The Breeder

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 3
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 42, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Eleah Horwitz
  • directed by Paris Barclay
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Mychelle Deschamps & Richard Compton
  • Production # K1823
Story: Escaping from a hostile jungle to a world with cryogenics and organ donor police, Maggie appears to have an infection and is clearly not herself as she causes a stir in the new world's medical community. Why has she become so obsessed with breeding? What will happen to Quinn and Wade as they get forced into the organ donor program? And will the Sliders' have to split up or choose between jeopardizing this world or the next one as time runs out?

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.

And now a temporary return to the "dumping ground". Both logic and good taste seem to have been abandoned by the show's creators here. Even though this episode starts out by both looking good and toying with an interesting idea or two, it later proves that the writers only seem keen to invest in those parts of the show that are not working or well designed.

Firstly, the new drive that the show acquired in its quest to find Rickman is given even less acknowledgement here than in "Sole Survivors", if that's possible - in other words none at all. The easy way to make this more tolerable of course, is to be sure to watch "The Other Slide of Darkness" first. Moreover, the Sliders shouldn't be all broken up at the thought of leaving Maggie on this world, because once they find Rickman and take his timer, they can go back to any world that timer has previously visited. They want it mostly to go back home, but could also swing back to pick up Maggie if they wanted as well. This looks like a plot hole from the way our regulars discuss it, however the more pressing concern may be that the doctor they encounter would gladly kill Maggie to get the creature out of her, which makes it unlikely that Maggie would still be alive when they return. Still, it's clear that this story isn't written to pay any significant attention to the long term concerns.

Secondly, the obsession to do a small screen remake of another horror B-movie idea seems to be the primary motivation here, which is not impressive. While the opening sequence brings back memories of Star Trek's season one finale "Operation: Annihilate!", the bulk of the story takes a cue from the "Alien" series, most obviously with the parasite trying to breed inside human beings, but also in the idea of a corporate desire to turn a profit via the creature. It's not particularly riveting or interesting this time around, and feels a bit too off-the-point in what should be an exciting pursuit of Rickman instead. The various effects for the creature are a bit hit and miss. Some work really well, while others are so cheesy you just wish they would go back to intelligent stories instead.

Finally, there are the character bits which are hit and miss as well. This episode pulls some bizarre stunts with character backstory, not even keeping integrity within its own 45-minute length. The first time the main world's police arrest a donor and drag her away kicking and struggling, we see Quinn and Rembrandt doing something Quinn has often done throughout the show, especially season two. He jumps right in prematurely, with almost no regard for the world's customs or the possibility of the woman's guilt, and attempts to be the hero. Fine enough, we've seen the precedents in "El Sid", "Greatfellas", and "As Time Goes By". Now, what is with the later scene where Rembrandt decides to say that Quinn doesn't care about oppressed people? After all the oppression that we've seen Quinn instinctively react against over the past three years, including allegiances to more groups of underground resistance fighters battling the establishment than we can count, how does Rembrandt get to accuse Quinn of only knowing oppression as a word in a textbook? And how does he think his own happy-go-lucky musician's life prior to sliding makes him more familiar with oppression? Unless he's playing the old "I'm black, therefore I'm oppressed and discriminated against" card, which I don't buy. Remmy started this journey in too high a spirit for that to really resonate.

Even when the characters are in sharp focus, true to themselves, they simply end up highlighting all the things that are wrong with the long term goals of the show, as this same writer did so dangerously and poignantly back in "Season's Greedings". The journey is Quinn's fault, he is responsible, therefore he needs to get the original quartet home - and he's already failed part of that. On the plus side, they have made a positive impact on many worlds and saved many lives - but after highlighting this, the story goes on to prove that the Sliders ultimately unleash a horror on this world and leave it loose to do untold damage. As much as the callous scientist may deserve what she gets at the end, it doesn't end with her. This thing proved it will be nasty with anyone it comes into contact with, and is by definition a problem that will multiply over time if not defeated. So our quartet gets a very low rating on the hero meter today. The choice Rembrandt highlights for Quinn, and which the timer forces Quinn to fall on the unheroic side of, reduces the show to its "Gilligan's Island syndrome" goals again, where it's all about the Sliders saving their own necks and not worrying about anything else, like the "Marco Polo mistake" on Doctor Who. I wouldn't even call it a controversial ending, because to have controversy there need to be some redeeming qualities to both possibilities to trigger debate. The ending here is too obviously the less preferable one. It's bad.

And while we're on the subject of character, it is worth noting that Maggie doesn't really have a presence in this episode, while Kari Wuhrer spends her time expressing the "alien" creature's desires instead. As long as the episode sits in its original broadcast position, Maggie and her dynamics with the rest of the gang are too new and too much of an unknown to not be getting proper screen time here, ultimately another reason why I recommend holding it back until after "The Other Slide of Darkness". The story seems determined to reduce Wuhrer to a sex object instead, and frankly not a very attractive one with all the icky alien effects and bossy attitude crap going on instead. I could easily lose count of the number of times she barfs or has something truly gross coming out of her mouth. The Maggie that we will come to know and like in season four is nowhere to be seen here. Disappointing.

After what seems a long absence, Lester Barrie is also back to play Elston Diggs one more time. This has to rank as one of the blandest versions of his character we've seen yet - his lines seem to have been written in someone's sleep, as he cites the most predictable stuff you could imagine for "helpful bartender", remembers exactly what the regular characters would want him to, and spouts it on cue as though he has memorized the needs of the entire script. Add to that the choice to have him get up and abandon his half-finished drink and his seat at his own table after he's finished giving plot information, so that Wade and the doctor can put the rest of the mystery together without any interruptions from him, and it's just too much illogical cookie-cutter formula for me. Although it's nice to see Diggs here, he seems so much more 2-dimensional than normal.

Well, I'm not liking this one. The concept has potential, and could be made to work, but it would need a much more careful selection of what to explore, based in part on where certain trains of thought triggered by the scenes would naturally lead the audience. If adjusted for that, it could turn out to be a much better story. As it stands, this one has some moments, but is mostly just a stinker getting in the way of the Rickman arc, the good spirit of the three familiar regulars, and - particularly in its original broadcast position - the acceptance of Maggie within their ranks.

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: "Slither"

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