Interview with Marc Scott Zicree,
writer/producer of Sliders
(Season 4)
Marc Scott Zicree


The Timer: Hello Marc, how are you?
Marc Zicree: Good. Things are hopping, as always.
The Timer: Any new project?
Marc Zicree: Working on the MAGIC TIME novels -- the first two are in manuscript, with the first scheduled to be published by HarperCollins in hardcover in September. We're waiting to hear back on the MAGIC TIME series from Sci-Fi Channel. If they want to do it, Studios USA has said they want to come in as production partner. Henson is also looking at the project -- they optioned it some time ago, before the three-book deal. John Copeland, producer of BABYLON 5 is aboard on CORE, our sci-fi series project, with Jonathan Frakes attached as director of the pilot. The company that produced THE SECRET ADVENTURES OF JULES VERNE (a series coming up on the Sci-Fi Channel) is very interested in the project. We'll see. There's other stuff, too (like REAL STORY, our project with Armin Shimerman), but that's plenty for now.

The Timer: Wow! You might have been very busy! What will CORE deal with?
Marc Zicree: It deals with a New York cop who goes (along with his daughter) to a colony world near the core of the galaxy and has to cope with several difficult alien species that have formed a business consortium with humans. Lots of secrets within secrets, and designed to be produced along the budgetary lines of B5.

The Timer: That sounds great! Have you heard something about the project of a Sliders movie?
Marc Zicree: Haven't heard anything about it, but lots of SLIDERS fans would certainly like it. My friend Michael Reaves (my partner on CORE) has just written Interworld, a novel with Neil Gaimin, about a teenager who has adventures on varous parallel earths, accompanied by human and nonhuman duplicates of himself from these alternate worlds. They're currently putting the finishing touches on a movie deal. I'm sure SLIDERS fans will enjoy it.
The Timer: oh yes...when something deals with parallel earths... it's often very interesting! Wasn't Michael involved in "Requiem"?
Marc Zicree: Yes, I brought him in on SLIDERS. I don't think he was very happy with the final version, though. By the way, Michael was story editor on the animated BATMAN and won an Emmy for it.
The Timer: yes, exactly... we haven't seen "Requiem" yet in France, because we haven't got yet the season 5. I am working hard to ask the French channel M6 to show it. I launched a big campaign for the season 4 and it was finally effective! I hope there will be the same results for the season 5!
Marc Zicree: Good work... although from what I understand season 5 turned out to be a big disappointment after season 4 (I never watch episodes of shows after I leave them -- I departed after season 4 to pursue all the projects I mentioned.
The Timer: Thanks! oh yes.. but in fact, Sliders has been totally modified since the beginning. I love the first seasons and the social satire... but I also loved some episodes of the 4th season. I must confess that I loved the atmosphere in Slidecage! It was really well-done!
Marc Zicree: Thanks! The inspiration for it came when the TV series Timecop was cancelled. They were just going to tear down these great futuristic sets. I walked around them and came up with the storyline. The costumes came from 12 Monkeys and Waterworld, and the character in the walls was originally going to be played by my friend Armin Shimerman (who played Pascal on Beauty and the Beast, hence the reference); Armin agreed to do the role, but my episode of Deep Space Nine (Far Beyond the Stars) was shooting that same week and -- as he played Quark -- he as unavailable. It's a good problem to have.

The Timer: When you were involved as a writer for the 4th season of Sliders, what was your main goal? What did you want to bring to the show?
Marc Zicree: I felt that Fox had screwed up the show royally -- the plots were rip-offs of movies, the characters did little but bicker and the stories often made little sense. Since we had moved to the Sci-Fi Channel, my priorities were to guide the show to live up to the great potential of its premise -- to make the stories original, to have them derive from the science fiction of the premise, to have the characters be there for each other and to have Maggie's character be more solid and believable. Also to reach out to the community of science fiction writers at large and invite them to come pitch to us. Star Trek writers David Gerrold, Michael Reaves, Richard Manning and D.C. Fontana were among those who took me up on the offer. Beyond that, I wanted to push the envelope and to encourage the other writers to do so, too. For instance, I was intent that each successive story about the Kromaggs give us new information about their history and society, not just reiterate the "Space Nazis" theme.

The Timer: Oh Yes... (as Arturo said) the most frightening aspect of the Kromaggs was maybe their human side! You worked also for DS9 and B5. In your view, what is the difference between the science-fiction in these shows and the sci-fi developped in Sliders?
Marc Zicree: Both DS9 and B5 were more military in their orientation. I liked the diverse backgrounds and personalities of our four lead characters. I must say I very much enjoyed working on all three series. Additionally, because I have many friends working on all the SF series, when I wanted some pseudoscientific explanation for sliding to put into a script, I just contacted my friends at STAR TREK and they faxed me over tons of scientific material.

The Timer: People who work on Star Trek know a lot of things about teleportation and interdimensional travel! It can help!
Marc Zicree: Yes. Something most folks in the audience don't realize is the camaraderie between writers on a variety of SF shows. We're not competitive, we really want to help each other succeed, by and large.

The Timer: Do you still keep Sliders scripts unused?
Marc Zicree: I keep copies of the various drafts of scripts. There really aren't many "unfilmed" episodes; the tight budget doesn't allow that. If we buy a story, we usually find a way to shoot it; we might have to extensively revise it to do so, though.

The Timer: I loved the way you wrote Quinn's double in World Killer... do you regret the disappearance of Quinn? What do you expect of his character?
Marc Zicree: World Killer was my favorite of the scripts I wrote for SLIDERS, and a difficult script to write. Initially, Quinn's double was too heroic and outshone Quinn. It was only on rewriting it that I hit on the notion of his irresponsibility and need to learn to accept what he caused and make it better. I liked the moral of that story very much. I was in on the whole process of that episode, from casting through editing. In fact, the director invited me to be on set for the entire shooting. The way we'd work was that, with each scene, the director would rehearse the actors with me watching. Then I'd huddle with the director and tell him what moments they had missed or what the intent of the scene was; then he'd go communicate that to the actors. They invariable understood and adjusted their performances. It was a great collaboartion between all involved. I thought Jerry was great as both Quinns. To play the duplicate from the barren earth, I told him, "Just imagine him as the world's biggest twelve yeear old; he always is sure he can pull something off until he falls flat on his face."

The Timer: Yes... Quinn had difficulties to face his responsability.. especially for Rembrandt who slid by mistake. I found that it was very interesting to introduce again this notion of culpability in World Killer
Marc Zicree: Yes. Taking responsibility for your actions is a big theme in my work. Second chances, too.

The Timer: As for the Kromaggs, do you know why their faces have been modified in comparison with the Kromaggs of "Invasion"?
Marc Zicree: Just an aesthetic choice. Different makeup artist. I liked their look in season 4, though. And I thought the actors cast to play Kromaggs were generally good.

The Timer: You worked on the script of "Oh Brother, where art thou?", a very funny episode with the introduction of Colin Mallory. What did you think that Colin would bring to the team? Was it difficult to introduce this brother from an alternate universe, since we knew Quinn very well for many episodes?
Marc Zicree: We knew going in to season 4 that Jerry's brother Charlie was going to be in 17 of the 22 episodes. Because they looked so very similar, it made sense to have him play Quinn's brother. The challenge was to create a character who wouldn't just be a second Quinn, who would bring a new and distinct personality to the group. We spent several months batting around various ideas. Finally, David Peckinpah said, "How about Amish world?" We instantly all liked that; Charlie had a natural sweetness of nature and have Colin be an innocent from a non-technological world allowed him to ask a lot of questions that helped us explain a good deal as to the various worlds we found ourselves in. Also, as Arturo had left, we basically split what he would be doing in a given story between Quinn and Remmie -- so Quinn became more the scientific expert and Remmie the wise adviser/older adult.

The Timer: What is your favorite Sliders episode?

Marc Zicree: I like both World Killer and Slidecage, World Killer being my favorite of the two. As for ones I didn't write, generally I enjoyed the episodes Chris Black wrote. There was also a very touching episode Tracy Torme wrote in which Quinn was a surrogate father to his younger self. Very touching. Quinn had a monologue in that that I referenced in a speech the alternate Quinn made to Maggie in World Killer.


The Timer: Yes, I also love the episode "The Guardian", I found it so interesting... and as for World Killer, it is one of my favorite season 4 episodes!
Marc Zicree: Thanks for the compliment. I put a lot of sweat and heart into what I write, and it's nice to know others like it, too.

The Timer: Thanks again for your answers Marc!



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