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Friday, July 22, 2005
TV Round-Up
The 4400: Life Interrupted
Tom wakes us in an alternate reality where the events of the past two years never happened. The 4400 were never taken and his life, for the most part, is a whole lot better. Kyle is happy and going to med school, Shawn has a band and he's married to a woman he's never met before named Alana. But yet Tom can't shake the feeling that something is wrong--the show even gives all the characters a plausible explanation for why Tom is a bit loopy in that he was held prisoner and tortured in his last assignment for information.

Over the course of an hour, we check in at various points in Tom's new life. He lives eight years in this new life, slowly falling in love with and re-newing his vows with Alana. Turns out Alana didn't remember Tom either before meeting him for the first time in the course of this episode. Could she by the lynchpin to this whole plot? If you said yes, you win the fabulous prize. (Yes, you get your own copy of the highly collectible #0 Big Orange Michael podcast!)

Basically, Life Interrupted turns out to be little more than a retread of TNG's great The Inner Light. Same basic premise as The Inner Light (one of the best TNG eps IMHO) and the good part is--this one is as equally compelling and watchable. There is a difference in where the memories lead to--in Inner Light, it's for a civilization to live on by sharing their thoughts and memories with Picard and here it's to allow Tom a bit of a vacation before things get really difficult. Alana's power is to create a fantasy world for Tom and that both of them remember the eight years together. Apparently the future people are worried that being the savior of humanity is gonna be difficult for Tom to do alone, so they allow him to develop a relationship with Alana in this fantasy universe that they both remember and can build on in the real world. Kind of nice thing--you can bascially skip all of the awkwardness of those first few dates and jump right into the relationship, knowing that you're compatable.

But it does bring up some interesting questions--what is Tom's role? Why was he chosen? Was it because Kyle has been corrupted so? And are there two factions (at least) in the future trying to create or alter the timeline for some purpose? And why was Alana chosen as the companion for Tom? What about her made her special as opposed to them choosing Diana or getting him back with his ex-wife?

The Dead Zone: Heroes and Demons
I found myself wanting to like this episode of The Dead Zone a lot more than I actually did. First of all, it's by Michael Taylor who wrote one of the best hours of TV ever produced in DS9's The Visitor. And his work on this show last year wasn't too shabby either. Then, it's got an interesting premise--an autistic boy named Thad seeks Johnny for help. Seeing Johnny try to interpret the visions from the autistic boy's point of view was intersting and I liked how the producers showed the visions of the dropped M&Ms and how the boy counted them.

What didn't work was the rather ho-hum and cliched plotline they came up with for this story. Seems that Thad's mother was killed in a car wreck while he was in the car with her and his father is on death row for allegedly killing a fellow officer in an undercover sting gone wrong. As the hour progresses, we quickly realize that the father was framed but the question is--by who? It only takes about two seconds after meeting his former partner to guess who is the one who really committed the crime and the rest kind of falls into placce from there. Not exactly the most exciting or compelling plotline and the real issue is that outside of the whole austic boy knows the truth but how can we find it out, it's not really all that groundbreaking, new, different or even as entertaining as I'd hoped it would be. Instead, it's a cliche and a lot of them...including the fact that the gang the father was trying to take down tries to eliminate Thad because he knows too much. (The fact that he's barely spoken in a couple of years doesn't seem to deter them).

The story is also told within a framing device of Thad's mom in a costume right out of Dungeons and Dragons, relating Thad's quest for the truth as a heroic quest. (Thad draws out parts of the plot in a comic book form...including an amusing view of Bruce as an elf). It sort of works, but it also proves distratcing at times and interrupts the flow of the plot. I think part of it is that the show was trying to do too much and ended up not covering all the bases well. I liked the attempts to have us see inside Thad's mind and how things unfolded in the story for him, but you couple that with the predictable mystery of the week plotline that as cliche ridden as it was and you end up with an episode that is less than the sum of its parts.

posted by Michael Hickerson at 7/22/2005 09:13:00 AM | |
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