The year was 1995 and it was quite a year for television. The History Channel was launched, Hercules: The Legendary Journeys first aired, Star Trek Voyager debuted on UPN (remember UPN?), Xena: Warrior Princess first aired and Sliders premiered. That’s the part I want to focus on today: Sliders, which first aired on March 22, 1995 and ran for five seasons, was one of the best shows to come out of the 1990s. The first three seasons were on Fox and the last two were on SciFi Channel, before it “transformed” in to Syfy. It was one of the best science fiction shows of the mid to late 1990s. It had all the great elements: including action, science, fantasy, adventure and a cast that meshed so well together you couldn’t help but feel a connection to them like you were part of the team. After the first episode aired an article in the Orlando Sentinel said “The show builds such good will, through its engrossing plot twists and its likable stars, that you sit back and enjoy the ride.”
This post may include spoilers, but for a show that ended over sixteen years ago I don’t know if a spoiler warning makes sense anymore.
The premise of Sliders was that there were an infinite amount of parallel worlds. Where you are still you but everything else is a little bit different, as the opening says. Can we all take a moment to remember a time when shows had real opening credits? It is something lost in today’s television. Why? For more advertising time? It surely isn’t for more storyline time. But, back to the topic…
In the worlds of Sliders, green lights suddenly mean stop, Elvis can still be alive, geeks are the jocks of the world and adults over the age of thirty are second class citizens. A version of the Earth for every scenario that could happen to a situation. Quinn Mallory, played by Jerry O’Connell, is a highly intelligent college student who, while working on a machine in his San Francisco basement, inadvertently develops a portal to a parallel universe. While demonstrating this to a professor, Maximillian Arturo played by John Rhys-Davies, and his friend Wade Welles, played by Sabrina Lloyd, something goes wrong. When they jump through the portal it also pulls in a singer Rembrandt Brown, played by Cleavant Derricks. Before this scene, Quinn is visited by himself from another world, that wants to give him some pointers but isn’t able to finish telling him an important detail about the timer used to open the wormholes to go home. When Quinn, Arturo, Wade and Remy get to world in the state of nuclear winter they are supposed to stay for an extended period of time. Quinn, not knowing the potential repercussions, resets the timer to go through the wormhole to get back home sooner. This causes the setting to get out-of-wack. They come out of the wormhole to a world that looks similar to home but is very, very different. They need to keep sliding in order to find their way home. All of that, and the first episode wasn’t even halfway in. I could keep going.
The original four main cast members worked amazingly together and made the show what it was. Jerry O’Connell is a great lead and is perfectly supported by the amazing John Rhys-Davies, who was an unexpected addition to a sci-fi/fantasy show but a pleasant surprise. Sabrina Lloyd provides a vital role of the inquisitive best-friend who allows for the lead character to explain things to the audience. The believable friendship of O’Connell and Lloyd’s characters is another element of the show that makes it so great to watch. The curve ball of the group is soul-singer Remy, played by Cleavant Derricks. While unexpected, his character just works. Derricks and Rhys-Davies develop a type of bromance on the show, before we called it that. They really played well off each other and Derrick’s character has a great way of interacting with all of the characters. They all do, in fact. Each character has a unique connection and relationship to each of the others. It was part of what made the show work so well. While other actors came in, like O’Connell’s brother Charlie, and some left the show, like Rhys-Davies, the show was still compelling. That being said, this original cast was the best combination the show ever had.
Sliders was a show that could grab your imagination and keep you engaged episode after episode. The stories were compelling and entertaining. The first three seasons, by far, were the best. After the third season the show took a bit of downturn in storylines and lost its former glory. This is really surprising, given the move to SciFi Channel from Fox. In an article from Cult Times, in 1998, the decision behind this downturn was described to be an unfortunate move. “Unfortunately, to fulfill its enormous potential, Sliders would have to be revamped… Consequently, when the show’s third season premiered… viewers were treated to an action-adventure series which bore little resemblance to the show’s earlier offering.” While I don’t benchmark this change to season three, or at least not until the later half, this isn’t far off. The show was a fantastic show and it truly had the potential to have lasted even longer if it hadn’t been for that shift. Those first three seasons, though. They were gold! Amazing stories and wonderful acting. We need more shows like Sliders.
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© Zone Zero Geek & Sabrina Klein, 2014-2017