The timer is malfunctioning in a charged environment where tornadoes run rampant. Searching for a safe haven, they accidentally draw the twisters into a safety zone, wreaking havoc on the small village. The three men are banished to the badlands for their crime and the timer is dismantled. With the help of other exiles, they sneak back in to rescue Wade and recover the timer. It turns out that the town’s elder is responsible for the twisters and he sent his own children away to protect his terrible secret. Once exposed, he agrees to try to undo what he’s done, but the Sliders must still erect a stable field for the timer to function in if they’re to escape.
It may be summertime on Earth Prime, but bobsledding in California means it’s likely a lot chillier here. Prize for winning the race? $10,000.
Thar be twisters here! A scientific experiment gone awry has screwed up the electromagnetic spectrum on this Earth, giving rise to huge electric twisters that roam freely except in places with large lodestone deposits.
In the 1960s a groups of scientists headed by Thomas Malone began experimenting with natural electromagnetic dynamos located under their facility at Concord Air Force Base. The goal was to create electromagnetic tornados that could be manipulated via computer to carry out specific instructions like leveling a slum or digging a canal — all without explosives.
However, while the goal of the project was to pursue peaceful applications of the technology, the military tried to co-opt it as a means of subversive weaponry. Malone attempted to scrap the program but he and Franklin Michener, one of his partners in the project, got into an argument about the loss of funding. The argument got physical, ending when Malone fell, hit his head and died.
Left to head the program himself, Michener quickly let things get out of control. The technology was unleashed on the world by mistake, wreaking havoc with the magnetic alignment of the Earth’s core. The twisters laid waste to much, if not all of civilization. Only regions with dense pockets of lodestone in them escaped destruction.
Michener was able to establish an agricultural colony in one of these pockets and established a draconian society that forbade technology. Things came to a head when his son Reed discovered his father was to blame, and he and six others were exiled from the community. These outcasts live underground in ruins of the Air Force base where all of this started.
Were the similarities between the movie Twister and this episode intentional? Yes and no, Tracy Tormé explains. “Somewhere early in the going, the idea of doing a show with tornadoes was sparked — I don’t know whether it was the network or the studio — but somebody liked the idea and so then the idea of doing it was there, obviously based on the fact that Twister had just been out and it caused a stir,” Tormé says. “Then, the effort was to try to do it so that it wasn’t too much like Twister. So, in other words, to do a Twister show about tornadoes but try to not make it too much like the movie.”
Derivative concepts like this drew criticism from John Rhys-Davies after being fired. “[Sliders] could have been one of the best shows on television but you cannot evolve these things if what you’re doing is, ‘Ok, the network wants a grand concept. So we’ll do a Twister episode but our twisters will be different because they’ll be big at the base and small at the top.”
All this did to Rhys-Davies was show the lack of knowledge in the writer pool. “But of course our twister is man-made and is upside down, which reveals a remarkable ignorance about the physics of twisters!”
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Many fans immediately noticed the handshake between Corey Feldman and Jerry O’Connell — a hand shake identical to the one they performed in the film Stand By Me a decade earlier. So was it planned? “I’m sure they just cooked that up themselves,” Tormé says. “I think that was something that they wanted to do after just hanging around the set. Personally, I’ll tell you what, I didn’t like it. Personally, I thought it was too inside, it was too much of a reference that takes you out of the show itself so had I been on the set that day and it had been run by me, I would have said ‘no.'”
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“I’d gotten the offer and I don’t do a lot of TV,” notes Corey Feldman. “Every once in a blue moon, I’ll do an episodic appearance, and I’ve done a few TV series, but they’ve been, uh, very short-lived.
“But when I got the offer to do it, I thought, ‘Oh, it’s really great that Jerry’s grown up, he’s become this good-looking guy, and he’s so far from the character he once played,’ and I remember being really excited about the opportunity to work with him again. And as it’s turned out, aside from doing Lost Boys with Kiefer [Sutherland], I think Jerry and I working together on Sliders is the only time that anyone from the Stand By Me cast worked together again.”
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Digital Muse’s Brad Hayes created the killer tornado that ravages the town and the surrounding wasteland.
|Scott Smith Miller
|Oscar L. Costo
|Michael B. Hoggan, A.C.E.
|Dead Man Sliding
“Electric Twister Acid Test” is an episode where a detailed alternate history works against it. It just rubs you the wrong way, and since it’s more about weird cult-like communities and running away from electronic tornadoes (really), I’m left wondering why Scott Smith Miller even bothered.
When the timer's connection to a series of mysterious tornados sends the Sliders to a rural community, they discover the town's leader might hold the key to sliding out, if they can survive his despotic rule.