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"What if you found a portal to a parallel universe? What if you could slide into a thousand different worlds, where it's the same year, and you're the same person, but everything else is different? And what if you can't find your way home?"
Sliders is an American SF series that ran for 5 seasons.
The basic premise of the series is that a group of people have a gadget that lets them travel between dimensions, i.e. into alternate realities. The gadget (called a timer) opens a wormhole, and they
"slide" through this to other worlds. The original plan was that they could set their timer for a given period (e.g. 10 hours), then hop to another world, and come home afterwards. However, things went a bit ka-ka in the pilot episode, when they activated the timer too early, and went to a random world. After that, they couldn't get back home, so they kept sliding randomly, hoping that they'd get back sooner or later. There was actually a significant difference in the way the timer worked in all subsequent episodes which was never explained properly (the scene was cut for various reasons). Basically, in the pilot, the timer would create a new wormhole, which they could do at any point. Afterwards, it didn't have enough power to do that, so they had to locate an existing wormhole, and jump into it. The timer would tell them when the next one was due, which could vary between a few minutes and a few months.
Basically, the series centred around the Sliders, although you did see a few recurring characters (e.g. one guy whose destiny seemed to be to drive a taxi in every world they visited).
The boy genius (well, a university student) who created the sliding technology, and got them all into this.
Quinn's physics professor, who sometimes resented being shown up by one of his students.
Basically, Quinn's girlfriend, although there was some to-ing and fro-ing there.
A former pop star who happened to be driving past when Quinn made his wormhole a bit too large, and got stuck with the consequences. He eventually forgave Quinn for ripping him out of his life...
She encounters the sliders towards the end of season 3 - they help her with an evacuation, and she goes with them when they leave, chasing a common enemy - Colonel Rickman, who stole the timer (see below).
Quinn's younger brother - they were separated at an early age, and brought up in separate families, then they reunite at the beginning of season 4.
Particularly in the first season, the episodes followed a fairly simple formula. The Sliders would turn up on a new world, and check their timer to see how long they would be there before their next slide, then they'd explore the differences between this world and their own. Some of these were more interesting than others - I preferred the episodes that dealt with different societies (e.g. where America had lost the War of Independence, and remained under British control) to the ones that focused on the Sliders themselves (e.g. Rembrandt as a rock star).
As well as the
"core" world for each episode, you would often get a brief glimpse of another world at the start or end of an episode. In some cases, such as Naked World, you could guess why they couldn't use it for the entire episode!
Later in the series, they came across the Kromaggs, who are effectively an alien species (from a world where a different type of ape evolved into the dominant species). They also have sliding technology, and use it to conquer other worlds. This suggested a more arc oriented format to the series, as the team decided that they had to warn all the worlds they visited about a potential invasion. However, this idea more or less fizzled out.
By the end of season 3, there was a definite quest element involved. Essentially, they found the co-ordinates of
"Earth Prime" (their home world), but then someone stole the timer, so they wound up chasing him from world to world to get it back.
One of the problems with the series is that the aim is self-defeating, i.e. if they get home, the series is over. It's rather like Voyager, Quantum Leap, or Dungeons & Dragons (the animated series) in that respect. I haven't seen season 5, so I don't actually know how the series ends. I've seen some rumours of a film, but nothing definite, so I wouldn't hold your breath.
The science behind the timer is that they are supposedly using an Einstein-Podolsky-Rosen bridge. However, I think they took a few liberties with the theories here! For a more hard SF take on this, I recommend the novel Einstein's Bridge by John Cramer.
Seasons 1-3 were shown on BBC2 between 1996 and 1999. Unfortunately, they chose not to buy seasons 4 and 5, due to poor ratings. The Sci-Fi channel has shown seasons 1-4, on a more or less continuous loop, but I don't know whether they've ever shown season 5. At the time of writing, the Sci-Fi channel is showing episodes from season 4. There's a double bill on Saturday evening (17:30->19:30), which is repeated on Sunday (12:00->13:50).
The series hasn't been released on VHS or DVD. There are a couple of books available that tie in with the series - a
"behind the scenes" guidebook and an original novel. There have also been some comics based on the series.
SCIFI.COM | Sliders
This is the official site (run by the SciFi channel), and there's some useful information there.
This site also has online copies of the spin-off comics.
This page was last updated on 2003-12-29 by John C. Kirk