So last week was an OK episode of Sliders but this week we have one of the best, Prince of Wails. Probably because it’s a Quinn/Arturo, specifically arrogant, backstabbing Sheriff of San Fransisco Arturo, episode. Before the Sliders have their fish and chip flavored adventure in British America they have to escape from the tidal wave that was bearing down on them from the last episode. The quartet manages to climb to the top of a skyscraper and wait out the timer. Arturo brings up the motion that no matter what happens on the next Earth, they should have no involvement. Of course that goes out the window when they arrive at their next alternate world. It’s a world where America lost the Revolutionary War and are still a part of the British Empire. The little details of this episode are absolutely fantastic including the Benedict Arnold Federal Bank and BSA Today newspaper and there’s red phone booths everywhere.
So the Sliders land in a fountain, not exactly the most stealthy way to enter a new Earth, and Wade is almost hit by a car while reading about the latest gossip about Prince Harold, who is set to be coronated as king as his father is missing on the battlefields of France. Although mad at first, the driver sees Arturo and instantly changes his tone. Even more in the Sliders favor is that he is the manager of a fancy hotel and so the Sliders are able to change out of their hippy duds into some stylish British suits. Just as the Sliders decide to spend their six remaining days in the suite, they see the weekly show for the Sheriff of San Fransisco, who is Arturo’s double. Deciding it’s too risky to stay in the hotel, Arturo orders the hotel to give them a car loaded up with money, food and books and the group hightails it for the country.
Unfortunately the car breaks down in what would have been Oakland and a group of soldiers stumbles across them. Arturo manages to convince them he’s the Sheriff and after talk about “the target” and “it will look like an accident”, the group figures there’s a hit going down. Breaking their Prime Directive, the Sliders manage to rescue the target of the assassination attempt and it’s Prince Harold.
The group heads back to the car but are intercepted by a new group of armed individuals, the Oakland Raiders, a revolutionary group trying to end the British rule. Thinking fast, Quinn manages to convince the Raiders that they want to join and have brought them the Sheriff and Prince Harold as proof of their commitment. Heading back to the Raiders HQ, Arturo and Harold are tied up and although the Raiders want to kill them, Quinn convinces them to use them as leverage to get their allies released from prison. We then get to see the end of one of the alternate Arturo’s shows, where he pretends to be like a kindly old uncle to the peasants of America but it’s really just a propaganda machine. I know one of Brian’s favorite moments of Sliders is when Arturo shows off his book, which is entitled “Everything I Say is Right”. Sherrif Arturo is furious that Harold is dead and dissmisses the Raiders demands.
The Raiders decide to send a message to the Brits by chopping Harold into pieces but Quinn again manages to convince them to do another course of action by quoting almost every memorable political catchphrase of his Earth and then leading the Raiders on a series of Robin Hoodesque robberies (in a sweet mid 90’s montage). Quinn becomes public enemy number one while Harold unsucessfully tries to hit on Wade. She feels sorry for him and convinces the Raiders to leave him untied. He quickly escapes and Quinn goes out to find him. Harold finds himself in a homeless camp and sees Quinn get arrested by the police. Harold makes his way back to the Raiders and says that he’s been changed by what he’s seen. Arturo cooks up a plan to free Quinn and also help bring political change to this Earth.
In efficent British manner, Quinn is charged and scheduled to be executed. Right before the live broadcast of this, the Raiders manage to take over the Sheriff’s TV studio and Harold plans to expose the Sheriff and introduce democracy. Arturo and Rembrandt become the founding fathers and write up the Bill of Rights for Harold to explain to the people.
The Raiders break in to the signal during the Sheriff’s press conference and he’s quickly hauled off to jail, while Quinn is quickly released. The group reunites just a few seconds before they need to open the portal. Arturo gives Harold the rest of the Bill of Rights and Rembrandt slips him some extra amendments, one of them being that James Brown is acknowledged as the Godfather of Soul. In a great closing joke Harold and Rebecca, the leader of the Raiders, look at each other confused and say, “who’s James Brown?”
So yeah, Prince of Wails is definitely one of the top 5 best Sliders episodes in that it has a great alternate Earth with fantastic details all over, great humor and a great alternate Arturo. Be sure to come back next week for arguably the darkest episode of Season One, Fever.