Interview with Robert K. Weiss

Written by: Earth Prime · January 01, 1997

Sliders co-creator Robert K. Weiss has been with Sliders since day one, and has gladly immersed himself into the Sliders comics as well. Besides being one of the show’s executive producers, Weiss is also a feature film producer with such titles under his belt as The Kentucky Fried Film, the Naked Gun movies, Dragnet, The Blues Brothers and Tommy Boy. Recently, Asst. Editor Jeof Vita tracked Weiss down to chat with him about the show and the comic, and discovered some of the secrets behind Sliders‘ fascinating science fictional back story.

Are you a fan of the comics?

I am indeed a fan of the comics. I work on the inside, so I get to see everything come through in bits and pieces, but when the actual product comes out, I just can’t wait to tear into them. The comics offer so many new avenues that the show can’t necessarily go down. The best part is that even though it’s a completely different medium, it still feels like Sliders. That, in itself, is really gratifying, because it’s hard enough to get the creative concept across in the same medium. It’s just that it’s much nicer that it works in the comics.

How has Sliders changed since season one?

We’d like to see Sliders return to its roots and really put the science-fiction element back into it. The cast and the crew are all gearing up for a more adventure-packed season. We’re not going to stray from the social issues, because this is the perfect venue to air those out, but we just realized that our strength is in our science. Plus, we’d like to get into more of that “bent” humor, and we’ve got a whole lot of new people that are more than able to rise to that challenge.

Where is Sliders going?

With an order for 25 shows, Sliders is going all out. It’s great that we have that standing order, because we don’t have that fear hanging over us of being cut-off before we can resolve anything, or even plant sub-plots that need to be resolved. Everyone here now knows that we have somewhere to go with this show, and we’re going to take full advantage of that. The cast will really get the opportunity to click with each other as we expand and keep going. We’ll even be seeing strong story arcs that last for three or four episodes at a time.

What’s the synergy between comics and the show?

I can definitely see the immense potential that there. Your Sliders Special #3, for example, is based on one of [Sliders’ co-creator] Tracy Tormé’s unproduced episode ideas. I think the series-related secrets you’ll be toying with in your Special #4 [set for release in November] will be really well done, and give a tidbit or two away to the fans before some key episodes air.

What this all does is it really puts Sliders out into the milieu for the fans. Anything tangible related to the show just helps us out and vice versa. Fans of the show pick up the comic and it gives them something to look forward to, say, if reruns are on. The comics are such a natural compliment to the show. The comics are done well, the show just keeps getting better, and as lon as we’re working hand in hand, there is something to satisfy the fans at the same time whetting their appetites. As a fan, I would think the comics are simply an extra treat!

What are some of your favorite stories so far?

Well, on the show, I’m slightly partial to some of the first-season stuff. The episode “Last Days” was cool, and “Fever” was fun. I personally prefer the shows where we tackled something boldly, or went ahead full steam with some humor. As for the comics, I’ll tell you, I just like them all so far. They’ve really taken Sliders in interesting directions. It gets me all worked up watching it come together, and the final product is certainly worthy of the Sliders name.

What are some of the influences for Sliders?

I grew up on Science Fiction Theater, The Twilight Zone, The Outer Limits and that kind of stuff. I also liked The Time Tunnel and if I had to describe Sliders, I might call it The Time Tunnel Sideways. But besides TV, I read a lot of science-fiction, be it novellas or short stories or 800-page epics. Then of course, Mad Magazine was a huge influence. One particular feature in that mag will always stick with me. It was called “Scenes We’d Like to See” and I just loved how that always played out. There was always that huge left turn at the end of the strip that was just hilarious. That is the philosophy I wound up taking with me into my career. I always aim to surpass or reverse people’s expectations. So of course, alternate realities were the only way to go!

Do you personally believe in the possibility of interdimensional travel?

You have to realize that science cannot explain how the universe works without the idea of multiple dimensions. Quantum physics and all that heady stuff, I don’t think holds up without the multiple dimensions factor. At the time that the idea of Sliders germinated, all of this was being kicked around in the scientific circles. So, naturally, we asked, “what if you could bridge that gap?” I personally like to believe that there is a way to do it. For example, when people talk about UFOs, most of us think about aliens in mechanical crafts from other planet. For me, if that turned out to the case for all of them, I would be somewhat disappointed. From how they behave, it just seems much more appropriate that they would be travelers from alternate dimensions.

Then again, we may never know. In short, yes, I do believe and here’s something that I ask people when we talk about it. “If the gateway opened up in your living room, would you jump in?” Something to think about, huh?

Okay, so, if the gateway opened in your living room, would you jump in?

Well… before I got married, the answer would have been an unconditional YES! I’d have to weigh the options for a bit at this point in my life… but I’d probably still go!

Anything you wanna tell the fans?

To the fans, keep reading and keep watching. Write letters to the show, keep those e-mails coming because with increased opportunity for interactivity these days, that’s the way to let the networks and the creators know how they’re doing. If you want to keep Sliders going, that’s the way to do it. We really appreciate everything that we get, so keep Sliding!

« »