Location, Location, Location

locationsliders

The location of where any tv series is filmed gives the series a particular aesthetic. In essence, locations are characters all themselves. This in particular is yet another reason why Sliders is so unique. It even changed the story of Sliders itself.

crush_wrap1Keep in mind San Francisco is the main setting yet things must vary since sliding to alternate worlds is like rolling the dice. The Pilot episode did see some shots throughout San Francisco particularly with Rembrandt. Sliders though, chose Vancouver, BC Canada as it’s main filming areas throughout seasons one and two. It gave a darker more serious undertone to each episode. For example, how could the majority of “Into the Mystic” hold up in a studio versus the great outdoors. It couldn’t compare.

The main drawback is the weather in Vancouver which is often much more cold and rainy compared to San Francisco. It even played a factor in the story of “As Time Goes By”. Professor Arturo explains, “Mark Twain once remarked the coldest winter he ever spent was a summer in San Francisco.” Even one the main characters of the episode gets in on the fun, “kind of nippy out here, eh? Reminds me of Vancouver.” If you look hard enough you can even see it snowing in that episode. Remember the story’s location is San Francisco, but with the wonders of alternate worlds one can suspend belief.

desert_wrap2With season three moving it’s filming crew to places like Los Angeles and Pasadena California the series needed a cover story and “Double Cross” delivered. In the episode, nemesis Logan St. Claire switched the timer’s geographic spectrum stabalizer to a 400 mile radius, as Quinn explains it they could “land in L.A., San Francisco or anywhere in between.” The onset of Los Angeles brought in a new life to the series. The surroundings were brighter, refreshing and more upbeat. Beach, mountains, and desert gave it a new tone versus the darker more serious setting of Vancouver. One of the casualties of moving to L.A. were the reoccurring actors from Vancouver, like Pavel and Hurley. Although the Universal backlot was beginning to be used in season three it wasn’t as evident as it was in the following seasons.

As production costs were cut the atmosphere was steadily declining as the seasons went by. Seasons four and five saw the Universal Studios backlot as it’s main medium for each episode’s environment. It gave those seasons a campy aesthetic apart from the open landscapes we previously saw. It does, however have it’s advantages. It can be positive to reuse a set primarily for alternate worlds by changing it up and linking it to each story. Yet it is degrading all in the same instance by it being recycled multiple times. After all who can forget the cave set used time after time in season three. The failure to alter that set in any way was quite a loss, it was just a plain same old cave.

backlot_wrap3If Sliders was to return to TV or as a movie, what location should it be shot? LA? Vancouver? Pasadena? Perhaps Seattle? Or why not the real San Francisco? What usually stands in the way for any location is as always, time and money. The varying locations in which Sliders was shot did aid to the alternate world theory. However having multiple episodes grouped together rather than random locations throughout the seasons made it apparent expenses were being cut. It almost feels like Sliders has three to four series wrapped all into one. The first two seasons of Vancouver, season three’s LA, and the backlots of seasons four and five. It’s interesting how the closer the series got to the “home” of the entertainment industry it’s filming expanse steadily declined.

No matter what the show, the location creates a unique atmosphere in the minds of all who watch them. After all what would the original Batman or Star Trek be without their campiness or the X-Files’ mysterious atmosphere from Vancouver. Sliders took a different approach with varying locations, which in some aspects led to its decline particularly with the Universal backlot.

Nevertheless, it’s variety that can make or break a scifi show. Beach sounds nice. Sun, surf, margaritas! See you at the beach …it means good luck.

Top 5: So Bad, They’re Good Episodes

sobadsogood

Sometimes things are so poorly constructed it’s seen as art. I’ll countdown the best of the worst, so bad they’re good “Sliders” episodes.

Honorable Mention: S3 | “Sole Survivors”
Throw in night scenes, some freaks in makeup and you got yourself the making of a campy horror episode. Short story short, Quinn gets bitten by a zombie and turns into one. It seems the government banned caffeine and the obese population turned into zombies by ingesting diet pills. There’s some side adventures with Maggie name calling Arturo “some old guy”. The most intriguing things are like how a manhole leads to a cave, a Jeep breaking down, and making coffee. If that’s not interesting enough you can see Quinn ask Maggie to kill him. In the end a lone doctor and blonde woman save the world. “A lot of things just come down to loyalty. Don’t they?” – Quinn Mallory. Yeah I guess so, even this TV show.

5. S3 | “The Fire Within”
This Sliders episode reaches a new level by sliding into hell… literally. Or so Rembrandt believes. They accidentally bring a “living flame” to the next world. While a flame that loves to burn anything would be bad enough, they place it smack dab in the middle of an oil refinery. You can’t get more explosive than that. While Quinn, Arturo and Remmy play with fire Wade does something meaningful with her life, like helping the poor. Goofy googles Quinn finally makes contact with the flame, discovering it can talk and even take the form of a human shape. Who can’t laugh at how unrealistic it is, plus the infamous “go away we’re spraying for coach roaches!” scene. If that isn’t enough to excite you, you’re in store for a firefighting 101 lesson.

4. S3 | “Dinoslide”
Rickman is running around sucking as much brain as he can while the Sliders try to track him down. Maggie and Wade have a cat fight, while deadly dinosaurs roam offscreen. The scenery in this episode is nice, except for the poor quality dino CGI. It turns out this is the New World where Rembrandt saved Malcolm and others from Pulsar World. We’re led to believe weasel is just like chicken legs, and fungus is a good coffee substitute. In order to save the new colony on this world the Sliders must eat worms, explode a T-Rex’s head, and suggest a boy taken hostage is an “acceptable casualty”. The icing on this fruitcake is the final heartwarming scene where Rembrandt and Malcolm reminisce of old times.

3. S4 “The Chasm”
Everyone’s just so happy …except Maggie as usual. Quinn’s done with sliding, he has decided he’s home, and it seems Rembrandt is going to jump in a hole. Things get even more bizarre when Quinn suggests (with a smile on his face) he is giving Maggie his depression. Rembrandt hallucinates with twitches, runs off like a scared kid, and eventually goes on a life story novella about how his life is filled with fear. Some frantic preacher keeps suggesting to Rembrandt he must commit suicide to make everyone else happy too. But at the same time I just got this feeling everythings gonna be all right. It’s like we’re riding the world’s most amazing roller-coaster. But even if you think this ride is bad, don’t worry… “it’ll pass”. It’s not like I care.

2. S3 | “Paradise Lost”
This episode tries to make you think you are 8 years old by using the boogeyman tactic. Only problem is there is no boogeyman, just a giant underground worm. The town feeds off it’s excrement or something of the kind in a bizarre feeding ritual, which gives a youth sustaining nutrient. The Sliders are considered outsiders in this small town, and are destined to be used as the worm’s dinner. Everyone is hush hush except the old creepy lady who keeps telling the Sliders to get outta town, warning them of the illustrious “cove”. Quinn is the bad-to-the-bone hero, fist fighting off every enemy, all the while Arturo goes missing. It turns out he was fed to “the Beast”. Quinn explains the creature to where any layman can easily understand too, “it could be some kind of freak nemertean.” The worm is found in the familiar season three cave set, and Arturo is found alive in a cocoon. Repeat after me, “it’s spawning”. Let’s not forget this wouldn’t be a good episode without a good slow-mo fire and explosion.

1. S3 | “Electric Twister Acid Test”
Twisters are everywhere and a maniac is on the loose while Jerry O’Connell styles his toned physique. If only that was all. But this episode manages to throw in even more gems like Corey Feldman wielding a pitch fork and drinking slime. The timer’s technology is bringing in the twisters and it’s time to crackdown on the unruly (the Sliders). Normal people, aka Corey Feldmans are considered “Outcasts” and use tunnels to get around while Wade is used in a torture Dunk Tank game. But who can forget the legendary cave set used ad infinitum in this season. What’s cool about this episode is that Jerry O’Connell and Corey Feldman reunite and pay homage to their 1986 movie, “Stand by Me” in their “skin it” scene. “This town is gonna need all the help it can get.” – Quinn Mallory. Yeah, no kidding.

“Invasion”


Episode Review: “Invasion”
Season 2
Original Airdate: 6/28/96
Emmy® Nominated Episode
Review:

The Sliders land in the middle of an invasion by the Kromaggs, who intend on conquering every parallel world.

Rembrandt has had enough of the bumps and bruises from sliding, so he’s been proactive with his helmet in tow. “Rembrandt Brown Sliding Pads– a must for the serious slider.” It’s obvious at first appearance, something is not right with this new world. Complete silence, debris everywhere, and fresh paint signals the mayhem was recent. The theme park carnival setting makes things even stranger as a Kromagg manta ship in the sky interferes with the timer. I’ll explain what a Kromagg is later, lets just say it’s one of your worst nightmares.

I must admit the special effects of the Kromagg ship is done quite well. I do believe this scene was given a UFO feel because of co-creator Tracy Tormé’s interest in the subject and his past work with the movie “Fire in the Sky”. The Kromagg ship emits a ray of light similar to a bright beam that shines from beneath a UFO. This effect creates an frightening and uncertain scene among the Sliders in the opening minutes of the show. Quinn activates and aims the timer at the Kromagg ship which hurls it off in the distance resulting in a fiery crash. It’s evident things are going to take a turn for the worse.

As Quinn and Arturo examine the ship’s debris, a mentally ill patient from Gatehaven warns the Sliders of the Kromaggs. He explains they’re ruthless killers who eat human eyes. Rembrandt and Wade grow impatient and insist on leaving the area. Yet the inquisitive minds of Quinn and Arturo continue to examine the ship. It’s not long before day turns to night. They discover a Kromagg’s lifeless body inside, and remove a bracelet from the corpse. It immediately causes an alarm to sound, warning other Kromaggs of their location.

Here’s where the real fun begins. This is one of the most haunting scenes from the series so far. The Kromaggs who are ape-alien in appearance and dressed in black attire chase after the team of Sliders in the night. If you enjoy horror movies this episode is certainly a good match for you. This specific scene is pretty frightening to say the least. As the Sliders activate their wormhole to escape, Quinn and Wade discover a red vortex in the sky above. Things take a dark twist, as it’s revealed the Kromaggs are sliders.

Sliding to a new world the Professor lands into some french bread in New France World. Here’s it’s explained by Quinn and Arturo the Kromaggs are not ape, not alien, but are humans just like us. “Different Earths could have followed different evolutionary paths.” Now while I realize the Sliders do need an enemy from time to time I question whether or not the Kromaggs are the best choice. A scary ape looking creature is pulled off well here, but it seems to pull the idea of parallel worlds down to an extent. Yes the possibilities are endless, but what really catches your eye with “Sliders” is how things are the same yet with a bizarre twist, whether it be politics or pop culture.

As the Sliders finish up their meal on New French world Arturo pulls a Kromagg bracelet from his pocket to the utter dismay of Quinn. It begins flashing and soon a red portal from the sky opens as a Kromagg manta ship appears. The Sliders are rendered incapacitated and transported on a manta ship through an inter-dimensional portal to Earth 113. As they travel through the gateway, they are held captive in the ship and see an unusual sight. A human named Mary is the Kromaggs’ telepathic slave. The Sliders are interrogated and even meticulously tricked by the Kromaggs. Rembrandt meets a man that looks exactly like his father begging him to hand over information of his home world, but it’s clear the man isn’t his father. It’s these little bizarre twists that make this episode interesting. Even a reoccurring character shows up as a double too.

The Sliders make a desperate attempt to escape from their dark and disorienting prison. However, it’s soon revealed one of the Sliders is implanted with a homing device by the Krommags. With this device they can track their slides in hope of finding and destroying the Sliders’ home. This is really a brilliant idea by the writers to come up with this idea, as it gives some leeway of future episodes concerning Kromaggs. Hopefully just not too many.

The Kromagg idea is interesting but it seems to relate too closely with Star Trek or Babylon 5. For example, when you see a freaky looking creature you automatically think outer space, not a parallel earth. Not that the idea of the Kromaggs is necessarily a bad one, but the pop culture already in place doesn’t bode well for the average viewer. Overall this is a fun, scary and daring episode but hopefully its an idea that is rarely touched upon in future episodes.

Kromagg (to Mary): “Multiple time units spent probing the minds of the subjects revealed that they did not know the location of their home Earth. Their sliding patterns were erratic and totally random. The successful implantation of a homing device in one of the subjects will allow us to track their journeys, in hopes that they will eventually return to their Earth. And we will be waiting– and watching, ready to attack when the time is right. You have done well, Mary. You may have an hour of freedom in the garden before you go back to your cage.”
Mary: “Thank you, master.”

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