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Monday, June 06, 2005
TV Round-Up
The 4400: Wakeup Call
For five weeks last summer, The 4400 was built around the central question of where did these 4400 people go to and why were they taken? In the finale, we got the answer--they were taken to the future in order to stop the world from destroying itself. How they were supposed to do this or even if they were being succesful in creating a new, better world were left up in the air.

I have to admit I was a bit skeptical to see if The 4400 could carry a second season. Not that they are going to run out of stories any time soon--if you focus on one abductee each week, that's 4400 possible episodes right there (never mind that we seem to have a central focus on a core of about five of those abductees). But with the central mystery of the show answered, I wondered just what the show would do to keep luring viewers in week in and week out. Would the new questions raised by the knowledge of where the 4400 went during their disappearnce be worth the ride?

The answer is--so far, yes.

The second season of the show kicks off in an oddly simliar place to where season two of The X-Files kicked least from the standpoint of where Tom and Diana are. The two agents are separated, there's a new boss in town who may or may not be on their side. Diana goes to bat for Tom, getting him re-instated, but only after he gives the new boss an undated letter of resignation so that if he screws up in the field, he can be let go immediately. I figured this would be something that would come into play later in the season, though they do make references to it in the episode. Just as Tom gets reinstated, he and Diana head out to investigate goings on at a mental institution where one of the 4400 lives.

Turns out it's a girl named Tess played by Summer Glau, who is apparently trying to corner the market on playing the crazy girl on sci-fi themed shows (she was River on Firefly, basically playing a simliar character). Tess has visions of a tower of some type that everyone who comes into contact with her suddenly feels compelled to build. Tom and Diana figure it's some type of transmitter to contact the future. Before you know it, they are drawn into Tess's spell and pick up a hammer and go town. The device is activated, sending off a pulse that cures one of the patients there, played by Jeffrey Coombs. Now, I guessed (incorrectly it turns out) early on that Tess's freind was the one actually controlling things somehow. Instead, we find out that he was a doctor that studied opening up unused areas of the brain before he went crazy and had to be put into the institution. Now he's cured and can presumably return to his work, thus helping the agenda of the people from the future. Interesting ripple effect and not one I saw coming. I have a feeling this will continue to be a theme as the season progresses, espeically if Jordan Collier gets wind of things.

Speaking of Jordan, he's continuing his own agenda for the 4400. He offers out Sean's services to help cure people of diseases for donations to his foundation. He also publishes a tell-all book about the agenda of the 4400 and why they came back (someone inside leaked him memos). He's also relentlessly searching for Richard, Lily and Isabelle. Seems Isabelle had quite an effect on him at the end of last year--inflicting skull-shattering headaches upon him that only Sean's power can cure. Now, watching the story, I began to wonder something about Sean. Sean can cure people, but is there some type of long term negative effect on him? I mean, is he drained from an energy standpoint? Does he suffer some of the symptoms? Is he intende to only cure certain people per the agenda of the future people? Or is there some specific disease he's intended to cure?

Meanwhile, Lily and Richard are married now, on the run. They are trying to stay one step ahead of Collier. Honestly, as much as I wanted to care about their plight, this one had the least overall interest for me. Yes, we got some ideas about Isabelle and her powers, but all the scenes with them just failed to hold as much interest for me.

Not nearly as interesting as the Maia and Diana plotline. Diana adopts Maia and we see Maia trying be part of the real world again (though my first thought was--it took her a year?!?). While it was cute to hear Maia have a crush on Frank Sinatra, it didn't make as much sense as it would have last year. Maia's been back a year and she's been with Diana at least four months. In all that time, she missed the gazillion and one cable channels? Also, Maia claims she's not having visions of the future, but she is and is writing them down--including another foreshadowing hint that things will not go well at work from Tom and Diana.

So, for now, I'm hooked back into The 4400. I'm not sure it can sustain the wonder that it had last year with the cental mystery solved. But it's managed to at least take the next step in asking some new questions that could be interesting as the season goes along. Also, there are some lingering things from last year--such as just what is Jordan Collier's real agenda?--that will have me tuning in to find out where it all goes. Make no mistake, this is not a great series like Lost or Battlestar Galactica (which they had a preview for last night during The 4400 and can I say that July 15th can not be here soon enough!), but it's a fun, entertaining summer series that will help the long, hot repeat-filled summer a bit easier to bear.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 6/06/2005 08:29:00 AM | |
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