Topic: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

Murder Most Foul" is one of my favourite episodes of SLIDERS and possibly one of the finest episodes of the series. It is beautifully filmed, cleverly conceived, sharply written and delightfully performed. Fans have often watched it, expressed great appreciation for it and then wondered: how can this uplifting, thoughtful, imaginative episode be David Peckinpah's script?

Throughout Season 3, the SLIDERS confronted horror movie villains, dragons, Mad Max photocopies, intelligent talking flames and deathtraps. David Peckinpah commissioned these episodes. The average Season 3 script was an unedited, unrefined mess with characters not being given names or introductions ("Rules of the Game"), nonsensical exposition ("The Dream Masters"), clumsily considered world-building ("Electric Twister Acid Test"), witless exposition (Elston Diggs), and a startling lack of imagination and ideas ("Desert Storm") -- all of which were David Peckinpah's responsibility as showrunner.

Peckinpah's stewardship of SLIDERS was so lax that poor safety standards got actor Ken Steadman killed on the set of "Desert Storm." Peckinpah's oversight of SLIDERS was so vacant that the first 13 episodes overspent the season-long budget so badly that the back nine were operating under severe cost restrictions. In Season 4, Peckinpah used SLIDERS to express violent sexual fantasies towards Sabrina Lloyd and curtailed a season-long arc in order to annoy his story editor, Marc Scott Zicree. In Season 5, Peckinpah bought a pitch for "Easy Slider" in order to give his mistress (not his wife) stuntwork for an episode.

David Peckinpah clearly did not care about SLIDERS and was grossly incompetent -- and yet, "Murder Most Foul" is great. Why?

The Initial Explanation
Some people like Temporal Flux argue (quite correctly) that Peckinpah, a cop show veteran, wrote "Murder Most Foul" in a genre he knew well -- crime fiction. But "Murder Most Foul" is so intriguing, so innovative in its concepts that it goes beyond a firm grasp of procedural tropes. The science fiction in this story is brilliant. Mental fractures. False personalities to give the conscious mind a rest. The characterization is wonderfully contradictory and truthful: Arturo is humiliated by a fall into garbage and a bad temper but is nevertheless a brilliantly problem-solving detective even when he's not in his right mind.

Rembrandt intimidates a secretary into giving the sliders information while still being Rembrandt. There's young Trevor's wonder and joy towards the sliding concept. There's Quinn's cleverness and Arturo's strength of character saving the day.

"Murder Most Foul" is everything an episode of SLIDERS should be written by the man who destroyed SLIDERS.  How is this possible?

A Terrible Loss
The terrible truth of Season 3 is and always has been this: David Peckinpah was a *great* writer. A brilliant director. A capable, skillful talented man who truly understood the TV medium. He introduces guest-characters correctly. Names and points of distinction so the audience will remember them later. He knows how to stage confrontations. He knows how to tell stories through action and dialogue. He even does the thought-provoking ending as the episode ends with us looking at little Trevor, the first of a new generation of sliders. Trevor was named after one of David Peckinpah's sons.

The sad fact is that David Peckinpah had *all* the skills needed to make SLIDERS great. He was a fun guy to work with. A gifted storyteller. Decades of experience. He had also known hardship; Peckinpah was a recovered drug addict who put his recklessness behind him to be a good father to his four children. He was sober for 20 years. And then, shortly before being assigned to SLIDERS, Peckinpah's 16-year-old son, Garrett, died of meningitis.

This broke Peckinpah. He fell apart psychologically and fell back into his drug addiction. He had a two-year development deal with Universal and they assigned him to SLIDERS -- a show that Peckinpah simply didn't care about. It is unlikely Peckinpah cared about much of anything at this point. His son had died. It left a hole in his heart that never healed. Note how Peckinpah was generally vindictive and angry towards people who made his working life challenging. Sabrina Lloyd. John Rhys-Davies. To those who asked little or nothing of him, Peckinpah was perfectly amiable.

Expensing Addictions
The midpoint of Season 3 was the "Exodus" two-parter, a production commissioned largely to hire Roger Daltrey and his band, The Who. The filming was an excuse to have a rock band perform for the cast and crew over two weeks of binge drinking with making the actual episodes as something to do between the performances and the parties. According to Temporal Flux, Peckinpah used SLIDERS as a line of credit to feed his addictions and loneliness. He started cheating on his wife with would-be actresses. His presence on SLIDERS was as a figure of indifference and laziness and vindictiveness towards people who demanded his efforts (John Rhys-Davies, Sabrina Lloyd, Marc Scott Zicree).

But he was a great writer. And when writing scripts, he couldn't hide that. "Murder Most Foul" and "Dinoslide" are well-written stories. "Genesis" is actually quite good in its execution even though the content is misguided. His work on SILK STALKINGS and FARSCAPE was solid. Peckinpah brought his A-game to the scripts he wrote with his own hands. He just didn't care to bring that same A-game to the other scripts on his show. He was not careful or considered in commissioning stories, he was not deliberate or attentive in reviewing teleplays, he was not interested or invested in revising or editing them. This attitude was present throughout the rest of SLIDERS' lifetime and quite sadly, throughout the rest of Peckinpah's life as well.

Where SLIDERS Was Born
Some time after SLIDERS, Peckinpah moved from Los Angeles to Vancouver. His stated reason was to rent a home and create a personal space to work on film and TV projects. But the reality was that it was simply a drug den and now he was far from the family and friends in Los Angeles who had monitored him and reduced the harm he was causing himself.

SLIDERS fans have compared Peckinpah to the devil, described him as a villain and a monstrosity who should burn in hell. The death of Ken Steadman and the cover-up that followed is most certainly on him given that he commissioned "Easy Slider" to grant his girlfriend stuntwork when she was not part of the stunt union. Despite a man's death due to lax safety standards, Temporal Flux reported that Peckinpah perpetuated the same laxness as late as Season 5.

In the end, Peckinpah was a broken and very sad man. He lost his son and he lost himself. He never addressed his grief; he never learned to live with it; he never moved past it. All he ever did was medicate his loss and in the end, it killed him. In 2006, Peckinpah experienced heart failure brought on by a drug overdose. He died in Vancouver where SLIDERS was born. He died alone, apart from his family, distant from his friends and a joke to the majority of his viewing audience on his highest profile production.

A Forgiving Family
Shortly after his death, Peckinpah's family posted on the SLIDERS forums, hurt and upset by the fans' vitriol. One of his other sons shared on IMDB the tragic story of his father's decline. For all of Peckinpah's many, many faults and infidelities, Peckinpah had loved his wife and children dearly and they forgave him his misdeeds. Informant remarked, "What you have to understand is that when you produce a show like SLIDERS, you are leaving behind a legacy. People really need to put some thought into what the hell they're making if they don't want that legacy to be people making fun of their work.

"I have no doubt," Informant continued somewhat facetiously, "that David Peckinpah was a solid citizen. Unmatched in his moral integrity. The last good man on Earth. His show still sucked."

Informant's right. And yet -- I find myself contemplating the legacy of Ed Wood, often considered one of the worst screenwriters and directors to ever lens a film. Students of Wood have enjoyed affectionately poking fun at his disastrous projects while wondering -- is it possible that Wood's vision was actually worthwhile and meaningful and he merely lacked the ability to turn that vision into an enjoyable, professional product?

A Multigenre Vision
What was David Peckinpah's vision for SLIDERS? Had he been engaged, focused, devoted and invested, how would his vision of SLIDERS be realized? Certainly, he liked monster movies, he liked genre pastiches, he liked references to popular films -- so what would his work have been if his work had truly grappled with the SLIDERS format, an infinite storytelling engine that could most definitely render his ideas?

I think David Peckinpah's SLIDERS would have been like COMMUNITY, a sitcom in which the students of a community college regularly step outside the dramedy format to engage in parodies of Hong Kong action movies, procedurals, APOLLO 13, Westerns, post-apocalyptic dramas, superheroes, space opera, martial arts movies, documentaries and more. In each of COMMUNITY's parodies, the characters were modified slightly for the genre while still emphasizing their core characteristics and how suited or unsuited they were to the material. SLIDERS' genre pastiches were often presented as bloodily savage horror whereas COMMUNITY maintained its comedic bent, a choice that would have been far more suited to SLIDERS' light comedy origins.

When writing the final SLIDERS REBORN scripts (my fanfic magnum opus), it was always my wish to bring the Season 3 monsters into a script featuring a restored Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Arturo and find some way to make them part of SLIDERS' grand tapestry while presenting the Season 1 - 2 mythology and characters as the core and definitive version of the show. In incorporating the monsters and finding non-violent ways to defeat them, SLIDERS became a Peckinpah-style pastiche -- a pastiche of the superhero movie. The content led to an unexpectedly celebratory attitude towards Peckinpah's ideas, and I decided to include a note at the beginning of the script dedicating the story to his memory.

In the end, David Peckinpah had a truly unique vision of SLIDERS that was paradoxically derivative. Had he committed to executing his vision as loving homages rather than clumsy ripoffs, SLIDERS would have thrived. Plugging the sliders into popular films didn't have to be empty so long as it was done with some irony and humour, and it could have been well-received by genre fans just as the parody episodes of COMMUNITY proved so popular that they became the majority of the show.

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

Peck was just there as a manager.  FOX execs ruined the show, and basically he had to do whatever they wanted.

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

Grizzlor wrote:

Peck was just there as a manager.  FOX execs ruined the show, and basically he had to do whatever they wanted.

That's a ridiculous thing to say.

Grizzlor, I question your supposed expertise in such matters. Yes, you've demonstrated some in-depth knowledge. Yes, you've had many, many, many conversations with SLIDERS alumni.

But you've just as often demonstrated shocking ignorance. You claimed Gene Roddenberry was responsible for continuity errors in STAR TREK VI (he had no involvement). You said SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES could have helped FOX earn more money on TERMINATOR SALVATION when SALVATION was a Warner Bros. project.

In one of your most absurd statements, you said that Marvel should sell all their remaining film rights to Sony and FOX. The actual reality: they had already sold Spider-Man, X-Men, Fantastic Four and Daredevil to Sony and FOX. They were receiving nothing of the outside studios' profits. That's why Marvel self-financed the AVENGERS property.

Now you claim that FOX was somehow responsible for David Peckinpah's misbegotten stewardship of the show. Yes, David Peckinpah blamed FOX for the movie ripoffs. And yes, they are less in evidence in Seasons 4 - 5. But Peckinpah also joined FOX's Peter Roth in getting John fired off SLIDERS. He permitted Kari to harass Sabrina Lloyd and drove Sabrina off the show as well.  He was also responsible for the shoddy stunt standards that got Ken Steadman killed on "Desert Storm" and I know for a fact that you're also aware that he maintained the same dangerous work practices as late as "Easy Slider" where his mistress was not qualified to do stuntwork but hired by Peckinpah anyway.

Throughout Peckinpah's tenure, he did not review scripts to make sure guest-stars were addressed by name (or ensure that Dial or Damron did). He allowed actors to show up drunk and writers to play Solitaire during meetings. He agreed to a massive hotel set that tied up the budget for Seasons 4 - 5 in rental fees that could've gone to locations and props and effects and guest-stars. He let the show end on a cliffhanger.

He was literally referred to as the "boss" right to the end of Season 5 and worked with a disinvolved network for Seasons 4- 5 that clearly let him do whatever he wanted, so the idea that Peckinpah is not responsible for SLIDERS' three year crash and was just a 'manager' for FOX is ridiculous. FOX wasn't even there for the last two seasons. Peckinpah's management and attitude didn't change when FOX was out of the picture.

Tracy Torme would have loved working on the Sci-Fi Channel and he would have been happy to produce material without a single network note.

Now, I am not presenting myself as an expert who knows more than Grizzlor. I get the feeling that Grizzlor has pretty much the same facts that I do and I get the sense from the inside knowledge he does have that Grizzlor and I were both apostles in the lore of Temporal Flux. We’ve clearly read the same information on rights and licensing between studios and TV networks. But we have somehow come to contrary conclusions.

Nevertheless, even from a layperson's perspective: if we agree that FOX wasn't involved in the two seasons that SLIDERS wasn't airing on FOX, if we agree that David Peckinpah was considered "the boss" by Keith Damron and Bill Dial, if we agree that the Sci-Fi Channel was disinterested in SLIDERS -- then it makes no sense whatsoever to say Peckinpah wasn't responsible for SLIDERS' dissolution and demise.

That's not to say that Peckinpah isn't unworthy of pity or compassion, of course. We can see that Peckinpah is responsible for destroying SLIDERS while recognizing that he was a tormented and lonely human being who killed himself with grief. And cocaine and heroin.

Temporal Flux once joked that Peckinpah was burning in development hell. Brand_S once said that Peckinpah was burning in actual hell. I would like to think that Peckinpah, wherever he is, found his son, found some measure of peace and found his way back home.

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

If you never have had to manage a train wreck trying to please several people, keeping morale up, and trying to deliver a finished product that please, audience, network, and studio, then you will never appreciate what david p. did for Sliders, like ir or not Fox didn't want Tracy Torme's vision for the show all mkt research said young men liked Dinosaurs and space aliens, X-Files and Jurasic Park had proven this, and when Sliders did it ratings had spiked.  Maggie was more the type of Fox girl that could sell the show.

Going tp Sci Fi, they wanted a darker show with more aliens and scifi elements on 3/4 the Fiox budget, Astanding set was needed, it was the same set used from season 3, yes it got rediculous the amount it was redressed in the 1sr 13 of season 4, but towards the end of yr4 and yr5 they got better at using other lot space.

letting freinds get jobs is the Hollywood way and life in general, easy slider wiuld of been no better with a different actress.

20years ago as i watched my favorite show go down the tubes, I did blame 1 man, but if david wiuld of bern Tracy 2.0 he would of just got replaced midway through season 3, season 3 may have got cancelled leaving you with no show at all.

Mgmt, being EP is a tough job have to have an ego thick slin and some interpersonal skills

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

ireactions, the fact you seem to be able to recall various brainfarts is I would say, concerning for your sanity! 

First of all, besides the Roddenberry instance, they were all likely "throwaway" lines i just spit out.  Hence why I don't remember them.  I don't do so on (non-JJ Abrams) Star Trek, and I can't even recall continuity errors in ST VI.  In ST:V, yes, the movie is one giant continuity error, and Gene Roddenberry himself (he did this a lot) claimed pretty much the entire plot was inauthentic at best.  It's still "canon" but had it been his choice, he would have "Star Wars Holiday Special'd" it! 

I made a blanket statement on Peck's role during the Fox tenure, nothing about what he did or didn't do under Sci-Fi.  The guy was a horrible producer, I used to call him Pukingpah for years.  However, during early S3 production Tracy left the show to be with his ailing father.  That left Peck as the "boss," and despite whatever else happened, he went right along with whatever FOX execs clamored for.  That meant movie of the week garbage.  Certainly wasn't his idea, as he had zero grasp of science fiction.  You mention they blew the budget on the first half of the season?  Yeah, well, effects-laden scripts with pricey guest stars for "movie of the week's" will do that.  Fox fought tooth and nail with Torme for two years and Peck was Universal's answer.  He went along with FOX, and they had to pay him already from an existing contract. 

I was a bit gruff, but I'm not sure what you were trying to do with this post?  You label Peck as nothing more than a lazy, disinterested, conniving, druggie who used Sliders for a paycheck and a way to satisfy his demons.  I used the term "manager."  That's all he was, and a terrible one at that.  Again, the was there because Universal didn't want to break the contract.  Both FOX and SFC had so little regard for the fans, aka it's own customers that, again, as long as each episode made air and whatnot, they were satisfied.  Hell, we had Sci-Fi execs admit they only aired new Sliders so as to steal the old audience for their new series.  Not like SG-1, which went on forever and spun off.  To this day I'll never understand Universal's lack of interest in Sliders as a franchise.  I felt one reason was that no "young exec" was tied into the show.  No one tried to make their way up the Universal foodchain by promoting the show internally.  And so, yeah, I do take issue with even contemplating the "vision" even a sober Peck had for the show.  Furthermore, do we know how much Peck actually wrote of Murder Most Foul?  To call it great is a bit of a stretch as well, and frankly, Dinoslide, gahhhh, not good.

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

Grizzlor wrote:

ireactions, the fact you seem to be able to recall various brainfarts is I would say, concerning for your sanity!

First of all, besides the Roddenberry instance, they were all likely "throwaway" lines i just spit out.

Well, I apologize for viewing all of your posts as graduate school theses as opposed to what they are -- off the cuff comments on a message board. It's unreasonable to expect anyone to post on this board and supply a bibliography at the end. Thank you for sharing all of your meetings with various celebrities over the years.

Grizzlor wrote:

You label Peck as nothing more than a lazy, disinterested, conniving, druggie who used Sliders for a paycheck and a way to satisfy his demons.

He was all of those things, but I would not call him "nothing more" than that. He was also a loving husband -- yes, he cheated on his wife, but she forgave him his misdeeds and understood his grief. His children forgave him his trespasses and asked SLIDERS fans if we might do the same. I'm willing to do that.

To steal from Richard Curtis, I think every person's life is a pile of good things and bad things and the bad can be glaring and horrific and beneath contempt, but it doesn't erase the good that's there as well.

Grizzlor wrote:

Furthermore, do we know how much Peck actually wrote of Murder Most Foul?

There's no question that David Peckinpah wrote "Murder Most Foul." His life, his career and his family are all over it.

The little boy in the story is named "Trevor" after one of Peckinpah's sons. The plot is a tribute to Peckinpah's long career in crime fiction; the theme park setting shows Peckinaph's obsession with historical re-enactment which also came to the forefront in Season 4 and 5 as Peckinpah really liked working with The Buckaroos, a group that did the Wild West and Civil War re-enactments.

The ending where little Trevor promises to one day find the sliders again has a sweetly poignant longing, speaking to (a) Quinn's desire to be reunited with his father and (b) David Peckinpah's longing to be reunited with his son.

Grizzlor wrote:

And so, yeah, I do take issue with even contemplating the "vision" even a sober Peck had for the show.

Well, when Season 3 was firing on most cylinders, I think what we had was a good amount of the original vision of SLIDERS but with more chase scenes, more explosions, more CG trains and it was still recognizably the same show but with more superficial thrills. It had more of FOX's wishes for action, but it was still SLIDERS. I think any story is conceivably a SLIDERS story and I see no reason why SLIDERS' platform isn't wide enough to embrace twisters, dinosaurs and vampires.

Where I think Peckinpah went wrong is that rather than encouraging a wide range of genre pastiches, he became completely fixated on horror and he also didn't see to it that scripts were reviewed for coherence and introductions or make sure that actors delivered their lines correctly or ensure sound editors put in effects. Errors happen on every show, but there's a review process to try to catch and correct them. I'd say that around the midpoint of Season 3, that review process has halted in favour of binge drinking sessions.

I mean, I'd love to see an episode where Quinn and Arturo try to work out the scientific rationale behind vampires and devise a countermeasure to defeat them. (I also wrote one.)

sliders5125 wrote:

If you never have had to manage a train wreck trying to please several people, keeping morale up, and trying to deliver a finished product that please, audience, network, and studio, then you will never appreciate what david p. did for Sliders, like ir or not Fox didn't want Tracy Torme's vision for the show all mkt research said young men liked Dinosaurs and space aliens, X-Files and Jurasic Park had proven this, and when Sliders did it ratings had spiked.  Maggie was more the type of Fox girl that could sell the show.

Going tp Sci Fi, they wanted a darker show with more aliens and scifi elements on 3/4 the Fiox budget, Astanding set was needed, it was the same set used from season 3, yes it got rediculous the amount it was redressed in the 1sr 13 of season 4, but towards the end of yr4 and yr5 they got better at using other lot space.

I don't agree with that. I don't agree that Seasons 4 - 5 had to be the way they were. The Sci-Fi Channel was pretty hands off on SLIDERS; they didn't even plan to renew it for Season 5, and I don't see any evidence that they pushed for the Kromaggs or for a "darker" show. (Does it get darker than the zombie apocalypse and the animal human hybrids of Season 3?) I think the showrunners could've done anything they wanted within the budget and Torme would have gladly accepted the cut budget and the total lack of interest from the network allowing him to work unrestricted.

As for the Chandler: there was absolutely no reason to rent and maintain a giant hotel set. If you need a hotel room, you wheel in some wallpapered walls, a dresser, a TV and a bed and that's your hotel. If you need a hotel lobby, you roll out a counter and some dummy windows.

That way, you have the option of removing these dressings and bringing in whatever else you might need -- benches and podiums for a courtroom, shelving and lights for a grocery store, exterior walls and fans to fake a street shot, etc.. FRINGE had a massive budget cut in its fifth season, so they rented a bare studio space that they could reconfigure into labs, hallways, markets for frozen corpses, living rooms, train stations, etc..

There's also the fact that the early Season 3 episodes of SLIDERS are a good synthesis of Tracy Torme's characters and storytelling matched with FOX's preference for action and sexuality. "Double Cross" features eye candy, chase sequences, action and an alt-history of environmental decay and resource depletion.

It was entirely possible to give FOX their action and film in LA and still make it *good*. It was entirely possible to film SLIDERS on a Sci-Fi Channel budget and still aim for strong storytelling. And Peckinpah managed to do this for a few episodes throughout each of his seasons. It'd have been nice if he could have managed it for most of them.

I think a season with more episodes like "Double Cross," "Dead Man Sliding," "The Prince of Slides," "Murder Most Foul," "Season's Greedings," "Prophets and Loss," "Virtual Slide," "Slidecage," "Slide By Wire," "Way Out West," "Applied Physics," "New Gods for Old," "The Return of Maggie Beckett" and "A Current Affair" would have been seen quite favourably. Those are the high points; they should have been the standard.

sliders5125 wrote:

Mgmt, being EP is a tough job have to have an ego thick slin and some interpersonal skills

If Season 3 had aimed for maintaining the quality of "Double Cross" -- strong scripts with more action than previous years -- I think fans would have been fine and FOX would have had some explosions and sexuality to put in the trailers.

Peckinpah was partially responsible for John Rhys-Davies' departure and largely responsible for Sabrina Lloyd's exit. As the showrunner, it was his job to keep the original, contracted for 5 - 6 years cast of the show on the show. To lose one contracted actor might be construed as misfortune, to lose three-quarters of them does not speak well of the showrunner's interpersonal skills, ego or skin. Ultimately, I consider Peckinpah responsible, but I also find him unfortunate.

I don't justify or excuse anything he did, but I'm prepared to find some love and understanding for him the way I hope others would find some for me when I make terrible mistakes in my own life and sometimes in this very community (like the time I accidentally uploaded nude photos of Kari Wuhrer to the Sci-Fi Channel server. The photos were for art. Seriously: I was using photos of Wuhrer from the movie VIVID to make graphics for the INFINITE SLIDES fanfic website.).

7 (edited by Grizzlor 2019-02-18 19:20:19)

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

It's really difficult to just replace the creative force (Torme) on a sci-fi show and expect to move on perfectly.  As for Peck, I also never cared what his personal issues were.  If they were so overbearing, he should have QUIT.  That's what Tracy did, when he felt he could not focus on the work.  Honestly, I wonder if you're focusing too much on potential substance abuse.  You're making him out to have been like Brian Wilson, unable to function.  Partying on the studio's dime and nepotism, on a TV set, in the 1990's?  You don't say???  LOL!  If he were such a problem, he'd have been fired. 

I still go back to the networks.  Kari was only hired by FOX's demand, and we now know that consideration was given to eventually trim the cast down to Jerry and the hot chick.  The buffoons there couldn't see beyond next week's Nielsen.  Then you have Sci-Fi Channel, who made even less sense.  Why pay for Sliders if you immediately treat it like trash?  Could have had Tracy back, probably John and Sabrina to some extent, too.  Nah, just leave Peck there, since we have to pay him anyway.  Never made sense to me, but again, they took the fanbase for granted.  It showed when their dumb Invisible Man show was a flop. 

If you look at S4/5 Sliders, was it Peck's fault?  Ehh, probably somewhat but I also think nitpicking on Easy Slider is also a bit misguided.  Ironically, the hotel set came in very handy for those years, as it was a lot cheaper to film there when the budget was much smaller vs. FOX.  Again, you still had some good scripts, and frankly, S4 had a lot of good ones.  Perhaps the execution was not there, but many still stand out and are pertinent to today's world.  My conclusion has always been that he simply was a BAD EP for Sliders, coupled with bad network decisions, and that's what we got.  To blame it all on Peck's habits I find is a cop out, and to remain OT here, I stand by that he was just a unskilled yes-man who kept the execs happy by not rocking the boat.

As for your "Community" concept, ehhh, again, Peck and the Fox heads copied movies because they believed it meant ratings.  They believed Kari in short shorts and cleavage meant ratings.  This was NOT exclusive to Sliders, it has existed on most productions forever.  It's a result of stupidity, laziness, and fear from lack of critical thought.  Only in the last 10-15 years, in which truly unique programs like LOST or Stranger Things or Breaking Bad are allowed to run unimpeded by idiots wearing suit and ties, have television finally been liberated.  Sliders was ahead of its time, and in today's climate, it could really be something.

Re: David Peckinpah's SLIDERS: A Vision of COMMUNITY

Well, Peckinpah's family was in LA and he moved to Vancouver, overdosed and died, so there were clearly some problems there.

I've known a lot of addicts and addiction is a terrible disease that warps one's morality, one's sense of self, one's perception of others. Season 3 strikes me as a cocaine high with its excess and glorying in self-destruction. Season 4 is heroin with opiates inducing an empty numbness that, to some people, can masquerade as relief and comfort.

And Season 5 is repetition, the point all addicts get to where they ingest, inject and inhale not to feel pleasure but in order to feel 'normal' in their empty, deadly routine -- much like the end of "Map of the Mind" where the same action is repeated three times to pad out a short-running screenplay. Peckinpah might have been having fun for a time, but every addict walks a lonely road with absolutely nothing at the end of it.

Regardless of where the movie ripoff approach originated, COMMUNITY indicates that there's something to it. In Season 6's "Modern Espionage," Abed remarks, "Occasionally, our campus erupts into a flawless, post modern homage to action adventure mythology, mischaracterized by the ignorant as parody." This attitude to movie ripoffs is present in exactly one episode of SLIDERS, "Way Out West," where Jerry O'Connell pitched a Western that Peckinpah bought because Peckinpah loved Westerns and historical re-enactment and opportunities to work with the Buckaroos, a re-enactment group.

Chris Black scripted the episode with a strong sense of irony in which Kolitar embraces the Western tropes while Maggie undercuts them by prodding a real estate developer to resolve the conflict by offering fair purchase prices and showing the gun battles to be needless. SLIDERS could have brought the same humour and self-awareness to pastiching MAD MAX and TWISTER and SPECIES and DRACULA and THE ISLAND OF DR. MOREAU and brought in other genres as well.

LOIS AND CLARK is a 90s show, a contemporary of SLIDERS that shared some of the same writers. LOIS AND CLARK experienced severe network interference and lost cast members and I don't doubt that Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher partied as much as anyone else. But for four seasons, the cast and crew produced a product that was mostly good, sometimes excellent and occasionally terrible.

In contrast, Peckinpah only brought his A-game when he was in a good mood or when there were historical re-enactments that excited him ("Murder Most Foul," "Way Out West"). His writing shows a clear grasp of teleplay fundamentals: he introduces characters by name and gives them something memorable to say or do so you don't forget them, he has style, wit, pacing and a grasp of budgetary limitations and resource management.

Even though I don't like "Dinoslide" or "Genesis," he grasps visual shorthand like showing the dinosaur meat barbeque at the end or conveying a global invasion of Earth on a backlot shoot. Many scripts in Seasons 3 - 5 suffer from a lack of skill in these areas; they needed Peckinpah to shepherd the material with the same craft he brought to his own work.

Peckinpah was capable of making a season full of episodes like "Murder Most Foul" and "Way Out West." The problem wasn't a lack of talent or vision; the problem is that he didn't give a damn and it's our loss. He came to the show when SLIDERS was staggering in the ratings and in the crosshairs of the network.

He could have bridged the gap between the winsome dramedy that Torme wanted and the action series that FOX wanted. He could have been SLIDERS' greatest visionary, the hero that we needed in exactly the moment that we needed him. Instead, he killed himself gradually and took SLIDERS down with him.