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Reviews » DVD Video Reviews » Sliders: Seasons 1 & 2
Sliders: Seasons 1 & 2
Universal // Unrated // August 3, 2004
List Price: $89.98 [Buy now and save at Amazon]
Review by John Sinnott | posted August 1, 2004 | E-mail the Author
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C O N T E N T
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The Show:

When I first heard of the show Sliders, I though it sounded like a pale imitation of Quantum Leap with a little bit of Stargate thrown in for good measure.  But writing the show off as a knock off of Leap would be making a mistake.  While Sliders has a lot in common with its more famous cousin, it isn't a direct copy, and the differences are significant.   Sliders is not a perfect show, but it is one that can stand on its own and is very enjoyable.  Now the first two seasons of this guilty pleasure of mine have been released on DVD so that people who may have missed it when it first aired (which was very easy to do) can now enjoy it at their leasure.

Quinn Mallory (Jerry O'Connell) is a physics grad student who is working on an antigravity device in his basement.  The antigrav machine doesn't pan out, but he does stumble upon something very interesting: he discovers a way to open a portal between dimensions.  A gateway to another parallel Earth, where things are similar to our world, but not quite the same.  After taking a brief trip to an alternate reality and returning, Quinn's professor, Maximillian Arturo (John Rhys-Davies ) and his friend Wade Kathleen Welles (Sabrina Lloyd) stop by.  Quinn decides to reveal his discovery to his friends by taking them on a quick trip to another world.  Cranking the power up to accommodate the all three travelers, he opens a wormhole.  They enter the vortex, but the extra energy causes the wormhole to shift before it closes and a has-been pop singer, Rembrandt 'Cryin' Man' Brown (Cleavant Derricks) is sucked in against his will.

All four find themselves in a world where an ecological catastrophe has occurred.  Everything is covered in ice, and there are no living people to be found.  Consulting the portable timer that Quinn carried with him, he finds that they still have some time to wait before it's safe to open the portal home.  But Mother Nature isn't working on their schedule, and when they see a tornado heading straight for them, Quinn activates the timer and open a vortex so that they can 'slide' to safety.  Unfortunately, they don't end up back on their world.  By sliding before it was time, they have gotten themselves lost in a nearly infinite amount of parallel worlds. So this eclectic group of travelers journey to a new world each episode, trying to find a way back home.

It would be quite easy to make fun of Sliders.  Some of the plots are ridiculous, and I don't think many of the changes that took place in the alternate Earths were plausible.  (A world where time runs backwards?)  I can't bring my self to trash the show.  Sliders is one of those programs that definitely falls into the guilty pleasure category.  There is a lot wrong with the show right from the start.  Some of it the writers fault, but other aspects were beyond their control.  My biggest gripe with the show is that they never explain how the timer functions, the device that allows them to slide.  They establish in the pilot that you'll get lost if you slide early, but there are many episodes when someone's life is in danger but they don't just slide out to the next world.  They are already lost, how much worse can it get?  But then there are non-life threatening times when they do activate the timer prematurely, like when they use it as a weapon against a flying ship in the episode Invasion.  Apparently there was a scene that explained all this in an early episode, but the network changed the order of the shows around.  That made the scene in question nonsensical, and it was cut.  I think it would have been better to have just left it in rather than have people scratching their heads over the apparent nonsensical use of this device, or have included the explination in a future episode.

There isn't a lot of continuity in these first two seasons, and what little there is they get wrong.  Early on it's established that where ever you are in one world, that's where you'll land in the next.  But there are a couple of times when they open a wormhole high in the air, off the top of a skyscraper in one show, but at the end of the slide they are near the ground instead of 300 feet up in the air.  In one episode Quinn states that it would be risky to take a fifth person on a slide, but they drive a van through without any problem a couple of shows later.  The number of small continuity errors like this is staggering, much more than I would have expected.  When you sit and watch the shows one after anther like I did, they become much more apparent.

But even with all the continuity and logic errors, Sliders is still are very fun show.  I found myself enjoying it against my will.  There were some excellent shows that really kept you on the edge of your seat, and over the course of these two season you get to know the characters quite well.  They all start off fairly two dimensional, but as the series goes on, they are all fleshed out fairly well.

Though the first season starts off a little rough (they recycle the plot from the pilot three episodes later) the show soon hits it's stride.  There are a lot of episodes where the quartet is thrown into a situation where they have to save the world, but these become less frequent as the series progresses.  My favorite shows were the ones where the group just had to find out how to survive until they could slide again.  Fever was a classic episode were they slide to a world where an epidemic is running rampant.  Gillian of the Spirits finds the group with a broken timer on a world that has outlawed technology.  These shows are what make people come back for more.

The best show on this set has to be the first season's finale episode, Luck of the Draw.  Borrowing a bit from the short story The Lottery by Shirley Jackson, this episode has Wade winning the lottery and thinking about staying on this world, until she finds out what winning entails.  This program also had a great cliffhanger ending.  Several things happened right at the end that could have effected the show dramatically.  One of the great things about TV series on DVD is you don't have to wait to see what happens you can just pop the next disc in.

The series has its share of clunkers though, and the resolution to that wonderful cliffhanger, Into the Mystic is one of the episodes that just don't work at all.  The loose ends to the previous season are wrapped up before the credits roll in a most unsatisfactory fashion.   (In the 'making of' featurette, the creators state that the network wouldn't allow them to do anything else.)  They then go on to a parody of The Wizard of Oz complete with a golden path and a female who tells the quartet to follow it, a midget, the man behind the curtain, and someone in search of a brain.  Not a good note to start a season on.  The season does pick up after that though, with season two being a bit edgier than the first one in general.

But even with the lesser efforts, Sliders is a fun show to watch.  Just about every episode has that 'fish out of water' feeling where the viewers and the characters are trying to discover just what is going on in the world that they find themselves in.  The characterization is generally very well done, and each plot taken by itself is usually pretty good.  The show only starts to fall down when you look at the continuity across all the shows.  If you can look past that, this is a great program.

The DVD:


This set contains the first two seasons of Sliders on six DVDs.  They discs come packed in a very cool half clear case.  The DVDs are inserted into a piece of foam rubber which gives the impression that they are floating in air.  A very nice case design.

The shows are presented in the order that they originally aired.  I only wish they would have put them in the order that they were originally meant to air.  There is a slight cliff hanger at the ending of Summer of Love that is resolved in the first minutes of the The Prince of Wails.  Unfortunately due to the network changing the order, in this set the resolution comes first and the set up is in the following episode.

Audio:

The two channel surround sound English soundtrack is quite good.  While not as full as a 5.1 mix would be, it was fairly dynamic, even if there wasn't a lot of audio thrown to the rears.  The dialog was clean and clear, and there wasn't any hiss or distortion.  A nice sounding DVD.  There are subtitles in English Spanish and French.

Video:

The full frame image looks acceptable though there are a few digital artifacts.  The lines are tight and in the foreground, though there are some light halos in some background details.  There is a fair amount of cross colorization, and aliasing is fairly prevalent.  Fine lines, especially those in the background tend to shimmer slightly.  Detail is good, though some information is lost in darker areas.   Even with these defects, the show doesn't look bad.  The picture is very acceptable.

Extras:

There were only a few extras, but those that are included are very good.   The pilot episode includes a commentary by creators Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss.  They relate some of the inside stories that took place during the filming of the pilot, and reveal who all the bit actors are and what projects they had previously been involved with.  They also talk about changes in the script and characters that were dropped.  The pair also talk about some of the inside jokes that appear through out the episode; the equations on the boards, some of the dates that are used etc.  Fans of the show will definitely want to listen to this.

The best extra is a 14-minute making of Sliders that is included on the last disc.  Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss are interviewed along with Jerry O'Connell (Quinn Mallory) and Cleavant Derricks (Rembrandt 'Cryin' Man' Brown.)  Unfortunately the other two main members of the cast are not included in the featurette.  They talk about some of their favorite moments from the show and relate some amusing anecdotes.  Jerry O'Connell has a great line about fans of the show that I really liked: "Science Fiction fans are like a beautiful woman:   Ya gotta treat her right. You gotta bring her flowers, you gotta treat her with respect.  Because the second you disrespect her, she's out the door."  How true that is.

In addition there is a minute long reel of production photos.

I really wish that they had included a section with deleted scenes. I was really hoping to see the scene where the function of the timer was explained, an important scene that was cut from an early episode and never broadcast. It is really too bad that this bit is not to be found anywhere in this set.

Final Thoughts:

I really enjoy watching Sliders, though I'll be the first to admit that it's not the greatest SF show to ever air.  Yes there are some continuity errors, and some of the shows are a bit silly, but there isn't any cute talking robot or comic relief sidekick, which is something.  The best episodes are absolutely great, and even the worst shows have something to offer.  While I don't like it as much as Quantum Leap or Stargate SG-1, if you are fans of those shows, you should make a point of checking this one out too. Overall, it is a very enjoyable show, but the digital artifacts and the prevelant continuity errors bring it down a bit in my opinion. This set rates a very high Recommended.
 

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