Created by Tracy Torme & Robert K. Weiss
Sliders is a science fiction television series about a foursome who travel, or "slide" as the show refers to it, between parallel universes trying to return to their Earth after an accident strands them. They are led by Quinn Mallory, who is the inventor of the sliding technology, his girlfriend Wade, his professor Maximilian Arturo and, for a reason I couldn’t fathom from this season’s episodes, soul singer Rembrandt "Crying Man" Brown.
Season Three ran from 1996-97 and was the last season that appeared on the Fox network before getting cancelled. The Sci-Fi Channel picked it up for two more seasons. It was also the last season for John Rhys-Davies and his character Prof. Arturo, as well as actress Sabrina Lloyd as Wade Wells, although her character makes a cameo in a later season. Before this season ends, Maggie, a soldier from a dying planet, replaces the Professor.
During this season, there are many episodes that are rehashed film plots. The group drops into a version of The Running Man, The Island of Dr. Moreau and stories similar to Dreamscape, Mad Max and Junior. Along the way are the usual genre plots dealing with vampires, zombies, a creature that provides the fountain of youth and even a Sherlock Holmes story.
Universal Studios, which had a hand in the show’s creation, was certainly not going to be left out of the synergistic opportunities. The summer of ’96 saw Twister in the theaters, so it’s no surprise that the group slides to a tornado world, and with The Lost World: Jurassic Park coming out in the summer of ’97, a dinosaur world was a no-brainer.
With one major exception, no one seems to suffer ill effects beyond an episode. In “Rules of the Game,” the first episode of the season, the Professor goes blind and I thought how interesting that was for the characters to be in legitimate danger. Unfortunately, yet not surprisingly, his vision returns before the hour is up. Since none of the characters are at risk of being altered or injured in a meaningful way, the stakes of the stories are lessened and the conflicts lose suspense.
The production values are low budget. The back lot of Universal was used a few times and an acute eye or a recent visitor of the Studio Tour will surely pick up on it. The computer effects are okay and were probably decent for the time, but don’t always hold up. Editing errors occur because either the producers must have thought no one would notice or they had no money for reshoots.