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Entry updated 19 November 2023. Tagged: TV.

US tv series (1995-2000). Created by Traci Tormé and Robert K Weiss for Fox and The Sci Fi Channel. Producers include Tormé, Weiss, Chris Black, and Paul Cajero. Directors include Richard Compton, David E Peckinpah, Jerry O'Connell, and Reza Badiyi. Writers include Tormé, Weiss, Scott Smith Miller, and Tony Blake. Cast includes Jerry O'Connell as Quinn Mallory (seasons 1-4), Sabrina Lloyd as Wade Welles (seasons 1-3), John Rhys-Davies as Professor Maximilian Arturo (seasons 1-3), Cleavant Derricks as Rembrandt Brown, Kari Wuhrer as Captain Maggie Beckett (seasons 3-5), Charlie O'Connell as Colin Mallory (season 4), Robert Floyd as Mallory (season 5), and Tembi Locke as Dr Diana Davis (season 5). 87 one-hour episodes.

Perpetually-retooled but never-perfected series about travel between alternate universes (see Parallel Worlds). The series begins with Physics genius Quinn Mallory discovering a way to create a portal between alternate universes. An accident forces Quinn, his friend Wade, his professor, Maximilien Arturo, and a passing musician, Rembrandt Brown, to "slide" endlessly between universes, with the duration of their stay in each one dictated by the malfunctioning device that enables their travel. Plots naturally revolve around the foursome becoming separated and scrambling to reunite before time runs out, or becoming stranded in a hostile universe with too much time before the next portal opens. Antagonists are introduced in the second season in the form of the Kromaggs, a race originating from a universe in which Cro-Magnon man survived alongside Homo sapiens, and who are determined to conquer all alternate Earths. Arturo is killed off in the third season and replaced with military officer Maggie Becket. In the fourth season, Quinn discovers that he is not native to our Earth but was hidden there by his real parents, who had discovered a way of fighting the Kromaggs, and is joined by his brother Colin (played by O'Connell's real-life brother). At the same time, Wade is lost to the Kromaggs. In the show's last season, a sliding accident kills Colin and merges Quinn with his counterpart, who becomes known as Mallory, and the group is rounded out with the addition of Scientist Diana Davis. Only Brown remains constant throughout the series.

Much like its cast, Sliders's tone and focus were constantly in flux. Early episodes delivered high-concept What If stories of Alternate History – a world in which the 1960s had never ended, a world in which Gender roles were reversed – only to shade into trans-dimensional War with the introduction of the Kromaggs. Both types of story were ill-served by the show's episodic format and thin writing – the counterfactual stories were usually simplistic, and the war against the Kromaggs never developed into a compelling narrative. Some of these shifts were driven by actor departures (Rhys-Davies, the O'Connell brothers), and others by network changes (the show was cancelled by Fox after three seasons and picked up by The Sci Fi Channel for the fourth and fifth) as well as changes in its shooting location (the show filmed in Vancouver, which doubled as San Francisco, in its first two seasons, and then moved to Los Angeles), but whatever the reason, Sliders never found its voice or the story it wanted to tell, and never developed its intriguing core concept into watchable Television. A novelization is Sliders: The Novel (1998) by Brad Linaweaver. [AN]


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