What if you could travel to brand new worlds?
January 20, 2010
I don't recall what my family was watching on TV in the living room on March 22, 1995, but it was something I certainly didn't care for. So I went into the kitchen and flipped the channels on the tiny TV until I landed on FOX. A new show was being aired and I figured I'd give it a try. I was hooked from the opening narration...

"What if you could find brand new worlds right here on Earth, where anything is possible: same planet, different dimension? I found the gateway!"

Sliders was a science fiction TV series about four people who "slide" between alternate/parallel worlds via the Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge. The Sliders spend their days trying to find a way back home to their earth. The show spanned five seasons and 88 episodes, with eight Sliders in all.

Quinn Mallory, played by Jerry O'Connell

A student of California University, Quinn invented a device (referred to as "the timer") that allows transportation from one parallel dimension to another. He referred to this technology as "sliding" and managed to peak the curiosity of his friend and professor into going through the vortex with him. One of his sliding companions, Rembrandt, nicknamed him "Qball".

I was always a fan of Jerry O'Connell as a kid, mostly because of his previous work in "Stand By Me" and My Secret Identity. He was the star of this series and, when he left after the fourth season, the show alienated a lot of fans.

Wade Welles, played by Sabrina Lloyd

Wade was Quinn's co-worker at a computer store. She had a crush on him, which was something Quinn was oblivious to recognize. One day one of Quinn's doubles from another world kissed Wade at the store. She had no idea it was not her Quinn until he invited her and his Professor into his home to explain his Sliding technology. Wade was enthusiastic to "take a spin around the universe".

Wade had that girl next door appeal that made her attractive and a joy to watch. I loved her dynamic with the other Sliders: displaying love toward one, friendship toward two others, and utter contempt for a later one.

Professor Maximilian Arturo, played by John Rhys-Davies

Arturo was Regents professor of cosmology and ontology at California University. Just as Quinn's double messed with Wade, Arturo was furious by what Quinn's double said to him in class (of course, he didn't know it was a double). When Quinn convinced Arturo to visit his home to explain his behavior, Arturo decided to go along for the slide in the sake of science.

Behind Quinn, Arturo was my second favorite Slider. At the risk of my manhood, I admit that I shed a tear when he took a bullet for Quinn and said, "Get them home......Sliders," before he died. Rhys-Davies was written off the show because of his disagreements with proposed plotlines.

Rembrandt 'Crying Man' Brown, played by Cleavant Derricks

Rembrandt was a musician attempting to make a comeback by singing the national anthem at a San Francisco Giants game. On the way to the stadium, Rembrandt and his Cadillac were caught in Quinn's runaway vortex. He was the only one of the four that did not choose to slide and, ironically, is the only Slider to be in the show from the first to last episode.

Rembrandt seemed like an annoying character at first, until he developed a bond with the other Sliders. Cleavant Derricks has a twin brother in real life, Clinton Derricks-Carroll, that played Rembrandt's alternate in several episodes.

Capt. Maggie Beckett, played by Kari Wuhrer

Maggie appeared in season three when the Sliders landed on her world, which was doomed to be destroyed by pulsars. Quinn was ordered to help perfect the world's sliding technology so a sample of the population could carry on in a parallel world. Both Professor Arturo and Maggie's husband were killed by her superior, Colonel Rickman. Many of the subsequent episodes focused on the Sliders chasing down Colonel Rickman for revenge, with Maggie as their newest member.
Maggie was one of my first big TV crushes, right after Kelly Kapowski from Saved By The Bell. I loved how she had a unique relationship with every other character - Wade and Maggie hardly ever got along, Rembrandt and Maggie had a brother-sister thing going, and Quinn and Maggie had obvious romantic feelings for each other.

Colin Mallory, played by Charlie O'Connell

Colin was Quinn's biological brother on another world. One of the major twists in the series was that both brothers were not born in their respective worlds. As a way to protect them from the evil Kromagg race, their parents placed them on alternate earths. Colin was an inventor raised on a world with limited technology, so when he joined the other Sliders as a replacement for Wade, he was always fascinated by the technology he encountered.

I didn't care much for Charlie O' Connell's acting, but his character provided some comic relief with his absent-mindededness toward new worlds. As Jerry O'Connell's brother in real life, it aided the show in adding a hint of realism.

Diana Davis, played by Tembi Locke

Diana was introduced in the last abortion of a season. She was a scientist that assisted in the development of sliding research and worked with the version of Quinn Mallory on her earth. Her colleague, Dr. Oberon Geiger, caused Quinn Mallory to be merged with his alternate, and Colin Mallory to be unstuck in space-time.

Quinn 'Mallory' Mallory, played by Robert Floyd

When the O'Connell brothers left the show, Mallory was written into the script as a fusion of earth prime Quinn Mallory and his fraternal alternate. As soon as I saw this I knew the show jumped way over the shark. While Floyd performed the role admirably, his character was just something I couldn't get past.

The Timer

The timer is what the Sliders use to go from one world to the next. They can only leave for a new world when the timer countdown reaches zero. If they don't slide at that time, they will not have another opportunity to slide for another 29 years or so. In the pilot episode, the Sliders activate the timer early and are thus thrust into a random journey without control over where they land next. Each world has a new countdown time, with some lasting a few minutes and some lasting many days. Over the course of the series, the timer has been lost, stolen, or damaged many times. Somehow, things always seemed to work out just in time for the slide.

The Vortex

The vortex is a wormhole that is created by the timer's activation. The Sliders enter through this portal to get to other worlds. It has been different colors throughout the series, but mostly appears to be transparent/blue. The vortex doesn't necessarily open in the same spot on the alternate world, because it has a 500-mile radius which can drop the Sliders in random locations.

Sliders is responsible for my love of the alternate history genre of writing. I strongly recommend the author Harry Turtledove, who has penned story lines such as the survival of the Byzantine Empire and an alien invasion in the middle of World War II. Below are just some of the alternate worlds that the Sliders encountered:

~ a world where England won the Revolutionary War
~ a world facing destruction by an asteroid
~ a world where men are treated as "the weaker sex"
~ a world where a lottery system is used for population growth
~ a world where germ warfare has exterminated most of the male population
~ a world where Texas rules most of North America
~ a world dominated by psychics
~ a world where San Francisco has been developed as a game preserve for dinosaurs
~ a world where Prohibition was never repealed in the U.S.
~ a world that is one giant desert with very little water
~ a world whose belief system consists of magic potions, dragons and illusions
~ a world consumed by mysterious fires
~ a world ruled by robots who've made humans obsolete
~ a world plagued by earthquakes and populated by primitive people
~ a world with a mandatory organ donor program
~ a world dominated by religious fundamentalism
~ a world that mandates drug use
~ a world decimated by acid rain

It's hard to pick a favorite episode, but one that's up there for me is when the Sliders are convinced they have finally found their original earth. It all unravels when they see the Golden Gate Bridge is the wrong color. This show had endless possibilities for story lines. Unfortunately, it was cancelled after the first season. However, much fan protest brought the show back. FOX continued the show for two more seasons before the move to SciFi, which produced the last two seasons. The show was cancelled in 2000 with a major cliffhanger set up just in case a sixth season was picked up. Although I was disappointed with the last two seasons, the first three seasons alone make this one of my favorite television shows of all-time. I own the entire series on DVD and the complete trading card set.

Wouldn't this show make a great major motion picture?

Be sure to check out Earth Prime online, the definitive source for Sliders.
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