"This has turned into the vacation from Hell." — Rembrandt.
Review by Mike Truman
In their continuing quest to produce the worst hour of television of all time, the producers of Sliders have cobbled together another worthy entry. “Slither”, a tale of two star-crossed snakes and their forbidden love, slams the mallet down on the ridiculous meter and rings the bell with ease.
At its heart, it’s a story of temptation and betrayal. On screen, it’s a comical disaster of epic proportions. Much like “The Exodus” before it, “Slither” has absolutely no basis in reality — parallel or otherwise. For starters, we open with Quinn and Rembrandt vacationing in Zamora, a Latin American port south of Los Angeles while Maggie and Wade remain in San Francisco. It’s one thing for the group to split up to get a rest from each other — they did so in In Dino Veritas — it’s completely unacceptable for two to jump on a plane and leave the country. However, this unlikely scenario is where we begin. We’ll plumb new depths of absurdity before it’s over.
The boys help out Kyra (Julie St. Claire), an attractive poacher, escape a random attack by some anonymous thugs of undetermined purpose (the first of three arbitrary attacks by unknown assailants this episode). Kyra has captured two rare snakes known as tri-adders, which she claims are like pythons. What she neglects to mention is that these tri-adders also come from the planet Krypton, as that is the only way to explain the vast array of superpowers at their disposal. Throughout the course of this episode, the male snake will display:
The supersnake makes his move once they’re airborne and kills the pilot. The plane crashes into the jungle, leaving the flora scarred and the plane toast, but all of our principal actors alive and uninjured. After all, we’re dealing with reality here.
If the main plot wasn’t contrived enough, we’re now treated to the adventures of Maggie and Wade as they attempt to find the others before the slide. Every scene just oozes with filth as one scummy character after another attempts to make it with Maggie. Poor Sabrina Lloyd spends most of her time looking at the floor to either avoid laughing or retching.
Carlos, a character who couldn’t have been more transparent if they had branded “Bad Guy” into his forehead, joins Maggie and Wade in the hunt for Quinn, Rembrandt, and Kyra. As they journey through the jungle, Maggie makes it painfully obvious she wants to sleep with Carlos. Didn’t her husband just die? Her sole reason for sliding is to avenge the death of the man she loved so much that she quit flying to be close to him and now she’s writing the Anne Landers column on interdimensional flings! So much for the grieving widow!
Meanwhile, Rembrandt and Quinn duke it out over helping Kyra with her remaining snake. Rembrandt, quite sensibly, wants to leave it behind so they can make better time back to San Francisco. He’s also concerned that the male snake seems to be following them, leaving a trail of dead bodies in its wake. With Kyra naturally opposing Rembrandt, Quinn complains its once again up to him to make the decision. While it’s technically true that he’s the deciding vote, whose fault is that? If he had any true leadership ability, he wouldn’t be the last available vote to swing the decision one way or the other. The three make their way to an abandoned mansion improbably situated in the middle of the jungle. There the male tri-adder makes his final push, soldiering all of his snake forces to form a blockade around the building.
Maggie finally realizes Carlos is a bad guy (maybe the severed hand in his knapsack tipped her off, or maybe it was his assault on Wade — Maggie’s a shrewd judge of character) and knocks him out. Rather than leaving him in the hands of hostile villagers, they tie him up and bring him along. Following the sensible levels of logic laid out thus far, the girls find the mansion where the others are holed up. They thwart the snakes’ Maginot Line by — get this — jumping over them. However, Carlos has managed to untie himself. Gee, we didn’t see that coming! There’s some showdown where Kyra betrays Quinn, the tri-adder kills Carlos, and everything ends OK. The snakes even come back to kill Kyra after the group slides out so everyone gets what they deserve. Except the bewildered viewer.
This is a terrible effort on the parts of Tony Blake and Paul Jackson, who are so much better than this (Double Cross, Gillian of the Spirits). The action is so contrived that it is reliant on greater and stranger scenarios to keep moving. A prime example are the two people who jump Carlos and the girls at their camp. We don’t know who they are or what they want. All we know is they are foiled easily and one begs for his life. Carlos kills him anyway, thus showing Wade that he might not be a good person. Wade already thought that anyway! She didn’t need any more motivation to look into Carlos’s pack and find that severed hand.
You think the script’s bad? Check out some of the production values. The best had to be something we’ll refer to as “snake-vision.” The director thought it would be neat to see the action through the eyes of the male tri-adder as he pursued the feet of Quinn and Rembrandt. Instead of frightening, it was just really stupid. On the plus side, at least we know what the world looks like through the eyes of the Chex Cereal Bear.
Another brilliant directorial moment takes place in the Backlot Village of the Damned, an insipid little trading post run by a Juan Valdez-lookalike. As Wade walks around the corner of the bodega to the telephone, a high wide shot reveals the scaffolding holding up the set as well as a physical plant and maintenance building.
Even the good ideas get botched. For the first time I can remember in the history of the show, Quinn gives serious thought to staying on this world. This should be an important moment because he’s the only one who has never thought of settling for anything less than home. Yes, he’s tired. Yes, he feels very guilty about Arturo’s death. But why on earth would he give up now that he’s so close? His home is in reach and he’d throw it all away to stay with Kyra? He’d throw Rembrandt and Wade over the side in favor of an obvious manipulator? I’m sorry, but I’m not buying.
Quinn does make one reasonable suggestion. So what if they can’t find the girls before the slide? He and Rembrandt could slide and then come back for them. The timer has that capability now. Indeed it does, but it comes at a price. The fear of missing the slide that has driven so many episodes in the past (and successfully I might add) is now lost. They can always come back. Of course, Quinn does neglect the fact that the delay would probably cost them Rickman’s trail, which many of us would find a merciful development at this stage.
This episode scores a default one star rating due to its own ineptitude. I found myself laughing and generally enjoying myself when I wasn’t feeling deeply embarrassed for O’Connell, Derricks, and Lloyd. “This has turned into the vacation from hell!” Rembrandt screams as snakes surround him in the mansion. You mean ‘episode,’ don’t you, Rembrandt?
|Previously: Review: Stoker||Next: Review: Dinoslide|