with Tracy Tormé,
creator/writer/producer of Sliders
published in the French magazine Generation Series N°36
The Timer: First Tracy, When and how did you create the concept of Sliders? What
were your goals?
Tracy Tormé: I had read a book on the American Revolution, there was a moment where Washington was nearly killed, it would have changed history. It got me thinking about all the little moments that effect the future, and lead me to imagining parallel universes, etc. I just wanted to create my own show and get it on the air inspired to do so by encouragement from Gene Roddenberry I guess. It made me change directions from movies to television.
The Timer: So when did you contact Robert K. Weiss?
Tracy Tormé: We were working on a feature together at the time for Universal studios with Joe Dante and the French astrophysicist Jacques Vallee, who's now a good friend. (Spielberg based the french character in Close Encounters on Vallee.) So, the first conversation about Sliders came from a meeting about that film called Messengers of Deception.
The Timer: And what were your main goals when you created
Tracy Tormé: Just to stay as true to my vision as possible and to do a unique blend of science fiction and black comedy.
The Timer: okay... so how could you define the show?
Just science-fiction and black comedy? Or a more complexe blend?
Tracy Tormé: Mixing genre's is tough on network. I always wanted the show to be an allegory about life here on our Earth. One of our first reviews called the show Subversively Funny, and I always liked that take.
The Timer: Do you have some favorite episodes? Why?
Tracy Tormé: I like almost everyting in first two seasons: Gillian of the Spirits, I think was quite good. Like Invasion and The Guardian. I have fond spot for Summer of Love. Most everything in season one and two. Oh, I loved Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome too, one of our best definitely!
The Timer: Why did you create the character of Rembrandt? What did you expect
Tracy Tormé: He was my attempt to throw an innocent non scientific man into the mix, someone swept along by accident. I always say he and the Professor as being men with huge but very fragile egos. Lots of bluster but lots of vulnerability under the surface. And I thought the show biz aspect would be unique in a sci-fi show.
The Timer: oh yes... but Rembrandt was more and more
courageous after season 2... I had asked Robert Weiss if he was happy with
the evolution of his character. What is your opinion?
Tracy Tormé: No, they basically turned him into an action hero after I left. Not much comedy, pretty straightforward and typical. He kept talking about his days in the navy?? I didn't like what I saw!
The Timer: Yes, we loved the "Crying Man"!
And you are the author of some of his songs with Paul Kelly, aren't you ?
You know, I often sing "Tears in my Fro" in my shower!
Tracy Tormé: [Laughs] Yes, Paul Kelly is a wonderful singer songwriter from Austalia, sort of the Bob Dylan of Australia. It was a great honor to write that song with him.
The Timer: By the way, Cleavant would need your authorization
if he wanted to make a new CD with the songs of the Cryin' Man... are you
eager to create a such CD with him?
Tracy Tormé: Sure, I would work any time, any place, with Cleavant, on just about anything!
The Timer: How did you envisage the Quinn-Wade relationship? How did you want
to see it evolve?
Tracy Tormé: Always friends on the borderline of becoming lovers.
The Timer: oh okay... but why did their relationship
gradually disappear in the season 2?
Tracy Tormé: did it?
The Timer: well, I thought... except in the first episodes of the 2 season, we often see Quinn or Wade with other boy or girl friend. No?
Tracy Tormé: Not intentional to make any statement about them as I recall.
The Timer: Which topics non-treated would you have
liked to deal with?
Tracy Tormé: Well I really hate political correctness. I feel it needs to be taken on in a big way, but most people are afraid to. I would also have liked to do more of anti racist shows and pro animal rights show.
The Timer: I believe that in the fourth season, the
episode California Reich dealt with that. Did you see it and like it?
Tracy Tormé: No I never saw it. I have only seen a very few episodes after I left. Maybe one or two complete, and maybe another three partial.
The Timer: In your opinion, what could Sliders bring
to our society, and to our vision of the world?
Tracy Tormé: The simple answer would be to utilize allegory. Allegory is a powerful method of examining society by placing stories on other earths. You can get away with saying things about this Earth and the way its run. I think I often attacked political correctness in almost every episode by using this philosophy.
The Timer: I must confess that I pay very attention
to my acts... because I fear the consequences. Do you really think - like
the Sliders - that the least act in our life is determining?
Tracy Tormé: Yes for the most part. We all make a ton of daily decisions little decisions that will change our lives forever, without really thinking about it.
The Timer: yes... but don't you think that's terribly
Tracy Tormé: Not really. There are some things we have no control of. Unforseen consequences are just part of life, you can't waste time or energy worrying about what MIGHT happen.
The Timer: Which moment of human history would you
have liked to see changed for the world to evolve differently?
Tracy Tormé: Well, as an American, I feel the JFK assassination was a truly terrible thing in so many ways. I'd love to change that moment in history if I could.
The Timer: Is that the reason why you put the JFK affair in the episode Obsession,
Tracy Tormé: I am not sure but his life was important to me, so maybe I did... I don't recall exactly.
The Timer: And what about the Second World War? and
the atomic bomb? The Sliders often hesitated to destroy their discovery (like
in the Pilot when Arturo says Oppenheimer's quote with Shiva). Do you think
that it would be morally acceptable to give today a such invention to humanity?
Tracy Tormé: It would be dangerous. It have to be carefully controlled. Too much chance for mis use.
The Timer: Like Logan St Claire in Double Cross?
Tracy Tormé: Yes exactly.
The Timer: You worked for the TV series Star Trek
: The Next Generation. In your view, what is the difference between the
science-fiction developped in Sliders and the one shown in Star Trek?
Tracy Tormé: The main difference would be that Star Trek kind of had an everything always works out in the end philosophy whereas Sliders often ended in uncertainty or new danger etc.
The Timer: What about the Sliders humor? Is it special?
Tracy Tormé: Yes, far different from Star Trek. Well, we always had to fight to keep our humor in the show. I wish we could have done more. It seems to me that humor was almost non existant on the show after I left. Maybe I'm wrong again, I didn't see alot of it.
The Timer: Do you still keep many Sliders scripts unused
by the production?
Tracy Tormé: Well, I do have all the scripts but I don't recall more than one or two that weren't shot.
The Timer: Could you tell us more about Heat of the Moment?
Tracy Tormé: I think it would have been our best show. It's a shame! The Sliders landed on world falling into the sun slowly. Bennish is a millionare who invented the ice hat to keep everyone cool. He goes to work with Arturo again, like in Last Days, also one of my favourite of old shows, now that I think about it. Rembrandt goes on dangerous journey to help his brother. Quinn and Wade realizing they will die on this world decide to get married. Bennish and Arturo fail. Bennish world is doomed, and the Sliders trapped. Rembrandt is killed on journey. Arturo goes to Quinn and Wade wedding, but doesn't tell them about their friend's death. Quinn and Wade get married with only two days of life left on that planet. And final shot is of our Sliders arriving for two min on this planet, and we discover we were watching other sliders through entire show.
The Timer: Oh yes, it was a great idea! Why did the
production reject it for season 3?
Tracy Tormé: John leaving show killed it. They wanted me to rewrite it for new character but I refused.
The Timer: We still wonder why John left the show.
Was he fired or not?
Tracy Tormé: The network wanted him out had for a long time. With Weiss gone and then me, no one there to fight to keep him any more.
The Timer: But that's a shame! John was so great with
Arturo's character, wasn't he?
Tracy Tormé: I thought he was very very important to the show.
The Timer: Did you identify with a character? Was there
some autobiography? (for example, in the episode The Guardian with
Tracy Tormé: Well, some have said I'm Quinn and Bob is Arturo maybe. I played baseball and football for much of my life; yet had intellectual pursuits that I kept from my sports friends. Maybe a little of that in Quinn and his basement.
The Timer: Could you tell us what is your point of view about the episode Into
the Mystic? Do you think that Quinn was at home at the end?
Tracy Tormé: Definitely. By the way, Into the Mystic was named after one of my favorite Van Morrison songs.
The Timer: And about Post Traumatic Slide Syndrome,
do you think that they slid with the wrong Arturo?
Tracy Tormé: I am asked that all the time and will never answer it! It would certainly spoil all the fun. But there are clues to which arturo they took if you watch carefully.
The Timer: The episode Invasion, very well-written, presents the world
of "New-France" whom many fans found very funny, among others with
the great scene with Arturo and the French restaurateur. Could you tell us
more about this amusing allusion? (Are French people really so chauvinistic?
Tracy Tormé: Well, it was more playing with the cliche of the rude French waiter. Lots of Americans feel the French really don't like us. So it was playing with that as well as the rivalry between the French and English.
The Timer: What were your relations with the FOX, at
the beginnings of Sliders?
Tracy Tormé: They were good during the Pilot. They pretty much let me do what I wanted but during the series they were always difficult. They really wanted a straightforward action show with little comedy and satire. Lots of monsters and chases, and so take a look at what they did eventually, that was the show they always wanted. But it wasn't my show, so I wouldn't do it.
The Timer: What can you tell us about the project of a Sliders movie?
Tracy Tormé: Just a rumor nothing happening right now.
The Timer: Sorry for my curiosity, but what about Bob
Tracy Tormé: Bob would like to do a movie but nothing is actively being pursued right now.
The Timer: And if that happened, would you like to
be involved in it?
Tracy Tormé: If the circumstances were right.
The Timer: For example, the whole original cast?
Tracy Tormé: Yes absolutely.
The Timer: Robert K. Weiss considered Sliders like
a show "that could last 100 episodes". Are you thinking of bringing
back Sliders to life in another form? (like a spinoff)
Tracy Tormé: hmmm, it would be hard to do, but I'd never say never.
The Timer: What are your reactions regarding the evolution
of the show? Which regrets do you have?
Tracy Tormé: Well, to me it's two completely different shows: the first two and a half seasons, the last three and a half, are like night and day as far as I'm concerned. I just dont find the last few seasons very interesting from what I've seen.
The Timer: Which memories do you have of the great
Sliders time? Some anecdotes about the shots or commentaries about the general
Tracy Tormé: I have many wonderful memories. I loved living and working in Vancouver. It was always raining but it was fun. My memories are almost all good.
The Timer: How can you explain the global success of
Tracy Tormé: I'm very pleased by it. I would love to talk with French fans sometimes and ask them that question. I wonder if it would be different from country to country?
The Timer: Be sure that Sliders has a great success
in France, although the channel M6 was pretty rude with the show. So which
message would you like to pass on to the French fans of Sliders?
Tracy Tormé: I'm very grateful for their interest in the show. My ancestry is French on both sides of my family, so it's especially pleasing to me. I would love to find a way to communicate with them directly to see what it is they like or dislike about Sliders. And once again I'd like to thank them for taking such an interest in Sliders.
The Timer: Are you a pure Sci-Fi fan? What were your
Tracy Tormé: I like certain sci fi alot. My major influences would be anything written by Richard Matheson. On TV it would be Twilight Zone, original Outer Limits, The Prisoner and the movies would be The Thing, the first two Invasion Of The Body Snatchers films, The Parrallax View, Warren Beatty movies, Woody Allen, the Simpsons, monty python film noir, etc.
The Timer: When did you begin to write for television?
What do you like the most in writing?
Tracy Tormé: Getting paid a lot! [Laughs] I began with a very cool comedy show called SCTV. Then I went on to Saturday Night Live, that's how I started.
The Timer: What do you think of all the fanfics on the Web?
Tracy Tormé: The ones I've seen seemed exceptionally good.
The Timer: Do you believe in the different theories postulating the existence
of parallel universes?
Tracy Tormé: I think it's unlikely but very possible.
The Timer: Imagine that you have the possibility to
travel through the parallel universes, like Quinn. Would you slide? Do you
think you could be a good Slider? Why?
Tracy Tormé: I would definitely slide and I do think I'd be a good slider cause I'd keep my sense of humor and I'd be a good survivor!
The Timer: If you met your double like Quinn, what
would you tell him?
Tracy Tormé: Not to have gotten married, single life is too much fun! [Laughs]
The Timer: But what about Quinn and Wade's wedding
in Heat of the Moment? Don't you think that's great?
Tracy Tormé: Yes but it took the Earth falling into the Sun for it to happen!
The Timer: You mentioned some projects that could interest
the Sliders fans. Could you tell us more about them?
Tracy Tormé: I have several new shows that I've created coming soon.
Kung Pow is a comedy for the usa network. True Tales Of Terror is an anthology series that will be on either MTV or FX. Doomsday is an animated sci fi comedy for Film Roman (the Simpsons) and Domination is a very very ambitious sci fi thriller for warner brothers. All currently in development. Well, each has to run its own course, we'll see what happens.
The Timer: Thank you very much Tracy for these great answers!
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