The backdrop for the anthology of stories that unfolds is the City Hall of a medium-sized city. The characters that are central to the series, like the audience for On Common Ground, are both native and foreign born - a blend of ethnicities, races, ages and backgrounds. The dramas themselves reflect the real-life choices citizens face as they strive to maintain a civil society. The historical underpinnings of the nation are linked to the themes of the stories in short documentaries called Turning Points. These segments, which conclude each episode, focus on a sequence of events or a pivotal situation in the history of the United States that proved to be a turning point in the evolution of this country.