Luck of the Draw

Seasons 1 & 2
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Seasons 1 & 2
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 9, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Jon Povill
  • directed by Les Landau
  • music by Dennis McCarthy
  • Production # 70409
Story: The Sliders discover an almost utopian world with a relatively smaller population, and cash machines that give away money along with extra chances to win "the lottery". It isn't long before they get to discover first hand what winning this lottery means.....

DVD Extras (included with season 2):

  • "The Making of Sliders" featurette (14 minutes) with creator Tracy Tormé.

Buyers' Guide Review

by Martin Izsak

(A more in-depth analysis, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the program, can be accessed here.)

The first season of Sliders goes out with a satisfying sense of depth and power, as the usual humorous style of the show is somewhat put aside in favour of deeper drama and extremely thought-provoking science fiction. Thus, "Luck of the Draw" becomes an easy contender for the best story of the season.

It is notable to see the number of key production personnel with deep ties to Star Trek: The Next Generation. Director Les Landau makes his debut on Sliders, having helmed many episodes of Captain Picard's sci-fi show, and doing his usual justice to this tale.

Jon Povill was heavily involved in an attempted 70's revival called Star Trek: Phase II. Scripts developed for this series eventually bore fruit as Star Trek: The Motion Picture, and the Next Generation season two opener "The Child", for which Povill got a writing credit. As "executive script consultant" of Sliders, Povill now gets a chance to write a script himself, and the usual Trek values of writing about something important, with good depth of character, shine through in "Luck of the Draw".

Last but not least is the brief return of Dennis McCarthy in the music department, and if I'm not mistaken, scoring his only Sliders episode outside of the double-length pilot. The change of mood is palpable. His typical washes of orchestral sound are far more appropriate to both the peaceful and idyllic world depicted in this episode, and the deeper emotional wonder of the great beyond suggested in several scenes, than the typical high-energy beats and rhythms of Mark Mothersbaugh. McCarthy does seem to be more inspired than usual, and does provide some excellent livelier cues as well, such as the one about 13 to 14 minutes in. For once, I think the selection of composer was absolutely correct.

The wormhole effect is given all due screen time, but our four regular characters seem to be pasted onto the shot rather clumsily, with their motion exiting the hole really not looking right. Not bad, mind you, but "The Weaker Sex" (story no. 7) had a much more exciting exit, perhaps too "stunt-heavy" to be repeated often.

Our four regular characters get to spend a lot of screen time simply exploring this world at a leisurely pace, which works tremendously well. Povill's ideas are well fleshed-out, the characters are eloquent and enjoyable as they discuss them, and the numerous beautiful backdrops in scene after scene make the episode visually exquisite. Unlike "Fever" (story no. 4), this story looks GOOD, making repeat viewing both desirable and rewarding.

A typical episode of "Sliders" will focus on action plots and bizarre worlds, giving Arturo and Rembrandt a lot to do while the actors can milk their scenes for laughs. One of this story's great strengths, however, is the way it boldly slows down, focusing on Wade and Quinn and what is going on between them that other stories have barely hinted at. By now Jerry O'Connell and Sabrina Lloyd have developed their working chemistry, and Povill is able to write scenes for them that feel tremendously real and compelling. It's a massive improvement over what we saw in the pilot.

In fact, the questions and drama expertly raised here between Quinn and Wade develop into the biggest cliffhanger reason to want to tune in to the opening episode of next season. Very nicely done. And this really is the first story of the series to truly center on Wade for a change, right from the opening when she starts writing the journal that will function as a substitute "Captain's Log" for the series. Wade may not be the "Captain", but she is an English Lit. major after all. And yes, you can tell that a Star Trek writer is in charge.

Rembrandt too has a nice little subplot. It seems typically in character for him to get involved with yet another lady, and he starts off in his typical, humorously attractive vein. However, it remains all the more striking for not going down the usual humorous path, quickly taking some sharp, dramatic turns which become some of the most poignant and defining scenes for this adventure's dystopia, ensuring that the thought-provoking ideas employed by this society cannot be so easily dismissed. Difficult issues are seen to be handled with great sensitivity and respect here. Very excellent.

Mention is also due to this episode's most recognizable guest star amongst science fiction fans. Nicholas Lea, made famous as the untrustworthy Agent Alex Krycek on The X-Files, makes an equally excellent appearance here as the handsome and dashing Ryan, subtly turning the screws on the tension between Quinn and Wade. Nicely done and nicely cast, where any suspicions the audience brings with them from The X-Files actually add to what is being developed here.

Wade sports a new look for many of her later scenes, but while the extra make-up and super-bright lipstick might be something she would really do on such an occasion and thus be in character, it totally isn't any improvement over her everyday look. Sorry.

The episode's dystopia is fully explored and leads naturally into the final action sequences of the story. Saving the complete dissection of the ending for the In-depth Analysis version of this review along with any possible spoilers, I'll just say that the dynamics of these final few minutes are not as original as the rest of the story has been, but nicely, the end of all this action gives us something rare for this show. Excellent. Anticipation of season two's opener to give us as good and more of the Quinn / Wade drama and at least some temporary resolution is very high, an excellent draw for the start of next year's shows.

"Luck of the Draw" displays another great season one idea for a world and draws additional excellence in ways somewhat unusual for the show. However, in terms of ranking the stories for the season, I think both "Last Days" (story no. 5) and the pilot episode excel in ways that better define the uniqueness of Sliders, and so "Luck of the Draw" will have to settle for a noble third place instead. It still remains one of my all-time favourite episodes of the show.

Season One Rankings:

Best Story:

  1. SLIDERS (double-length pilot)
  2. Last Days
  3. Luck of the Draw
  4. The Weaker Sex
  5. The King is Back
  6. Summer of Love (with missing scene)
  7. Fever
    (Summer of Love without missing scene)
  8. Eggheads
  9. The Prince of Wails

Best Director:

  • Andy Tennant (Pilot)
  • Michael Keusch (Last Days)
  • Les Landau (Luck of the Draw)
  • Vern Gillum (The Weaker Sex, The King is Back)
  • Mario Azzopardi (Summer of Love, Fever)
  • Felix Alcalá (The Prince of Wails)
  • Timothy Bond (Eggheads)

This story has become available on DVD. Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Seasons 1 & 2
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
Seasons 1 & 2
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the U.K.

Season One Box Set for North America - New for 2012:


DVD Canada 1

DVD Canada 2

For extras, this set only includes the commentary for the pilot episode. The featurette and photo gallery montage can be found on the new Season Two set.

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Into the Mystic"

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