The Dying Fields

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 1 NTSC

Season 4
DVD Box Set
Region 2 PAL
(Sliders Story No. 58, starring Jerry O'Connell)
  • written by William Bigelow
  • directed by David Peckinpah
  • music by Danny Lux
  • produced by Edward Ledding, Jerry O'Connell, & Marc Scott Zicree
  • Production # K2812
Story: The Sliders discover a Kromagg compound where Humans have been imported and turned loose to be used as target practice in a "hunting" war game. But why do the hunters look different from regular Kromaggs? What really happens to a Human who has survived his or her allotted 20 days in the field?

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.

This story definitely delivers the best Kromagg action in any season four story yet, with proper levels of audience investment in each battle that comes our way. It also lets us discover some of the logical missing pieces in the Kromagg puzzle. But Kromagg culture is still problematic, repeating some bad ideas that the writers just can't let go of. And after the excess of Kromagg / World War II dynamics in the last three stories, I would have preferred a break.

Colin often gets overshadowed when he meekly tags along behind the other protagonists, but he gets to branch out on his own a bit in this story and showcase his own character and resourcefulness, which I like enormously. Good stuff.

There are a few good points contrasting this story with "Asylum". Firstly, Quinn is on hand to exercise his role as the keeper of the philosophical flame here, and almost single-handedly points the narrative in favour of a resolution that is better than mere violent shoot-'em-ups. This element seems to be lacking whenever Maggie or angry Rembrandt take the lead in a Kromagg-related season four story.

Secondly, the Kromagg culture here appears more as alien and less as World War II propaganda German, meaning that, like "Slidecage", "The Dying Fields" delivers the better interpretation. It has been a huge curiosity why we never see any female Kromaggs on the show, as we presume there must be some.... this story doesn't completely answer the question, but it does give us a few clues in that direction which raise even more questions and deepen the intrigue of the larger mythology - all good.

I would want to point out, however, how ridiculous it seems that the Kromaggs have so many extraordinary mental powers, including keen telepathic senses and incredible remote healing abilities, while still being so retarded in their brutality. I'm not one to knock the powers on their own, and was totally behind such things when they appeared in "Desert Storm", but if you know how to be that much in tune with the universe, you don't go around enslaving parallel universes, counting kills, and encouraging savagery. The mix is too silly to buy into. Another question this brings up is, if you can heal another person remotely from across the room, surely you can inflict injury just as easily... so why would Kromaggs even need to develop fancy weapons?

Me, I would restrict the Kromagg healing ability to specialists who do not engage in the usual Kromagg combat. And the writers really shouldn't repeat the idiotic eye-eating thing in EVERY Kromagg script. It was never a good idea, and it turns off your viewers. Give the Kromaggs a greater variety of cultural idiosyncrasies, please. I'm begging you.

Still, this episode explores some worthy ideas, delivers decent action, and does much justice to its subject matter. As such, it seemed poised to claw its way up the rankings for season four. But one of the things that knocks it much farther back down the totem pole is its choice to allow far too many characters to end in bad places, in many cases just when new hope was beginning to enter their predicaments. The Sliders may understand more coming out of this adventure, but did they really manage to help anyone today? Or was it all about jumping through the wormhole into the next episode in the end?

Another oddity to listen for is that no matter how many Humans get killed in this story, there are always six left - at least according to the dialogue. In actual fact, the numbers are correct - after the first death, Jenny suddenly remembers to add herself to the count, and after four more buy the farm, the Kromaggs decide to add the four Sliders to the number as well. But it really would have sounded better had they not chose to change the way they count each time. What was up with that?

Well, ultimately though the action here is better than "Slidecage", and the visuals more varied, the story is not as satisfying in the end. Though this actually is one of the better Kromagg stories, their culture does not seem to be varied enough to prevent us from being tired of it (and its "California Reich" clones) at this point in the season. A huge variation at this point is desperately needed, and may indeed be just in store....

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: "Lipschitz Live"

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