Top 5: Things “Sliders” Should’ve Never Done

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Honorable Mention: Move to Los Angeles
Vancouver British Columbia, Canada was the home of Sliders for two whole years from 1995 through 1996. While expense obviously dictated the move, and a more varied actor list would grow, what wouldn’t would be their environment. It’s evident throughout season three. The “Universal Backlot” would be used a fair amount and was used even more in seasons four and five. The backlot would come in handy with the aspect of things being the same in parallel universes, but you can over do it, and that’s exactly what they did.

5. Heavily Incorporate the Kromaggs
There was too much magg. No not Maggie Beckett. In fact the character probably wouldn’t even exist if it weren’t for my top 3. But to the matter at hand, the Kromaggs were used way too much in season four. We are first introduced to the Kromaggs in the season two episode “Invasion” and they disappear for over a season and a half. Fans weren’t pleased with these new villains and wanted to return back to the roots of the show. In the back of everyone’s mind (insert space alien name here) came to mind. There were some decent episodes with Kromaggs in season four but it was just over done and seemed to take away from the aspect of parallel worlds. It just brought too much of a reminder of what other scifi shows beat into the ground.

4. Fail to Negotiate
I’ve always felt that Jerry O’Connell is the heart of the show. The boy genius who accidentally opened the gateway to parallel dimensions was the compass throughout the first four seasons. His intelligence and leadership was the key to getting the team home but without him the mission felt aborted. The show felt lost without his presence in season five. Jerry wanted to be executive producer for the fifth season and he also felt the need to see his brother, Charlie, continue as his co-worker. The Sci Fi Network failed to negotiate these key attributes which was ultimately inadequate for not only Jerry O’Connell, but for the fans of the show as well.

3. Fire John Rhys-Davies
It doesn’t matter how he lost his job. John Rhys-Davies was indeed getting irate at the writers from season three, for ripping off every movie under the sun. To him, there was no creative thought or geniune science incorporated into the season three episodes. Saying the stellar high profile actor John Rhys-Davies was a loss to the show is an understatement. As Cleavant Derricks stated we all knew it was the beginning of the end. The harmony the cast had at the time was one for the ages, but it could only last for so long. And so the descent of the show began.

2. Write Bad Scripts
Movie ripoffs were at a height in season three. Anything from Twister to Mad Max was applied as a framework for episodes. Even guest stars Apollonia Kotero, Corey Feldman and Danny Masterson couldn’t rock your world. But its obvious no real thought was put into creating great stories for the show in season three and it shows. The writers were rolling out scripts like it was an assembly line. It seems they were more concerned with just producing them rather than putting out true quality. With a staggering twenty five episodes in season three needed to be written, its no wonder.

1. Start with the FOX Network.
From the start, “Sliders” was essentially set up to fail. Don’t get me wrong, the FOX Network had some great shows at the time like the X-Files, and the Adventures of Brisco County Jr. However, many shows weren’t given the freedom they needed and were suddenly cancelled. At the time co-creator Tracy Tormé and Bob Weiss were only able to get a foot through the door at FOX since NBC was a no go. Yet the network limited Tormé so much it suppressed the true quality of the show. Yes, if FOX hadn’t picked up the script it’s a very good possibility that Sliders would of never existed. The network couldn’t even air the episodes in order, and still to this very day it’s a problem. You can’t ignore the true potential Sliders could of had if the network was a little more supportive of it’s creators.

“Sliders” 20th Anniversary Jerry O’Connell Interview

Jerry O

by Thomas Birchfield
slidecage.com
February 22, 2015

He’s all in, if Tormé is.

It was such a great time to be a science fiction fan in 1995. The X-Files, Lois and Clark: The New Adventures of Superman, and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine were just a few of the shows that were on the forefront of scifi television. It was a brilliant yet little-known team consisting of Tracy Tormé and Robert K. Weiss that created one of the greatest scifi television series named Sliders. After being rejected by the NBC network they brought their creative script to the FOX network that was diving face first into science fiction in the nineties. There were many disappointments along the way but they had a first-rate cast that is rare to come by.

sliderscrew_wrapJerry O’Connell, Sabrina Lloyd, Cleavant Derricks, and John Rhys-Davies consisted of the team of Sliders throughout the first two and a half seasons. Many believe such a team of actors can’t be matched. Jerry O’Connell has been happily married now to Rebecca Romijn (model, X-Men) since 2007 and has twin daughters Charlie and Dolly. He’s known for his roles in Stand by Me and My Secret Identity and took the part in 1995 as Quinn Mallory, boy genius whose anti-gravity device goes awry. Quinn took his Professor, close friend Wade, and a singer named Rembrandt through the vortex leading to parallel dimensions. Same year, same earth, only a different dimension. Jerry played Quinn Mallory in four out of five seasons of the series, from 1995 to 1999. I was able to ask Jerry some questions on this 20th anniversary of “Sliders”.

“It’s been 20 years since the sci-fi series “Sliders” premiered in 1995. How did you first learn about the series being developed and what interested you to audition?” – Thomas

“I auditioned in New York. I was a Junior (3rd Year) at New York University Film School. Tracy Torme’s script was great. X Files was in its first season and I knew FOX was doing cool Science Fiction. I worked hard to get it.” – Jerry

“Has your wife Rebecca or your daughters Charlie and Dolly watched “Sliders”? If so what do they think of the show?” – Thomas

“I tried watching it with them on Netflix. My kids are six so they were a little bored by it. My wife liked my hair.” – Jerry

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“You directed five episodes in the series including the episode “Slidecage”. What is it like to be a director and actor in the same episode?” – Thomas

“You know… Toward the end of my run… A lot of the people I started Sliders with, no longer worked on the show. Only Cleavant and I were left. I wanted to instill some of the original sentiments into the show. I enjoyed it very much.” – Jerry

hug_wrapIn 1998, season four turned over a new leaf from the movie ripoffs that were a recurrent theme in season three. Rembrandt Brown and Quinn Mallory were the only remaining characters from the beginning. New writers were brought in, and we saw original material including comedy which the show began with in 1995. After the departure of John Rhys-Davies, season three became more action oriented and lost a lot of it’s comedy seen throughout the first two seasons. Season four picks up a bit more in it’s roots in that aspect. Jerry directed one episode in season three, entitled “Stoker”. In season four he was able to direct four episodes including, “Slidecage”, “Lipschitz Live!”, “Data World” and “Roads Taken”.

“Are there any memorable pranks pulled on the set of “Sliders” that you can recall?” – Thomas

“I just remember some late nights with John Rhys Davies. He is a great man. I was very fortunate to have him early in my life.”

“You and John Rhys-Davies were really close friends. How did you react to and mentally overcome his departure in mid-season three?” – Thomas

“It was tough to say goodbye to John but he really wanted to go. I was happy for him but a little worried about the show.” – Jerry

John disagreed in different aspects including how the writers were taking the show by creating copy and paste episodes that ripped off movies each week in season three. And really, who can blame him? Some of them were fun to an extent yet ludicrous in another. There was no original creative material and it had little to no science involved.

“Do you have a favorite episode and why do you enjoy it?” – Thomas

“Weaker Sex” episode was fun. I was a single guy back then so… It was fun.”* – Jerry

love_wrap*For the record, I later clarified with Jerry that he was talking about the season two episode “Love Gods” not the “The Weaker Sex”. The episode follows the Sliders onto a world where most of the male population was erradicated by a biological weapon. The United States and Australia are the two world superpowers in a “repopulation race”. The U.S. government created a breeding facility or as Quinn Mallory puts it, “some bizarre baby making facility.” Male subjects are forced to reproduce with women up to 6 to 7 times a day. The Professor, Quinn and Rembrandt attempt an escape from the “Bureau of Repopulation” prison with Wade waiting on the outside. The episode ends on a cliffhanger, and leaves us with the question… is Quinn Mallory now a father?

“Now, all the cards have to come in to play of course but do you believe the show can return in some form? Do your “Sliders” colleagues have any interest in a reprise?” – Thomas

“Tracy Torme is the guy to talk to. I am in if he is. That is the creator and boss. I go where he tells me.” – Jerry

Clearly co-creator Tracy Tormé was the beating heart behind the scenes and still is if the show returns in any form. The less control he had over the show, the more the series strayed from it’s original premise. According to a 2009 Tracy Tormé interview by earthprime.com he has indeed been working on something “Sliders” related, along with other non Sliders material such as a movie titled “701”.

“Looking back on “Sliders” as a whole, how has it affected your career? Are you satisfied with your work in the series?” – Thomas

“I love it. I wish we all could have stuck with it through the entire show but that is life. Thanks.” – Jerry

“Thank you.” – Thomas

hug_2_wrapIt’s life, without a doubt. Unexpected events and uncontrollable outcomes essentially created the series more so than it’s original premise. I can’t help but feel Jerry O’Connell still feels disappointment with how everything went down in season three. However, I’m sure it’s something that doesn’t keep him awake at night. It’s clear John Rhys-Davies had an enormous impact on his career and his personal life. A great friendship developed from his teacher John Rhys-Davies, something that seems rare to come by in the Hollywood scene. Last year via GeekNation, I asked Jerry who he thought mentored him the most. He explains how much of an impact John Rhys-Davies was:

“Jerry, what actors/actresses have mentored you the most in your acting career?” – Thomas

“I gotta say lets keep it “Sliders”. That John Rhys-Davies who was in “Sliders” really… I learned a lot from that guy and you know he’s obviously a great actor and has a great presence in the science fiction world. What with the Hobbit, Sliders, Indiana Jones and you know, insert big film or television show here. You know he’s just a great… he’s a royal Shakespearian actor. I learned a lot about presence from him and also, like in the science fiction world you know, which is fiction, he had a way of… you know when he would say things, you would listen. There was an old commercial when I was growing up called E.F. Hutton I think was a financial house, and the commercial would go “when E.F. Hutton talks everybody listens”. And I used to think of John Rhys-Davies as like E.F. Hutton. Like when he talks he would be talking about a parallel dimension. It would be fiction but you would hear him talking about it and it would be so factual you would just get lost in it.” – Jerry

It’s uncertain whether or not “Sliders” will ever be revived, but it still lives in the realm of pop culture, and in the minds of those who still love the show. Who says a continuation or reboot can’t happen? Look at the X-Files, which has made two movies and is on the verge of making a possible comeback to television in 2016. Perhaps if every piece falls into place, Quinn Mallory can live up to the last words of the double of Professor Arturo and finally “get them home”. But only with Tracy Tormé, Robert K. Weiss, Jerry O’Connell, John Rhys-Davies, Cleavant Derricks and Sabrina Lloyd it would seem right to do so. If you would like to relive the show you can buy Sliders: The Complete DVD Series at various retailers including the NBC Universal Store.

Sliders Reborn

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“Sliders Reborn” is a 20th anniversary special for the Sliders site earthprime.com. It is a trilogy of screenplays by Sliders fan Ibrahim Ng that is set after “The Seer” episode. The scene takes place with Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo alive and well. I was able to get a first read of the prequel script and it seems by that account the subsequent scripts are quite promising. The prequel script and first 95 page installment will be released on 3/22/15. Subsequent scripts will arrive to Earthprime in June and August of 2015.

The script “Reunion” will tie in with a special contest in which the winner will receive the “Sliders” The Complete Series DVD Box set. The script features guest characters from every season of Sliders. It one of the most interesting contests I’ve heard of, that sounds pretty fun. For more details on the contest and scripts stay tuned to the definitive source for “Sliders”, earthprime.com

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