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tv: battlestar galactica, the 4400
by Yee-Fan Sun
| 1 2
continued from page 1
the 4400
Starring: Starring: Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Laura Allen, Patrick Flueger, Chad Faust, Conchita Campbell
Buy: season 1 | season 2

A giant ball of light comes hurtling towards a lakeshore somewhere outside Seattle one day in 2004, leaving in its wake 4400 people who share one thing in common: each went missing at one point in the past and now, they’re inexplicably back. None of the returnees has any idea what happened to them during their disappearances, or even that time has passed. Some have been gone for decades, their loved ones long dead and gone while they haven’t aged a day. “Oldest” returnee Maia Rutledge vanished back in the 40s while on a picnic in California with her parents; now returned, the little girl is an orphan. Richard Tyler, who disappeared while serving as the lone black soldier in his unit back in the Korean War, is shocked to find himself in a world in which the Secretary of State is actually black. Others have been gone just a few years, but find it just as difficult to get back to normal life. Lily Moore went missing back in the early 90s; when she tries to go home, she finds her husband has remarried, and her now-teenage daughter has never even heard of her. The last thing handsome young Shawn Farrell remembers is sitting by the lake knocking back some beers with his cousin Kyle Baldwin back in 2001; he comes back and learns that while he’s been who knows where, Kyle has spent the last three years lying in a coma in a hospital bed. Meanwhile, the mysterious appearance of the 4400 proves as difficult for the rest of the world to cope with as for the returnees themselves. Where have the 4400 been? Why have they come back? Are they dangerous? Who is responsible? The Department of Homeland Security assigns agents Diana Skouris and Tom Baldwin to lead the investigation. But things grow more complicated as Tom – uncle to returnee Shawn and father of comatose Kyle -- finds his personal life intertwined with his work. Diana soon has a personal stake in the investigations as well, as she starts to bond with eight-year-old Maia. And the more Tom and Diana unearth in the course of their inquiries, the more questions arise … even as the public grows ever more wary of the 4400, who have begun to demonstrate strange new powers.

Alien abductions are a staple of the sci-fi genre but in its intriguing first two seasons, The 4400 ends up offering a rather unusual twist on the premise. Exactly what that twist is, well, I won’t spoil that for you. Suffice it to say that this might be the perfect sci-fi for folks who think they don’t like sci-fi because of its tendency to veer into cheesy fantasy: you won’t get dopey aliens, or tired space-scapes. The story here is centered firmly on mankind, and its future on good ol’ planet Earth. And this is a good thing: It’s mundane, but never boring, as we slowly get to know the characters and watch their relationships develop. Sadly, the main cast is a little uneven – Conchita Campbell as Maia and Chad Faust as Kyle are very good, Jacqueline McKenzie as Diana solid as well, but Joel Gretsch as Tom and Patrick Flueger as Shawn have a pesky tendency to overact the pain. But in the end, no matter: the writers do such a good job pacing the long arc -- building suspense, maintaining the tension, offering just enough answers here and there to keep you interested in where things are heading -- that you’ll find yourself racing through the scant five episodes of the first season of The 4400, and rushing to your video store to get your hands on season two as well.


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