Desert Storm

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 28, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Matt Dearborn
  • directed by Jim Johnston
  • music by Stephen Graziano
  • produced by Mychelle Deschamps & Richard Compton
  • Production # K1810
Story: The Sliders trek across a desert to discover a few tiny remnants of civilization, including seedy clay taverns that charge a fortune for water, and rebellious vehicle gangs that terrorize the dunes. Wade's heroic impulse drags her friends into a series of conflicts surrounding a young psychic woman who can divine water. What is the truth behind her powers? And what special meaning might the lost city of Aquarius hold for one of the four Sliders?

DVD Extras include:

  • Season 3 Gag Reel (5 minutes)

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.

At last the drastic up and down quality of Sliders' season three episodes appears to be leveling out somewhat. Though this isn't quite one of the outstanding gems of the show, it is quite decent and enjoyable.

If this is a pinch from a popular film as many season three stories turn out to be, today's film is Mad Max, and the episode's dialogue seems keen to make sure that both the Sliders and the audience are in on the joke.

What may actually be more prominent is this story's heavy indulgence in and acceptance of various powers of the mind. This is one of the adventure's most enjoyable aspects, hinting at some of the powers that all of us can exercise when we train ourselves to it, while also unleashing the imagination towards things that may be more symbolic of our internal realities than our external ones.

For the most part, this story largely works. The characters are fairly believable, the action is both easy to follow and grippingly real enough, and the episode is full of enjoyable cinematography.

It's also nice to see yet another version of Elston Diggs - and this time he actually has a fairly large role in the story, continuing to influence events long after the obligatory orientation scene with the regular quartet. Nice. On first broadcast, this is the first story that made me sit up and take notice of this character, as I wondered if I hadn't seen him before in another episode.... I also love the clever return to a bartering system, nicely moving beyond the idiot debt-based systems that most of our methods of creating currency are currently trapped in. See our article on "Monetary Reform" for more info on that. This is definitely my favourite Elston Diggs appearance.

Wade is as close to a true central character as the story gets, yet it doesn't quite center on her as much as perhaps it should. It seems she is going through a bit of the same understated heroism issues that Quinn faced in earlier seasons, with "Greatfellas" being the best parallel. Observing a conflict between a man and a woman, she makes the culturally ingrained assumption that the woman must be in the right, despite warnings from her fellow Sliders.... and look where that leads!

One of the minor nits is in the flashback sequence. We know from the dialogue that Devin is supposed to be five here, but the director seems to have cast the part much older. If we try to explain it away with accelerated growth or something, it could easily counter the believability we gain from her being five years old during those events. Oops.

However, if there is a major flaw to this story, it is that the last act gets a bit lost. It is nice to see the Sliders explore a totally new cool place, and I don't mind a shift in where the drama goes.... but where is it going, really?

The beat about the Professor getting the kind of cure that Wade would be more likely to believe in starts off great. The local healer expresses a lot of true wisdoms that should be getting heard today, but Arturo is his own worst enemy here, denying himself the belief he would need to participate in the cure, and participate he must if it is to work. On the larger scale of writing season arcs though, it is all meant to be a non-development. The writers neither want to cure Arturo nor bump him off in this episode, and his scenes with the healer fail to make any real point either in favour of or against any particular methods. In the end, we're still not really getting anything out of the Arturo illness arc to make it actually worthwhile. We're sadly just treading water once more, while obvious positive strokes of development are missed.

Concluding action is also all over the place. Why do the Sliders attempt to return to the desert just before sliding? It ends up lengthening an action sequence very artificially, depleting the reality of the stakes and tension. Wade sort of gets something to do as a kind of final fix here, but it doesn't feel very definitive while all sense of logic dictates that the specific problem it addresses should never have cropped up in the first place. We really could have gotten better here, and it very much feels as if the writer ran out of steam. Thankfully, there's a very entertaining coda scene, helping to boost the quality of the adventure up another notch.

Lastly, I have to comment on the map drawn on the wall of Elston's place at the Sand Pit, as it becomes more of a source of confusion than clarity. Separate points marked on the map include "Aquarius", "Eden", and "Lost City".... so which one are people actually referring to when they speak of the Lost City of Aquarius? Later on, Cutter seems to be confused as to whether he is searching for Aquarius or Eden. Finally, if Aquarius is at an unknown location, how can it be marked on the map at all? Maybe they'd all be better off heading for the mark in the north labeled "Outer Limits" while listening to the theme from "The Twilight Zone" instead.

In fact, perhaps this world has far more dimensional instabilities than ours, which might promote Aquarius's TARDIS-like geography and the increased prevalence of psychic powers throughout the episode. If so, I'm there, and it's just too bad we didn't find more time to explore the concept properly.

In the end, though there are a few minor nits in this story, they are thankfully minor. The central conflict chiefly works, and we get quite an entertaining story, nicely shot, and with a lot of new age goodies thrown in on top for good measure. Nice one. Raise a glass of water, and here's to another fun slide!

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: "Dragonslide"

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