21 August 2000 | James-184
Casting or Writing: Which Bombed First?
The original Sliders, featuring O'Connell, Rhys-Davies, Lloyd and Derricks, had potential: a Quantum Leap that held up better from a hard sci-fi POV.
Sure, the alternate worlds differed along only a narrow spectrum (no worlds where Aristotle's corpus was lost at sea or where the Spanish were beaten back by the Aztecs and Mayans--in short, nothing compared to Poul Anderson's Time Patrol novels), but for TV, it was forgiveable. The show could have served a real allegorical purpose, like the original Star Trek episodes, smuggling in controversy in veiled, science-fiction form under the radars of network censors.
And maybe it tried, and maybe it would have tried harder, but either the writing so petered out that the original stars split or the stars bolted and the writers scrambled to patch together the vehicle that had been abandoned. Down goes Sabrina Lloyd, then John Rhys-Davies, then the star, Jerry O'Connell. By the time Cleavant Derricks' seniority finally grants him the dubious honor of doing the opening voiceover narration, the show's been utterly gutted.
Maybe there's something philosophical in the program's blandness: an episode on a world without aluminum doesn't use that lack for anything more than a plot complication amid a standard good-guys vs. bad-guys story. Maybe the message in these all-too-similar worlds is that no matter how wacky the axiomatic differences among quantum realities, it's all same-old, same-old.
Network TV should be relieved at that news.