Into the Mystic

Seasons 1 & 2
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Seasons 1 & 2
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 10, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Tracy Tormé
  • directed by Richard Compton
  • music by Anthony Marinelli
  • produced by Tim Iacofano (and Jon Povill, Tony Blake and Paul Jackson)
  • Production # K0807 (same as the next episode)
Story: Landing on a world obsessed with the occult, the Sliders make the mistake of trusting the sinister Doctor Xang to help heal Quinn's wound. Desperate to escape Xang's wrath, it becomes a case of out of the frying pan and into the fire as they brave the crossing of Golden Gargoyle Gate Bridge on a tip that "The Sorcerer" and his corporation in the dark castle on the other side have the power to help them slide home.

DVD Extras include:

  • "The Making of Sliders" featurette (14 minutes) with writer/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 second season of "Sliders" features one of the grandest cases ever of a show's production order being completely shuffled and randomized into a haphazard sequence for first broadcast. Original "Star Trek" may very well get jealous. It seems to be fairly common to find Sliders fans trying to unravel this season back into its "proper" story order to help it make a bit better sense. Production numbers are of limited help, since there are gaps in the sequence, and one of the numbers was also (accidentally?) used twice. In all of this, there may be only one truly definitive fact: "Into the Mystic" MUST come first in the season, since it clearly cleans up the cliffhanger that ended the previous year's stories. (And if you've seen the making-of featurette on the two-season box set, you'll hear what a bizarre battle writer/creator Tracy Tormé had to fight to be allowed to address that cliffhanger at all.) Luckily, "Into the Mystic" was broadcast first, and remains in its proper place in the DVD set.

"Into the Mystic" isn't a great story, but isn't too bad either and manages to be a decent episode best enjoyed for some of its humour, effects, Hallowe'en atmosphere, and of course its contribution to the show's continuity.

Sadly, much of the style and Quinn/Wade drama that made the previous year's finale so good isn't really continued into this tale at all. Such things get a bit of mention, but it's definitely less than one was hoping for. This story will ultimately be about other things, and with that in mind, it is nice that the opening has a style that matches the Hallowe'en style of the rest of the adventure.

Immediately noticeable are the changes of hairstyle on most of the main cast, betraying the fact that this episode was shot in a new year, and in the middle of the schedule. Quinn's hair is about the only one that is an improvement, as he loses the over-styled pretty-boy cut in favour of a more rugged look. Good. Arturo's hair is the worst disaster, going longer and looking decidedly more unkempt, and losing the respectable quality that his trim season one appearance had commanded. (The makers of the new season's title sequence couldn't seem to tell the difference between Arturo and the Sorcerer it seems).

Season Two also seems to be quite budget conscious in terms of providing effects shots of our standard sliding wormhole, no longer showing a beam coming out of the timer (which was a little weird while it lasted to be honest), and perhaps making the limited number of new wormhole shots more obvious than necessary by waiting until the last of the four sliders jumps into or out of the hole before showing an effect, if at all. Weird. If you're going to cut corners, it is less obvious and more satisfying to show the wormhole early on, like when the first person jumps in or out, and if you really study season one, that's often what they do.

Thankfully, season two ushered in many good changes. Season One's awful excuse for theme music is replaced by a more toneful collaboration between the new year's alternating musicians Anthony Marinelli and Stephen Graziano. It's a significant improvement, yet still curiously does not appear to have any kind of catchy melody or emotional chord movement. It announces a slightly cool excitement, but feels as if it isn't quite sure why.

The episode's title appears on screen for the first time as well. Excellent move; every show on television should do this. Too bad they didn't realise it in time for season one, but better late than never. Thankfully, this practice remained for all subsequent episodes of Sliders.

"Into the Mystic" uses a nice premise to create its world, which it then milks for a combination of creepy atmosphere and humorous satire - a large portion of the original Sliders concept, although this episode remains unique. Christopher Neame creates a very interesting performance for Dr. Xang, only it does seem to be a bit of a shame that he doesn't get more screen time to add more nuances. Neame previously played the villainous Skagra in an unfinished Tom Baker Doctor Who story called "Shada" (no. 109), and went on to appear as a Sith Lord in the video cut scenes of the PC game "Jedi Knight: Dark Forces II", which along with his appearance here in Sliders, ensures that his talent for playing villains is well-recognized by the sci-fi community.

A few recurring minor characters like John Novak's lawyer Ross J. Kelly and Alex Bruhanksi's cab driver Pavel Kurlienko give us some enjoyable familiar faces to enhance this world's differences from the Sliders' original one. It does appear to be rainy season in Vancouver when this was shot, and a particularly cold and windy one at that. Season Three will be quite a contrast....

Jerry O'Connell puts a lot of good, powerful moments into Quinn during this episode, moments unfortunately not highlighted by the script. The script is actually still blissfully ignorant of the importance of giving Quinn a good heroic finish to an adventure. There's more to say on that in the in-depth analysis version of this review....

The final section is a nice piece anyway, successfully setting up the main premise for the series for anyone who might have missed the first season. Always good to do that in a season opener. Respect. Even though this seems to be one of those conclusions that isn't easy to memorize and get bored of, the iconic set design and lighting has a way of burning itself onto the subconscious. You'll remember it, perhaps without knowing which episode you saw it in.

Anthony Marinelli's music tastefully fits the dark and spooky mood of the story while remaining VERY low key throughout, not really daring to define a theme or riff anywhere.... until we reach the final scenes. Suddenly a fun and interesting piece bubbles up, very cool, enjoyable, modern light listening music, followed by some nice melancholy piano bits to finish the episode off. Good job.

The final scene raises a question that Sliders fans are probably still debating.... but that's a spoiler you won't find discussed in this version of our review.

"Into the Mystic" turns out to be a decent, fun, enjoyable episode of Sliders, without quite breaking into the clique of the show's most excellent stories. Season Two has some better gems yet in store....

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 Two Box Set for North America - New for 2012:


DVD Canada 1

DVD Canada 2

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Read the Buyers' Guide Review for the next story: "Love Gods"

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