[ EARTH 69 ]

Episode 1.4 | This Slide of the Last of Paradise Lost

    This was the second show filmed with JRD, causing headaches for the production staff since Peck had insisted Arturo die in the Pilot. Fortunately some quick thinking saved the day, and a scene cut from the third ep filmed was tacked onto the beginning of this one, explaining it as a flashback to before the professor's death. The extra scene depicted Wade confessing her nightmares of this ep's world ... to Arturo.

    Following that, we see the Sliders land in an idyllic forest clearing, near a family of natives preparing dinner over a spit. Abruptly, a fissure is cleaved through the ground by a localized earthquake. Wade nearly falls in, but is rescued by the Stud Of the Week (or SOW). When she kisses him to say 'thank you,' he is horrified and tells her she has sealed her own fate. Quinn advises the others not to panic: "What's the worst that could happen? So Wade could die! Big deal!"

    They make their way out of the clearing to the Chandler Hotel, which sits empty and untouched in the middle of a field. Incidentally, the names "Chandler" and "Chancellor" for the hotel are used interchangeably, sometimes in the same scene.

    There, Wade begins to suffer odd symptoms: her skin turns blue and her hair white, she performs incredible gymnastic feats, and she begins craving human flesh. After wandering outside in a stupor, she is taken in by a group of similar mutants who live underground. The other Sliders follow her and meet the underground's leader, a mutated Quinn.

    (BTW, the audience is repeatedly reminded that there are three Earths in this dimension by the frequent replaying of a ten-second clip of Arturo pointing skywards and declaring, "Good heavens! There are three Earths in this dimension!" At one point he is interrupted in mid-sentence, inside the hotel no less, so that we can see this clip again.)

    The remainder of the episode - about 40 minutes - is spent on exposition, specifically Alt-Quinn explaining how this world got its problems. The gist of the story involves a fabled race of "Jeneers" who constructed three identical Earths in syzygy, but due to their fanatical obsession with cleanliness were struck by a plague which instantly turns humans into blue-skinned cannibals. Our Quinn spends much of this speech with his shirt off.

    This episode won a specially created Nebula Award for "Stupidest Dramatic Presentation of 1995."

Episode 1.5 | The Other Slide of the Last of Paradise Lost

    Despite the title, this episode bears no connection to the previous one (aside from being really, really stupid.)

    Our Sliders, and Maggie, land in a fog-covered valley and nearly choke to death. Fortunately Maggie is inexplicably capable of breathing large amounts of sulphur, and is able to drag them out. Heading into a nearby mud-hut village, Quinn is recognized by the residents, including a 10-year-old boy who asks him to sign a straw mat.

    Sabrina Lloyd ad-libbed an aside to Cleavant Derricks about Maggie's sulphur-breathing ability, and what it implies about her parentage and place of birth. Peck didn't spot it, because he used Sabrina's scenes while watching the dailies to clip his toenails.

    After about 20 minutes of screen time in which nothing happens, Quinn and Maggie (who has now inexplicably lost her sulphur-lungs) are lured into the fog by Rickman, who is no longer played by Roger Daltrey. (Peckinpah's response when asked the point of casting a big-name guest star in a recurring role that he couldn't possibly return for: "Hey! Look over there!")

    As we breathlessly wait to learn what lies beyond the fog, it turns out to be... another village of mud-huts. There we meet Quinn's double, who claims to have given him the sliding equation on Earth Prime, only to get stuck here when his timer burnt out. The natives were going to sacrifice him, until he invented a contest known as "Mindgame" to prove himself smarter than them. Soon he found himself venerated as a god of omniscience.

    Now, injured and unable to play, Alt-Quinn is facing a lingering death at the hands of the mud-hut mafia that he contracted to fix the matches. He orders Quinn to kill him first, or else the fog-breathing-mud-hut-dwellers will kill Maggie, or something.

    As a test to see if anyone would notice or care, one of the show's editors cut off the final climactic scene and replaced it with a clip from a National Geographic Special. No viewers complained, but Peckinpah complimented him on fitting so many giant animals into a single episode and gave the hapless man a raise.

Episode 1.6 | Slider

    Peckinpah explains the title: "There was a snake in it, hence 'Slither.' And since it's our policy to make puns on the word 'Slide' whenever possible, we changed it to 'Slider.' Get it? 'Slither'? 'Slider'? Well, I thought it was pretty damn clever."

    With only a few days until the slide, Quinn and Remmy are irresponsibly vacationing in Eastern Latvia. When their flight is canceled, they're forced to hitch a plane ride back to California with a scientist named Conrad Bennish Jr. Bennish, previously seen in the Pilot as a stoned-out hippie, is here a thirty-year-old woman with black hair. This is as close as Peck's series would ever come to continuity.

    When asked by Quinn what the snake she's carrying is for, Bennish makes up a story about it being essential in a magical rite that dispels asteroids from the Earth's orbit. Peck's idea of a surprise plot twist is that the snake really does magically dispel asteroids, one of which is headed for the Earth at right this moment.

    The remaining bits of the ep focus on Quinn, Remmy and Bennish racing to San Francisco, which for some reason is the only spot in the world from which the magical snake can be used. Meanwhile Wade and Maggie are searching for them, if you define "searching for them" as "engaging in a nude mud-wrestling match."

    Peckinpah was initially skeptical about the idea of an asteroid heading for Earth, since it would mean most Earths in the spectrum that did not have magical snakes would be destroyed. "I mean, what happens to one Earth happens to every Earth, right? You can't go having planets with different histories; that would go against the whole concept of the series!"

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