Television Series DVD
Sliders: The Fifth and Final Season
Distributed By: Universal Studios Home Entertainment
Reviewed by Melissa Minners
I was a huge Sliders fan after the first episode aired in 1995 featuring four vastly different individuals traveling through parallel universes trying to find their way home. Offering up a new sci-fi adventure each week, the series was original and fresh and the idea that the original sliders could actually run into their doubles gave the actors themselves more range. I watched every episode faithfully, despite the downward spiral of the writing and storylines, until the series was cancelled by FOX in 1997.
Then the Sci-Fi Channel picked it up in 1998, producing new episodes of Sliders, but “losing” a main character along the way. Wade Welles (Sabrina Lloyd) was lost to the evil Kromagg army, but there was hope that one day the sliders would find her. Unfortunately, the writing hadn’t gotten any better and the powers that be turned the show on its ear. Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell) was no longer rooted in Earth Prime - he was actually adopted and had a twin brother out there. So, instead of looking for their missing original slider, Wade, Quinn, Maggie (Kari Wuhrer) and Rembrandt (Cleavant Derricks) search for Quinn’s brother Colin (Charlie O’Connell). They find him rather quickly and things progress from there with the goofy, yet brainy Colin as comedy relief. Maggie became Quinn’s new love interest, much to the chagrin of fans everywhere and we couldn’t wait for the season to end.
Then came Season 5. It was rumored that problems existed in getting the O’Connells to resign for the following season. When Season 5 of Sliders did open, fans discovered that the rumors were true. As the sliders jump into the vortex, a lightning flash takes place and the only two people who came out of the vortex on the other side are Maggie, Rembrandt and someone who was Quinn Mallory (Robert Floyd) on this world, but looked nothing like the original. They venture to the lab this Quinn Mallory was working out of and meet physicist Diana Davis (Tembi Locke) and Dr. Oberon Geiger (Peter Jurasik).
Apparently, Dr. Geiger is an unstuck slider who interfered with our heroes slide in an effort to see if he could combine two slider personalities. Thus, we learn that their world’s Mallory is permanently combined with Quinn and Colin has become unstuck somewhere like Geiger. When Geiger continues on with his evil experiments, attempting to create a world in which he will no longer be unstuck, Maggie, Rembrandt, Mallory and Diana stop him and slide away. Dr. Geiger becomes a nemesis who would appear here and their during the season.
This fifth season of Sliders would be its last, the writing becoming so convoluted and the acting so horrible that you wonder why they even bothered trying. The major themes of the final season seemed to focus on too much governmental control - over free-thinking, consumer spending, oil and caffeine - and combined consciousness, which is explored in a couple of different ways in various episodes. Quinn is killed off, smothered by Mallory’s personality and we are left with a good-looking, dim-witted guy who doesn’t come close to the original Quinn in any way shape or form. In fact, Diana, who is the best actress featured in the season, actually replaced the scientist side of Quinn while supplying a bit of the Wade aspect with her hacking abilities.
This season also marks the death of Wade Welles in a cheesy episode called Requiem, in which we learn that Wade has been beheaded, but her brain was kept alive in order to run a Kromagg warship. Rembrandt, linked to Wade telepathically, ends up bringing his fellow sliders to the world where Wade is being held and reveals her fate to him and herself (until she sees herself through her eyes, she has no idea what the Kromaggs have done to her). She ends up sacrificing herself to save millions. Maybe this was a way for the writers to give Wade-fans, who were clamoring for news of her character for two years, some closure. I thought it was a cheesy way to kill the character off.
Whereas other seasons found the sliders meeting their doubles on other worlds quite often, in this season, it only happened a handful of times and only to Diana, Maggie and Rembrandt. Mallory, apparently, has no double on any world. Storylines ran thin in this season with Maggie forever whining about the loss of her Quinn, cults and pirates appearing in multiple episodes, a couple of Kromagg episodes and multiple problems with the sliders’ timer.
The final episode marked the reappearance of Roy Dotrice as the Seer, a telepath who has been following the adventures of our sliders unbeknownst to them for years. Despite the fact that Dotrice appeared in an episode during the previous season, amazingly neither Maggie nor Rembrandt recognize this man as the double of Archibald Chandler. It also marks the return of Quinn Mallory’s mother (Linda Henning) who is distraught over the loss of her son, but willing to help the sliders in any way possible. The episode ends with Rembrandt jumping to Earth Prime with a possible serum designed to repel the Kromaggs from his Earth. We don’t know whether he survives the jump - the Seer predicted the next jump for the sliders would be their last, but died as Rembrandt jumped into the vortex, leaving more questions than answers.
Despite having forgotten most of the final season’s regrettably forgettable episodes, I decided to purchase Sliders: The Fifth and Final Season on DVD. After all, I had every episode of the earlier Sliders seasons on DVD and had every episode of the disastrous fifth season on VHS. Might as well complete the series and clear up some space from my VHS collection. This last DVD installment was rather disappointing, packaged rather blandly and featuring no extras. It was as if Universal just wanted to get this set made and sold for the fans of the show without having to work very hard at it. No commentaries, no deleted scenes, no “making of” features. This is a very no frills DVD set. The only thing I can say I’m happy about is that I have completed my Sliders set with this last installment. Other than that, Sliders: The Fifth and Final Season is a complete waste of time and space.