Stoker

"That... sucked..." — Harker, who has an uncanny ability for summary.

Review by Mike Truman


D
Bad

When I saw the commercials promoting this one, I had to hang my head in shame. First Night of the Living Dead (Sole Survivors), now Dracula? Of course, it’s not really Dracula, kids. Bram Stoker’s classic novel never existed on this parallel world. It’s just a weird and wacky coincidence that every damn character but one is named after those in the book. And on that note, let’s take a look at our latest “homage” being passed off as entertainment.

Poor Wade’s been having a bad time. In the past few weeks, she’s fallen into a crevice and chased by circus freaks, denied passage home by her best friend Quinn, watched the Professor die right in front of her, and is now being pushed to the periphery by a woman she despises. So she does what any one of us would do — she gets really drunk.

While out on the town, she encounters a friendly group of rockers who seem really taken by her singing talents. This comes as a major surprise to us viewers as Wade has never shown any interest in music or any ability. But if it advances the plot, who are we to argue? Did I mention the rock group, named Stoker, is actually a bunch of vampires? Feel like arguing yet?

On this earth, vampires not only exist, but also have been rather open in their activities. A law was even passed outlawing them (by some unknown Global Congress I guess) in 1897. But a few have managed to keep on going, because the police just don’t care enough to take care of this threat. We are left to suppose that murder and necromancy just aren’t high enough up on the list of crimes. “Hey, we’ve got shoplifters to prosecute!” I can imagine a district attorney offering up in excuse.

More importantly, these vampires have special powers hitherto uncatalogued. Did you know that a vampire has the power to lock car windows and accelerate cars with his very mind? Or that they can go outside during daylight so long as they have a really cool pair of sunglasses? Or that they can make lightning shoot out of their guitars? I’ve said too much.

As Wade is being seduced by the dark side (in the form of blood cocktails), the other three Sliders have determined that this episode would be a good time to chase Rickman. The Colonel has recruited a blood donation coordinator to help him in his efforts to find suitable DNA. For extra shock value, Rickman now wears the collar of a priest and keeps his syringe in a hollowed out section of his Bible (shaped like a coffin no less!) — not unlike how Andy Dufresne concealed his rock axe in The Shawshank Redemption. Blasphemy, I say! And I’m not referring to Rickman as a priest.

To elude Maggie, he has one of the people he killed buried in his name. Rather than see through the obvious ruse, Maggie decides they’d better dig the body up. You see, when a soldier dies on her world, a special tattoo becomes visible. Come again? What, is it heat activated like those mittens we had as kids? You know, the ones where the space ships would appear when it got really cold? Who knows, but grave robbing we will go. Maggie and Rembrandt get arrested and Maggie is sent to a woman’s detention center where the last words we hear are a call for her to report to the de-licing room.

Quinn, showing some intelligence, bails on the criminal activities and goes in search of Wade. When he finds her, he is brushed back by Harker, played by Guns n’ Roses guitarist Duff McKagen. In a move that would have made Sid proud, Harker lifts Quinn off the ground and chokes him before flinging him to the sidewalk. Clearly, Quinn will need some help. Enter, of course, Tommy Chong.

Chong plays Van Elsinger, the Vampire Slayer. Through Chong we learn all about this world’s musical alt-history, including the storied career of Stoker throughout the ages. Together, Chong and Quinn storm the vampire hideout (a museum under repair) and begin staking everything they see. Unlike that other show about vampires on the WB, these vampires don’t just turn to dust. Their spirits escape in the form of a thin trail of smoke while the bodies remain. But why rip off something popular when you can blow the entire SFX budget on the lightning guitar effect?

Fortunately, daylight lasts about six minutes so the vampires can attack in force. After staking his wife, Chong’s back is broken. Quinn is forced to retreat while Chong is eaten.

Back at the studio, an inebriated Wade has spilled the beans on sliding to head vampire Morgan. Morgan sees an opportunity to escape the endless persecution and commands Wade to bring her the timer. This is made possible by the blood brew, which apparently not only has a higher alcohol content than Jagermeister, but places the drinker under a voodoo curse.

She bails out the others from prison, but then takes off again when Morgan calls her back mentally. Why would he do such a thing when he just sent her out to get the timer? Because it moves the plot? Maggie tracks Rickman down at the blood bank, which is also just a front for Stoker. Rickman does manage to kill one of Stoker’s lackeys before escaping. And thus ends a subplot that never really started.

Quinn, Rembrandt, and Maggie reunite to rescue Wade in the climactic showdown. But before they can reach Morgan, they must go through Harker. It is here where… are you ready? Harker shoots a lightning bolt out of his guitar and knocks Rembrandt clear across the room. You see, Rembrandt was holding a silver cross, and metal is conductive, right? Right? Yeah…

Quinn and Maggie do what no one else on this world could do for centuries and kill Harker, where he utters his now famous line quoted at the top of this review. Quinn proceeds alone to face Morgan, who confronts him on a motorcycle for some poorly thought out reason. After a quick pass, Quinn dives to the side. Thinking fast, he conceals a broken pole behind his back. When Morgan swoops in again, Quinn runs him through. He twists the pole into Morgan for good measure, and Morgan turns to dust, leaving only a skeleton (I guess the clothes he was wearing were vampiric too). Wade and Quinn have a pseudo-touching moment before the four slide off into the sunset… even though the window should be opening some three hours later.

And thus ends what has to be one of the most idiotic hours of television ever produced. I give it one star because it’s so over the top awful that you will laugh heartily. O’Connell’s directorial debut is typical of a kid just handed a camera. “I’ll take this close up of the car’s ignition because it looks artistic. And hey! A penny! That has symbolic value!” But I can’t blame Jerry. The man tried. I reserve my contempt for writer Josef Anderson, who has to be one of the laziest hacks to ever put pen to paper. The entire story is just one stopgap measure leading to another pointless scene, each with an even less credible back-story.

But you know what? I can’t say I expected more. At least this world has an alt-history, even if a seventh grader conceived it. But hey, Janice Joplin’s still alive and I guess that counts for something. Say, one star.

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3 responses to “Review: Stoker”

  1. Joe Hawkins says:

    This is a bad episode. It was as if the production crew knew they were constantly ripping off other movies and horror shows during most of the third season but they really seemed to take the attitude that they just did not give a damn anymore. Vampires! Please.

  2. Garrett Aja says:

    Whose idea was it to do a vampire episode of Sliders right as Buffy the Vampire Slayer is in the middle of its first season, and then just completely botch the rules at every turn?

  3. Thurisaz says:

    The stupidest thing is when the priest is talking to the doctor and Jerry felt the need to hide his face, so that we can get a big reveal that the priest is Rickman… even though we saw Rickman dressed up as a priest in an earlier scene. Also, what was the point of the digging up the grave? It went nowhere and there was no suspense for the audience since we already knew Rickman was alive on this world. Dumbass episode.

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