So, the "Desert Storm" podcast. Cory and Tom didn't like this episode much, nor do I. It's the spectacle-oriented version of SLIDERS but there is absolutely no energy, no drive, no excitement. The direction and editing of this episode are amateurish and incoherent, and the entire story is just a collection of setpieces pastiching the MAD MAX movies.
Ian McDuffie put it beautifully on his blog, noting that if people want to watch MAD MAX, they'll watch MAD MAX. They won't be interested in a cheap fan-film version that happens to feature the cast of SLIDERS. What's the point? The intense level of indifference within the production is disturbing; this is an episode where Arturo's illness is referred to as a *heart* condition when in "The Guardian," he was getting a BRAIN scan. God damn it.
And finally, "Desert Storm" is a scathing indictment of the LA production team on SLIDERS. A show so incompetent and incapable in its operation that it couldn't even avoid getting people killed. The stunt and safety standards on SLIDERS were so sloppy and lax as to be criminally negligent. Before "Desert Storm," there were constant visitors to the set; after "Desert Storm," production started locking down on visitors in an effort to cover up the circumstances Ken Steadman's death. SLIDERS in Season 3 was so bad that it KILLED someone.
And then we come to "Dragonslide." Oh, "Dragonslide." This is where I really gave up on SLIDERS. Tom and Cory didn't make too big a deal of it, clearly drained by "Electric Twister Acid Test" and "The Dream Masters" and "Desert Storm." But "Dragonslide" is the episode that flat out declares that magic exists in the SLIDERS mythos.
This is simply wrong. SLIDERS lends itself to many kinds of stories, sure. But the core of the show is founded on sliding as a scientific creation. A marvel of engineering. Much of sliding operates on how scientific principles are behind the wonders of the multiverse. And most SLIDERS stories, certainly the strong ones, operate on the sliders appreciating that the realities they visit operate on rules that can be understood and manipulated.
Tom and Cory took issue with the silliness. For me, the issue is abandoning any notion of rules. Within a work of fiction that operates on physics, mathematics, engineering and a loose sense of quantum mechanics, you can still have fantasy elements. You can have psychics and telepaths and present that a somewhat scientific concept from tapping the undiscovered abilities within the human mind. You can have monsters as the product of genetic engineering or cybernetic enhancement. It may be a stretch to call any of this science, but SLIDERS ultimately functions on the idea that the world(s) can be *understood* through reason and rationality.
But when you have people transforming into birds and magically taking over bodies and resurrecting and shapeshifting through spells, you've stepped into a level of arbitrary and, quite frankly, inexplicable fantasy. There is no reasoning or logic to how Quinn can come back to life or why killing Phillip Mallory would damn the villain. There's nothing for the sliders to investigate and understand. It's simply about manipulating meaningless symbols. Swords. Potions. Incantations. And SLIDERS simply isn't suited to this kind of storytelling.
When encountering psychics, the sliders learned the advantages and limits the psychics had and then formulated a plan. When encountering dragons and wizards, the sliders pick up magical objects. It doesn't call upon their intelligence, ingenuity, inventiveness or teamwork. "Dragonslide" also throws away any notion of world-building via an alternate outcome to a historical event. That sort of writing operates on applying logic, reason and extrapolation, and "Dragonslide"'s version of SLIDERS throws all that away in favour of magic.
Magic is a disservice to SLIDERS and its characters, and that's why "Dragonslide" is such an abomination despite being inoffensive as a piece of television.
Anyway. I laughed out loud when Tom and Cory balked at "Dragonslide"'s claim that the Rembrandt of the Pilot was getting ready to move in with Alicia Avo. That's just silly. The Rembrandt of Season 1 was clearly single and not desperate to return home to a lover from whom he'd been unwillingly parted.