[ EARTH 69 ]

Episode 1.1 | Pilot

    The first half of the pilot that we saw, depicting Quinn's discovery of sliding and his life on Earth Prime, has been excised. Peckinpah felt audiences would not be interested in seeing an Earth remotely similar to ours - this is science-fiction! Instead we're plunged straight into the action as the Quantum Quartet land on a world where the Russians rule America.

    Wade tries to make a phone call, but is prevented from entering the booth by a magical blue forcefield. This scene serves no dramatic purpose.

    Soon the Sliders find themselves allied with the rebel American forces, who work out of a squeaky-clean ultra-modern underground bunker. Their leader, Colonel Rickman, makes a deal with the Sliders: he'll return their confiscated timer, if they'll bring his troops along to the next world before the Soviets drop the A-bomb on their own capital of San Francisco to wipe out the insurgents.

    During the filming of the third episode, John Rhys-Davies decided to back out of this travesty of a series. The second half of the pilot was thus largely reshot, changing the benevolent Rickman of the original script into a brainthirsty maniac. This led to some viewer confusion, as the pre-rewrite Rickman survived in the first half of the Pilot, only to go nutzoid and shoot the Professor later on. The fact that the new footage was shot on different film stock, at a different time of day, using a sock puppet for close-ups of JRD, did not help.

    Peckinpah was sure to highlight Quinn's macho heartlessness: after Arturo takes the bullet for Quinn, Quinn picks up his mentor's body and uses it as a human shield against further shots.

    In an interview some time later, Peck revealed that the title "Pilot" was in fact a reference to Maggie, the character created to replace the Professor. Until she was introduced, his planned title for the program was "The Very, Very First Show We Made."

Episode 1.2 | Princess of Wails

    The second episode aired opens with the Sliders in hippie outfits, hanging on for dear life on the Waterworld seen at the end of the next ep. FOX reordered them in a crass attempt to quickly capitalize on the death of Diana, Princess of Wales. The title was even changed (from "Prince of Wails") to attract viewers. Protests that the titles on "Sliders" were not even shown onscreen fell on deaf ears.

    The plot finds Quinn, Wade, Rembrandt and Maggie still tracking Rickman, who holds a timer capable of sending the original sliders home. Maggie is simply tagging along in the hope of scoring with Quinn.

    On this world, Quinn rallies together a ragtag band of dissidents to challenge the evil British monarchy, who suffer from a congenital illness caused by inbreeding that forces them to suck fat from the bodies of peasants. The role of the Sheriff of the Americas, Arturo's double, had to be recast since Rhys-Davies had left the series. Peckinpah handed the job to one of his relatives, citing the expense involved in using another sock puppet.

    To subtly point up the story's similarities to "Robin Hood," Peck ordered all male cast members to dress as Robin Hood while on set. As could be imagined, critics had a field day.

Episode 1.3 | Summer of Death

    Peckinpah explained the title of this episode in an interview: "'Death' sounds cool, you know? If you put 'death' in a title, you get a sort of cynical Gen-X feel to it. And as for the summer part, well it took place in the summer. Or something. Besides, Kari is really hot, right? And I thought that came through really well in this show. She was, she was definitely in heat... is that the right word for it?"

    The show begins with the Sliders in a deserted San Francisco, on the run from the South American Spiderwasps that are sweeping the continent. Seconds before the gateway opens, one of the bugs forces its way down Maggie's throat, unnoticed by the others.

    A split vortex then separates Quinn and Maggie from Rembrandt and Wade, who take up with a sect of peace-loving hippies living outside the city. Each night at the camp where they're staying, another hippie is seduced and killed by Maggie acting under the spiderwasp's influence.

    Looking for Quinn and Maggie in town, Rembrandt winds up a surprise guest at his double's funeral. He flees when he realizes his relatives' plan to use him for spare organs, highly in demand on this world. Meanwhile, Quinn and Wade find each other in a Peck-scripted reunion that has all the heartfelt warmth of Al Gore reading the phone book.

    After the hippies finally capture Maggie, they place her in a cryogenic isolation chamber inside one of their tents. Quinn puts his life on the line to save her, spending a good five minutes of screen time drooling over the deadly slutsicle to entice the spiderwasp out. He eventually succeeds, but the insect escapes. Quinn shrugs it off, leaving this world to its fate. As long as his Maggie is safe, everything's hunkydory.

    The last scene, depicting an orgy of largely nude bug-controlled hippies slaughtering each other, was edited out of the transmitted version by FOX, but restored by Peckinpah in a special "producer's cut" home video. Let it never be said that our David doesn't care about his art.

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