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The 4400: The Complete Series DVD Review

The 4400: The Complete Series

November 10, 2008

Director: Yves Simoneau, Leslie Libman, Vince Misiano, Ernest R. Dickerson,
Starring: Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mahershalahashbaz Ali, Laura Allen, Patrick Flueger, Brooke Nevin, Peter Coyote, Billy Campbell, Chad Faust,

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DVD Review

The 4400 made its debut in 2004 as a five episode mini-series that capitalized on the popularity of science fiction television shows like Lost. Seasons two and three quickly followed before it was canceled after a fourth in 2007 due to the Writers Guild of America strike, budgetary problems, and lackluster ratings. All four seasons have been collected in a newly released box set with extra material specifically made for it.

A little girl named Maia is playing in a forest in California in 1946 and disappears in a flash of light. The same thing happens to Richard (Ali), an African American army soldier in South Korea in 1951. Orson is an older businessman who also vanishes in Washington in 1979. More recently, Kyle Baldwin (Faust) and Shawn Farrell (Flueger), two teenagers from Washington, encounter the light in 2001 but only Shawn is taken. Kyle goes into a coma.

It is present day and the media is reporting that a comet will come unusually close to the Earth. However, it changes course and heads right at the planet. It’s no comet but a massive ball of light that eventually hovers near the base of Mount Rainier. It quickly disappears in a thick cloud of smoke and out of that come Maia, Richard, Orson, Shawn and thousands of others who disappeared as far back as the 60 years ago, looking like exactly as they did the day they were abducted.

They have no idea what happened to them but over time some develop extraordinary powers like telekinesis and telepathy. The head of Homeland Security reinstates Tom Baldwin (Gretsch) his best investigator, who left when his nephew Kyle went into coma, and teams him up with Diana Skouris (McKenzie), his best field scientist, to investigate the returnees. The two operatives are obviously based on the Mulder/Scully template from The X-Files.

The second season reveals that all of the returnees have a neurotransmitter in their brains known as promicin and this is the source of their powers. The government freaks out and covertly doses the 4400 with a promicin-inhibitor. In season three, a terrorist group calling itself the Nova Group emerges out of the 4400 and launches several attacks against the government in response to the promicin-inhibitor. Season four ends with Jordan Collier (Campbell), a 4400, declaring himself the saviour of humanity and annexing part of Seattle as haven for those who have super powers.

Admittedly, the premise is intriguing and draws you in but the Tom and Diana characters are a little on the bland side, especially compared to the colourful personalities of the various members of the 4400. The writing went off the rails in the fourth season before the show’s creator, Scott Peters, put things back on track. However, it was too little, too late and the show was canceled.

Special Features:

Spread over various discs are deleted scenes for the seasons but the bulk of the extras can be found on disc 15. There is a video introduction by the show’s creator Scott Peters. He thanks the fans for their support, especially when the show was canceled.

Also included is an audio commentary for the Pilot episode by Peters and actor Joel Gretsch. Peters occasionally touches upon the conflicts he had with the network on aspect ratio, for example. Both men tell all sorts of filming anecdotes on this solid, chatty track.

The 4400: The Ghost Season” features Peters talking about the origins of the show, including how he came up with the title and how the events of 9/11 influenced the tone and themes. He points out that the show appealed to science fiction fans and non-genre fans alike. Peters covers various aspects of the show, including casting and storylines over the four seasons.

“Promicin: The Moral Choice” consists of three featurettes. The first one includes a collection of newscasts shown within the show about promicin. Next up, is a collection of new footage and promos within the world of the show that focus on the political aspects of promicin. Finally, there is footage of Jordan Collier talking about promicin and the struggle of the 4400.

Finally, there are deleted scenes form season one through three.

J.D. is a freelance writer who is currently doing research for a book on the films of Michael Mann. He likes reading anything written by Jack Kerouac, James Ellroy, J.D. Salinger, Harlan Ellison or Thomas Pynchon. J.D. is currently addicted to the T.V. series 24 and enjoys drinking a lot of Sprite. This is not a blatant plug for the beverage but if they ever decided to give him a lifetime supply he certainly wouldn’t turn them down.
view all DVD reviews by JD Lafrance

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Rating: 77%

Website: http://www.usanetwork.com/series/the4400/

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