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DVD Review: Sliders - The Third Season

For those who don't know, Sliders is a television show that first aired in 1995 on the FOX network, and it's about four people who continually travel to various dimensions through a glowing portal that's activated by a hand-held timing device. As far as I can tell, the timer doesn't actually create the dimensional portals, a machine does, and the timer just activates the machine to open the portal. At any rate, it was all invented by a genius student named Quinn Mallory, though he thought that he was creating some kind of anti-gravitational device. It wasn't until he actually went through one of the portals, and then got pulled back, that he realized what it was that he had invented... or... um... well, he's kind of dense, so no, not quite yet.

Eager to show off his new invention, though he's still not sure exactly what it is, he head over to the university to try to convince his mentor, Professor Maximilian Arturo, to come check it out, only to discover that the Professor was extremely upset about something Quinn had apparently done to him early in the day. Confused, Quinn then heads over to the computer store to start his shift, and his "best friend" (or would-be girlfriend, like I said, he's dense), Wade Wells, "reminds" him that he was fired earlier in the day. Even more confused, he returns to his basement, only to find a formula that he had been working on is filled in. Then another Quinn steps out of the shadows, and explains it all... or almost all. He tries to give his double some kind of warning about the timer, but gets pulled into his portal before he has the chance. Well, at least he gave him the word he uses for the traveling though portals, and that word would be... "sliding" (as if there were any doubt).

Sliders - The Third Season Armed with this new knowledge, Quinn convinces Professor Arturo and Wade to come over for a demonstration. He sets the timer for five hours, and increases the power just to make sure the portal can handle three people. Unfortunates, he increased the power too much, and it expanded past his basement and out into the street, just as Rembrandt "Crying Man" Brown happens to be driving by. The four passengers and the car all end up on an alternate Earth, one in the middle of some kind of ice age. They try to wait it out, but certain danger descends on them in the form of some kind of snow tornado, and so Quinn activates the timer early and they slide out of there. Quinn soon discovers what his double was trying to warn him about... activating the timer early kind of messes it up somehow and destroys their home coordinates. And so their adventures begin, sliding between dimension, usually helping people out, and hoping each time that their next leap...er, slide will be the slide home.

Sliders - The Third Season And none of that is in Sliders - The Third Season, because that all occurred in the premiere episode of first season. I remember watching Sliders when it first aired back in 1995, and I really enjoyed it. I thought it was a great sci-fi show with tons of potential for intriguing and action packed stories. And then came season three, and I realized that it wouldn't be lasting much longer. Now, don't get me wrong, season three did have some good episodes, and it was still enjoyable to watch, but the problem is that the writers started getting away from reality, like it was loosing it's grounding to physics and science in general. We stopped seeing realistic Earths with alternate histories, such as a US ruled by Soviets, or by England, or where sexism is reversed, and started seeing episodes like "Dragonslide", with wizards and magic, or "The Fire Within" that had sentient fire, or "The Prince Of Slides", where men carry babies to term, or "State Of The A.R.T.", where the Earth is not populated only by robots.

Sliders - The Third Season They also changed the premise slightly. In the season premiere, the Sliders unintentionally get their timer modified so that instead of always landing in San Francisco, they can now end up basically anywhere in California. Why would they even do that? They couldn't have been running out of ideas already! It was so cool to see all the different variations on the same exact place. Oh, and if that wasn't bad enough, half way through the season they kill of Professor Arturo, and brought in some "sexy" chick, probably in an attempt to make the show more appealing to teenagers. Hello?! People aren't going to start watching a show just because you add a sexy chick, nor will it keep people watching. In fact, that kind of thing tends to turn people off. But hey, you know what will keep people watching? Good stories! Yeah, really, you should try it sometime. Oh, and I can't forget to mention the fact that the Professor was killed in Exodius, which was episode 17, but then mysteriously re-appeared as part of the group in "The Last of Eden", which was episode 20. So either someone screwed up the order, or someone just didn't think we would care.

Sliders - The Third Season It's been a long time since I've watched the first two seasons of Sliders, so I really don't remember how well done the special effects were. But what I can tell is that in season three, the special effects are pathetic. And I'm not exaggerating here. I'm talking Land of the Lost bad. Yeah, remember that show? If not, then you're lucky. But you know what? The quality of the special effects just doesn't really matter all that much. You almost always get the idea of what the special effects were trying to convey, and you really do have to cut them some slack. I'm sure they didn't have a very big budget, and just transforming the city into something new for almost every episode must have been expensive. Plus, the cheesy effects often times will give you a good laugh, and a laugh is a laugh, whether it's intentional or not.

Sliders - The Third Season Now, don't take all this to mean that this season was terrible, because it wasn't. There were still some really good episodes, like Season's Greetings, The Exodus (parts one and two), Double Cross, and Rules of the game. Then there were some others that were also enjoyable enough. If you added them all together, I'd say it'd be about have the season that was worth watching, with the rest being either just barely entertaining, and a few being downright terrible. This season of Sliders was not the best, but I can also say that it is most definitely, unequivocally, without a doubt better than any of the seasons that followed it. The fourth season sees the loss of another Slider, Wade Wells, begins the whole idiotic Nazi-Kromag plot line that starts taking up many of the remaining episodes, and introduces a new Slider, Quinn's brother. Then both Quinn and his brother vacate the series in the fifth season, replaced by two new and easily forgettable Sliders.

Sliders - The Third Season So, if you are a fan of Sci-Fi shows, and don't already own the Sliders - The First and Second Seasons box set, then I'd say go pick that one up instead. If you already have it, and need a Sliders fix, then go ahead and get this one. It's not the best, but it's not terrible either and it will keep you entertained overall. It might also be good for younger kids who just like to focus on the action and special effects and don't really care about stories or can even recognize the difference between good and bad writing. Otherwise, I'd wait for some kind of 15% off sale, or scour eBay after it's been out for a while and try to find one for a bit cheaper.

Sliders - The Third Season is being released by Universal Home Video on DVD starting July 19, 2005, and stars Jerry O'Connell as Quinn Mallory, Sabrina Lloyd as Wade Wells, John Rhys-Davies as Professor Maximilian Arturo, and Cleavant Derricks as Rembrandt "Crying Man" Brown.

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