Dead Man Sliding

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 31, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Nan Hagan
  • directed by Richard Compton
  • music by Stephen Graziano
  • produced by Mychelle Deschamps & Richard Compton
  • Production # K1804
Story: One of the Slider's first visits to Hollywood turns deadly for Quinn. Are bounty hunters pursuing him because he has broken some unknown law on this world, or are they mistaking him for his unscrupulous double? And on this world where crime is rare and swift justice takes place on a type of televised game show, will Arturo's efforts as his advocate prove Quinn's innocence, or will Wade and Rembrandt have to find more drastic measures to free him?

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.

Thankfully, this does turn out to be one of the better season three episodes. There is some merit in the basic premise today, it has some fun with it, and there is certainly jeopardy, emotional investment, and drive to the plot. The execution on screen is up to standard, and unlike many of its closest rivals, the final act holds together fairly well.

If there is a downside here, I would cite two things at the heart of it. Firstly, our Quinn is reduced to the McGuffin of the piece - locked into an episode-long capture and escape routine where it's the other three Sliders who will have to proactively solve the story's challenges. Although much is done to keep this interesting, it's not our favourite thing to see in a TV episode. It could probably get away with this more easily too if only season one hadn't overdone this very same dynamic too many times already.

Secondly, we note the amount and frequency of "injustice-style anger" most easily generated by numerous sequences in the story. Ideally, this should be rewarded by having the game show thoroughly dismantled in the final act. Instead, we seem to have a lot of dialogue from Arturo explaining why this world might be benefitting from it (and I'm not sure I'll buy it, as stiff penalties often don't seem to work as a deterrent, although of course other unmentioned factors likely exist to also play key roles here). Plus, the fate of the show is left a little vague at the end. I'm not quite willing to buy that its dismantling followed the events we see. Ultimately, all this only seems to be a minor case of mismatching. Arturo's dialogue is nicely thought-provoking. Leaving the fate of the show as is, perhaps we should tone down the anger-generating sequences earlier on. Or, leave the anger-generation as is and royally ROAST the show in the final act, à la Schwarzenegger's "Running Man".

....Which brings us to another point. This episode seems to be covering a lot of the same ground as "Rules of the Game" (story no. 24), although doing it in a much more interesting and entertaining manner, one actually worthy of our attention for a 45-minute TV hour. This includes a huge draw of attention to the impression that the production's move from Vancouver to Hollywood will put many more less-than-brilliant Hollywood ideals into the stories and onto our screens. Some fans actually place this story right near the beginning of the season, which makes a lot of good sense since so much of the early dialogue brings up the events of the season opener "Double Cross" (story no. 23), and in fact it doesn't make as much sense to try to save this one to run as late as broadcast. But I think this episode is so similar to "Rules of the Game", that if you do put this second or third, "Rules of the Game" ought to be knocked back to at least fifth place, or later. There really doesn't seem to be any truly compelling reason for "Rules of the Game" to happen early. On the other hand, "Dead Man Sliding" also seems to benefit from happening after "Electric Twister Acid Test" and/or "Desert Storm", thanks to early dialogue suggesting the Sliders have been to many different "patches of dirt" between San Francisco and L.A. so far. These are small considerations though - I wouldn't swap DVD discs in and out to accommodate this. Just watch "Dead Man Sliding" first when you get to the disc that it's on, which would make it the ninth episode of the season.

I will say that Stephen Graziano's music is more noticeable than usual in this episode. Special pieces backing the game show within the show are intentionally a bit over the top, and rightly so, but the incidental pieces backing ventilator shaft action are refreshingly exciting, as is the very final cue of the piece. Very nice.

Today's unusual entrance into the vortex at the end of the main story pretty much demands that we see if the Sliders can exit from it safely, so it is nice that we get an entertaining scene on another throwaway world at the end. Good move.

All things considered, though this isn't a great story, nor does it have a great ending, it holds together decently, and maintains its believability. I'm willing to say that I like it. It does bring back a good season one / season two vibe, within a season three context.

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 Prince of Slides"

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