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Sliders

1 9 9 5 – 1 9 9 7 (USA)

In the basement of his home in San Francisco, brilliant college grad student Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell) accidentally created a device that opened a wormhole to an infinite number of parallel universes where history had taken different paths, some subtly different from ours and others radically different.

The device used a timing mechanism resembling a TV remote that would always return him to the San Francisco from which he had come. But when Quinn took his blustery physics professor Maximillian Arturo (John Rhys-Davies) and Wade (Sabrina Lloyd), a friend from the computer store where he worked part-time, on a test trip – along with Rembrandt (Cleavant Derricks), a washed-up soul singer who happened to be driving by when the field of the device swallowed him up along with the others – something went terribly wrong.

Materialising in a San Francisco that was a frozen wasteland and threatened by a giant tornado, they transported before the timer was ready. Instead of returning to their own San Francisco, they landed in one in which the Cold War had been won by the Communists.

Thus began an odyssey in which they continued to transport (“slide”) from one alternate universe to another, hoping to find their way home. Some of the San Francisco’s they slid to were subtly different from home, and others were totally unrecognisable. In many of them, they encountered other versions of themselves, some good and some bad, with whom they became involved.

Wry humour characterised the stories, with scenes such as Judge Wapner (of The Peoples Court) presiding over a Communist ‘People’s Court’ and Rembrandt in his former life as anguished vocalist for the soul group The Spinning Tops.

There was even one ironic episode in which they slid briefly back to their home dimension, but when reading in the paper that the Cleveland Indians were in the World Series and that O.J. Simpson had been on trial for murder, didn’t believe it was their San Francisco and slid on.

Early in the 1996-1997 season, they landed in an alternate San Francisco in which their sliding device was modified so that future slides might land them not just in the Bay area, but anywhere within a 400-mile radius of it (hopefully not in the middle of the Pacific Ocean).

In the spring Professor Arturo died after being wounded in an alternate California where evil Colonel Angus Rickman (played by Roger Daltrey of The Who in two episodes and Neil Dickson in four), suffering from a fungus that destroyed brains, drained brain tissue from innocents to keep himself alive.

Rickman escaped by sliding, and the original sliders, along with new slider Maggie (Kari Wuhrer), whose husband Rickman had murdered, went after him.

In the season finale, Wade and Rembrandt returned to their home world and Rickman was killed diving off a cliff when the timer’s vortex closed before he could reach it. Quinn and Maggie used Rickman’s tracking timer to escape, but it had been damaged and they slid into the future, rather than to Quinn’s original Earth.

When Sliders returned in 1998, Quinn and Maggie reached his home Earth to discover that the Kromaggs – a warrior race of Nazi-like sliders from whom Quinn had barely escaped in a previous encounter – had found his home Earth and enslaved its people.

They found Rembrandt, but Wade had been taken to a breeding camp on another Earth. Quinn’s mother told him that his real parents were sliders from a different Earth who had left him in her custody when he was just a baby, while they fought the Kromaggs.

She revealed that he had a microdot implant that contained information from them, including the coordinates for the parallel world where they had left his brother, Colin (Charlie O’Connell).

Quinn was now on a quest to find his brother, his parents, and the weapon his parent had developed that had forced the Kromaggs off their Earth.

He was unaware that during his first encounter with the Kromaggs they had implanted a tracking device on him to enable them to follow him when he found the weapon, and destroy it.

Quinn, Rembrandt, and Maggie slid to the Earth where Quinn’s brother Colin lived, and he joined them in their pursuit of the weapon that would save all the alternate Earths from the Kromaggs.

In 1999, Quinn and Colin were lost during a slide gone bad (actors Jerry and Charlie O’Connell had decided to leave the series). Colin was blasted into thousands of pieces (which, it was implied, might be reassembled someday), while Quinn’s essence was incorporated into another person whose slide had collided with theirs.

Thus, Quinn 2 looked different but had Quinn’s knowledge and soul within him – a novel way to change actors, with Robert Floyd now taking the lead role.

On a new Earth, Rembrandt and Maggie linked up with Quinn 2 and black scientist Diana (Tembi Locke) to become the new Sliders team.

In the series finale the gang slid to an Earth on which their exploits had become a popular TV show, and later a religion called Slidology, started by The Seer, a psychic who had written down his visions of their real adventures and used them as the basis for the series.

His people had developed a Kromagg-specific virus that had allowed them to defeat the aliens on their Earth, and the sliders wanted to take the virus to Rembrandt’s Earth (he was the only slider left from the original group) to free it.

When their timer was destroyed, they found a Kromagg sliding machine that could transport one person to Rembrandt’s home world, and after he injected himself with blood containing the virus, he made the slide.

The other sliders went to The Seer to find out what happened, but he had died from a heart attack; Rembrandt’s fate was unresolved.

Quinn Mallory
Jerry O’Connell
Rembrandt “Crying Man” Brown
Cleavant Derricks
Prof. Maximilian Arturo
John Rhys-Davies
Wade Wells
Sabrina Lloyd
Maggie Beckett
Kari Wuhrer
Colin Mallory
Charlie O’Connell
Quinn 2
Robert Floyd
Dr Diana Davis
Tembi Locke