I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen it all, I’ve seen it all…
March 22nd, 2021:
It’s Sliders’ birthday. Why not revisit the final post I made for my ancient review project, Think of a Roulette Wheel? It’s about the final episode, but also about legacies, and memory, and nostalgia, and sorrow. Or, it’s a story about Sliders itself. I think it’s best read without knowledge of the entire show, to put forth a point on how ridiculous the show became in its final years, to draw a line from that embarrassment to the semi-lauded promise of the first season. Here’s to another twenty five years of wishing—
January 17th, 1994:
I wake up.
I’m at a friend’s house. His bed is massive, with sideboards as well as an even more massive headboard that serves as a shelf for his equally massive stuffed animal collection. I roll around, and accidentally kick the side of the bed.
At the same moment, what becomes known as the Northridge Earthquake begins. I am not afraid, because the thought running through my tiny head is “wow, this bed must be really poorly made if it is shaking this much.” Stuffed animals rain down on us, peacefully thrown over our little bodies.
Over at my own house, my father runs into my bedroom. Every single one of my fully loaded bookcases has fallen down, right onto my bed. For one horrific second, he panics — I am crushed, paralyzed, dead, even. Then he remembers I am at a friend’s house. The only debris on my spine is a teddy bear.
March 13th, 2014:
I am sitting down to begin writing the final post for Think of a Roulette Wheel. I haven’t yet watched “The Seer.” Somehow, the act of watching the final episode of this show seems besides the point. Something I started over two years ago, ballooning into a project that has lived next to me for so long? Ending? Inconceivable. I want it to be done/I don’t want it to stop.
This blog has seen me live through:
- Four different houses.
- Four different relationships.
- The death of my childhood dog.
- The death of my earliest family friend.
Not so bad, I guess. But it’s still so tangible. How on Earth did this happen? How did I make it through? It seemed like it would never end, like I would never run out of episodes of Sliders to watch, to write about.
But it did stop. It has stopped.
It has a fixed end, and that end is “The Seer.”
Just as the show has a fixed beginning.
In a San Francisco basement…
March 22nd, 1995:
It’s difficult to make a crucial decision: where to end? Naturally at a personal, or explanatory ending: this was, was always going to be, a blog about Sliders. That invites more questions, and one that isn’t out-of-place: “what was Sliders?”
I’ll tell you: Sliders was a science-fiction television show that ran on FOX from 1995–1997, and the Sci-Fi Channel (now SyFy) from 1998–2000. It was created by Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss, and dealt with alternate realities.
—The Story So Far—
Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell) accidentally invented a portal to a parallel universe, and equally accidentally took his co-worker Wade (Sabrina Lloyd), his college professor Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), and even more accidentally a washed up RnB singer Rembrandt Brown (Cleavant Derricks). Hijinx ensued, and they are unable to get home, instead sliding from universe to universe.
That’s how it goes for two seasons. Fans call that the Golden Age. Then the show moves from Vancouver to Los Angeles, and it gets weird. Things get wild, then they get dark, then they get silly, then they get sad. Roger Daltrey shoots Arturo to death. A gruff military officer named Maggie Beckett (Kari Wuhrer) joins the team. This is about the time most people stop watching the show.
A race of differently-evolved ape-creatures called the Kromaggs invade the sliders’ homeworld, shipping Wade off to a quote-unquote “breeding world.” Later on they put her head in a jar to make her use psychic energy to open wormholes. This show is A Whole Lot. They meet Quinn’s brother Colin (played by Jerry’s brother Charlie, because they just wanted to hang). Nobody likes Colin.
At the top of the fifth and final season, a rough slide makes Colin explode and Quinn gets merged with a fraternal double. He’s also named Quinn, but everyone just calls him Mallory (Robert Floyd). Mallory and his scientist best friend Diana (Tembi Locke) join the team, which by this point is just Rembrandt and Maggie now. In theory their goal is “to liberate Rembrandt’s Homeworld from the Kromagg Dynasty,” but 88 episodes in, who even really knows anymore? Like I said, this show is A Whole Lot.
February 4th, 2000:
“Well, this is it.”
The most casual words for the most casual of teasers. The final episode of Sliders begins on one of the worlds I miss on the show. One of those negligible worlds like “East Indian World” from “Obsession.” Here, Maggie eats a Giraffe Burger and has Pork Soda. This is strange without being inane — it is the difference between French World of “Invasion” and The Burger Wars of “A Thousand Deaths.”
It seems as though we’re on the same world as we left the sliders in “Eye of the Storm.” While this is frustrating for fan fiction, it’s kind of nice that there aren’t any gaps here to fill. They walked from the courthouse lawn to the cafe. They sat down and ate, had coffee. Diana checked and double checked her PDA (or whatever her magical proto-iPad is). Mallory apparently had an espresso.
I love that Maggie was the one who got the Pork Soda. Mallory and Diana, however much they’ve grown (and Diana will soon prove she’s grown a lot), they’re still the newbies. They wretch at the sight of the Pork Soda, but Maggie just sucks it down. It makes sense, doesn’t it? After all, she was the one who sucked down a worm back in “Dinoslide,” much to Quinn’s disgust. So yes, of course it’s Maggie who chows down on a Giraffe Burger. No one else could.
But Diana is close. Mallory waxes poetic, chest — much like always. But Diana had shed her dreams of Nobel Prizes and Academic Glory. The adventure has finally got to her. She likes Sliding. Like they said in “Way Out West,” “It’s Catching.” Diana has become a mix of Rembrandt and (bear the blasphemy) The Professor. A woman of science who appreciates the wonder of the multiverse. It’s a good place for her character to end up. It’s not dissimilar to how we, as an audience, watch Sliders. How we dream of Sliding. We allow for the magic of the infinite, while keeping one foot on the ground.
Rembrandt, however, is planting his feet hard. Instead of delighting in the magic of the Pork Soda, he is in Church. At first one might say “what, why is he in Church” but they’re wrong, they are only thinking of his disdain against organized religion in “Prophets and Loss.” Rembrandt has always been the man of the cloth, however lapsed (or whatever “Gillian of the Spirits” might try to tell you about Wade). And besides, he shades this with his comment of “having to look where he’s been in order to figure out where he’s going.” A perfect Rembrandt-ism. Nearly meaningless in its simplicity.
It is strange that Rembrandt looks to God for this. Would not Rembrandt look to music? It’s almost funny, at this point, to remember that Remmy (even to call him “Remmy,” sort of) was a singer. An RnB singer. A washed-up RnB singer. So far has he strayed (been liberated?) from his original conception. “The King is Back” is miles away. But then, it also makes a kind of sense. We don’t see what Rembrandt did in the Church of the Backlot. Perhaps he really did connect with his roots — perhaps the choir let him sing, perhaps the “churchwork” he tried so hard to avoid in “Last Days” finally feels appropriate.
Yet this is also not so — Rembrandt reminds us that, even though his arc’s been finished as a character, his presence still holds the show to a promise. And unfortunately, just as the first act of “Genesis” disappointed us, the promise the show makes to us is Kromagg.
I suppose it is fine that we are promised Kromaggs. Although it is easy to forget that last season was completely subsumed by the Dynasty, they are still a lingering evil. Wade’s “sacrifice” as depicted in “Requiem” seemed to cripple them, but the fact remains that the World Rembrandt believes is his Home (we, of course, can believe otherwise) is still overrun by ‘Maggs.
The Voraton of “Strangers and Comrades” was a bust. All of the glory of Kromagg Prime, the Slidecage, the Hyperstatial Fields, the Dying Fields, the Mothers and Children, all the horrors of the Dynasty and the equal-if-not-worse horrors of the Humans that fought them — they left Rembrandt with a grim resolve, but nothing in the way of anything to fight them with. And so asking God for “backup” is cute, in an exceedingly depressing sort of way. Rembrandt is the old soldier. Not even actual-former-soldier Maggie is that anymore. She’s just along for the ride. Rembrandt, of all people, has had the adventure taken out of him.
The others, of course, have his back. It’s nice, in a way, to have the decision that the team will just silently follow Rembrandt through a Vortex of Death to Fight the Kromaggs be so casual. Yes, of course they will follow him. Almost every episode this season has hammered home (or tried to) the fact that these people are a team. With the way Maggie claps her hand down on Mallory’s shoulder instead of hitting him like she would have in the first third of the season proves another point — they’re friends now, too.
It only took 18 episodes, but here we finally have a team with the unspoken bond of friendship that marked what this show used to be. I’m not saying that Mallory, Maggie, Diana, and Rembrandt will ever match the lofty warmth of Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt, and Arturo. But this isn’t Sliders. This is the new show Traversers. Or, at least, it’s about to be Traversers. The thing that Season Five has proved time and time again is that there can be a show beyond Rembrandt. Maggie’s joined it — she’s not a member of Sliders anymore. She’s joined this new show that Mallory and Diana came from. The new continuity that seems so much more exciting.
So it’s disappointing to be told that we are back to fighting Kromaggs. It is less disappointing to have the sliders use one of the most classic tropes the show has consistently had — the “slide really obviously in front of SO MANY PEOPLE” move.
Oh, but who cares, we have Kromaggs to fight! A Dynasty to overthrow! Millions of dollars in CGI to wonder at! It is here that “The Seer” pulls its only twist. Because the only thing that could possibly surprise Rembrandt is not just a complete lack of Kromaggs. It is a complete lack of danger. It is to be greeted with the antithesis of a snarling group of ape-creatures trying to destroy you.
It is a snarling group of ape-creatures trying to cheer you.
“Welcome Sliders,” they say. “Rembrandt Rocks,” they say. “Bring Back Wade,” they say (and I agree). What is this fresh hell they have visited? What is this terrible crowd of ravenous …fans… of …Sliders? What is this? Who are they?
Rembrandt expected to die.
Instead, it looks as though the King is Back.
July 7th, 2011:
I’m sitting on the bus, traveling to a friend’s house for what is being described as a “Noise Brunch.” This means pancakes and bands, bloody marys and music. I am writing in my sketchbook:
“A gentleman in a nylon hooded cape. Red lining. Simple Nike shoes. Let’s move on from this and talk about Sliders.
— list of 5 episodes of Sliders that most accurately impressively live up to the concept —
- Weaker Sex
- Luck of the Draw
- World Killer
— Honorable mention —
- Double Cross
- Miguel-San’s Restaurant
- In Dino Veritas
- New Gods for Old
And so on, so forth. Let’s make a list of “missing adventures” I’d most want to see:
cont’d next page:
- They take Michelle (from El Sid) with them. Desert World rattlesnake. Inverted b/c it isn’t even a ‘desert world,’ it’s just part of a desert. She dies, fallout.
- Post-‘Revelations.’ Remmy realizes that Quinn was going to abandon him– but they’re unable to talk about it — (leads into Unstuck Man).
- Rain World before “Gillian.” Channelwood-esque, water power, lightning power.
- Some of Quinn/Maggie alone world
- Wade realizing they’re not on EP before the Maggs invade.
— → there are a lot of ideas. It’s tempting to map them out.”
I don’t map them out. But do you see? Sliders is constantly background noise in my life. Amongst other things, I am always the “kid who likes Sliders.” I try really hard to get my friends into it, but it never really sticks. I spend too much time at too late a period play-tending Sliders in my head. I don’t just write my fan fiction, I live it.
February 4th, 2000:
So “The Seer” begins with a spectacle that’s actually impressive, if only for the wrong reasons. That crowd of ravenous “The Sliders” fans can’t be cheap. It’s actually the best use of the show’s budget I’ve seen in a long time. “Eye of the Storm” contented itself with a fiery sky and blown up cars. Here we have real people. Holding real signs. It’s a proper use of money.
We are greeted with two shades of the past. Jennifer Hetrick and Roy Dotrice present themselves as the rulers, if not of this World, then of the World as we will know it. The sliders are mobbed by crazy fans, and Hetrick (Claire LeBeau) and Roy (her father, the titular Seer) run the asylum. We storm the castle ourselves.
It delights me to watch “The Seer” and be able to glean a metafictional reading of it. The tension of the episode is the tension of the meta-textual reality — the next slide is their last. The show does not continue after this. It cannot. There is no “next time on Sliders.” So yes, in effect, when The Seer declares that they will all instantly die, he is not inaccurate. The death of a show is the death of the characters. This will be their last slide, because it is the last episode.
Or is it? The other thread running through The Seer’s vision is one of Hope. The adventures of the sliders brought hope to The Seer’s home world. It was the resolve and strength of the sliders that helped the people of the world to drive off the Kromaggs. The power of belief in what Sliders was is enough to keep what it became at bay. So no, we don’t want them to die. If they die, there’s no opportunity to correct the errors inflicted upon their fictional lives. There’s still time to reverse, to make Sliders not a tragic show.
The team, unfortunately, has lived too long in the nightmare show. They can’t see anything else. So they reject the vision of a world where they are loved, where they will be safe. That is impossible. But this ends being the first of many sticking points in the episode — The Seer’s people are a stand-in for us fans. If the sliders reject the people of this world, they are in effect rejecting us, their audience.
This is where Sliders interjects, taking the superior new Traversers show we’ve been getting to know and strangles it. Whips it around, and throws it down the stairs. Then it fixes its homicidal gaze on us, and pounces.
Yes, there was a way to have the “the sliders watch their own show” gag. That’s inevitable. But is this it? The problem is that for too much of the fanbase, there really is a desire to see Arturo return to the show. This is the last episode, it is billed as such. This is the last chance we’ll ever have to see this show surprise us. So yes, seeing John Rhys-Davies would have been amazing. To have that deep paternal gravitas back in our midst? Yes, incredible.
But no, we have an obviously crap fake Arturo in an obviously crap fake show. So we have “the sliders” run through a (actually just as) crap version (because it’s just reused footage) of “Rules of the Game,” running into Not-turo, who slides them out using a Rickman Timer. Which is only good for two things — one, it shows us that they kept the Rickman Timer prop. Two, it shows us they didn’t wipe the tapes.
Maggie, Diana, and Mallory watch “The Sliders” in their hotel room. “Arturo’s Return” is the name of the episode. “Tonight, this beloved character is back by popular demand,” Mallory reads, before adding, “See what a letter-writing campaign can do?”
“Some people have way too much time on their hands.”
Look, I know we’ve all made fun of this before. But come on. The only reason you have a job, Keith Damron, is because of a letter-writing campaign by a fuckton of fans who fucking love the show you insist on shitting on. Why would you insult us with shit like that? In the last episode of this show? Why? What does that prove?
This brings us to the biggest problem with “The Seer.” It is written by Keith Damron. Not the host of technical problems, or the budgetary problems, or the misogyny problems. Nope. It’s just that this episode is written by the worst writer ever to grace this show. Fan-pariah David Peckinpah writes better episodes. Even “Paradise Lost” (mutated worm and all) is more competent than Damron’s “A Thousand Deaths.” Keith Damron has no idea what a good idea looks like. He is a bad writer. He has torpedoed the show almost single-handedly. And here he wastes precious time in the last episode of this show going out of his way to make fun of the only people still left watching it.
It is not only his fault the show got as bad as it did— Bill Dial deserves almost the same amount of blame. After all, it was Dial who said “no, Keith. Scrap your plans for a story that will actually wrap up every single plot this show’s left dangling. End it on a cliffhanger.”
Okay, I’m getting ahead of myself.
Early August, 2011:
I am stoned out of my gourd.
I am living with my girlfriend, we are both stoned, we want to watch something on Netflix. I saw, “c’mon, let’s watch Sliders, you know I always talk about it.” This is true — for almost anything a person can say, I respond with “that’s just like this one episode of Sliders,” and I will expel some half-remembered plot line.
“Yeah, like, there’s this one episode of Sliders where the sky is purple.”
“Oh, ha ha, there’s this one episode of Sliders where everyone is a black dude.”
“Right, like this episode of Sliders where the Golden Gate Bridge is blue.”
This last one proves important. We decide to watch “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome,” an episode well-held in fan lore, as I remember. I trust the fanbase. We turn on the episode.
I hate it.
Or rather, it isn’t quite that I hate it — I just don’t think it’s very good. But how can that be? This is Sliders! I love Sliders! Don’t I?
February 4th, 2000:
The team is welcomed on this world. The enterprisingly bloodthirsty Rembrandt gets an idea. They will locate the Anti-Kromagg virus (since this world is devoid of the show’s long-lasting enemy race and that’s their goal now too, I guess), and Rembrandt will slide alone. He will attempt to save his Earth solo, and the others will use The Seer’s cognitive abilities to see if Rembrandt survived or not. This is a fantastic idea that the team promptly poo-poos on the grounds of “but we’re a team!” (It is also surprising that this idea is actually enacted to a T at the end of the episode, which is something that has not happened since season two’s “Love Gods.”)
Now, while I do think it is silly for the sliders to reject such an actually well thought-out plan using the available materials (1. Seer 2. Virus 3. Luck?), I cannot really be angry at how this scene ends. The others chide Rembrandt — “haven’t you told us that we have to stick together?” Rembrandt feigns surprise that they listened to him. Really, though, he’s realized (as have we!) that this new team of Sliders really is a viable replacement. Their chemistry is present, and when it is allowed to be, it is Golden. “Don’t look at me, Pop. You raised ’em!” Maggie says, and we finally settle into a new status quo: Rembrandt and Maggie as wizened parents, Mallory and Diana as precocious kids.
They embrace, and Rembrandt is as charming as he used to be. As an audience, we shed a tear for the stories that will not be told with this new warmth. The whole “reluctant team” dynamic made sense for the first third of the season. But it stopped making sense as the season ran on — it was only there because the writers didn’t know what else to do with them. But here, they shed that laziness. They are friends. They act like it.
And so we go from a hotel to a reception, where the warmth of the previous scene is erased and replaced my the dynamic we are accustomed to in Season Five: disdain. The sliders meet their duplicates, and immediately make fun of them. Maggie makes her double cry. They are the monsters of “Dust” in all their misplaced fire.
Maggie’s bewildering return to Season Three Psychopath is nothing compared to what happens next. Since Jennifer Hetrick and Roy Dotrice are not truly the past as we remember them, we must truly contend with the physicality of what has come before.
We must return to the source:
Why is Keith Damron so obsessed with Linda Henning? Clearly this is a “TV Dude” getting worked up about a “TV Legend,” no matter how small. It is silly, just look —
[“The Seer”] also gave me a chance to meet Linda Henning (Mrs. Mallory). I didn’t always have a chance to talk to our guest stars and this was a special treat. It wasn’t until a chat with her on the set one day that I made the Henning connection and realized her father was the great TV producer Paul Henning. Linda was best known for her role as Betty Jo in Petticoat Junction.
But what purpose does Linda Henning serve? She isn’t Mallory’s mom. There isn’t a reason for her to be there. Sure, the last time we saw her, she was taken away in a ‘Magg detention center. But as we know in our fanfiction’d minds, this was a falsehood. Yet even if there was a Mrs. Mallory to save, what’s even the point? Like I’ve said every time Rembrandt shows up on screen, the show isn’t about this anymore. The concerns of the show don’t include Mrs. Mallory.
In a way, it never did — after all, tell me what Mrs. Mallory’s first name is. For all we know, it’s “Mom.” And don’t give me that “Amanda” shit — that’s someone else. That’s a shade. That’s a joke. That’s a casting error.
But still — why bring Mrs. Mallory back, other than a pat on the back for the continuity department? Other than a vain attempt at circular motion — as we began, so we end?
“Being a devoted son myself, at the very least, I wanted to rescue Quinn’s foster mother. It was inordinately cruel to leave her hanging out to dry in some Kromagg gulag and this seemed like as good a time as any to liberate her. Of course, as it stands her story isn’t entirely wrapped but at least we know she’s safe. “
Let’s focus on the second half first. If your goal is to tie up loose ends on Sliders, and you’re bringing back a character to do just that, why don’t you actually tie up the loose end? Why still leave it dangling? “Safe,” sure. But “rescuing” Quinn’s mom only opens up more questions.
So why bring Mrs. Mallory back? Here, I’ll tell you — torture. Not just to us, as fans, who yet again are reminded of a show we’d rather see, but to the character of Mrs. Mallory herself. Here we have a woman who lost the two people closest to her, her husband and her son. This character is solely defined by her loss. So quite literally, the only thing that would actually “wrap up her character” is to be reunited with Quinn.
Which is impossible. The show has stated explicitly that it is impossible. But instead of doing the sensible thing and just ignoring it, we go whole-hog with torture and instead force Mrs. Mallory to stare into a man’s eyes who simply aren’t her son’s. I guess there are some genetic similarities (Mallory’s father is still Tom Butler, I guess?), but she’s staring at someone’s face because everyone around her is saying “this is as close as you’ll get to having your son back.” And so she jumps for it, because her life has been made a hell (by Quinn’s callous decision to slide on her fucking birthday as much as simply by the writers).
But that hell deepens, because Mallory doesn’t know who she is. And why should he? Why would we expect him to? If Wade’s head in a jar can’t jostle Quinn-as-Jerry-O’Connell out from whatever astral plane he’s stuck in (Kangaroo Jack, apparently), why would Linda Henning?
May 31st, 1996:
I’m at a friends house. The adults are drinking in the dining room. The children are gathered around the television in the media room. These two rooms are worlds apart. The younger children are playing with toys in the corner. I somewhat envy them — I used to have the same toys; in fact, I think my Mother gave them those toys, from my own collection. I am 9, apparently. I don’t know why I am already so beholden to nostalgia. I think I inherited it.
On the television, around which the older children are huddled, is some show called Sliders. There seem to be a lot of casinos on the screen. I watch it. “Oh, it’s that show” is the thought in my mind. That’s the relationship I’ve always had with the show to this point — it was always in the background. Something about it stuck. I’d always, somewhere, somehow, remember this show.
Mid August, 2011:
So if “Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome,” the supposed best episode of the series, is so bad, then what does that mean? Is the entire show this bad? I kind of want to find out.
I tell all my friends about this story, they ask (politely) if I’d watched any more of the show. “No,” I say. “But you know what would be funny is if I did a blog that went through Sliders all the way through, like, one by one.” Just like Mulder’s Big Adventure. Just like this cool new blog I just discovered called TARDIS Eruditorum.
“Yeah,” they say. “I guess that would be funny.”
And so I did. I did a blog that went through Sliders all the way through, one by one.
March 22nd, 1995:
Let’s complicate that: Sliders was a sci-fi/comedy/action/adventure/drama television show that ran for one season on Fox, then was cancelled. Then it was brought back mid-season and cancelled again. Production then moved to Los Angeles, where Fox gave it one more season before canceling it again. The Sci-Fi Channel then picked up the show, where it ran for two more seasons before being cancelled for the last time. By this time, none of the original production team, or creators were involved, and the show only had one of the original cast members left.
But that’s the nitty-gritty. It still leaves some questions open, but those questions are linked together pretty squarely — What was Sliders about? and Why write about Sliders?
December 29th, 1999:
What’s funny is that they did this already.
Not the show itself, mind you, but there already exists under the name Sliders a story much like this one. I guess it only half-counts, since it was never made, but the un-produced comic “Get a Life” has the same exact framework as this. The Sliders find a world where their adventures were real! There’s some psychic connection, and everyone all around the world makes Sliders as big as Star Wars.
Let’s tip our hand here, and let it be known: the book is better than movie.
This is often true, but the fact remains that it is interesting that an un-produced comic that Keith Damron most likely did not read bears an uncanny resemblance to what turns out to be the series finale of Sliders.
I don’t know if Acclaim knew that “Get a Life” was going to be the final comic in the brief Sliders run, but it sure seems like it. The entire thing, stuffed as it is with kisses to the past, has a funereal tone of goodbye to it. Probably more so than even “The Seer” does. Which makes sense, as “The Seer” was entirely designed to also work as just a season finale in case by some miracle the show got renewed.
But the thing that makes “Get a Life” better is that it is kind. It is kind to Sliders, and it is kind to us. It’s always a little bit dangerous to openly interact with the fanbase (or maybe not openly — just acknowledging them at all, really). It’s easy for fans to get the wrong idea, to take it too seriously, to get offended, or just to be disappointed, or even angry. “Get a Life” sidestepped this by not actually engaging with the fans at all — it simply was a fan. It was clear it was written by a fan. It wasn’t hard to imagine ourselves thinking up the idea.
“The Seer,” of course, is nowhere near what we would imagine the final episode of Sliders to be. If you removed the whole “they broke the Timer” thing and the “Rembrandt is probably dead” thing, “The Seer” wouldn’t even look like a series finale. Yet it was written to be one. You’d think you’d take that as a responsibility to be respectful to the show you’re ending, but nooooo.
That’s the difference between “Get a Life” and “The Seer.” The latter episode doesn’t satisfy itself with being rude to the fans — it fully seems like it hates the show it is. “Get a Life” brings back Gillian and Conrad Bennish. “The Seer” has opportunities abound, and that’s not even talking about bringing back Linda Henning. Roy Dotrice played the Evil Chandler in “Data World,” and Jennifer Hetrick was in “Last Days.” Those are two definite links to the past. Those are two golden opportunities to engage in the history of the show. But it is not even remarked upon. Because the real difference between “Get a Life” and “The Seer” is that the latter is ashamed to be Sliders. Like it is throwing up in disgust, happy to finally die, but equally happy to twist the knife in the poor saps who watched the thing in the first place. “The Seer” is a hostile hour of television.
“Get a Life” is sweet. It’s sweet and wonderful and full of nice little moments that remind us why we love Sliders. It isn’t a series finale — the team slides again — but it feels like one. “The Seer” just doesn’t. There’s no completion. Even “Eye of the Storm,” messy though it was, had a sense of progress to it. All “The Seer” does is write every single fan fiction writer into an extremely irritating corner. Which sometimes leads to ridiculously imaginative problem solving.
But wasn’t there a better way? “The Seer” leaves Sliders in bloody, tattered rags. “The Seer” violently murders this thing we’ve spent five years (two and a half/nineteen/twenty-six/forever) falling deeply in love with. “Get a Life” was never published, but it’s easy to imagine it pulling a tear from our eyes. Getting through “The Seer” is an act of masochism.
February 4th, 2000:
“Sorry lady, think you’ve got the wrong guy.”
Look, I know Mallory is sassy. He’s crass, he’s a “dude.” But he isn’t (yet) a monster. I know he really truly does have no idea who Linda Henning is supposed to be, but damn. That is brutal. And his brutality is overshadowed by what they end up doing to the character of Mrs. Mallory, making her a grieved-out husk of a woman, a sufferer of post traumatic stress with no other traits. A sufferer, and nothing else. She is carted off like an invalid.
This, of course, is not enough. Just as carting Wade off to a Breeding Camp only to put her head in a jar later on wasn’t enough, we have to bring Mrs. Mallory back again, five minutes later, just so Mallory can look her in the eyes and cut and slash and keep cutting and keep hacking away at the memory of this poor bereaved woman’s only child. “Is my son still alive?” She asks, tears in her eyes. And Mallory says “No.” With a sneer. A sneer of “fuck off.”
Maggie decides that it is time for her to be tender, and talk about herself for awhile. This “tender moment” is undercut by the costume department’s decision to dress Maggie in a dress more suited for Season Three — something meant only for the male 18–24 demographic, not for a funeral.
It starts selfishly — Maggie calls Mrs. Mallory “Mom” by “accident,” or whatever. She —
— Okay, look. I’ve read a lot about this scene. When Matt Hutaff ran his review here on Earth Prime I was surprised because I couldn’t even remember the scene in question. I didn’t really know what to expect with it, other than two women crying and taking the Bechdel Test and using it as toilet paper.
Now having seen it, I can tell you with honesty: this scene is garbage.
I expected Maggie to go into the story of “Roads Taken,” and talk about how much she loved Quinn, about the time they shared in the bubble universe, and how much she misses him, and how she has learned to cope with having Mallory around. Which, yeah, I guess you can argue that she does. But really she just kind of cries and tells Mrs. Mallory a completely unrelated story:
“I once had an uncle, who was more like a father to me than my own father was. Well, he was killed in a car accident. He was healthy and strong, so my aunt donated his organs to people who really needed them. I lost my uncle, but I always felt that, through other people, he was able to live.”
Does this make any sense, she asks. No. No it doesn’t. We can start with the whole “uncle” part. We’ve heard so much about her father, The General (not really), but we sure as hell haven’t heard of this “miracle uncle” before. Where was he during “The Return of Maggie Beckett?” Second… fuck, this is just horrible writing. Kari Wuhrer is better than we generally give her credit. But she is not Meryl Streep. She can’t save this scene from itself. It reads as though Keith Damron had an uncle like this, and put his moving eulogy to him in here. It’s a screenwriter’s move.
Lastly, does this really serve as a metaphor for Quinn? Well, no. Not really! Mallory claims at every availably opportunity that there is absolutely no Jerry O’Connell inside of him. Quinn does not get to “continue living” inside of him. The two are one, but there can be only one. Quinn, for all intents and purposes, is dead — and there is no body left to donate from. You lost Quinn. Period. No amount of whiny familial nonsense is going to change that.
Mrs. Mallory (and the more I type that, the more I find it extremely irritating that they never bothered to give her a name— no it’s not Amanda!) responds with as heartbreaking response as we could imagine, since it’s actually exactly what we want, too— all she wants is to see his face. But she knows she never will. Maggie knows she never will either — which is obviously supposed to be the point of this fucking scene, if it wasn’t torpedoed by that Organ Donor Uncle nonsense.
Par for the course for Sliders. Ruin the scene that’s supposed to “tie up loose ends.” Even if those loose ends were already tied. We’ve already had “Applied Physics.” We’ve already had “Slide by Wire.” We’ve already had “The Return of Maggie Beckett.” We don’t need whatever this scene is supposed to be. Just like Rembrandt Brown, Maggie Beckett’s character arc is complete.
March 22nd, 1995:
Sliders was about four people who traveled between alternate dimensions. It was always Earth, and it was always the present year. So let’s talk about alternate dimensions.
There’s an idea that for every choice made, for every event that occurs, a split is made in space and time. That there exists beyond our World different worlds where these choices went in other directions. For instance, a universe where people who died are alive (or vice versa), nations that collapsed are still strong (or vice versa). Or maybe even smaller things that butterfly out into huge changes, like instead of forgetting to water the plants one hot summer day, leading to those plants dying and your room mate never forgiving you for your laziness, prompts them to move out, leaving you unable to find a new room mate and having to leave your apartment, whereby a series of unfortunate events leads to you homeless, drug-added, and later dead — in another Universe, you remembered to water the plant — everything else is different now, and you aren’t dead.
That’s an extreme example, but do you see where I’m going here? The idea of alternate dimensions, or parallel universes, or the multiverse, or whatever you want to call it, is an incredibly powerful one. It’s a concept that has something for everyone.
February 4th, 2000:
The tension in this episode is about as “classic sliders” as you can get. They want to slide, someone else doesn’t want them to, and oh my god will they slide or not? Now, on the surface, that’s fine. It makes sense that the series finale would be one last trip through the tropes. But (and I’m not sure I’m really complimenting anything here) it’s the way that those tropes are inverted that makes this a strange hour of Sliders.
Let’s attempt to watch this episode as if it was the first time. We might still be expecting that final blow-out with the Kromaggs. It’s a little under halfway in, and the slide is about to occur. So yeah, maybe they will slide, and they’ll leave Seer World, and they’ll use their forewarning to escape whatever Death is waiting.
Or maybe, via magic, there will be a forcefield on the vortex.
I have no problem with this until they come back from commercial. Before that commercial break, there is shock. Wow. They missed the slide. That’s only happened once before, and while the show tried to play it down, it was still a big deal. Here it could also be — what does it mean now that the Sliders are stuck on The Seer’s World for 29.7 years? How do they get out of this one?
They don’t, basically. Via some handwaving that really finally makes the littlest amount of sense the show has ever tried to make (which is really saying something), the Timer simply resets to three days. Because… yeah, there is no because. Just like there is no reason for them to have arrived at The Seer’s World in the first place.
Being the most obvious candidate, the sliders decide that it is probably Claire LeBeau, The Seer’s daughter, who is behind all these hyperspatial shenanigans. It could not possibly be The Seer himself who is Evil. Though I will give credit to Dotrice’s performance when the Sliders confront him about the force field. He admits, with no little embarrassment, that he would certainly profit from the sliders if they stayed on his world. But he also wouldn’t try to stop them.
This is the thing about The Seer. This is what makes him more than just a plot contrivance (which is admirably completely fails at). He might have a teetering financial empire built on these people, but he still loves them. Not like that, of course. That’s the one sweet thing in this episode: The Seer is himself a fan of Sliders. He wants them to survive. He wants his show to have another season.
Before we can deal with the ramifications of Claire’s Evil Plan, we must first be cruel. Rembrandt and Maggie go visit The Four S Club, which turns out not really to be an academic haven, but a place where only the dorkiest of the dorks reside.
Let us be serious for a moment. Let us not kid ourselves here. This scene has one purpose, and one purpose alone. That purpose is not to get Rembrandt the virus. That purpose is not to show what it is like when The Seer has his visions. There is only one reason for this scene to be in the episode.
So Keith Damron can tell us what he really thinks of us.
The Four S Club is obviously, so, so obviously, trying to be a stand-in for Fandom. It was not enough for Maggie to have that dig about “too much time.” Here we have Sliders Fandom relegated to every easy trope about D&D Playing, Pizza Eating, Pizza Faced Nerds who have no idea what to do when there is a woman in their midst (Lisa, who is so chill, and my favorite, apparently does not count).
The reason it is obvious that we are supposed to think these people are lesser beings is because of how Rembrandt and Maggie treat them. They are clearly running an act, taking complete advantage of their celebrity status to literally steal blood from them. Oh sure, they don’t know that they need blood when they walk in there. But Oh God, the looks on their faces. Maggie plants a wet one on all of the kids, making them swoon, using their childhood crushes against them. Oh, it’s disgusting. And this is supposed to be us. Keith Damron just thought it was funny, I’m sure. His sister’s name is Lisa, she was pregnant, he says. Okay, cool story. You must really love her.
The “time on their hands” joke was bad. This is infuriating. The people who hold encyclopedic knowledge of Sliders are the only people who are left watching the show. I know it’s probably the last episode ever, so it really doesn’t matter. But again, we are wasting extremely valuable screen time by not only making fun of the audience, but making our main characters look like total assholes. Wonderful.
Meanwhile, Mallory and Diana are back in the hotel, filling out our final quota of “times we must use the hotel room set.” Mallory decides that he in fact does have a heart and goes to check on Mrs. Mallory. Him and Diana share some tender glances.
But such tenderness is not to be. He opens the door, and has a SUPER EXCITING FIGHT SCENE, the timer falls on the floor, and then it ends with the most shockingly anticlimactic twist ever:
Dope-Ass Universal Remote, RIP.
December 19th, 1996:
It was an inherently nerdy concept. History geeks could get off on it because they could use their knowledge to think of thousands of different options (like if George Washington died before becoming President or some story like that [an historical anecdote that soon proved important]). But the idea of alternate dimensions is moving on a personal level. If you’ve made a bad choice, maybe there’s another world where you haven’t. On the flip side, people who have it good shouldn’t take it for granted — maybe there’s a world where it didn’t work out so well.
— All of the above is pretty corny, sure. But let’s remember: this isn’t a blog about theoretical physics. It’s a blog about a cancelled sci-fi TV show from the 90s.
February 4th, 2000:
There is no funeral for the Timer.
This is fine, in a way, since the Timer hasn’t really been the focus of the show for years. Ever since Season Four began, there’s been less and less emphasis on it. The sliders just slide, there’s not really any discussion about it. Even in Season Five, when sliding became even more of a dangerous act (what with merged and/or exploded dudes), the Timer itself was still nothing more than just a prop that ended the episode. That’s why I loved “Easy Slider.” Despite it completely breaking gravity, it was exciting to finally treat the Timer as more than just a plot device.
The Timer, the Dope-Ass Cellphone of Old, that was a force of wonder. That was treated with respect and awe. Quinn invented the thing — it was a plot device, and a source of pride. The Timer unified the team in a very profound way. It doesn’t anymore. The destruction of the Dope-Ass Universal Remote doesn’t really do anything to harm the team (though I bet they wish they took that ancient Timer from “Dust”).
Before we get to the End, which is extremely fucking Nigh, we must use Mrs. Mallory for emotional blackmail one last time. Mallory goes to “have a moment” with Linda Henning. He tells her that he does have a little bit of Quinn left in him, and he does feel something for her. And yes, the Zicree Arc was fake, and yes, Tom Butler wasn’t his Dad, and yes, we’re going to respect that continuity but it’s okay, Quinn still thinks of Linda Henning as his Mom.
If this is so, why bother with Mallory acting like a total douchebag to her earlier in the episode? Sure, the situation would be awkward, and Mallory probably didn’t understand his feelings, but this “apology” is too little too late. He’s already proven himself to be the kind of guy who will sneer at a grieving woman. I don’t care what his reasoning was.
Furthermore, we’ve spent every episode since “New Gods For Old” hammering the fact that “Quinn is gone” deep into our souls. Why go back on that at the literal last minute? What purpose does that serve, other than to remind us that somewhere, in some fan fiction someone is writing right at this moment, that Jerry O’Connell is still out there, waiting to be shipped. Just let Old-Quinn die. Don’t exhume him when it’s too late to do anything about it.
Finally, this “cathartic moment” between the two finally removes any sense of character from Mrs. Mallory, and turns her into a plot device. She reveals that Claire LeBeau has a secret storage facility full of leftover Kromagg Tech, and that she is very sorry she didn’t tell anyone, she just wanted them to say. Rembrandt makes her feel bad for that. Nice, dude.
Good job, everybody. Now let’s go downstairs and die.
April 20th, 2013:
I watch this video, I think it is truly hilarious, I write this:
All that said, there’s something that fills me with a little bit of sadness here. After all, I’ve devoted a fair chunk of my life and time to writing about Sliders. I’ve even had an ex declare that we broke up because of Sliders (it is still unclear how much of that declaration was a joke).
It’s not sadness to see the show made fun of — I’ll make fun of it way before any of you. But it’s the way it’s being made fun of — one that’s seeped in the show. It’s not just “hey remember that shitty show,” it’s hey, “let’s make a joke about Sliders.” There’s a difference there. It’s taking the show and referencing it pretty specifically at times, but having those references not be intrinsic to the enjoyment of the joke.
Plus, it’s always great to see Jerry O’Connell again.
But still, as much as I laughed at this, there’s still a question nagging at me: “is my work here done?” Do I need to continue a ridiculous project of blogging through every episode of Sliders? It’s like how my once-favorite Smashing Pumpkins fansite shut down last year because it was no longer a vile sin to enjoy the Smashing Pumpkins. Their work was done. I sort of feel the same way. The reaction I get to explaining my blog, more and more, is “Oh, Okay,” not “What?” So is that it? Do I end “Think of a Roulette Wheel?”
The answer is “no, of course not.” But at this point, it’s now a project to wrap a bow on another piece of my childhood. It feels like the rest of the world has caught up.
And I believe this. I don’t really need to explain what Sliders is, most of the time. It’s seeped in to the background of popular culture that jokes like these can happen. That’s a beautiful place to be. Not every ropey old science fiction show from the 1990s made it there. M.A.N.T.I.S. didn’t. The Sentinel didn’t.
But Sliders did. That says something, doesn’t it? That there was something — is something — about this stupid old show that still stays in people’s minds. That someone, somewhere, decided to upload YouTube videos of the commercials that aired during the Pilot. Why? Well, I could tell you why. But I already have, haven’t I? Haven’t I spent the last two and a half years explaining to you, detail by detail, moment by moment, atom by atom, world by world, why this show is worthy of remembrance?
At a certain point, it doesn’t matter if Sliders doesn’t live up to whatever memory you had of it. The fact that there was a memory of it in the first place is what matters. The fact that it was good enough to make you keep it in your head for all these years.
March 22nd, 1995:
And here’s where it’s very important for me to point something out: Sliders was in no way a perfect show. It actually was mostly a pretty bad show. So why write about Sliders? Because the idea of Sliders is still powerful enough to warrant it.
Furthermore, when Sliders was good, it was very good. And when it was really bad, it was really pretty funny. It was also a pretty good story about the difficulties of making a television show. And, speaking in-universe, it actually turns out to be a horribly tragic story about four accidental wanderers.
At first was adventure, friendship, and wonder. The tragedy came later.
So let’s end this where it should really end.
In a nondescript basement…
February 4th, 2000:
“People invent their own religions all the time. It’s not a bad profession — you can set your own hours and the pay is great.”
Before we get to this genuine cracker of a line, we must back up. We are in Claire LeBeau’s secret storage facility, which is in a huge fucking warehouse that strains by belief that this place could be very secret. In other words, it is a perfect place for Sliders to end.
Within this basement, we have a Greatest Hits of Crappy Tech Props that have graced the season. We have a Cyberiad Box (thankfully closed). We have that weird laser from “The Unstuck Man.” We have the same flashing lights and cardboard boxes we’ve always had. I’m surprised they don’t throw this whole thing in the old cave set just for good measure.
Diana turns off the “Hyperspatial Force Field,” which apparently is so powerful in can both shield vortexes or just move them around and hide them when they accidentally run into Shunted Off Asteroids in Hyperspace. This “goal” of “turning off the field” is great and all, but I would probably hold off on all the back-patting, since, y’know, the timer was just destroyed.
In any case, since the sliders ran out of things to do in the basement, Claire helpfully walks in with some goons (in beige — seriously, this is the beigest show on television) and explains her entire plot to the sliders. Which everyone in the room knew anyways, so… thanks for the recap? The sliders berate her for trying to cash in and sustain a new religion devoted to sliding. This is where her theologicapitalist line enters the equation.
The problem is twofold — first, the whole “religion as evil” thing was done (and done well!) already in “Prophets and Loss.”
The other problem I have is that we aren’t really talking about religion here. We’re talking about Sliders. The problem is that the sliders are in opposition to themselves. The government they are trying to overthrow is them. It’s the show. If Claire wins, Sliders gets to live. If the sliders win, Sliders is over.
Maybe there’s a reading here, that in order for Sliders to live it has to unshackle itself from Capitalism, from the Network, from TV. It has to live on in our minds and hearts in order to keep thriving. Otherwise it will continue to stagnate. That’s nice and all (and more or less, it’s what happened anyways), but I sincerely doubt someone as cynical as Keith Damron had that anywhere in mind as he wrote this.
Now, obviously no matter what, Sliders will end. We could say that back in 2000 as well as we can say it here in 2014 (in 2021, in twenty more years). But to pin the dramatic question of the series finale on “the continued existence of the sliders” is too charged. We can’t help it, as fans, but to side with Claire on this one. But then, we certainly aren’t supposed to. The episode is telling us that she is Evil, that she is just as mustache twirling as Logan St. Clair. So are we being condemned? Is the goal of “The Seer” to tell us that wanting more Sliders is Evil? That we should be ashamed of our love of this show? What is the evidence to the contrary? Claire’s scheme for writing Mallory out of the show is to draft those television writers, the “hacks” who will “do anything for a buck.” Sliders is just a job. Sliders is a crap job.
This is the end of a thread I’ve been plucking at for this entire project — that Sliders is not only a tragic story about four happy wanderers, it’s also a story about how difficult and frustrating it is to create a television show.
Can you even imagine the show’s creator Tracy Tormé even watching “The Seer?” I don’t doubt that he stayed far away from it. Not even a morbid curiosity could bring him back after “The Exodus, Part Two.” But this is the man who created this show. Sliders is his child. His warped, twisted, unrecognizable child. But still his child!
Think of all that Tormé has been through. Yes, he made the win of getting Sliders on the air. My father, a screenwriter, told me that “hey, y’know, if you’ve got that Created By credit, you get a paycheck every time the show airs.” Which is true, and not unimportant, on a certain level. It’s hard to make a living as a screenwriter (though if it is still hard to make a living when you are Mel Tormé’s son, I do not know).
But how far is too far? Tormé believed in his own work. Whether or not he was right isn’t really important. The fact is that this fact alone is rare in entertainment. We should applaud him for fighting so hard against FOX to make the show he wanted to make. We had nine episodes of that show, and they were brilliant. The thirteen more of Season Two where the strain of the fight set in are still lovely, though clearly flawed — yet we are privileged to have them as well.
Even when Tormé gave up (which, it bears repeating, was as much because of his father’s ill health as it was of FOX “winning”), there was still roses amongst the wreckage. The shades of the Zicree Arc are the only things that make Season Four watchable, and “World Killer” could be a serious contender for the best episode of the series. But O’Connell-driven nepotism and ever-present Network Machinations forced Marc Scott Zicree and his lofty story plans, out.
The tensions behind the scenes of this show made a lot of people’s lives very difficult. But they also made some great television — and we should applaud them for it. Season Five, for all its problems (which are reflected perfectly in “The Seer”), is still surprisingly full of quality. This, despite a slashed budget, and no O’Connells, and no support from the Sci-Fi Channel. Despite all that, we still got “Applied Physics.” We still got “The Return of Maggie Beckett.” We got a couple of people who tried to make a show out of a mess.
But this isn’t Tormé’s show anymore. It’s not even really David Peckinpah’s. As much as it should have been, it isn’t Chris Black’s. It’s Bill Dial and Keith Damron’s, and this is their last-ditch attempt to get the show renewed.
The sliders get the drop on Claire’s goons (as if we thought they wouldn’t), and throw them in a closet. She spits at her father, “you just threw away everything we worked for,” which has the (one imagines) desired effect of instantly giving him a heart attack. Diana gets the old Kromagg Sliding Machine to work, but it doesn’t look very promising:
And so the stage is set. Only one of them can slide. Only one wanderer to go, happily or not.
At this point in the show, after so much pain and sorrow inflicted on so many friends, could there be anyone else?
For so long, I thought this act was selfish and stupid. After so many speeches about “sticking together,” one of which happens not half an hour before, this seemed like the ultimate act of hypocrisy.
But it isn’t.
It’s an act of kindness.
The problem with the sliders adamance that they make absolutely sure to slide together and ignore The Seer is that in all likelihood, they would all die. If the incessant (and seemingly pointless) sequences of The Seer “Seeing” the sliders perform the most boring of actions (“hey, open that door, would you?” Man, The Sliders must be the most boring show ever made) end up actually serving a purpose after all. They prove that what The Seer claims as visions are actually correct. He’s not crazy. So the sliders have no choice but to accept his proclamation of Death. Yet they do not.
But in the end, it’s really just momentum that kept them going through this episode. It’s inertia that comes with an accumulated lifetime of sliding. The unstoppable force of a series and the immovable object of cancellation. The true tragedy of the last ten minutes of sliders has nothing to do with any “sacrifice” or anything that actually happens. It’s the fact that it finally sets in that the journey is over. The momentum ran out.
You can see it in the faces of these people — even the new kids. None of these people believe that Rembrandt will survive. Mallory doesn’t because he’s a realist.
Diana doesn’t because she’s a scientist. She knows enough about wormholes to take one look at the dying Kromagg vortex and say “nothing’s coming out of there.” Look at that wormhole. It is anguished. It is a painful death. It has none of the wonder that’s marked the Vortex before. Even the act of sliding itself is saying “no, just… stop.”
Rembrandt won’t. He won’t stop because he knows that the only way he can save these people, these friends of his (even now, the show is about friendship), is if he makes it impossible for them to follow them. He sees the dying momentum and squashes it. He knows what he’s doing. He knows as well as Mallory, as well as Diana, as well as Maggie.
Maggie, who has a near-total breakdown into good-ugly tears. We understand. This is the Maggie Beckett, who lost her childhood to the military. Who lost her husband. The Maggie who lost her entire homeworld. Maggie who gained an entire universe built out of love with Quinn, then lost that too. Who then lost the person she shared that universe with. Now it is her last remaining friend Rembrandt who she’s about to lose. It hurts, and she shows it.
It’s awkward to watch, but that’s probably a good thing. Plus, think of who it is we’re watching weep. What if you watched, say, “Sole Survivors” and then “The Seer?” You’d turn it off. Why should I care about this person in front of me? She is awful. And you’d be half right — she was awful. Truly awful. But a lot of hard work from pretty much everyone involved on the show softened that. But they softened it over time. Maggie’s arc as a human being is really lovely when you think about it — Sliding changed her, and did so for the better.
She’ll understand this, too, some day. But that day is not today.
It’s funny that Rembrandt, early in the episode, laid out the entire plan of sliding alone. Funny because this is Sliders, and things never go the way you plan. So to see him actually follow through with the first plan he made after every other idea went wrong is funny. But this is Sliders. This is Sliders after Arturo, when everything went wrong. On Sliders, we can’t have nice things.
Because Remmy’s plan was too good to be true. This is Sliders, we have to twist the knife. We have to spend the last five minutes of the entire series watching our main characters enter the pit of despair. But that’s not enough. They still have Hope, after all. This is Sliders. Hope isn’t allowed.
So in what is possibly the single most pessimistic moment of any show’s final moments, the sliders turn to see that The Seer, the only one who could grant them a Future, is dead. While Rembrandt said goodbye, he died. Mrs. Mallory, getting her wish of keeping them here, but no longer wanting it, simply says “he’s gone.” It’s all gone.
There is no future left.
The team slowly, sluggishly stands up, turns away. Maggie loses it. This isn’t a team anymore. It is just three people, in a room, while a nameless woman stands over a corpse, watching. This is the moment we’ve been leading up to, it seems. Quinn Mallory’s “big weird thing,” a San Francisco Basement, Einstein, Rosen, Podalsky, Helix, all of them. Wade, Arturo, Colin, Rembrandt, Maggie, Diana, Mallory, Quinn. All those adventures, all those moments, all that wonder, all that pain.
It just stops.
The camera pulls out. It’s almost a sweet moment. The shot frames our team with love. A television kind of love. The love of a moment on video. It’s a quaint, scripted, carved moment. This is what television is for. Mallory asks a question.
He asks a question for all of us. For everyone this show has ever touched. He asks it for the audience. For the crew. For the cast. For the writers. He asks it for the characters. He asks it for the show itself —
Now what do we do?
And the answer, sadly, is nothing.
This is where you end.
This is where it all ends.
This moment, this question, the fade to black that follows, is it.
The end of Sliders.
March 29th, 2014:
So Rembrandt dies.
He has to, doesn’t he? Even if he survived the collapsing Vortex (which is perfect in its nihilistic way — as the show collapses, so too do the things that make it up, and the Vortex becomes a dying animal lashing out), even if he somehow wasn’t instantly killed or captured by Kromaggs, there’s still the issue of him injecting himself with someone else’s blood. “Just call me Typhoid Remmy” he says, which is a funny joke… if you’re a monster.
So Rembrandt dies. The final link to the beginning of the show is cut. The tragedy here is that there are no new stories able to be told. The show, free from its past, could have grown and become something better that it had become. And yes, it is sad to watch the Pilot and say “wow, every one of those people will end up dead.” But are you really watching the same show?
It’s very hard to recognize the show from 1995 in “The Seer.” But why do we condemn the show for that? Sliders isn’t a sitcom. It’s a science fiction show. Even The X-Files didn’t look like it’s first season by the year 2000. Sliders adapted to every bad hand it dealt, and those it was dealt exclusively. It changed when it needed, it grew, it mutated. Sure, we might prefer the show from 1995, but that’s fine — and that’s besides the point.
If anything, Sliders is ahead of its time. Compare the first and last seasons of Fringe, of Battlestar Galactica, of Lost, of Game of Thrones, of even something like The Leftovers. Those shows shifted their foci dramatically. For better or worse in some cases, but still. They were different shows from point A to point Z, and they did it nearly a decade after Sliders. Sliders, almost by accident, represents the beginning of this shift in serialized television. A shift towards realistic adaptability.
Because isn’t a dramatic shift more true to life? Five years is a long time. That kind of span covers grade school, or high school, or college, or work and retirement. The people you know of five years ago, do you know them still? Maybe you do, but I bet they’ve changed. Maybe you’ve both changed. Maybe you changed together. Maybe you grew apart.
We’ve all grown apart from the show we’ve been watching. That’s fine — that’s as it should be. Sliders is a friend to us, and friends grow apart. But we never forget friends like these. That’s why we have sites like Earth Prime, or the Slidecage, or why we still post on the bboard, or whatever new site about the show will pop up in the next five years (or, Jesus, ten years). The fact remains that these sites are memorials to a departed friend. Yes, departed.
Sliders is dead.
And so what we do is make sure no one can forget it. We make sure that all the information that is possible to contain remains available. We make sure that there will always be a chance that someone will discover the show, and want to know more. And we’ll be there to say “good. Yes, Here — ” and we’ll tell them a story.
We’ll tell them a story about a friend that’s always been there for us, even if they’re long gone. We’ll tell them about a friend who changes as we do, who makes a different kind of sense each time we return to it. A friend who at times drives us crazy, but more often makes us elated. Hopeful.
We’ll tell you about a show called Sliders. A science fiction show from the 90s, with the fat kid from Stand By Me and Gimli. A show that lasted a hell of a lot longer than you’d expect. A show that, yes, is worth your time. We’ll tell you our favorite episodes. We’ll tell you how cool the idea is.
Because that’s what it is, right?
It’s the idea of Sliders, first and foremost. Isn’t it fitting that this project wraps up just as we discover scientific evidence that proves the Multiverse to be real? It’s the idea of Sliders made flesh, made tangible, made real. The tangible idea that nothing is impossible.
But then Sliders is more than just that, isn’t it? It’s that idea of the infinite beneath a story of true friendship. It’s about how the infinite can create a bond stronger than the fabric of the universe. It’s about how maybe there isn’t much difference between the fabric of the universe and ourselves.
Because after all, didn’t you know we’re all made of stardust?
You, me, Sliders. All of us.
Our atoms were formed in the stars.
Not the stars you can see now. No — the older ones.
The ones that went Nova and turned into dust.
Think about it — our bodies are made from the remnants of ancient suns.
And one day, all of this, all this noise, all of this writing, all of these episodes, all of this time we’ve spent here. All of our physical essence, yours, mine, Sliders’, will blow into space.
And together we will make new stars.
Now tell me that isn’t cool.
January 17th, 1994:
My dad remembers that I’m at a friend’s house, that I’m probably okay, that I have not been crushed to death by all my bookcases. The earthquake has not claimed me. He goes up to the roof, to get his bearings. The power’s out in the entire city. For the first and only time, he sees the Milky Way above Los Angeles.
If I believe in alternate dimensions, in parallel dimensions, in Sliders, then I must also believe in the world where I wasn’t at a friend’s house the night of the earthquake. I must believe in a world where I am paralyzed. I must believe in a world where I died. Is that why I managed to wake up? Moments before a huge earthquake struck? Did I sense the multiverse? Did I sense the interdimensional bullet I just dodged?
I don’t know. But every time I watch Sliders, I think about it. I think about those bookcases. I think about the other worlds where I was not here to finish this post.