Candice’s Top 5 TV Shows: #2 – THE 4400

The 4400

Thinking back, maybe my top 5 could have been tweaked. I’d probably ditch Supernatural for Sons of Anarchy and swap something out for Sliders (the first two seasons only) or Seven Days (what can I say, I’m a child of the 90s). Even so, I’m sure that my final two choices are worthy of their places on this list. Number two on my top 5 is ‘THE 4400‘.

What is the show about?

When a mysterious comet-like object returns 4400 (forty-four hundred) missing persons to earth, specifically Seattle, Washington, the National Threat Assessment Command (or NTAC) find themselves way out of their depth. All 4400 were kidnapped from different parts of the globe over a span of fifty years – and none have aged a day since. Having no good reason or resources to hold that many people, NTAC return them to their families, some of whom have never met their returnee. But when the returnees start to develop startling preternatural abilities, it’s up to NTAC agents Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch), whose own nephew is a returnee, to figure out what the hell is going on.

Most weeks feature a ‘Monster of the Week’ type scenario, wherein a 4400 returnee’s ability is used, either accidentally or on purpose, for better or for worse. It’s up to Tom and Diana to figure out what is going on and how best to remedy the situation, taking into account the well-being of all involved and the increasingly tense political situation.

While Diana’s initial mistrust of the returnees fades somewhat after her adoption of a child 4400, Tom’s grows when he realises his nephew may be the reason his son fell into a three-year-long coma. Will Richard and Lily, returnees from different points in time and different views on the world, be able to put aside their differences and build a life for themselves and Lily’s baby? And what is charismatic returnee Jordan Collier really hoping to achieve by trying to keep all the 4400s together?

Over the course of four seasons, NTAC has to find out how the returnees gained their abilities, why, and who is behind it all. It soon comes to light that a huge catastrophe awaits earth in the future. But are The 4400 our saviours or our enemies?

Why I love it:

I’m a stickler for strong plotlines in my television and The 4400 delivered in spades. Over four great seasons, I came to genuinely care about the fate of the characters. While Tom and Diana were not always the most engaging leads, the peripheral characters more than made up for it.

The 4400 is unique in that we never really know why the events are happening. We know there will be a catastrophe of some kind in the future, and that while the people behind The 4400 returnees want to avert it, at least one other faction (“The Marked”) does not. What the catastrophe actually entails is, as far as I recall, never completely figured out.

That’s what makes The 4400 so interesting: even when the series ended prematurely (a victim of low ratings and the writer’s strike), it was almost impossible to feel cheated. Did I have the answers to my long list of questions? No. But I still felt fulfilled. I had been entertained, the characters I’d come to care for all ended up in strong positions, and the series finished on a high. What more can you ask for? Well, more seasons would have been nice… 😉

Why people should watch it:

The 4400 is a well rounded mystery drama. As well as the conspiracies and detective work in the myriad of mysteries NTAC find themselves solving, there’s also science fiction surrounding the return of The 4400 and their emerging abilities, and conflict in the Farrell/Baldwin and Skouris families that threaten to affect much more than just their familial relationships. The dynamics between characters constantly shift, everyone working in shades of grey, all sides having valid reason for the characters (and viewers) to side with them. And through it all, we get to see characters like Shawn Farrell and Kyle Baldwin grow from unsure young men into powerful leaders, even while the world is starting to crumble around them. Though lacking on humour, The 4400 manages to touch on every other emotion, and leaves you wondering: what might the future hold for us and our descendants?

And as I learned earlier this year after a week spent with my boxset of all 4 seasons, The 4400 is an eminently rewatchable series.