For its first season, this show was nominated for three Emmys, including Outstanding Miniseries and Outstanding Writing. The fourth season of "The 4400," the TV mini-series on the USA network, would prove to be its final season. Dedicated fans tried a campaign by mail to keep the show alive, earlier this year, much like the campaign for the cancelled CBS program "Jericho," but it was to no avail.
The premise is one day a comet deposits 4400 people, that exact number of people, in a field near Seattle, Washington, literally from out of the sky. Each of these 4400 people was someone who had been reported missing, some going back fifty years or more. Yet, each person has returned not having aged a single day. Each person also has a unique power that is supernatural or metaphysical.
A special investigative unit by the government called NTAC has been assigned to keep track of the 4400. The two leading agents are Tom Baldwin, played by Joel Gretsch, and Diana Skouris, played by Jacqueline McKenzie. The two try to remain objective but their personal lives soon become intertwined with those of the 4400.
Baldwin's son Kyle, played by Chad Faust, became comatose after Shawn, Kyle's cousin, played by Patrick Flueger, went missing. Shawn was one of the 4400 returned. Shawn seemingly has the ability to heal anyone from any ailment. Skouris fell in love and adopted a little girl named Maia, a 4400 with the ability to see into the future.
Some in the government want to study and test the 4400 and see how they got their abilities and why they haven't aged. Many 4400s are scared and have scattered or gone on the run. Some have turned terrorist and use their powers for radical or criminal behavior.
Jordan Collier, played by Billy Campbell ("Dynasty" and "Once & Again"), a long-time TV actor, is a 4400 whose ability is yet unknown. However, Jordan Collier is a very successful businessman who decides to step forward and be a spokesman and somewhat of a civil rights leader for the 4400.
One of Collier's first moves is to build a large complex called the 4400 center, which is a refuge and educational facility for those with special abilities. The center eventually evolves into a religious institution, and Collier a religious figure, a preacher essentially, espousing deeper meaning to the presence of the 4400.
Baldwin and Skouris are wary of this, but it doesn't stop their relatives, Shawn and Maia, from following Collier in his movement. In the 29 episodes that precede the start of the fourth season, that movement is examined, as deeper meanings are proved to exist. The how and why are of less importance, as what becomes truly outstanding is how people deal with these circumstances. Historical and religious themes are echoed, mixed with healthy but never overwhelming doses of science fiction.
As the fourth season opens, the prevailing issue that compounds all 13 episodes is the question related to people who don't have powers like the 4400 choosing to acquire powers. All they would have to do is take a needle injection of a drug called Promisin. Unfortunately, if a person takes this drug there is a 50 percent chance that he or she will die.
The government immediately outlaws this drug, but that doesn't stop Collier from spreading the drug to anyone who wants it. Collier touts himself as a messiah ushering in a new world, but many others see him as spreading death, due to the fact that thousands of people have died because of that drug.
In a television landscape, starved of good sci-fi, these were by far the best-written and produced series of episodes that I saw in all of 2007, surely the best since the cancellation of "The X-Files." Created by Scott Peters ("The Outer Limits") and Rene Echevarria ("Star Trek: Deep Space Nine"), this show combines all the best elements of both those shows.
The series, especially this last season, had its religious undertones, but at its heart, the season really hit hard the idea of fatherhood and personal responsibility when mixed with and, at times, in opposition to faith, conviction, and even morality. Beyond that, it was simply an exciting and very intriguing adventure series.
My favorite episode of this season would have to be "Try the Pie." In the episode, originally aired in July 2007, Baldwin tracks his son Kyle to a secluded, small town where Collier has retreated after the government has deemed Collier a fugitive for distributing the illegal drug Promisin. Collier has fortified and protected the town with the abilities of 4400s. All Baldwin can do is try to convince his son to leave Collier's town willingly, but Kyle has to do some convincing of his own.
Five Stars out of Five
Released on DVD on May 6
13 Episodes - Running Time: 43 minutes each.
Each episode Rated TV-PG