A Rebel Without A Clue (Net Worth).

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“Remember that this is 1999. I mentioned eschatology before, but this is something new. We’re now nearing the millenium— something wildly important to culture, both ‘pop’ and ‘serious.’ COMING SOON: The end of the world. And the internet is growing faster than we thought. Changing us in ways we’d never dreamed. It’s a time for wonder, no doubt about it. But it’s also a time for fear, for worry. How will this change us? What will our future hold?

And, truth be told, a future where “Net Worth” proves prescient isn’t that unbelievable. Really, what “Net Worth” does is paper our future with glam spectacle. It’s a glittered fortune. There aren’t many episodes of Sliders where you can say “oh man, that’s so close to us.” The very nature of the show usually denies us this. That may actually be the greatest failing of the show— that it shows us things perhaps too removed from our own familiarity.

When was the last time we could say that Sliders guessed right? “California Reich,” I guess. But then, of course, it tempered its futurism with sci-fi schlock. What, then? “The Weaker Sex?” Probably, in its own bizarrely sexist way. I understand that the point of the show is to show what could be, but there’s no point in showing that if you don’t relate it to now. Right?

Which brings us, of course, to “World Killer.” The episode that shows us a barmy science fiction tragedy but plays it for the emotion. But the secret triumph of “World Killer” is that the science fiction tragedy is completely recognizable to us. Overpopulation has been a threat to our world for as long as any of us can remember. “World Killer” shows us what it would be like.

Which is to say, horrible.

Surely that’s the way to approach this show.

The show disagrees with me, of course.. But still, I’m dithering.”

READ IT AT EARTHPRIME.

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Blind To The People In My Life (Mother & Child).

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Look, I watched this episode. I wasn’t annoyed, like last time. I got through it just fine. But I misremembered the ending. It’s literally been over a decade since I’ve seen this (and most of the episodes from here on out). In my mind, I’m confused at the death of Jonathan.

I realize that “wow, how cruel is it of the sliders to leave Christine on a world where no one knows her or trusts her, all alone with an infant freak-child?”

Then I think that actually no— that’s the right choice. It’s the first moment of autonomy that Christine is granted in the entire episode. It’s the first moment that isn’t completely defined by the men surrounding her (Maggie spends the most time with Christine, but no action or meaningful discussion comes from it).

But then I am flabbergasted and appalled by what happens. Because they throw the baby in an extra padded snuggy and take her with them.

Look, I’ll forgive the Hummer through the Vortex. But remember how many times the joke of “Rembrandt always hits Arturo really hard coming out of the Vortex” was made? So many times. Because the vortex is actually sort of dangerous. And I’m sorry, but that baby would fucking die. If they threw an infant in the Vortex, it would not come out.

Also, c’mon— they give Christine a ten second warning about “the people over there might not respect you,” and she’s like “cool, no biggie guys.”

…right.

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Without A Trace Of Male Envy (Lipschitz Live).

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You know what? I turned off this episode. I couldn’t watch it. It was boring, it was sexist, it wasn’t funny, Colin’s double is fucking stupid, the whole idea is lazy. The thing is, though, there’s a certain amount of inevitability to this episode that makes it even more unnecessary. It’s 1998, the whole Springer/Maury/Etc. ‘talk show’ craze is building up to full steam. It’s just as obvious for Sliders to ‘do’ Jerry Springer than it was for the show to do Twister in Season Three. But does it have anything to say about the daytime talk show reality television phenomenon?

No— it’s just fuel for Keith Damron’s idea of humor.

An evil kind of humor that goes unnoticed every day. A kind of humor that’s allowed to infest our society, and insult the majority of our own kind. Out of fear, out of jealousy, out of ignorance. That’s the thing— Sliders should do an episode that takes on the Patriarchy. But it doesn’t— it never could. It’s too caught up in the thing itself. If a mirror was held to this show, it would show nothing.

READ IT AT EARTHPRIME.

I Feel Like I’m Out of Gas (The Dying Fields).

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Because what’s the use? You can see the finality on Quinn’s face— change is worthless. It doesn’t exist. Life is cruel, and unusual, and completely unfair. So why bother? Why bother feeling? Why bother trying— why bother with anything?

 

You shouldn’t.

 

And this is what Sliders is really about.

 

It’s the personification of cynicism.

 

Of nihilism.

 

Of existential horror taken to such a complete extreme as to become completely meaningless.

READ IT AT EARTH PRIME.

Burying Your Head In The Sand (California Reich).

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“Sliders doesn’t have the benefit of history.

It exists as a time capsule, made in a time of peace and stability. The 90s were great! But if you look at our culture, you’d think we lived in a post-apocalypse. The X-Files is probably the apogee of cultural darkness— paranoia, the feeling that evil is seeping in between the cracks of reality. But it wasn’t true, not then. We put that evil on a pedestal and revered it because it seemed impossible. We couldn’t trust what we had— hence the paranoia— but we still had it great.

But then the bubble burst, the camel’s back cracked, the tub was emptied. Our perfect little soufflé of a country fell flat. The Great Disappointment. Death. Destruction. Recession. Comparing 1998 to 2008 to 2013 is an act of depression. Not only in the sense of economical downturn‚ but one of emotional depression. This country, in its cowboy hubris, took itself down the tubes. You could argue that we’ve pulled ourselves out of the worst of it, but have we?

I’d argue no.

And the simple fact of that makes “California Reich” at times both infuriating and terrifying. The evils that “Reich” posits aren’t really science fiction— in 2013, they’re fact with fiction glaze. That’s not to say that the lead singer for The Germs and some immaculately coiffed thugs march around rounding up black people and throwing them in concentration camps. But we live in a country where a majority of the population doesn’t believe in evolution. A country where a very vocal portion of the population refused to believe that our President was actually a citizen— something that most certainly wouldn’t have happened if he wasn’t black. A country where, in so many of our cities, “poor” neighborhoods are just a nicer way to say “non-white.” We don’t live in a fair country.

But it isn’t as if things weren’t like that in 1998. It’s not like immigration wasn’t still a concern. It wasn’t as if there wasn’t racial tension. It wasn’t as if poverty didn’t exist. Today, though, all of our mild concerns of 1998 are magnified to tremendous levels— the tension is all around, not just seeping into the racks, but simply all we know. It’s worse now, because things haven’t gotten better.

So now, in 2013, it’s impossible to watch this episode and not recoil. Because a lot of things that happen in the episode are truly terrifying. But they’re cut with inanity and sci-fi bollocks and bad ideas and over-proselytizing— basically, it’s just an episode of Sliders. “

Read the rest at EARTH PRIME.

Tell Me Your War Story (Asylum).

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Rembrandt’s journey on this show has been the most drastic of all the characters. He started at a personal nadir, really. He was vapid and empty— desperately clinging to a career that didn’t exist. Snapping at Quinn about his car. Shrill. Angry. Dressed in bizarre clothes. I mean, he was a joke. And sure, he was written to be that way. He was a stereotype. “Funny Black Dude” was where he began and ended.

 

And part of his journey into “believable human being” is due to a willingness of the writing staff to allow for more than a one-note character (too bad the same wasn’t allowed for Sabrina Lloyd). But part of it, too, is because Cleavant Derricks is a truly amazing actor who can take the worst material ever and elevate it to the sublime.

 

Season Four may not be perfect, but the decision to make Rembrandt a Wounded Survivor was the absolute best one it could have taken. No one else could have handled it. Kari could have tried— she’d have failed, but she’d have tried. Jerry’s past caring enough to work with that. Charlie doesn’t count. But Cleavant cares. And so Rembrandt grows. Rembrandt grows, and he does so naturally. It’s why Rembrandt awkwardly hitting on Grace isn’t creepy— because it’s a shade of the Remmy we first met.

 

All of this is to say that Rembrandt is a broken man. And if his shaky belief in God is what gets him through the day, then who am I to judge him in that?

 

READ IT AT EARTHPRIME

All My Friends, Nothing But Blood & Meat (Slidecage).

Screen shot 2013-02-08 at 6.55.37 PMThis week on Sliders:

The Slidecage changes you. But it’s changed the Kromaggs for the better. The humans— the people we’re supposed to root for— they’ve devolved. Which would be fine, but I’m not sure that’s really what we’re supposed to take away from this episode.

 

Still, there’s the quiet moment where Rembrandt watched Jules and Kolitar embrace, and he is clearly moved, but also equally ashamed and confused by that swell of emotion. Which sets us up for actual progress in the ‘arc’ of Rembrandt getting over his captivity. Which, frankly, should be the entire arc of the season. Instead, we’re ‘treated’ with another tag in Leisure World, where Rembrandt is sad that he tried to kill Quinn.

Which is a pointless, irritating scene. After all, Rembrandt was brainwashed when he tried to kill Quinn. When the spell wore off, he clearly had no memory of it. So what the tag implies is that the other sliders told him about his ‘betrayal,’ in a way that still allowed him to feel guilty about it. Which is A) cruel. And B) it denies us the opportunity for a killer scene down the road— imagine if Rembrandt’s revelation about Kromagg Love inspired an about face of feeling in him, only to have it undermined by the revelation that he had been brainwashed into murdering his friend?

 

Plus, the Leisure World tag is bizarre because it seems like it’s written by someone who didn’t watch the episode. Sure, the line about Rembrandt’s heart being too strong for Kromagg Influence is cute, but it had nothing to do with Rembrandt’s heart. Jules broke the spell. Jules and Jules alone. Rembrandt was powerless. Which is wayyyyy more interesting than a shitty “power of love” message that the episode tries to force down our throats.

This episode isn’t really about love. It’s kind of about hate.

 

That’s what this entire show has become.

 

READ IT AT EARTHPRIME.