Re: Random Thoughts

So, for years, I've been quietly waging war on the Syfy Channel for its betrayal of SLIDERS, leading a campaign of attrition that has slowly but surely brought it to its knees. (Just play along with me here.)

Uhhhh... but recently, an internationally syndicated show, WYNONNA EARP, was experiencing financial problems. The parent company could not assemble the funds to film the fourth season that they were contractually obligated to deliver. Production stalled. The company engaged in massive stock sales and some liquidation and other restructuring, but despite stability, their debts made it impossible for them to fund WYNONNA EARP's fourth season.

Syfy stepped in and raised their investment in the series so that the fourth season could be made.

After some thought, I have decided to end the war. Syfy need not fear me anymore. They have redeemed themselves for the cancellation of SLIDERS, a psychologically and cosmically devastating event that has rocked our world and the very nature of reality, a terrible misdeed -- but one for which we must offer forgiveness should the perpetrator not only seek to mend their ways but put a MASSIVE amount of money towards supporting the shows they air and caring about their viewers.

The war is over. Everybody won.

(Just play along. Come on.)

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They did the same thing for the awful final season of Andramada, when the shows production company fell apart.

Also, if it wasn't for Sci Fi most of MGM's Showtime TV efforts Poltergeist/outer Limits/Stargate wouldn't of recieved final seasons or had a extra 3 to 5 seasons.

Sci Fi was the Netflix show saver at one point in its life, loved the channle in late 90s most of 2000's until WWE came in then it lost me, but my dad who hates Sci Fi, loves their cheaply made monster movies, so I guess loose a viewer gain a viewer.

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I don't know a ton about Syfy/Sci-Fi's era for saving shows except in the cases of STARGATE SG-1 and SLIDERS. With SLIDERS, Temporal Flux has been clear: the Sci-Fi Channel regime that had been asking to buy FOX out of SLIDERS for awhile left the company after the deal was struck. A new team was at the helm when SLIDERS arrived into the Sci-Fi Channel's hands, and this team was not interested in SLIDERS, not engaged with it and considered Season 4 a contractual obligation to be executed and forgotten. Sci-Fi planned for SLIDERS to fail for both the seasons that it had the show.

They didn't bother to ensure retaining the cast or creators needed to make the fourth season worth watching (and Pete, I beg that you spare me your usual schtick about how Season 4 was always going to be Quinn as Kal-El of Kromagg Prime or I swear to God that I will kill myself and make it look like Executive did it). Sci-Fi planned to cancel it after Season 4 with no concern for its ratings.

With subsequent projects like FLASH GORDON, ALPHAS, DEFIANCE, SINBAD, HELIX, DARK MATTER and HAPPY, Syfy continually cancelled because financially, they didn't want to invest anything but the lowest license fee in their projects. They just wanted to license and air; they would buy first seasons knowing full well that shows get more expensive each year with raises and expansions and would plan to cancel as early as possible. They would plan for failure.

How did STARGATE SG-1 evade the Sci-Fi Channel always planning for their shows to fail? It looks to me like MGM was extremely aggressive in financing the production of the show, putting no weight on Sci-Fi to pay for anything but a license to broadcast it from Seasons 6 - 10. But when Sci-Fi broke up their Friday night block of STARGATE SG-1, STARGATE ATLANTIS and BATTLESTAR GALACTICA, Sci-Fi didn't want to pay any longer. Sci-Fi didn't support SG-1. MGM, however, was completely behind their show and started talks with Apple to create an eleventh season.

Sci-Fi then blocked the eleventh season by enforcing a non-compete clause in their agreement with MGM. While they were within their rights to do so, it says a lot that they kicked SG-1 out of their house and then made sure it stayed homeless, not wanting their hold on STARGATE content to seem diluted, but also not wanting to pay for SG-1 to continue when the studio was willing to do all the work.

Studios working with Syfy these days tend to license shows to Syfy almost as syndicated dramas. IDW owns WYNONNA EARP. Syfy licenses WYNONNA EARP. IDW also sells WYNONNA EARP to international broadcasters. To Netflix. It merchandises WYNONNA EARP. IDW didn't grant Syfy exclusivity. Syfy is merely one of IDW's customers for WYNONNA EARP and if Syfy didn't renew WYNONNA EARP, this model would theoretically allowed IDW to keep making it so long as IDW could continue to pay for it and find someone else to air or stream or sell it.

However, it also meant that when IDW ran into financial troubles (debts, investments, overhead, lack of return on investment), Syfy's Season 4 & 5 renewal became meaningless. Syfy's licensing fee covered a mere 50 per cent of production costs. In this situation, Syfy could have cut their (lack of) losses on a show that they do not own, a show that gives them nothing of its international sales and merchandising profits. Syfy's business practices are designed precisely for them to give up, for their content to fail and be cancelled. All they cared about was the commercials and the ad revenue.

Syfy cancelled WAREHOUSE 13 and EUREKA but because they owned those shows, they gave W13 a short finale season and EUREKA an extra episode. They are not so gracious with outside purchases. My prediction was that as with SLIDERS and STARGATE and DARK MATTER and any show Syfy didn't in-house, Syfy would forget WYNONNA EARP ever existed.

But this time, Syfy stepped up and saved WYNONNA EARP. And this isn't just commissioning one extra episode; Syfy has agreed to a higher licensing fee for Season 4 and the already ordered Season 5 so that IDW's troubles will not impede production. Their investment is astonishing and it doesn't look like the ownership or exclusivity situation has changed significantly. Syfy is unlikely to earn less money from this deal, but it's unlikely that they'll earn that much more. They simply want to continue what has been a profitable business relationship with the studio and the viewers whereas in the past, they've generally given up before they started.

(TRANSMODIAR: "Don't confuse giving up with never trying.")

I hope this is the start of a change where Syfy can be a channel that treats its material and audience with respect and invests in their content and viewers... and at least gives its cancelled shows one or two episodes to wrap up its arcs whether Syfy owns the show or not.

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Well ownership and rules have changed a lot over the last 25 years.  Everyone needs their own owned content for streaming apps now, anything SyFy does will be with the intent to create content for the Universal App coming out later this year early 2020.

The Original Sci Fi network was made because Universal had a huge backlog of Science Fiction tv and movies and they were their to air them and a couple of cheaply made news shows about sci fi tv. For original content.

Sliders being canceled by Fox was an unexpected gift to the network, because the only new shows that they aired was seaquest repeats, Mantis, flash, alien nation and some other fox dramas that had bomb over a season or less.

They had budgets like any network, and Sliders was filmed in LA not VA, and even after cuts was budgeted way higher than the channel could afford, yr 1 was offset by paying for 22 episodes and getting 48 episodes for next to nothing to give them fresh programming for their network.

Yr 2 on Sci Fi, was a budgetary nightmare as Universal their owners wanted 88 for syndication purposes and SciFi had very little money left in their budget, with new shows, a ambitious Star Trek Original Series pickup, that would include showing interviews  and uncut for syndication episodes.

Sci Fi did have a great deal with MGM, as MGM had all their shows already in the local Syndication machine, needing Sci Fi to only pay for 1st run , at a reduced rate as they would get the back end in yr2 off local syndication.

Sci Fi network has saved a number of shows over the years.
Sliders, Andramada, Poltergeist, Outer Limits, Star Gate, Mystery Science Theater. To name a few, also Fox wouldn't of resurrected Alien Nation for TV movies if not for the ratings off SciFi,  have to wonder if The Flash would of been remembered as fondly if not for repeated repeats on scifi network.

Just saying not as vicious a network as you may think, its ran cheaply now, because over 25 or so years they never found a way to get main stream ratings.  Also when Ghost Hunters and Scare Tatics get you huge ratings and cost next to nothing it is hard to justify the cost of a drama on the network.

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I'd welcome being corrected if I'm wrong, but from glancing over the Wikipedia entries and fan sites, saying that Sci-Fi saved ANDROMEDA, POLTERGEIST, OUTER LIMITS and STARGATE seems like saying I saved a drowning man by tossing him an inflatable liferaft even though my next move was to shoot a hole in the side. ANDROMEDA, POLTERGEIST and OUTER LIMITS only lasted one season on Sci-Fi. Sci-Fi only 'saved' SLIDERS in that they commissioned an additional 40 episodes of a show with the same title. ("We think SLIDERS works better with three men, one woman. We don't care which one you keep and we're not taking into consideration the fact that one of those three men was Shakespearean actor John Rhys-Davies.")

MYSTERY SCIENCE FICTION THEATRE 3000 spent its Sci-Fi Channel years being subject to absurd network interference from Sci-Fi's parent company and eventually cancelled over it. However, there was a proper finale and three seasons is pretty solid.

ANDROMEDA, I know slightly more of than the others because I watched the first season (very good) and couldn't even finish the second due to the change in writers. I attended a panel after the show's cancellation that described the budget-strapped, lifeless fifth season that was missing most of the actors for a good chunk of the year and the ship grounded; that doesn't sound like a save to me.

SG-1, Sci-Fi not only cancelled but also barred from finding a new broadcaster in Apple -- which is the equivalent of giving a drowning person a lifeboat, waiting a bit before shooting a hole in the boat, then shooting Steve Jobs when he throws out a lifeline.

So, Sci-Fi as a show-saver -- well, they saved MST3K. I'll give them that. But it seems to me that MGM saved SG-1, not Sci-Fi; Sci-Fi just happened to be in the neighbourhood at the time. And as for ANDROMEDA, OUTER LIMITS, POLTERGEIST and SLIDERS -- did Sci-Fi save them? Or did Sci-Fi prop up four corpses on some sticks and parade them around for a bit? While claiming credit for bringing back the dead? While drumming up a little (low-investment) publicity for their niche network? And while offering a poor copy standing in for the real thing?


Re: Random Thoughts

Responding to the Marc Scott Zicree thread ( ) with personal commentary:

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

He seems like a really nice, genuine person who really enjoys science fiction and writing good stories when he's on YouTube.  It could be partially an act (he uses essentially every video as a way to sell his show Space Command - literally), but I couldn't say for sure.

I think it is entirely an act. I think it's completely sincere.

Cleavant Derricks said in the EP.COM 2000 interview that he stayed with SLIDERS "for the fans." In on set footage from 1996, he's recorded saying he'll stay with SLIDERS no matter what because he has children to raise. Could it be both?

Cleavant was very upset with John's firing, with Sabrina being driven off the show, with the unedited teleplays he was made to perform. He was friends with David Peckinpah. Temporal Flux says that so Cleavant could further his career with a member of an influential Hollywood family. Transmodiar says Cleavant loved his family, observed that David Peckinpah loved his family -- and focused on that part of Peckinpah to socialize with him. What if it's both?

Maybe Zicree loves being "Mr. Sci-Fi," loves reviewing DISCOVERY and THE ORVILLE and also seeks to promote the shockingly generic title that is SPACE COMMAND? We can decide to behave in ways that are both self-serving and kind towards others and we might modulate our demeanors to perform both functions and the artificiality of our temperament could be a choice made with sincerity and honesty.

Transmodiar wrote:

I'm having dinner with him again tomorrow night. I will be sure to pass along any and all theories you feel merit his attention. (I actually won't.)

Zicree has clearly made a choice in his life to forgive others and give them some space to change and improve without his recriminations to hold them back. As we both went to journalism school (as did Slider_Quinn21), we know that the best responses from subjects are when the subject is asked questions they already want to answer whereas inquiring about subjects they don't want to get into will make them clam up.

Zicree doesn't want to talk about Jerry coming to set wasted; he wants to talk about the writer's craft and also, Jerry no longer comes to sets drunk, so it's best that a Hollywood veteran not spread that around. People can change.

Transmodiar wrote:

I was charming and inoffensive

That's good to hear.

I have often wondered at what point Transmodiar became what he is today, because he wasn't always. Let's sit in our armchairs for psychoanalysis and look at Transmodiar. Transmodiar caused great anxiety and distress for Temporal Flux back when SLIDERS was on the air and for a year after the cancellation. Transmodiar convinced the Bboard that the Robert K. Weiss fan chat was fake. Then he confessed that the faking was fake, but that severely dented the fans' trust in TF and Weiss' comfort in engaging with fans. As far as I can tell, Transmodiar gave Temporal Flux post traumatic stress.

After that, Transmodiar got married, fathered children and something in his mind shifted.

I once remarked that I could not see the volatile, deranged prankster of 1995 - 2001 as the constructively critical person of gentle jokes and indulgent patience that I've known since 2014. However, looking at Transmodiar's posts of the 1995 - 2001 era with a keen eye to how he communicates today, I realized this is not entirely true.

Transmodiar's posts to Buffyboy during this period that I call The Dark Age of SpaceTime, for example, trash Buffyboy's website, mock Buffyboy for his age, tell Buffyboy that his site is coded and laid out in a web illiterate fashion. His words tell Buffyboy that he's unskilled, that he will always be unskilled, that he can't get better and will only get worse, and Transmodiar seizes on something Buffyboy cannot control -- the year in which he was born -- in order to fully communicate Buffyboy's worthlessness.

In 2014, Transmodiar reviewed my SLIDERS REBORN prequel novella outline and sent me his feedback. 2014 was the height of my anxiety disorder where I was often afraid to go outside without a female companion to tether me to Earth. My social anxiety was so bad that sometimes, if my friends weren't available to join me for certain events, I would use a friend-renting agency and rent myself a date for the evening.

I dreaded Transmodiar's feedback. I expected to get the same treatment as Buffyboy.

Transmodiar's message to me was not positive. Transmodiar's message was also not like his comments to Buffyboy. Comparing Transmodiar's criticisms to me with his message to Buffyboy, I now notice similarities: the criticism cuts to the core, but for me, he has done it in a gentle, joking fashion that is without caustic acidity or damaging cruelty.

The original SLIDERS REBORN prequel novella: a woman is seeking lemon bars in her favourite bakery only to discover they're all sold out. A strange man approaches her, offers her his lemon bars if she will listen to his story. She agrees and he tells her the entire story of Seasons 1 - 5 and how he has been erased from reality due to a sliding accident, but if this woman can search her memory and remember him in some way, he will be reanchored to this dimension. He tells her that his name is Quinn; Amanda recognizes him as her son and Quinn is saved.

Transmodiar's reactions included:

  • "This took me like an hour to read, so it'd be like two hours to hear it out loud. NOBODY would listen to a crazy person telling a deranged story for two hours in exchange for 20 - 30 bucks of baked goods."

  • "You start out being hyperdetailed about sliding to introduce it on the ground floor, but by the end, you're referring to individual Kromaggs by name; I've watched the series more than anyone ever should and I don't remember who the hell these people are."

  • "I'm so confused: there are so many sliding machines in this story! One saves the Azure Gate Bridge world. One is destroying the multiverse. And then all the sliders die and then a third machine brings everyone back to life? Huh?"

  • "I don't get it: Quinn's been erased from existence and no one remembers him. But later on in the outline, all the sliders are joking about Season 3. Why do some people remember Quinn if your whole conceit is that Quinn doesn't exist anymore?"

  • "You've stitched together a bunch of random set pieces that do not make sense and cover up the lack of plot with continuity and violence. What are you trying to accomplish? If it's a back to basics story, why is it so wrapped up in what came before? If it's a character oriented piece, where is the character work?"

  • "What are you trying to accomplish?"

The criticism that Buffyboy experienced from Transmodiar is there. But note the shift: the focus is no longer on putting someone down, making them feel stupid, making them feel worthless.

Instead, the focus is on Transmodiar's personal, individual, subjective experience of the material and why the content is confusing him, disorienting him, providing him with contradictory details and premises that are mutually exclusive. Transmodiar is explaining how my first draft is providing tangled, garbled, confusing information and does not have a clear goal in mind for the information it presents.

Temporal Flux insists that Transmodiar is the same person he has always been and that nothing has changed. TF and I are in 'disagreement' on this. I could concede that Transmodiar is still who he was before, but he has become more than that as well. I could agree that Transmodiar hasn't 'changed,' but he has broadened. He used to be a hammer; now he has the full toolbox.

You can see the Buffyboy-directed edge in his comments to me, but that edge in his messages to me has been tempered with precision, direction, consideration and making sure to aim for the content instead of the person. His criticisms are as personal as ever, but the personal element is his own response rather than trying to hurt someone. He used to be cutting. He's now cutting and kind. He's both.

(Is this what becoming a father does to you?)

Because Transmodiar spoke to me in the way he did, I was able to address all the problems: I altered the story so that Quinn, instead of telling the crazy story of sliding to his mother, is telling the crazy story of sliding to a psychiatrist in the mental institution where Quinn has been incarcerated. I had the psychiatrist raise the inconsistencies in Quinn's erasure and whether or not others would remember him so that Quinn could explain his partial restoration as "a secondary revision of reality." Later on in the outline, I started writing individual script pages for certain scenes to get the voices of the characters into the story and put in the character work that Transmodiar saw was missing.

Transmodiar has caused Temporal Flux great anxiety. But Transmodiar cured mine. Transmodiar cut away my nervousness, my fear of criticism, my insecurity over how people might perceive me and taught me how to relax and accept criticism and act upon it, not necessarily with the solutions proposed by the critic, but with solutions that were informed by it.

Does that balance anything in this cold and lonely world? Does the good he did for me in any small and minuscule way negate the evil he did to Temporal Flux?

I dunno. Do I look like a moral philosopher to you? As with all debates and conflicts, we must turn to someone who has achieved balance, someone who knows the razor edge of existence and tightrope walks across it with aplomb. Slider_Quinn21, you're up.

Re: Random Thoughts

Moved from the Marc Scott Zicree thread:
Moved from

Ireactions, not really sure what any of that has to do with the topic.

I think these MSZ commentaries are a pretty cool idea, maybe if they are well received maybe more will follow.

Also since when is being positive about your experiences lying?

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JWSlider3 wrote:

Ireactions, not really sure what any of that has to do with the topic.

I think these MSZ commentaries are a pretty cool idea, maybe if they are well received maybe more will follow.

Also since when is being positive about your experiences lying?

I was going to write something to respond to you about how Zicree sometimes says things that are totally true while leaving an impression that's utterly false and how Zicree can have different goals that are in opposition but not mutually exclusive... but then it's pretty much what I already wrote above, so I can't answer your question any more than I already have.

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ireactions wrote:

I have often wondered at what point Transmodiar became what he is today, because he wasn't always. Let's sit in our armchairs for psychoanalysis and look at Transmodiar.

Let's not - the last thing people need here is a "Ten Reasons Why Transmodiar Matters" tongue

ireactions wrote:

Transmodiar cut away my nervousness, my fear of criticism, my insecurity over how people might perceive me and taught me how to relax and accept criticism and act upon it, not necessarily with the solutions proposed by the critic, but with solutions that were informed by it.

Well, good. And, since no good deed goes unpunished, Ib returned the favor by savaging some of my own stories because they didn't follow his metric for how a human being should behave. Ah, balance. smile

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: Random Thoughts

JWSlider3 wrote:

Ireactions, not really sure what any of that has to do with the topic.

Glad I wasn't the only one.

Re: Random Thoughts

Grizzlor wrote:
JWSlider3 wrote:

Ireactions, not really sure what any of that has to do with the topic.

Glad I wasn't the only one.

I saw these connections between my ramblings and Marc Scott Zicree:

Slider_Quinn21 wondered: is Zicree's pleasant, cheerful Mr. Sci-Fi persona when reviewing DISCOVERY and THE ORVILLE sincere or is it all a mercenary, self-serving act to promote his personal project, SPACE COMMAND? I feel Zicree is doing both because people can often be multiple things at the same time.


  • Zicree has frequently spoken about SLIDERS. Everything he's said about Season 4 is true, but everything he's said has also, in totality, been misleading by using select facts and deliberate omissions to leave false impressions. He is both a truthful, honest person AND a liar (by way of factual exclusions). Zicree is a unique sort of liar. Most people lie to gain sympathy or reputation; Zicree lies to be kind to people who haven't been kind to him, possibly out of professionalism, possibly because he believes people are capable of change.

  • Cleavant was friends with David Peckinpah despite being aggravated by him; Temporal Flux says it was a simple professional networking association, but Transmodiar says it seemed to him to be a respect for how Peckinpah was a family-driven man like Cleavant. My take: it was both of these things just as Zicree is a truth teller/liar, an ardent sci-fi reviewer/self-promoter.

  • Zicree had dinner with Transmodiar back when Transmodiar was the living embodiment of assholery. Zicree is having dinner with Transmodiar again when Transmodiar has matured into the dictionary definitions of kindness and indulgence for others (or at least me). Both versions of Transmodiar are the real Transmodiar. You can still see the earlier version of him in the current incarnation of his personality, but his acidic traits have been softened by time and humour and empathy.

SLIDERS is an intensely personal series to me and talking about it frequently brings my personal experiences to mind. Feel free to ignore them.

Re: Random Thoughts

Responding to a post in the Marc Scott Zicree thread:

ireactions wrote:

I'd like to apologize for my tangents. I felt they were related to the topic at hand, but if JWSlider and Grizzlor disagree, then I trust their judgement and have moved the posts to the Random Thoughts thread. And I encourage all of you to go there and exercise your Temporal Flux given right to call me an annoying weirdo. I support that. Love you all.

Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

Ha, I like your tangents.  #VoteIreactionsTangents2020

While I appreciate your support, I'm going to ask you to defer to others on this one. I confess don't fully grasp why every thought provoked by the name Marc Scott Zicree isn't relevant to the thread. But it's important to respect other people's positions even if we don't understand them so long as those positions are not ones of bigotry and hatred.

At the end of the day, if Grizzlor and SliderNum5 and JWSlider3 want to have a sensible discussion about Marc Scott Zicree as opposed to his relevance to my personal life, then I respect it fully and will behave accordingly. This is their board too. It is no trouble to create the appropriate quotes and post such content in the Random Thoughts thread.

I guess, because our threads on Informant's legacy and our Marvel Cinematic Universe thread have invariably meandered into politics and superheroes from different companies, pondering Zicree and the morals of deception and the question of redemption and the mental conflict of being friends to both Temporal Flux AND Transmodiar seemed germane to me. Others disagree and at the end of the day, I don't rule this forum; I serve it. I work for all of you.

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Soooo, I'm going to write personal ruminations as inspired by other threads in the Random Thoughts thread and see if that is more tolerable for others. I don't want to distract from sensible speculation in the Arrowverse thread with thoughts on fitness. We've been talking a bit about how Tom Welling did some intense stuff to keep looking 25 for 10 seasons of SMALLVILLE and how since then, Welling has allowed himself to look like a 42 year old man.

Superhero Fitness: Because I do not play a CW superhero, I do not exercise as those actors do which is probably why I've been hovering at about 40 pounds heavier than I'd like to be for awhile. But actors in shows I watch have affected my attitudes to fitness in ways positive and negative. Tom Welling, Jerry O'Connell, Stephen Amell, Grant Gustin and Brandon Routh have all affected my approach to my body.

Bulletproof Diet: I eat somewhat like Brandon Routh does (grilled meats and vegetables, low carb, high fat). I don't go to his extremes of saving lard from cooked bacon for reuse and light-heating/moderate-steaming methods of the Bulletproof Diet are too troublesome for me. But I pick and choose my methods from various actors.

Tom Welling: I remember being a chubby and acne-covered 15 year-old and seeing Tom Welling onscreen and wishing I could be that good looking and being told I couldn't because Tom was genetically gifted and a model and an athlete whereas I had to do a makeup credit to pass high school gym. I accepted that I would be a bloated, awkward, scarred person and, I suppose, accepted the low self-esteem and self-loathing that resulted. Tom Welling made me give up. (Wow, that makes it sound like I'm blaming him.)

Five years later in university, I lost a ton of weight due to a poor student diet, became extremely skinny and discovered skin care and how small, daily cleansings and treatments could give me a fresh-faced look that I retain today. Another five years later, I was eating 'normally' again and regained all the lost weight. Clearly, weight loss was possible for me but not necessarily convenient or sustainable.

Jerry O'Connell: Quinn's body is an interesting but not necessarily enlightening study. In Seasons 1 - 2, Jerry would film SLIDERS and have a lot of physical activities with fencing and workouts. He maintained a lean, lightly muscled body even with a little weight gain during Seasons 3 - 4 when he was out all night drinking and eating junk food. His daily activity and some supplemental exercise was enough to keep him in shape during SLIDERS and it's not like Quinn Mallory wore tights. After SLIDERS and a period of weight gain that nearly got him fired off his kangaroo movie, Jerry adopted a Routh-type diet and exercise regime, but he describes it as his job.

Jerry described how when he switched to only eating meat and vegetables he cooked himself instead of foods he defrosted or ordered in, the fat "dripped" off his body. I tried doing that, but I would experience crazy hunger pangs, crave pizza and croissants and bagels and always gave in and fall back into sugar highs and sugar crashes that would lead to more binges.

Stephen Amell: Superhero fitness is an illusion. Stephen Amell has talked about how he can't even look at bread or beer when he's staying in shape for ARROW and that he has to constantly work out for specific shots and scenes. I don't need to look like that and Amell's diet and exercise regime sounded too insane to consider. I wouldn't have minded looking like the lean, trim Grant Gustin, but weight control seemed out of my hands; deprivation just led to binging. I couldn't eat less, couldn't exercise more.

Then a subsequent interview with Amell sparked something in me; he talked about how he ingested a large amount of fat and protein for breakfast and then his blood sugar would stay stable right into the afternoon and he wouldn't feel overly hungry and wouldn't overeat. Amell's words hit me when I was spending my evenings of consuming three helpings of lasagna. I realized that while it was important to eat the right things as Jerry O'Connell did, there was also an aspect of timing and what I ate in the morning would affect what I wanted to eat later on.

But after a few mornings of getting up an hour earlier to cook bacon and eggs before going to the office, I couldn't keep doing it. I am someone who sleeps later, has time to shower and make coffee and then I'm off to work. Amell's methods would work if I could execute them, but I couldn't.

Grant Gustin: I decided that I would like to look like the Flash. That seemed healthy and achievable. I started doing moderate daily exercise and started measure calories in versus calories out. I tried to make the bulk of my meals ones I cooked myself to avoid all the added sugar in processed foods. This worked to a degree; I lost quite a bit of weight and currently, I feel like I'm a few months away from looking like Barry, but I feel like I've been a few months away from looking like Barry for YEARS.

Every time I get a cold or get upset, I find myself lapsing back into frozen macaroni and cheese or pizza, and when I come out of it, I've regained about half to three-quarters of the poundage I've most recently lost. I recently had a fight with my niece and spent the next four days bleakly eating ice cream.

Bulletproof Coffee: In recent months, I read more of Routh's interviews where he explained that, like Amell, he consumes a large amount of fat first thing in the morning. But he does so in the form of a beverage: he stirs coconut oil extract and butter into a coffee and drinks 400 - 500 calories' worth of fat, preventing hunger pangs later in the day. The coconut oil metabolizes quickly and encourages the brain and body to burn fat instead of sugar and reduces cravings for processed foods.

Traditionally, convincing your body to burn fat instead of sugar is achieved through severe carb restriction for 3 - 4 days, but this high fat coffee supposedly gets your body into this state within a day. I tried this and it helped quite a bit. Whenever I fell into a carb heavy day, I used coconut oil and coffee to reduce the sugar withdrawal symptoms after resuming a healthy diet. This time last year, I was about 80 pounds from Grant Gustin's weight. I'm currently 40 pounds from his weight.

My version of Bulletproof Coffee omits the butter, so it only contains 180 calories per cup instead of the 400 plus. I'm contemplating adding the butter, drinking 400 calories every morning and seeing if that helps me avoid falling back into carbs again, and I also need try a few sugarless pudding recipes to try to replace ice cream in my life.

William Shatner: I find myself thinking about poor William Shatner. Shatner would start each season in shape. However, the low budget of the show meant that Shatner was filming 12 hour days. There was no time off for him to exercise. The producers demanded that he be in perfect shape, but did not supply Shatner with periods between filming to exercise or dieticians to manage his food or trainers to guide him in maintaining his physique. Instead, they fat-shamed him, encouraged him to crash diet. He would starve, binge, not have time to exercise, gain weight.

Also problematic: the Starfleet uniforms he wore were dry cleaned every episode. With each dry cleaning, the peculiar material of the uniforms shrank. The show didn't have the budget to manufacture more than a few for Shatner to wear, so his weight gain would show because his costumes kept getting tighter every week.

Admittedly, nutritional science was not where it is today with Stephen Amell and Brandon Routh and showrunners now know: if they want their leading man to look a certain way, they need to support him with hiring a trainer and a dietician and supply what the dietician stipulates. Even civilians can do fitness on a budget with a fitness tracker to monitor calories burned and a phone app to track how much one has consumed.

Serenity: Anyway. I've tried a lot of stuff and I really think that if I stop using junk food and frozen foods as a crutch for illness or mood swings and stick to cooking my own meals and maintaining my exercise, I will get my body into the shape I want in a few months. There's something to be said for the cost as well: it is a lot cheaper to buy raw foods and cook them than it is to buy frozen, processed products. When I don't buy processed foods, my food costs go down by 60 per cent.

I am struck by how Brandon Routh doesn't see fitness as his job. For him, it's his life. He has talked in interviews about the state of mind that comes with proper exercise and diet. The sense of knowing precisely what your body needs and giving it exactly that and no more and no less. The feeling of controlling not your weight, not your shape, but your health and well-being. The satisfaction of eating what you need and enjoy but not more than what you need and never more than what is good for you. I don't want to be Brandon Routh, but I want that sense of peace.

Re: Random Thoughts

There will be a fourth MATRIX movie by the Wachowski sisters and it will feature Keanu Reeves and Carrie Anne Moss.

Hunnh. The Wachowskis are amazingly talented, but SPEED RACER, CLOUD ATLAS and JUPITER ASCENDING were all box office disappointments. SENSE8 was cancelled off Netflix but revived for a finale, so it clearly didn't justify ongoing production. There is the sense of the Wachowskis now going back to an old franchise much as Matt Damon staggered back to Jason Bourne and Harrison Ford meandered over to Indiana Jones.

They're great directors, but as writers -- the first MATRIX movie was inspired largely by Grant Morrison's mind-bending, eccentric comic book THE INVISIBLES. The success of the film, however, led to sequels that had none of the perceptual, reality-warping twists of the first movie and offered only bland discussions of predestination and free will. The studio's wish for a summer blockbuster series, sadly, saw all of the Wachowski's reality-oriented storytelling shunted into the ANIMATRIX material. The sequels feel like an empty, pointless afterthought.

It'd be nice if THE MATRIX IV is great, but my view is that the first MATRIX and further explorations of the MATRIX universe with THE ANIMATRIX is all that were ever needed.

Re: Random Thoughts

I was reflecting on Tracy Torme's "Slide Effects" notes and decided to write up my thoughts. And, because I love pastiching my favourite writers, I wrote them up as though they were a review written by Darren Mooney of


Earth 213: On a world where Darren Mooney obsessed over Sliders instead of The X-Files, Darren reviews "Slide Effects":

The Sliders screenplay, "Slide Effects," is a relatively lean beast.

Quinn wakes up to find himself home. It's 1994; sliding doesn't exist; Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo are alive and well. Only Quinn remembers sliding and the last five seasons and he thinks that he's losing his mind. The scenario is revealed as a Kromagg simulation, the Sliders escape and slide off to new adventures.

It is a direct and focused story, tightly plotted in a way Sliders so singularly wasn't throughout its run, and that focus is both to its credit and a major flaw.

Scattered Attention
Sliders always seemed to struggle to map out a clear direction or identity for itself. Threads like the FBI searching for the Sliders or the Professor's son never amounted to anything. This problem was most obvious in Season 4 as Marc Scott Zicree, Bill Dial and David Peckinpah rewrote the mythology from one story to the next.

All the elements introduced in "Genesis" with the Kromaggs setting a trap for Quinn were dismissed with a line of dialogue in "Mother and Child." Freeing Earth Prime was reduced to a footnote in "Revelations" and "Strangers and Comrades." Even "Requiem," a story presumably about the fate of Wade Welles, didn't commit to killing her off.

Six Hundred and Seventy Two
In contrast, "Slide Effects" has a very clear idea of where it is going and no room for distractions in its 46 pages of script. This is even more apparent when looking at the original version of "Slide Effects" which is a general yet defined set of 1996-era notes from series co-creator Tracy Torme and a total of 672 words sent to as part of the 2009 interview.

Tracy Torme wrote:
  • A Kromagg follow up.

  • But FOX doesn't want Kromagg show

  • Make it look like it isn't.

  • Title: Possible/Temporary Slide Effects/Slide Effects.

  • Start the episode: it looks like the Sliders got home.

  • Everything is exactly the way it was. It's still even 1994.

  • Extremely surreal.

  • Wade's at Doppler, Rembrandt is working with his agent, the Professor is teaching.

  • Quinn is the only one that remembers sliding. He feels like he's losing his mind.

  • Ryan, Gillian, Sid, Logan, all familiar and important characters are here.

  • Quinn is relentlessly trying to prove to his friends that they actually went sliding.

  • Make it look like its not a Kromagg show. Then bring the Kromaggs back in the end.

From these generalities, Sliders fan writer Ibrahim Ng wrote a 46 page script that reflects the taut, trim plot of the series co-creator. There is no time for exploration or improvisation. Everything in the "Slide Effects" script serves a single purpose: resurrecting Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo and restoring the original premise of the show. This affords "Slide Effects" a purity and energy that was severely lacking in Seasons 3 - 5 as cast members and writers left or lost interest.

Notably, "Slide Effects" is specifically a tribute to Tracy Torme. As a follow-up to the Season 5 cliffhanger, "Slide Effects" noticeably doesn't in any way address the events of "The Seer." And yet, "Slide Effects" resolves everything — and nothing — by offering a bridge from the fifth season back to the second season, and back to the version of Sliders that Tracy Torme built and would want restored.

Every page of the script basks in this thrill of apparent canonicity, in the validation that comes from being a script that originated from the co-creator of the series. The title page of Ng's document declares that "Slide Effects" is "a story by Tracy Torme" and Ng buries his own writing credit in the summary. It's an overture urging fans to accept the subsequent pages as a step above fan fiction or media tie-in novels (not that Sliders has any novels).

"Slide Effects" declares itself canon to Sliders and counts on fans to accept it as such because the plot comes from the series creator and executes his wishes and intentions.

The 46 page script was written in 2011, a time of increasing appetite for legitimacy within fan communities, particularly as it related to licensed products. Perhaps owing to the ever-increasing importance of "the canon" in popular culture, fans expected significance and importance to their media tie-ins.

These expectations of canon come in all shapes and sizes, but they mostly tend to place an emphasis on the "worthiness" of the content for an adult audience. There had to be a sense of weight and heft to Doctor Who audioplays and Star Trek novels in order to justify the audience’s interest and expense, either through being decreed canonical or in being canon in lieu of any other options.

Real Stories versus Fake Stories
It seems likely that the increased attention paid to perceived legitimacy is an extension of this philosophy, insisting that media tie-in producers prove that their content is are worthy of attention and time by making them matter. That legitimacy is reflected in the way "Slide Effects" claims significance through its (passingly) direct involvement by a key figure from the franchise’s history. It is a way to delineate between what is perceived as "real" and what is "fake."

It is a stamp of approval, marking "Slide Effects" as vital to Sliders fans and tangibly essential regardless of its quality or artistic value, although in this case, it was the fan writer and not the creator who labelled "Slide Effects" so.

By Association or Authencity
To be fair, Ng may seek to declare canonicity through a paltry association, but he also makes tremendous effort to assert "Slide Effects" as important through the voices of the characters. The attention given to recreating a print approximation of performances from Jerry O'Connell, Sabrina Lloyd, Cleavant Derricks and John Rhys-Davies is astonishing, detailing the specific intonations and line deliveries of each actor with the script providing not just the words that the actors would speak, but the deliveries and the body language and the acting.

At points, Ng inserts double-hyphens and spaces into Quinn Mallory's dialogue to capture O'Connell's precise pausing and takes the time to describe a scar on the actor's face. The lyricism of Cleavant Derricks' voice is present in Rembrandt with a slight exaggeration that was never in the teleplays but certainly in the performance and it works well in the digital ink of a PDF document. John Rhys-Davies' booming voice can be heard in every line for Arturo. Interestingly, Ng expressed difficulty with writing dialogue for Wade Welles.

Ibrahim Ng wrote:

I watched "As Time Goes By" and "The Guardian" for Quinn's voice, I watched "The King is Back" to get Cleavant's intonations, I watched "Eggheads" for John's measured tone and also his annoyance. I wrote all the dialogue in the script with whatever sentiments and plot details were needed, then I went back and started rewriting each line for each actor, although I barely had to change anything for Quinn and Professor Arturo.

Rembrandt, I was careful with. I was worried that he might seem a racist caricature. I focused on trying to make him the most normal member of the group with a normal person's reactions to everything, filtered through Cleavant's comedic sensibilities.

But I couldn't get Wade's voice in my head; I couldn't quite identify what made her lines or line deliveries distinct. I needed more of Sabrina Lloyd's voice, so I ordered a DVD of her movie Universal Signs in which she's a lead, thinking I could listen to her voice with my eyes shut and then hear Wade through her. The DVD arrived and it was a silent movie with no spoken dialogue, so I had to go back to the drawing board. Eventually, I found the film Dopamine and identified that Sabrina had a certain open gentleness in her performance, but also an open defiance in crisis or conflict.

It was really important to get all the voices right because if you can read the dialogue and hear the actors saying it as you read it, the script seems genuine and real.

Altered Purpose
That is wise, because despite "Slide Effects" being a supposedly faithful adaptation of Tracy Torme's story idea, the "Slide Effects" screenplay makes a noticeable divergence from the creator's intentions. "Slide Effects" as a 46 page script is a story featuring the return of the original cast and clearing away the events of Seasons 3, 4 and 5. It does not seek to resolve the Kromagg/human war or liberate Earth Prime or split the Quinns, but those events are clearly central to "Slide Effects" devoting its pages to stepping back from these developments and declaring them to be "possible futures" that are not the actual future of the original Sliders.

It is a gratifying, earnest, emotional story that offers relief and comfort to the fans, but it is also clearly not what Tracy Torme conceived for this story.

Original Purpose
Ng has given his own separate account of receiving the "Slide Effects" plot. Torme shared it with him in an informal online conversation via instant messaging in 2000, shortly after the cancellation of the series.

Ibrahim Ng wrote:

I asked him how he would resolve the cliffhanger of "The Seer." Torme said he preferred not even knowing what the cliffhanger was; he hadn't watched the show since Season 3 and didn't want to. Production sent him scripts for Seasons 4 and 5; he put them away and didn't even open the envelopes because he knew reading them would just make him angry. So — I asked him what he would do if he had one more episode of Sliders.

He said he'd open with Quinn waking up in his bedroom, time rewound to the Pilot. All the original Sliders are home, time's been reset to before sliding and only Quinn remembers it. The entire scenario turns out to be a Kromagg trick along with every episode after Torme left the show, so everything after "The Guardian" is erased.

"Slide Effects" doesn't actually wrap up the Season 3 - 5 plots and the reason why is clear: Tracy Torme had no idea what those plots were nor was he interested in finding out, nor could he have had advance knowledge of episodes from 1997 - 2000 when conceiving this outline in 1996. Torme's story was in no way designed to resurrect the Sliders from their deaths or reverse the Kromagg invasion of Earth or the merging of the Quinns.

Instead, Torme's plot was focused on creating a pitch for a second Kromagg episode that would not explicitly mention the Kromaggs when pitching it to the Kromagg-averse FOX Network. FOX would have refused to approve any Kromagg story. But they might have approved a pitch that asked: what if the Sliders find that time has been rewound to the Pilot? And what if only Quinn remembers sliding? Their approval would have allowed Torme to push the story into production with the Kromaggs revealed only at the end at which point FOX would have been obligated to air it.

Torme had no familiarity with the latter seasons, had no interest in watching them, and no version of "Slide Effects" scripted by Torme would have hinged upon confronting those latter seasons in any fashion.

As such, there is something quite endearing watching Ng struggle within a pre-existing plot to achieve aims for which it was never intended. In spite of its adulterated origins, there is a clarity to "Slide Effects" that resounds. There is no parallel Earth explored in this script: it's set on Earth Prime and the only parallel universe that features, a world where verbal communication was stigmatized against, is referred two only in a few lines of dialogue. Everything else is very consciously building towards the Kromagg explanation for Seasons 3 - 5 and how those episodes fit within the larger tapestry of Sliders continuity while ensuring that Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo are front and center.

At times, the story can feel truly overstuffed with the sheer quantity of plot content in "Slide Effects." It addresses the Kromagg invasion, the dead characters, the Kromagg Prime backstory and even throws in addressing the question of which Professor slid, none of which was ever intended by Torme's plot.

Three Visions, One Story
Compounding the issue, there is the simple fact that Sliders was effectively three radically different television shows during its five season run. The first two seasons were an anthology series akin to The Outer Limits and The Twilight Zone, albeit with a regular cast. The third season was a horror-action series. The fourth and fifth were a studio-bound cable action series. Any follow-up has to address these discontinuities and this is the biggest challenge that Ng faces with "Slide Effects."

Is the script to reconcile the different aspects of the show? Or will it put one above the others? When it comes to scripting a follow-up or sequel, how does one decide constitutes the "real" version of the show? It seems a fool’s errand to try to fashion them into a cohesive arc. As such, "Slide Effects" faces a considerable handicap.

37 Lives
In order to fit all of these details together, Ng offers an explanation with careful setup, so much so that it feels like his 46 pages exist to rewrite the series rather than expanding or continuing its story. The explanation is that Seasons 3 - 5 were the amalgamated experiences of 37 Quinn doubles, each with disparate and contradictory experiences in sliding, and with the the most traumatic experiences brought to the forefront. This is why Seasons 3 - 5 showed the Sliders dying one by one with any discrepancies declared to be the result of merging 37 lives into a single Quinn's story.

It is a very dismissive approach to a complicated mythology, separating Seasons 1 - 2 from 3 - 5 and declaring last three seasons to be other Sliders' problem and no business of the 'real' Sliders.

Simplified Shorthand
The emphasis on recategorizing the history of Sliders finds "Slide Effects" employing a sort of shorthand in its invocations towards the past. There are references to the Kromaggs and allusions to their shapeshifting, but no acknowledgement of how their appearances were revised for Season 4.

The script is careful to describe an "Invasion" era Kromagg with no further comment on the matter. There is no concern raised that the Rembrandt of the possible futures, the Rembrandt of "The Seer," remains without resolution in his arc. There is no direct acknowledgement of the Professor's terminal illness in "The Guardian" which this Professor could still develop.

In fact, the script for "Slide Effects" sharply diverges from the notes and Torme's wishes in two areas: the point at which the Kromagg simulation began is altered from "The Guardian" as intended to "As Time Goes By" in the script. The script also omits Logan St. Clair, a clear effort to avoid her and the Professor’s illness without even referring to either.

This simplification is not necessarily a bad thing. Ng draws from the most iconic and recognisable elements of Sliders that haunt the show’s five season run. All the Season 3 - 5 regulars appear in "Slide Effects," but as imagery created by a Kromagg's telepathic powers creating illusions instead of in-character and in-person, which really helps to keep the story tight. Perhaps anything more would weigh the story down. This efficiency also helps to declutter the mythology somewhat. Seasons 3 - 5 were dominated by unresolved plots. "Slide Effects" is centered on the original cast, but it can seem somewhat self-serving.

Even as a potential Season 4 premiere, the plot alone is a way to for Torme to assert that only his tenure on the show is the 'real' version of Sliders and that any episodes aired during his departure are doubles and alternates. Ng's script pages magnify this with dialogue specifically to indicate those futures that aired on FOX and the Sci-Fi Channel could never happen to these versions of Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo, the one, true Sliders. 

As self-flattering as that might be, there is still something endearingly open-minded in the grudging notion that Seasons 3 - 5 still remain valid with infinite versions of the Sliders out there, some of whom resemble or are the versions we saw in the last three years of the show.

A Tangled Web We Weave
As "Slide Effects" weaves through three years of Sliders continuity, it feels almost like continuity porn. At the halfway mark, Ng stops using Torme's "Slide Effects" plot to tell a story, but as a means to retroactively “tidy up” storylines that everyone (from broadcaster to viewer) would rather forget.

I’m a bit wishy-washy on the issue continuity – I don’t believe that basic continuity excludes an audience, but I don’t believe that it makes for a good story crutch. It’s nice to build on what came before, but exposition and elaboration over events that happened in the past are unnecessary at the best of times.

Including a throwaway line which explains that Arturo likes Jeopardy adds personality and doesn’t detract from the story at hand. On the other hand, devoting 23 pages of a 46 page script to explaining how every crazy event in the Sliders history was the result of a Kromagg plan kills momentum and would have likely confused viewers if this script as Ibrahim Ng writes it had ever been filmed.

I’ve argued before and I’ll argue again that this focus on specific minutia is damaging to science fiction television, playing to diehard fans and locking out a general audience.

Not Recommended
If a kid asked me to recommend a Sliders episode and I had them read "Slide Effects," I can assure you that they’d probably never go near the show again again in their life. "Slide Effects" isn’t intended as an episode for new viewers. It’s for fans who know their episodes inside out and that is in stark contradiction to Tracy Torme's plot which made this story a season premiere, an introduction for new viewers by taking them back to the beginning of the show.

Television shows make mistakes. Frequently. Unlike with movie series featuring James Bond or Batman, TV writers generally can't just reboot after a mistake. They have to work around the mistake that they’ve made in order to steer the story in a worthwhile direction. Even in comic books, Batman's abrasive personality is revealed as a nervous breakdown and Green Lantern becoming a mass murderer is explained as his being possessed by a primordial fear demon.

Don't Dwell
However, I don’t see the benefit to anyone in dwelling on those mistakes or seeking to waste valuable time addressing gaps that nobody cares about. I’ll bet Sliders fans would have been glad to see the end of those particular storylines, and certainly didn’t want to see them again – and would have been just as happy if "Slide Effects" were the more character-oriented, introductory, general audience script that Tracy Torme would have wanted.

Move On
Killing Arturo was a mistake. Making Quinn a mythical chosen one in an interdimensional war was a poor choice. Dispatching Wade was a wrong turn. Feeling that Sliders was out-of-touch with an 18 - 25 audience, FOX tried to clean out the cast. They turned Quinn Mallory into a sociopathic action star, introduced Maggie Beckett and had the Sliders' frame of reference with the audience -- Earth Prime -- turned into a Kromagg outpost.

All of this could have been forgotten even and especially with a more faithful version of the "Slide Effects" plot, filmed and aired as a season premiere. It could have been implied that Seasons 3 - 5 were part of the Kromagg scenario without being overt. Those seasons were in the past, best forgotten about. After all, we don’t spend a few hours everyday remarking on how stupid parachute pants were – we just don’t wear them anymore. Life moves on.

A Wizard Did It
"Slide Effects" makes a valiant attempt to retroactively “fix” bad decisions. And, in fairness, the detailed replays of Season 3 - 5 episodes are the right maneuver to attempt something like that. "Slide Effects" writes off those seasons as not “really” being the Sliders adventures but the adventures of their doubles. If you’ve watched The Simpsons, you’ll recognise that he’s pretty much saying “a wizard did it” – which is just lazy writing.

However, that’s not the problem. The problem is that "Slide Effects" spends half its length explaining to us exactly which wizard did what. Quinn's out of character behaviour towards a captured Wade in "Mother and Child"? Quinn subconsciously didn't believe in the situation; any subsequent jerkiness was the result of his detaching from the Kromagg simulation. "I stopped believing in the life you gave me." Rembrandt suddenly having a Navy background? It came from the false Arturo's memories and was folded into Quinn's amalgamated timeline. "You got sloppy," says Quinn. "You combined my life in ways that didn't make sense."

Perhaps I’m reading too much into this, but it does bother me. It’s exactly the kind of insular continuity obsession that the alienates mainstream viewers from science fiction and fantasy television. Anyone reading my reviews of say, The X-Files, will know that I have enough problems with storylines dependent on contradictory references to past episodes to make sense. Here the storyline is dependent on fragments from three seasons of Sliders. I’m not interested in the the scheme of a master villain which exists in the form of a convoluted set of plots for a troubled TV show.

Storytelling Sacrifices
As much as "Slide Effects" feels tighter and focused than the three seasons that preceded it, it also feels like it sacrifices a lot of storytelling opportunities. In order to condense Torme's plot and addressing all the unresolved arcs down to 46 pages, Ng has to make a number of storytelling sacrifices and cut off a number of promising ideas at their root. There are any number of clever premises at work in "Slide Effects" that the script rushes past in order to get to that final confrontation between the Sliders and the Kromagg agent.

Arcs Untouched
The most obvious of these forsaken premises is the very idea of Quinn remembering sliding where no one else does. The possibility of building a whole character arc around Quinn finding himself home and trying to rebuild sliding is intriguing. There is something dramatic and compelling about Quinn having to decide whether or not he might want to slide again and whether or not he should bring his friends with him on this second effort or leave them home and safe.

In addition, even within the first two seasons of Sliders, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo had changed significantly. By resetting the clock back to the Pilot, "Slide Effects" invites them to contemplate whether or not their character development has been worth their nomadic and homeless situation in the multiverse. The script fails to delve into these questions, leaving the premise of the Sliders finding themselves home somewhat underexplored.

Rush to Reset
The abbreviated length of "Slide Effects" undercuts its own premise significantly. There is no sense of Quinn struggling with finding himself home only to lose it again. Earth Prime is established in a single page of script that exists primarily to have Quinn quote Mallory's final line from "The Seer" and realize that he is home. The confrontation between the Sliders and the Kromagg pays no mind to the characters' development between the Pilot and "As Time Goes By" and is strictly concerned with the traumas of Seasons 3, 4 and 5. "Slide Effects" never fully capitalises on the potential of its plot, rushing towards a reset instead of exploring the characters' mindsets.

There are other issues with this compressed pace. Most obviously, every Slider who isn't Quinn Mallory feels like something of a passenger across the arc. Wade's role is to send Quinn to a therapist; Rembrandt contributes nothing to the story beyond being part of the quartet and making numerous funny remarks. Both are granted little time to develop their own agendas or motivations. The Professor leads the charge in exposition, but aside from that, only Quinn Mallory seems to have any real agency.

No Soft Sell
In fact, there are a whole host of ideas that are broached and ignored. The Kromagg declares the Earth Prime illusion to be a gift of what the Sliders want most, their heart's desire — and the emotional cost of rejecting it is never discussed except in a joke from Rembrandt. In fact, the idea of a softer sell with the Kromagg tempting the Sliders with the choice to stay in the illusion in exchange for helping the Kromaggs invade the real Earth Prime never comes up at all, an odd lapse for these master manipulators.

No Reason
The rationale behind the Kromagg deliberately forcing Quinn to endure the most traumatic experiences of 37 Quinn doubles is also strangely non-existent. The desired outcome is clear: "Slide Effects" seeks to acknowledge Seasons 3 - 5 but then write them away. But the Kromagg telepathically inflicting Seasons 3 - 5 on Quinn is in direct contradiction to the Kromagg's stated mission: to give Quinn and friends happy memories of Earth Prime to spur them to stop sliding randomly and find a way to locate their home coordinates so that their homecoming would be followed by a Kromagg invasion fleet.

It's at this point that Ibrahim Ng's effort to rework Tracy Torme's 672 word story idea into a resurrection for the original Sliders shows its greatest strain. The plot from Torme only highlighted the Earth Prime in 1994 scenario as part of the Kromagg simulation. Ng attempts to extend that to every Sliders episode after Season 2 and Torme's framework stretches at the seams with the effort to contain far more than it was ever meant to hold.

This is where Ng's attention to the post-Torme episodes begins to work against Torme's intentions. Likely, had Torme's "Slide Effects" aired as a Season 4 premiere, any dismissal of previous episodes would have been done without specific references to the past, a level of vagary that Ng's script cannot countenance in its wish for closure.

Bait and Switch
But despite seemingly offering closure, "Slide Effects"' final pages work against any sense of an ending, instead leaving off with an extension of the original status quo: Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo are still lost, still exploring the multiverse, still searching for a way back home — albeit without the threat of the Kromaggs or the Earth Prime invasion or Logan St. Clair pursuing them or the Professor dying from a fatal disease.

Readers could be forgiven for being surprised when "Slide Effects" declares itself to be a new beginning for a new run of Sliders episodes that will never be written. Sliders was not good at endings and even "Slide Effects" offers an amusing nod to this tendency.

Non-Ending Ending
In a very real way, "Slide Effects" might just be the most satisfying non-ending ending to Sliders ever written. There is a quick glimpse of episodes from Seasons 3 - 5 as as the Sliders peer across the myriad realities, but the story effectively ends with the original Sliders resurrected (having never been dead or separated). The trauma of Seasons 3 - 5 is vivid and compelling and the resolution to the emotions if not the plot points is cathartic and comforting. Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo are heralded as the true, core, original Sliders and presented with heartrending sincerity.

And three years of TV episodes are effectively erased, treated as more of the alternate realities that were so central to the larger mythology of Sliders, serving to offer a glimpse of a framework into which multiple versions of the canon might possibly be integrated.

One Step Forward, One Step Back
Meanwhile, the Sliders end the story with resuming their nomadic search for home, precisely where they were at the end of Season 2. No lasting harm has been done, but no progress has been made. It is certainly a kinder fate than what later seasons offered and, in contrast to those seasons, a stirring and joyful coda while in no way a conclusion.

To be fair, this seems to be the point. Ng seems to argue that the Sliders traveling endlessly on amazing adventures is the happiest way to leave them while ruefully observing that compared to death and body horror, interdimensional homelessness is merciful.

It is a wry and self-aware non-ending ending, one that acknowledges Sliders as a truncated and abbreviated TV series in its first two seasons that has been overshadowed by where the last three seasons chose to venture.

The Officially Hypothetical Series Finale
All of this makes "Slide Effects" rather unique in the context of Sliders. This is a fan fiction screenplay that is also a story from the original co-creator of the series. It exists exclusively for the purpose of wrapping up arcs that were left unfinished yet the only wrap-up it presumes to offer is sentiment, distance and reversal.

Ultimately, it serves as a version of Sliders that is what Tracy Torme would want. It presents a restoration that Torme may have contemplated but may not have settled upon. And even if Torme had chosen this route, no Torme script would have been as continuity-oriented as this screenplay.

Modern Day
"Slide Effects" is short and rushed and is less authentic than it presents itself in its conception and creation. These are serious issues.

However, the story is genuine and heartfelt and provides a convincing depiction of all four Sliders and presents their friendship as overcoming all odds. The narrative also feels a lot tighter and more constrained than the stories it seeks to resolve. These storytelling sacrifices allow "Slide Effects" to build both plotting and emotional momentum as it rushes towards the finish line and it leaves the reader's fondness for Sliders as redeemed and restored along with the Sliders themselves.

From this perspective, it feels like "Slide Effects" is the kind of story that many fans and critics would expect from an entry-level season premiere as it lays the previous season(s) to rest, reaffirms the concept of the show, and clears the slate for a new run of adventures.

In that respect, this 2011 screenplay adaptation of a 1996 story idea is a very modern type of Sliders story.

266 (edited by ireactions 2019-09-03 11:16:35)

Re: Random Thoughts

[removed at Transmodiar's behest]

Re: Random Thoughts

Normally I don't give a shit when you talk about me at length, but I'm not interested in discussing my writing process here, or having my writing process discussed. Thanks.

I will say this, however - my process always involves mapping out the story with outlines. Sometimes multiple outlines. You've seen some of them. So I don't know why you would suggest otherwise.

His sense of cause, effect, response and result is solid, building to a SHOCKING REVEAL, but he writes scripts without knowing what that reveal is and without that devised in advance, the plot is not as complete as he seems to think it is.

I don't build to shocking reveals, I build to escalation - every act break should have intensified the action over the prior one. Any TV screenwriter would agree with this basic premise - and have told me as such.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

Re: Random Thoughts

I apologize and will stick to criticizing myself and works that have been posted publicly.

Thank you for always having been a good friend and teacher.


I like women. I like reading stories about strong, stalwart women. One of my favourite writers for such characters was Brian Wood, a comic book author accused of sexual harassment in 2013 at which point I banned myself from buying his work. The accusations from female artists in 2013 didn't seem to affect his career as Wood was hired by Marvel to write an all-women X-MEN comic. Recently again in 2019, there was a new accuser, a comic book journalist, who detailed Wood preying on her and affirmed the previous accusers. As a result, Wood's current publisher, Dark Horse, severed all ties with him and Wood is unlikely to work again in comics. It's about time.

It confuses me that a man whose writing had such regard and respect for women engaged in such predatory behaviour towards them.

TRANSMODIAR: "Death of the author, good sir!"

My friend Kara once said to me, "You have a type, Ib! You like women who are strong. Confident. And kind of weird." Wood's comics were filled with such women, women who would have punched Wood in the throat had he:

(a) Invited them into hotel bedrooms despite him being married with a child
(b) Continued to press them for sex even after they'd refused to have an affair with somebody's husband
(c) Accosted them the next day and screamed at them for declining sex.
(d) Responded by falsely telling their employers that they had sex with him in a stockroom at their workplace and getting them fired
(e) Forced them to kiss him
(f) Deluged them in texts soliciting them for sex

I was disgusted and ashamed at the accusations and of Wood's tepid response where he chose one accuser, confirmed that he'd "made a pass" and then forgotten it, while carefully avoiding any acknowledgement that there were multiple women who'd come out against him. It was clear from Wood's non-response that he had done all of these things and rather than confess, apologize and commit to penance and reparations, he largely ignored his victims and carried on.

I can't bring myself to throw out his comics, although I haven't put a penny in his pocket since 2013.

I wonder if the comics he wrote are a lie and he didn't actually believe in his characters.

I don't know, but it continues to trouble me because Wood's writing was a huge part of making me realize my own appalling behaviour towards women. I discovered his writing after grad school, and putting myself in his female leads' heads made me realize that my condescending, intrusive, grossly disrespectful communication would have had Wood's female characters put a boot through my testicles. I never engaged in Wood's specific behaviour, but I made inappropriate remarks because I didn't understand how to flirt, I would entangle myself in class projects with women I was interested in whether they wanted me to be there or not, I would follow women around campus and stare at them blankly and tongue-tied and I thought myself inept and harmless.

Then I read Brian Wood's comics. They featured women battling unwanted overtures, seeing through shallow come-ons, defying harassment and standing up to men who saw them as possessions. His writing showed how behaviour like mine could be threatening, disturbing, unnerving, distracting and harmful. His work made me realize what I'd been doing and would never do again. Also around this era, I joined a bunch of book clubs with women describing harassing, predatory behaviour which I recognized in myself and stopped, but Wood was the initial catalyst. Most of my friends these days are women. That wouldn't have happened without Wood's writing.

I've often thought that autobiographies can lie but fiction reveals authors whole. Wood's fiction lies, suggesting a compassion, empathy and respect for women that he plainly didn't live by even as he wrote it. Transmodiar once described me as writing in "a fugue state," making me wonder if as a writer, Wood adopted a better persona that he couldn't maintain in real life.

Informant would say that Brian Wood's self-aware wokeness was an act because all self-aware wokeness is an act. But that can't be totally true, can it?

I'm not going to pretend that I didn't 'act' when I stopped being a harasser. It was not natural for me to befriend women strictly as platonic associates. It was not natural for me to decide that I would no longer fantasize about my female friends, not even in the privacy of my own head. It was not natural for me to encourage them to treat me as one of the girls. I acted against my natural/worst impulses because I knew that if I kept behaving the way I used to, I would always be alone and never have the friends I wanted to have.

The act became second-nature. I recently said to an actress friend, "You're a beautiful woman. It means nothing. Beauty is just skill and maintenance, but you shouldn't feel insecure about your appearance in auditions." I recently had a coldly technical discussion with a platonic friend about her sex toys and recommended a specific oil to maintain the motor. I took a friend bra shopping and remarked only on the markup.

I used to have to rehearse for such situations, but what was second nature is now my nature. If I'm on a date, I might not maintain that vacancy of sexuality, but all my friends are women and I know that sexual coldness matched with social warmth will put them at ease. It comes naturally, it isn't an act, but I don't deny it started that way. You fake who you want to be until that's who you really are. I remade myself into someone who would be accepted by Brian Wood's fictional women; those fictional women would be ashamed of their author.

But what if Informant's right about Brian Wood? Did the comics somehow filter out his abusive, harassing traits because (a) that would be unpublishable and (b) he was concealing his predatory behaviour from a general audience by stripping it out of his fiction? Before 2013, I felt relief from thinking about Brian Wood's writing because he'd saved me from continuing or expanding on my misdeeds. I could have easily become a serial harasser or worse, entitled and cruel and prone to reprisals. I felt gratitude towards him. Now I feel sickened by him.

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Came across this while traveling recently, and thought it was pretty cool (even from a Sliders perspective):

Strangely enough, it was in the gift shop of The Hall of Justice: … /25939883/

Turns out that the Superfriends Hall of Justice is a real place.  The company that owned Hanna Barbera animation was based out of Cincinnati in the 70’s, and Joe Barbera used Union Terminal as the inspiration.

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That's neat. $170 is a bit much for a paperweight, though. That said, Tracy Torme used empty pizza boxes and Chinese food cartons to hold down his sheets and stacks in his office, so maybe there's something for going high end. :-)

TF, in your road trips, have you ever been to Metropolis? I feel like you would.

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Nah.  New York is on the list, but only made it as far as Philadelphia so far.

I’ve driven and seen about 2/3’s of the U.S. at this point.  Made a good tour of Los Angeles back in 2014, and saw the new facades on the Universal backlot during the VIP tour.  I figured out where the Chandler used to be (no one on the tour could tell me), and they built back a facade that looks like a more detailed, updated version of the Chandler; but it’s strangely on the opposite corner of where it used to be. It’s like someone flipped the blueprint.

What was most interesting to me was some of the films that used Sliders areas in their movies.  In Captain America: The First Avenger, the street Steve runs down after his transformation is a redressed version of the street the Chandler was on.  The same for the scene in The Amazing Spider-man where Andrew Garfield watches Uncle Ben get shot.  One of the areas used in Heavy Metal was used for the scene where Johnny Depp and Orlando Bloom sword fight near the start of the first Pirates of the Caribbean movies.

We see where the Sliders walked all the time and don’t realize it.

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One of my favourite shows is CHUCK (2007) which I think of in some ways as QUINN MALLORY: THE SERIES. CHUCK is a spy show about college dropout Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi of SHAZAM), a tech support worker at a big box electronics store. His brain is accidentally transformed into a CIA-NSA supercomputer containing all government secrets. Thrust into the world of constant spy missions with his CIA handler Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) and his NSA bodyguard Casey (Alec Baldwin), the combat-incapable Chuck must balance a life of espionage with a life of retail.

All the while, he must manage his anxiety disorder, his crippling lack of self-esteem after flunking out of school, his severe depression that has trapped him in a dead-end job, his lack of career prospects, his non-existent romantic life and an endless stream of life threatening situations for which he has neither training nor experience.

Looking at CHUCK from a SLIDERS lens, CHUCK asks: what if Quinn got kicked out of Berkeley and got stuck at Doppler Computers working for Hurley? What if his gifts for engineering and quantum mechanics were dented so severely that Quinn didn't emerge from fixing computers for slightly above minimum wage? He'd probably turn out exactly like Chuck, whom the geeky and troubled Zachary Levi plays with perfection as someone who has great talent and vision but has buried it under so much grief, anxiety, loneliness and self-loathing that he has forgotten he ever had any.

From a production and tone standpoint, CHUCK is reminiscent of SLIDERS. Lasting for five seasons, the first three years balanced a JAMES BOND level of spy movie action lunacy of helicopter stunts, car chases, explosions, insane gun battles -- all of this blockbuster widescreen action intercut with the siuation comedy antics of the Buy More (a distaff Best Buy). CHUCK's greatest asset is contrasting Chuck crashing into skyscrapers as gunfire follows him with Chuck wilting before angry customers at the store.

Like SLIDERS, CHUCK was a victim of circumstance, but unlike SLIDERS, CHUCK was lucky. CHUCK saw its first season truncated from 22 to 13 episodes due to the 2007 - 2008 writers strike. CHUCK lost ratings momentum in its second season. But CHUCK benefitted from NBC experiencing a vacuum of programming while CHUCK was on the air due to NBC having trouble filling numerous timeslots. As NBC couldn't show dead air, they renewed CHUCK for a third, fourth and fifth season, although Season 3 was 19 episodes. Season 4 had 24 episodes, Season 5 had 13 episodes. There was a total of 91 episodes over five years.

CHUCK's renewals came at a cost: the budget was slashed by a portion in Season 3 that saw some of the recurring guest stars cut from the cast, but the showrunners maintained the same contrasting tone of a JAMES BOND film for Chuck's spy life and a COMMUNITY style tone for Chuck's retail troubles.

Seasons 4 - 5, however, saw CHUCK's budget sliced to the point where it was like the Sci-Fi Channel years of SLIDERS -- yet, CHUCK handled this well. With Season 3, Chuck had become a much more competent spy; Seasons 4 - 5 saw the sitcom humour of the retail store now integrated into Chuck's now lower-budgeted spy adventures set on standing and interior sets rather without the lavish location filming of the past.

From a characterization standpoint, CHUCK showed the journey that SLIDERS never completed with Quinn Mallory. In Season 1, Chuck is painfully inept at spy life and loses every fight. Missions only succeed because Chuck's handlers save him and the supercomputer in Chuck's brain gives him vital information at the last second. In Season 2, Chuck discovers that his bungling adventures have been recorded as triumphant to the point where Chuck's false identity, "Charles Carmichael," is considered to be a renowned superspy in the espionage community.

In Seasons 3 and 4, Chuck begins to live up to his reputation and uses his brain's supercomputer to help him complete missions. In Season 5, Chuck loses the supercomputer and is reduced to being a normal person -- except that after four years, his ability to think on his feet, improvise and react has made him a spectacular spy even without the supercomputer. CHUCK also had a magnificently budgeted Season 5 finale, a series finale that brought back the Bond scale action of Seasons 1 - 3 and ended the show in fine fashion.

Two moments that jump out at me as particularly Quinn Mallory-esque -- in the Pilot's opening scenes, Chuck's retail shop warns of an impending influx of customers with computers hit by a processor-melting virus spread by an erotic site. In the climax of the Pilot, Chuck is desperate to stop a computer-controlled bomb before it blows him up; he has the computer visit the site to download the virus and melt the processor. In Season 4, Chuck finds himself next to a nuclear warhead about to blow. He realizes that it was designed for a submarine and rigged to shut down if exposed to salty sea water due to a breach in the missile casing or the sub itself. He pours apple juice on the warhead and it detects the sodium-salt in the juice and freezes its detonation sequence.

The most striking comparison between CHUCK and SLIDERS: CHUCK's fans campaigned relentlessly for its continued existence. The show spoke to a small but loyal audience who saw themselves in Chuck Bartowski. After Season 2 saw the show on the verge of cancellation, CHUCK fans reached out to an NBC sponsor, Subway Sandwiches and led a campaign for renewal that highlighted how Subway product placement in CHUCK could make the show economically renewable.

CHUCK lead actor Zachary Levi led groups of the show's fans to Subway sandwich stores, rallying to draw attention to the show and encourage Subway to heighten their sponsorship -- while also raising money from fans for the American Heart Association. Levi endeared himself to the fanbase and fostered a mutual love between himself and viewers that would see CHUCK fans follow Levi to any project, and Levi did not (to my knowledge) force any talentless family members into leading roles on CHUCK.

In some parallel universe, SLIDERS would have been given the same love and care that CHUCK received from its creators and leading man.

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The other day, the series finale of Preacher aired.  I watched the whole series, and I'm still not entirely sure how much I liked the show.  I'm pretty sure I never looked forward to it, but I'm also fairly certain I enjoyed the show far more times than I didn't.  I know the show could've been better and less meandery, but I'm also not 100% sure what I'd go back and change.  It's a show that didn't take itself seriously but sometimes didn't go far enough.  It's a show that knew what it was but never seemingly tried to be better.

It's a show I watched week to week for it's whole run, but I don't think I'll ever revisit it.  It's an odd show to think about, but I think I liked it.

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If you didn't look forward to it, why did you watch it? I have to ask myself the same question about 13 REASONS WHY. My niece once noted that after every season of the show, I become oddly vindictive and vengeful.

These days, if it's not as lighthearted as FAR FROM HOME or AQUAMAN, I tend not to go for it which unfortunately causes me to miss out on some of the most groundbreaking and important TV and film productions. Temporal Flux quite correctly protested the idea of a SLIDERS reboot going to the NBC and its light comedy house style, and yet, I must confess that NBC style light comedy like BROOKLYN NINE NINE is as dark as I ever want to go. I have real life for grimdark. (Sorry, Informant. I shall dedicate my life to finding another word.)

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Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

The other day, the series finale of Preacher aired.  I watched the whole series, and I'm still not entirely sure how much I liked the show.  I'm pretty sure I never looked forward to it, but I'm also fairly certain I enjoyed the show far more times than I didn't.  I know the show could've been better and less meandery, but I'm also not 100% sure what I'd go back and change.  It's a show that didn't take itself seriously but sometimes didn't go far enough.  It's a show that knew what it was but never seemingly tried to be better.

It's a show I watched week to week for it's whole run, but I don't think I'll ever revisit it.  It's an odd show to think about, but I think I liked it.

Read the comic book.

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

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ireactions wrote:

If you didn't look forward to it, why did you watch it? I have to ask myself the same question about 13 REASONS WHY. My niece once noted that after every season of the show, I become oddly vindictive and vengeful.

I've only quit a show once.  House of Cards.  I got tired of following a terrible human being with no redeemable characters.  Following a bad guy is fine.  I watched the Sopranos and Breaking Bad.  But both of those shows had good guys that you could follow.  Frank always beat the good guys, and more often than not, their lives were ruined or ended.  For season 2, they tried to trick me and have him fight someone worse, and it bothered me too much so I hit the ejection button.  There was no enjoyment in watching.

So I hate-watch a lot of shows.  But I never really hate-watched Preacher - I just was like "oh there's an episode of Preacher that recorded" and I'd watch it when it was time to watch it.  But usually I'd enjoy it and then I'd be like "I'd watch another one of those"

It's kinda like Legends of Tomorrow.  I think it's my least favorite of the Arrowverse shows, but I enjoy it every time I watch it.

Transmodiar wrote:

Read the comic book.

I have the first TBP.  I've been meaning to read it for a long time.  I think I even started reading it.  Now's probably a good time to get back to it.

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Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

I have the first TBP.  I've been meaning to read it for a long time.  I think I even started reading it.  Now's probably a good time to get back to it.

It's well worth it - same with "The Boys."

Earth Prime | The Definitive Source for Sliders™

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That's probably my next TPB.  I had a lot of fun with that series (even though I know the book has quite a few differences)

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Slider_Quinn21 wrote:
ireactions wrote:

If you didn't look forward to it, why did you watch it? I have to ask myself the same question about 13 REASONS WHY. My niece once noted that after every season of the show, I become oddly vindictive and vengeful.

I hate-watch a lot of shows.  But I never really hate-watched Preacher - I just was like "oh there's an episode of Preacher that recorded" and I'd watch it when it was time to watch it.  But usually I'd enjoy it and then I'd be like "I'd watch another one of those"

It's kinda like Legends of Tomorrow.  I think it's my least favorite of the Arrowverse shows, but I enjoy it every time I watch it.

I probably didn't communicate my point well. I am of the unpopular opinion that 13 REASONS WHY is a good show that deals with difficult subject matter well. However, I find that it makes me angry towards every single person in my life who ever behaved like the bullies on 13 REASONS WHY. 13 REASONS WHY doesn't make me happy. It triggers me severely. BROOKLYN NINE NINE, in contrast, makes me a lot more patient and tolerant of others because Captain Holt's superhuman tolerance for Jake Peralta's antics is to be admired.

But I do think 13 REASONS WHY is really, really good and I keep watching it because the craft of its writing, performances and production are compelling.


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Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

I've only quit a show once.  House of Cards.

Man I wish I could do that. Completism is a curse hmm

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Yeah I'm still that way 99% of the time.  But if I'm having exactly no fun watching a show, I've found an ability to bail.

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Just spotted Jerry O'Connell in a Bob Evans sausage commercial

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Some interesting things afoot at DC Comics.  The dam kind of broke on it with the revelation at New York ComicCon of a new official DC timeline to be used in the comics going forward. … line-1999/

The timeline starts in 1939 with Generation 1 - Wonder Woman enters the world stage.

Generation 2 where Superman and Batman enter the world stage.

Generation 3 Crisis on Infinite Earths where we start to see new heroes taking over - like Wally West becoming the Flash.

Generation 4 starts the modern stories from New 52 through Rebirth to now.

The interesting thing is the “now”.   By their new timeline, the stories we’re reading now would be happening in 1999.  That would mean there are 20 years that hasn’t been told yet.

How can this be?  It’s likely going to be the consequences of Doomsday Clock set to finally end in December.  In Doomsday Clock, we’ve discovered that Dr. Manhattan (from Watchmen) entered the DC Universe in 1939 and became fascinated by how history was affected by the heroes.  He took a particular interest in Superman, and Dr. Manhattan began to experiment by altering history to move Superman’s debut further and further ahead in time to see how it would affect each era. … e-timeline

Doomsday Clock #12 in December features the final face off between Superman and Dr. Manhattan which is to likely result in either Manhattan’s defeat or death.  If that happens - is it going to snap the timeline back to what it was supposed to be before Manhattan’s meddling?

Couple this with other reports that next year will see a new Batman with Bruce Wayne believed to be dead but secretly the mentor of the new Batman (ala Batman Beyond). … uce-wayne/

Under the new proposed timeline, Bruce would be in his 80’s.  It matches up if next year sees a 20 year time jump to place DC stories in the new present day.  Looking to be interesting times ahead for DC Comics.

Of course, all of this will end with another line-wide reboot. It’s very unlikely DC would go more than a year without Clark, Bruce, etc in their iconic, younger roles.

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I appreciate that comic book timelines can be important to some fans who want to know how all of Superman and Batman's adventures fit into a clear chronology. But... personally, I don't see how a set timeline for comic books can ever work for numerous practical and creative reasons. And I find DC's attitude to timelines bizarre.

Monthly Comics: A single issue of a comic book will depict maybe a day or two's worth of events at the most. Even when AMAZING SPIDER-MAN was shipping 36 issues a year, one year's worth of comics didn't correlate to one year's worth of time. The entire Dan Slott era took place over 11 years of comics, but I'd see it as two to three years in-universe. And naturally, there's a desire to keep the characters at an age where they're most marketable and likely to be presented in film and TV. This leads to oddities: Superman is often regarded as the first superhero in the DC Universe except his floating timeline calls for him to arrive after all the other superheroes and he keeps meeting General Zod for the 'first' time. Robin went from age 10 to his mid 20s but Batman stayed the same age.

Out of Sync: DC's constant efforts at a set timeline have also created glaring anomalies without the real world passage of time. In 2012, the New 52 declared that Bruce Wayne had only been active as Batman for five years, except he had a TEN YEAR OLD son named Damian after a brief affair with Talia during one of his previous adventures as Batman -- in addition to having seen Dick Grayson go from age 10 to his mid-20s and mentoring Jason Todd, Barbara Gordon, Tim Drake and others during this absurd five year window.

It was later declared that Dr. Geiger had caused this by ripping Quinn out of reality and creating continuity errors across all five seasons of SLIDERS -- I mean, that Dr. Manhattan had caused this by ripping Superman's origin story out of reality and putting it back in at later dates.

Constant Half-Reboots: DC's publishing strategy is also odd: they only ever seem to half-reboot. By this, I mean that after they supposedly restart the DC Universe, DC then features stories with Batman and Superman already established and referring to a new origin story that has often yet to be written. There have been situations such as George Perez writing SUPERMAN and not knowing if Clark's parents were alive or dead, Scott Lobdell writing TEEN TITANS and not knowing if this was the first iteration of the team or the latest in a long line, Gail Simone writing BATGIRL and being unsure if Barbara Gordon had ever been Oracle. Writers would often refer to a pre-reboot story only to later be informed that it was no longer part of the current timeline.

For people who don't normally read comics, imagine if in the middle of STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION's fifth season, STAR TREK's rebootquel is released and now all TNG episodes have to exist within the rebootquel timeline while maintaining the same cast and following up on current storylines as they may or may not exist in the new continuity. That's how DC handles 'reboots' and the confusion invariably calls for another reboot and then another and then another and then another.

With REBIRTH, however, DC seemed to take a different tactic of declaring all past stories canonical and indicating that all contradictions are due to Dr. Manhattan altering history and the original history was reasserting itself -- although this new attitude of yet another timeline seems to run counter to that.

Marvel Method: In contrast, Marvel doesn't seem to worry too much about sorting out its past. It has the exact same problems as DC Comics, but Marvel has declined to reboot and instead addressed the issues with self-awareness, humour, subtlety and charm.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN perpetually implies that all of Spider-Man's adventures between 1963 to 2019 (and onward) happened inside 10 years, but it avoids explicitly declaring how many years each story occupied and doesn't refer to certain stories without necessarily erasing them. For example, Peter and Aunt May rarely discuss how Peter's parents returned and explained that they'd faked their deaths only to be revealed as robot impostors, but that story remains in continuity. Peter says he's been Spider-Man since he was 15 and it's established that he's finished college. Aside from that, time is kept vague.

Retcons Over Reboots: Also, Marvel writers are allowed to reinterpret and alter the past without a cosmic, reality warping explanation. Captain America originally transitioned from WWII into the 1950s with stories of him fighting Communists. The 50s stories were later ignored in favour of the 60s comics showing that Cap had been frozen in ice -- but a 70s comic book revisited the 50s issues by showing that the Cap of the 1950s had been an insane-with-paranoia impostor, acknowledging the 50s comics even as it blatantly wrote them out of the Marvel Universe.

Since then, Cap's backstory has been further reinterpreted: Ed Brubaker wrote flashbacks to WWII where Bucky, once a child sidekick, is now an older assassin. The original comics where Bucky is a little boy? They're referred to as the US Army releasing CAPTAIN AMERICA comic books which offered a kid-friendlier version.

This attitude of writers rewriting certain elements of each character's past is found in nearly every Marvel character. Iron Man, originally injured in World War II, had his origin relocated to Vietnam, then Afghanistan, then Iraq. Recently, the Punisher's backstory was altered so that instead of being a Vietnam veteran, his war was now in a fictitious Asian country. Cap originally defrosted in the 60s; a recent mini-series had him reawakening in the early 2000s.

Immortality: Marvel is also aware of character ages and has some fun with that. Black Widow's debut story shows her as a Cold War era Russian spy who encounters Iron Man. Eventually, it was established that the Black Widow had been genetically engineered to age slow -- which doesn't address how she could have met Iron Man during the 60s if it's 2019 and Tony has only aged 5 - 10 years. Magneto was, at one point in the 70s, was turned into a baby and then restored to adulthood; later stories have indicated that he was left significantly younger than his actual age in order to justify his current youth while being a Holocaust survivor.

Flashbacks: Spider-Man comics also show different attitudes to addressing the past. When stories set during Peter's teens are done, some writers show the late 2000s while others like UNTOLD TALES OF SPIDER-MAN are plainly set in the 1960s with 15-year-old Peter wearing a blue suit, tie and vest to high school classes, and readers are encouraged to enjoy the absurdity of that. Marvel writers are free to choose what works best for them and their story and accept that all this is part of the joy of superhero comics. In contrast, DC often seems embarrassed by how comics can't and won't ever sync up to the passage of time the way film and TV can.

All True: Grant Morrison, when writing BATMAN and BATMAN & ROBIN, took the attitude that every Batman story was canon and happily referred to Ace the Bathound and the like. How to reconcile the radically different characterizations? Morrison had Batman observe that he'd had lighthearted periods in his life, that villains had periods of being less psychotic -- although when flashing back to early stories where Batman executed criminals, Morrison removed such story elements. Sadly, DC opted to curtail this with yet another reboot (the NEW 52) and will likely reboot again.

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I liked the explanation Marvel gave a few years ago - their timeline is reset every 10 years or so, and usually nobody in the Marvel Universe even notices.  The only way to really tell is by looking at the molecules of a cosmic cube. Like the rings on a tree, they gain an electron for every reset.  Currently they’re at 8.

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I did hear that they're doing a Spider-Man story done in "real time" where he actually ages appropriately.

What's funny is that, while everyone loves Bruce as Batman, I think there's a really reasonable and organic timeline that allows Bruce to age and move on.  Bruce is Batman.  Bruce takes in Dick Grayson.  Dick becomes Robin.  Batman and Robin work together.  Dick grows out of Robin and becomes Nightwing.  Bruce takes in Jason Todd.  Jason becomes Robin.  Jason dies.  Bruce goes solo for a while.  Bruce meets Tim Drake and takes him in.  Tim becomes Robin.  Bruce eventually gets hurt or retires, and Dick becomes Batman.  Tim stays on as Robin and Bruce acts as a mentor.  Eventually, Dick retires.  Tim becomes Batman.  Eventually Tim retires and there is no Batman.  Bruce finds Terry McGinnis.  And so on and so on.

At that point, you can keep Bruce around with either something from the Lazarus Pits or as some sort of AI mentor/guide/helper.  I didn't think Bruce was as less compelling person on Batman Beyond because he was old.  It was just the next move for that character.

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Slider_Quinn21 wrote:

I did hear that they're doing a Spider-Man story done in "real time" where he actually ages appropriately.

What's funny is that, while everyone loves Bruce as Batman, I think there's a really reasonable and organic timeline that allows Bruce to age and move on.  Bruce is Batman.  Bruce takes in Dick Grayson.  Dick becomes Robin.  Batman and Robin work together.  Dick grows out of Robin and becomes Nightwing.  Bruce takes in Jason Todd.  Jason becomes Robin.  Jason dies.  Bruce goes solo for a while.  Bruce meets Tim Drake and takes him in.  Tim becomes Robin.  Bruce eventually gets hurt or retires, and Dick becomes Batman.  Tim stays on as Robin and Bruce acts as a mentor.  Eventually, Dick retires.  Tim becomes Batman.  Eventually Tim retires and there is no Batman.  Bruce finds Terry McGinnis.  And so on and so on.

At that point, you can keep Bruce around with either something from the Lazarus Pits or as some sort of AI mentor/guide/helper.  I didn't think Bruce was as less compelling person on Batman Beyond because he was old.  It was just the next move for that character.

That was SPIDER-MAN: LIFE STORY and it might work for one mini-series, and it works well in film and TV. But Batman comics have been coming out for 80 years and the reason they've sold well enough to justify eight decades of continued publication: during the bulk of this time, Batman remained recognizable as Bruce Wayne and reflected the most commonly known version of the myth.

A version of Batman who retires and passes on his mantle eventually becomes so detached from the common perception of the character that it becomes false advertising to have BATMAN or DETECTIVE COMICS on the cover. This has been proven, not with Batman, but with efforts to turn Green Lantern, Green Arrow, the Flash and other cultural icons into generational heroes.

In the 80s and 90s, DC took the view that only the name and costume really mattered and attempted to replace lower-selling heroes. Green Lantern became Kyle Rayner, Green Arrow become Connor Hawke, the Flash became Wally West -- and it wasn't a sales disaster. However, DC soon found that every proposed film and TV adaptation of these properties inevitably used Hal Jordan, Oliver Queen and Barry Allen. Kyle, Connor and Wally had origin stories too complicated to present to a general audience.

As a result, hundreds of millions of viewers would see Hal, Oliver and Barry -- but go to comics and find Kyle, Connor and Wally. DC Comics found that it was at risk of publishing GREEN LANTERN, GREEN ARROW and FLASH comics that would be out of sync with the most commonly known, general audience version of these properties. They made a determined effort to repair the situation and made sure to get it done before any of these film and TV products were released.

BATMAN comics were spared a lot of this because that line of comics sold too well to justify replacing Batman long term. But if DC had, as Slider_Quinn21 suggests, allowed Bruce Wayne to age to retirement and become a mentor to Terry McGinnis as the new Batman, the best case scenario would have been what happened with Barry Allen. The books would likely sell well, the stories would be well-written, Terry would be well-liked -- but inevitably, a film adaptation would feature Bruce Wayne as Batman and DC would wonder why the hell they were presenting Terry as Batman to the world at large.

TemporalFlux wrote:

I liked the explanation Marvel gave a few years ago - their timeline is reset every 10 years or so, and usually nobody in the Marvel Universe even notices.  The only way to really tell is by looking at the molecules of a cosmic cube. Like the rings on a tree, they gain an electron for every reset.  Currently they’re at 8.

I think it's a funny revelation in ULTIMATES from Al Ewing that the Marvel Universe has been rebooted eight times, once every ten years, and no one noticed until SECRET WARS melted down and rebuilt the multiverse. But... I don't think it really tracks with the actual content of the stories (and it's not supposed to; it's just a joke).

It works to explain how Tony Stark, Frank Castle and the Fantastic Four have been detached from their real-world war histories, and shifted to subsequent conflicts before being moved to fictional countries. But it doesn't explain why Spider-Man and the X-Men have not been rebooted.

Under Paul Jenkins and Dan Slott's writing, Peter Parker thinks back to his childhood, he sees the 1960s and Peter makes a joke about how Aunt May dressed him in old fashioned clothes -- but when J. Michael Straczynski shows Peter's high school years, it's the 2000s. When the X-Men of 10 years ago were sent to the present (2013), Brian Michael Bendis wrote them as shocked by all the giant screen advertisements in Times Square -- except Times Square in 2013 didn't look that different in 2003.

The implication from these 2000 era X-MEN and SPIDER-MAN stories, intentional or not, is that the Marvel Universe in the 1990s had a 1960s level of technology and also a 1960s style of fashion and design -- and within ten years, the Marvel Universe Earth has experienced what took 60 years on our Earth. This actually makes sense if you consider that the Fantastic Four and Iron Man are making astonishing technological advancements and sharing them with the world.

However, when Tony Stark thinks back to his life before he became Iron Man, he remembers selling Stark branded cell phones which definitely didn't exist in the 60s. A tech driven character like this doesn't benefit from presenting his past as the 1960s; a reboot every 10 years (which only changes his origin story) works for him. In contrast, Captain America and Magneto absolutely need a WWII origin story, so it's best to maintain that and update the means by which they're still young today. Cap's time frozen in ice gets longer and longer; Magneto being turned into a baby and restored to youth must be retained with an added explanation that his powers somehow have him aging slowly but that he burnt them out during his initial battles with the X-Men.

There was a story with the Punisher where he was killed, revived as a Frankenstein type monster, then restored to a younger version of his human body -- which explained how he could be young in the 2000s and still be a Vietnam veteran. Subsequent stories elected to avoid any direct reference to Vietnam and then replaced Vietnam with the fictional Siancong.

Ultimately, my protest against set timelines in the DC Universe and my mild concern with Al Ewing's revelation: I think every character benefits from a different, tailored approach to comic book time and allowing the individual writer to make that judgement based on the story at hand. DC insists that every character be half-rebooted every ten years whether that works for them or not.

Anyway. When I was a kid, I was introduced to Spider-Man via the 90s animated series. I eagerly went to the comic store for more adventures of geeky scientist-superhero Peter Parker only to find that Spider-Man was a cool, sauve, blond coffee barista named Ben Reilly. ?!!?!

(I also got whiplash when a month later, Ben Reilly was speared through the heart and melted and Peter became Spider-Man again.)

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Looks like a new DC Crisis in the summer of 2020, and 5G in the fall of 2020 … comics-5g/

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I have two sets of thoughts on this.

a) Replacing Clark, Bruce and the others long term has never and will never worked: the original myth inevitably reasserts itself. However, Marvel has been experimenting with short-term replacements: Bucky became Captain America, Dr. Octopus became Spider-Man -- but those stories were still all about Steve Rogers/Peter Parker and their characters and legacies and eventually, Steve and Peter returned while Bucky spun off into WINTER SOLDIER and the Octopus-Spider-Man got his own SUPERIOR SPIDER-MAN title that co-existed with Peter in AMAZING SPIDER-MAN and Miles Morales in SPIDER-MAN. If this new CRISIS is that sort of story -- where the writer who kills/replaces the original is also the writer to restore them -- I think that's fine.

b) They're replacing their heroes again and acting like only the names and costumes matter? AGAIN?! When will people learn that you can't replace the leads and expect to carry on like only the title and the concept matter? Fans tuned into SLIDERS to watch Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo, not Captain Margaret Allison Beckett and Colin Mallory and Dr. Diana Davis and whoever the hell "Mallory" is and throwing in Maggie, Colin, Diana and whatshisface is jarring, abrupt and rude. When I invite Jerry, Sabrina, Cleavant and John into my living room, I am not going to open my door to strangers I didn't welcome and never asked to come over.

(That said, I'm sure SLIDERS could have at some point used a spy girl played by Kari Wuhrer, a naive engineer played by Charlie O'Connell, a lady doctor played by Tembi Locke and a cunning cousin of Quinn's played by Robert Floyd.)

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Superheroes are uniquely irreplaceable.  One person getting bitten by a radioactive spider and developing superpowers is within the realm of things one can suspend their disbelief of.  Another person having an unrelated event happen and developing the exact same powers is too much.

Shows like M*A*S*H and Law & Order can turn over their casts with no ill effects, or even be improved by it.  There are always more doctors, lawyers, nurses, and cops.  When a character has unique abilities, replacing them becomes a problem.

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On DC's attitude to timelines:

I've been catching up on my reading and enjoying the semi-recent run of BATMAN ETERNAL (a 52 issue weekly series in 2014), BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL (a 26 issue weekly in 2015) and then the 2016 - 2018 run of DETECTIVE COMICS. Much of this was written by James Tynion IV. These comics showcased Stephanie Brown and Cassandra Cain, both of whom were introduced in the 90s and 2000s, both of whom became Batgirl, both of whom were cut from the character roster after the New 52 relaunch where DC sought to present the versions of Batman's sidekicks who would most commonly appear in movies and TV. Robin could remain Damian and while Dick remained Nightwing because their comics sold well.

However, BATGIRL featuring Cassandra Cain as the title character and BATGIRL featuring Stephanie as the lead had never been a big hit despite Bat-fans adoring her, so it seemed best to revert Batgirl to being the most prominent character in the role, Barbara Gordon. DC decreed that Stephanie and Cassandra were now erased from existence and relaunched BATMAN, DETECTIVE COMICS, BATMAN: THE DARK KNIGHT, NIGHTWING, RED HOOD and BATGIRL. Strategically, it made sense, but narratively, it was strange go from reading these comics in August 2011 where Bruce and Dick are two of hundreds of people wearing Batman costumes with Stephanie and Cassandra as Batman's agents -- and then go to September 2011 to find the August 2011 plots continuing -- except only Bruce is wearing the costume, the Batmen around the world are now Bat-derivatives instead (Batwing in Africa instead of the Batman of Africa) and everyone is now 10 years younger with Bruce in his early thirties and Gordon's hair has gone from white to red -- and there is no mention of Cassandra or Stephanie at all.

In 2014, the BATMAN ETERNAL series reintroduced Stephanie in her original costume as the Spoiler, but showed her meeting the Bat Family for the first time. 2015's BATMAN AND ROBIN ETERNAL had Cassandra Cain meeting the Bat Family for the first time. On one level, it allowed for these new versions of Stephanie and Cassandra to belong within the relaunch continuity; Stephanie would be the Spoiler and Cassandra would be Orphan, never again to find themselves assuming a role that the original would take away from them, never again to be made redundant. On another, it was obnoxious to read a new version of a story that had already been told in the 90s and 2000s and to see the characters starting their journey all over again no matter how skillful the scripts and art were.

And there are other oddities as well. BATMAN ETERNAL has Alfred encountering Bane and both of them coming to an uneasy alliance; Alfred never refers to Bane having met Alfred and beaten him senseless before breaking Batman's back, so the KNIGHTFALL arc has been removed from Batman's history along with Bane's defining story -- while retaining Bane himself. There are flashbacks to Hush (Tommy Elliot) showing him being obsessed with an orphaned Bruce to the point where Tommy as a pre-teen murders his own parents by sabotaging their car and then hugging Bruce and saying, "We're the same now" -- contradicting the original HUSH story where Tommy's parents died before Thomas and Martha Wayne were murdered and contradicting HEART OF HUSH where Tommy's mother repeatedly compares him to Bruce spawning Tommy's insane jealousy. Tommy's publication history is now a mix of flashbacks that don't fit with the original material with no coherent progression.

Under this DC approach of continually rebooting the past while maintaining the present, the result is that even when the writers and artists are good, the constant declaration that stories the reader saw in the past either didn't happen or happened differently is perpetually disorienting.

Stephanie and Cassandra would become part of a Bat Family team in the subsequent DETECTIVE COMICS which did a great job of acknowledging this, however: Cassandra fears that she can't overcome her upbringing as a child assassin and Stephanie feels inadequate. A villain tries to capitalize on this by showing them the previous timeline where they were Batgirls but are now mere shadows of themselves -- but Stephanie and Cassandra are instead inspired to know that they have what it takes to wear the Bat symbol. So that's something.

But under the Marvel style of continuity, I can't see much of this happening; instead, Marvel declares that all published stories are true, even the ones that contradict each other, folds them into a vague 10 - 20 year timeline and anything that doesn't fit, they just don't refer to. If Marvel had been handling the relaunch and needed to put Barbara Gordon back in the Batgirl suit, they wouldn't have erased Stephanie and Cassandra from reality: they would have just thrown in a line about Stephanie and Cassandra taking a break to go to university out of town and brought them back if someone were inclined to do so, much in the same way Spider-Man's clone, Ben Reilly, relocated to Las Vegas for two years.

If Marvel wanted Batman and his supporting cast younger, they would have simply started drawing them younger and referred to them as being younger, just as Tony Stark went from being in his late 40s to his early 30s. They wouldn't have had a cosmic event to justify Jim Gordon's hair going from white to red again; they'd have just changed it and made a joke about how Gordon quit drinking and started taking vitamins the way J. Jonah Jameson has been drawn a bit younger over the years. And if they wanted to change Barbara Gordon from being a mid-30s computer genius to a college aged Batgirl, they'd have just relaunched BATGIRL with Barbara younger and then made a joke as to how she'd been acting older than her age for years but now wanted to finish her education formally. And if Marvel wanted to re-do Cassandra and Stephanie's origins, they'd probably do an altered retelling in flashbacks much in the same way Iron Man's origin is retold every few years with the technological and topical references and locations updated.

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Lately I've been checking out an anthology series on Hulu called Dimension 404.  In the way Orville had some Sliders vibes (as a procedual) this feels too a little like what a modern Sliders might feel like (though it's anthology without reoccurring characters)

If you have access to Hulu I recommend you try it a bit.

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Just got home from A BEAUTIFUL DAY IN THE NEIGHBORHOOD, a film about a reporter interviewing saintly children's entertainer Fred Rogers (Tom Hanks). The movie treats Rogers as a supporting character who is never anything other than his tender, gentle TV persona.

However, there's an intriguing scene where the reporter asks Rogers if he ever feels burdened or tired at being someone in whom everyone confides their problems. Rogers responds with -- breaking out his favourite puppets and talking about playing the piano. On one level, it's a deflection; on another -- I had the odd sense that the extrapolative algorithm used to simulate Fred Rogers' behaviours and responses had run out of data to propose a likely response and therefore defaulted to pre-programmed phrases and mannerisms.

NEIGHBORHOOD has elected to avoid elaborating on Fred Rogers outside of autobiographical details and recorded, documented accounts. It refuses to put words in his mouth that he wasn't known to have said; it offers a pastiche of the man but refuses to go beyond those boundaries, resulting in a portrayal that is truthful but occasionally finds itself sputtering and regurgitating.

I find this fascinating because when pastiching the sliders, I know all about them. Quinn's favourite food is lamb chops with a green bean medley; he fell for Daelin watching her care for a dog that reminded him of Bopper; his flannel shirts are Michael Mallory's clothes which Quinn grew into; Quinn got into athletics because he estimated his cognitive functions were 40 per cent faster with regular cardio and because that way, he could eat anything he wanted; Quinn's beer of choice is Trumer Pils. Slider_Quinn21 couldn't figure out who to vote for in 2016 and I wrote a scene where Quinn gave his opinion and Slider_Quinn21 said he found it convincing. Wade was a sickly child who once had an allergic reaction to the glue in her shoes; her improved health in her twenties drove her to adventure (this is TF talking, but yes). Rembrandt's ridiculous suit in the Pilot was actually a mis-delivered dry cleaning item that Rembrandt reluctantly wore onstage only to later declare it was his idea and forget that it was an accident. The Professor's mother gave him his first bow tie. But I'm (dimly) aware that I don't know these things about THE sliders; I know these things about ireactions' sliders.

Re: Random Thoughts … yX2gPzMOv/

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I finished Man in the High Castle (Amazon Prime).  Spoilers on the ending.

I liked the last couple seasons quite a bit.  I think transitioning from a show about a resistance to doing more stuff with Smith, Juliana, etc was a good move for the show.  I found a lot of the 1946-1947 scenes to be the best - watching the Smiths compromise their values out of self-protection.  I think it added another layer to it.  I read in a review that they'd watch a spinoff set in 1947, and I'd absolutely watch that. 

Now for the ending.  I get that in a show like this, they couldn't really do a definitive ending.  And they spent so much time doing various things that it was clear that the ending would be more about Juliana and Smith's personal lives than the macro issues of their world.  But I found the whole thing kinda underwhelming and unnecessarily confusing.  Who are the people coming through the portal?  How did they get there?  Why are they coming?  Why don't they seem concerned?

My thought at first that it was some sort of American force.  Maybe from the Alt-World.  But maybe from another Alt-World that's dealt with this type of stuff before.  Think a good version of the Kromaggs who could help stabilize that world.  Random people - I don't know how that's going to help.

I guess the implication is that the US is going to try and go back to being itself.  But I just can't imagine that actually happens.  Even if they get into a cold war with Nazi Germany, I think the new Smith is going to get assassinated before he can do any real good.  So all those people that came through might just end up in concentration camps.

But all in all, I liked the show.  Season 4 had some great episodes, and I think all the Smith stuff was great.  And maybe the ending makes sense - but I don't know.  I was underwhelmed.

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I have never watched THE MAN IN THE HIGH CASTLE as we have plenty of Nazis in the real world with whom to contend and I would prefer to watch BROOKLYN NINE NINE. That said, as Chuck of SUPERNATURAL would say, endings are hard and even harder than endings is trying to use ambiguity.

Ambiguity can be handled beautifully or terribly and it's not terribly in vogue because in storytelling, an artificial representation of a fictitious reality, ambiguity can easily come off as indecisiveness with the writers unwilling to commit to a direction or create clarity in their narrative.

TV Tropes presents the movie BEFORE SUNRISE as the standard bearer for ambiguous endings. In BEFORE SUNRISE, two college kids meet on a train in Europe. Jesse's going back to New York the next day; Celine is heading home to Paris. With little money and a long layover in Vienna, they spend the night walking the streets, chattering endlessly, falling hopelessly in love and conflicted by their time now and the deadline approaching them. The movie deliberately ends with Jesse and Celine suddenly and abruptly promising they'll meet again in six months' time on the train platform where they're parting ways, fading out before revealing whether or not they made it.

In the sequel, made nine years later, Jesse is asked if he ever met Celine and he replies, "I think how you answer that is a good test if you're a romantic or a cynic"; the ambiguity is for the audience and not necessarily the characters.

One instance of ambiguity that worked for Slider_Quinn21 (and only Slider_Quinn21) -- the conclusion of LOST. (I have literally never seen anyone speak well of the LOST finale aside from him.) LOST ultimately never answered any questions as to why the island was so peculiar or offered any rationale to the paranormal anomalies there. FRINGE would have explained that there was a rip in reality between two parallel Earths; that the ripples of temporal and spatial energies were affected by the psychological states of any visitors to the island.

LOST suggested it would do so but ultimately shifted to focusing on the characters' personal journeys and was clear and definitive about the people even as the island was a foggy, variable element of vagueness, and as Slider_Quinn21 was primarily invested in the cast, the island is an unknown, ambiguous catalyst for stories defined more by how it affects the characters rather than its specific origin or method of operation.

THE X-FILES is the standard bearer for how ambiguity can go wrong by constantly establishing information and then reversing it. It spent its Season 9 finale laying out the alien colonization conspiracy and planned invasion; its Season 10 premiere immediately debunked and dismissed it because it was no longer convenient to explore or develop as the invasion date had passed between the hiatus of Seasons 9 - 10. The push and pull between debunking and validating and dismissing the conspiracy became so tangled and repetitive that even Slider_Quinn21, a gentleman who historically dislikes reboots, agreed that THE X-FILES should be rebooted.

I have literally never seen Slider_Quinn21 champion a reboot for any show other than THE X-FILES.

One story of ambiguity that hits the middle ground is an episode of VOYAGER, "Sacred Ground," a show that Slider_Quinn21 (and only Slider_Quinn21) enjoys. (I have literally never seen anyone other than Slider_Quinn21 express fondness for this series.) In "Sacred Ground," Kes is injured and Starfleet medical technology can't help her. Janeway engages in an alien religious ritual involving tests of faith and the show leaves it unclear what heals Kes.

However, the episode, while an intriguing piece of drama, feints and dodges between faith and science so much that it's not really clear what it's saying about either.

And one story of ambiguity that I really like is AMAZING SPIDER-MAN: "The Book of Ezekiel" (#506 - 509), the 2004 end to a story that started in 2001. In AMAZING SPIDER-MAN #471, Spider-Man is approached by Ezekiel, a middle-aged man with spider-powers just like Peter's.

Ezekiel knows Spider-Man's true identity and asks Peter: is he sure that the radioactive spider is what turned Peter Parker into Spider-Man? Given that the radioactive spider was destroyed and never examined, does Peter know for a fact that his powers came from the spider? Or is it possible that the spider unlocked something in Peter that was there all along?

Shortly after this, Peter is relentlessly hunted by a seemingly invincible energy vampire, Morlun, who has hunted 'animal-totems' across the globe, draining the lifeforce of superhumans who have the powers of animals. With Ezekiel's help, Peter barely survives. Peter continues to explore the mystical side of his powers in subsequent stories and investigate Ezekiel, a billionaire industrialist who appears at various crises in Spider-Man's life to give him advice. Ezekiel informs Peter that his powers are part of a mystical "web of life."

In "The Book of Ezekiel," Peter discovers that as a young man, Ezekiel learned about the mystical "web of life" where the totemistic powers of animal spirits may be granted to humans. Decades ago, Ezekiel used his wealth to convince a shaman to trick the web of life into granting Ezekiel spider-powers, enhanced longevity and physicality -- but decades later, predators like Morlun eventually began hunting Ezekiel for his life force and Ezekiel approached Spider-Man to serve as a larger target, defeat the predators -- and now Ezekiel has prepared a ritual where he will feed Spider-Man to a mystical spider-entity as a sacrifice to free Ezekiel from any further attacks.

However, when Peter is tied up, the two bond telepathically in the ritual and Ezekiel sees Peter's entire life flash before his eyes; Ezekiel realizes that Peter has spent his entire life helping others whereas Ezekiel enriched himself; Ezekiel takes Peter's place in the sacrifice and dies to free him. A revived Peter finds the shaman and asks him: where do his spider-powers come from? Do they come from the science of radioactivity altering the genetic structure of a spider and altering Peter's DNA? Or do they come from a mystical web of life of magical totemistic energies?

The shaman replies that tomorrow, the sun will rise. Peter would describe that as the result of gravity, light transmission, planetary rotation and visual observation of vanishing points and horizons. But the shaman would say that it rises because it is meant to rise. And that he sees no difference between either perspective.

I initially ripped this off in SLIDERS REBORN in Part 5, a script where Quinn (Jerry O'Connell) is trapped in a burning building and hallucinating and sees Mallory (Robert Floyd) who encourages Quinn not to give up and find a way out. In the script, Quinn asks Mallory: "Are you really here? Or are you just a manifestation of my subconscious mind?"

The original response from Mallory was: ""The 1995 limitation. You're trying to fix it. You'd say you're at war with a broken reality and the warped rules of thermodynamics and quantum mechanics. But I'd tell you -- you're in a war of indifference versus compassion. Apathy versus hope. Determinism versus potential. I see no difference. Do you?"

Transmodiar wrote:

What the hell is that?! Just have Mallory say, "Yes." Why do you have to spell everything out? Why can't you just let the reader experience it on their own terms? Why do you have to write sentences that have terms like "The 1995 Limitation"?

That's a good name for a band, though.

I am not very happy with Part 5. The only part I like is Quinn's question and Transmodiar's response to it. In addition, Slider_Quinn21 is the only person who enjoyed Part 5.

I have literally never received any positive feedback on it from anyone but him.

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I'm a very unique guy.

I get the Nazi stuff and not wanting any more of that.  But, oddly, I think there's something healing about seeing a world where the US was completely enveloped by Nazi Germany.  Because, on it's surface, you sit there and you think, "Well, I'd never go for that.  I'd be in the resistance."  But then you watch a story about someone like John Smith, and you start to see the cracks in your own story.

And this is where I think the 1947 story is the most interesting.  In the alt-world of High Castle, FDR was assassinated in the 30s and the US never recovers from the Great Depression.  Because of this, they are slow to get into the war.  Pearl Harbor is also more devastating, and by the time the US tries to spring into action, it's too late.  Washington DC is nuked, the American continent is invaded, and that's that.

There's a scene in season 4 where we see a group of US soldiers hiding out in a cabin.  It's the day that Patton has surrendered to the Germans, and they're wondering what they're going to do.  How are they going to fight back.  Their superior officer knocks on the door, but he's wearing a swastika armband.  He tells them that they have two choices - report to work for the military and their new leaders or die.  That's that.

But he also does something else.  He brings milk.  Bread.  Provisions.  The propaganda radio, previously, talked about how America was getting running water again.  24/7 electricity.  Food was arriving from the "liberators."  And Smith and Smith's wife Helen are appreciative of the food.  The milk means that their starving baby might stop crying.  Joining up means that they get to live. 

Smith says several times that he never believed in it.  But he believed in the security and power it provided him.  He understood that looking the other way (even when his best friend was carried off to a camp) meant that his children and family get to survive and thrive.

Even for other people, just getting the power back might lend some sympathy.  Getting food and water and a return to normal life would be enough to be appreciative of the "liberators" - even if they hated them before.  It's strange - the Germans would be responsible for their losing power, but they'd also be revered for restoring it.

So I think it's important, at least for me, to see how small a bend you'd have to make to become the worst version of yourself.  And that's what we got with Smith.  He was a good soldier who fought for something, and his life changed to get a baby to stop crying.  Helen Smith has a great scene in the finale where she tries to rationalize it to her daughter, and she's horrified by her own answers.  John remarks that it's a nightmare to see other versions of himself because he knows he's the worst.  Alt-John explains that he left the military because he realized he was too good at it.

I think now, it's important to realize how easily good men become cruel.  So we don't do that.

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I guess, for me -- I already know my own capacity for savagery, cruelty, violence and debasement, and I don't need Nazi stories for that. That's not to say such stories shouldn't exist.


Another instance of ambiguity that I really like that is somewhat related to SLIDERS -- the TV show DOCTOR WHO (a British version of SLIDERS that pre-dates SLIDERS) was cancelled between 1989 and 2005 aside from a 1996 TV movie. Leading up to 2005 was a run of DOCTOR WHO novels featuring the eighth Doctor from the 1996 film. While the novels sold well and sustained the license and the brand, the show's return for 2005 was announced.

The eighth Doctor novels had a conclusion announced with its finale book, "The Gallifrey Chronicles," to be released after the 2005 TV show aired its first episode. There was a dreadful fear, at least for me, that these eighth Doctor novels that had been a part of my life for nearly a decade, would be wiped clean off the slate as the TV show was to feature a new actor as the ninth Doctor. Later on, the 2005 showrunner declared that he had no wish to contradict the novels although he would be unlikely to sequelize them either, and a later showrunner would point out that a time travel show like DOCTOR WHO cannot have a 'canon'; all the TV shows and spin-off material are true even if they contradict each other.

That said, I opened "The Gallifrey Chronicles" with great trepidation, fearing that the eighth Doctor and all his adventures would be treated dismissively or end abruptly. Instead, "The Gallifrey Chronicles" was a summation of the eighth Doctor's career in his books, spanning different eras of his time in his novels, validating the importance and value of each companion and all their adventures -- and then it ends on a cliffhanger. There are a number of loose threads where the Doctor will have to resolve them after the book's conclusion assuming he survives. And on the last page, the Doctor is about to leap into a volcano to face down an alien invasion that remains unfinished by the book's last page. It's unclear: is this where the Doctor dies and regenerates into the TV show Doctor? How do we go from "The Gallifrey Chronicles" to the first episode of 2005?

It's deliberately unfinished because the author, Lance Parkin, was making the point that just as "The Gallifrey Chronicles" had no end, the Doctor's adventures have no end and continue right into the TV show even if the Doctor now has a ninth face and exists in live action rather than prose. It was a comforting non-ending ending and I of course ripped that off for the "Slide Effects" script by resurrecting Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo but leaving them still lost, still sliding, still searching for home (albeit without Logan St. Clair chasing them or a Kromagg tracker or Arturo dying of a terminal illness). The last sentence of "The Gallifrey Chronicles" describes how the Doctor is staring down the volcano opening "and he leaps... " which, of course, I also stole for "Slide Effects"' last line.

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Just watched the premiere episode of a new NBC show, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”:

I really enjoyed it.  It’s not anything ground breaking - just a quirky female lead in kind of a mash-up between Eli Stone and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  It’s also set in San Francisco and even had a passing joke about parallel realities.  But I think what really hooked me in was her family.  For the past four years, I lived that with my father; and it just really caught me off guard seeing that all of a sudden in this crazy little show.  They’ve got a fan in me.

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TemporalFlux wrote:

Just watched the premiere episode of a new NBC show, “Zoey’s Extraordinary Playlist”:

I really enjoyed it.  It’s not anything ground breaking - just a quirky female lead in kind of a mash-up between Eli Stone and Crazy Ex-Girlfriend.  It’s also set in San Francisco and even had a passing joke about parallel realities.  But I think what really hooked me in was her family.  For the past four years, I lived that with my father; and it just really caught me off guard seeing that all of a sudden in this crazy little show.  They’ve got a fan in me.

I like it too!  Which was surprising since there were some reviews a couple of weeks ago (I believe they gave some press the first few episodes) and it was really panned.  But the pilot certainly was enjoyable imo.