A Current Affair

Season 5
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 5
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 75, starring Robert Floyd)
  • written by Steven Stoliar
  • directed by David J. Eagle
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Paul Cajero
  • Production # E0805
Story: When Maggie accidentally bumps into U.S. President Williams at one of his L.A. press conferences, the local news media goes into overdrive hyping the president's affair with his "new girlfriend". The other Sliders become even more concerned when Maggie goes missing, and more evidence of the depth of the affair becomes public. Are the president's advisors trying to play up this false story, to distract the public from a more real one concerning the war in Switzerland? Mallory recruits an underground news reporter to help them find out how deep the cover-up goes....

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.

This is a much better story than the last one in so many ways, yet is clearly cut from a bit too similar a mould. The social commentary is strong, this time tackling the focus of news media attention and how it can be used more to distract the public than to inform them. And this time, it is done in a world that actually works believably, in part by hinting at just enough differences to our own that we should hesitate to judge the more questionable aspects.

Sadly, the last episode's basic plot skeleton is repeated yet again, despite the fact that it isn't a great formula and had been done too many times in previous adventures. We take the exact same regular character as last time, Maggie, and put her in a capture and escape situation, with the other three Sliders recruiting a useful local to help them rescue her. Granted, it's worked out better here, allowing Maggie to have generally better scenes for the most part, but I find myself wondering why imagination for variety of plot ran so dry here.

The biggest groan for me was the moment when Maggie turns up in the Chandler Hotel in her borrowed maid's uniform, having apparently managed to free herself, only to get nabbed again by secret service thugs who the other Sliders should have been easily able to catch up with. It would have been so much more refreshing and logical to let her stay free at that point and find a new way to drive the drama of the next act.

Mallory's move to seek out the newspaper reporter all on his own is somehow surprising, yet very welcome. I don't know where it comes from in his character, if it's part of the con man procurement script function in the new Mallory template, or if we somehow have old Quinn to thank for that bit, but it's really nice.

Rembrandt has been acting as the de-facto leader holding the group together for most of the season, yet hasn't really been given a commanding role in any season five script yet. "Strangers and Comrades" probably came the closest so far, but still didn't really do justice to the idea of a Rembrandt story. Remmy isn't bad here in this episode, but seems too easily to disappear into a homogenous mix with the other two free Sliders.

The main sociological issue is a good one, getting over tabloid-like distraction to pay attention to what really matters. This story is particularly good at nailing the distraction side of things. As for what really matters, I wish we could have learned more about the financial systems at the heart of the Swiss conflict, because there could have been some patterns on display there that could help awareness of our own monetary reform issues. Without that, this episode doesn't really do all that good a job of pointing us back to things that really matter, as following troop deployment and battles and casualties can easily be yet one more unhelpful distraction that the media obsesses with, while the real issues that need to be dealt with hide behind politically approved propaganda. For my money, Doctor Who's "Snakedance" was a bit better at overcoming distraction and finding something worthy to focus on, in that case meditational technique.

Well, this is definitely a most decent episode of Sliders. It's just a bit too bad it was positioned after the last one, where most of its routines would feel too repetitive. And it sadly does nothing for the long term goals that the staff writers are all so keen to ignore.

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: "The Java Jive"

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