"Slither" is terrible. One of the worst episodes of SLIDERS ever made. Tom and Cory highlighted a lot of the moronic points: Rembrandt's discarded shirt is later referred to as Quinn's shirt. The sliders foolishly take separate vacations with massive distances between them. Maggie and Wade would never agree to be alone together for extended periods.
The one point that didn't seem to offend Tom and Cory too much, however -- was Quinn declaring his intention to abandon the sliders, abandon the chase for Rickman and abandon his pursuit of the timer holding his home coordinates. All to be with Kyra. Tom and Cory found it to be one odd note among many odd notes for Season 3 Quinn.
I found it to be utterly devastating to the Quinn character. As Mike Truman noted in his review, Kyra is an obvious sociopath and manipulator. And for the first time in the series, Quinn has a real chance of making it home (or at least, he thinks he does).
Quinn Mallory has indeed changed since Season 2. He's become oddly caustic and callous, strangely flirtatious, unusually aggressive and much less intelligent. But even this altered version of Quinn has no logical or emotional reason to abandon an opportunity to make it home in favour of being with a woman who will obviously betray him at the first opportunity!
"Slither" is full of incoherent logic, poorly considered storytelling and nonsensical developments and this is before we even get to the super-intelligent snakes that can knock out electricity to buildings and down a plane. And it completely destroys Quinn Mallory's character. There is nothing admirable, understandable or workable with this character anymore. This is Quinn's worst depiction to date in the series.
(Season 4 will be even worse in this area.)
"Dinoslide." It's not bad! Cory and Tom raised issues with the military personnel being suspicious of Maggie and the sliders, saying this doesn't match "The Exodus." I actually thought it quite reasonable that some people didn't trust Maggie due to her association with Rickman even if Maggie was the one to expose Rickman as a murderer.
The episode is very well-filmed with stunning cinematography and location work. The action is compelling. I'm not in favour of SLIDERS stories that use force and violence, but as action hours go, Peckinpah's scripting is capable and filled with strong exchanges. There's a grim sense of humour in the T-Rex being used for food. Malcolm's gift to Rembrandt is touching. It's a fun action episode.
Where the story really falls apart is Rickman. He's not threatening. He's just ridiculous. As I said in my post on "The Exodus," there's really nothing human in this character. He's just a bunch of cartoonishly villainous traits. He's also a coward. He doesn't want to achieve anything other than eke out his days on stolen brain fluid; he doesn't care about the sliders beyond wanting to escape them. He isn't actually dangerous to the sliders outside of them pursuing him.
It's weird how Peckinpah is a decent writer whose script is impaired by the need to involve the Rickman character, yet Peckinpah's the reason Rickman's even in the show! Rickman's in the show because the producers wanted Roger Daltrey and his band to perform for the cast and crew and spend two weeks partying and filming an episode between binge drinking sessions.
Cory's right to say "Dinoslide" should have been the Season 3 finale. It's not a transcendental life experience, but it has the sliders revisiting the "Exodus" colony and it looks beautiful.
It's certainly better than the chaotic mess of "This Slide of Paradise." This is the worst hour of television ever made. Completely unwatchable. The guest-characters are just a mess of exaggerated 'animalistic' behaviours. Dr. Vargas is an unrelatable, inhuman lunatic. There is absolutely nothing onscreen that appeals or entertains.
The animal human hybrids are not remotely interesting or believable and they fill the screentime to the point where it's unbearable.
And then the ending. It's nice that Wade and Rembrandt are mercifully sent home and are freed from this trainwreck of a series. But the Quinn/Maggie romance is just nonsensical.
The two characters have no common ground, no mutual respect, no partnership -- the show has never bothered to explore any aspect of their friendship aside from a contrived sexual attraction. Jerry, despite his flirty performances, seems incapable of performing any actual interest in Kari Wuhrer.
Kari, despite her skill at conveying sensuality, seems unable to indicate that she's sexually interested in Jerry. Even after months of filming together, Jerry and Kari have the onscreen rapport of two strangers who vaguely recall walking past each other at a gas station.
And then Quinn says they slid into the future. Tom says he can hear the voices of a thousand SLIDERS fans screaming out in rage. Cory suggests the line may have been meant sardonically. Oh, Cory. You dear, delightful man.
And Tom. Oh, Tom. Tom performs "Tears in my Fro" for us. It is a wonderful performance. I really liked how Tom chose an upbeat, joyful, energetic approach to the song.
It actually reminded me of something Sliderscast noted in their "King is Back" podcast. Jim Ford observed that our Rembrandt sang "Tears in my Fro" as a melancholy love song while Rembrandt-2 sang the same song in a fast, high-energy fashion that showed why Rembrandt-2 was a star and our Rembrandt wasn't.
"The King is Back" feels so far away. With "This Slide of Paradise," we have a smart, satirical show having collapsed into doing bad monster movies. "The King is Back" is so flawed, so clumsy. A Rembrandt double who doesn't look like a Rembrandt double. Quinn and Wade rushing to rescue Rembrandt -- but making a stop at the concert venue first to check out some Rembrandt-impersonators.
But then there's the scene where Rembrandt and Rembrandt-2's performances are compared to each other. It's so insightful. So thoughtful. It shows such love and care for its characters.
Whereas "This Slide of Paradise" has the sliders blissfully unconcerned when Rembrandt runs off to fight with animal-human hybrids all by himself.
Season 3 is a terrible show. And Season 4 is actually worse in many ways The really sad thing is that SLIDERS was so close -- so very, very close -- to turning itself around. The Sci-Fi Channel renewal caught everyone by surprise.
Tracy Torme was prepared to return to the series. John Rhys-Davies was prepared to return to the series. Sabrina was contracted for Season 4, as were Jerry and Cleavant (and Kari).
But, as is frequent in the history of this series, Universal and the Sci-Fi Channel didn't understand what they'd bought. Sci-Fi's bizarre opinion was that SLIDERS worked best with three men and one woman -- and that it didn't matter which woman was retained.
Who could watch Season 1 and declare the show worked better because it was three men and one woman? Could it be, instead, that one of those men was a Shakespearean actor with an intensely commanding screen presence? And that the one woman was a capable actress who had chemistry with all her castmates? Kari Wuhrer, in Season 3, seems to be acting in a completely different production from the other actors.
Temporal Flux has noted that the regime that bought SLIDERS for Sci-Fi left the Channel shortly before the development process for Season 4. Others less enamoured of the series, less interested in it, took over that process.
The studio, Universal, didn't seem to be concerned with content, either. They wanted more episodes of SLIDERS, but were largely unconcerned with what would be in those episodes.
It's like the people and entities in charge of SLIDERS' future only viewed it in the context of a balance sheet. Episode numbers. Syndication potential. Deficit-financing. Return on investment. Contracts. Show business with no concern for the show, only the business, and they didn't even handle the business that well.
The Season 3 budget was badly mismananged, which is why so many back-9 episodes look cheap and ugly. A man had died during production due to negligence. And yet, David Peckinpah, the ringleader of this decaying circus, was retained. He should have been fired.
Even if you set aside his hostility towards Rhys-Davies and Lloyd and the quality of his work, he presided over a severe misallocation of funds and he wasted Universal's money. And he certainly had nothing to do with getting SLIDERS renewed for a fourth season; it happened in spite of him.
Tracy Torme made a bid to regain control of his series for Season 4. Tom says that Tracy hoped to bring John back as an alternate Arturo. This is inaccurate.
Tracy's Season 4 premiere would have been "Slide Effects." Quinn wakes up to discover it's 1995. Arturo is alive. Rembrandt and Wade have no memory of sliding. The scenario is revealed to be a Kromagg mental simulation along with all the episodes Torme didn't like or watch. The sliders escape and slide off to new adventures. Kari would have been released from her contract; she would never have appeared on SLIDERS again.
But David Peckinpah had signed a multi-year contract with Universal. If Torme returned to the show, Peckinpah would be dismissed -- but Universal would have still been obligated to pay Peckinpah.
Universal decided to go with Peckinpah for Season 4 rather than pay both him and Torme. SLIDERS had escaped the FOX Network, but they had inflicted a lazy, indifferent and unprofessional manager onto the series and that manager never left.
There is a terrible irony to the fact that fan support is technically what kept making SLIDERS worse -- that the continued renewals meant more and more episodes in which Peckinpah and his hires could find new and terrible ways to mutilate the series into a twisted parody of what it once was. The fans saved the show in the sense that they prolonged its diseased and withered state.
The sad truth is that sometimes, things don't get better. Sometimes, we find ourselves in the deepest of holes with no means of escape and then someone will hand us a shovel.
SLIDERS could have changed everything. It could have galvanized our society into realizing the value and importance of choice. How a single choice can change everything and impact everyone. How even the refusal to make a choice is in itself a choice. How every possibility we face is critical and crucial, how our awareness of how our present choices affect our future situations. It could have united us as a planet and a people in confronting all our challenges with knowledge, imagination, curiosity and teamwork. SLIDERS could have saved us all.
David Peckinpah destroyed sliding. He destroyed the future. There is no hope. There is no tomorrow.
Behind the scenes information courtesy of Temporal Flux.