The 4400: The Complete Second Season

When The 4400 emerged as a short-run series in 2004, it was blessed with a fascinating premise and burdened by a limited six-episode arc; producers were asked to wrap up the mystery of 4,400 people who all disappeared over the course of 60 years and emerged suddenly, all at once, near Seattle. They did reach a resolution (stop reading if you don’t already know) and revealed at the end of the first season that in fact the several thousand victims were hand-picked by Earth inhabitants in the future specifically so they could alter the timeline today and save… well, everything. But the first season — a little bit clunky and heavy-handed in its drama — was generally satisfying. The problem for producers facing a better funded second season was that the "reveal” that ended season one, in a typical television show, wouldn’t have come until seasons four, five or six. Having already given away the farm, season two attempts to revamp the series and it’s better for it. The 4,400 abductees are now integrated into society but face persecution because some of them have developed unusual "powers” — foresight, telekinesis, etc.; their "saviour” comes in the form of the creepy Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell), who heads up the Scientology-esque 4,400 Center and exploits healer Shawn Farrell (Patrick Flueger) to raise funds. Meanwhile, the mystery of what the future humans want bangs up against the reality of "normal” life even as the returnees become social pariahs or fugitives. The kick in the ass that season one’s "reveal” provided means that season two unfolds in curious ways — absent a central mystery, it takes on new nuance in its characters and plotting, and finds some inventive ways to keep viewers guessing. The first season’s dour government overseer (played by Peter Coyote) is absent and the show shifts away from government crackdown to 4,400 centred conspiracies, to its benefit. The extras are thin, mostly talking about the show’s initial conception and the difficulties of restarting. For a sci-fi series that started on shaky ground and seemed to blow its wad too early, The 4400 has resulted in some unusual and interesting television. (Paramount)