Common Ground

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 49, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by Chris Black
  • directed by Reza Badiyi
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Edward Ledding, Jerry O'Connell, & Marc Scott Zicree
  • Production # K2810
Story: The Sliders discover a Kromagg military base on Earth 147, where the Kromagg commander is criticized by his subordinates for allowing the Sliders to live under "house arrest". Do the Kromaggs have a good side? What secret directive does the Kromagg dynasty have concerning the Sliders? And what is the real hidden purpose of this base?

In-Depth Analysis Review

by Martin Izsak

WARNING: This review contains "SPOILERS", and is intended for those who have already seen the program.
To avoid the spoilers, read the Buyers' Guide to the season instead.

Although it feels a bit too soon to be doing yet another Kromagg story, this one is at least a significant improvement over "Genesis". We get some fascinating new clues advancing the show's mythology here, plus the most satisfying conclusion to any fourth season episode yet. The ideas aren't terribly original though, and it does end up feeling more like "Star Trek" than "Sliders".

I think the obvious appeal of the Kromaggs was partly the fact that they were alien in the sense of being unknowns, and partly the fact that they could be villains across many worlds and therefore have a continuing story across many episodes. What becomes clear here, even though it started less obviously in "Genesis", is that the Kromaggs are being anthropomorphized, as often happened to most alien species on Star Trek. Each time we see them, they are less alien and more human. We don't so much learn to understand their culture better; instead we cheat and gradually make it look more and more like our own, until we can hardly tell the difference. In the case of "Common Ground", we're really turning them more and more into German World War II soldiers, as seen through the eyes of the cliché victimized Jewish perspective, whether that was ever a useful or accurate generalization or not. This is too much of a repeat and too one-dimensional to sustain itself well over the long term, and I certainly hope that the Kromaggs go back to being interesting aliens soon.

It's also a bit disconcerting to hear the Kromaggs' name further abbreviated to just "Maggs", because that's a little TOO close to "Maggie". Really, the writers could have done better in this regard.

This episode gives us a Kromagg commander not too unlike the infamous Schindler, and he and Maggie get some interesting scenes exploring each other's viewpoints. This is about as good as any half-decent Star Trek episode, but still has a bizarre vibe to it, like something's still not working right. The episode deserves points for logjamming the usual Kromagg cruelty and substituting "house arrest" which makes such civilized exploration possible, but if the Kromaggs are to be interesting repeat characters on the show, we shouldn't have to be doing such backflips and somersaults to get here. It still leaves us with yet another story that has too much capture and escape in it, too much effort to try to get the timer back, all of which are overused elements on the show that hinder the main characters' sense of proactivity. At least here, the hindrance is somewhat belittled, but these same elements have plagued all three of the fourth season's stories so far.

Geography doesn't seem to be this story's strong suit. We get a really cool and unique looking factory location for the episode's most important action sequences - all very well and good. Then we cut back to the old faithful Chandler Hotel as though it's just next door or something. Huh? I thought this was a special Kromagg camp. What's the Chandler doing in the middle of it... or on the edge of it... or whatever? This doesn't work right, or look right. The producers just want to save money here and use the standing sets wherever possible. To be fair, the sets don't look at all bad or wrong, just don't call it The Chandler Hotel, and leave out the exterior establishing shots. Let it be the executive wing of the experimental Kromagg camp, which it truly wants to be.

Remmy gets a bit of a focus here, as we see more of the changes that occurred to him in the three months between seasons. If anything, he only looks more one dimensional here. It may not be too bad a dimension though, if only it could stay in balance. Remmy does the thing that Quinn was more prone to in season two - rushing to people's defense even when it doesn't seem to be the smart move, although in this case, we can't deny the serious consequences had he delayed.

Quinn is a bit on the periphery of this adventure, until we come down to the concluding moves... where he proves that he has enough technical wizardry to pull good "Doctor Who" style heroics out of the air. He is in good form at the end of this one, and "Common Ground" deserves mention for having the most satisfying conclusion of any fourth season episode yet - a good source of high marks for ranking purposes in my book.

The actual Kromagg weapon seen here is probably the episode's biggest claim to being science fiction rather than just a character drama in an odd multi-dimensional setting. It's not bad, but not brilliant either. In fact, it might be just the thing that our trio has been looking for, but it is conveniently and not altogether believably destroyed by the magical setting Quinn manages to find at random. Oh well. This thing's a bit gruesome anyway. Maybe Quinn and company can find something a little less distasteful on another world later on.

A good bit of intrigue ensues as we get a clue to the implant mentioned mysteriously in "Invasion", only this seems to be at odds with the impression left during "Invasion" and the events of "Genesis". What is really going on? The intrigue surrounding worlds that we have yet to discover is one of this episode's biggest attractions.

Well, this episode is a good one, possibly the very best of season four so far, but it shows that the fourth season is having some trouble making its new direction look good from the front end. Hopefully, more good episodes will arrive soon to justify what we are setting up here....

This story has become available on DVD. Click on the Amazon symbol for the location nearest you for pricing and availability:

Season 4 DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC
for the North American market:
in the U.S.
in Canada
Season 4 DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
for the U.K.

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Read the In-depth Analysis Review for the next story: "Virtual Slide"

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