’90s TV shows with the most bizarre premises

When it premiered in 1995, Sliders was a fun, original sci-fi trip through parallel worlds, in a similar vein to 1989’s Quantum Leap. Grad student Quinn Mallory (Jerry O’Connell) is researching anti-gravity when he inadvertently opens a portal to another Earth, which pulls him and three friends — Wade Welles (Sabrina Lloyd), Professor Maximilian Arturo (John Rhys-Davies), and Rembrandt “Crying Man” Brown (Cleavant Derricks) — into a series of alternate universes. Each episode takes place on a different world, where, frequently, the group comes face to face with parallel universe versions of themselves.

For the first two seasons, the show focuses on navigating the social and political landscapes of each new world the group visits. Earths where Great Britain won the Revolutionary War, or men are treated as the weaker sex while women hold the most powerful positions in the country make for some truly interesting TV. Then, at the start of Sliders‘ third season, focus shifts to more action-heavy storylines, and Kari Wuhrer is brought in as Maggie Beckett, a military captain who wears as little as possible. Things only get worse from there. Eventually, the entire cast, with the exception of Derricks’ Rembrandt, are replaced by new characters or, in the case of O’Connell’s Quinn, an alternate version played by a completely different actor. It’s disappointing, but hey, at least it’s as weird as the rest of the show.

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