I find myself browsing and viewing a lot of the movies and shows on Netflix lately. I only have the streaming service so I do not know exactly what I am missing out with the mail delivery service but I do know that I am missing at least "some" stuff". Regardless, one of the things I have really enjoyed is the opportunity to watch all sorts of TV shows including older shows and much more recent shows. Some of the TV shows that I have at least watched a few minutes to gauge my interest include Dark Shadows (60s original), Burn Notice (seasons 1-4), Night Gallery, Masters of Horror, and many more. The TV series that I am currently viewing is Sliders. I saw many of the episodes as they originally aired but there has been enough time lapsed since then that it's all pretty much new to me. The bad news is that the streaming version is only a partial list of episodes for season one and season two is completely absent; all said there are 72 streaming episodes available for viewing.
I made it through the shortened season 1 and I am currently two episodes into season 3. As I am watching this episode a thought crossed my mind - Sliders is better than Doctor Who as the basis of an RPG campaign. I can hear the Doctor Who fans screaming in anguish right now at the blasphemy of that thought. Make no mistake, Doctor Who is an awesome series and my favorite show of all time. On the other hand, when it comes to a role-playing setting Sliders has it beat for several reasons. Please, put the torches away and hear me out before this blog and I face your wrath.
One of the goals of a role-playing campaign based off of a TV show would be the ability to emulate the setup of the main protagonists from that series. I believe Doctor Who presents a problem with that because the Time Lord character (Doctor Who or otherwise) will typically outshine all other characters. The humans will be overshadowed by either one of the other players or by an NPC; unless, of course, all players are a Time Lord. That changes the entire setup from the TV show. In contrast, Sliders has four human characters in the party. Sure, some are smarter, more athletic, look better, etc. but they are all human. My point is that one character may get the spotlight in certain situations but will not maintain the spotlight in the same fashion as The Doctor would.
At first glance it would seem that Doctor Who has the advantage when it comes to the setting. I mean, the entirety of time and space would be your playground in a Doctor Who game. That would also be one big hassle for the GM. Every time the TARDIS landed somewhere else then a new planet, space station, alien race, alien animals, etc. would have to be detailed. Again, Sliders has the advantage when it comes to role-playing. The setting is Earth - actually parallel Earths - so the setting is basically constant all of the time. Of course, there are details different on each Earth so only a little work has to be done to get a "new setting" for the next slide.
Adventure Ideas & Canon
Doctor Who has many years of show history - 30+ years of the original and nearing 10 on the new series - that serve to give many details for the players to absorb and use. There have been numerous visits to Gallifrey, Skaro, etc. and the players need to be aware of much of that information if they want to remain canonically relevant without invalidating of that history. Stepping on canon will bother some (many?) players and there is a lot of canon to Doctor Who. Sliders was on for less than 10 seasons; a decent run but not enough to develop so much canon to hinder adventure ideas for gaming. In fact, many of the episodes end or start with the Sliders about to leave a world for the next one. The viewer only gets to see a few moments of that world before the slide so there is an opportunity for adventure ideas right there. Another source of adventure ideas is real world history - what if the Nazis won World War II, or what if the U.S. moon mission was a disaster and the space program shut down, or what if the cold war between the U.S. and Russia was still going on? There are numerous ideas that can be generated by flipping through an encyclopedia, almanac, or even cruising Wikipedia.
Those are just 3 of the reasons why Sliders is better than Doctor Who for a role-playing campaign. I would list more but I can hear the crowd approaching. I see the flames of their torches through my window shades. Maybe I can slide out of here before they make it through the door?