Television Series DVD
Sliders: Season 4
Distributed By: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
When Sliders initially aired in 1995, I was completely hooked. Four vastly different people traveling through parallel universes trying to find their way home. It meant a new science fiction adventure every week. Of course, there were some storylines that didn’t work very well, but I was still hooked on the originality of the series and the way it allowed its four main actors to show their range by playing themselves and the often very different parallel universe doubles they would run into from world to world. I was a faithful fan until the series seemingly ended in 1997 with the cancellation of the show by the FOX Network.
By then, the storyline had changed drastically. The beginning of the end actually began during Season 3 with the death of Professor Maximillian Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), one of the original sliders. The writing on the show had begun to go downhill, but I was still a follower. As much as I disliked the new character, Captain Maggie Beckett (Kari Wührer), I enjoyed the hate-hate relationship she shared with Wade Wells (Sabrina Lloyd), another of the original sliding group. I disliked the way they were setting Maggie up to be the new love interest of Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell), creator of sliding on his home world. As most fans of Quinn and Wade will tell you, those two belonged together and Maggie was just Quinn’s way of delving into the sleazy side of a parallel world. Fortunately, not much had changed in original slider Rembrandt Brown’s (Cleavant Derricks) storyline. I had hoped things would get better, but the series was cancelled.
And then the Sci-Fi Channel did something unheard of. In 1998, they began producing a brand new season of Sliders. Unfortunately, one more character had jumped ship - Sabrina Lloyd would not be reappearing for this new season of Sliders. I loved the character of Wade Wells and was disappointed that she would not be a part of Season 4. I wondered how the writers would handle her disappearance.
The story seemed plausible enough. Maggie and Quinn had been separated from Wade and Rembrandt in the very last episode of Season 3. They had been trying to follow Wade and Remy’s slide signature to Earth Prime (Quinn’s home world) for quite some time. When they finally make it there, Quinn and Maggie soon discover that an old enemy, the scientifically advanced yet evolutionarily stunted Kromaggs, have taken over this world. Wade and Remy were captured. Remy was being held in a Kromagg prison on Earth Prime while Wade was shipped to a Kromagg breeding camp on another world.
Season 4 starts off with a bang as Quinn and Maggie work to free Rembrandt from the clutches of the Kromaggs. This is where the storyline gets confusing - while inside the Kromagg prison, Quinn discovers that his mother was never his real mother after all. Apparently, his real parents were sliders who had left him in his adopted parents’ care until his real parents’ world could get rid of the Kromaggs. Supposedly, Quinn’s parents had come back for him, but his adopted parents kept him hidden, loving him too much to return him. Supposedly, Quinn had a brother who was taken to another world to be kept safe there.
Quinn’s new mission in life was to find his brother and eventually find his “true” home world. Maggie would follow Quinn anywhere, especially since she has no world of her own - it was destroyed in Season 3. Rembrandt’s goal is to discover whatever it was that Quinn’s real parents used to rid their world of Kromaggs and bring it back to Earth Prime to save his people. His side mission is to discover the whereabouts of Wade Wells, thus giving Wade fans hope that her character may yet return to the show.
If you ask me, this whole storyline was a way to explain Sabrina Lloyd’s disappearance and to bring Jerry O’Connell’s real life brother into the cast. Colin Mallory (Charlie O’Connell) is a very intelligent inventor living in a parallel universe that is generations behind technology-wise. As fantastic Quinn’s story sounds to him, Colin goes along for the ride, becoming the fourth slider.
Colin provides some comedy relief during some of the slides as he tries to make sense of the technological advances of other worlds such as television, computers, etc. Meanwhile, Charlie O’Connell provides some comic relief as he tries to pass himself off as an actor, which is nothing new to the series as Kari Wührer had been doing so for half a season already.
The fourth season of Sliders contained 22 painful episodes during which the sliders search aimlessly for their new homeworld. Oh, the things they could have done with this season with better writers and actors. Some of the best acting came from guest stars that only appeared in one or two episodes such as Sandra Hess, Shane West, Charlie Brill, Meg Foster, Roy Dotrice, Jay Acovone, Paula Trickey, Malcolm Jamal-Warner and more. The storyline about the Kromaggs was decent and the episodes featuring the Kromaggs were actually the best of the entire season. One in particular actually showed us the results of Kromagg/human interbreeding. Another featured a young woman’s escape from a breeding camp where Wade had also been a prisoner. Much to Wade fans’ chagrin, she had already been shipped somewhere else by the time our sliders had arrived.
As the season progressed, Maggie and Quinn become closer and closer. In fact, there was one episode where a slide goes wrong and a theoretical world is created in which Maggie and Quinn are married with a son - sickening to someone who immensely disliked the character of Maggie and wished that she was the one the Kromaggs had captured instead of Wade. Sorry if I sound like a Maggie hater, but…well…I am. Oh, and while I’m on the subject of hating Maggie, what made Kari think she could sing? I’d prefer Sabrina Lloyd’s singing in Season 3 to the raunchy warbling of Kari Wührer in Season 4 any day!
And then we come to the last episode of the season - the one in which Quinn and Colin finally find their true home world…or so we think. We soon learn that the two brothers have been duped into traveling to the wrong world and must refocus on finding their world. What bothers me so much about this episode is that, until they find out it is the wrong world, Quinn, Colin and Maggie are content to stay there and hand the sliding device to Remy so that he may return to Earth Prime with a cure for their Kromagg ills. Wait! What about rescuing one of the best friends you ever had, Quinn? You remember her - she was the girl with a huge crush on you that had been friends with you long before you had created the slide machine. She was the one that believed in your sliding theory despite the nay-sayers and was the only one who willingly joined you on your journey. What about rescuing Wade? And thus, Wade fans learned that her character was never to return…or was she?
The Sliders: Season 4 DVD set comes in a fairly cool looking package, but that’s all that is cool about it. There are no extras to speak of - none at all! Come on, guys! There had to be bloopers. After all, look at the acting prowess of Kari and Charlie! Overall, this season was rather disappointing and fans were hoping for a little something extra in the DVD set. Unfortunately, I suppose that was not meant to be and Sliders fans have been given one more thing to be disappointed over.