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TV on DVD: "The 4400: The Complete Series"

There are a few series over the years who have gotten an unfair shakedown by their respective networks, canceled prematurely while still having a significant story potential in their bones. One such series is USA's The 4400 , beloved by its small coterie of fans yet largely ignored by the general populace. CBS Paramount Home Entertainment today releases The 4400: The Complete Series , which wrapped its run last summer on USA, in a handsome box set with a host of extras. I'm hoping that its sheer weight and heft (it's about the size of the last Harry Potter book) will entice some people who missed this smart and sophisticated series when it was on the air. Conceived by Scott Peters and René Echevarria, The 4400 told the story of a group of people pulled from the timestream at various points in the 20th century who were then returned to the present day in a great ball of light that seemed to fall from the sky. Returned to 2003, these people (4400 in number) began to disp

Ball of Light Flickers Out: USA Cancels "The 4400" and "The Dead Zone"

Following a post made yesterday by The 4400 creator Scott Peters on a USA message board, the cabler has confirmed that it has officially canceled sci-fi dramas The 4400 and The Dead Zone . The move comes after months of speculation about the fates of both long-lived series; the season finale of The 4400 wrapped up several seasons' worth of storylines while leaving its plot somewhat open-ended. However, this writer clearly felt that USA had seen the writing on the wall (along with the giant mural of Jordan Collier) and was putting the genre series out to pasture. "We wish we could keep all our great shows alive forever," said USA's Jeff Wachtel, EVP of original programming. "But we feel we need to give some of our new shows a platform to grow, and it's with great sadness that we say goodbye to two shows that had a great run and helped create the resurgence of original programming on our network and on all of cable." The Dead Zone , which wrapped it

Welcome to Promise City: "The 4400" Takes a Great Leap Forward

It's rather depressing to me that the end of USA's seminal sci fi series The 4400 sort of came and went without very many people even noticing. Sure, part of that is what comes from airing a season (or is it series?) finale opposite the Emmys but the other is that The 4400 has long been overlooked by most people . Which brings me to Sunday night's season finale of The 4400 ("The Great Leap Forward"), which played things rather like an episode of the old Twilight Zone, complete with a zinger of an ending that sort of tied things up in an unexpected way but left the door open for an eventual return to the concept, while also possibly being the very last thing we'll ever see of The 4400 . USA, which was always a strange home for this daring, smart series, hasn't yet decided the fate of the series and is said to be in some discussions for ordering a fifth season of futuristic mayhem, but I wouldn't hold my breath. Sure, there are still several danglin

Tabula Rasa: Richard and Isabelle Share Some Family Time on "The 4400"

Richard Tyler is a bad-ass. That's really all I wanted to say about this week's episode of The 4400 ("Daddy's Little Girl"), which finally brought the much-missed Richard Tyler back into the fold. I've missed Richard and Lily (she, obviously, for much longer) and I'm glad to see that the series' producers have decided not to drop last season's dangling plotline, in which Richard took off on his own after depowering his duplicitous daughter Isabelle. So what does Papa Richard do as soon as he turns up in Seattle? Why, track down the errant Isabelle, kidnap her, and force her to drink a solution that begins to turn her back into an infant. Sure, Isabelle, er, grew up way too fast (literally overnight) but I couldn't believe that Richard would do something so devious as to rob his only child of her free will and trick her into starting over as a child. Tabula rasa. Isn't it something we all wish we could have? Some might say that Isabelle

No Exit on "The 4400"

Existentialist Jean-Paul Sartre once wrote, "Hell is other people." Never has that statement been more apt or more true than in the latest episode of The 4400 ("No Exit"), which shares its title with that of Sartre's most well-known work of literature, No Exit . The 4400 continues to be one of the trippiest television series on the air, consistently delivering stories that veer sharply from action one week to psychological thriller the next. This week's episode presented an interesting dilemma for the series' diverse characters as one by one, both 4400s and NTAC agents found themselves inside NTAC headquarters during a security breach. This being The 4400 , a series that thrives on paranoia and finger-pointing, each group believes the other to be behind the attack. The promicin-positive fear that this is the first step towards rounding up the 4400 while the NTAC agents believe it to be the opening salvo in a full-blown assault on their base of opera

Fighting the Numbers (and the Odds): USA's "The 4400" Panel

I've said it before and I'll say it again. I'm never quite sure why The 4400 , a smart, slick series with sci fi appeal, somehow always gets overlooked , sitting there in the shadow of its sister network's series Battlestar Galactica . So I was happy to see that the cast and crew of The 4400 --including Jeffrey Combs, Jenni Baird, Conchita Campbell, Megalyn Echikunwoke, supervising produce Craig Sweeney, and executive producer Ira Steven Behr--returned to Comic-Con again this year to drum up some support for the series. Let's get the big news out of the way. Two former cast members are due to return to The 4400 this season; of all the casting changes over the past few seasons, I've noticed the loss of these two most acutely. (Stop reading right now if you're spoiler-adverse!) Returnee #1: it's going to happen in Episode Nine and it's none other than Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, a.k.a. the telekinetic Richard Tyler, who has a reunion of sorts with his

Battle for Promicin (and Viewership): Why Does No One Talk About "The 4400"?

I'm going to get something off my chest here, something that's bothered me for a long time now. I'm hoping that you, gentle readers, might be able to answer this question that's plagued me for a while now. Why does no one seem to talk about The 4400 ? There. I've said it. Sure, the series is watched by a rather devoted coterie of followers but it never gets the mainstream press in a way that, say, Battlestar Galactica or Heroes does. What is it about this little series that the press--and the viewing public--don't seem to embrace? For those of you not in the know, USA recently launched the fourth season of this superlative sci fi drama, which poses questions of morality each week as it tracks the fates of 4400 abductees who return to their lives blessed (or cursed) with extraordinary abilities, the NTAC agents assigned to protect and investigate these people, and the baseline humans who have begun injecting themselves with a substance called promicin, which

Fear Itself and Spirit Guides on "The 4400"

If you haven't seen last night's episode of The 4400 ("Fear Itself"), do yourself a favor and stop reading now. As for the rest of us, let me offer a big sigh of relief and say, Cassie ( Tristin Leffler ) was Kyle's ability after all! It looks like several readers of this blog were correct when they surmised that the enigmatic Cassie--who seemed to be feeding the oft-misused Kyle Baldwin some rather interesting facts and theories over the last two weeks--was in fact Kyle's new found 4400 ability, thanks to his dose of promicin . Whether Kyle will retain this ability (more on that in a second) or whether Jordan will soon rip it from him remains to be discovered. Regardless, I think it's a brilliant twist in a series that has already proven itself to be unpredictable and dangerous. I was hoping it wouldn't be another mind-trick from the future (god knows we've seen that enough), but rather a device to further Kyle's character and bring about

Messiah Envy: "The 4400" Returns

I'm always slightly baffled by the fact that The 4400 , which returned to the airwaves last night with its fourth season premiere, is on USA. It seems more fitting that the series would air on sister network Sci Fi (where it has its second window, from time to time) than on the same network that brings us, say, Monk and Psych . In any event, last night's season premiere of The 4400 ("The Wrath of Graham") pushed the story along and introduced us to some new characters while dealing with the fallout from last season, where prophet/lunatic Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell), newly returned from the dead, decided to begin handing out promicin to anyone who wanted it. Meaning that anyone on the street could suddenly manifest a 4400 ability. Or, you know, drop dead, as the stuff has a 50/50 survival rate. One of the ongoing themes of the series has been the battle between the haves and the have-nots, though those definitions have changed as the series went on. Some return

Promicin Time: "The 4400" Returns This June

Is it just me or does it seem like forever since we checked in with the returnees over on The 4400 ? (Was it only just last summer? Seems like a lifetime ago.) Fortunately, USA Network today announced a return date for the time travel series, set to enter its fourth season. Mark your calendars for June 17th at 9 pm, when Season Four of The 4400 kicks off on Sunday nights (making the separation from Battlestar Galactica a wee bit easier). As previously announced, Billy Campbell will return to the series on a full-time basis as the enigmatic Jordan Collier, joining fellow stars Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Patrick Flueger, Conchita Campbell, Megalyn Echikunwoke, and Chad Faust. When last we saw the returnees , Jordan had stolen the stockpile of promicin and planned to distribute it to anyone who wanted to become a 4400. One such person was Tom Baldwin's son son Kyle (Faust) and Diana's sister (Natasha Gregson Wagner), both of whom seem poised to inject themselves with

Promicin Exchange: Sinners and Saints on "The 4400"

Plus ca change, plus ce la meme chose. The more things change, as they say... I can't believe that this season of USA's abductee drama The 4400 has come and gone already. I spent the entire summer catching up on what has now become one of my favorite shows (though I sorely miss Lily and Kyle, but more on that in a bit) and can't believe I've reached the end of the road... for now anyway . I already miss Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch) and Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie) and I don't know about you but that ending made me a little... weepy. (In the most manly way, of course.) Putting aside that three-hanky ending, I would be remiss if I didn't bring up some of the momentous, um, moments in this week's finale ("Fifty-Fifty"). I love the little 4400 cabal created by Jordan (Billy Campbell). Or at least its inner circle comprised of Jordan, Tess ( Firefly 's Summer Glau, here magnificently lucid), and Kevin Burkhoff (Jeffrey Combs). This little t

USA Picks Up Fourth Season of "The 4400"

The announcement is official. The returnees will be, well, returning. As alluded to earlier today by yours truly, USA Network has ordered a fourth season of The 4400 consisting of thirteen one-hour episodes. The series is scheduled to return to USA Network in summer 2007 with production slated to begin in Vancouver early next year. The current season (the series' third) wraps up on Sunday at 9 pm. "This show continues to thrive creatively from year to year," said USA's executive vice president of original programming Jeff Wachtel, who made the announcement. "We're looking forward to another season filled with intriguing characters, unique twists and incredibly suspenseful storylines." And there you have it. I'll be tuning in to see The 4400 's season finale on Sunday. That is, unless I'm somehow able to obtain a copy of the finale a little earlier...

"4400" Reasons Why I Love This Show

Well, okay, maybe not 4400 reasons... Every once in a while, a few series turn up that I wish I watched, but because of scheduling or time constraints (my televisionary obsessions are legion) or lack of space on my TiVo, I just don't get around to watching. USA's fantastic drama The 4400 was one of those series. You'll notice the past tense there. Fortunately, I have a friend (she knows who she is) who usually beats me senseless until I finally give in and begin to watch the neglected series in question. Nine times out of ten do I end up falling in love with the program. She was right about Battlestar Galactica (now easily one of my favorite series ever) and she was right about The 4400 as well. I bow before her televisionary tastes. I recently sped through the first two seasons of The 4400 over the past few weeks, hoping to catch up to the general populace's place in the third season. While I haven't quite gotten there quite yet, I did manage to reach the tw