The Seer

Season 5
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
Season 5
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL

(Sliders Story No. 86, starring Robert Floyd)
  • written by Keith Damron
  • produced and directed by Paul Cajero
  • music by Danny Lux
  • Production # E0818
Story: Testing a new method for going home, the Sliders are surprised to be greeted like returning heroes by a public that has heard all about their exploits and has created a TV show about their adventures. Who is the mysterious Seer that has been tracking their journey? Are his predictions correct that they will not survive their next slide? And has this world really found a way to liberate itself from the Kromaggs?

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.

My gut reaction: Wow, someone must have been really determined to beat this show into the ground when they came up with this one. Many long term arcs on the show lose what may be their last chance of being dealt with properly, while the episode at hand barely hangs on to a level of mediocrity when compared with most standalone stories.

In cooler, intellectual retrospect, I have to note that there is a lot of speculation on the internet about how various elements of this show came undone, a lot of them pointing to behind-the-scenes politics where personnel placed priorities on their own concerns instead of what might be best for the show and its characters. But it seems to me that even when they wanted to do what was right for the show and its characters, they often failed to figure out what that would be. And as story editor and finale writer Keith Damron points out in his Year Five blog, even the ideas he had that were absolutely correct had to be approved and agreed upon by those higher up the production ladder, and many of the best ones were overridden.

The Grand Finale That Almost Was...

Perhaps then, we should start out by looking at the finale that Damron had at first wanted and planned to write, and assess which parts of it were even worth pursuing. Even then, Damron's blog doesn't tell us much more than which arcs he wanted to tackle. First off, resolving the issue of Kromaggs on the world from "Genesis" is the number one thing this finale should have been about. Approved. Doing it with Dr. Oberon Geiger's patented recombinant science sounds hokey without knowing more details, but I'd be willing to see where this goes as it may have potential to be very interesting. Including a role for Peter Jurasik was probably very doable, although not absolutely necessary. Saving up some extra budget for making all this spectacular? Great! Approved.

The idea of re-splitting Quinn is only going to be rubbing salt in a wound unless Jerry O'Connell is contracted to appear. Apparently, at no time did the contract happen, so the re-split idea should not be entertained at this time either. It's too bad it had been set up as a goal for these four regulars at the start of the season, and it's hard to see why else Diana and Mallory joined the team, other than temporarily escaping Geiger's lab.

Seeing Linda Henning's character of Quinn's mother to a good place is a noble goal. Approved. Seeing a good end for Colin's character is also noble, if you can still figure out how to pull off a satisfying version without him actually appearing. Don't count on Charlie's participation if you can't get his brother Jerry. Really, off screen mention could be used to put any character into a good place without necessarily getting the actor to come back and appear, but they've now added extra complications in Quinn's case, because he is supposedly inside Robert Floyd's character somewhere. How can Quinn possibly come back out without the viewer seeing it as it happens to Floyd? Use extreme caution before building anything that hinges on re-hiring an actor from the show's past.

Strange too it is that Damron posted his better ideas on his blog entry for "Dust", which would have appeared on the internet two weeks before "The Seer" aired and thus helped to both raise fans' expectations and set them up beautifully for a grand disappointment.

At any rate, all the above is at least attempting something this show has always struggled with, namely resolution. And that struggle to write proper resolution has been problematic within stand-alone episodes as well as longer arcs on "Sliders". There is probably some nobility in some of the crew believing that there was hope to continue making Sliders for a sixth season, or for some other form like a TV movie or mini-series, or even a feature film. I don't want to ever declare that that was or should be a vain hope. I will maintain that I think a resurgence would have been best achieved by providing as much resolution as possible on every arc they had control of at this point, and TRUSTING that should more "Sliders" happen in a sixth season or whatever, finding new motivation would be fairly easy. Really, if all obvious arcs were wrapped up, we'd have our old Quinn (whether played by O'Connell or Floyd) back in his own lab, now wondering how to improve on his invention so that he could go where he wanted in the multi-verse whenever he wanted, and all that's left is to add that simple ingredient that drives good sci-fi everywhere: the urge to explore the unknown. Instead, Damron says Bill Dial told him to go for a cliffhanger. Noble perhaps, but not smart.

Then Came "The Seer"....

Now back to the episode that we did get, where things quickly start to fall down. What sense did it make for Dr. Geiger to have some little disc to give Diana to kickstart any of this fake returning home stuff? His story and the one in "The Seer" are completely unrelated, and the disc becomes a very hollow way to create audience anticipation for where the series is going. Turn it instead into a repository for some of his recombinant science to use against the Kromaggs, and maybe you'd have something worthwhile.

The dialogue for the regulars in the opening hook just doesn't make sense anyway. Really, they possessed the ability to return "home" to the Kromagg occupation the whole time between the season four opener "Genesis" and the events of "To Catch A Slider", but they didn't use it because they wanted to be sure to bring back something to help rid that world of Kromaggs. So now that they have restored their ability to find home, why do they suddenly want to go there empty-handed? Additionally, why do they assume that they won't ever slide again afterwards, whether they're able to defeat the Kromaggs and stay on that world or not? It's more like the characters somehow know that their show has been cancelled, and that this is the last episode.

At least we get some decent returning faces in this one amongst the guest cast. Roy Dotrice does good work with his character of "The Seer", but for my money I think it might have been more profound had the character's real name been Archibald Chandler again, founder of our heroes' favourite hotel, and a more benign and pleasant double of his character from "Data World" in season four. That might also add some credence as to why he locked onto these people, if they were constantly staying in various versions of his hotel. Jennifer Hetrick had also previously appeared in season one's "Last Days", and now has an even more central role in this story which she plays well. It is nice to see her in the show again.

Most prominent of all is actress Linda Henning, who gets to play the same character she started out as in the pilot. Or is it the same character? The Sliders are once more a little too complacent in not wondering if they're encountering doubles of people they think they know. Personally I think it is really far-fetched to believe that the exact version of her that we would want to see has managed to end up on this world, and Damron never really honours the fact that much of what the Seer and his movement know about the Sliders could have come from or been commented on by Henning's character. Though I take issue with the content of her earliest scenes, it IS nice to have her in the episode and get good reason to believe that whoever it was we saw in "Genesis" is now in a better place. Henning gives another fabulous performance as always.

On the surface it seems like it would be interesting to get Quinn's Mom's response to Mallory, but what comes out here in the early scenes just drives more of a wedge between Robert Floyd's new character and the audience's acceptance of him, and gets us all to pine for Jerry O'Connell some more. This is not wise. Plus, it's now compounded with another dose of all the adoption crap from "Genesis", which I'm still not sure I'll buy unless this is a double of Quinn's original mom. Bugger. Mallory later flips poles on whether old Quinn still has any resonance here, and he ends up in a much better and more acceptable place, but it doesn't quite lift the show out of the depressing take we have on Quinn earlier, and simply bringing the subject up yet again is a bad idea. I think I can definitely say now that making a goal out of the idea of re-splitting Quinn at the beginning of the season, without a Jerry O'Connell contract in hand, was a bad idea....

And before we all get too amazed at the accuracy of the Seer's visions, ah.... let's have another look at "Requiem". The Wade we meet in that story was left alive at the end, yet the Seer now says that she died. What the hell? That comment goes directly against what Damron said he thought he achieved in the episode back in his blog. He must really have been asleep at the switch here. If you are going to change something, why make it worse and depressing? Too much failure is piling up in this episode already without adding that totally unnecessary comment.

Post Reality Stunt Syndrome

But let's focus more squarely on the main premise here. Surprise, surprise, Damron's found yet one more way to abandon reality for something virtual. Organ fanfare please.... And now for something completely different. It's.... "Sliders" the TV show? Hmmm, seems like it wouldn't be too bad an idea for a regular mid-season episode, but in a finale? It feels more like a desperate last minute attempt to spawn a legacy of merchandising. The Sliders logo looks like it has been hit with a rotten egg.... oh, that's supposed to be four figures running towards us on top of it... whatever. Should we really be getting the same logo, title sequence, and theme music for this internal fake show? I think it would be more believable if it were all different.

Mind you, there are quite a number of worthwhile humorous moments scattered throughout the show stemming mostly from this premise. In a standalone mid-season episode, perhaps Damron would have been able to really cut loose with humour and do the premise justice. But here at the end of all things, it feels like too much of the fun has been squeezed out by all the housekeeping that has greater priority. In fact, it almost seems here that the show wants to disappear up its own tailpipe and into a parody of itself.... as if it's saying that it's all been a joke all along and that its makers care about little else than grabbing money where they can. It feels a bit insulting to the fans. Maybe there is a thematic point in there somewhere, and the behind-the-scenes crap threatening the future of the show is being vented on screen, but it never quite finds a satisfying perspective or framing. Doctor Who tackled this kind of idea much more successfully at the end of the second last season of its classic run in "The Greatest Show in the Galaxy", and easily had a better wrap up one year later in "Survival" since it had been taking much better care of resolving its arcs properly as it went along. Really, "Sliders" fans are here looking for the definitive Kromagg resolution instead at this point.

Where the Story's Drive Stalled...

Particularly when it comes to the characters' long-term goals, there are intriguing sections in this story, and questions that bite. But other times, I feel a bit bored, not knowing where the story is going, or what the Sliders might hope to do to improve their situation. Perhaps it does work a bit better on repeat-viewing, when the audience already has a clearer idea of what is about to happen. But for the first time through, there's a real lack of drive here, despite the fact that long-term goals are addressed.

...Which brings us squarely to look at how flawed it really was for the Seer to make a prediction that the Sliders would all die upon exiting the wormhole in the next world if they slid. This idea is relied upon to create most of the tension in the episode, but really, it doesn't give the Sliders anything solid or interesting to DO for the episode, and only generates idle and poorly informed second guessing, particularly since it is based on the assumption that the danger is in the next world and we will have no idea what it is until our time here runs out. As a source of anticipation for where the story is going, it's pretty limp to be dragged out as long as it is.

The prediction fails logic on several levels too. First of all, at the insistence of the Seer and his daughter, the Sliders resign themselves to two choices: taking a chance on sliding forward randomly, or staying here where they are. Well, there are always more than just two choices in life, as the infinite variety of the multiverse can attest to. The Sliders also have the ability to slide back to any world they've visited previously. Even if the timer's memory was reset in "To Catch A Slider" three episodes ago (which was a fairly ridiculous and useless move, by the way), you've still got several good worlds there to choose from. The Sliders obviously believe in this ability when they mention that they can come back to this world for Linda Henning's character if the next world is safe.

The second reason that the prediction fails logic might even be called "Slide-ology".


This term is batted around in the episode, almost as a burgeoning religion for fans of the show. There is certainly an evangelist-style money-making machine being built up around the concept as well, which is portrayed as a bad thing. But even within this one episode that introduces the idea, it already suffers from Jean Baudrillard's "decay of meaning". Other than over-zealous devotion to the image of our four protagonists, and their devotion to help each other without quitting, the episode doesn't say much more of what slide-ology is really all about.... and since this episode ties the bow on how badly all four original Sliders fail to achieve anything, it doesn't make slide-ology look like anything worth pursuing, does it?

I'll let Keith Damron himself give you a bit of an idea of what I think should be one of the founding principles of Slide-ology: This is quoted from his blog entry for the fifth season episode "Heavy Metal" (story no. 82).

Keith Damron: "Often a subject of our lunchtime conversation (Bill [Dial], Chris [Black], myself) were the domino effects of parallel universe generation and the idea that the simplest decision, in this case the two forks of a road, one discovery and the other non-discovery, can instantly split one reality into two nearly identical universes. The two realities then continue on as fork A and fork B. The historic paths the realities follow continue to widen and change as the effects of (or lack of) the decision continually alters the evolution in that space and time..... The idea of continually splintering universes catalyzed through choices applies all the way down to the micro level as well. Theoretically, parallel universes are being generated all the time as a result of our personal choices and that they exist in infinite numbers."
Beautiful. Sweet. THAT should be one of the cornerstones of Slideology, that there are always more choices and possibilities than the imagination can conceive of. And that should have been in the script for "The Seer".

Perhaps most important is how this aspect of the multiverse grates against the idea of anyone like the Seer predicting any outcomes. All outcomes happen, and each one exists in yet another universe that our protagonists could "slide" to after the fact, possibly meeting their doubles who made the other choice. The fact that the guest characters and protagonists can be so blind towards what should be at the heart of their movement makes the episode feel so much more hollow than what it deserved.

Kromagg Cure

The final portions of the episode focus on attaining a "cure" that the Sliders can take with them for the "Genesis" Kromaggs. Personally, I'm more interested and invested in these portions of the story, but it is still really too little too late here. If this world had been occupied by Kromaggs, perhaps the Sliders and their abilities may not be as uniquely sensational as required to create such a cult TV show, and perhaps it makes less sense for anyone to deny them all due help in curing Rembrandt's world. The grafting of Kromagg arc cleanup onto this premise was probably not the smartest move possible.

When you look at what this cure is, you wonder why we didn't get this resolution at the end of "Mother and Child" (story no. 60), using the protagonists' "return to any previous world" mechanism. In fact, for all we know, this could be the same world from the end of "Mother and Child".

Trying to follow the logic of this cure is also quite painful. It sounds plausible enough when Hetrick first explains it - ingredients kept separate until needed, two day synthesis period putting the ingredients together correctly, short shelf life afterwards.... then so many more contradictions appear in further information: like the short shelf life only refers to it on the shelf or in the air, but in a person's blood it lives on. Rudest of all is the sudden silliness of Typhoid Remmy, who pointlessly injects himself with the other guy's raw blood. That should lead to all kinds of problems (read more narrative debts) that no one needed, but note specifically that they're worried about some two-day time limit to synthesize the virus.... isn't it already in synthesized form in the guy's blood? Plus the two-day limit was the minimum time for synthesis and incubation, not an expression of the maximum shelf life. What the hell? This is so stupid, it makes you want to rip your brain out.

Of course, the smashing of the Timer is one of the episode's key emotional moments, and betrays split thinking on the writers' parts. If they were hoping for a sixth season with this half-finished story, why destroy the timer? It signifies "The End" in too big a way.

When all is said and done, it is kind of cool to get an untrustworthy Kromagg wormhole at the end, and suddenly the prediction of doom works for the first time in the story. But.... Is there any believable time pressure on jumping through the half-baked Kromagg wormhole, or can we not just wait until Diana has the thing working properly?

And if she's going to use that disc to try to find "home" again, would she not be sending Remmy back to some other spot on this same "Sliders on TV" world? At other times, I have to wonder if the disc actually points to some radioactive ball of flame where Maggie's homeworld used to be, and if that's what fueled the Seer's vision.

A cliffhanger ending? With no season six on offer? In fact, with season five designed to pad the show out into syndication? What were they thinking? Resolve this mess! Leaving the prediction hanging open, possibly forever, really drags this ending down. The Professor is dead as we know. Wade has been declared dead today even though she is actually alive (and twice over if we only saw her double this season). O'Connell's Quinn probably lost his last chance to come back out of his own living death. And now maybe Rembrandt's dead too. The Seer turned out to be a nice guy in the end, but he's dead too. Is it too much to ask for something uplifting and hopeful here somewhere?

I will say I think it's a good move to split the cast up at this point, since we don't know who or how many can ever be brought back together for another go. And of these, Rembrandt is probably the biggest key to the show's continuity.

It also motivates some heartfelt goodbye moments for the cast to indulge in, and what we see on screen probably isn't all acting. Nice. Still, I don't feel that these characters have been left in the most ideal of places to spawn further Sliders stories. Really, perhaps what this story demonstrated almost single-handedly is that "Sliders" didn't have a writing staff qualified to do a sixth season justice.

Where the characters SHOULD be left to give them the best flexibility for return....

This last story, which might best have been done as two episodes after losing one of the mid-season fillers, should have been about resolving the Kromagg occupation on the world from "Genesis". All the great production values on "Strangers and Comrades" earlier this season could have been better spent at the end here. That was one arc that had gone on long enough and could easily have been wrapped up properly.

The re-split of Quinn should have been left for later, and not even mentioned in these last two stories. Maybe it should have been Mallory who jumped through an unstable wormhole by himself. That might maximize the chances that we'd get some version of our Quinn back on the show, even if he was played by Floyd next year.

Will "Sliders" ever come back? More importantly, if it does come back, would it try to continue from the absolute mess that this episode left the series in? The characters would have to reflect the amount of time that has passed, since the actors will have aged. Do we really want all of that unfinished business to have hung over their heads for all that time? And if it were to be a Jerry O'Connell led cast, does that mean that Robert Floyd must be hired as well to accomplish the re-split on screen? Do we want Quinn to have been suffering that muted existence during all the intervening years? Or would we have wanted it to happen offscreen in the distant past, shortly after the events of "The Seer"?

It would seem a waste to have to restart Sliders from absolute scratch if it ever came back, and if that's the only option for a feature film, I think it might not be the best thing to do first. I'd prefer a TV movie, or perhaps better yet a six-episode mini series, with each episode dedicated to properly paying off a previously unresolved narrative debt from the original series.... because trying to do that all in one two-hour movie would be too much of a mess for new audiences to wrap their heads around, plus six episodes allows a variety of worlds to be put on display, which of course has always been one of the main draws for the show.

And about resolving those arcs.... death does not count. This is sci-fi. Use your imagination, and positive possibilities become countless.


In the end, "The Seer" is a pretty bad episode. It doesn't really resolve its own plot nor do its own premise true justice, it doesn't resolve the long-term arcs still open on the series, but worst of all, it reopens previous long-term arcs that had been resolved and makes them feel failed and undone as well. The fifth season really wasn't that bad until "The Seer" came along to give it such a revolting aftertaste and leave a depressing and illogical lasting impression of the direction of the entire show. Although I don't hate "The Seer" and think it's still better than many mid-season filler episodes, it was the wrong concept to use to end the fifth season.

Legacy - "Where do we go from here?"

As a series, Sliders had two great strengths. One was the abundantly successful chemistry of its characters and its cast, which slowly got whittled away and left in a place where it is doubtful it will ever get reunited in a way that honours its past and the journey of the TV series. This is the great tragedy of how the show was handled.

But the other strength was the parallel world concept explored so regularly and successfully, which can no doubt continue to spark ideas and audience interest endlessly. If there's anything positive in the lasting legacy of this show, it is that it made this concept more mainstream in science-fiction, and developed and popularized durable English terminology for many of the recurring concepts that go along with the main idea. Perhaps one day, the "Sliders" brand will be back with new adventures, forging boldly forward once more into the unknown and the bizarre. Here's hoping.....

Sliders Season Five Rankings

Best Story:

    The Excellent:
  1. New Gods for Old
  2. The Unstuck Man
  3. The Return of Maggie Beckett
  4. Eye of the Storm
  5. Applied Physics

    The Decent:
  6. Requiem
  7. To Catch A Slider
  8. Dust
  9. Map of the Mind
  10. A Current Affair
  11. Strangers and Comrades
  12. A Thousand Deaths
  13. The Seer
  14. Heavy Metal
  15. The Java Jive
  16. Please Press One

    Slightly Troubled:
  17. Easy Slider
  18. The Great Work

Best Director:

  • Richard Compton (New Gods for Old, Strangers and Comrades)
  • Guy Magar (The Unstuck Man, Heavy Metal)

  • Peter Ellis (The Return of Maggie Beckett, To Catch A Slider)
  • David J. Eagle (Applied Physics, A Current Affair)
  • Reynaldo Villalobos (Dust)
  • Paul Lynch (Requiem, Please Press One)
  • David Peckinpah (Eye of the Storm, A Thousand Deaths, Easy Slider)
  • Paul Raimondi (Map of the Mind)
  • Paul Cajero (The Seer)
  • Jeff Woolnough (The Java Jive)

  • Reza Badiyi (The Great Work)

Best Writer:

  • David Gerrold (New Gods for Old)
  • Chris Black (The Return of Maggie Beckett, The Unstuck Man, Eye of the Storm, Applied Physics, To Catch A Slider, Dust, Heavy Metal)
  • Michael Reaves (Requiem)
  • Eric Morris (Eye of the Storm)
  • Bill Dial (To Catch A Slider, The Unstuck Man, Dust)
  • Steven Stoliar (A Current Affair)
  • Keith Damron (The Unstuck Man, A Thousand Deaths, Strangers and Comrades, The Seer, messing up The Great Work)
  • David Peckinpah (The Unstuck Man)
  • Robert Masello (Map of the Mind, & the original Great Work concept)
  • Tim Burns (Dust, Easy Slider)
  • Janét Saunders & Jennifer McGinnis (The Java Jive, Easy Slider)
  • William Bigelow (Please Press 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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Yep, SLIDERS is over, unless some kind of reunion TV mini-series can pull off something brilliant.

Until then, check out the full list of Sliders episodes from our Sliders Episode Guide Catalogue

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