Season One 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. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Season Two
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), Jordans 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 Season Three
Season two of The 4400
ended not with one, but two shockers. First, baby Isabelle turned into a 20-year-old overnight (now played by Megalyn Echikunwoke). Then, it was revealed that Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell), who was believed dead, is still alive. The third year begins with more surprises. While Isabelle was aging, so was her mother, Lily (Tippi Hedren, replacing Laura Allen), who fast-forwards several decades. Suffice to say, her husband, Richard (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali), is not pleased. Also, the Nova Group, a splinter organization within the 4400, has started to eliminate those they perceive as their enemiesincluding their own. The 4400'
s third season was widely considered its weakest, but solid ratings justified a fourth. The pace doesn't pick up until Jordan's return--in real life, Campbell took off 13 months to sail the world--but the concept and the characters remain intriguing. For instance, Shawn (Patrick Flueger), head of the 4400 Center, embarks on a relationship with Isabelle, while his uncle, NTAC agent Tom (Joel Gretsch), gets bad news about wife Alana (Karina Lombard) and good news about son Kyle (Chad Faust). Dennis Ryland (Peter Coyote), meanwhile, moves from the NTAC into the private sector where he continues to micro-manage the 4400.
Recurring characters include Gary Navarro (Sharif Atkins), who joins the Nova Group, Dr. Burkoff (Jeffrey Combs), who injects himself with promicin--the mysterious substance associated with the 4400--and the sympathetic Tess (Summer Glau), who assists in his attempt to see if he can develop similar powers. Guest stars include Alice Krige (Star Trek: First Contact
) as a woman with a special interest in Diana's adopted daughter Maia ("Gone") and Brian Dennehy (Cocoon
) as Tom's father ("Blink"). As with season two, three features commentary from the cast and crew plus a trio of featurettes. --Kathleen C. Fennessy Season Four
There's nothing like a psych-out to shake things up. In The 4400'
s fourth season opener, everyone has taken the medicine Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell) distributed in year three, and all's right with the world. Then he wakes up from his dream. In truth, promicin helps some and harms others. Soon, Shawn (Patrick Flueger) emerges from his coma and Isabelle (Megalyn Echikunwoke), who tried to kill him, escapes from prison. As for NTAC, agents Tom (Joel Gretsch) still mourns the missing Alana, while Diana (Jacqueline McKenzie) returns to work when she finds out her sister, April (Natasha Gregson Wagner), has taken the shot. As the season continues, promicin-related strangeness accelerates, like the outcast (Cameron Bright) who becomes a messiah--and insists his followers only listen to TV on the radio--or the librarian (Constance Towers) who can astral project. An attractive new NTAC supervisor, Meghan Doyle (Jenni Baird), joins Tom and Diana to monitor the positives and those they affect, including Tom's son, Kyle (Chad Faust), who helps Collier establish Seattle's Promise City, an all-positive community. As ever, shades of grey dominate, and anyone can change at any time. Even an NTAC agent can become one of the Marked.
The fourth year ends with a viral outbreak, followed by the death of a key character. For the most part, though, the conclusion holds out hope for relations between the positives and the rest of the population--if they can stop the Marked in time. Because the USA Network chose not to renew the show, some questions may never be answered. Fortunately, The 4400
went out with both humor and heart. Extra features include deleted scenes, featurettes, a blooper reel, and commentary from creator Scott Peters on "Till We Have Built Jerusalem" and the director's cut of finalé "The Great Leap Forward." --Kathleen C. Fennessy