Re: Rewatch Podcast
Hi. Here are the notes for "Revelations" that I sent Rewatch Podcast.
As for the "Net Worth Redux," I am at the point where Quinn-2 and Wade-2 / Rick and Joanne are talking in person in the Dominion/ Chandler hotel. The majority of the plot holes are fixed except for Jack / Hurley's nonsensical plan for robbing the Magenta Towers.
I could write scripts on my tablet (with a bluetooth keyboard), but Windows 10 is still repatching my computers, so I won't be able to post the podcasts until tomorrow night. My password managers are stored on the PCs and I never commit passwords to memory.
Season 4: Luck of the Draw
When Marc Scott Zicree interviewed for SLIDERS, he was not entirely sure what he was getting into. He had a passing familiarity with SLIDERS. Most of the junior Season 3 producers had moved on. New writers were needed.
USA Networks (which owned Sci-Fi) had a VP who'd liked Zicree's writing on science fiction shows and recommended him to David Peckinpah.
Peckinpah hadn't been looking for a talented science fiction writer. As Season 3 showed, Peckinpah was not concerned with scripts he wasn't writing, he saw hiring screenwriters as the equivalent of hiring typists.
It was an astonishing stroke of fortune for a writer of Zicree's pedigree and caliber to be interested in SLIDERS and to be approached for a story editor role.
According to Temporal Flux of DoC: Zicree, in the interview with Peckinpah, repeated everything Peckinpah said in paraphrased sentences, echoing Peckinpah's views on production and scripts.
Peckinpah declared Zicree to be a genius and hired him as the Season 4 executive story editor -- a position that usually entails commissioning scripts, directing or performing rewrites, leading the writer's room,etc..
As noted in many interviews, the Season 4 budget was low. The writing staff consisted of David Peckinpah (1. executive producer), Bill Dial (2. co-executive producer), Marc Scott Zicree (3. story editor) and Chris Black (4. producer).
Most scripts would come from freelancers and need to be rewritten once submitted.
Because the writing staff was so small, the task of rewriting scripts had to be distributed and delegated and Zicree expected he'd take the approach of giving notes to writers on their treatments. When drafts came in, he would again write notes and he expected would distribute the task of rewrites among himself and his colleagues.
Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome
Zicree, at this point, began to further familiarize himself with SLIDERS, having long talks with his friend Tracy Torme, rewatching old episodes, reading the Dimension of Continuity articles and deleted scenes, watching Kari Wuhrer's movies.
He realized SLIDERS was in trouble: down two original (and essential) cast members, a problematic character in Maggie, the remaining regulars had gone from charming and lively to hostile and miserable.
To make matters worse, the leading man had forced his talentless brother into a regular role on the show.
According to TF: Marc attempted to make a meal of the mess. He wouldn't try to do the grounded SLIDERS of Season 1 - 2 -- he couldn't anyway. And he wouldn't do the movie ripoffs of Season 3 -- he had no budget for that anymore.
Instead, he'd try a more hard-sci-fi and myth approach.
He proposed an ambitious story-arc to really raise SLIDERS' profile: the Kromagg invasion of the sliders' home Earth. This way, the damage to the series in losing John Rhys-Davies and Sabrina Lloyd could be expressed and mined for drama. The Colin character could be a Kromagg spy, an altered clone of Quinn created from DNA samples taken in "Invasion."
It would be hinted throughout the season, however, that the Earth Prime invasion had been staged to manipulate Quinn into believing a false backstory, a theory all but confirmed by the third episode.
The season 4 finale would bring all the subtle clues into a massive climax and a shocking cliffhanger.
Looking at the interviews, it would seem that for episodes between the premiere and the finale, Zicree hoped for imaginative and intellectually challenging science fiction drama with more of a fantasy-adventure approach rather than the social commentary of Season 1 - 2, but with a focus on situational character drama rather than action and eye candy (which couldn't be afforded anyway).
The Other Slide of Darkness
According to TF: Peckinpah approved of Zicree's Season 4 arc. However, Peckinpah also took the task of writing the season premiere and immediately, the Zicree/Peckinpah relationship began to take a turn for the worse.
Peckinpah wrote the Kromaggs as overt soldiers, thugs, interrogators and torturers rather than distant figures acting through human agents -- and he also wrote Sabrina Lloyd out via sending her to a rape camp.
Zicree argued against these plot elements, providing Peckinpah with pages and pages of corrective notes and creative suggestions.
For example, Peckinpah misunderstood the concept of doubles and wrote a double of Quinn's mother to be played by a different actress.
Peckinpah ignored this and "Genesis" was filmed.
At this point, Zicree's protests took on the form of modifying his Season 4 plans. He proposed the concept of the Humaggs, suggesting these were the products of the rape camps. He suggested that the vaguely defined superweapon had sterilized the Kromaggs, requiring the camps.
Zicree believed that if this plot were present, it would force the episodes to focus on the sliders searching for Wade, giving him opportunities to resolve Wade's fate either via a guest-appearance or an offscreen mention.
Zicree was met with resistance and refusal by Peckinpah as well as Bill Dial. Dial had been unable to find work in recent years until his friend Peckinpah hired him for SLIDERS and his loyalty was to Peckinpah.
Zicree continued to argue for the Humagg storyline. This led to a rift between him, Peckinpah and Dial, who began to find him obnoxious.
Zicree also continued to contribute corrective notes to completed scripts, seeking to distribute the task of rewrites among the producers.
Dial refused to address the notes, declaring that all the scripts were adequate as written. Dial regularly refused to discuss stories in writers room meetings, preferring to play Solitaire on a computer.
Zicree chastised Dial for his negligence and demanded Dial's full attention. Dial came to despise Zicree and soon, Peckinpah hated Zicree as well.
When stories for the middle of the season were being determined, Zicree succeeded in getting two Humagg episodes commissioned due to the lack of alternatives on the table at the time.
He was also writing "Slidecage" and an episode of DEEP SPACE NINE.
The Exodus Part 1
According to TF: around this period, Peckinpah and Dial decided to drive Zicree off the show. They did this by destroying his Season 4 arc.
Zicree's Season 4 arc was building to the revelation that Colin Mallory was an altered-Quinn clone created by Kromaggs.
Dial and Peckinpah commissioned "Lipschitz Live," an episode with a Colin-double. They then declared that since a clone couldn't have a double, Zicree's plan for the Season 4 finale would need to be abandoned.
They did this despite the fact that they had bought the Season 4 finale story from Zicree already.
Zicree completed his work on "Slidecage" and gave up on actively contributing to SLIDERS, simply performing his managerial duties and letting Peckinpah, Dial and Chris Black carry on without Zicree's input.
As I look at Season 4, it would seem to me that with no story editor reviewing scripts or overseeing their commissioning, various oddities resulted such as (a) Rembrandt acting like he never met Dr. Jensen in "Slide By Wire" (b) "Virtual Slide," "Net Worth," "Slide By Wire" and "Data World" being the same computer world concept four times over (c) the sliders knowing Kolitar by name in "Way Out West" even though it was never spoken onscreen in "Slidecage" (d) the Kromaggs issuing a kill order on the sliders despite "Common Ground" establishing the sliders were off limits and (e) a truly puzzling Season 4 finale.
As articles indicate: the Season 4 budget was small. Only one story bought for Season 4, "God's Country," by David Gerrold, was not filmed.
Season 4 could not afford to let anymore purchased stories go unused -- meaning that Zicree's purchased Season 4 finale story had to be scripted -- by someone -- and filmed. No alternatives could be bought.
Bill Dial proceeded to take Zicree's story and remove the intended Season 4 arc elements. He then took what was left of the story and stretched it out to fill in the time, either by extending existing scenes to fill more acts than they'd been designed for or writing new scenes that simply reiterated previously stated information.
This approach to screenwriting is also predominant in Season 5, in which anything expensive or complicated to film would be removed and the remaining material would be stretched to fill the resulting gaps.
The original plot for "Revelations" as intended by Marc Scott Zicree was to begin with the sliders relaxing on a world in which Rembrandt would find a novel -- a science fiction novel with a plot that mirrored the human-Kromagg war.
What follows is my extrapolation of how the basic story could have gone -- I gave you the vague outline in earlier E-mails. What follows is me (as opposed to Zicree) fleshing out the vague into the more specific. My speculations are in italics. Anything not in italics was a definite story element as communicated by Temporal Flux.
The sliders would locate the author, who would help work out the secret of how to bypass the Slidecage.
The sliders would then slide back to Kromagg Prime.
Dial's script stretched what should have been no more than a teaser and a first act into the very end of the third act.
The original idea was that the sliders would land on Kromagg Prime and instantly cause an alert to go off. Their arrival is detected; the human inhabitants believe the sliders are the first of a Kromagg invasion and must be met killed on sight by soldiers who've been preparing for a Kromagg incursion for almost two decades.
In fleeing, Quinn is separated from Colin, Maggie and Rembrandt.
As Colin, Maggie and Rembrandt evade the soldiers, Quinn searches for his birth parents.
As Colin, Maggie and Rembrandt defend themselves, Colin begins to exhibit odd behaviour. He uses lethal force, casually murdering several of the soldiers without Rembrandt and Maggie seeing due to the confusion of the fight. They escape.
Colin, Maggie and Rembrandt find a safe place to hide and look up information to find Mr. and Mrs. Mallory.
Quinn locates his birth parents. They do not recognize him and believe him to be a Kromagg agent, either compromised or brainwashed. Quinn convinces them to hear him out, producing his microdot and a photograph of Colin, explaining that his foster parent-doubles hid him when his birth parents returned to Earth Prime for him.
Mr. and Mrs. Mallory protest: they never left their son with doubles. Their son died in the human-Kromagg war. And they have never heard of anyone named Colin Mallory.
We go back to Maggie and Rembrandt: Colin is holding them at gunpoint. They are his hostages; Colin will need them as leverage because if Quinn has found their 'parents,' then he now knows the truth.
Quinn and his 'parents' realize: there is no Colin Mallory. Never has been. All the sliders were scanned on arrival; the man known as Colin who came through the vortex is genetically almost identical to Quinn -- a clone with surgical alterations to make him look like a relative.
The invasion of Earth Prime, the appearance of Amanda Mallory, the microdot, Colin's convenient location -- all this has been staged by the Kromaggs to give them a way back to Kromagg Prime -- by sliding a Kromagg sleeper agent onto the Kromagg homeworld to shut down the Slidecage from within.
Quinn and his 'parents' race for the Slidecage control facility, realizing the truth. They have to stop Colin.
It's revealed that the Slidecage can be unlocked with the Mallorys' genetic code -- however, a clone wouldn't be able to access the controls. Nevertheless, Quinn is convinced that if the Kromaggs manipulated them this far, then Colin has some sort of plan for that place and that's where he'd go.
Quinn begins to wonder: what else has been a trick? Was the Earth in "Genesis" really his homeworld? Was the invasion real or was what he saw of it staged? What happened to Wade?
The Mallorys arrive at the Slidecage facility to find the guards murdered. Colin is inside with Quinn's friends; he orders Quinn to enter alone.
Quinn complies, shouting questions to Colin over comm-link -- is the Colin he knows in there under the sleeper programming somewhere? Is anything of the brother he loved real?
Colin mocks Quinn, declaring him to be an impulsive, gullible, impotent pawn, powerless and helpless -- completely controlled by the Kromaggs even now that he knows the truth, because Colin holds Maggie and Rembrandt's lives.
Quinn confronts Colin, succeeding in trapping him in one of the control center's chambers and rescuing Maggie and Rembrandt. But Colin has triggered a self-destruct sequence for the facility to explode, which will shut down the Slidecage and open the door for the Kromaggs to return.
Quinn uses his genetic signature -- the same as his 'father's' -- to shut down the self-destruct. But then he realizes that Colin has tricked him -- the self-destruct sequence was faked; what Colin really made him do was unlock the Slidecage.
Colin unlocks his chamber -- Quinn never succeeded in locking him in. Colin congratulates Quinn: Quinn Mallory is the Kromagg Dynasty's greatest hero. He has achieved his mission. Now he can die.
Rembrandt and Maggie make it outside the Slidecage facility, finding Mr. and Mrs. Mallory.
Then suddenly, in the air above, red vortexes appear and Kromagg manta ships emerge. Filling the sky. The Mallorys, Rembrandt and Maggie look up in horror.
Inside the facility, Quinn and Colin battle, Quinn desperately trying to immobilize the man he sees as a brother and Colin the sleeper agent trying to kill Quinn. Brother against 'brother' fighting --
And the Kromagg ships descend upon this world in a triumphant homecoming.
To be continued in Season 5.
The Last of Eden
Dial's awkward rewrite of Zicree's plot involved ripping out most of the critical scenes.
The approach of stretching and extending the remains resulted in massive plotholes, obvious filler and nonsensical characterization.
Quinn and Colin have developed the means to bypass the Slidecage and have the coordinates for home. As Dial had removed the original outcome and decided on a wrong-Earth plot instead, he was required to provide some explanation for why the sliders make it to a completely different Earth.
His explanation was that Isaac Clarke changed the coordinates -- which does not account for why Quinn and Colin wouldn't protest this or why they couldn't simply apply the bypass formula to the correct home coordinates.
When all the sliders meet Mr. and Mrs. Mallory, they do not request the anti-Kromagg superweapon to liberate Earth Prime. Instead, it comes up in conversation incidentally. At this point, Quinn declares he will not be leaving Kromagg Prime and gives Rembrandt the timer to liberate Quinn's adopted and Kromagg-dominated Earth alone.
Quite inexplicably, Rembrandt is untroubled by Quinn abandoning Earth Prime and its people -- and is then told by Quinn he must go to Dr. Clarke to procure the weapon -- even though it was previously established that the Mallorys created the weapon.
This characterization is another "Mother and Child" level disaster of characterization, rendering Quinn as having abandoned his mission to liberate his adopted Earth, being uncaring about the fate of his mother and being indifferent to sending Rembrandt into a Kromagg war zone.
This sequence of events also makes no sense: if the sliders now think Clarke has the weapon, why didn't they stick with him instead of approaching the Mallorys?
Given that Quinn is the one who chose to search for the superweapon, why is he now uninterested in acquiring and deploying it?
Why is this shift in his goals not addressed or remarked upon by Rembrandt? Why is Rembrandt unconcerned that Quinn is abandoning him?
The reason these errors are present: writer Bill Dial sought to create a reason for Rembrandt to leave Maggie, Colin and Quinn alone with the Mallorys and needed to send Rembrandt to acquire exposition from Dr. Clarke about why this isn't the correct Kromagg Prime.
These measures were separation and stalling tactics designed to extend an underrunning script as the central plot of the story had been removed.
Dr. Clarke's dialogue with Rembrandt is also nonsensical; he claims to have helped the sliders by providing the coordinates, except the sliders already had different coordinates which they inexplicably permitted Clarke to alter.
Dr. Clarke claims he has evidence to convict the Mallorys for their war crimes, despite the episode clearly indicating that the Mallorys' anti-Kromagg weapon is known to the public with no consequences having come for two decades.
Once again, this is Bill Dial attempting to stretch out the remaining fragments of Zicree's story, having thrown out the bulk of the material.
Even with these measures -- measures that break the logic of this one episode, that break the character of Quinn Mallory, that break the Season 4 arc -- the episode still runs short.
As a result, the final act is devoted to a lengthy, prolonged and content-free chase sequence.
The episode ends with the vortex fired off a moving train yet inexplicably keeping pace with the train when it should be a speck in the distance.
This rewrite has been performed in a lazy, slapdash, inconsistent fashion -- largely because Bill Dial disliked Zicree and was disinclined to treat Zicree's ideas with respect, particularly when this altered Season 4 finale had been done specifically to spite and demoralize Zicree.
The Exodus, Part 2
This was Jerry O'Connell's final episode of SLIDERS.
According to TF: Jerry had enjoyed his Season 4 producer role because it allowed him to coast. He could show up late or inebriated without repercussions or consequence.
He now wanted to be executive producer of SLIDERS, not for creative reasons, but for more opportunities to coast and an increased salary.
Indeed, his writing, directing and producing credits on Season 4 were primarily for financial interest; he never wrote, produced or directed after SLIDERS aside from a token credit on the film FIRST DAUGHTER (written during Season 4) and a TWO AND A HALF MEN Internet parody.
Jerry sought the promotion but was not taken seriously by Universal.
However, he found a stronger bargaining position when the Sci-Fi Channel missed his contractual deadline for ordering Season 5.
Sci-Fi had never intended for Season 5, intending to draw SLIDERS' audience to Sci-Fi's original programming and then abandon SLIDERS.
That was the reason for the long period with no new episodes of SLIDERS while shows like FIRST WAVE and WELCOME TO PARADOX and FARSCAPE aired new installments.
The plan failed; SLIDERS' Season 4 ratings were too strong for Sci-Fi to cancel it if they could afford to renew -- but by this point, their money was tied up in the original programming. They had to find other avenues of finance.
By the time Sci-Fi found the money and renewed, Jerry was no longer obligated to return to the series.
Jerry offered to return if and only if he were promoted to Executive Producer. Universal refused to promote him. Jerry quit.
Jerry offered to do six episodes of Season 5 so long as Charlie starred in all 18.
David Peckinpah and Bill Dial refused to hire Charlie for any more episodes than Jerry.
Negotiations continued. There were some personnel changes even without Jerry's issues: Peckinpah had been assigned to a different series, TURKS, meaning that while Peckinpah remained in charge of SLIDERS, Bill Dial would become the de-facto lead producer.
Dial hired "Virtual Slide" and "Lipschitz Live" writer Keith Damron to replace Marc Scott Zicree as the new Season 5 story editor.
Dial and Damron were now faced with having to write Jerry O'Connell out.
Dial changed his mind about Zicree's Season 4 finale.
He decided he would do the Season 4 finale after all -- as Season 5, episode 5.
In Season 5, episode 5, the sliders would land on the real Kromagg Prime, Colin would be exposed as a clone and a traitor, the invasion of Earth Prime would be revealed as a ruse.
Colin would be stranded on the real Kromagg Prime. Quinn would open a gateway to the real Earth Prime -- but fail to take Maggie and Rembrandt with him.
The next 12 episodes of SLIDERS would feature Maggie and Rembrandt with a new slider, a scientist named Melissa Hunter from the real Earth Prime who had worked with the FBI in recreating Quinn's slide-tech and gotten lost in the multiverse.
Jerry's sixth and final episode of Season 5 would be the series finale; Quinn would return to wrap up the show.
Then Jerry declared that he would return for no episodes of SLIDERS at all. He and Charlie quit.
Jerry declared in a chat session that he didn't want to return for Season 5 due to a budget cut. There was no budget cut; this was a lie.
Jerry would later change his story to quitting over a "contractual dispute" without elaborating on this.
When directly asked what he wanted to do as Executive Producer, Jerry replied that he thought SLIDERS had become like too "bubble gum" and he wanted it to be more like THE X-FILES -- utterly meaningless.
Temporal Flux does not believe Jerry had any creative ambitions for SLIDERS whatsoever.
As a result of Jerry's departure and his refusal to perform an exit story, the Season 4 Kromagg arc would never be resolved.
Charlie O'Connell went on to feature in a season of The Bachelor in which his constant state of intoxication made him realize he was an alcoholic. He sought treatment and, I believe, recovered.
Jerry O'Connell felt no regret about leaving SLIDERS.
He believed that he would be a Tom Cruise level movie star, having achieved a certain level of fame for SLIDERS, JERRY MAGUIRE and SCREAM 2.
His performances won him rave reviews, although they were mostly the John Rhys-Davies coached performances of Seasons 1 - 2.
In interviews, he spoke of his numerous female conquests, his superior athleticism in fencing tournaments and generally portrayed himself as a goofy ladies man and teen idol heartthrob.
Jerry's opinion was that SLIDERS was a hit because the audience found him attractive, either as an object of desire or as a surrogate figure.
Immediately post-SLIDERS, he chose roles that flattered his ego as an attractive male specimen: the young astronaut in MISSION TO MARS, the leading man Lothario of the sex comedy TOMCATS, the leading man of the film DOWN UNDER. Jerry chose roles that were largely about his looks.
MISSION TO MARS was a critical failure and Jerry's performance was considered serviceable but bland.
TOMCATS was considered to be a masterwork of cinematic incompetence with crass, ugly, sexist humour and Jerry's performance consisted of sneering and mugging for the camera.
At this point, Jerry's fan following was largely depleted; the fan sites ceased to be maintained. Jerry had made a grave miscalculation, mistaking SLIDERS fans for Jerry O'Connell fans, something that became clear when TOMCATS bombed.
Jerry's appeal in Seasons 1 - 2: he was an attractive young man playing a sensitive, earnest, heartfelt scientist of intelligence and moral integrity. This performance had been achieved through John Rhys-Davies coaching Jerry.
Without John to guide him, Jerry's performances had no thought, no detail, no consideration, no characterization -- just vacant blandness or clumsy comedy.
Jerry also destroyed his earnest, sincere image after numerous girlfriends revealed that he had drunkenly cheated on them and in interviews where he bragged about random hookups with fans.
In a final, desperate bid at the movie star career he craved, Jerry signed to a Jerry Bruckheimer film.
For this film, DOWN UNDER, Jerry was keen to film in Australia for this buddy comedy.
Jerry was nearly fired off this film.
Ever since SLIDERS moved to Los Angeles, Jerry had received many invitations to nightclubs and bars and parties.
His star value and attractive appearance drew additional customers, after all. He was drinking heavily until the early mornings. He would stagger home and eat pizza and other takeout foods. By 2002 and shortly before DOWN UNDER was to film, Jerry was flabby and overweight. His performances were Season 4 poor or worse and now he didn't even have his looks.
DOWN UNDER producer Bruckheimer threatened to fire Jerry. Jerry agreed to get in shape, hiring a personal trainer to do a complete overhaul of Jerry's diet and lifestyle. Jerry agreed to quit drinking, to quit eating fried and processed foods, and to commit to the regular exercise he'd stopped around late Season 4 of SLIDERS.
Jerry got back in shape and found that he enjoyed sobriety. He filmed DOWN UNDER. It bombed with test audiences, although they reacted positively to one scene -- a dream sequence with a computer generated kangaroo.
As a result, the entire film was reshot to make the kangaroo the star and renamed KANGAROO JACK. Jerry ended up playing second banana to a cartoonishly rendered marsupial.
This was the end of the line for Jerry's movie star career; he could no longer be taken seriously as a bankable leading man and he was also not worth his price when more committed and capable actors with lower paycheques were available and hadn't alienated their fanbase or accumulated so many failures.
This crushing failure of ambition actually turned out to be a good thing for Jerry.
Needing work, he turned back to the medium he'd thought himself above -- television. He accepted a recurring and then regular role in CROSSING JORDAN with Jill Hennessy and began to rebuild his career as a working class actor who, if not at home, would be on the set or in the gym. He began taking acting classes again.
In 2012, in a sadly offline YouTube video, Jerry O'Connell did an interview and spoke extensively about SLIDERS.
He said that he often watched the episodes with his children and wife.
He kept, in his kitchen, a Season 1 photo of himself with his fellow cast members.
He said that John Rhys-Davies had been a mentor and father figure who had sold his car to Jerry. Jerry said he loved SLIDERS and regretted that the cast broke up. He said he would gladly reprise his role as Quinn if given the chance, but that NBCUniversal had no interest in reviving the property. When asked why the show had been so loved, Jerry admitted he didn't really understand it, but he loved the family environment and being with Cleavant, Sabrina and John. He missed them all.
In 2014, Tracy Torme received a phone call from Jerry. They had not spoken since Season 3. Jerry expressed his longing to see SLIDERS revived.
They made some calls. Cleavant was interested. Sabrina was in Rome and not available. John could not be reached. NBCUniversal was its usual unresponsive self. Jerry reached out to Funny or Die, the website, and performed in a spoof Kickstarter for a SLIDERS movie.
I have two theories. My first is that Jerry, now sober, a married man and a father of two, had done some hard thinking about his life and why his movie career never took off and finally figured it out. It's not the actor. It's the character he creates.
The key to becoming a movie star is playing an iconic, genre-definitive character who inspires the imagination. Indiana Jones. Spider-Man. Batman. James Bond, Mr. Spock. Dr. House. Superman. Lara Croft. Doctor Who.
In his career, Jerry had only ever played one character like that. Quinn Mallory was and remains Jerry's one and only shot at pop culture immortality.
My other theory is that Jerry simply missed John, Sabrina and Cleavant -- and with John getting on in years, Jerry longed for a final reunion of all four. He wished to see the sliders reunited. Restored. Reborn.
Don't we all?