DVD Extras (included with season 2):
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.
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. The dynamics of these final few minutes are not as original as the rest of the story has been - with the Sliders simply looking to rescue each other and be together at the appointed time, and repeating many previous themes such as vehicle chases, jail-breaks, regime resistance groups, and running down corridors. Ho-hum. At least Quinn is shown to use some decisive last-minute resourcefulness to achieve a desired result, but sadly it's only in aid of the inevitable escape.
But nicely, the end of all this action gives us something rare for this show. We may have found resolution with the dystopia, but the questions for Quinn and Wade remain, and it looks as though they've brought Ryan with them into the next episode to continue to heighten them. 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.
Season One Rankings:
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