Electric Twister Acid Test

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 25, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by story editor Scott Smith Miller
  • directed by Oscar L. Costo
  • music by Stephen Graziano
  • produced by Mychelle Deschamps & Richard Compton
  • Production # K1809
Story: The Sliders discover a bizarre world where numerous electric tornados are everywhere, and vast deserts surround an isolated farming community. What strange experiments might have initially caused this situation? Who are the outlaws hiding in the underground tunnels? And what kind of interference is preventing the timer from working properly in this area?

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.

This episode has a nicely fascinating sci-fi premise to it, an excellent variety of settings with the characters moving through them at a good pace, cool visuals, an interesting cast... a ton of goodies. But, there's a very serious drawback in where it goes to find conflict to fill out its 45 minutes of drama. The character of Franklin Michener is just way too obvious a malicious idiot to have a whole village following his every command as if he's God's own pet messenger.

Leaving Franklin as is, you'd pretty much need the villagers to turf the idiot in the first five minutes to maintain their own credibility as characters. Let him try to banish all of them, and then let them all say "Yeah, I know" and go on about their daily lives in the village as if nothing had happened. In other words, IGNORE Franklin. By the sounds of it, Franklin hasn't done one good thing for the villagers since finding the protected valley for them years ago, and that's not enough to keep them in the mindless subservient state we see. Of course, if they turf him, we haven't got a story.

Better yet would be to allow Franklin to operate on a more subtle level. Four strangers come to the village, inadvertently causing disaster.... there's a lot to explore there. The more civil you can be about it, the more credibility comes to the idea that there really is reason to trust Franklin as a leader - and the more credible the ending will be. Sure, he may have to render the timer harmless, and take it seriously as a community threat, but you'll still be on a path to a better plot.

And the plot really does need to center a little better on the sci-fi idea of weather control gone out of control. Why? Because it's so cool, and so much more interesting than preacher-daddy at the village. Put in more beats of Sliders and villagers working together to prepare for and endure an onset of twisters - a better climate for sneaking in the odd suspicious behaviour and/or bogus explanation and misinformation from Franklin or his dissenters. The whole idea of magnetic coils having a hand in creating vortex whirlwinds is intriguingly reminiscent of "The Philadelphia Experiment" and its offshoots, and expanding on this area of sci-fi exploration would have really made the tale gripping, essential viewing for me - assuming of course that the writers do their research and do justice to the subject, exercising artistic freedom within reason. Arturo's scene with the small boy scratching the surface of this topic is one of the best of the story, for sure.

"We can't let fear of the unknown make decisions for us.... We're explorers, right? So let's explore...."

I like that line, as it cuts to the heart of what makes great sci-fi protagonists, and "Sliders" certainly should strive to motivate its lead protagonists similarly. But it does feel like the comment is coming out of left-field, since our original quartet here typically place their emphasis on running home instead, at least until they get their equipment under better control.

At any rate, the opening story beats that explore the world and have some good sporting fun are also top notch. Really, everything in this story stays on excellent footing until the dynamic between Franklin and the villagers shows up about ten minutes in.


This episode is also a bit of a "Stand By Me" reunion, with Jerry O'Connell and Corey Feldman back together again. It's nice to see Feldman getting a different kind of a role to the ones he may have been typecast into earlier in his career, and he does this new role quite well. It's just too bad he didn't get more screen time. One easily spends the first half of the story looking for him in vain, and there's only time enough to give the character two basic notes in the script when he finally does show up. Thankfully, Feldman adds some extra colours to the algae drinking scene. All things considered, I think he deserved a larger role on the show, perhaps one where he could play his own double in several different worlds. Oh well.

Though this isn't one of the greatest episodes of Sliders, it's not too bad either - much better than I had remembered it. It does have a serious problem creating believable conflict, but has enough other good stuff to offer that it is still highly enjoyable.

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

Season 3 DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
Season 3 DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "The Guardian"

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