The 4400: Season Three

The 4400: Season Three
One can only imagine the cursing that’s taking place in the production offices of The 4400, the relatively acclaimed but consigned to cable series that predates Heroes by several years. After all, The 4400 features serialised storylines involving regular people who, through mysterious events, develop superhuman powers: telekinesis, healing, prophecy, etc. Sure, no one saves any cheerleaders and its focus is more on the dour government investigators than catchphrase-friendly office nerds but it must sting that The 4400 is the red-headed stepchild of all this super talk. Heading into its third season (following a truncated, six-ep start), The 4400 suffers primarily from the absence of its de facto leader Jordan Collier (actor Billy Campbell decided to sail around the world for a year instead of making more TV and doesn’t return until the final three episodes). In the absence of the central narrative concerning his quest to bring legitimacy to the 4,400 people who were taken to the future and returned with special powers, the show spins off in other directions. Many other directions. Quickly and ruthlessly. If watching these 12 episodes during the year made your head spin, they do make more sense on DVD when you don’t have to wait (and forget and fill your head with Lost theories in the interim). Yet there remains something desperate about this third season ⎯ desperate to distract from the absence of Collier, desperate to give every secondary character a meaty subplot and an impactful "moment,” desperate to regain some of its early buzz. And like many serialised dramas at this point in their lives, it struggles with how much it wants to draw out a bigger "mystery” (if indeed one exists) and how long it has to tread water before it can get there. Viewer fatigue starts to set in and the four featurettes on process, casting and dealing with Campbell’s absence don’t inspire a lot of excitement for a fourth season. It may have been one of the first out of the gate but The 4400 is being passed by similar shows that are simply cooler, faster, younger and more fun. (Paramount)