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05 Jul 1999
Two of a Kind
Can Sliders survive without Jerry OConnell?
ROBERT FLOYD can't wait to talk to Xpose! It's the middle of March and I'm sitting on the set of Sliders while scenes are being shot from the penultimate episode of season five, Dust. Throughout the day I've had the opportunity to interview different members of the cast, and Floyd has patiently awaited his turn. This is his first TV series, and his eager enthusiasm is wonderfully refreshing.
It's this boundless energy and verve that brought the actor to the attention of the Sliders producers, when they were casting two new leads for season five. Jerry O'Connell who, as Quinn Mallory, had led the series since its debut in 1995, has chosen not to return, along with his brother Charlie, who played Colin. In their place, enter Floyd as the 'melded' Mallory and Tembi Locke as physicist Diana Davies.
Thanks to its imaginative premise - a group of people 'sliding' between parallel Earths, where they encounter different variations of the same world - Sliders has survived many changes in cast, producers and style. The season opener, The Unstuck Man, sets the scene for the introduction of Mallory and Diana - while Quinn and Colin meet a tragic end... "I was Quinn's alternate in another world," Floyd explains. "When he is in the wormhole we are merged through a crazy experiment by Dr Geiger."
Geiger, played by Babylon 5's Peter Jurasik, is the titular Unstuck Man. Trapped within the Sliding vortex and unable to interface with the real world, the unscrupulous scientist has been attempting to find a way to merge himself with a Sliders. Mallory is the lab rat, used to prove that the process works.
"In the vortex he slams two people together and merges them as one. Most of the original Quinn is killed off."
There's no doubt that long time fans will be mortified by the teaser sequence, which finds Quinn and Colin disintegrating in the vortex, and the young stranger Mallory emerging in their place. In replacing such a popular leading character, Floyd faces a huge challenge, and yet - having seen the actor at work, and after viewing advance copies of finished episodes - there's little doubt that he will soon win over fans and establish a large following of his own.
"He's a fantastic actor," says Floyd of his predecessor. "There's a really nice inner strength about him.
"It was very nerve-wracking at first, because he had been so successful and everybody loved him. He is extremely good at what he does - not only his acting, but he was directing episodes and doing an amazing job. I definitely felt a little heat on but at the same time I was fortunate that the writers didn't want me to be who he was. So I was able to play and have a lot of fun."
In the first few episodes as Mallory adjusts to having some of Quinn's memories and persona within his head, so Floyd would have to impersonate O'Connell. And he achieves an astonishingly close match...
"I watched a lot of the old roles that he did," the actor says. "He often weighs his words when he speaks, and that made his character very powerful. There are times, especially in the beginning episodes, when I tried to slide into that until I really started to find my character, who is really just Mallory. He tends to be a bit more of a live wire and he gets into a lot of trouble but it definitely adds a lot of fun."
A young actor with a clutch of excellent credits to his name, Floyd originally studied his craft at Carnegie Hall in New York, and worked in theatre. He moved to Los Angeles to appear in an Ivan Reitman pilot, and never returned to NYC.
"I stayed and just kept working out here," says Floyd, who has appeared in Early Edition, Law and Order and Silk Stalkings. "I really loved New York, I did a lot of theatre, I worked with a lot of great people. But if you're interested in TV so much of it is shot here. I kept busy and I said I'll go back to theatre another time."
How did the actor come to audition for Sliders? "I had just finished working on a couple of different independent [movies]," he recalls. "I knew that Jerry had left the show and I called my agents about coming in and meeting with the producers. I loved the show, I loved the concept. I'd known it when it moved to Sci-Fi. It was really exciting to me, because it's one of those shows where every week it's something different. You have no idea what to expect and I haven't been let down at all. It's been a ride."
For the established Sliders, Rembrandt (Cleavant Derricks - now the longest serving member of the cast) and Maggie (Kari Wuhrer), The apparent deaths of their friends and the arrival of Mallory and Diana is something of a shock. Maggie must adjust to the fact that she has lost her relationship with Quinn (in fact they shared an entire lifetime together in a bubble universe during the episode Roads Taken), while Rembrandt is deprived of his best friend. And Mallory is a very different person altogether...
"The original Quinn is a genius, and I'm very street smart," Floyd defines. "I'm very quick in that aspect, but I'm not [intellectually] smart at all.
"In the beginning it's great because Mallory has no idea what the word 'Team' means. He's only about himself, so a lot of times when he gets into trouble it's just through not trusting, not from being able to realize that there's somebody there, because he never had a real family. Rembrandt teaches him so much about life and how to stay out of trouble and how to trust again. It's neat.
"As the show has progressed I also develop an inner strength and an edge to him, which really helped me separate myself from the other Quinn. That was important."
At the time of the interview, the Sliders cast were shooting their 17th episode together. It's pleasing to report that the chemistry between them was very much in evidence; everyone's happy, relaxed and working hard, and that shows in the finished product. The departure of Jerry O'Connell may have been a blow, but by no means is it the end of the show.
"We have a great time together," Floyd raves. "It's just a lot of fun. Kari will usually slap me in the middle of a scene and at the end of the scene I'll get her back. There's a constant play and I think that keeps it all alive, everybody's on their toes."
With executive producer Bill Dial at the helm, the Sliders writers have been careful to ensure that a well-balanced mix of scripts cater for all of the characters evenly. The fifth season finds Mallory involved with motorbike outlaws in Easy Slider, helping a jewel heist in To Catch a Slider and joining an archaeological dig in Dust. As a personal favorite, Floyd lists New Gods For Old, which explores Mallory's past and inner demons.
We already know that, in the character's back story, he was a multiple sclerosis sufferer who was mysteriously cured by Dr Geiger. New Gods For Old finds Mallory paralyzed, and attempting to cope with a feeling of total helplessness.
"I get shot in the back just as we're diving through the Vortex," Floyd offers. "His legs are wiped out. He had to go back and face the worst thing possible in his mind - being back in the chair. when he is cured, I think that's a turning point and his beginning of really trusting others. Before that, it was all about me. >From then on you start to see more of an inner strength in him. Before it was more on the outside."
Floyd also enjoyed making Heavy Metal, a rather fun installment in which the Sliders accidentally land in the Pacific Ocean and are saved from drowning by a pirate ship.
"About two weeks ago I was 35 feet high on a ship walking on a plank with a big machete in my back!" exclaims the actor: "I'm one of those actors who likes to say, 'Hey let the stunt guy do it!' They said, 'No you'd look great!' I've done more stunts than I ever thought possible: I know how to fire a machine gun, I know how to ride a motorcycle now. I've done quite a few fights."
Does Floyd share his character's enthusiasm for adventure and activity?
"I played college basketball," he responds. "I swim junior Olympics and then I played club American football in Germany. I really enjoy sports but right now I can't remember doing anything since we started filming. I try to get up at four three or four days a week to get to the gym, but that's about it. Right now you work Monday through to Friday and you're in about every scene. Saturday you lay around in a coma, and Sunday you feel better again!"
Floyd is far from being a Hollywood wild child. Obviously at peace with himself and greatly enjoying success within his profession, the actor has been married for five years.
"I don't really go out or anything," he smiles, "so I never see that aspect. I live pretty central to everything so work's always close. I'm always driving into work at five in the mornings and I leave at eight or nine at night. I like working here."
It's been said that there are somewhere in the region of 300 web sites devoted to Sliders. It's worldwide following is huge, with an audience that has stuck by the show through many cancellations and revamps. Stories on Floyd began appearing on the internet months ago, but the actor has never been curious to check them out.
"I don't have a computer!" he grins. "I've just been going from project to project. I will get one and learn how to use it - I guess that's another difference between the other Quinn and I! I've never been on the Net, but I'll probably buy one in the next month or two and start to work with it, because I've heard there's so many websites."
At the time of our conversation, Sliders had yet to air. Now the fifth series has debuted and Floyd is beginning to enter the public eye.
"I haven't given it any thought whatsoever," he says candidly of the concept of fame. "It's been working in anonymity this whole time and enjoying the work with no distractions. It'll be interesting because I am replacing such a well-loved character.
"I did the best I could and enjoyed myself. I'm working on a show with a great concept and great people."
(Source: Xpose' Magazine July 1999 Issue #36)
28 Jun 1999
Keith Damron Sci-fi Chat Highlights
(Taken from the The Dominion Post #4864 by Temporal Flux)
(Click here to read the full transcript!!!)
Well, the main highlight concerns the future of Sliders. While no decision has been said either way by Sci-Fi, Damron doesn't have a good feeling (neither do the rest - they're all looking for jobs). So as Informant said, now is the time for letters of support to Sci-Fi (and we don't mean criticizing mail...we mean mail saying to keep it alive). You can find the addy to write to a few posts up by Informant, or at this website address (look for the Sci-Fi Channel addy - it's the one you want):
So, apparently something happened in Mid-May to change things...because up until that point, RK Weiss was saying season six was a go. It was in Mid-May that he said something "conflicting" happened...and he has elaborated no more since.
On to other highlights...Peck does still have control in season five, though his involvement is alledgelly lessened (but not as much as I was led to believe).
The decision to make the season five finale a cliffhanger was not based on something Sci-Fi insinuated as we thought. In fact, it was Bill Dial's idea (Sci-Fi was saying nothing either way)...and Sci-Fi just approved it (which doesn't mean much in my opinion...Sci-Fi wasn't encouraging it, they just basically said "Whatever.")
Earth Prime in Genesis not real? Damron says it is the real one...so the moron producers (likely under Peck's advice) killed that, and "Super" Quinn is still a part of continuity. According to him, the *real* Earth Prime is taken over by Kromaggs as we saw. Makes me want to use profanity.
Jason Gaffney (Bennish) was *never* approached according to Damron...though I find it odd that Tracy Torm'e would lie about such a thing. Yeah, that's where the info came from...Torm'e (remember crestgirl, "oldtimers"?). Gaffney told Torm'e they were asking him to appear in 4 eps...but obviously something happened. Still don't know what...and Damron has either been smokescreened himself or is smoking us.
Also, after the chat...the question about the title change for "Waiting for Beckett" was asked. It appears the abrupt change was due to a legal copyright issue...Damron said that it came up from the legal boys at Universal, and he and Black didn't want to bother fighting it, so they just changed the title.
It was finally explained that all of Colin's doubles *were* destroyed when he was unstuck (just like Gieger). So, bye bye to "New Yorker" Colin from "Lipschitz Live!" - which hit close to home since he was a Damron creation.
Also after the chat...Damron does read this board...sometimes daily by his admission. He does not post, however (by what he said).
Tracy Torme's role with the show? He is still sent a copy of every script as it is produced...but Damron says they rarely hear anything from him.
Damron also said after the chat that the names Derek Quade and Melissa Hunter never existed. Well for one...how could everything about the premiere ep that source of Expert's and mine said be true...but that? On a greater note, I remember seeing Derek mentioned in a Sci-Fi press release about the season...I'm going to see if I can locate it (so far unable to).
The season five journal on the main website is being written currently...it's not a diary that Keith kept during production. He's going on memory (though he has some pics and notes).
Keith believes that the season finale can stand on it's own as a finale even though it is a cliffhanger. He said it is left to interpretation with the way it was written (and he wrote it). Keith repeatedly stated how he wished there would be another season though...and how the Kromaggs were not really wrapped up (they were supposed to be in the season five finale from what I gathered...but that was scrapped in lieu of the cliffhanger by Bill Dial's orders...not Damron's desires).
Waiting for Beckett (The Return of Maggie Beckett) is apparently a very good ep. Damron referenced it as an outstanding ep...and my on set sources have raved about it (as I've mentioned before).
Requiem *is* our Wade. Apparently no doubt was left in the story.
No new timers in the season...just the PDL (pronounced "Paddle" - stands for Portable Dimensional Lab - Diana's device seen prominently in "Strangers and Comrades")
Originally, Keith suggested they get Andreas Katsulas to play "The Seer" in the finale of season five. The idea was shot down because production didn't want Sliders to seem like a Babylon 5 convention (Andreas played G'Kar on B5).
(Thanks Temporal Flux for the post!!)
A strange man slips into "Sliders" season premiere
(Article taken from the 11 Jun 99 Commerical Appeal Memphis Newspaper)
New York - Cheap sets and flimsy special effects. Preposterus dialog
about "wormholes" and "flaws in the vortex." Actors and
actresses at the outer limits of their dramatic range. Are we going to a Star Trek
convention? No, preparing for the fifth season premiere of Sliders (8pm., Scif-Fi,
TV-PG). As fans of this show know Sliders concerns a team of explorers who travel
through a sliding vortex to parallel dimensions. This allows former R&B singer
Rembrandt Brown (Cleavant Derricks, Dreamgirls) and the sassy and snappy Maggie Beckett
(Kari Wuhrer) to pop up in the strangest places. In tonight's episode, evil genius
Dr. Geiger (Peter Jurasik) begins playing games with the sliding vortex, sending a strange
new man, Mallory (Robert Floyd), to join Brown and Beckett. They barely have time to
get acquainted, or ask where the heck Colin and Quinn have gone, when they find themselves
in a town driven crazy by doomsday predictions and strange weather. Future Sliders
adventures will involve a trip back to the Civil War, where Maggie leads a Union charge
against the Confederates, a situation where Maggie has an affair with the president, and
an opportunity for Rembrandt to infiltrate the lair of the evil Kromaggs to learn the fate
of missing slider Wade Wells. Newcomer Mallory will become seduced by the leader of
a female motorcycle gang, and the gang will travel to an alternative version of Los
Angeles reduced to desert where Rembrandt is worshipped as an ancient deity. There's
alot to look forward to. Like the original Star Trek, this series allows science
fiction writers to play with complex, convoluted and sometimes silly speculative notions
of alternate realities. If you're not expecting to be blown away by the visual
effects, Sliders can be good clean fun.
Season five episode "New Gods for Old":
In some further conversations with David Gerrold (as well as the opportunity to look
over the outlines for his episode), there is new tid bits. First of all, the episode was
filmed on the Universal Backlots using the 19th century village sets seen in the
theatrical remake of Mary Shelley's Frankenstein a few years back (which if you saw the
film, was some very intricate sets...plus it's something we haven't seen before on
Another new revelation concerns the name of Mallory. It turns out that the alternate double of Quinn was named Michael Mallory (as in Jr.)...this further adds credence to the fact that he was a double of a different lineage (same age as Quinn, same father...different mother). After the "merger", he takes on the name Mallory since it is the name he and Quinn shared.
Also, "New Gods for Old" (set to air the first or second of July) is the episode where Quinn is resolved and Mallory is allowed to start beginning to become his own character (as was discussed in the recent Sci-Fi Teen article). Going along with what was said in the article, it is mentioned at the end of the script that "Quinn is [now] off sliding somewhere". This is beginning to look like there wasn't exactly a merger...just that Quinn left an imprint of himself on Mallory and lost his physical body in the process by becoming "unstuck" (ala Gillian of the Spirits). As part of that, Quinn appears to now be random sliding out there as an intangible person...but he and Mallory are still connected (and for the first few episodes, they swap places from time to time). Be warned though, that is something I have extrapolated from the info as the only thing that makes sense...that last part about the "merger" was not told to me.
Source: Sci-fi BBoard - The Dominion post 3041 (Thanks to Temporal Flux!!)
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New series, new faces: Executive producer Bill Dial previews Season Five
Long-standing fans of Sliders will face something of a shock when the show returns for a new season in the summer. In the opening scenes of the first episode, two of the principal characters - Quinn Mallory (Jerry O'Connell) and Colin (Charlie O'Connell) - are lost in a freak accident within the sliding vortex... For executive producer Bill Dial, the fifth year has been a time of change and discovery. Dial joined for Season Four, after the show had been cancelled by Fox and subsequently bought by the Sci-Fi Channel. Freed of network interference, he and his colleagues were able to reinvent the series for a more discriminating audience. Sliders became edgier, more cerebral, and told some terrific, high concept stories.
Given the quality of the production during Season Four it seemed almost inevitable that a further series would be commissioned. However, few fans had envisaged Sliders continuing without Jerry O'Connell, who had headlined the show from the very beginning...
"Jerry had created that role, and he's a very important part of the show, not only as a leading man, but as a producer and director," Dial tells Starburst as we meet in his office at Universal Studios. "He directed four or five shows, and he was terrific. In addition to being a very talented guy, he's also one of the nicest and most grounded young men I've ever known. "He just sold a big screenplay; so he has an unlimited future and I think he wants to go with that. We wish him the best - both he and Charlie are great guys."
It's obvious there are no bad feelings concerning the O'Connells' decision to pursue their respective careers; and the Sliders production staff have chosen to use their departure as an opportunity rather than a burden. Enter a new recurring villain, Dr Geiger, played by Babylon 5's Peter Jurasik and a fresh story arc that will span the fifth season.. "We had this idea of a physicist trying for world domination on a quantum particle level," Dial offers. "But he's 'unstuck'. Basically he's been fiddling around with some quantum forcefield that has kind of unglued him from dimensions - he can' t stick in one dimension. He manages to put together a forcefield that contains him, but what he's trying to do is create a universe that he can live in."
As the season opens, Dr Geiger believes he has found a way to escape his prison within the vortex - by melding himself with an unwitting Slider. First he must test the process, and chooses a lab rat from a parallel dimension... Quinn's own double, Mallory. The results of this experiment are devastating: Colin is seemingly vaporized, and Quinn becomes the 'melded' version of two people, played by newcomer Robert Floyd.
Earlier in the day, we had met Floyd, and instantly noticed strong similarities between the young actor and Jerry O'Connell. Had this been a factor when the character was being cast? "In a lot of ways he does;" Dial concurs. "but aspects of the old Quinn only appear in the first couple of shows, and then the old Quinn goes away and it's explained. We didn't want to have Robert having to be Jerry, although in the beginning it was a pretty good idea. "He's a good looking leading man type, and we are finding his comic abilities. That Quinn Mallory was a genius; this character is basically a lab rat, a gopher. He's a little more 'street' than Jerry's character was. He can hotwire cars and get out of meat lockers. There are all these little shady things that we learn about him as we go along."
The loss of Colin and the existence of the melded Mallory are a terrible blow for existing Sliders Rembrandt (Cleavant Derricks, now the show's longest-serving cast member) and Maggie (Kari Wuhrer). They are forced to seek help from Dr Geiger's assistant, quantum physicist Diana (Tembi Locke), who is unaware of her mentor's evil schemes. Shocked to discover the state of her friend Mallory, she decides to travel with the Sliders, and vows to find a way to un-meld them.
"Tembi has been remarkable," Dial enthuses. "Her audition was purposefully a tongue twister. It ended up not even being in the first script - it was just all of this techno gobbledegook. We figured that any actress who comes in here that can do this could do anything else we throw at her. "She's a very intelligent, focused young woman. She's also being played as a kind of... not shrinking violet, but she's always pursued an intellectual career and not had a social life that Maggie has had. So we're introducing her a little bit to that."
The Original Sliders:
There have been many changes to Sliders since the show first began. Originally the show followed the brilliant young inventor: Quinn, his mentor Professor Arturo (John Rhys Davis), Wade Wells (Sabrina Lloyd) and Rembrandt Brown, travelling between dimensions and attempting to return to their original Earth. Three years later, Arturo has been killed off and replaced by gutsy Marine Maggie Beckett. Wade disappeared between seasons, abducted by the Sliding aggressors known as Kromaggs. And 'our' Earth was conquered by the creatures, as Quinn discovered he was actually born in a parallel dimension, and that he has a brother...
Although Dial and his team have chosen to tone down the Kromagg storyline in Season Five; we are promised - at last - some resolution to the disappearance of Wade. "As Groucho used to say, 'There won' t be a dry seat in the house'," the executive producer promises of that story. "We invited Sabrina Lloyd to play the part, but she's in another show right now. She is coming in here on Friday, and she is going to do the voice of the character. "Her character has been altered," adds Dial elusively, "we're just using Sabrina's voice..
Asked to choose some highlights from the forthcoming season, Dial thinks back over the 18 storylines that have been committed to film since shooting began in October. "One of the things that is most fun for me with this particular series is that we can jump across genres very easily," he muses, "because we are going to different worlds. We have done crime stories, we have done romantic stories, this year we've done a war story, we did a musical with a choreographed dance number. We just finished a show that started off being like To Catch a Thief, with a jewel heist in a luxurious hotel where a film festival is going on and it ended up being more like a screwball comedy. So we can go from comedy to tragedy.
"We did a show this year in which Maggie' s character confronts her father. Chris Black wrote it. In our mythology, Maggie's father was a Marine general who probably pushed her into the military. He was very distant, very cold, and this has been a problem that Maggie has been trying to work out. "She lands on a world and her alternate father is there, who had a daughter called Maggie that he lost. The thing that Chris did, which was really nice, was that this father is able to resolve problems he had with his daughter with Maggie, who is not his daughter, and Maggie is able to resolve problems she had with her father with this guy. It was a very nice piece of tightrope writing - a very moving episode."
A tour of the Sliders set also confirms that the Chandler Hotel - an establishment the travellers check into in most of the dimensions they visit - still plays a part in the series. Last year the Hotel was used as an obvious cost-saving exercise and a few stories (The Alternateville Horror, Data World) took place entirely within its confines. Dial reveals there were some lessons to be learned, but the idea of attempting 'bottle shows' has been revisited this season. "The Alternateville Horror was a standard ghost story," he says. "It started off with the idea that we would save a little money, but that show ended up taking seven days to shoot - longer than we would normally take because it was so complex. "We just did a show in which the Chandler Hotel is an archaeological dig. Somehow it's 400 years off from our time, and it's layered over with sediment and our people get to be part of this dig. When they go and see it's the Chandler, they find a beer mug that the archaeologist decides is a sacrificial goblet, then they have a big debate over what a parking meter might have been: 'It sells time... but to what end'! It's really our take on how these funny archaeologists can find one pot and then invent an entire civilization!"
When Starburst visited the studio during March, only a few weeks worth of shooting remained. Yet again, the future of Sliders is undecided, but one might hope that, given the amazing developments of the past two years, it must be good for another season...
"I don' t know what the plans are from the Sci-Fi Channel," Dial reveals. "They might not know what their plans are. Certainly I think the show should go on, whether I am involved in it or not, because it is successful and it's making money and it's got a wide-open premise. They can bring in all sorts of characters and go all kinds of places.
"The practicality is that everybody here is going to be unemployed in a couple of weeks, and the nature of the business is that people will do and take whatever they have to. I would like to be able to keep the company together... Last year the decision wasn't made for quite a while. We had all split up and gone to other places. It wasn't until August or sometime, and then it was a scuffle to try and get back the company together. One of the reasons we are able to do it for this money is the specific combination of people. I' ve been doing it a long time, and these are the best people I've ever worked with. I'm getting a little melancholy.
Source: Starburst Magazine #250
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Babylon 5 Actors Slide Onto SCI FI
Former Babylon 5 actors Peter Jurasik and Jerry Doyle will be joining
the universe of the SCI FI series Sliders next season. Jurasik is set to
play the recurring role of Dr. Oberon Geiger, a disembodied scientist
who wreaks havoc with the Sliders when he causes the interdimensional
travelers to have an identity crisis.
Meanwhile, Doyle will
play Sgt. Vernon Larson, the commander in charge
of troops in a type of purgatory between Earth dimensions where he is ordered
to protect a mysterious bunker. Jurasik will appear in the season-five premiere
episode "The Unstuck Man" as well as "Eye of the Storm" and "Applied Physics,"
while Doyle will guest star in "Strangers and Comrades."
The fifth season of Sliders begins June 11!!! ;^).
Source: Scifi Newswire
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