It's strange -- a lot of the realizations about SLIDERS that DECLASSIFIED prompted in me -- I realized them unknowingly when I read it years ago.
DECLASSIFIED is a SLIDERS story; despite not having the sliders, it has the themes and tone of the Pilot and most of the first season. It is recognizably SLIDERS in the way Seasons 4 - 5 so definitively aren't with their straightforward moralizing and their focus on physical threat. By showing the SLIDERS formula and brand without the sliders in it, Temporal Flux has demonstrated what the original model of SLIDERS storytelling was in the first place.
And that poses some interesting questions because one of the biggest problems SLIDERS fans have debated: how could SLIDERS have remained more recognizably SLIDERS across losing three-quarters of its cast and its original filming location and its series creators? One game has been to transplant the Season 1 - 2 cast into Season 3 - 5 episodes. You can read the version of "Sole Survivors" where poor Arturo has to fight zombies and the first draft of what became "The Other Slide of Darkness" which also features our beloved Professor. https://earthprime.com/sliders-scripts-collection Mike Truman wrote a clever essay about how Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo might have faced the vampires of "Stoker." https://earthprime.com/essays/salvaging-stoker I wrote a Quinn and Wade edition of "Net Worth." http://sliders.tv/bboard/viewtopic.php?id=323
One of my favourite fanfics is the Earth 210 episode guide set on an Earth where Torme and Weiss presumably stayed throughout and a lot of it is taking the existing episodes but assigning Maggie, Colin, Diana and Mallory's roles to the originals. https://earthprime.com/earth-210 I've generally seen Earth 210 as a plausible depiction of a Torme and Weiss SLIDERS -- but after re-reading DECLASSIFIED this week, I realize that this is not entirely the case.
DECLASSIFIED indicates that tone of SLIDERS under Torme and Weiss is not based in sci-fi action-adventure concepts. It isn't interested in virtual reality, slidewaves, cryogenics, interdimensional ghosts, slidecages, turning black people into cyborg zombies, amusement parks that consume negative emotions, bubble universes, collapsing universes, reality warping weapons, interdimensional trench warfare, interdimensional libraries, nanites, aritficial intelligence customer service, aliens landing on Earth, neural remapping and other STAR TREK/STARGATE style tropes. Torme and Weiss are mostly interested in the people who live in these worlds. They want to show what the infomercials would be like. How the fast food restaurants would run.
Putting Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo in Season 4 - 5 Sci-Fi Channel scripts may have livened them up and made them more familiar, but DECLASSIFIED reveals to me that they still wouldn't be SLIDERS stories as defined by Torme, Weiss and DECLASSIFIED.
Looking at Seasons 4 - 5 and its 40 episodes, only three story concepts stand out to me as immediately suited to the Torme/Weiss model: "Virtual Slide" could have been a fascinating exploration of a world where in-person communication is considered rude and intrusive and "A Current Affair" is potentially a razor sharp satire on how gossipy scandal distracts from politics of actual consequence to life and livelihood. "Map of the Mind" was potentially a great story about a world where fiction is viewed with contempt.
Marc Scott Zicree does a brilliant job with "World Killer" and "Slidecage," but neither is exactly a commentary on human society. Annie Fish in their Think of a Roulette Wheel blog called "World Killer" an "outlier" as Season 4 doesn't measure up to its quality. I wonder if "World Killer" would still have been an outlier, surrounded by more grounded stories in a Torme and Weiss run SLIDERS.
"Prophets and Loss" by Bill Dial -- I wonder if on a Torme/Weiss model, this story is reworked so that the fundamentalist rulers are fixated on the health of their population (something TF wrote about in another thread), using a social credit system to bar people from driving cars if they're considered overweight or getting into bars if they're considered to be staying out too late.
"California Reich" would probably be Torme's wish to have a story where black people practice racism against whites, although I dunno how that would play out. "Lipschitz Live" would probably need to be TF's idea of a reality TV world where privacy doesn't exist, everything is filmed and televised live and people actively play to the cameras to win themselves attention. "Net Worth," "Data World" and "Slide By Wire" are probably best folded into "Virtual Slide."
"Just Say Yes" was better off as Jerry O'Connell's "Narcotica" comic book which simply played the concept straight with a world where all drugs are legal.
"My Brother's Keeper" is potentially interesting -- I can't see Torme/Weiss being too keen on sci-fi cloning, but perhaps they would have liked something closer to "The Breeder"'s alt-world -- a world where people can sign up to donate organs for money including ones essential for staying alive, and the sliders find themselves trying to rescue donors who don't understand why the sliders are horrified by the situation.
"The Chasm" is ridiculous, but there could be something to a world where displays of anger and aggression are medicated as mental illness.
"Revelations" could have been an intriguing world where Holocaust denialism is mainstream? "New Gods For Old" is a really good story, and I wonder if that would be worth keeping mostly as-is as an outlier of a more sci-fi oriented story. "Please Press One" -- I'd probably fold the AI concept from that into "Virtual Slide," I'm not sure it needs its own episode. I feel like anything "The Java Jive" might have to say about a society addicted to caffeine and stimulants is also best folded into "Narcotica."
"Map of the Mind" is an excellent concept brought to life in an extremely Torme/Weiss style DOCTOR WHO story in a novel called "The Stealer of Dreams" and I recommend this Steve Lyons novel to all SLIDERS fans, even fans who aren't familiar with DOCTOR WHO.
"A Thousand Deaths" and its video game concept has me thinking of the classic STAR TREK anti-war story, "The Armageddon Factor" where two civilizations wage simulated wars and virtual casualties on either side are handled with civilians voluntarily reporting for execution. But it had been done by STAR TREK, I'm not sure SLIDERS needed to do a replay.
Mike Truman cited something very interesting about the episodes "Heavy Metal" and "Dust." "Heavy Metal" has the protagonists preventing the development of aircraft so that ships stay in business. "Dust" has the protagonists appalled by archaeologists intruding upon the dead. Truman noted that "Heavy Metal" and "Dust" demonstrate a clear hostility towards science and exploration, a very peculiar attitude for a science fiction series like SLIDERS. I wonder if that's something to be mined, but it was probably done sufficiently with "Gillian of the Spirits."
DECLASSIFIED has made me realize at a surprisingly late stage that a SLIDERS story is significantly more elusive than my SLIDERS REBORN scripts offering parallel Earths and making sure Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo have funny arguments throughout. It requires a careful hand to examine and twist the subject matter whether it's gender norms or in-person communication or a stimulant-addicted society or one that eschews fiction -- but it also needs to be subtle enough that it's a contemplation rather than an attack.
And it also makes me wonder -- if we were saddled with Maggie, Colin, Diana and Mallory but had a network and producers eager to maintain the Torme/Weiss model of non-confrontational satire -- who would have even be able to write these stories without Torme and Weiss at the helm? I couldn't do it. Tony Blake and Paul Jackson couldn't do it. David Peckinpah at his most engaged and determined couldn't do it. Bill Dial's "Prophets and Loss" and its crashingly unsubtle moralizing makes it pretty clear that he wasn't up for it. Marc Scott Zicree is a genius, but his genius does not lie in the Torme/Weiss model.
And that might be a nonsensical question anyway because any regime keen to maintain the Torme/Weiss design wouldn't have driven them from their show in the first place.