Episode 1.9 | Slide of the Slide
Teleplay by Cordwainer Bird, Allen Smithee, I.M. Pistoff, and David Peckinpah
Story by H.G. Wells and Shirley Jackson
1) To make it eligible for the Nielsen sweeps period.
Unfortunately, Peckinpah had missed two critical facts:
1) Under no circumstances would any human being with a brain larger than a Smothers Brothers cough lozenge watch Sliders on Earth 69.
Many on the beleaguered series' staff felt this was the worst script yet, and quite rightly so. A great deal of its problems can be traced to the method used to write it: thumbing through a dictionary and choosing any word that appeared vulgar. This led to what one critic dubbed "the most startlingly inappropriate use of the word 'scuttlebutt' in television history."
Now, to the plot (such as it is): The Sliders land on an idyllic rural paradise of a world, where money is not necessary and their every whim is catered to with alacrity. Nevertheless, they feel a burning need to try out those sleek, black automated lottery terminals next to the trough where the horses are fed.
Wade is beside herself upon winning, but at the Lottery Winners' Ball Quinn learns the truth: the winners are being used as guinea pigs in an experiment with no apparent practical value that turns people into half-animal monsters. As if that weren't enough, an increasingly desperate Rickman is now trying to suck the brains of physical education teachers.
Meanwhile, Rembrandt is falling for Julianne, a winner who is already partially transformed into a tigress (specifically, just transformed enough that it won't interfere with her makeup). Towards the end of the show he asks her to slide with him, but she refuses for no justifiable reason. She doesn't turn him in; she doesn't die saving him; she doesn't stay behind for someone else's sake; in fact, she does not become involved with this episode's plot whatsoever. Then again, who would want to?
With mere minutes to go, the Sliders are hanging around waiting for Rembrandt. Then he shows up. You could cut the tension with a spoon.
In the monumentally pointless conclusion, Rickman, risking his life trying to slide to a world where he can't breathe and will die, misses the vortex, falls off a cliff, bounces off a trampoline, suffers a spontaneous heart attack, is taken away by ambulance and dies when it crashes.
Then Peck pulls one of the horribly callous character drops that he honed to perfection on the racy cop drama Silk Stalkings: Wade, shot in the back by the Lottery Police as she slides, is run over by a car as she lands on the next world, then torn to shreds by wild dogs and crushed by a falling grand piano. Sabrina Lloyd hadn't even asked to be written out of the show, but she sure did after this one.
It looked as though this was Sliders' darkest hour. Yet by some twist of fate, a freak lightning storm rendered FOX the only receivable TV station in the country between 8 and 9 pm. The viewing public had literally no choice but to watch Sliders.
Not one soul tuned in. Nevertheless, FOX claimed a moral victory, and renewed Sliders for a second season.
To save money, the tardy finale was promoted with an ad campaign worked up for the vampire episode: "Friday on Non-Stop FOX, get ready to scream... this is one 'Sliders' that well and truly 'sucks!'" The sad part is, it works equally well for any episode...
A single word describes Kari's performance: "morass." Oh, pun definitely intended.
Finally, when asked about the title, Good Ol' Peck explained that the incessant repetition of the word "Slide" worked to keep viewers clear on what sci-fi show they were watching. "We don't want them to think this is Babylon 5 or something."
Don't worry, Mr. Peckinpah, there's no chance of that.