Escaping a hail of bullets, Rembrandt, Maggie, Colin and Quinn enter the vortex to slide. As Rembrandt and Maggie look behind them in the tunnel, they witness a large ball of light strike near Colin and Quinn. Rembrandt and Maggie exit from the vortex but Colin and Quinn are nowhere to be found. Instead, a young man appears, also just having exited the vortex. Rembrandt and Maggie demand to know how he got there and what he has done with their friends. He has no answers and is genuinely as confused as they are. The three decide to go to town to find out what kind of Earth they are on and if the Mallory brothers are awaiting them there. More questions arise when they find the whole town panicking about the doomsday weather conditions. Rembrandt and Maggie discover that Dr. Geiger, his assistant Dr. Diana Davis and the young man are responsible for the vortex mystery. As they try to locate their missing team members, Rembrandt and Maggie make some surprising new friends and earn an enemy who will stop at nothing to gain his freedom.
It’d be abnormal if there wasn’t some Sliders gunfight going on.
It’s the end of the world, or at least Southern California, where the Combine — a machine that smooshes universes together — is wreaking havoc on the environment.
The Sliders have enough money to buy a round of drinks at the Chandler bar before Mallory’s van comes to pick them up.
For the past few years, development of secret technology at Geiger Applied Research has proceeded in a laboratory directly outside Los Angeles. The technology, called the Combine, allows the principal operator to seek out elements of another universe, on either micro or macroscopic levels and merge them with their duplicate in this universe. According to the mind behind the design, Oberon Geiger, combining selective elements of microscopic portions of the universe, such as DNA fragments and the like, can be beneficial to people suffering from degenerative disorders. Indeed, GAR has succeeded in this, curing assistant Quinn Mallory of his inability to walk and muscular dystrophy.
However, the Combine has been screwing with the weather in Southern California as a result of its delving into parallel universes. It has rained nonstop for 17 days in Santa Clarita, and cloud cover until recently extended from Catalina to Palm Springs. Fires and high winds are also a direct result of tampering with the interdimension. The residents of Los Angeles were not pleased.
This world has significantly more technology than Earth Prime, especially since it has cloned elephants, people and is now working on combining the multiverse.
What happened to Jerry and Charlie O’Connell, who played Quinn and Colin Mallory?
“The pick-up date for contract options had come and gone in the early weeks of summer and our lead, Jerry O’Connell, was freed up to become involved in other projects — productions that conflicted with and prevented him from re-joining Sliders,” explains Keith Damron. “We weren’t sure if he would be available for all or even part of the season. We couldn’t proceed much further in the story department until we knew whether or not Jerry would be returning. The contract negotiations were in the hands of higher powers and all we could do was sit back and twiddle our thumbs until they arrived at a solution. Finally word came down. Neither Jerry nor Charlie O’Connell would be involved in the fifth season of the show.”
Contract negotiations were a lot tougher than Damron lets on, according to the Dimension of Continuity. Jerry O’Connell wanted to be made an executive producer of the show as one of the conditions for returning, along with a diminished role in the show for himself and an expanded role for Charlie. Production balked, and talks broke down over how many episodes Jerry would agree to do versus how many production would let Charlie do. Since Charlie was there as a product of nepotism, production felt little reason to keep him on if Jerry left.
After a tentative agreement had been made where Jerry would be in six episodes as long as Charlie would be in all 18 of season five, talks broke down and the O’Connell brothers walked away.
“They cut the budget substantially, and I didn’t think they could do the show for the price,” he said when asked why he left the show.
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So how does the show rumble on with the loss of half its cast and the lead actor? A new villain and two new Sliders.
“We had this idea of a physicist trying for world domination on a quantum particle level,” say Bill Dial. “But he’s ‘unstuck’. Basically he’s been fiddling around with some quantum force field that has kind of unglued him from dimensions — he can’t stick in one dimension. He manages to put together a force field that contains him, but what he’s trying to do is create a universe that he can live in.”
Enter Oberon Geiger.
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In the initial scheme of things, Diana was to be a wolf in the fold. As she teams up with the Sliders in the hope of eventually ‘unmelding’ Mallory and Quinn, the producers originally intended that the scientist would have another agenda of her own. Still fiercely loyal to Dr. Geiger, she would betray her friends in order to save her mentor.
Sadly, by the time the two-part opening story was written, the idea was dropped. The producers deemed that the series already had too many continuing strands, some of which had been inherited from previous seasons, and the weight of Diana’s betrayal was just too much for one 18-episode season to bear.
Instead, the chief source of villainy would have to be Geiger himself.
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Replacing Quinn was a huge task.
“The Sliders cast was always a strong ensemble,” says Damron. “But the Quinn character was undeniably the glue and driving force behind the group. He was the reason they were on their journey to begin with and he was the only one with the scientific background needed to wrangle their way through each pan-dimensional conundrum. Someone would have to fill that void.”
Eventually the idea of the merger took shape, and Quinn became Michael became Mallory.
“We would merge our old Quinn with a fraternal duplicate and achieve the best of both worlds,” adds Damron. “The new amalgamated Quinn was known for a short period as Quinn 2 and was listed as such in the first shooting script. We later decided to call him Michael after his father. But eventually, by the time the second script was well underway, he became Mallory.
“We had to decide who these people were going to be and how we would fold them into the show,” Dial continues. “I think we found an interesting Science Fiction way to put Robert into the show in the first episode, and Tembi’s character is in the same story as a science officer. Jerry O’Connell fulfilled that role before, and we needed somebody to explain quantum physics.”
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Does that preacher at the beginning remind you of everyone’s favorite pothead, Conrad Bennish, Jr.? You’re not alone in thinking that — and for good reason.
Production approached Tracy Tormé before Season Five began and asked him if there was anything they could do that would raise his expectations about the series at this point. His one request — bring in Jason Gaffney, who played Bennish, in a limited role.
Gaffney was approached and had finished negotiations to reprise his role in four episodes when contract talks broke down on Universal’s side. Thus the preacher’s resemblance — clearly a role for Gaffney to play that was recast when production decided against bringing in Gaffney for a final time.
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Production of “The Unstuck Man” began October 15th 1998.
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Diana’s character was originally named Jill Clayton during the story breaking process.
|Teleplay by||Bill Dial & Chris Black|
|Story by||David Peckinpah & Keith Damron|
|Directed by||Guy Magar|
|Music by||Danny Lux|
|Edited by||Stewart Schill|
Let’s begin with a question: who is the titular unstuck man? Is it Colin Mallory, the farmboy inventor we picked up last season? Is it Oberon Geiger, the “textbook megalomaniac” running amok in the premiere? Or is it you, the dear viewer?
Colin is lost and Quinn is merged with his fraternal double when a scientist working on combining dimensions traps the Sliders in part of his scheme.