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Season 5
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 5
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 74, starring Robert Floyd)
  • written by William Bigelow
  • directed by Paul Lynch
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Paul Cajero
  • Production # E0808
Story: Not having the proper currency for this world, Maggie is captured and processed by the "Data Universal" system, which attempts to indoctrinate her into being a good consumer and racking up a mountain of debt. Meanwhile, Mallory, Rembrandt, and Diana team up with an ex-hacker to outwit the black van that nabbed Maggie and break into the system to rescue her.

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.

There's a good thick dose of social satire in this story, which works as a parody of what goes on in our world, but doesn't convince as a world that could plausibly exist on its own such as we see it during the episode. More detrimentally, our regular characters are only seen interacting with that world through one simple capture and escape routine that is stretched out to fill the entire 45-minute hour. It's a nice attempt to get back to the old heart of the Sliders concept, but feels a bit like a clichéd re-run.

Maggie is presumably our main protagonist here, as she leads the charge in exploring the social concepts that make this world what it is. Interestingly, a lot of this is done through building a relationship with customer service agent 5579A, whom she nicknames "Guy". Is it just because I have seen this before, albeit many years ago, or is it because such things have infiltrated our lives for real much more prominently now, but doesn't Maggie seem a bit too naive that she doesn't realize she's talking to a machine? She DEFINITELY is too naive to be sitting down in that chair, resting her arms between the clamps, because you know from one look that it's going to clamp down on her. D'uhh! Oh dear.

Our other three Sliders get a good bit of action on the back-lot square that featured in "Back to the Future", as they confront a very weird black van. I like Mallory in particular here, as he takes the lead with the heroics. Of course, our old Quinn could easily have tackled the strategy and the athletics on display here just as believably. Hotwiring the van might normally have gone to someone else, but this is now more within our new Mallory's repertoire.... and this episode is really the first time this season where any of the skills from Mallory's new script function template finally come out of the closet. A nice sequence.

Sadly the script tries to make something more out of this, as Rembrandt decides out of nowhere that he should critique Mallory's life and try to be his guardian mentor. It's a really bad fit here, and sounds like crap. Plus, would our Remmy not really want to ask this new composite being if he got that from the Mallory side and not his Quinn side? Does he no longer feel that he is with the old buddy he had back at the beginning of the series? The end of the last episode suggested he WAS still hanging on to that hope. This story really isn't doing anything for the long term season arc, and shows the viewer how it really just intends to tread water for its allotted time instead.

Of course, there is a lot here to lead the audience to anticipate that Diana will hack into Data Universal near the end and bring this system to a crash. But we spend so much time running around in capture and escape mode, the story doesn't really get time to deal with this, and Diana winds up not contributing much to the adventure.

It's pure convenience that the three free Sliders just happen to bump into Mr. Arlo Super Rebellion in the street the minute they define their problem, AND he just happens to know all the secret ins and outs of the system. If he did have all those working barcodes to sell to people, how come he doesn't use one to buy himself a new suit and a nice house in the 'burbs somewhere? A lot more needs to be done to flesh out this world and the characters in it, and iron out the contradictions.

Maggie has a nice sequence ordering up all the ingredients to make a few cans of nitro-9, which is a bit of a nod and a wink to Doctor Who and its character of Ace, I suppose. But it is too bad that, after the decently exciting action we had in the back-lot with a full size van, the chief antagonist in the concluding act is the kind of tiny remote control toy that Chewbacca taught us to laugh at in the original Star Wars movie. Our protagonists should just step on the thing already.

Well, though this story does a good job of commenting on OUR world, it really didn't present a believable world of its own. Although not too bad an episode, it doesn't really go anywhere or add much to the series. Thankfully, most of the rest of the season's episodes will improve over this one....

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

Season 5 DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada A
in Canada B
Season 5 DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the English/German European market:
from Holland via the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "A Current Affair"

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