Television Series DVD
Sliders: Season 3
Distributed by: Universal Studios
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
“What if you found a portal to a parallel universe? What if you can slide into a thousand different worlds? Where it's the same year and you're the same person, but everything else is different. And what if you can't find your way home?” Good question. A question that was posed every week by actor Jerry O’Connell through his character Quinn Mallory in the science fiction television series, Sliders.
The show featured young would-be scientist Quinn Mallory. Quinn had just created a machine that allowed him to create a breach in the space-time continuum. With his creation, he was able to create vortexes that allowed him to travel to parallel Earths. Overjoyed with his discovery, Quinn shares what he has learned with his best friend, Wade Welles, and his professor, Maximillian Arturo. Not realizing how big a vortex he would need to transport all three of them to another Earth, Quinn accidentally makes the vortex too wide, capturing singer Rembrandt Brown in the vortex and dragging him along for the ride. Things go wrong on the world the “sliders” have traveled to and Quinn is forced to alter the timer in order to transport them out of their alternate Earth in one piece. Quinn soon discovers that by doing so, he has lost the coordinates to their original Earth and they are forced to slide into parallel worlds until they eventually find their way home.
I was a fan of this show from its very first airing on the FOX network, Friday nights in 1995. The show aired on the FOX network for 3 years, until the rights were sold to the Sci-Fi network after its third season. I recorded every episode faithfully. The last new Sliders episode aired in the year 2000 on the Sci-fi Network. The show was cancelled and repeats were aired for a couple of years after the cancellation. Fans of the series were crushed, but the longtime fans realized that the series had been radically changed from that which they tuned in to every Friday on FOX. They realized that ending the show in its fifth and extremely awkward season was the kind thing to do. The original series had already died with the last aired episode of Season 3…perhaps some time before that.
On October 31, 2005, a DVD compilation of the third season of Sliders was released by Universal Studios. It contained four double-sided DVDs containing every episode of the third season, plus some bonus features. Since I was already the proud owner of the Season One / Two DVD set, I couldn’t wait to get my hands on the Season 3 set.
In my opinion, Season 3 began the downhill slide of the Sliders series. Seasons one and two focused on alternate histories – what would happen if America had lost the Revolution to Britain, if their were no penicillin, if America had never left its Wild West stage, if Russia conquered the United States. Season 3 started a slide in another direction. Although there were still a few episodes that dealt with alternate histories and social commentary, for the most part, Sliders was being turned into a sci-fi action series. This was becoming less of a thinking man’s series and more of a mindless action show.
However, there were quite a few episodes worth seeing again. One of which, Season’s Greedings in which the Sliders land on a “mall world” just in time for the holiday season, provides a terrific social commentary on the commercialization of the holidays. It was one of the last great episodes of a series that could have been so much more.
Perhaps the greatest downfall of the series was that of losing John-Rhys Davies as Professor Arturo and gaining Kari Wuhrer as soldier Maggie Beckett. Outspoken and ornery, the character of Arturo was a terrific asset to the show. When he was killed off and replaced by the militant and crass Maggie Beckett, it signaled the beginning of the end for the show. The character of Maggie was one that many fans could not be bothered to care about. The way the character was written and portrayed, actually served to push viewers away from her. Plus, the hints that Maggie would eventually become Quinn’s love interest angered long-term fans who wanted Wade and Quinn to become a couple.
Once Maggie Beckett’s character was added, the show took more of a action-focus than before, the central plot being Maggie’s revenge against the man who killed her husband, now a slider as well, with his own separate timer device. The last eight episodes of the series would center around Quinn and his friends tracking their enemy down in an effort to stop his murderous ways. Although there were some interesting background tales, these were lost to the primary focus – tracking down the wayward Colonel.
The Sliders: Season 3 DVD was a tad disappointing. Although it features every single episode from that season, there are several other features of the DVD set that are lacking. First, the packaging. The Season One / Two set came in a neat box with the DVD’s arranged in a foam encasing to create a mini-vortex inside the box. Season 3’s orange see-through case is just plain dull. The box doesn’t even include an episode list. The only way to see that is to place the DVD into the player.
Now, let’s talk about the bonus features. These are few and far between. First, there are the bonus episodes of Cleopatra 2525 and Earth 2, obvious plugs for the shows’ DVD releases. Being a completist, I watched both bonus episodes…or suffered through them as in the case of Cleopatra 2525. I just have one word to summarize that experience – Why?! As for the Earth 2 episode, I was a big fan of the show and think that Universal could have selected a much better episode than The Man Who Fell From Earth: Part 2 to promote the DVD release.
And then, there’s the Sliders: Season Three Gag Reel. I was really looking forward to this. I just knew that there had to be tons of “bloopers” on this show – all of the techo-babble, the stunts, the funny situations. I figured this reel would be hilarious. It would have been if Universal hadn’t chopped it down for the DVD set. Having expressed my disappointment with the reel that appears in the DVD set, I was directed to view the one featured at Sliders | Earth Prime. That website features the full-length gag reel with some hilarious takes that Universal somehow found it reasonable to delete from the DVD version. Sometimes I wonder about those company execs and their ideas of entertainment.
So, is the Sliders: Season 3 DVD set a must-buy? Well, if you are a Sliders fan like me, I say yes. VHS tapes only last so long and can only survive so many viewings. DVDs are the way to go if you want to keep the episodes for a long time. However, I suggest you wait for a sale if you must have the set. $60.00 U.S. is a tad bit high to pay for a DVD set that isn’t packaged very well and contains little-to-no special features.