21 August 2013


Sliders: Graceland

A friend who really enjoyed the SF TV series Sliders back in the 90s got me to start watching it with her. We're done with Season 1 and will probably start Season 2 together this weekend.

The show is about four people who can travel through wormholes into alternate universes, but can't control where they will end up or how long they will stay there. They also can't get home. Think: Homer's Odyssey plus theoretical physics, minus Penelope, times a visual medium, and divided by a set number of episodes per season. (Yes, this is what epic poetry has been reduced to. Because the medium is totally the message.)

I'm telling you all this because I've decided to do a post on each parallel world, starting now. So how about it? Ready to slide? =)

Pictured: Genius graduate student, wormhole, portable timer, and convex TV screen

The first parallel world is initially a bit of a fake out. Our main character slides from his basement laboratory into . . . his basement laboratory. =P

Then he gets in his car, starts driving, and gets yelled at twice: first for stopping at a red light and then for going through an intersection when the light is green. Meanwhile, the radio announcer is talking about "global cooling," commenting on the possibility of a certain "Kennedy" who is married to a "Marilyn" running for another term (in the 90s?!?!), and defending all the US illegals crossing the border to get jobs in Mexico. It's all very surreal, but also very random. This is not a world which branched off from ours at some critical turning point in history; it's just a world that is absurdly different.

And I get that. This is the Pilot, produced in order to sell the series to a network. While the show's creators might have wanted to feature one of their high-concept ideas, they probably didn't have the budget for it yet. (You can tell that most of the money went into the wormholes. LOL!) But there was one thing that had a lot more potential than they milked it for at the time . . .

Remember when my blog looked exactly like this???
(But with Simon Le Bon instead of Elvis Presley--LOL!)

Apparently, this upside-down world the hero has slid into is one in which Elvis Presley has survived to see the 1990s. I can think of a couple of people who wouldn't mind living there. ;-) But ultimately, this twist is another random difference that doesn't make the alternative world significantly different from ours.

You may disagree, but I'd say that Presley's influence on rock music and his impact on American culture were pretty much set in stone by the time he passed away. And his body of work from the 1970s doesn't live up to his output from the previous two decades. I can't imagine him fitting into the 80s at all--though I don't know if this is due to a limited imagination or to my perfectly tuned sensus Filii Octogensimorum Annorum. Either way, it does seem plausible that he would have ceased being a creative force in music long before the mid-90s, but continued selling out shows as a Las Vegas headliner. 

So again, no great difference between our world and this one . . . but perhaps that really is what the creators intended for this one episode. =P

Your Turn to Slide: Which dead musical entertainer would you buy tickets for if he were still performing today? 


Angie Tusa said...

Your post has got me wondering, could Elvis have been a part of the music market of the 80s that was largely dominated by guys like Billy Joel, Elton John, and Rod Stewart? I could certainly see him performing rock ballads at that point anyway.

But you're right in that his influence on music would probably be over, and he would simply be living off his image and older fans for sure.

Belfry Bat said...

+3 for the beautifully contrived latin.

love the girls said...

"minus Penelope"?

She didn't add much to the story anyway, but what of Cerces, babe enchantresses are a must.

You do know that Odysseus had complete control over where he went and was never lost. The Odessey is actually a story of the boys extending an adventure while looking for babes, like Cerces.

Not unlike others such as Alexis de Tocqueville who came to america looking for babes while using his research as an excuse.

You comment on Elvis is interesting, in comparison the perfection of the art of architecture is not in innovation. Even if some are innovative.

Enbrethiliel said...


Angie -- Thinking about it some more, there was a lot of Glam in the 80s that Elvis could have put a soulful spin on . . . but I still don't see it charting or being very influential in the industry. What I'd be most interested in is the look he'd develop for the decade. Would he stick to the capes and rhinestones, or would he find something new and appropriate to both his image and the times?

Bat -- Gratias! =)

LTG -- You and your literary babes . . . *rolls eyes*

Penelope wasn't meant to influence the main plot of the adventure, but the subplot of what was going on at Ithaca during Odysseus's absence remains a constant reminder that home is where he is supposed to be.

And it may have been true that he was never lost, in the sense that a child whose parents can't find him but who knows exactly where he happens to be is not lost, but again, he wasn't where he was supposed to be. Nor are any of the characters in Sliders, while they remain away from their world, no matter how much they secretly wish the adventure won't end.

It has been over a decade since I last read the Odyssey but I do recall that the title character's problems getting anywhere by ship were due to his having offended the sea god. He may have wanted to extend the journey for a while, but the longer he stayed away (or alternatively, the longer he put off making amends to Poseidon), the more it became a blot on his character and not just a neutral decision. (The "lost" status of the Sliders cast is also due to a poor decision by the main character rather than a free desire to keep sliding.)

As for architecture: there may be a parallel universe in which the 1990s came about without any engineers having discovered the arch . . . but that would be an incredibly difficult setting to write into a TV show. I can't blame Sliders for sticking to relatively recent innovations in the more science-based episodes.

Sheila said...

I think LTG was joking about Odysseus not being lost, E.

I choose Syd Barrett, I guess. Only because Neil Peart is still alive .... he even still tours, but I didn't get a chance to go. :(

Oh, but John Lennon's dead too! We'd all like to see him, I'm sure.

Beyond that, I honestly don't keep track of which of my favorite musicians are still alive. Does it matter? Their voices are still alive. And a musician whose band has broken up is, in some ways, as good as dead. (Sniff, sniff, Moody Blues. But even if there will still around I guess the odds are slim they'd still be making anything good.)

love the girls said...

Thank you Sheila,

But actually I was serious. The story is a tall tale told by the boys upon their arrival home as a crazy excuse for why they were so late in getting back home.

The difference is that Homer fills us in on the details that were left out in the original telling of it to the wives upon their arrival on why they were, not 10 days late, but 10 years late.

A lateness deserving the tallest of the tall tales ever told to a disbelieving wife.

Especially a wife who was not in the best of understanding moods from having spent those sames years being harassed at home by suitors.

Enbrethiliel said...


Sheila -- John Lennon kept coming to mind when I was writing this post, because he probably would have had a bigger impact on the music industry, had he not died so early. (On the other hand, how much of that is a well-reasoned projection and how much is it our buying into the myth woven by Yoko Ono around his memory?) But even if he were alive today, I'd be more interested in watching him together with the rest of The Beatles than as a solo act. Which ties in to what you were saying about bands which have broken up.

(Now, three bands I've liked have broken up and got back together in my lifetime. And of course they did so in Europe, where I had no chance of seeing them in concert anyway. =P So I must echo your question: "Does it matter?" Isn't the point that they are back together? But liking them from a geographical distance is oddly similar to liking them from a temporal distance!)

A final note: one member of ABBA has said that although the members are all still alive, they will never tour together again because they will be reduced to covering their own songs over and over--and none of them want that.

LTG -- While Odysseus was indeed a sneaky sort, I think it is a little much to say that he lied about the whole thing.

Then again . . . I am willing to consider the possibility that Homer was having fun with the epic poem form by reciting an epic poem about someone who is also reciting an epic poem. It has been a while since I read the Odyssey, though, so I can't remember any passage which seems like a cheeky wink at the audience.

DMS said...

I think I remember this show. I loved hearing about the pilot. The differences sound interesting and I agree with you about Elvis. I could see him headlining Vegas.

I would definitely want to see John Lennon (and then hopefully all The Beatles) or Janis Joplin. Jim Morrison would be cool too. So many come to mind. :)

Enbrethiliel said...


Pondering the acts you've named, Jess, I think I would prefer to use a time machine and to go back to when they were alive and at their peak, rather than to slide into a parallel dimension in which our lifetimes overlapped.

Thanks for reading! =)

Shaz said...

Perhaps Elvis would have reinvented himself like Rod Stewart did, ditched the jumpsuits and started covering classics.

Enbrethiliel said...


Given how many of his 70s singles were covers (and pretty good ones!), that path was also open to him! But I still see it as another milestone to Las Vegas. LOL!