California Reich

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 57, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Scott Smith Miller
  • directed by Robert M. Williams, Jr.
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Edward Ledding, Jerry O'Connell, & Marc Scott Zicree
  • Production # K2802
Story: Rembrandt is caught and imprisoned on a world that subjugates blacks and immigrants. But Governor Schick's economic recovery plan calls for even cheaper labour. What exactly are the silent, blank, grey-faced workers that everyone calls "Eddies"? Will they become the blueprint for the rest of America, if Schick wins the Presidency?

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.

Normally, this story's subject matter would make good topical material for "Sliders" to tackle. The trouble is, this season has already done World War Two style race hatred, complete with excessive brutality, in most of its Kromagg stories so far, and it's not really something I wanted to tune in for anyway. So cutting to a stand-alone episode that gives us another dose of it, minus the long-term intrigue of the continuing Kromagg plot, was a really questionable move. For me, this is the point where season four overdid it with dark subject matter in too many consecutive episodes, and it might have been a smarter move to spread the dark episodes out a little more throughout the season. The episode is otherwise well done, and gives us a serious enough hour of television that seemed to be a rare thing during season three. It just won't win points for originality here in season four.

A few other problems will eat into its rank as well. For on-screen plot, we get another extended capture-and-escape routine, which the audience can easily anticipate to take up the entire episode. Yes, this does finish a bit early and springboard into something a little more worthy for the final act, but you can't see it coming from the episode itself. Even at the turning point, I was wondering why they didn't just jump into the wormhole and make their exit. Anticipation of where this one was going just wasn't there.

The "Eddies" seem like a concept that deserved a little more direct exploration, particularly as they seem to be the story's biggest claim to a science fiction concept outside of the main one for the series. They don't do too badly here, but this got upstaged by the brutality routine. In the end though, the reveal of what the Eddies are is disappointing and frankly a bit stupid.

I will give this story a point for bringing up the whole issue of desperate financial motivation fueling our antagonistic forces, as it begins to make them more understandable. I don't think it really goes far enough into that territory though, but at least it scratches the surface in ways that the Kromagg situation couldn't really begin to. We could have had more from that area in the episode.

We also could have had much less of angry Rembrandt, since it so obviously isn't the mindset that delivers a better solution. Rembrandt's plot here merely ends up displaying the two halves of passive-aggressive syndrome battling it out for supremacy, instead of finding a more integrated solution. Meanwhile, the amount of violence, idiocy, and prejudice displayed on screen by the antagonists is over the top and insufficiently motivated.

And nice touches like last episode's crazy Japanese-Mexican restaurant are sadly missing.

We've also got the instant crowd-convincing shtick, which isn't particularly well handled here. For other examples, read "Prophets and Loss", "The Daemons", and the opposite in "Colony in Space". "Sliders" won't really get this kind of scene right until "New Gods For Old" (story no. 73).

Sorry, though this isn't really too bad an episode, it just isn't going to rank very well in a season that already did this subject too often, and did it better elsewhere. Better luck next time. In fact, out of the entire season this episode is easily the least likely to entice repeat viewing for me, and is therefore a prime candidate for the year's Wooden Turkey Award. Sorry.

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: "The Dying Fields"

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