Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Fave TV Shows of All Time, Vol 3


Status among my favorite shows of all time: Sliders, I would say, would rank as somewhere in my top 20, but not likely in the top 10, possibly towards the bottom. I'd say something like between 12 and 18 or thereabouts.

First time I saw an episode: God, I barely even remember. It was when it was still airing on Fox. Some quick internet research reveals it must have been some time like 1996 or 1997, right when I was starting high school which seems right.

Favorite episode of all time: I'd have to say, "Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome", in which the sliders appear to have returned to their home planet, but Quinn doesn't believe it's really home. And everybody is exploiting the sliding experience for their own personal gain. Solid episode. Also the one where they travel to an alternate world where Rembrandt Brown is the king of rock and roll, that was definitely the funniest episode ever.

General plot description: In his basement in San Francisco, boy-genius Quinn Mallory unlocks the doorway to an infinite number of Earths. During a test run, Quinn invites co-worker Wade Wells and his teacher Professor Maximillian Arturo to see his new invention. But an increase in power and an early departure leave all three, plus a washed-up soul singer named Rembrandt "Crying Man" Brown, lost in a parallel world. Now they must "Slide" from world to world, not only adapting to their changing surroundings, but also trying to get back to their world. Will they ever make it home? [Cribbed from www.tv.com]

Even though I'm writing this up for my (very occasional) Favorite TV shows of All Time series, and deservingly because it is one of my favorite TV shows, this is the first ballot inductee into my personal "What Might Have Been" Hall of Fame for TV shows. Given the concept, characters, and actors, this easily could/should have been one of my top five or so favorite TV shows of all time, but horrible inconsistency (partly their own fault, partly the fault of the network) prevents it from scaling higher.


The first two seasons of Sliders were such great TV. They really were. The four main actors on the show, Jerry O'Connell (Quin Mallory), Sabrina Lloyd (Wade Wells), John Rhys-Davies (Maximillian Arturo), and Cleavant Derricks (Rembrandt Brown) were all very good actors, very capable of the drama, action, and comedy that the show required. Plus they had great chemistry and worked so well together. Plus also Sabrina Lloyd was/is really cute.

Not that they didn't have their problem, mind you. The way that the Fox network totally screwed over this show is well documented, but for now let it suffice to say that regardless of the order the shows were produced or intended to be aired in, Fox aired the episodes in essentially a random order. This meant that every episode had to be totally episodic; after all, if they tried to work in a multi-episode storyline, there's every possibility the network would show the conclusion before the set-up, thus destroying the point of the episodes. Probably because of this, the episodes lack the kind of depth in terms of character arcs that you would hope to see in a show. Plus, I was disappointed sometimes by their lack of exploring some of the more philosophical and psychological aspects of the central plotline to the series. Despite all this, it remains an shining example of excellent TV, in my opinion, because despite the general lack of depth, the episodes were just so damn entertaining.

Then something funny happened. The third season started off well enough, still producing plenty of entertainment, but you could still tell that the tone was different. The season seemed to emphasize the action elements of the show as opposed to the comedy and drama elements of the show far more than the previous seasons. But, still, there were lots of great episodes this season, such as "The Guardian" wherein the Sliders enter a world where time has passed 12 years slower than normal and Quinn tries to prevent a tragedy in his younger self's life. That was a great episode. Then, the unthinkable happened. They killed off Arturo, and replaced him with Kari Wuhrer, a hot but generally vapid actress. AND THEY TOTALLY CHANGED THE SHOW. Instead of being just a fun show exploring all the different worlds they travel to, they added in a larger villian, Colonel Rickman, who the Sliders tracked to and from various worlds. A boring action show. Despite the hotness of Sabrina Lloyd and Kari Wuhrer in the same show, this half-season is totally unwatchable.

Then, for the fourth season they dropped Sabrina Lloyd, but added Charlie O'Connell, Jerry's brother who is a terrible actor. But funnily enough, the show briefly had an extremely unexpected, hail mary, comeback. I don't think anybody saw it coming, and I certainly didn't, but the last half of season four was very entertaining. Not quite up to the par of the first two seasons, but in my opinion, far better than the season and a half that preceded it. Then they dropped Jerry and Charlie and picked up two random people for season 5 and produced one of the worst seasons of any show in television history. It's best that this not be talked about at all.

Ultimately, what this show has is the first two great seasons to recommend it as one of the greatest shows of all time. If it could have kept this going for another season or two, this would be one of my top 10 or possibly top 5 TV shows of all time. In addition, at this point, it's probably worth it to mention that the first two episodes only comprise a total of 23 episodes, about the length of one normal season of the typical tv show.

In summary, what makes this an all time great is:

1. Exceptional cast for the first two and a half seasons.
2. Very interesting concept is generally played out in an interesting way.
3. Good dialogue

Buy the DVD of this show that compiles the first two seasons, and I bet you won't be disappointed. It's one of my very favorite DVD's that I own. But then just forget that the rest of the show ever happened. Trust me, it's best that way. Ultimately, in my opinion, no show in TV history ever faced a decline as abrupt and disappointing as this show did.


So now, three posts into this series, lets assess where we are. The first two entries in this series were published in April of 2005 (Joan of Arcadia [and no matter how embarrassing it is, I still mean every word]) and January of 2006 (Strange Days at Blake Holsey High). I guess ranking right now, my favorite 10 TV shows of all time list would go like such:

1. Joan of Arcadia
2. Boy Meets World
3. The Adventures of Pete and Pete
4. Sports Night
5. Freaks and Geeks
6. Home Movies
7. Strange Days at Blake Holsey High
8. Monk
9. Digimon
10. House

The top 3 are incredibly close and could be ranked in almost any order. I've gone with Joan here due to how it emotionally effects me, and due to the fact that I can obviously enjoy it on a deeper level than the other two. But on the other hand, no show has more consistent career value than Boy Meets World, and no show makes me laugh more at it's peak than The Adventures of Pete and Pete. So, like I said, it's close.

There's two current shows on that list, and they have a chance to move up, but I doubt either will move up by more than a couple spots.

And ultimately, Sliders doesn't have nearly the peak of the short-lived shows and doesn't have the consistent awesomeness value of the long running shows. It's a tweener, which leaves it off a list like this. Another "What Might Have Been" that had a great beginning but fell off with an inconsistent later seasons was Upright Citizen's Brigade.



Blogger US Outlaw Tour said...

The Season 1+2 combo pack of Sliders makes me smile. My season 3 dvd set makes me sad...

2:53 PM  

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