Saturday, December 15, 2012

Inspiring Names - 'Sliders'

You may remember a show from the late 90's called 'Sliders'. It was one of Jerry O'Connell's biggest roles at the time - one that brought him attention as an adult actor, not just "that fat kid from 'Stand By Me'".

Rembrandt, Arturo, Wade and Quinn
If you're not familiar with the show, the premise was this - science whiz teen creates a machine that transports you between parallel dimensions. He brings his science professor over to his house to show off his revolutionary machine, but as he is demonstrating it something goes terribly wrong. The teen, his professor, his best friend who is at his house at the time and a lounge singer who happens to be driving past his house are all swept up in a vortex and transported to a parallel world. However, as it was still in it's experimental stages, the science whiz kid and his professor are unable to get them directly back to their own dimension, and hence the foursome have no choice but to "slide" from dimension to dimension until they hopefully arrive back in their original world.

If I haven't lost you yet, it was a great show. But besides the interesting story lines, one of the things I remember loving about this show was the names of the four main characters. The two teens had gender bending names, while the two older characters had very classic sounding but unusual names. I may not necessarily use these, but they have always stuck in my mind.

Quinn Mallory was the science whiz kid, the character portrayed by Jerry O'Connell. Until then, I had only heard the name as a girls one, so I was intrigued by the idea of it being used on a male. I realise this seems strange, as in the US Quinn has been far more popular for boys right up until two years ago. In 2009, 'Glee' burst onto our screens, introducing us to the beautiful, complex and popular cheerleader Quinn Fabray. In 2010 girls Quinns outnumbered boys by just 44 children. This increased in 2011, and we'll probably see this trend for a few years yet, if not permanently.

Quinn is an Irish name meaning 'descendant of Conn'. In The US it was the 188th most popular girls name, and 297th most popular boys name in 2011, and it is the favourite Q name for either gender. 

Wade Welles was Quinn's best friend, played by Sabrina Lloyd. The only female of the original foursome, Wade often helped bring the heart and humanity to situations when Quinn and his professor started to lose sight of anything besides facts and figures. She also was the long time sufferer of a massive crush on Quinn. 

Wade is definitely entrenched in our minds as a boys name, and in 2011 was ranked #549 for boys in the U.S. That's not to say there aren't other female Wade's out there. It's just that there's never been more than 7 girls given this name in a single year. So obviously this show did not boost Wade's popularity as a girl's name while the show aired. 

Wade means "at the river crossing", so is an option for people looking for a different, not too obvious water related name for their child. It may not be everyone's idea of a great girl's name, but it suited this character to a T - tomboyish, spunky, but with a softer side to it.

This is perhaps one of the most interesting names of the show (well, for me at least). Professor Maximilian Arturo was played by John Rhys Davies, a great English actor possibly best remembered for the Indiana Jones movies, and more recently, as Gimli in 'The Lord of the Rings' movies.

The character sometimes tended towards being quite supercilious, and his posh sounding name suited him well. Arturo is an Italian version of Arthur, thought to mean 'bear'. Which I guess also suited this actors appearance, and the characters sometimes grumbly, sometimes roaring nature. I much prefer it to Arthur, personally, which for some reason has a slightly wimpy feel to me.

Arturo was #461 for American boys in 2011. While not a popular name for girls, like Wade it has been given to a handful of girls sporadically over the years. But unlike Wade, I personally have trouble imagining it suiting a girl very well.

Rembrandt 'Crying Man' Brown - played by Cleavant Derricks - was unlucky enough to be driving past the house when the vortex swelled out and swallowed him up with the other three. He was most out of his element, being an artist to the scientifically oriented Quinn and Arturo. What I loved about his character is that he was the one that seemed to grow the most over the course of the show. He started as a rather vain, struggling singer, but grew to be a thoughtful, selfless and caring person.

Rembrandt is synonymous with the great Dutch painter and etcher Rembrandt Van Rijn. So I guess they decided to give the singer and artist of the group an artists name. Rembrandt is a Dutch name meaning 'sword advisor', which arguably often became his role in the group. Interestingly, 2011 was the first time it appeared on the US SSA list, after being given to just 5 boys. I think people had been deterred because the artist association was so unavoidable. But perhaps the rise of Matisse as a name has made artist names a little more accepted, and helped put this option back on the table.

Quinn about to slide through a vortex
The show ran for 5 seasons, and over the course of their adventures some of these characters left, to be replaced by the other primary characters. But for me, these four original characters were the core of the show. Was 'Sliders' a favourite of yours? Would you consider any of these names? Or maybe it's a different sci-fi show that introduced some names that have always struck a chord with you. If you want more sci-fi related names I suggest you also check out Geek Baby Names. It's a new blog dedicated to names from science, sci-fi and fantasy, and owner Clare has already looked at some great ones.

1 comment:

  1. Great post! I've never seen this show, but I wish I had now. Thanks for plugging my site!