Let's look at some of the highlights of the season, without giving away any spoilers....
Double CrossThis has got to be one of the very best episodes of the third season of Sliders. The core of the story deals with fascinating sci-fi ideas, and ones that expand beyond the scope of this single adventure - ones that are setting new ideas in play for the entire series. Even though quite a number of the elements of this adventure seem a bit rough around the edges and could use an extra polish, up to and including the script, this doesn't really hurt the general appeal of the story.
Rembrandt's plot line is a light bit of enjoyable fluff - and probably the most standard example of his typical romantic follies on the show. The actress he works with in this subplot is one of the best to inhabit this archetypal role on the show, giving Monique a lot of good ironic moments.
With the production's move from Vancouver to Hollywood, we sadly lose many of the minor recurring cast members that gave the first two seasons an extra special touch, and we now need to start building up a new clique of minor characters to help emphasize the differences between various worlds. Enter bartender and server Elston Diggs, played by comedian Lester Barrie, who properly introduces himself to Rembrandt in this episode, and begins to recur again before the episode is done. He'll be a source of some fun in the episodes to come, although isn't quite set to outdo William Sasso's sorely missed Gomez Calhoun.
The GuardianFinally, an episode that really knocks it out of the park. This one is awesome. Scene for scene, something important and poignant and interesting is happening. Character rules once more. Plot is riveting.
Of course, this adventure often acts more like a time-travel story than a parallel universe story. Arturo's explanation for that may be a bit hokey, but at least it clearly establishes that this is still a parallel universe, just one that hasn't yet caught up with most others that we've seen so far.
Part of the real beauty of this episode, however, is how the characters are all working to get closer to the hearts of the real issues that trouble them, and their dialogue gets better and closer to hitting the mark as the episode progresses. There's a good real-life believability to it in that respect.
Although the Quinn story is definitely the centerpiece of the episode, demonstrating that Jerry O'Connell can completely command the series by now on his own if he had to, Arturo also gets an important and successful plot strand himself, while Wade and Rembrandt become the episode's cheerleaders.
The Arturo plot is interesting, because it has the potential to be a success or a disaster depending on how it is handled. In this episode, it does manage to be a success, firstly because we get so much character gold from it in the dialogue between Quinn and the Professor, and secondly because it leads to such joyful, live-for-today exuberant expressions in the rest of the Professor's activities. All great stuff.
I have to say, the guest cast is quite good for this episode, as both younger Quinn and the teacher are very well cast, and of course Linda Henning returns to reclaim the role she created in the pilot as Quinn's mother. Good stuff.
It is with a bit of sadness that we ask: Is this truly Tracy Tormé's last Sliders script? If so, he goes out on a high, and will be VERY sorely missed. This is possibly the very best story he ever wrote for Sliders.
Bottom line: Everyone loves "The Guardian". Watch it. You will too.
Season's GreedingsMy favourite part of this episode is probably all of the commentary on financial systems, particularly how debt is exploited, and how marketing ties into the addiction - and these dynamics are probably at their busiest and most insidious at Christmas. There's a ton of good information here, and it's not all fiction from a parallel universe either. See our article on "Monetary Reform" to get a bigger idea of how similar ideas are playing out on the largest scale on OUR Earth.
Another favourite element here is the fact that our regular characters get a lot of good material in this one. Wade is most notably well served, in what is probably her best episode yet. After two and a half years, we FINALLY get to meet her family and see them get major roles in a story! One wonders why it took so long. Chase Masterson, perhaps best known to sci-fi fans as Leeta the often recurring employee of Quark's bar on Deep Space Nine, is superbly cast as Wade's sister Kelly, bearing a good resemblance to Sabrina Lloyd and falling into a believable sibling rapport with her. Wade's father is definitely taller and skinnier than the extra who briefly appeared in "Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome" (story no. 18), but of course he is much more definitive here. This is a most welcome exploration of Wade and family, and it is done particularly well here.
Arturo is also VERY well served in this story, as we get to see such an incredibly good and wise side of him as he deals with children while dressed up as Santa Claus. We also learn so many gems of his character's backstory from WWII England, including details from his family that we've never had before. This is very good stuff. John Rhys-Davies really delivers a superb performance in this episode, and is incredibly and powerfully moving. He deserves an Emmy award here for sure.
I just love "Season's Greedings". It's smart, it looks good, and it's incredibly moving. A top notch example of Sliders at its best!
CaveatsOf, course, in amongst the gems, there are a lot of adventurous and fun stories, the usual SLIDERS humour, and unfortunately a couple of episodes turn out to be real turkeys. That's not too unusual for any season of any TV show though, and SLIDERS certainly is balanced well enough to survive this. In the case of their third season, the stories that don't always work as well may have generally gone for the special effects action-oriented narrative once too often, without putting as much thought and logic and creativity into it as the fans of the first two seasons had come to expect.
For me the biggest thing missing from the early part of the season was a sense that the stories were heading towards something big, something that would develop the long-term goals. The potential seemed obvious, and many episodes were very tantalizing in what that development might one day be, yet the delay in acting on any of it looked as though it would stretch out indefinitely.
If only I had known what was coming. Don't make the mistake I did. Keep at season three. Development does happen, and afterwards, you will be drawn through the conclusion into a most impressive fourth season....
The ExodusAt last we come to the undisputed main event of season three. The season box set is worth buying even for just this adventure alone. Where this story is good, it is REALLY good, really fascinating, and very emotionally powerful. Where it isn't so good, it is quite controversial, and sparks heated debate amongst fans.
For good or bad, this one is the big game-changer that no one can afford to miss.
One of the best parts of this story is Jerry O'Connell's character Quinn. He is the leader and the hero in this one, embodying the archetype as well as I ever could have hoped for back in seasons one & two.
Of course, this story also introduces some new long term recurring characters to the show, most prominently Captain Maggie Beckett. The story often takes the opportunity to highlight her backstory and make her character better defined, which is all good. Kari Wuhrer does well with the role, and demonstrates that she has enough range to play an interesting regular character.
In the end, there may be a lot of things that deserve obvious fixes in this story, but you've still got to like it for finally tackling a narrative with so many interesting ideas and long-term developments, and it does deliver on so many things. "The Exodus" is one of the winners of the entire season, and no fan can afford to miss this one.
The Post-Exodus ArcThe remaining episodes of the season follow a specific narrative arc, something that hadn't truly been attempted before on this show. Some episodes fit the arc really well, while others seem forced into it badly. Some of the episodes are excellent, while some are turkeys. I'll save more details for my in-depth analyses of each individual episode. Yes, this arc is also leading somewhere big, between the end of this season and the beginning of the next. But that's a discussion for the next box set....
The entire third season of Sliders has become available in a DVD box set.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:
Comments on this article are welcome. You may contact the author from this page: