These days, I find myself looking at Seasons 3 - 5 as a picture of David Peckinpah's addiction reignited after his teenaged son's death made him relapse after two decades of sobriety.
Season 3 is the cocaine high. Everything's mad and random and crazy and driven by one's basest impulses in any direction -- nightclubs and sex and explosions akin to riding the top of a supersonic train or high-excitement motorcycle chases -- but with an ugly, dehumanizing edge if you look closely where people and relationships don't matter, only the thrill of the drug. People who seem to be a buzzkill get dumped in the trash or blown up.
But then the high isn't enough and the addict wants drugs that go even deeper into the psyche to feed the need for escape -- the miserable monster movies that were "The Breeder" and "Stoker" and "This Slide of Paradise" are a heroin injection, going into depressants that leave one in a state of euphoric bliss. But in truth, anyone sober looking at the heroin addict would see human body that's little more than a corpse that isn't dead yet.
Then we come to Season 4, where it's now all about combining heroin and cocaine into speedballs, resulting in more euphoria that is, however, socially vacant and emotionally dead; there's no real friendships or relationships through heroin and cocaine. The physicality of the bliss these drugs induce has no emotional love or care or fondness or compassion or heart behind it; the body may feel joyous, but the spirit is deadened and empty, much like Jerry O'Connell's performance.
And then we come to Season 5 -- the drugs aren't for pleasure anymore. The constant anesthetic use has created tolerance and painful withdrawal symptoms in their absence; injecting and inhaling has simply become the joyless routine of "The Great Work" and "Java Jive" and the isolating nature of the drugs has left Peckinpah bleak, adrift and alone, going through the motions without even the extremity that made Season 3 a compelling trainwreck. Season 5 is just filling out the time to get through 18 episodes. Then the show died and David Peckinaph had nowhere left to direct his grief aside from his veins. Shattered and alone, he plunged speedball after speedball into himself until his heart gave out. I have nothing but sympathy for the poor man. Peckinpah and SLIDERS on his watch are symptoms of a terrible disease.
I once pondered where bad TV producers go when they die. Temporal Flux says they go to development hell. Most SLIDERS fans say they burn in actual hell. Informant remarked that regardless of whether Peckinpah is in heaven or hell, what he left behind is many terrible hours of television. Those hours speak to how truly sad, lost and alone he must have been.
Anyway. My final SLIDERS script will be a tribute to David Peckinpah and the ideas he introduced into the show.