05 February 2014


Sliders: Vacuum Tube City

The problem with getting your Sliders set used, without having checked out what a brand new package is supposed to have, is that you might not find out until much later that you're missing a few episodes. =( So instead of As Time Goes By, I'm afraid that what I have for you today is Gillian of the Spirits.

On the bright side, it's one Season 2 episode which actually has a good reason for not telling part of the story with a TV and which makes an excellent substitution with a radio instead. But since the above screen cap isn't worth a thousand words, I have to spell out the twist for you here. This post is about a world in which national beauty pageants are broadcast live, but not on a visual medium.

I can't decide if that's San Francisco's nickname or the name of some store

We actually get an effort at decent alt-history in this episode, when our four inter-dimensional travelers find themselves in a world where technology is considered the root of all evil. The point when this world splits off from ours is right after the bombing of Hiroshima, when people became so horrified at what science could do that they outlawed further research and development in all scientific fields.

Yes, it's a world without the worst weapons of modern warfare . . . but it's also a world without the polio vaccine. Just don't ask why it's also a world without television. 

What we have here is a another interesting, well-plotted story undermined by sloppy world building. I think that had a lot to do with the budget, which I really can't blame the producers for. You work with what you have, right? I do think that it would have made more sense to split the timelines right after World War I, when the use of airplanes, tanks, submarines and poison gas racked up casualty numbers like no one had ever seen before --and that it would have been more interesting if the world had seen itself rejecting not science, but industrialism. On the other hand, I also get that it would have been too difficult for the producers to find a set that could pass for something from the 1920s.

Much less San Francisco in the 1920s, right Sergei?

Speaking of the sets, they've been kind of bad all season. The poor world building hasn't been limited to the writing, but includes the art direction. All the alternative earths are blending into each other, as if culture is merely a blank backdrop against which we act out our lives. Very disappointing from a SF show, especially one which had great writing and sets just one season earlier.

There's also some stuff here about astral planes and priests signing autographs right before making blasphemous statements in the confessional (!!!), but they're not worth getting into.

Your Turn to Slide: If you had to live in a world where technological development (and some medical discoveries) had been arrested at some point before you were born, what year would be the ideal cut-off point?

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