In my rewatching of "Sliders", I'm finally through the first four seasons, which seems as good a time as any to run down my favorite episodes. I guess it's possible that a Season 5 episode would crack this list, but given the unlikelihood of that, I feel confident calling these 11 episodes my favorites.
11. As Time Goes By (Season 2, Episode 13)
As much as I like this episode, which follows Quinn and a lost love through three different worlds, I think it would have worked better as a multi-episode arc. Rather than just being told about Quinn's attachment to Daelin, we could have learned about it organically. Still, I'll always love this episode, if only for the weird backwards time world.
10. Slide by Wire (Season 4, Episode 16)
I really liked the twist they threw at us in the beginning of this episode, where the "wrong" Maggie slides, and then we get to see our Maggie get back to the military roots she seemed to have abandoned for much of Season 4. Also, it's worth noting that of the six episodes that follow this one in Season 4, only one is remotely watchable, and then we transition to the new cast in Season 5, so this marks something of an end-point for fans of the early seasons of "Sliders".
The writers really took a risk in this episode, with Quinn being separated from the group on an "astral plane", and I think for the most part it worked, because of the strength of the actress playing Gillian (Deanna Milligan). Also, this was the first episode that saw Quinn's father, Michael Mallory, involved in a story, and it kind of set the tone for his doubles being jackasses (see: My Brother's Keeper, Revelations).
8. World Killer (Season 4, Episode 5)
This was a pretty damn ambitious episode, and one I think really worked out well. The empty world in the beginning of the episode was eerie, and I loved how the Quinn double kept vacillating between guilt and hubris. The strength of this episode, however, is really in seeing Quinn observe his double (and particularly his double's ego) and see his own character flaws magnified. It's one of the better character-driven episodes, after Season 3 spent most of its time wasting our time with action.
7. Fever (Season 1, Episode 2)
This was the first episode after the pilot movie, and it set the tone for the viewer as to what to expect on a week to week basis, particularly when it came to assumptions about the worlds the sliders were visiting. It's easy for the viewer to assume that most worlds are mostly like ours, especially when the sliders are doing the same, but right off the bat we get a lesson in never assuming, tied into a double story and a riff on the movie "Outbreak".
6. The Guardian (Season 3, Episode 4)
This is one of those episodes that can only exist with TV logic. If Quinn tells the group why he's training young Quinn to fight from the beginning, then the episode loses its dramatic tension. So he withholds that information, even though it really makes no sense to do so. Still, it results in one of the better episodes of the series, thanks to great character work.
5. Last Days (Season 1, Episode 3)
What's not to like about this episode? We get a barely-averted apocalypse, some Quinn-Wade shipper action, and Arturo saving the world, and possibly dooming it at the same time. Arturo's dilemma -- whether saving the world from the coming asteroid by creating a nuclear bomb will later doom it to destruction -- is what carries the episode, and the contrast between he and Bennish is phenomenal. It's also interesting how Nobel Prize-obsessed Bennish is, seeing how we see that same obsession from Arturo doubles later in the series.
4. The Weaker Sex (Season 1, Episode 8)
Another strong Arturo episode, where he runs for mayor in a world in which women rule politics and no man has ever held elective office. As serious as most episodes get at times, this one is mostly a smartly-played comedic satire, and one that works at just about every turn. I'd love to know what happened in this world after Arturo and the group slid off. I can't imagine they took the disappearance of the first male mayor in history too well.
3. Double Cross (Season 3, Episode 2)
I wrote about this episode in my "mysteries" post a few days ago, and when I rewatched the episode, I was afraid that knowing the twist would ruin the episode, but it's really quite strong even when you know that Logan is Quinn's female double, if not a little sexually awkward. I do wish that this had been the start of a run of Logan episodes, rather than getting the idiotic Rickman stuff at the end of the season, but on its own, it's still quite good. Even the Rembrandt subplot works, mostly as a comedic distraction from the seriousness of the main plot.
2. Sliders (Season 1, Episode 1)
The show got off to a great start with the pilot movie, establishing everything you'd need to know about the series in two hours. The way things unfold when they first land on the Russian-controlled parallel world are remarkable. If you haven't seen the episode, then the way certain things play out -- particularly with doubles, both of main characters and minor ones -- is remarkable. Even if you have seen the episode and are just rewatching it, everything holds up. Unlike many shows, where characters are drastically different by the end than from when we met them, the Quinn, Wade and Arturo we see in this episode are very much the Quinn, Wade and Arturo we'll know through the majority of the series (I obviously leave Rembrandt out of that, because by the end of Season 5, he's VERY different). They go through character growth, of course, but at no point do they stray unrecognizably from the genius scientist with a curious mind, the pompous professor whose brilliance is outweighed only by his ego and the wide-eyed girl whose school-girl-like crush belies her own intelligence.
1. Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome (Season 2, Episode 8)
Obviously this episodes ends up being so much about "which Arturo did they take" that it overshadows the greatness of the rest of the episode. I find new things to like about it every time I watch. On this most recent viewing, I finally came to realize the earliest hint they gave us that this wasn't Earth Prime: in a Season 1 episode (I forget which, exactly), the FBI comes to the Mallory home, and appears to seize the equipment in the basement. But in PTSS, the basement is intact. What seems like a continuity error is actually a sign that we're not "home". I never put those two things together before, but re-watching the series in rapid succession, it clicked, and it's just one example of some really great writing in this episode.