We're still limiting this to the idea that Sliders was only going to go 5 seasons. What if it was a smash hit, of the level of X-Files? Are we really confident that all four actors would've been happy to devote a decade of their lives to the show?
I don't know if they would be happy about it. But they signed contracts. I don't know how long the contracts were for. Seven years is the standard, but it's not absolute; the cast of COMMUNITY signed for six years.
When the actors signed those papers, they were accepting the possibility that they might spend 5 - 10 years playing those roles, living in those filming locations, and missing out on other opportunities because this is the series to which they tethered their lives.
So, contractually, the only reason we didn't get five seasons of Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo is because the producers who took over in Season 3 did not appreciate the value of the cast -- or even the show. On one level, whether all four actors would be happy or not is immaterial -- it's what they agreed to.
Now, realistically -- most actors don't imagine that their show is going to last that long. THE X-FILES was expected to be cancelled within 6 - 13 episodes; Chris Carter, David Duchovny and Gillian Anderson were astonished to get a second season and flabbergasted to be filming a feature film.
COMMUNITY lost Chevy Chase in the middle of Season 4 because their relationship with him became unworkable, Donald Glover asked to be released because he was having mental health problems, Yvette Nicole Brown asked to be released because her father was ill. So yes, stuff happens, actors get bored -- but actors coming and going with no stability to the cast and no clarity as to who's available for what -- that's something American TV shows deliberately set out to avoid with long-term contracts.
Nevertheless, Chase, Glover and Brown had an obligation to devote six years of their lives to COMMUNITY as contracted -- but they were released because forcing them to adhere to their contract wouldn't have served the show: all the actors hated Chase, Glover was not well, Brown couldn't be away from her father and you can't get decent performances or a good work ethic out of actors if their issues make them incapable of performing well.
If Chris Carter had his way, we'd be entering season 23 of the X-Files with Duchovny and Anderson continuing the roles. And while I'm sure they loved the show and the work, eventually both Duchovny and Anderson decided to move on, and there was nothing Carter could do. He had to create Doggett and Reyes to keep the show on the air. (I acknowledge this is a dangerous argument I'm making since you know a ton about the behind the scenes on the X Files and I'm speculating).
Chris Carter's plan -- as much as he ever had one -- was that there would be five seasons of THE X-FILES and then a resolution to the alien myth-arc in the feature film. Future X-FILES installments would be in film. However, as Season 4 began filming, FOX declared that (a) Carter was to film the movie after Season 4 (b) Season 5 would then lead up to whatever was in the movie, which would have already been filmed and (c) the movie would be followed by Season 6.
As a result, Carter couldn't do a movie that resolved the series and then shift into feature films. Carter most definitely did not have a clear plan as to how the movie would have resolved the alien invasion arc, and now he'd never come up with any resolution at all. FOX saw that THE X-FILES was a ratings hit, and was determined to get as much out of the show as possible in the realm of television.
If Torme is to Sliders what Carter was to X-Files, then Torme would've stayed on board all ten seasons of Sliders and would've had to deal with different actors and new characters. Or maybe he wouldn't have, and he would've decided to end the show (or walk way) instead of breaking up the band, as it were. All I'm saying is that if Torme was going to come up with new characters, Maggie and Mallory aren't awful on paper and can be worked with. Even Colin is an intriguing character on paper - a true fish out of water who could've brought back some of the wonder of sliding if done correctly.
I think there's a massive difference between how SLIDERS changed its cast and how THE X-FILES changed its cast. SLIDERS lost critical characters at abrupt times, suddenly and irrationally in terms of the story. In contrast, THE X-FILES gave its fans seven years of its lead characters with the Season 7 finale observing that Mulder and Scully had accomplished anything and everything they could have reasonably hoped to achieve. The conspiracy had been toppled (sort of, it was confusing), the alien invasion had been stalled (again, sort of), all questions had been addressed and answered (although they weren't necessarily great answers).
When Mulder left THE X-FILES, there was a massive outcry from the fans. But there was also the acknowledgement that the show had been doing the same thing for seven seasons and Mulder's absence was an opportunity to inject new life and new energy into the show. The Mulderless episodes in no way impeded enjoyment of the seven years we'd already had of Mulder and Scully.
So, if SLIDERS gave us seven seasons of Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo, then I think Torme would be wise and willing to start making some changes afterwards. In my imagined version of SLIDERS:
Seasons 1 - 2: Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo are sliding randomly.
Season 3: "Double Cross" has a different ending where Logan St. Clair is imprisoned and Arturo assumes his double's life, taking full control of Prototronics, giving the sliders a home base, an organization, and a chance to make sliding more stable and reliable with a headquarters. They rename Prototronics as Sliders Incorporated.
Season 4: The sliders find that sliding and exploration are now secondary to a desperate war against the Kromagg Dynasty for the fate of all realities.
Season 5: As the Kromagg war reaches fever pitch, the sliders lose Sliders Incorporated and their home base and become desperate to find some way to defeat the Kromaggs with what little technological advantages remain from Sliders Inc. We end on a massive cliffhanger where the sliders are thought dead.
The Movie: In an epic, feature film finale storyline, the Kromaggs are defeated, but the sliders are reduced to wandering the interdimension with an unreliable timer in a random search for home. Once again.
Season 6: Back to basics with Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo sliding randomly. The season ends with them getting home.
Season 7: The sliders find that home is as much a parallel Earth to them as any other world and accept their lives are in the multiverse, using home as a base but now sliding, rebuilding Sliders Inc. and searching for a new generation of sliders.
Season 8: The new generation of sliders take center stage and the original sliders only appear in half of the season's episodes as the administrative staff of Sliders Inc. The new sliders get lost in the multiverse at the end of Season 8.
Season 9: The new generation of sliders explore the multiverse, searching for a way back home. In 6 - 8 episodes, they encounter doubles of Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo. The series finale involves all the sliders being captured by the Slide Rulers who put our heroes on trial for interfering in the affairs of parallel Earths, resulting in a lengthy courtroom session with narrated clipshows of previous episodes that ends with all the sliders going on the run from the Slide Rulers with their fate unknown.
Movie Number Two: The FBI seek out Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo who are all living in peaceful retirement, needing their help with a series of murders with a psychic from "Obsession" at the center of it all.
The Mini Series: Twenty years after the Pilot, the sliders reunite in order to investigate a series of peculiar reality shifts centered around a -- oh God, stop me now.