SLIDERS - Season Five

Get your copy of this DVD box set from the links below:
Region 1, NTSC, U.S.
Region 1, NTSC, Canada A
Region 1, NTSC, Canada B
Region 2, PAL, from Holland via the U.K. for the English/German European market.

DVD Set includes:

  • 18 episodes @ 45 minutes each

Buyers' Guide Season Review

by Martin Izsak

(A series of more in-depth analyses, containing "SPOILERS" and intended for those who have already seen the episodes, begin with "The Unstuck Man" [story no. 69].)

This season, and its opening story in particular, represent what is likely the greatest developmental parallel of all between "Sliders" and "Doctor Who". Contractual delays had made Jerry O'Connell unavailable for this fifth year, and story editor Keith Damron freely admitted in his Year 5 Journal on the internet immediately after first broadcast that the concept of regeneration on Doctor Who inspired them to find a way to keep the Quinn character on the show while having him played by another actor. It was definitely a risky move, but Doctor Who's status as the longest running sci-fi show on TV proved it could pay off if handled right.

Did "Sliders" get it right? Though later stories this season can be criticized for not delivering Quinn Mallory's archetypal lead character strengths, the season opener "The Unstuck Man" makes an inspired effort and works remarkably well in nailing Quinn's character successfully, as well as being one of the knock-out stories of the fifth season.

But of course, I'll save the real details of exactly where the pseudo-regeneration of "Sliders" worked and where and why it fell down for the more lengthy in-depth analysis reviews of each season five story, and chart the progress of the character and the regeneration across the settling-in period of his first few episodes.

Perhaps one of the best moves made by the writers this season is their creation of the most interesting and successful antagonist we've seen on Sliders in a long time, and the most successful one ever to appear in more than one episode. Indeed, the episodes featuring this Dr. Oberon Geiger are amongst my favourites of the season. Each time he comes on screen, actor Peter Jurasik gives a tremendously compelling performance in the role, being suave and sinister, and civilized enough to discuss detailed scientific concepts and their moral/ethical implications with our protagonists, all while making the audience wonder whether or not he is tempting them towards something nasty or truly working for everyone's mutual interest. There's also a nice bit of a mystery and mind-stretching sci-fi concept to be explored here in figuring out exactly who and what he is. Plus, Geiger gets a properly planned out arc, appearing in several episodes, with good resolution after the last one. Excellent!

Actor Robert Floyd really steps up to the plate and delivers in the opening episode, where he plays some scenes as our old familiar Quinn, and some as the new alternate half-double Mallory, with just a bit of an uncertain area of overlap. He proves that he can do an energetic, dynamic, take-charge Quinn here, and that's a performance I could easily watch for a whole season or more. The alternate Mallory on the other hand, makes a somewhat interesting side-character, but is far less exciting. Sadly, as the season goes on, Floyd's luck in getting scripts that allow his better side to shine on screen is sporadic at best, but he does still get some excellent ones in which he can do good work.

Diana Davis is yet another new regular character for the show introduced here. She appears to be a fairly background guest star in earlier segments, but starts to come into her own when awkward truths press some difficult decisions upon her, and she begins to become more interesting. As a technologically capable scientist, she can and does work as well as Zoe, Liz Shaw, Romana 1, or Nyssa on Doctor Who, or as well as Professor Arturo previously did on this show. The season's second episode is particularly notable for focusing on her and fleshing her character out well, while many of the stories late in the season explore her character more fully and round her out a little better. Actress Tembi Locke does a good job with the role, particularly when she does have a chance to be the focus of a particular story, and does get me invested in her challenges better than many of her co-stars when they have an adventure's spotlight.

Of course, we also have returning regulars Cleavant Derricks as Rembrandt and Kari Wuhrer as Maggie, who continue their usual charm and get more good development this season. Maggie in particular gets the spotlight in many adventures of the first half, and perhaps has her best character story ever in "The Return of Maggie Beckett". Rembrandt doesn't quite seem to take the main focus of any particular story until almost the mid-point of the season, yet remains a strong leader of the group by often having wise and subtle advice that hits home for the other characters, or by deciding upon actions that the quartet will all tackle together.

The main premise of the series also continues strongly in this season, resulting in many interesting worlds and unmissable episodes. In particular, David Gerrold's "New Gods for Old" is an absolute classic that all fans of "Sliders" must see. It really is one of the best out of all seasons of the show put together.

Now, going into this season, there were a lot of recurring arcs, long-term goals, and narrative debts that had accumulated on the series, and the fifth season basically starts out by piling on a few more. If there is a major criticism of the series, it is that much of this stuff was not resolved satisfactorily, and we can't honestly rebut that criticism. To be fair, the fifth season actually remains interesting and for the most part on safe ground while touching on many of these themes and ideas, up to the second last episode.

As for the final episode, don't get your expectations up too high. It really is at cross-purposes whether it should resolve stuff, or re-open even more stuff to encourage a sixth season that didn't happen, and can't even do its own premise justice. Perhaps it is wise to take a moment to remember what your aftertaste and lasting impression of the series would be like if it ended one episode earlier, and then watch the finale and note how much that opinion may have changed.

The fifth season isn't the best of "Sliders", but still manages to deliver a lot of interesting material and many unmissable episodes, and comes recommended to all "Sliders" fans. Regardless of what the final turns may be, "Sliders" still leaves a legacy of a show that continually dealt with a very fascinating core premise, and had a lot of good sci-fi fun while at it. Enjoy!

The entire fifth 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:

Season 5 DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada A
in Canada B
Season 5 DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the English/German European market:
from Holland via the U.K.

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If you've seen the season, or want to brave the Spoilers,
read the In-depth Analysis Review for each story, beginning with: "The Unstuck Man"

Or, check out the full list of fifth season episodes
with story synopses from our Sliders Episode Guide Catalogue

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