“Greatfellas”

Episode Review


Season 2
Airdate: 5/31/96

The Sliders find themselves on a world where Prohibition was never repealed and a San Francisco that is run by an organized crime mob.

The episode opens with the Sliders at a classic 1950s drive-in diner, with Whammy burgers, Super Carnivores and much more. I can’t help but love this scene where they desperately attempt to get a hamburger but fail. It’s Lawsuit World where everyone is afraid to do anything without getting sued. Whether it be from proper cholesterol count paperwork for fries to properly wording a movie review in a newspaper. Everything, is politically correct.

They soon escape a lawsuit and slide to a world where two crime families are about to merge via marriage. This episode’s special guest star is famed jazz musician Mel Tormé. If you didn’t know, he’s the father of the co-creator of Sliders, Tracy Tormé. The Sliders are mistaken as “The Incorruptibles”, crime fighters or better known as the FBI who stand up against the corruption of the mob. On this world Rembrandt’s double is the head of the FBI. Once again, Rembrandt is oblivious to the situation at hand, and comically believes an entire group of people pointing guns at him in dismay are his star struck fans.

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the little things that are different is one of the reasons Sliders is so great. Bugsy Siegel, the mastermind behind the Las Vegas strip, put his efforts in northern California instead of Nevada. Here, former President Reagan is running for re-election as California governor and politicians promise to raise taxes. These little quirks help keep the ball rolling in Sliders.

The Dominion hotel the Sliders reside at from world to world is their home away from home. In this episode it serves as a base that the entire episode revolves around. The Dominion is as a safe haven as crudely as that sounds, yet it can be an integral part of the show from one episode to the next. The hotel clerk, Gomez Calhoun is either friend or foe, and a new environment takes place just by an idea. On this world slot machines are a normalcy inside hotels. Who would of guessed?

The Sliders unknowingly accept a $100,000 bribe from the mob, as Quinn discovers Mel Tormé is a U.S. government informant. You see, Mel Tormé is there to bust the illegal merger of two crime families wanting to expand an empire. Hard to believe, I know, that Rembrandt and Wade are naive enough to accept such money, but with different worlds and your life being turned completely upside down I guess it’s understandable. To the objection of the Professor, Quinn doesn’t ‘stay out of it’, and decides to visit Mel at his music show. Before we know it Quinn is in a fight at a casino, and I must admit it’s not a side I like for the character. Quinn’s a nerd, an adventurer, a genius, he’s not a hero in the aspect of bar fighting. Before he knows it his knight in shining armor glamour is tarnished when he discovers the girl he saved steals every last penny of the bribe money.

Since Prohibition was never repealed this lead to territories competing with one another, higher taxes, and crime mobs wherever you look. If these two crime families merge they have the ability to help California and Nevada seceded from the Union. I would have hoped this episode would of focused more on the aspect of Prohibition rather than the end result of crime mobs. I mean I don’t even remember seeing one glass of illegal alcohol in this episode. I do however like the reference to how a Jack Daniels lookalike is relegated to listening to a song about alcohol in an alcohol-less concert. How much more ironic can it be?

This episode is very restricted in the sense of the setting of the episode. They could have filmed in a variety of different places, but as usual the budget is the primary culprit of this flaw. It does offer some unique and priceless changes like putting the FBI in what was once a rundown factory building.

Before we know it, government informant Mel Tormé is murdered in a car explosion and the bride of the Greenfeld crime family requests protective custody of the Sliders. It’s gotten so bad the daughter has betrayed her father. Wade and the Professor arrange a meeting with district attorney Biacchi and present him with evidence of illegal payoffs to politicians from crime families. To the Sliders’ request, they are sent to a safe house for their evidence that the Greenfelds have paid off numerous politicians.

There’s a lot of surprises later in the episode and Quinn will eventually get the shock of his life. This episode does have it’s flaws and it really challenges the viewer to keep up with every little bit that is going on. However it gets the point across by showing us its important that every good man stands against evil. If complacency is given the dark seeds of evil are bound to thrive. Your enemies aren’t in dark corners and crevasses… they’re in plain sight.

Some say this isn’t a great episode, but there may be some that do. This reviewer takes no position on the “Greatfellas” episode. The opinions above do not represent the television show Sliders or it’s partners.