Prophets and Loss

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 48, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Bill Dial
  • directed by Mark Sobel
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Edward Ledding, Jerry O'Connell, & Marc Scott Zicree
  • Production # K2805
Story: The Sliders are lovingly welcomed on a world run by corporate churches and right-wing religious ideology. But can the booth in the middle of the church altar really be a sliding gateway, rewarding the faithful with a journey to another world? Will the device help Quinn program co-ordinates into his own timer, or will the church declare his entire scientific way of life as blasphemous?

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.

Well, the quality of Sliders is at last looking up. If the season opener left your mind reeling either as to what was going on, or what the show Sliders was really all about anyway, this story slows down and puts it all right again. Today's villains investigate the regular characters and what sliding is, helping to bring the audience up to speed. The characters are in focus and their archetypal roles in any given script are carved out nicely. And today's adventure nicely goes back to the vibe we had in seasons one and two, exploring parallel cultures and their sociological similarities and differences to our own. All cool. The downside is that the regulars spend a little too much time in one form of captivity or another, and the recover-the-timer plot with its underground resisting the establishment is a bit overdone and worn-out on this show. And when all is said and done, the adventure is a bit on the unmemorable side. It feels like it really doesn't make a point, or trigger any thought. Bizarre by its absence is any significance to the financial side of the title - only the religious side seems to be dealt with. Not so great.

Guest stars... well, I didn't notice him at the time, but we have Connor Trinneer, later to become a regular on Star Trek: Enterprise, playing a good role in this one, and I really enjoyed him here. By contrast, the role of the Oracle's right hand man ends up being played more unemotionally than any Vulcan, which does a lot to discourage any excitement to watch this episode again.

I think we can see here how Maggie's origins on a parallel world will be used as an excuse to let the screenwriter fill the audience in on any details of our world that only half the audience might know. One of the staple functions of a Doctor Who companion. And she does it so well....

Of course, if you don't figure out the supposed surprise ending, you probably want to cry foul when our three regulars meekly accept the fact that they're being pushed to their death slowly and ceremonially. If the resistance and system bashing is at all something you want to root for, you're watching the screen, willing your heroes to disrupt the service, create mayhem, and destroy the incinerator booth, and instead they calmly walk into it. Yes, cry foul. If you're okay with them walking in like that, then the sentiments of the rest of the episode earlier on probably didn't grab you. Writer Bill Dial's ruse doesn't appear too smart. Me, I figured the ending out in advance during my recent viewing, which may only prove that some part of my memory still functions, but I still want to call foul on the way those characters were handled. That was just not right. One of them has to suspect the ending somewhere, and convince the others that things will work out, nudge nudge, wink wink, say no more!

Later, everything seems to be stuck during the final final scene (which feels like a bit of a repeat), as we see the writer struggle to try to change the beliefs of an entire crowd. This reminds me so much of the stark contrast between two back to back Doctor Who stories from Jon Pertwee's era: "Colony in Space" and "The Daemons", with the strongest parallels occurring with "The Daemons". The story really needs some decently fleshed out minor characters in the crowd to offer comment and respond to the impassioned speeches given by the major characters. The female welcomer probably would have been a good character for that, but the writer bumped her off too early, and neglected to create anyone else. Ooops.

If there was going to be a point to the story, it should have gone in here. As it stands, it's pretty much a complete anti-religious, politically-left-leaning sledgehammer that is presented to the audience, which is unlikely to have anyone reconsider whatever views they already hold. If you want to change minds, you need to start by better understanding all sides of an argument, and that didn't happen here in this episode.

Oh well. This isn't a great story, but it does show that Sliders is improving. The basic subject matter seems to be returning to that which made the show great, and the tone of the show is back on form. Now we just need to spark an idea that can really be concluded well, and all will be peachy.

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

Season 4 DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
Season 4 DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "Common Ground"

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