It’s difficult to make a crucial decision: where to begin? Naturally at a personal, or explanatory beginning: this is, or is going to be, a blog about Sliders. That invites more questions, and one that isn’t out-of-place: “what is Sliders?”
Well, 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 Weiss, and deals with alternate realities.
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 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— So what is Sliders about? and Why write about Sliders?
Sliders is about four people who travel between alternate dimensions. It’s always Earth, and it’s 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.
It’s an inherently nerdy concept. History geeks can get off on it because they can 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 will prove important soon]). 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.
And here’s where it’s very important for me to point something out: Sliders is in no way a perfect show. It actually is mostly a pretty bad show. So why write about Sliders? Because the idea of Sliders is powerful enough to warrant it.
Furthermore, when Sliders is good, it’s very good. And when it’s really bad, it’s really pretty funny. It’s 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.
But the tragedy comes later. At first is adventure, friendship, and wonder.
So let’s start this where it should really start:
in a San Francisco basement…
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