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SLIDERS DVD review

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PHOTOGRAPHY

DVD Review: SLIDERS- THE FIRST AND SECOND SEASONS

by David Blackwell

DVD Details: 17 hours (23 episodes) on 6 discs, PILOT commentary, Making of SLIDERS featurette, photo gallery, and bonus previews

STUDIO: UNIVERSAL

SLIDERS had one of the most interesting concepts for a sci-fi show- "What If you could travel to alternate Earths". I caught the pilot for the show on a Thursday night over at a friend's house while I waited for a night class (life drawing) to start up at FVCC (the local college). I had to go after a little while and missed a few minutes (only to catch the rest of it on the TV in the student lounge at FVCC. The pilot was the signs of a very unique show that mixed satire with sci-fi. SLIDERS may have had it's road bumps through five years as creative directions changed (the co-creators left after the start of season 3), the writing changed (which caused John Rhys-Davies to leave the show because he felt the show wasn't fulfilling it's potential), and some of the original cast left (with only one original cast member around for season 5). Now the first and second seasons are available on DVD.

DISC ONE-

episodes- 2 hour PILOT episode, FEVER, LAST DAYS

DISC TWO-

episodes- THE PRINCE OF WAILS, SUMMER OF LOVE, EGGHEADS, THE WEAKER SEX

DISC THREE-

episodes- THE KING IS BACK, LUCK OF THE DRAW, INTO THE MYSTIC, LOVE GODS

DISC FOUR-

episodes- GILLIAN OF THE SPIRITS, "THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE WEALTHY", EL SID, TIME AGAIN AND WORLD

DISC FIVE-

episodes- IN DINO VERITAS, POST TRAUMATIC SLIDE SYNDROME, OBSESSION, GREATFELLAS

DISC SIX-

episodes- THE YOUNG AND THE RELENTLESS, INVASION, AS TIME GOES BY

ANALYSIS: Some episodes stand out very strong even though some episodes were shown out of order due to FOX airing the episodes in a different order from the original production order causing some continuity errors. SUMMER OF LOVE is supposed to be seen before PRINCE OF WAILS (which resolves the cliffhanger ending from SUMMER OF LOVE) and the Sci-Fi Channel even showed those two episodes in their correct order recently. Despite the episodes being shown out of their intended order, the first two seasons are entertaining whether they do alternate history, sci-fi or satire (even the weaker episodes are fun to watch). SLIDERS is a show full of possibilities that is sometimes realized to it's full potential like in the PILOT episode.

BEST EPISODES: PILOT, LAST DAYS, INVASION, AND POST TRAUMATIC SLIDE SYNDROME

VIDEO/AUDIO: The episodes are presented in 1.33:1 full frame. Audio is in English 2.0 Dolby Surround with the options of English (they say close captioning but usually one can activate CC from your TV and not on the disc itself), French, and Spanish subtitles.

Video quality is sometimes as good as (or better) than the best quality seen on the Sci-Fi Channel (or FOX stations), but there are some problems in picture quality at other times. You can see lot of picture grain at times. However disc 3 is the worst offender. LUCK OF THE DRAW and INTO THE MYSTIC appear as dark and murky at times. Overall, I have seen better picture quality on other TV on DVD releases. I have seen worse, but I hope Universal improves with the transfers for Season 3.

Next time,  I hope Universal also includes close captioning as a regular feature without having to use the menu to activate it.  

SPECIAL FEATURES: First up in the commentary track (with co-creators/ writers Robert K. Weiss and Tracy Torme) for the pilot on disc one. It is an entertaining and informative commentary telling about the creative struggles they had getting the show done (like they had to fight to have the People's Court bit kept in), John Rhys-Davies loves to do improv and uses the script as on a guideline, point out the cameos, information on the actors in the pilot, and the other actors who almost played Professor Aturo (like Hector Elizando who balked at the mention of Vancouver).

Also on disc one are previews for the QUANTUUM LEAP, KNIGHT RIDER, AND MAGNUM P.I. DVDS, and a promo spot for STARGATE ATLANTIS.

The other extras are on disc six. The 14 minute featurette called THE MAKING OF SLIDERS covers how the show came about, how FOX didn't want top resolve the season one cliffhanger (and compromised with a 2 minute wrap-up in the tease of the first 2nd season episode), they wanted a regular villain which resulted in the Kromaggs, and that everyone felt it was the beginning of the end when John Rhys-Davies left the show. The best words of advice comes from Jerry O'Connell who says sci-fi fans need to be treated right (like a good woman) and that sci-fi fans leave a show (when you do them wrong). THE MAKING OF SLIDERS features interviews from Jerry O'Connell, Cleavant Derricks, Tracy Torme, and Robert K.Weiss. Next up is a too short photo gallery that runs for one minute and shows some stills from the episodes and some promotional photos. I wish they didn't go for the slide show option and just allow the fans to flip through the photo gallery at their own pace.

I do wish Universal took the time to find the deleted secnes from the first two seasons (like the missing Pilot FX of the tornado coming across the San Francisco bay, the outtakes from the pilot, and other cut scenes like the original ending for THE YOUNG AND THE RELENTLESS that got cut since it aired before INVASION (which was intended to be shown earlier, but it was shuffled by FOX to show after THE YOUNG AND THE RELENTLESS that was the original second season finale). Also it would have been nice to see the season 2 gag reel (or least part of it).

MENU:  Nice menu design showing a loop of clips from the show done to the theme music from season one.   In the bottom part of the menu, you see the coils from Quinn's basement give some type of multi-colored effect.  The episode menus have a synopsis of each episode with a still from that episode.  Each chapter is named for each episode in the episode menus.  There is a Play All option on each disc.

PACKAGING DESIGN: The SLIDERS DVD set has some of the worst package design ever. The discs are inserted in a foam holder that is inserted into a flimsy clear plastic (that shows off the discs as multiple layers like multiple dimensions/ alternate Earths) that slides into a sturdy cardboard reflective sleeve. It is a pain to get a disc out of this set and putting one back. The discs would have been better to be put into a flip book DVD case or thin clear DVD cases (like seen with the latest FOX "TV on DVD" sets). I hope UNIVERSAL comes up witha better (and more normal) package design to prevent any chance of discs being scratched up (like I worry about this set due to the discs being held in place by a foam holder.

FINAL ANALYSIS: I like that the first two seasons of SLIDERS has made it to DVD, but I wish there were more commentaries, extras (like TV spots which will probably show up when seasons 4 and 5 (produced for the Sci-Fi Channel) come to DVD), and more chapter stops for the episodes (instead of 4 chapters per episode). also the package design is horrible and making me wish there was a better way to hold the discs. However, this is a required buy for all SLIDERS fans. I'm glad Universal has started to release this TV show to DVD. I hope this means season 3 won't take too long to come out to DVD (early word indicates it will be released in early 2005).

this DVD review is (c)8-19-2004 David Blackwell and this review cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com

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