The first two seasons established a very clear tone and visual identity for SLIDERS: location filming in Vancouver, lighthearted satire, heroic but troubled characters filled with strengths and human frailties, and a grounded tone that made SLIDERS look like an independent film rather than a big budget network show. Season 3 throws all this out, moving the location to Los Angeles, costuming all the characters as magazine models rather than according to their characters.
The satirical, comedic tone puncturing royalty, sports, celebrity, the prison industrial complex, youth culture, ageism, chauvinism -- that disappears too. Instead, the episodes become focused on action movie ripoffs where the sliders resolve problems with force and violence instead of cleverness, literacy, knowledge and improvisation. The series also shifts into fantasy with supernatural monsters and magic -- a bizarre choice when the fictional realities of SLIDERS have been based in technology, mathematics and physics.
Season 3 is also when the original creator left the show and a deeply troubled and unfortunate producer, David Peckinpah, was assigned responsibility for scripts and production. In the years following the show, Peckinpah's son explained: Peckinpah was suffering from a terrible family tragedy, the death of his teenaged son, and it caused him to backslide into a drug addiction. He was getting high before, during and after work. After SLIDERS' cancellation, his addiction would kill him.
As a result, Season 3 is sloppy: scripts are not edited properly to amend errors or shooting issues, actors deliver lines incorrectly and production doesn't bother to do a second take, missing sound effects are ignored -- the big two parter of Season 3 was basically an excuse to hire rock star Roger Daltrey to perform for the cast and crew for two weeks with making an episode treated as something to do between binge drinking sessions. This attitude continued for the last two seasons of the show with sloppy script editing and revisions and it's truly unfortunate.
Season 3 also has a horrific exit for the Professor, one that I saw when I was 13 and in many ways, it left me permanently damaged. I felt like I had watched my own father die. I still feel it. Once, when completing some SLIDERS research for a podcast, I confessed to the podcasters that everything in my life since 1997 had been a reaction to the death of Professor Arturo followed by a fearful avoidance of the void that was left in my life, a gaping hole that I was afraid to look into until enough time had passed and I could address it, confront it and fill it.
What I'm saying is that if you'll cover the postage, you can have my Season 3 set.