The 4400, which began as a five-week miniseries on the USA Network, is built around a deceptively simple, dramatically rich premise. What if all the people, who had ever been abducted by aliens, were suddenly returned to Earth? What would happen? Although they look exactly as they did when they left, they have no knowledge of where they were or why they were taken. Now some even have special powers, like clairvoyance. As with ABC’s Lost, which centers on the survivors of a plane crash, The 4400 features a large cast of characters and a host of mysteries to be solved. If the special effects, which are kept to a minimum, can be a little cheesy at times, the concept–and the skillful execution of the concept–easily makes up for it. Produced by Francis Ford Coppola’s American Zoetrope and created by Scott Peters (The Outer Limits), The 4400 is set in Seattle, where the 4400 are returned. The principal characters include Dennis Ryland (Peter Coyote of E.T.), the local supervisor of Homeland Security. He’s joined by agents Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch of Taken), whose nephew was one of the returnees, and Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie of Romper Stomper), who takes in one of the youngest returnees.
Guest stars include Michael Moriarty (Law and Order) in “Pilot” and Lee Tergeson (Oz) in “Becoming.” Billy Campbell (Once and Again) also appears in several episodes as Jordan Collier, a real-estate magnate and returnee who becomes an advocate for others like himself, many of whom are having problems adjusting to a changed world. Like Lost, one of the biggest success stories of 2004, The 4400 debuted to strong ratings and was renewed for a full season.
A year has passed since 4400 abductees were returned to Earth (and six months since the original series ended). Richard (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), Lily (Laura Allen), and Isabelle are on the run from Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell) and others who would attempt to harm their child. Shawn (Patrick Flueger) has moved into Collier’s cult-like 4400 Center. Then there are NTAC (National Threat Assessment Command) agents Diana (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Tom (Joel Gretsch). The former has officially adopted Maia (Conchita Campbell), while the latter is reunited with formerly comatose son Kyle (Chad Faust), Shawn’s best friend. Almost everyone, returnees and otherwise, is changing. Jordan, for instance, is having more seizures (as a result of his first encounter with the eerie Isabelle), while Kyle is having blackouts. Along the way, new characters are introduced, like mute mental patient Kevin (Jeffrey Combs, Re-Animator), who regains the ability to talk, thanks to Tess (Summer Glau, Serenity), the only returnee who can recall what happened to her. Others include Diana’s sister April (Natasha Gregson Wagner), Jordan’s pal Matthew (Garret Dillahunt, Deadwood), and former NTAC supervisor Dennis Ryland (Peter Coyote), who returns to the fold. Guest stars include E.R.’s Sharif Atkins (“Voices Carry”), Star Trek: Voyager’s Robert Picardo (“Weight of the World”), and Twin Peaks‘ Sherilyn Fenn (“Carrier”). The season will end much as the miniseries began, with the 4400 being released from another quarantine, setting the scene for the next year. Although the first set was a barebones release, the second features commentary from McKenzie, Gretsch, writer Craig Sweeny, and writer/producer Ira Steven Behr. –Kathleen C Fennessy
To be continued…