Quinn preparing to enter the vortex
|Episode no.|| Season 1|
Episode 1 and 2
|Written by|| Robert K. Weiss|
|Directed by||Andy Tennant|
|Guest stars||Linda Kaye Henning|
|List of Sliders episodes|
Sliders is the title of the pilot episode of the science fiction television show Sliders. The pilot originally aired as a two-hour episode, but was split up into two parts for subsequent airings. In the episode, a graduate student named Quinn Mallory experiments with antigravity and ultimately discovers a gateway to a parallel Earth.
In a San Francisco basement, physics student Quinn Mallory tapes a diary entry documenting his latest efforts to perfect an antigravity device. Mallory admits that he has failed in that, but he's stumbled upon something else. Playing back the previous night's experiment, Quinn reveals to the viewing audience that his equipment opened some type of transparent gateway. He stops taping, rushes to eat breakfast, and hurries to his graduate physics class taught by Professor Maximillian Arturo. The other students there, about a half-dozen, appear overwhelmed by Arturo's presentation on the "Dirac effect," but Quinn sits doodling the gateway he observed. After class, he proceeds to his job at a computer store and talks briefly with his friend and fellow salesperson Wade Welles.
In the family basement later that day, Quinn documents his attempts to find out where the gateway leads to. He's already sent various objects through and invented a bulky cell phone-like "timer" to retrieve them after a given period of time. When a basketball shoots back through, it confirms Quinn's decision to travel through the gateway himself. The next day, after setting the timer for fifteen minutes, he steps through the gateway and appears in his basement. Thinking his discovery a failure, Quinn drives away from his house to go to class, a trip that nearly turns fatal when he "runs" a green light (which means stop, not go, on that world). He turns on the car radio and learns about the "global cooling" debate, Americans crossing illegally into Mexico, and sees a billboard advertising Elvis Presley's upcoming concert in Las Vegas. Returning to his house, Quinn finds his mother married to the family's gardener and visibly pregnant. He thinks he's going crazy but before he can process the differences, the timer hits zero and returns Quinn to his own world.
When Quinn attends Professor Arturo's class the same day, the professor abruptly dismisses the class and admonishes Quinn for mocking his theories and calling him a "pompous windbag". Quinn goes to his job and finds that he not only kissed Wade but has been fired for telling off his boss. At first, Quinn thinks this change in others is due to the vortex he travelled through (on the "Einstein-Rosen-Podolsky bridge" as it's called in this and later episodes), but he comes home and goes into the basement to find the antigravity equation he'd been working on finished by his double, the Quinn Mallory of a parallel Earth. The double explains that he's travelled between dimensions—he's been "sliding"—for some months now. There's no control now over what worlds Quinn can slide to, but with the timer he can control how long he stays in each one. The double tries to warn him not to do something, but his vortex drowns out his voice as he is pulled back to his world.
Quinn's mother admits Arturo and Wade at the front door and they proceed to the basement, where Arturo is astonished that Quinn seems to have confirmed the Unified Field Theory. Quinn opens the vortex to another world and he and Wade are ready to enter, but Arturo has misgivings about stepping through. Quinn draws more power from the house's electrical system to widen the gateway for all three to proceed, but once they enter the vortex, the additional power seeks out and envelops the Cadillac and person of Rembrandt "Cryin' Man" Brown, a singer on his way to sing the national anthem at a baseball game.
Arturo, Quinn, and Wade arrive in a frozen, dusty basement. The timer was set for them to stay five hours on this world. Lighting candles, they proceed upstairs and find everything frozen over. Emerging from the Mallory house, Arturo, Quinn, and Wade meet Rembrandt and, sitting in his wrecked Cadillac, Quinn explains what happened. A tornado begins to sweep through the area and the four of them agree they have to open another portal to survive, even though the timer hasn't hit zero yet. The vortex opens above them and Quinn heaves Arturo, Wade, and Rembrandt into it. Since there is nobody left to give Quinn a boost, he has trouble entering the vortex. When it takes him too long to slide, Wade and Arturo fear that they may never see Quinn again.
Quinn successfully jumps into the vortex at the last moment. The sliders find themselves in what appears to be Golden Gate Park again. Distraught at the loss of his Cadillac but relieved that he appears to be home, Rembrandt hires a taxicab to take him to the stadium where he's scheduled to sing the national anthem. Rembrandt is arrested after he attempts to pay the cab driver with a dollar bill, and he's sentenced in Judge Wapner's The People's Court to fifteen years in the Alaskan gulag. (Dollar bills in "The Socialist States of America" have Nikita Khrushchev's profile, not George Washington's.)
Wade's attempts to call home meet with an attempt to trace her call by People's Telephone and Telegraph (the AT&T of this world), and Arturo and Quinn note the statue of Lincoln in the park is instead a statue of Lenin. Arturo, Quinn, and Wade learn from the West Coast branch of the Free America Underground that the Soviet Union through its proxy states won the Korean War and gradually enveloped the whole world under communism. With the underground's help, the Sliders stage a raid on NorCal Federal Penitentiary (converted from the University of California, San Francisco) to liberate Rembrandt and Wade's double, a resistance commander.
Posing as his own double, the Citizen-General of West Coast operations, Arturo, the Sliders and the Underground escape with Rembrandt and Wade's double. The latter is killed during the melee. Meanwhile, Arturo and Quinn have repaired the timer and estimate that their best chance to slide home involves returning to Golden Gate Park where they entered this world. Pursued by a mob of citizen-informants, the Sliders barely escape through the vortex. By all appearances, they've arrived home. Quinn arrives with the others at his house for dinner, and their talk about what to do with the timer is interrupted by the unexpected appearance (to Quinn) of his father, who was hit by a car and died twelve years ago. It settles in that the Sliders have a long way to go.
- In the initial scene when Quinn is shown to be hurrying to his graduate class, he parks his car and is seen running through Golden Gate Park in San Francisco. Immediately after, he is seen running onto UC Berkeley's campus. However, this is in real life extremely improbable as Berkeley is across the bay from SF and would required him to also run on the over ten mile long bay bridge in between.
- A scene in the film The Day After Tomorrow, involves Americans crossing illegally into Mexico.
- Quinn's cat is named Schrödinger, after Erwin Schrödinger the Nobel prize winning physicist.
- When Rembrant tries to take the taxi to the baseball game in the Soviet Earth, the driver refers to the baseball game as "the Reds game". This is an allusion to the Cincinnati Reds of Major League Baseball, although the latter's name is a shortened form of "Red Stockings" and has nothing to do with Communism.
- On the same ride, Rembrandt hears the Soviet National anthem being played prior to the game. He mistakenly believes it is the Canadian anthem and remarks that "[the team] must be playing a Canadian team".
- The two Canadian teams in the Major League at the time were the Montreal Expos and the Toronto Blue Jays.
- In reality, the Giants of Earth Prime did not play anyone the day this episode takes place, because the baseball players were on strike, canceling the remainder of the 1994 season. Had the strike not occurred, the Giants would have played an away game at the Colorado Rockies.
- Maximillian Arturo: (after inadvertently and unknown to him, sliding with Rembrandt Brown) Jesus, Mary and Joseph! I think I've just seen God and I could've sworn He was driving a Cadillac!