I definitely think SLIDERS REBORN is ultimately mine. MATT HUTAFF's SLIDERS REBORN and NIGEL MITCHELL's SLIDERS REBORN would've been very different.
The George Lucas collaboration with his friends Spielberg, Coppola, the Hyucks and his wife is fascinating to me because you can compare those results to Lucas working alone. Another fascinating but never quite documented collaboration: William Shatner's STAR TREK novels in which he wrote plot outlines featuring Captain Kirk in the 24th century, co-writers and veteran TREK novelists Garfield and Judith Reeves-Stevens would write the prose, and then Shatner would revise the draft and rewrite all of Kirk's dialogue.
The combination was beautiful: you had a husband-wife team with an encyclopedic knowledge of TREK and an obsessive love for all the shows and movies and the ability to write vivid pastiches of every character. And then you had the lead actor himself presenting a prose version of his own performance and working with two brilliant SF writers to bring his scenes and concepts to life.
The prose read entirely like the Reeves-Stevens' previous TREK novels, but they were keen in interviews to declare that these Kirk books were not stories they would or could write themselves. They also refused to reveal which ideas and words were theirs and which were Shatner's, saying all three had agreed on the ideas and words that were published regardless of who suggested them.
There were insights into Kirk that felt very much like they came from the actor who had played him for decades. Why was a maverick, rogue, rebellious personality like Kirk working for what was essentially the military?
How would Kirk feel about the corporate structure of the NEXT GEN ships? What would Kirk do if he were to retire happily? How would he deal with truly becoming a senior citizen? What would Kirk be like as a husband? As a parent? What would a Kirk-Picard friendship actually be like? The answers felt true. Shatner understood the lead character, the Reeves-Stevens team understood the vast universe around the character and the combination was everything Shatner's STAR TREK V wasn't.
MATT HUTAFF's SLIDERS REBORN would have been a reboot in which older versions of the sliders discover sliding at their present day ages instead of in 1994 with the explanation that in 2001, a restored Quinn had to "kill" sliding in order to end the Kromagg threat. I really like it as a reboot concept and found it hilarious that with the exception of matching previous continuity, it's the same concept Temporal Flux offered for a future reboot with the original actors. I find Matt doesn't think like a fan; he thinks like a TV producer, and this will serve him professionally but wasn't where I wanted to go for fan fiction.
Nigel felt my outlines were too dense and that the results would be unreadably long and he eventually disengaged from the material (while still continuing to review scripts). And this is because Nigel is a novelist. He is not a screenwriter. He doesn't think in terms of film and TV being the edited highlights. Nigel thinks in prose. He didn't grasp why I was outlining events that would take place "off camera."
NIGEL MITCHELL's SLIDERS REBORN would have been a series of novels. And the final SLIDERS REBORN novel in Nigel series, I imagine, would have been more like an anthology in which each of the four characters gets a novella with their individual plot.
And Slider_Quinn21 -- I actually don't know what his SLIDERS REBORN would've been. Certainly, I appreciated his contributions. He spotted typos, he pointed areas where the exposition was confusing or absent, he noted when characters changed the topic of conversation without a transition. I think, because I was sending Slider_Quinn21 script pages instead of outlines, he was less inclined to change the story and more interested in making it as readable and understandable as possible.
Working on the first three scripts and the novella had been very taxing and draining and exhausting. Matt and Nigel made it manageable by helping me find solutions even if they likely never understood how much they helped as they probably only recall telling me something didn't work and why and offering me solutions they knew I didn't want. I think they didn't understand that identifying problems was extremely helpful even if I'd make my own solutions.
Nobody worked with me on the fifth script in which I wanted Quinn to meet Mallory. The convolutions to justify the tangled knots to bring Jerry O'Connell and Robert Floyd in the same room were absurd and I ended up rewatching "Obsession" and choosing a psychic from a single scene to be the antagonist of this script to rationalize an otherwise nonsensical plot. Tellingly, the fifth script is one where Mallory is really a hallucination and it's really a conversation between Quinn and himself, which is probably why it's the worst of the six.
Looking back, it may have been a missed opportunity. I probably should have asked Robert Floyd to work on it with me as it was interviewing him that made me write this fifth installment. Admittedly, I don't know what kind of cache that would have provided; the majority of the fans view Floyd as Jerry O'Connell's scab which I've always found unfair. It probably wouldn't be quite the same as, say, James Marsters and Juliet Landau writing comics featuring BUFFY and SPIKE.
That said, Floyd is quite present in all the REBORN scripts, not because of anything he contributed specifically to REBORN, but because REBORN is an attempt to pastiche Jerry O'Connell's voice and mannerisms just as Floyd sought to impersonate Jerry while making sure that copying someone else's voice and body language was just one aspect of playing a character, and the scripts are very informed by Floyd's choices.
Writing the first two scripts was fun and easy. Writing the third, fourth and fifth installments was all very tiring and I was ready for it to be over by 2016. But I was pleasantly surprised to discover that working with Slider_Quinn21 was a joyfully effortless breeze, probably because Matt and Nigel's work on the outlines had smoothed out all the plot problems in advance and Slider_Quinn21 and I could relax and focus entirely on dialogue and 'acting.'
I feel Slider_Quinn21’s contributions to SLIDERS REBORN could potentially seem understated, but the sixth script is the best one. Part of that it’s because it featured the sum total of all our respective talents: Matt’s hyperrational sense of plot, Nigel’s imaginative world-building, my commitment to typing it all up in a script.
Without Matt and Nigel, there would have been no clear vision of REBORN, but I think the sixth one is the most enjoyable to read because Slider_Quinn21 has a very firm grasp of how readers engage with text and absorb information and process prose and dialogue gave the final script a crisp, direct quality that made all the crazy ideas fun to read. Slider_Quinn21 had this commitment to clear, understandable, simple, straightforward description while appreciating that it was a novel in screenplay format.
There was a lot of overly dense, confusing description in the second half of the script where the sliders confront all the Season 3 monsters and Slider_Quinn21 helped clarify a lot of it while also noting when the action had dragged on for so long he’d lost track of what was going on. And he had the patience to indicate readability issues on some of the earlier scripts which I went back and touched up. I suspect that I will never be as readable again as I was for that final script.
There was also this delightful moment where he pointed out to me that my Arturo dialogue had become extremely overwritten with me giving the Professor so many big words and such an overexaggerated accent that he’d become a caricature of a caricature.
I’d given myself a December 31 deadline to post that script, but SQ21’s editing led to me publishing it four days earlier.
Slider_Quinn21 expressed a desire to do more SLIDERS stories together after REBORN and I felt it was time to move on, possibly from writing SLIDERS, possibly from writing entirely. But it was truly a golden age and I always look back at that period fondly and with great warmth and appreciation for Matt, Nigel, Robert Floyd, Slider_Quinn21... and, oddly but appropriately, David Peckinpah.