"I wasn't aware we had to be a politically correct group when we went into the vortex." — Quinn.
Review by Mike Truman
Admittedly, we at Earth Prime are fanboys. Not extreme fanboys in the sense that we dress like our favorite characters or have autographed 8x10s of the guy who played that concierge in episode 57, but enough to maintain and update a fairly extensive site dedicated to a show that’s no longer on the air or producing any new material in any medium. The best we can hope for is to unearth old, unpublished material. With “Get a Life,” we’ve hit the mother lode. Not only is it a complete, unpublished script, but it’s also a shout out to us, the obsessed fans who just can’t let it go.
In this lost adventure, the Sliders triumphantly return home as celebrities thanks to the work of a psychic (Gillian, of Gillian of the Spirits) and the immensely talented Conrad Bennish, Jr. For the last five years, the two have been popularizing the adventures of the Sliders through major motion pictures, comic books, and any other merchandising arm willing to take the product on. Basically, it’s everything we ever wanted for the show we never got. While we’re left with a thrice-cancelled television series clinging to middling ratings, this America turned the show into the cultural powerhouse we know it could have been.
And it is huge. The concept was so exciting Bennish was able to attract big name actors to the project like Michael J. Fox and Wesley Snipes (no second-string Jerry O’Connell types here). There are conventions that rival Star Trek‘s, or at least the ones we’re familiar with in our dimension. (According to Gillian, it never caught on in her America.) Bennish has been able to build his own Skywalker Ranch with the proceeds, and being the affable guy he is, has shared the royalties with the families of Quinn and company. Everyone is set for life. With fame and fortune tossed into their laps, our team is finally ready to call it a slide. Except there’s one niggling problem — our team hasn’t been gone for five years, only two. Whatever this is, it can’t possibly be theirs. To compound matters, a shadowy organization is allied against them, fronted by a sinister cigarette smoking man in homage to The X-Files. He wants their technology and he will kill for it.
As you may surmise from the situation, much of this episode plays out as Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome redux. Wade and Rembrandt immediately embrace their return and refuse to accept the hard and obvious truth they are not home. Only this time, their reaction is far fiercer and stunningly selfish. Wade is particularly abusive towards Quinn despite the clear lack of a moral underpinning; if pressed she would probably concede they are not home, but no longer cares. The stories Gillian has seen are about them. All of her friends and family are in place. Who knows what happened to their doubles? They’re probably never coming back; why not take their place? It’s an attitude long espoused by Rembrandt, who has always been willing to assume the life of one of his others. Rembrandt is so blinded by the light that he instructs his agent to not let Quinn get anywhere near him.
Even Arturo, disgusted by the coarse nature of celebrity, concedes they are better off missing the slide in order to perfect the timer. This time around there’s no hint of deception or a double cross, just rational analysis. This world is accepting of them and they are not lacking for funding. If they’re going to make an attempt to complete their equations, this is as good a place to do it. This leaves Quinn is an all too common dilemma — can he settle for a proximate home world? Or as Wade accuses, is he too attached to the adventure of sliding? Those answers will wait for another day, as an attack by the Men in Black and the return of this world’s Sliders render it all moot.
Without a finished work to evaluate, it’s difficult to get a true assessment of its merits. It had every opportunity to garner some good laughs at the expense of the various Hollywood twits the Sliders encounter. The panels criticizing the lack of diversity on the cast is a nice jab at real criticism the show encountered during its first season. “You think you can fall in love with a Japanese man if the script calls for it?” Quinn asks Arturo. There’s also the more slapstick arrival scene where Arturo gives Kathie Lee Gifford a face full of cement. “Good luck getting the cement off before it sets,” John Tesh cheerily advises her.
Never underestimate nostalgia either. There are panels where our crew admires props from the movies, all of them callbacks to earlier adventures. These things resonate in the heart of a fan boy. It’s not until the second half of the book that we get what we were promised — a Sliders convention. Unfortunately, this is where the artwork would really get its chance to shine. Having never attended one of these conferences myself, I can only imagine what over the top representation would have been formally presented. There are some strong callbacks in this scene — such as Quinn’s love of trading cards — and heavy foreshadowing as to how the story will end. Plus, with a script so clearly in the template of a first season story, it’s pushing a lot of familiar buttons.
Conversely, that’s also its weak point. Some readers will find it too color by numbers, especially since it sticks so tightly to PTSS on an emotional level. Wade and Rembrandt haven’t learned anything from their prior adventure, and this lack of personal growth is a little dispiriting. Gillian declares the group will not splinter after all they’ve been through, and yet splinter they do, down the same old fission lines at the first chance of getting what each wants. This includes Quinn, the only one who gets what he wants — more sliding.
In the end, “Get a Life” is far less about obsessive fans and entirely about the Sliders themselves. They’re the ones who are adrift and purposeless, and there’s no end in sight. No end but cancellation.
|Previously: Review: Deadly Secrets|