’s parents we saw in “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome” were actually doubles of Wade’s foster parents (no wonder she was so convinced that place was Home— in fact, the whole thing kind of falls flat when you think that the best test for checking if you’re Home would be just to have Wade call her house and see which set of Parents answer the phone).

Anyways, the comic has the theory that Wade’s parents were hippies, who were gunned down by overzealous National Guards at an anti-nuclear power rally. First off, sure, in the 80s Americans were totally being gunned down by the National Guard. But second, that’s a pretty far out reason for Wade’s hippy-dippy nature (or at least Season One Wade’s nature. Season Two’s nature I guess is the violence part coming out). It’s a pretty large revelation to throw out of the blue, but I’m going to go against everything you’d expect me to say and I’m going to tell you that I think it works more than it doesn’t.

Part of the reason this comic gets away with its bold direction is having Wade give Remmy a passionate infodump that was goofy panels of her wearing U2 shirts and having Cure posters:

Goth-Wade is my Dream Girl.

No, I’m kidding (sort of). But the Double-A story of this comic is totally crazy, and having A) Wade dealing with these past demons, B) having to confront them head on when she runs into doubles of her biological parents, and C) having to do all of this while on a corporate space station is a lot for one comic to handle, double size or no.

RICHARD BRANSON WOULD BE SO PROUD!

But seriously, there are some pretty radical concepts here: on this Earth, “scientists” or whatever developed some vegetation that took over the whole planet? But then businesses like, bought space or something? And now the human race lives on a bunch of tiny shitty space stations that are like a mix of Blade Runner and Silent Running. Which is fine, both those movies are pretty alright.

They also pump Joan Baez through the speakers 24/7.

So it turns out that these space stations are slums. And in an idea that we’ll return to soon, Multibiz (the company that owns all this shit), doesn’t really have people’s best interests in mind. They’re there to make a profit, and people in Space live their lives in dept and dishonor. (So if you know what I’m talking about, this comic is basically “Season’s Greedings” in Space. Which is definitely not a bad thing! [This also brings up the point that this comic is definitely supposed to take place in Season Three, which is interesting, but I’m going to have to ignore those kinds of hints until we get to them in the show.])

Here’s the thing. The more that I read through (that’s past-tense read [at this point, at least]), the more I become surprised by this comic. Because everything that’s come before this tries to taint my experience of this comic. I want to hate it. But I can’t. And maybe that’s because there’s an alt-Bennish, and an alt-Pavel, or because Young Wade loves the Cure.

Don’t worry guys, that’s just bubble gum.

Sure, right. Looks like Pay-Vell to me.

But really it’s because, unlike every other comic, this one is about  something. It strikes the same balance between ‘message’ and ‘enlightenment’ that the show does on it’s best days. Yes, it comes off a little preachy, but it’s really more subtle than most hours of TV are. Plus, the moment when the rebels alert the Space Station dwellers that MultiBiz created the vegetation that destroyed Earth by burning a message into the rainforest so they could read it from Space is kind of awesome.

I’m sure Mother Gaia was cool with this.

And of course, there’s Wade. And there’s even Wade’s parents, who have two defined arcs that intertwine over our-Wade. And Wade gets an extra day with her parents that isn’t brutally maudlin. It’s an honestly satisfying conclusion. Which after “Blood & Splendor” is shocking.

“Call me Mom” is the new “I book my own gigs.”

That’s the funny thing about his particular comic. The entire series tried to be action— it tried to be Season Three. But here we have a comic that takes place in that oh-so-derided of Seasons, and it strikes an emotional balance we haven’t seen since Season One. Quinn even says the words “luck of the draw” in the comic. So you just know it’s on the right track.

One of those Meta “it’s the end of both the storyline AND the series” things we love so much.

It’s certainly true that these comics are generally pretty bad. But they’re a part of Sliders, and we can’t deny them. They won’t waste your time. They are, much like the show itself, extremely indebted to the time they were made, and must be judged by the criteria of the mid-90s. For most of you Sliders die-hards out there, these are probably the last thing you’ve never seen. So, just like Wade gets to spend more time with her Parents in “Deadly Secrets,” so do you all get one more day with these people. Cherish it.

Okay, guys, that’s it for the comics!

Next week, Quinn takes “loves thyself” a little too seriously (Double Cross).