Have You Looked At The Heavens (As Time Goes By)?

Option A (deviation):

Sliders has always had a difficult time. This episode wasn’t even supposed to be the Season Finale— FOX just kept bumping it up in the running order until they realized that they’d already aired the real season finale and still had the episode left over. It was just too weird, they said. They didn’t know what to do with it, they said. So they aired the episode way after the Season had ended. And then they unceremoniously canceled the show, making this the unplanned and unknown Series Finale.

It is the end, but the moment wasn’t prepared for.

As an unplanned Series Finale, though, this episode does a frighteningly good job of summing up the underlying themes of this series. People, when explaining the show, often hear “oh, it’s like Quantum Leap.” Us fans often say “ugh, Ziggy says there’s an eight billion percent chance that NO,” but we’re sort of lying to ourselves. It’s just that Quantum Leap wears it’s heart on it’s sleeve, so to speak. The goal of Sam Beckett is to “fix history”, more or less, in the most gracious way possible. It’s easy to posit that it was Sam Beckett’s fate to step into the Quantum Leap Device, like he was destined to be an unwitting angel of history.

Sliders struggled with this concept throughout it’s entire run. Part of that is because the writers don’t know where they stand on the matter, but to be fair, it ends up being played in the characters, too. Why is it they who Slide? Are they supposed to intervene? Are they supposed to overthrow the government time and time again? Cure a deadly disease? Create equality for the weaker sex? Re-introduce the Constitution? Basically, the question is this: is Sliding random?

Her hair would have you think otherwise.

If the pilot is the hypothesis, the episodes the data, then “As Time Goes By” is the conclusion. And, to the undying credit of the show, the answer is blessedly complicated. In this episode, it’s as if the Timer decided to take matters into it’s own hands, and take the randomness out of Sliding, giving Quinn three case studies to try out the show’s thesis. It ends up being a what-if: if you could travel to other worlds, would you try to change them for the better? Quinn tries to argue “yes,” but the show, three worlds in a row, tries to tell him “no.” Even in the case of the 2nd “Daelin” world, where it’s “clear” that her life is “better” after Quinn “saves” her, he still feels defeated—he wanted to take her with him, after all. It proves that the “self” must be taken out of the equation. Daelin might be better off, but Quinn isn’t.

His grimace would (not) have you think otherwise.

Sliding is random. Sliders must remain observers. Any intervention can lead to the destruction of (at the least) the self, or (at the worst) the destruction of the universe.

The "space is a curtain" thing going on here would have you think otherwise.

These people aren’t meant to be here. As much as Rembrandt wears out his complaints, he’s right. They aren’t divined to slide in order to inflict their definition of “Right” upon these worlds. They are sliding to get home, and nothing more. In a way, it’s really like Science winning out. The Martian Preservationist winning out over the Terraforming Colonist. It’s a tough conclusion for the show to sell, but they make it work. And it’s perfect and wonderful that it would be the Series Finale to do so. If they had any episode following this one, it would cheapen the resolution. We’ve seen the nature of sliding in every way we could, and it’s a beautiful thing that we don’t watch them ride off into the sunset. We watch Quinn cringe at his past decisions. Sliders, in it’s final moments, becomes an incredibly human show.

And for that, I will miss it.

Option B (detour):

So far this Season, we’ve been disappointed. Every week’s had some brighter moments, but they’re held amidst a heaping load of crap. Last week we had an Old-West Town attached to San Francisco, Texas. There were good things to be said about the approach to “Law” as shown in that world. Before that we had a decent idea of “Turn a City into a Giant Prison,” but that was sidled with a poorly-acted maniac, and ended with the Sliders taking someone through the wormhole who we never saw or heard from again. Wade drove a van through the vortex.

The promise we saw in Season One episodes like “Eggheads” or “Luck of the Draw” are so far not present. So when we get to this episode, it’s a shock. All of the sudden, people are trying. There’s effort in the concept, the execution. It’s an episode unlike any other that’s come before it.

And just like that, the Season turns around.

It’s interesting that it took this long to have an episode that applies the “14-year old boy” approach to sliding. By which I mean that this episode is dealing with one of the most obvious “what if” ideas of “anything’s possible:” Hey, now I can get with this chick I never could in High School.

And her hair is exactly the same as in High School, too!

It’s easy to forget that Quinn is a nerd. It’s also easy to forget that he’s only supposed to be, like, 22-23. So when he’s talking about this Daelin woman (who we’ve never heard of before [can you imagine if this episode was about WADE?!] but whatever) we have to remember that it’s only been… 8… years… and he’s still in love with her…

Okay, it’s weird. It comes off as creepy. I mean, Jerry O’Connell plays it well. He is accurately playing the shit out of being a total nerd who gets to M.O. with his High School Sweetie (or whatever). But that doesn’t mean that it’s fun for us to watch Quinn jerkily run his fingers through Daelin’s hair.

But you know, for once, I really can’t complain. The emotional beats this episode has are all immensely satisfying. But really, the key to the episode’s success is the fact that Quinn and his actions are wrong. He’s not right to try to change Daelin’s life, her fate. Even if it seems like it was for the better in one case. Because he isn’t just changing her life, he’s changing the lives of everyone around her.

To put it mildly.

The fact that he actually destroys an entire universe at the end of the episode is the extreme metaphor for his actions. Quinn thinks he’s doing all of this out of selflessness, but it’s truly the most selfish act. So having him not be the “winner,” the “good duy” at the end of the episode is perfect. The pained look he gives that closes the episode is a bold move, but to end it any other way would be an extreme disappointment. This is an act of respect on the part of the show. Respect to the characters, to morality, and to us an audience.

Option C (center):

There’s just no respect for this show. FOX bumped this episode up to the end because they didn’t understand it. And it’s not like I don’t get it— it’s a bizarre episode. But it’s also a brilliant episode. And, were it not for a lengthy letter writing campaign by the fans and a mild outcry, it would have been the last. There are worse ways to end a show (as we’ll see, of course), but if this was going to be the end, they unwittingly had prepared for the moment pretty well.

This episode, shunted as it was, is a last stand for creativity, and a farewell to the Canadian darkness the show had enveloped so well. FOX agreed to a third season, but demanded high costs. The show would move to LA, and the majority of the production staff would be replaced. FOX would be more ‘Hands On,” not allowing any kind of sneaky business like “continuity” or “putting Conrad Bennish in an episode” or “being interesting.” Using “In Dino Veritas”‘s popularity as leverage, they’d wrench the show out of ‘interesting’ and shove it wholly into “action” territory. The show suffers. But it soldiers on.

Part of being a Sliders fan is accepting this. Part of being a fan of any show is being able to accept change. You don’t just stop watching Doctor Who because Tom Baker leaves. You don’t stop watching Fringe because Peter is erased from the timeline. You don’t stop watching BSG because Colonel Tigh wears an eyepatch.

Of course, in reality, people stop watching shows all the time when they make a production decision that you don’t agree with. But as much as the general Sliders fan bitches and moans about the next three seasons, they still watch them. They’re stuck with the show. There’s something innately endearing about this show that people watch it for. And we’re protective of it, too. We do things like run comprehensive websites about the show, or run a blog where we discuss each episode one at a time.  We care about this show, and we want people to know it existed. It’s a part of us and we want to share that with people.

But why? As you’ve no doubt noticed, if you actually watch these episodes when do, this show is flawed. It’s entirely a product of the time it was created. It’s concept is great, but it never decided how it wanted to follow through with it. At the end of it all, when we carve through the things that make the show terrible, we’re left with Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt, & Arturo. Eventually, we’re left with even less. But these four people struck on a chemistry that was frankly magical. It was warm and loving, but never alienating. You could be friends with them, if you wanted. And we are friends with them, in a way. We care about them, and we want to stay with them through thick and thin— whether that refers to what’s going on in the show or behind it.

I’ll miss the show as it is at this point. But I’m excited to continue this project/journey. It’s not like there won’t be good episodes after this. Even the bad ones can have their charm. But it’s still necessary to me, as a fan of this show (for whatever reason), to say goodbye to this era.

It's the end of the show as we know it (and we'll get over it eventually).

So, y’know, goodbye.

Next week I’ll probably take a holiday. But after that I thiiiink I’m going to throw you a curveball. We’ll see. Stay tuned.


The Carrot & The Stick (Invasion).

The Multiverse is a lonely town.

Think about it. In all these adventures, we’ve only met two people who were also sliders, and they were both Quinn. Sliding thus far has been an isolar world, with the only familiarity able to be encountered being dark mirrors of your soul. So imagine if suddenly your little island of a life suddenly blows open? if you realize you aren’t alone, there are other people who share this life?

Now imagine if these people you encounter were terrifying ape-beasts who devour human eyes and are hell-bent on conquering every alternate Earth in the Multiverse?


“Invasion” is probably the most important episode of the series, and not just because it introduces a villan that would ultimately shape the future of the show. “Invasion” is a true crossing of a line. It’s genuine Sci-Fi in away that the show rarely resembles (and yes, I know the premise is that a dope-ass cellphone opens portals to parallel dimensions). It has elements of Sci-Fi/dinosaurs every now and again, but here we have basically some mother fucking UFOs shootings some mother fucking lasers.

Look at that mother fucking LASER.

And to be frank, it’s awesome. Seriously (and this is a moment where I am writing on a use.net board in 1996), but the idea of the Kromagg Dynasty is totally amazing. It opens up the world of Sliding in a way that we didn’t even know was possible—even necessary. And it’s frankly brilliant to have the first non-double sliders be not only hideous, but also purely evil.

Also cool it with the "guilt," Quinn. No one cares that you killed this dood.

We’ll start with the ‘hideous’ part first. It’s long been something we’re forced to willfully disbelieve, but it is awfully convenient that every world they slide to is inhabited by humanoid bipeds that have the same language as the sliders (Star Trek has half of that problem, too— the latter half being hand-waved by ‘Universal Translators’). There’s a way to ‘fanwank’ this that doesn’t require religion— we haven’t had it explained yet, I don’t think, but the reason the Sliders are always in San Francisco is because there is a thing in the dope-ass cellphone called a ‘geographic stabilizer’ that gives them a four-mile radius (wow, good thinking, Quinn!) To connect this to humanoid dimension, let’s say that (here’s where the fanwanking comes in) if you were to map the —which we’re defining as all the universe that splinter off for every choice made— it would probably look like an infinite fractal (you should be stoned while you are reading this). And like any given Timer most likely has a Geographic Stabilizer, I feel like it’s safe to say that this Stabilizer makes it so that each Timer can only slide to a finite amount of Universes— only one arm of the Fractal, if you will. Y’all better quote me on this shit, yo.


So it’s important that the Kromaggs are not Aliens. It would deflate there inherent terror. To have them really be another evolutionary possibility of Homo Sapiens makes them scarier for the same reason all the ugly mirrors of the Sliders’ doubles are— the Kromaggs show us the absolute of our dark sides.

Nobody here but us Bead Curtains!

And in a way, the Kromaggs are a superior evolutionary chain. They seem to have, in addition to being ‘masters of gravity,’ an incredible telepathic power— able to create hallucinations and probe for information. They’re more technologically advanced, clearly. I mean, obviously, there are problems with a species that’s set on conquering the multiverse, but one gets the sense that, like their closest S-F brethren, The Borg, they are conquering Worlds to better them. It’s easy to read their refusal to speak English as egomaniacal, but if we’re being honest, English is a crap language that’s really hard to translate most of the time. Other than, say, Maths, pure thought is certainly a highger form of communication. Gotta make way for the Homo Superior.

See guys, careless prop making like this is what bought up Alien vs Predator.

And then they put a tracking device on one of the sliders. Why? What’s the big deal about Quinn Mallory (or whoever). Is it just because he managed to deflect them, outsmart them? Because he successfully weaponized his timer into becoming a dope-ass cellphone/gun (don’t even get me started on that, because UGH)? At this point in the “Kromagg Arc,” such as it turns out to be, the team are a bunch of nobodies. Flies, gnats, air. What’s the use in conquering their/our Earth?

See, for as much as the Kromaggs are an amazing idea, after watching the entire episode, they really are only that. An amazing idea. Once again, the show bites off more than it can chew, and just like “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome,” turns in a clumsy hour of TV that represents something far more incredible than it presents.

I don’t know if I’ve watched a more awkwardly paced episode of television. “The Young & The Relentless” had egregious errors in terms of internal continuity, but it was paced well and gave ample time to both it’s A & B plots. “Invasion”‘s pacing is oddly start/stop and herky jerky. I’m usually a fan of multiple slides in an episode, but the detour to French World here just serves to effectively and narratively stop the episode dead in it’s tracks. And of course the conversation that they have there— about the dangers of the Kromaggs and the difficulty inherent in warning everyone— is important and has to be in the episode. I give the writers points for creative structuring, but the shift in mood is so jarring that it really seems like the conversation should move to the end of the episode, bookended with the “tracking device” reveal.

Plus, what the fuck were Wade & Remmy doing for all that time? Sitting on an immobile Tilt-a-Whirl?

And of course, there’s the Manta Ship Exploration Scene, where Quinn & Arturo explore the same six by six area of a space ship for eight hours straight. They try to save it by dubbing in an “it’s getting dark” from Rembrand, but it’s just so obvious that they didn’t have enough money to build more than one room of the spaceship. The whole sequence reads like the worst kind of lowest-budget Doctor Who, with Arturo & Quinn as The Doctor and Adric exploring something exciting (with Adric/Quinn complaining unnecessarily about something The Doctor/Professor shouldn’t be doing/looking stupid), and Wade & Rembrandt as a sort of even less dignified Nyssa and Tegan, complaining about how the dudes get to have all the fun.

Actually, just go ahead and stay in your cage, Mary.

The other element of the episode is just as much of a mixed bag. The Kromaggs have an emissary of sorts, a human by the name of Mary. First, major points for her not just being a dumb white blonde girl. And I guess points for having a twist ending that is sort of hard to see coming. But the twist (in which Mary isn’t actually helping the sliders escape, but is actually helping the Kromaggs track them to our Earth), is only hard to see coming because by the end of the episode you’re surprised they actually tried so hard.

Ohhh, I'm going to cry like a (wo)man!

The thing about the twist is that it undermines anything that she’s said about herself or the Kromaggs. We can’t now know for sure if Quinn’s really the first sliding human they’ve encountered (he’s not, sort of). We can’t trust her “tragic” backstory (but who cares). We can’t even trust the totally fucking awesome idea that the Kromaggs live in giant-ass tree-villages. Though this trading card (yes) would have you believe it:

Just be glad I didn't use the one of a Manta Ship blowing up the World Trade Center (Forever Too Soon).

(Also about the idea of a tree-world: doesn’t it sort of imply that the Kromaggs respect nature a helluva lot more than we do? I’m not sayin’, I’m just saying that it’s not hard to disagree with Alt-Poppa Brown.)

"Crazy Eyes" Brown, up in here.

I don’t know. It’s hard to be hard on this episode. But as an episode of Television (which, at the end of the day, is all it is), it’s sort of boring and tedious. It’s totally devoid of tension (like we really think that they’re going to kill Quinn? I seriously believe that’s what the episode wants us to think— and I’m smart enough to know the rule of cliffhangers, guys). The only truly horrendous moment is when the other prisoner on Earth 113 turns out to be an eyeless Conrad Bennish, Jr. But A) what are the odds of that?? and B) at this point in the serious, we haven’t seen Bennish in over a year (which was actually FOX-mandated- Tracy Tormé had to sneak in even this bit part). It’s weird how many of the bad ideas in this episode make it look like the worst of the John Nathan-Turner era of Doctor Who (about which, sorry I keep mentioning it, but I just watched “The Visitation,” and it sort of totally blew in a lot of similar ways as this episode).

Definitely not a Plant Holder.

Still, there’s something to be aid for this episode entrenching itself to thoroughly in hard-ass science-fiction. It opens up the show to new avenues of storytelling. The show doesn’t have to rely on silly “alternate government in need of overthrowing” tropes. It can be more. It should be more. The fact that these characters now know that they aren’t alone and that it’s a bad thing is fantastic. The show just got so much bigger, and it’s so exciting. They can’t follow up on this soon enough.

Just try not to look at that Goatse Mouth.

And despite the show’s track record for abandoned plots, they will (for better or worse [worse]). But everything change between now and then, and the power of the Kromaggs with change with it. For now, though, their power—and the shadow they cast of the multiverse— is absolute.

Next week: Quinn fucks up (As Time Goes By)! The end of Season Two ! AHHH!

Here’s Something To Remember (The Young & The Relentless).

We’re at the final three episodes of the season. And that, if you’re a Sliders fan, means a death is approaching. Something is lost after these three episodes. They are suffused with a funereal tone.  You can make the argument that if these were the final episodes of the entire series, then the show would be better off. If we know what’s to come, that knowledge stains our enjoyment. It will truly never be this good again.

That last sentence, however, suggests that this episode is actually “good.” Which isn’t really to say that this episode is “bad,” but oi does it have some problems.

The first problem is easy, as it’s thrown in our face: WTF IS WITH THE CLOTHES. It was just about the only thing I could remember going in to this re-watch. And yes, there’s a hastily dubbed-in remark from Quinn of “these clothes are so retro.” But that’s no excuse for this:

No man should be so patterned.

or this:

This episode seriously has a man say "excellente."

or this:


After spending ten minutes staring at that fucking jacket, it’s the only thing you’ll be able to remember.

Just when we thought this show was done with all that Makin' Out...

Which is interesting, because there’s sor tof a lot going on in this episode. Quinn & Wade have an A-plot, and Remmy & Arturo have an entirely separate B-plot, everyone sort of learns something, both have wild adventures, neither really intersect in any meaningful way. It’s almost too stuffed of an episode, but I’m going to say that that’s a good thing.

See, in this episode, the “youth run the world.” Everyone older than 30 is a senior citizen, an undesirable, fodder, dirt, worthless, over, done. So the world is run by hyped up, freaked out teenagers, while the ‘elderly’ are left to starve in shelters.

It’s a rich concept, if not a little preposterous. And as such, having two over-stuffed plot arcs in beneficial to the concept. Because you (or at least me) really do want to know how the two slices of the age spectrum function. What’s it like to have to fit a life’s work of accomplishments into 30 years? Likewise, once you’re past 30, what’s it like to be suddenly second-class?

So squinty. How can he see the Stars if he is so squinty!

I’ll start with the latter first. Rembrandt & Arturo, having been told by Quinn to basically “GTFO of our plotline,” go scrappin’ and yellin’ through town. Arturo, being a man of affluence, pride, and stature (ie, WHITE), is affronted by the concept of being “second-class.” Through the whole episode he codgily rails against the system, yelling at every youth he sees and generally proves this youth-obsessed culture right about old people being worthless.

But then there’s Rembrandt, who kind of just seems like he’s along for the ride, pulling Arturo out of trouble and not saying much. But he’s not, really— for Rembrandt, he’s just back in an extremely familiar element.

Handling it like an unfortunate pro.

Now let’s be clear: Sliders isn’t, and truly be ready for this. There are two instances where the show actively engages in “race” as a topic (or three if you count a funny quip in the Season 3 gag reel)— and they’re all disastrous. One is a moody speech that comes out of nowhere in the middle of an episode that’s basically about swallowing a huge dick monster. The other is an entire episode about ‘race’ that chooses to focus more on cyborgs.

And of course, it’s never even mentioned in this episode. Rembrandt never says “Gee, Professor, now you know what it was like to grow up as an African American.” In fact, I’m willing to bet that the writers of the episode had absolutely no idea they were crafting an analogy for racial tension— and really, Arturo & Remmy’s subplot basically amounts to a longform excuse to make jokes about kids (a problem I’ll get too soon).

Instead, it’s all Cleavant Derricks— the show’s secret weapon, who when called upon always delivers the acting goods. It’s obvious that he understood the script’s secret undertones and played the part accordingly. It’s all in the way he says “no problem” to the cops who try to bust them for breaking curfew. Remmy knows that they’ll take any excuse to bust them. They’ve already got two strikes against them. Rembrandt handles the situation with a quiet grace and resigned dignity, while Arturo acts like a whiny brat. Cleavant Derricks lends a credibility to an episode that all too often leans way too far into the dark side of satire.

Speaking of that dark side, let’s look at Quinn & Wade’s plot.

Okay, fine. I would totally wear that jacket.

Like I said, the clothes are atrocious. But the clothes are just a small part of a larger problem this episode has. The entire ‘parallel earth’ idea is basically created as an excuse to make fun of ‘the youth.’ The whole ‘petulant children running the country’ idea, at least as expressed in the episode, is largely offensive to the younger generation. It ages the production team immensely, making the show seem like it’s made by a bunch of stuffy old men trying vainly to relate to the younger generation, failing, then settling taking cheap shots at what they don’t understand.

Which isn’t a way to make a television show with any staying power. The whole problem is tempered, though, by Quinn & Wade reacting to the situation with what starts as detachement and slowly builds to an embarrassed disgust that people who share their faces could be so terrible.

Still, the episode is at it’s core a smarter-than-usual (but still needlessly complicated with ‘twists’ and ‘reveals’ about characters we don’t give a shit about) case of Sliders-by-numbers, enhanced greatly by the fact that they aren’t trying to change the whole of society. They’re only really trying to bring justice to a small group of people (and also stalling a project that not only takes away jobs from ‘elderlies’ [2012 hotpoint!], but also teaches kids to learn by selling sodas). The end of the episode doesn’t even make it clear if they succeed. Arturo’s “can’t save every world you land on” is a great line, and it’s a shame that we couldn’t have had this kind of semi-bleak ending in an episode like “Time Again & World” or “Prince of Wails.”

Man, what a team of really tall dudes. For president.

Cancer is not cured by this episode, but we’re still much better off than we were at the beginning of the season. We’ve made progress, not regression. People are trying to make a decent television show. If we put our minds in 1996, we’ll be excited for this show, excited for the future.

If this was Season Three, Quinn would make out with her, and we'd be having different discussions about this show.

Two points in addendum: First, the fact that the wife of the dude that Alt-Wade probably murdered is no more than 15 is awesome and terrifying, and opens up more eerie implications of how this Earth’s culture operates.

Second, I would be remiss not to mention the giant continuity error in this episode. Rembrandt, at the beginning of the episode, says that they slide “the next day”. Then night comes, followed by the dawn, where Rembrandt says that they slide “tomorrow.” And then he says it again the next day. Basically, by “tomorrow,” Remmy meant “three or four days, I’m not sure but whatever.” Now, I’m not one to be bothered by that things, but this one was a little too glaring.

"Smelt it, dealt it, guys."

But like I said at the opening, a death is approaching. This was the last episode produced for Season Two, and all signs were pointing to it being the final season.  Meaning for the actors and crew, this seemed like it might have been the end. The show had been on the low end of the bubble for the whole run, and if there was any chance for renewal, there would have to be a price paid in blood. The show as it stood in ’96 wasn’t going to make it on a network like FOX. It wasn’t ever going to be a show like The X-Files— I’d argue that Sliders is too weird to break out of a cult following. And the TV climate of 96 wasn’t as forgiving as it is now, where a show as bizarre as Fringe could pull absolutely shit ratings but still get renewed for a fourth season. Sliders is a show that needed nurturing, but there was no one around to nurture it.

So for every one involved in the show, this was the end. It lends the final scene a little extra bit of heft. The photo of Alt-Quinn and Alt-Wade becomes a memento not only to the failed love of these doubles, but also the cancelled love of Our Quinn and Wade, and for the show itself.

Still, if it’s an end for the show, it isn’t yet an end for us watching it. This tour through Season Two is going to close with the two most imaginative (and bat-shit crazy) hours of TV the show ever produced.

Next week: the Seeds of Doom are sewn (Invasion).

As Drunk As Possible (Greatfellas).

I really didn’t want to watch this episode. I looked at my list of remaining Season Two eps and thought “oh man, Greatfellas is next? UUUGH (first nerd problems).” But I couldn’t tell you why. Fan consensus doesn’t hate this episode (not that they really love it, either). I don’t remember ever hating this episode.

Plus, it’s actually an episode with personal distinction: this is one of only two episode that I remember seeing as they aired (the other is actually “The Seer.” UUUGH). It’s a vague memory at best— I’m at a friend’s house, and someone must’ve wanted to watch it, because there was no reason for us to not be playing video games. More than one person remarked “oh, yeah, I’ve heard of this show.”

For better or for worse, if this show is ever well-remembered enough to warrant an epitaph, “oh, yeah, I’ve heard of this show” will be that. Let’s just say, in my day to day life, I talk about Sliders a lot (by blog-necessity, it’s often on my mind). The reaction I get (aside from tolerance to “Ian, really— again?) is pretty much just “oh, yeah, I’ve heard of that show— they go to different planets right?” and then they describe an episode from either Season Two or Season Three, and then I politely tell them that “actually they don’t go to different planets.” Then they ask me if it’s actually a good show and I tell them “well, not really. But you should totally watch it anyways.”

Another time, I’ll go into my life’s ebb/flow relationship with Sliders. First I’m going to address the huge elephant in the room that resides in this episode.

Maybe not an elephant. More like a hole.

Or a mist.

A smooth… mist.

A velvet…


Who the hell in the 18-30 demographic is going to know who that is?

Yes, Mel Tormé, The Velvet Fog, is in this episode. And while I can’t (or maybe just don’t want to) really say that “we knew this was coming,” the fact remains that we knew this was coming. Tracy Tormé, in case I haven’t mentioned it before, is like, actually Mel Tormé’s son. It’s not a coincidence.

So we have reason to be, if not nervous, then at least skeptical. The cry of “nepotism” is never far off. If we’re that kind of fan, then we’ll notice that Tracy’s name isn’t listed anywhere in the credits. (A slight tangent: I realize that I’ve totally ignored things like ‘who wrote what when,’ and I’m actually sort of bummed about that. Here’s the run-down: Jon Povill is the best [unless he writes El Sid], Tony Blake and Paul Jackson are the second-best [Gillian & Love Gods are well-remembered-and-actually-also-good classics], there are people who only write an episode once or twice, and Tracy’s scripts are serviceable, but sort of bogged down by either a good idea taken in the wrong direction [Into The Mystic] or bogged down my Network interference [Into The Mystic, every script that isn’t the Pilot].) So to see Scott Smith “Good Bad & Wealthy” Miller’s name on the story credit means that Tracy took someone else’s idea and decreed that “Yo, Scott, ham-hand my Dad up innit.”

But as awful as that seems, there’s something uncanny about this episode: it’s not bad. Not only that, but the very best parts of the episode are the parts with Mel Tormé. One could conceivably argue that if Mel wasn’t in this episode, it would only be middle of the road at best. Mel Tormé out-acts pretty much every guest actor that’s ever been on the show! Seriously, he’s electric! I find it hard to explain how good he is in the episode without sounding like a sarcastic dick, but I’m totally serious. Just watch this video:

Skiddly-diddly-doobiddy-dee, indeed.

Mel aside, there’s a lot in the episode to speak highly of. I mean, after you cut around the padding and the fact that there’s a whole season’s worth of plotting happening… when the Sliders are out of the room. What I mean is that the sliders’ adventure on this world amounts to breaking up a wedding or something and getting mistaken for their doubles and Quinn having to gamble and also being an idiot.

An attempt to lure back the 18-30 demographic.

The thing is that the parallel history here is better thought out than pretty much any other so far. Prohibition was never repealed, which leads to America being the most corrupt place on Earth. The Mafia and other organized crime syndicates take advantage of the huge smuggling opportunities abound, using the great wealth they offer to more or less take over the country. Also Ronald Reagan is Governor of California (a joke that’s less funny post-Schwarzenegger). Written down, it looks a little ridiculous—and the shot of San Fran covered in Casino glitter is hugely ridiculous— but the episode sells it by showing the underbelly of society. The ways that the American Government is more or less powerless is… well, I’m hesitant to use such a glowing word as ‘chilling,’ but it’s an effective way to get the point across. This is a dimension where the ‘one silly change that makes it different’ actually has consequences. It’s kind of impressive.

I would say that this is an attempt to show how poorly lit the FBI office is, if the entire show wasn't always this poorly lit.

But even if I’m a fan of the alternate history, I can’t wholly defend the entire episode. Watching the thing, one kind of gets the feeling like you could remove the sliders from the episode and you wouldn’t really miss them. And they’re even doing stuff! Sort of. I guess they’re just really running around and reacting to things happening around them. We’re supposed to believe that they’re all doubles of a crack FBI team, right? I mean, we only see Rembrandt’s double— which makes sense from a budgetary standpoint, I guess (though now that I think about it, I don’t we ever see a full team of doubles, do we?). But it seems like the script waffles back and forth on whether it wants them all to be “Incorruptibles” or not. There’s a plot where they apparently stop Nevada & California from seceding from the Union, but the way the action unfolds, it’s A) hard to tell that’s happening, and B) doesn’t seem like the sliders had to be there at all. Like, they’re only there to explain to the audience what’s happening. Also Cleavant Derricks’ performance as his FBI double is pretty awful. It’s so one-note it’s boring. He’s like “I’M SERIOUS,” and I’m like “dude I get it.” But still, Alt-Brandt’s got to work in an abandoned warehouse with an “FBI” sign duct taped to it. It’s a nice touch. On my most cynical days, I could almost imagine this world becoming our own.

Also what is this jacket Wade is wearing:

White piped pants? Piped lapels? WHY SO MUCH PIPING!?!?!?!

The thing is, while there’s so much to enjoy in this episode, it just feels a little tired. It’s the same old story: they slide in, get involved in something, tell each other not to get involved, and then spend the rest of the episode being involved and trying to change the workings of the world they’re in. Sliders-by-numbers all the way. There’s good ideas, but they’re bogged down by the show itself. Like, if this wasn’t an episode of Sliders, it would probably be better. And if this is going to be the formula for the show to come, then it’s going to become a real problem.

But who cares? We got Mel!

...or not.

Next week: Kids plot the darndest things! (The Young and the Relentless)

When Moses Delivered Them From The Pharaoh (Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome).


The threat of home hangs over these people every day. Every time these people enter a new world, whether we hear it or not, the question is asked: “is this our home?” And the more they never get there, the larger they realize this roulette wheel really is, and the more hopeless the journey becomes.

We, of course, know, that you can’t go home again. They’ve been gone so long (18 months, according to Rembrandt in this episode, which is actually kind of incredible) that they wouldn’t know home if they saw it, if it smacked them in the face.

So then what if they did make it home? What if the concept of home waltzed up and made it clear the journey was over? What would these people do? 

“Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome” is a high-concept episode. Sure, you can have dinosaurs and you can have psychics, but this is something else— to have an episode where the plot is “the end.” Because for all intents and purposes, an episode where the sliders get home is the end of the show.

Look, everybody. There’s a (pretty short) list of episodes that pretty much everybody agrees are the best episodes of Sliders. “Luck of the Draw” is one of them. “El Sid” is not. This episode is one of those episodes that you’re supposed to absolutely love if you’re a Sliders fan.

Now it’s time for me to tell you how I came up with the idea for this blog: I watched this episode whilst high and thought it was the worst ever. The next day I was stunned— this is Sliders! My favorite show! What’s supposed to be the best episode! Is the entire show as bad as this? Answer: no, it’s not (mostly). More complicated answer: Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome isn’t that bad either.

But, in honor of my initial re-watch, I present this episode with the Time Again & World method of blog post— the ‘journal entry’ approach. This time I’ll augment it from time to time, as this is an episode that deserves at least a little bit of respect. But it’s also worth it to treat this ep with a bit of fun, no?

Sure, why not. Here we go:

-high concept- rembrandt in therapy!

All this episode is missing is a shot of the therapist playing tic-tac-toe.

-quinn’s mom thing

As in, they recast Linda Henning with a half-melted Auton.

-how cute they are! greatest hits of sliders, so cute so cute.

B F F Z // Q T Z

“to friendship” —SEE GUYS I WAS RIGHT

I'm also right about all the drinking they do.

full of nice scenes, slow pace at first, let them (and us) acclimate (to ‘the end’). oh hey, remmy hasn’t seen the batcave!

Rembrandt wastes no time making jokes about Quinn's Penis.

keep it quiet. an interesting (and wise) idea

The rest of the episode is them watching TV and eating chips. Forever.

“all the things we’ve done, the things we’ve seen. it’s all because of you. thank you.” KISSY KISS KISSM KISS


also New Quinn’s mom is the WORST.

Like, did they hire her as a favor? She is the worst.

ha ha everyone is going to tell EVERYONE

Well, that took all of five minutes.





WADES DIARY (bar scene)

Wade's Diary, as in, "Here's to Remembering that she has one."

Quinn’s evidence: I’m a nerd/I’m a jerk

Seriously, it may as well have been "this dog I ran over with a car when I was 15 is still alive on this world."

Well, now you’re being robbed, so no biggz/


Wade is SUCH a bizzy lady

Where is this loft/office? How does Wade afford it? Where does it come from? She had time to make all this happen? How long have they been here? NITPICKS!

Arturo’s press conference:

More like Arturo's GRUMPY conference!

nice model i am sure you couldn’t turn it yourself, max


Rembrandt spends his time at home RE-RECORDING HIS OLD HITS IDENTICALLY

I mean, I understand things like "budget" and "time constraints," but this is a little ridiculous.

quiet moments without Quinn— character gold, right?

I mean, as long as no one is complaining.



“The Father of Inter Dimensional Travel”



But seriously, you're pinning the entire episode on a piece of CGI this bad? Dudes, please.

“i’m nothing!” wait, IM nothing? that’s weird.

"Iceman" Mallory up in here.

Quinn is saying the right thing, but daaamn. (By this I am referring to how ridiculous Wade’s reaction is. Not the fact that she is upset that she is not home- that’s understandable. I’m really just bewildered about the “my career” bit. She really cares that much? Are these people so near-sighted and greedy that they’re more disappointed about cashflow than emotional stability? Food for thought, or not.)

man, WHYYYY is the professor such a DOUUUCHEEE

Number One Douche up in heeah!


...in bed.



Whoa, Quinn lays it down: I’m not sure I can ever get us home.

Quinn admitting this is actually kind of a really really big deal.


but wade is the nicest:

We’ll make it.

Wade Welles, breakin' hearts again.

(Yeah, right)

Kudos for actually getting Maurice FIsh (and the pastor from Last Days? no wonder Remmy was so smug around him).

d be so nervous around FIsh, though.

Like seriously, I would be so worried the dude was going to try to gut me.


I should really make a Sliders Drinking Game. New Rule: a shot every time they break & enter.


No one saw THAT coming.






sliders so crazy breakin people’s windows

SEE? It's already two shots for breaking & entering (three if you count Alt-Turo stealing the Timer), and two for everyone drinking! We are so drunk now!





a really big dog


“of course” ha ha, when quinine says “Of course” he is the dumbest dude

"Of course" yourself!

“now I know how the isrealites felt when Moses delivered them from the pharaoh”


'COS THERE'S A THRILLER IN (wade's eyes)


Shoot 'em from behind the shoulder, save them dollaz.


Trouble Double?


Is it cheaper not to focus or something?


Joe Smarm up in here.

Back and forth of knowledge!

This scene is just riveting.


FINISH HIM, pt. ii

“you better be the right one, man”

Peace out, bro.

like, really? this is all the looking into it they do? isn’t this a REALLY BIG DEAL?

and because WHY WOULD WE SPEND TIME DELVING INTO WADE’S PAST, her parents are no more than extras.

Because her non-character isn't frustrating enough.

i hate quinn’s mom, guys.

I mean, I'm not trying to be mean (I sort of am, though), but what is wrong with her FAAACE?


Seriously, it might as well be "Eye of the Tiger" at this point.


The worst CGI ever, pt. ii.

The worst CGI ever, part iii. (Seriously though really bad OOH NEW DRINKING GAME RULE)

“oh my god.”

No one ever mentions how he says "confound it" right before this.

and with those words, sliders fanfiction is born.


and then, a funny little coda where the sliders break into the therapist’s office and make him CRAYZEE

like a robin’s egg.

Yeah, actually, it is "Robin's Egg." Sounds better than "Vortex Blue," I guess?

Okay, so an addendum: we’ve had some crazy endings before (all roads lead to “Luck of the Draw”), and this one sort of plays down how insane it is. But we’ve got to stop (especially if you’ve never seen it before [and I’m assuming that at least ONE of you hasn’t seen the show before]). But we truthfully don’t know if the right Arturo slid with them. Sure, you can play shell-games and educated guesswork or just ask Tracy Tormé, but if you’re not that kind of fan, you’d be forgiven for freaking the fuck out.

And like I said, this is the moment Sliders fanfiction is born (slight hyperbole). Because if there’s an alternate Arturo who happens to be the real Arturo, then said Arturo would be having his own adventures trying to get home (one assumes). And, should something terrible happen to the Professor travelling with the sliders, then there’s a backup copy stuck on Azure Gate world. So, in a way, this Alt-Turo Shell Game amounts to an easy 1-Up. An extra life. We know he’s out there. Waiting.

I take it back. This isn’t a horrible episode. But what it represents is more important than what actually happens in it. It is, however, a fantastic example of the ‘anything goes’ approach to the show being an incredible success. This show doesn’t have to be either Dinosaurs or This— it can be both.

Next week: Like a Velvet Fog Plugged with Lead (Greatfellas).

Without Condition (In Dino Veritas).

There are two ways of reading this episode. One is the emotional, fan-community, character-driven angle:





This one is a little vague, but yeah.

And then there’s the FOX way of seeing the episode:








So there you go. This episode has Dinosaurs. Technically, it only has one dinosaur. An Allosaurus, which, y’know, points for not just making it a T-Rex.

But this episode is really tricky. Because, yes, they slide into a world where San Francisco is an animal reserve for the endangered species of Dinosaurs. The entire city is just wildlife and forest—all thanks to a really good cave set (which is the last time I’m ever going to say that about the show), and inspired location shooting.

But that’s only part of it. That cave set is inhabited by two persons— a forest ranger and a dino poacher. It’s here that I step back and lay loose the inspiration behind this episode:

Right. First: dang, trailers sure have changed since 1996. Second: not that you’d know it, but there’s a character in that big-time Hollywood movie played by a nice young man named Jerry O’Connell.

Right, so we have to engineer an excuse for Quinn to disappear. But that wasn’t even the original reason for crafting this episode. Sliders, being (now) ostensibly an ‘action/adventure’ show, is an expensive show. Location shoots! Guest stars! And countless shots of a vortex! Corners need to be cut. And instead of pulling a pre-BSG BSG and literally cutting the corners off of the paper, they go to the tried-and-true TV trope of a ‘bottle show.’

For people who don’t read thousands of blogs about TV shows all the time, a bottle show is an episode where the majority of the action is filmed on one set to cut costs and rein the budget in.

So that was the original intent of “In Dino Veritas.” But Jerry O’Connell’s need to go shoot a big-ass movie necessitated a re-tooling of the plot. So instead of everyone sitting around a campfire, we get three quarters of the team and a subplot involving Dino-Poaching. The whole “poacher/ranger” plot is pretty ingenious. O course if there were dinosaurs, there’d be poaching. The list of potential medical uses fo dinosaur parts is inspired, as is the retort about the dino-sex glands. Imagine the dino-furry porn on this world! “Pterodactyl Sex”, but real!

I digress. The idea was always to have a dinosaur, but it was going to be a background threat. Somehow, though, the FX team found they could make a CG Dino on the cheap. So there’s another level— dinosaur action.

It’s the latter that complicates things. FOX didn’t know what the fuck to do with this show, but here, in this episode, they’re handed ratings on a silver platter— Jurassic Park on TV. BAM. Primetime. Money. Revenue. Whatever.

The thing is, this episode couldn’t be any less about Dinosaurs if it tried to be. It’s actually the third episode in a row that I’ve watched that cements the idea that this show is less about alternate histories than it is about friendship. I mean, that’s incredibly corny. But the middle of this episode is dominated/defined by an extended conversation between Arturo & Wade about Quinn.

Pond Broodin'

Wade starts soft, saying how she used to have a crush on him. But it’s different now.

“I just really love him, you know? Without condition. I’d give my life for him.”

So there’s that. You could hang the entire series on that one line. All that she puts into that line: the delivery, the look in her eyes. And the fact that the lie-detecting-truth-collars (long story) don’t electrocute her.

But’s it’s the thing I’ve been arguing for weeks: that this show isn’t the story of four people travelling from universe to universe. It’s the story of four strangers becoming a family. Wade’s declaration of love effectively closes the book on the whole ‘will-they-or-won’t-they’ non-plot, but in a more satisfying way than any single episode could. These people, they’re more than just companions. Like I’ve said, they’re all they’ve got.

Arturo follows it up with a heartwarming story about the first time he met Quinn, an impetuously intelligent nag of a student. Arturo’s excitement about the memory is moving, and serves to inspire the gang not to worry about Quinn. That’s the thing— not only is Quinn important to them, as a friend, he’s also a symbol of instigation, the impetus for belief in themselves.

He can see his career blossoming off the horizon...

It’s probing to be a little hard to explain at length what the importance of Quinn Mallory is to these people. I mean, certainly, he’s the “one who got them into this.” It’s his job to “get them out of it.” But he’s also the one character who hasn’t changed very much since this journey. I mean, he might be more sullen every now and then, but he’s still more in it for the sights than anyone else. Wade, when she’s not shrilly yelling at people (though her shrillness in this episode is a deserved moment and services her character rather than diminishes), is morose about their dwindling prospects of getting home. Rembrandt has calmed down remarkably as well. But the key thing is that they’ve undoubtedly started to look to Quinn as the de facto leader of the group in a way they never had before.

I’m rambling. I’ll table this discussion for later— there’ll be more opportunities to bring it up.

We have to talk about the fact that the scene that informs the emotional underpinning of every adventure from now on comes in the middle of an episode with a fucking dinosaur in it.


I’m supposed to be nice (I guess). I should be nice. It’s 1996. It’s a television show that doesn’t have a huge budget. But let’s be honest: this dinosaur looks really bad. Like, really bad.


I mean, it’s feet don’t even look like they touch the ground. The whole thing is preposterous. But, like I said, I have to be honest: this dinosaur is the reason Sliders got a third season. There is no analogy well-enough fitting to describe how much of a  double edged sword this dinosaur is (see what I did there?) “In Dino Veritas” netted Sliders it’s highest ratings ever. And while this is more or less undoubtedly because FOX promoted the shit out of it, putting it in the sweeps and devising s “SLIDERS IN JURASSIC PARK” campaign. No shit it had high ratings. Half of those ratings probably came from people who had never seen the show before. But those people were only going to be confused about why they should care about these strangers complaining in a cave. “The fat dude wants to be left behind?” They’d say. “Sure, I don’t care. Leave him.”

"need... neeed... needle," he said, later.

But those ratings, while not as honest as they might otherwise be, mean that no matter what, FOX has the ratings to prove that action will sell. So this episode secures and seals the fate of the show. Nothing can really be the same after this. Any ground Tracy Tormé had won just won’t matter anymore.


I’m going to be in an alternate dimension where I don’t write this blog next week (IE, “vacation.”)

But the week after that… Sliders fanfiction is born (Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome).

Same as Me: You Go On Without Her (Obsession).

Tracy Tormé, creator of Sliders (y’know, in case you forgot), thought this episode was “middle of the road.” And while I admit that the alt-history of “erryone is psychic” is more or less bullshit, calling “Obsession” a decent-at-best episode constitutes a problem for the show. It brings us back to the show’s biggest problem: the unanswerable question of “What is Sliders supposed to be?”

At this point, we’ve settled in to a sort of willy-nilly approach to story telling, an “anything goes’ miasma of interdimensional proportion. Taken in the most negative of ways, this means that “alternate history” doesn’t matter— if a writer has a kooky idea for anything, all he has to do is shoehorn Quinn, Arturo, Wade, or (yes, or) Rembrandt into it, and BAM! Instant Sliders episode.

But in the most positive of outlooks, this means the show is a huuuge potential sandbox. More Twilight Zone than Party of Five (or whatever). If there aren’t any boundaries to what you can do on this show, then you can truly do anything (right? Isn’t that how that logic would work?)This week and last weeks’ episodes not only prove that the ‘sandbdox’ approach can work, they also prove that this show only works when you anchor it around the characters.

In fact, this episode might even be as close as we can get to knowing what this show is actually about. At it’s core, it’s about the bond between these four people— what happens when you’re separated from all you know— how these people rely on each other. Sliders, in it’s kooky mid-90s way, it sort of a precursor to Lost (and if I was writing this blog a year and a half ago, damn would my hits go through the roof).

In the interest of actually talking about “Obsession,” I’ll return to the point I’m trying to make later. Like I said, this episode is about a world full of psychics. But (thank Christ) it’s much more than that. It’s an honest-to-goodness “Wade-centric” episode. The first and best since “Luck of the Draw” (oh, and hey, they’re written by the same dude [Jon Povill for president]).

So here’s the shorthand skinny: Isaac “Psychic” Hayes hits Remmy in the foot with a car, which causes two things to occur:

•Rembrandt gets laid.

• Wade (who is imprisoned is a glitzy psychic mansion, later freed by Arturo and Remmy because Arturo pays attention to what Wade reads; gets a “Romeo and Juliet” idea to ‘poison’ her— then they steal an ambulance and drive it to a lake) has a rough couple of days.


I mean, I know. But it’s really well plotted, with twists and turns that do a better job of misleading you than they have the right to. The whole endgame, where the Sliders leave Quinn in the dark in order to fool Wade’s psychic fianceé (I mean, I know), is brilliant for two reasons. Not just because “not knowing the plan” is the only way to fool a psychic (so y’know, kudos) but because Quinn is left actually believing that Wade is dying. From Quinn, we get no playacting: we get the real deal.

It hasn’t been since (again) “Luck of the Draw” that we’ve seen Quinn so raw over Wade. Even in “Gillian of the Spirits,” where it was entirely possible that he’d never see her again, he didn’t seem too worked up over it. He just seemed… resigned. But why? What’s the difference? It’s fair to assume that the reason Quinn is ragged because, to him, Wade’s death is undoubtedly his fault. Which is preposterous: if she actually took real sleeping pills, that’s her decision. But everyday, Quinn is forced to remember that his little experiment is the reason for every little thing that happens to these people. So even if it’s Wade’s decision to kill herself, she’s killing herself because of Quinn’s actions.

But still, it’s not as if Wade would ever angry at Quinn for bringing her along. Rembrandt, having had his broad comedic strokes toned down this season, hasn’t been egging Quinn on about how everything is his fault/ everything is shitty because of his / I WANT MY CADILLAC BACK/ etc. But you just know Quinn still feels it. He’s been much more despondent this season, less the plucky go-getter college student he was in the first season. Slidings seems like less fun to him (and since he’s been shot, I can’t really blame him). We’re starting to notice the beginnings of the ‘downward spiral of guilt’ that defines Quinn Mallory’s character arc.

Or maybe he's just jealous that everyone else gets to make out all the time.

Now, with pretty much everyone’s arc (except Rembrandt’s, but that’s for later), we (yes, we, you’re included) have to start this tangent by admitting that most of this is projection. I doubt seriously that the writers sat down and decided that “over the course of the series, these characters will change and grow in these ways.” I mean, maybe they did (and that’s what they’re supposed to do), but they were also probably far too busy trying to keep the show out of FOX’s jaws— trying to craft shows that appeased the “make this an action show” suits while still adhering to their own goals.

So when I say “Quinn has a lot of guilt and it’s starting to show,” I’m not speaking to any decision on Jerry O’Connell’s part. I’m speaking to mixture of facial coincidence— Jerry looks bored, we read it as Quinn looking despondent. But I’m also speaking to what we know of the character of Quinn Mallory. We’ve been watching this show for, what, a season and a half? We’ve gotten to know these people, and (barring weird ‘prayer candle’ shit) we know how they tick. And we can chart difference in these characters. Rembrandt’s certainly maturing, for one. But Quinn has really changed the most, and not for the better (that’s a clunky sentence, but also WHATEVER THIS IS THE INTERNET 2012 [yikes i will regret that later {but I don’t care enough to remove it}])

Every time they fail to get home, it hurts Quinn a little more. Remember how excited he was in “Eggheads” to auto-set the dope-ass cell phone? And then how excited he was at the ‘chance’ to go home in “Into The Mystic?” Now remember the last time they even bothered to look up a double of Quinn’s. It’s entirely possible that Quinn’s just given up on the whole “getting home” thing. The best he can do is keep everyone alive as long as possible. He’s taken it upon himself to be the group’s caretaker.


So when it really looks like Wade is going to die, it’s too much for him. Not only is he about to lose a friend (or more, who even knows anymore), he’s also losing the stability of the team. He’s also gaining more guilt: if Wade really dies, he’s failed the only mission that’s still feasible— the only thing he has in the world is keeping these people alive. Wade doesn’t die, of course. But she could have as far as Quinn knows, and that’s enough to break down Quinn just a little more.

And y’know, it was this episode that reminded me why I loved/love this show. It truly is these four happy wanderers: their bond, their relationship, their quirks. It’s them I love, and it’s for them I watch this occasionally brain dead show. If (and, spoilers, when) they leave the journey, the shadow they cast will be impenetrable.

But hey, look, I just spent a billion words in a Wade-centric episode talking mostly about Quinn. Next week, I promise she’ll get a little more time. Because, y’know, that Prime Oracle sure doesn’t like the look of the next world they’re headed to:

I see... mutated... earthworms... shitting... magical life elixirs?

Next Week: Life finds a way (In Dino Veritas).