Sliders is an American science fiction television series. It was broadcast for five seasons, beginning in 1995 and ending in 2000. The series follows a group of travelers as they use a wormhole to "slide" between different parallel universes. The show was created by Robert K. Weiss and Tracy Tormé. Tormé, Weiss, Leslie Belzberg,John Landis, David Peckinpah, Bill Dial and Alan Barnette served as executive producers at different times of the production. For its first two seasons it was produced in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada. It was filmed primarily in Los Angeles, California, USA in the last three seasons.
The first three seasons of Sliders were aired by the Fox network. After being canceled by Fox, the series moved to The Sci-Fi Channel for its final two seasons. The last new episode first aired on December 29, 1999 in the United Kingdom, and was broadcast on The Sci-Fi Channel on February 4, 2000.
Quinn Mallory of San Francisco, California, a graduate student of physics specializing in string theory, creates a device capable of opening vortices to alternate universes. He develops the technology to the extent that not only can he send items through the gateway he created, but also, with the use of a timer — a sort of space-time television remote control device — return them to their point of origin. He volunteers himself as the first living test subject. After his initial slide, he returns to find a double from another universe has caused him a bit of trouble, but also helped him solve the final missing piece in the equation for sliding, which includes a solution to the unified field theory.
His best friend Wade Welles and his professor/mentor Maximillian Arturo join him on his second test. However, the wormhole grows unstable and spirals out of control. SingerRembrandt "Cryin' Man" Brown, driving by Quinn's house, is accidentally sucked through with them. When faced with a life-or-death situation, the timer is activated ahead of time — more than four hours before it was scheduled to. One of his "doubles" had warned him not to activate the timer earlier than indicated on the remote or he would not return to the last portal (home).
Since he did so, the Sliders do not return home, but instead are now subject to whatever portal opens when the timer counts down (and he hits the remote). This leaves them unable to control which universe they leap to as the counter dictates after each leap. The Sliders continue moving from universe to universe, hoping they'll find their way back home.
Common themes during this season include the exploration of political issues and the appearances of recurring characters' alternate selves, showing how their situations had changed in various realities.
Episodes Aired Out of Order:
The Fox Network aired certain episodes from seasons one and two in a different order than originally scripted to best capitalize on potential ratings-winning episodes, thus causing some continuity errors. For instance, the timer is first set to count down not in the pilot episode, but in "Summer of Love" — since Fox aired "Fever" right after the pilot episode, though, many viewers were left confused as to why the Sliders suddenly had to leave within a very specific period of time. Similarly, the cliffhanger at the end of "Summer of Love" leads directly into the opening of "Prince of Wails" — which Fox had actually aired a week earlier.
For Season Two, Fox did not want to resolve the cliffhanger at the end of "Luck of the Draw," preferring to focus instead on brand-new storylines. Thus, in "Time Again and World" (the first episode filmed for Season Two), Arturo makes a brief passing reference to the events of "Luck of the Draw." This missed cliffhanger was particularly significant as the episode had ended with Quinn being shot in the back. Tracy Tormé successfully petitioned for a chance to resolve the cliffhanger, though, which is briefly dealt with in the opening minutes of "Into the Mystic" (the third episode filmed, but the first to air that season) where the life threatening wound is now a flesh wound in his shoulder allowing for a quick recovery. "Time Again and World" ended up airing sixth in the rotation.
"Double Cross" was filmed as the premiere for Season Three. In this episode, the audience learns why the Sliders will now be able to slide anywhere between San Francisco and L.A. However, Fox opted to air "Rules of the Game" first, since it was a more action-oriented episode. "The Last of Eden" was filmed before John Rhys-Davies (Prof. Arturo) left the show. However, Fox chose to air the episode for the first time on March 28, a full month after Arturo had been written off the show, requiring a new opening scene be added to frame the story as a flashback.
When the show began airing in reruns on the Sci Fi Channel, Sci Fi restored the original filmed order for Season One. However, when the DVDs were released, Universal used the aired order for Season One and the subsequent seasons.
Entering into the fifth season, the production team knew that the series was not being renewed and had saved money from the budget of each season five episode for use in a last climactic battle for the season finale. The money was instead used for the penultimate episode, "Eye of the Storm", while the last episode ended with an unresolved cliffhanger. Insiders have suggested why this happened. The producers were concerned that the Sci Fi Channel had lost interest in the show after they ceased supplying corrective notes for the episodes and it was believed they did not even bother reading the scripts.
One strict rule that the Sci Fi Channel had was that a gun couldn't be pointed at a person's head. To test if the scripts were read, the executive producer, Bill Dial, presented a script that featured a character getting his head shot completely off which was ignored. Dial then presented the script for the final episode cliffhanger which was also ignored. Some claim this was done to encourage fans to push for a sixth season but members of the production team claim that the decision was personal.
Cleavant Derricks (Rembrandt Brown) is the only cast member to stay with the series throughout its entire run, while Derricks and Linda Henning (Mrs. Mallory) are the only actors to appear in both the first and last episodes of the series. Derricks' identical twin brother, Clinton Derricks-Carroll, occasionally appeared on the show, in the episodes "The King Is Back", "Greatfellas", and "The Prince of Slides", when there was a need for Rembrandt and his double to interact.
John Rhys-Davies was the first star of the series to leave, officially due to creative differences, although different stories circulate about the reasons behind it. While Rhys-Davies was an outspoken critic of the writers, Fox supported him while Peckinpah was the only one who wanted him out. Some sources suggest that he was fired for insulting a Fox executive at a party who was later promoted to a high level position with control of programming, including Sliders, while other sources claim that he was fired in order to bring in Kari Wührer, who it was felt would increase the shows ratings with teenage boys and young men.
When Sabrina Lloyd (Wade Welles) left at the end of season three a spokesperson for her agency said "no comment at this time" and stated that it was her decision not to return. A source came forward claiming Lloyd was fired because she was jealous of Kari Wührer (Maggie Beckett). Universal and Lloyd's agent both refused to comment and the rumour spread. Much later it was revealed that Lloyd and Wührer did not get along due to Wührer's ego and some comments she had made about Lloyd's engagement to a crew member. As Peckinpah wanted to return to the 3 male/1 female dynamic, it was decided Lloyd was no longer required after she asked for a raise.
As a result of public pressure to elaborate on what happened to Wade after she disappeared, the producers asked Lloyd to guest star in one season five episode that was to focus entirely on Wade (without the rest of the cast). Lloyd requested $40,000 to appear, the same salary per episode that Derricks was receiving and $20,000 more than Wührer, and the idea was scrapped. However, the episode she was to appear in, Requiem, was "fine tuned" to answer this question without her. Lloyd did provide audio for the episode.
When production moved to Los Angeles, the recurring characters were dropped due to the expense of flying them from Vancouver to Los Angeles for filming. Bartender Elston Diggs was brought in as a recurring character for six episodes but Peckinpah eventually rejected the concept. Logan St. Clair was created to be a recurring character, which is evident in the episode's dialogue, but only appeared once. Fox did not believe she was "sexy" enough and requested she not appear again.
Jerry and Charlie O'Connell left the series to pursue film careers, or because Jerry wanted to become an executive producer on the series. The brothers leaving the show disaffected many fans and Tracy Tormé was asked what could be done to win them back. This resulted in an unsuccessful effort to bring back some popular previously recurring characters. The producers negotiated with John Novak (Ross J. Kelly, the ambulance-chasing lawyer), Alex Bruhanski (Pavel Kurlienko, the taxi driver) and Lester Barrie (Elston Diggs the waiter at the Chandler Hotel) for their return in season five.
Zoe McLellan (Logan St. Clair) was scheduled to appear again and Jason Gaffney (Conrad Bennish, Jr) from season one was confirmed for four episodes including the season finale. However, none of these guest stars appeared. Why Bennish didn't appear in the fifth season is one of the biggest behind-the-scenes mysteries of the show.