The 4400 Season Two left us on quite the cliffhanger. The returnees had been taken off the promicen inhibitor, thus enabling their abilities to return to normal strength. Ryland (played by Peter Coyote) was exposed as the one behind the cover up and went straight to trial. Isabelle (played by Megalyn Echikunwoke); infant daughter of Richard & Lily Tyler(played by Mahershalalhashbaz Ali and Laura Allen respectively), had grown up quite quickly as she was found in Shawn Farrell’s (played by Patrick Flueger) office. Meanwhile, the two main protagonists’ Tom Baldwin (played by Joel Gretsch) & Diana Skouris (played by Jacqueline McKenzie)are dealing with events of their own in addition to their casework at NTAC (National Threat Assessment Command).
Tom is dealing with the absence of his son Kyle (played by Chad Faust) and adjusting to life with his new mate, 4400 returnee Alana (played by the gorgeous Karina Lombard). Diana continues her life as mother to another 4400 returnee Maia(played by Conchita Campbell), a pre-cog whose premonitions are only getting stronger. Shawn is still getting adjusted to being the new leader of the 4400 Center after Jordan Collier (played by Bill Campbell)had perished. We are still learning about the rest of the various 4400 people that have returned, each with their own special ability. That special ability to play a part in changing the world and avoiding catastrophic circumstances.
4400 starts out with another bang and doesn’t let go until the final bell of the 3rd season. The show still has a list of strong characters whose lives keep intertwining with each other. They are properly fleshed out and you never feel that you are missing the whole picture unless it is the show’s intention. The stories are good for the most part, however not quite as strong as previous seasons. The first couple of seasons had a tendency to focus on a particular new 4400 member and how what he or she does would help the “ripple effect” to change the world. The 3rd season had a tendency to focus on one or two stories and variations played on top of it. A great deal of focus is placed on the evolving relationship between Isabelle and Shawn. It is important to the series; however it feels like too much time is spent on this sequence of events. I do have to admit that the character of Isabelle is extremely well played (and insanely creepy) here as she brings herself to one of the main roles of the show.
This video gets the 1.78:1 treatment in anamorphic widescreen. The colors are wonderful and everything looks near Hollywood movie budget as the special effects have greatly improved from the past season. It is a shame to see how much more screen you get on dvd as opposed to broadcast on the USA network. I can only hope that USA gets their act together soon enough and works towards a widely available HD channel. They have too much good programming to keep from doing it much longer.
Audio is provided in English 5.1 Dolby Digital, 2.0 Surround and a 2.0 Mix for Spanish. The 5.1 Surround track is fantastic, it is a rare treat for television shows to sound like this. Surrounds are very well used whether it be a door opening in the far corner, voices coming from all angles or the good old standby of rain coming down. Dialog is very clear and honestly I can’t imagine this set sounding any better than it already does. Subtitles are also provided in English, Spanish, & Portuguese.
Commentaries with Cast & Crew: Commentary is provided on the 1st, 4th, 8th, 11th, & 12th episodes. I appreciate the fact that they do it on key episodes where it matters rather than on throw away episodes where it wouldn’t. The commentaries are decent when they stay on topic and stop from being lovefests. The information given is vital and help to cover any remaining gaps that you might have about the show.
Disc One Extras
Previews: 4400, The Soundtrack; various CBS shows including CSI (how many are there now?), NCIS, Medium & Numbers; and Star Trek (I stopped counting the incantations of this show a long time ago).
Disc Four Extras
The Architecture of Storytelling 21:07: A nice behind the scenes look at Season 3 of 4400 and where do we go from here.
Powers Grid 4:39: A quick look at the various powers and abilities of the 4400 and how they try to keep them separate and different and not too super heroish.
TVFX 12:50: A look at the special effects behind Season 3 and how they were able to create such fantastic effects on a television budget.
Character Tree: A little silly, but a very cute tree that shows scenes of the various characters and then commentary on the bridge and relationship of those characters with each other. Informative if nothing else.
4400 Gag Reel: Seven minutes plus of 4400 Cast Members and bloopers galore, good to see that it isn’t all seriousness on the set.
Being Tom Baldwin: The First Draft: A pdf file you can display on your computer that shows you the first draft of the second episode. Not bad, but a shame they didn’t provide more scripts like these since they don’t take up much space.
Reruns of the 4400’s third season have started playing on USA late nights again which means the eventual return of the fourth season. It might end up being the series swan song (I hope not) but it has been a fun run. The third season provided more strong stories and a widening character arc as it progressed. The only weak areas seemed to be focusing heavily on one or two aspects of the series rather than spreading it around a bit. The dvd is solid as it comes with fantastic video and even more awesome audio which make fans write angrily to the USA network to go HD. The extras are also extensive and about as good as you can expect from a television series. A special praise for my favorite non-main character Gary Navarro (played by Sharif Atkins famous for his ER work); he was fantastic and very entertaining for the episodes he did this season. To summarize, fans of the series should pick this one up as it continues the plot and keeps everybody interested and wanting more. If you are new to the series, start back at the first season which can be found for under $10 used if you look hard enough. Recommended.
The New World
Being Tom Baldwin
Gone – Part 1
Gone – Part 2
The Home Front
The Ballad of Kevin and Tess
The Starzl Mutation
The Gospel According to Collier
Terrible Swift Sword
Special Features List
- Commentaries (5)
- Featurettes (4)
- Gag Reel
- First Draft of Being Tom Baldwin (PDF / DVD-ROM)