The Alternateville Horror


When the group arrives on an Earth decimated by acid rain, they escape the weather by checking into a version of the Chandler Hotel plagued by mysterious paranormal activity.

Written by: Chris Black
Directed by: David Grossman
Edited by: Casey Brown
Music by: Danny Lux

Broadcast History

Original Airdate: July 20, 1998
Production Code: K2803
Network Code: SL-408

Synopsis

The Sliders are enjoying a peaceful walk down the street as the episode opens. Colin is amazed that the women he saw dancing were actually men. Quinn and Rembrandt say that when you slide as much as they do, you get used to people with other lifestyle choices. Suddenly, people start shoving past them and hurrying inside. One man tells them they’d be insane if they stay outside; it’s about to rain. The Sliders laugh it off until the rain hits and starts to sting their face and burn their clothes. They run into the nearby Chandler Hotel.

Inside the Chandler, Holly, the owner of the hotel, takes the Sliders’ jackets and tells them they should have checked the forecast and been watching the weather reports. Holly begins talking about the benefits of staying at the Chandler when a group of guests in rain slickers run down the stairs screaming. One woman says that she’d rather be out in the storm naked than spend another minute here.

Holly shows the Sliders to their suite and says that the other guests just couldn’t handle the pampering. She then shows everyone the assortment of amenities the room offers before showing herself out. Quinn, Rembrandt and Maggie go downstairs to the bar, and Colin opts to watch television and relax.

At the bar, Quinn tells Rembrandt and Maggie that if they ever want to settle down on a normal world, that he’d understand. He also says that he shouldn’t have dragged Colin into this because he doesn’t know him. Maggie replies by saying the Quinn didn’t know her or Rembrandt either. Holly serves them their drafts and talks about the state of the ecology with them. Upstairs, Colin is watching “Frankenstein” when the television shuts off. He turns it back on only to have it shut itself off again. Turning around, Colin sees a young boy with the remote control in his hand float through the door. Colin follows him to Room 315, when he vanishes. Colin runs downstairs to tell his friends but no one believes him, attributing his story to sleep deprivation and a monster marathon on television. Colin objects to their immediate dismissal.

Colin and Quinn talk about his adaptation to alternate worlds downstairs while Rembrandt shaves and Maggie grabs some ice. Maggie digs through the ice box until she sees a disembodied head looking just like her at the bottom. At the same timer, a ghostly finger writes HELP US on the window in front of Rembrandt. Both run downstairs and corroborate Colin’s story of ghostly activity and drag Quinn upstairs.

Meanwhile, a spooky figure dressed like Darkman appears and requests that his bags be brought in from the cab.

Quinn rebuffs Maggie and Rembrandt’s claims as well until the timer goes missing. Quinn goes downstairs to talk to Holly while Rembrandt, Colin and Maggie pound on the door of the spooky man, who Maggie saw snooping around the room. Going inside, the man introduces himself as John Smith, a graduate student at Caltech. Smith says he hasn’t seen the timer, but while Colin holds one of the meters, it begins beeping wildly. Smith grabs the meter and gets everyone out of his room.

The power goes out. Holly reveals to Quinn that she bought the hotel with her husband six years ago, but he died from cancer from working on a fuel line. Maggie goes behind the bar to get a flashlight when she thinks she sees someone and follows him into the basement. The door shuts behind her, trapping Maggie in the basement. Rembrandt and Colin go to investigate Room 315, and when Rembrandt goes to get a spare key Colin sees the boy, but can’t hear him. The key to the door suddenly appears. Colin enters the room and walks off-screen. John Smith walks in with a meter, but grows afraid and runs out, leaving his meter.

Colin is standing outside the room when Rembrandt returns, but now he’s a ghost as well. Downstairs, Maggie is trying to get out of the basement when she’s rescued by Rembrandt. They walk upstairs and meet up with Quinn and Holly and demand an explanation. Holly reluctantly tells them the hotel is haunted. It began two years ago in Room 315, and Holly shows them a shimmering vortex in the room itself. Rembrandt wonders if it’s their window of opportunity, but Quinn says that it’s a different one entirely that’s stuck open somehow. Maggie finds Smith’s meter and they confront him about Colin, and he tells them he saw Colin fall into the vortex. Smith then reveals that he’s hunting ghosts, and that ghosts are actually fluctuations in space-time and not apparitions. Quinn tells his they’ll help prove his theory if they can use some of his equipment.

Downstairs, Quinn fine tunes Smith’s equipment and the ghosts appears: Colin, Matthew, and alternate versions of Rembrandt, Quinn and Maggie. Quinn tells Colin that he’s sorry he doubted him. Alt-Rembrandt explains that he was working on an anti-grav experiment when something went wrong and put them in this state. Quinn’s double, a Brit-punk rocker shows them that he has the timer, and the only way they’re getting it back is to help them. The equipment begins to destabilize, and Colin yells “Frankenstein!” Quinn uses this as a clue to get more power for the system by using the lightning. Rembrandt ties the power into the lightning rod on the top of the building, and Quinn plugs it in. Meanwhile, the vortex has begun to grow larger every second and threatens to consume the hotel. John Smith grabs the meter and pulls the power out, but the resulting power drain shocks Smith, stunning him and sending him to the floor.

The power cord gets sucked into the vortex, and Quinn follows the cord into the ghostly state. He reconnects the power, and when a lightning bolt strikes the lightning rod again, Quinn activates a vortex to his double’s dimension. Quinn gets the timer back from his double and the vortex collapses. Back in the Chandler, Quinn, Colin and Matthew stand up from behind the couch. Matthew has a heartfelt reunion with his mother, and the Sliders are happy to reunite. Holly tells the Sliders that their rooms will be complimentary and Maggie happily notes that it’s stopped raining.

Timer Status

Stolen by ghosts for a while.

Worlds Visited

Acid Rain World

Unusually heavy El Niño rainfall and toxic over-pollution via offshore oil drilling make for a nasty combination.

Details

  • The Sliders walk past the Wrightwood Cafe before the rain starts.
  • The usual suite that the Sliders get in the Chandler Hotel is the Presidential suite on Acid Rain World.
  • Pizza Boy will be playing soon on the Spice Channel.
  • Beer is blue and usually comes served with oysters.
  • Room 315 of the Chandler is haunted.
  • Wednesday is Karaoke Night at the Chandler.
  • John Smith is the name of the Greek God of Intellectual Pursuits and Lost Objects.
  • Cal Tech has a fusion reactor.

Character Information


  • Quinn regrets having dragged Colin into sliding, and regrets bringing Maggie and Rembrandt along as well.

  • Colin's homeworld burned witches on occasion.

  • Colin doesn't like being thought of as a rube.

  • Holly's husband died of cancer six years ago, right after they bought the Chandler.

  • Holly's husband worked for SoCal Oil & Gas digging the San Fernando Petroduct.

  • Maggie is afraid of rats.

  • John Smith is a graduate student at Caltech.

  • John Smith built portable nuclear power cells in his garage.



Money Matters


  • Quinn tips Holly for showing the Sliders to their room.

  • Quinn, Rembrandt and Maggie purchase a round of beers in the hotel bar.

  • Holly comps the Sliders' room after they rescue her son from being trapped between dimensions.



Rewind That!

Maggie moves a bottle of Kahlua Mudslide while looking for a flashlight. At first airing, Kahlua was a heavy advertiser of the show.

Notable Quotes


  • "All those people ran out into an acid rain storm because the room service is just too good?" — Quinn.

  • "That woman should seriously consider decaf." — Rembrandt, about Holly.

  • "This is the second weirdest hotel I've ever stayed in." — Rembrandt.

  • "I've spent my whole life trying to adjust to my own world. Now I've got a million more to deal with." — Colin.

  • "Don't you ever sleep?!" — Quinn, to Holly.

  • "What kind of an idiot checks into a hotel with the alias of 'John Smith'?" — Maggie.
    "I realize that it is not a very common name, but that is no reason to be insulting." — John Smith.

  • "Have you ever lost the timer before?" — Colin.

  • "Easy girl, I thought you were a Marine." — Rembrandt, after Maggie confesses she's afraid of rats.

  • "Not a stripper, love... exotic dancer." — Alt-Maggie to her double, who is shocked that she could do something like that.

  • "Thank you, Igor." — Quinn to Rembrandt after Rembrandt wires the hotel Frankenstein-style.

Neatpicks

  • Rembrandt continues to nickname the Mallory brothers. First, it was “Q-Ball.” Now, Colin is “Farmboy.” Nice!
  • Holly’s reference to blood pouring out the elevator and dolls with steak knives are good throwaway lines referring to The Shining and Child’s Play.
  • While Rembrandt is shaving, he hums the tune to “Angel,” which he will later perform in Asylum.

Nitpicks

  • So the acid rain can burn through clothes and eat flesh and yet the landscaping around where the Sliders walk is lush and verdant?
  • The ice cubes in the ice box look incredible fake.
  • How does a ghost pick up a solid object like the timer and carry it through another solid object like a door?
  • How did the other group of Sliders and Matthew live for two years without food, hygiene or a different set of clothes?
  • Why is it every person that seems like a fish out of water (i.e. Colin) has to be taught slang? It happens on every show, EVER.
  • So the government takes over the hotel for two years and then gets bored with a perpetual rift in space? Are you kidding me?
  • Why does Matthew appear to be standing on a soapbox when Holly rushes to hug him? He looks about eye-level with her before she kneels down.
  • Alt-Quinn’s Austin Powers impersonation is really bad.
  • Rembrandt puts a flashlight coated with acid rain in his mouth to clamp the power to the lightning rod. Not very smart, is it?

Parallel History

Long ago, the ancient Greeks embraced the name John as the name of the God of Intellectual Pursuits and lost objects.

Since then, the western world has developed pretty normally. However, on the West Coast of the United States, the air quality is poor. So poor, in fact, that when it rains, it acid rains. Experts explain this as a result of heavily oil drilling off the coast and in the building of the San Fernando Petroduct. Sacramento officials were able to close the offshore refineries, and the air as gotten considerably better.

People are often given little warning to escape, as it has been shown that people panic seconds before the first drops fall. Rain slickers are metallic to prevent the acid from eating through fabric.

In 1993, Santa Monica Bay caught fire. It was a real bitch to put out.

Fortunately, the local foliage has adapted to the acid rather well, as flowers, grass, et. al. are left unharmed at the end of particularly vicious rainstorms.

Two years ago, the Chandler Hotel in downtown Los Angeles became haunted. Rembrandt Brown, a pioneer in the development of antigravity, accidentally slid himself, a stripper and a visiting rock star to a median point between universes. The Air Force was unable to determine the nature of the vortex. Little has been done to rectify the situation.

The Inside Slide

Conceived as a bottle show, “The Alternateville Horror” gave production a chance to showcase its largest standing set — the Chandler Hotel — as well as writer Chris Black’s comedic chops.

“The Sliders wind up stuck in the Chandler Hotel with nowhere to go, and it’s about the creepy and wacky things that happen to them while they’re stuck there,” says Black. “I thought that one turned out very well, and it was really a showcase for our special FX team. We’re working on a much more modest budget than we were on Fox, and the crew, the director of photography and the special FX people are all forced to make do with fewer resources, and have really stepped up to the plate and done a fantastic job.”

Ironically, a bottle show doesn’t necessarily mean shorter shoots or cheaper budgets.

“‘The Alternateville Horror’ was a standard ghost story,” explains Bill Dial. “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.”

The last attempt at a bottle show, In Dino Veritas, also ended up with more elaborate effects and character-driven story than they thought possible.

Guest Stars