Saturday, May 10, 2014

Geek TV: The 4400!

4400
Concept: Four thousand, four hundred people, who'd vanished mysteriously over a period of years, all suddenly reappear near Mount Rainier, Washington, not having aged at all. As time goes on, many of these people (referred to as “The 4400”) start displaying special powers and abilities. Some people fear them, others revere them and want to be like them.

Total Episodes: 44

Original Air Dates: July 11, 2004 – September 16, 2007

Original Network: USA

Characters:

Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch): A former FBI agent, Baldwin is currently an NTAC (National Threat Assessment Command) agent, which is in charge of dealing with the return of the 4400. His partner is Diana Skouris. He has a son, Kyle Baldwin, and his nephew is Shawn Farrell, one of the 4400. Tom is the first who discovers his nephew's ability to heal. At the beginning of the series, his son has been in a coma (which he'd gone into at the same time Shawn disappeared; they were together when Shawn was abducted), which Shawn helps bring him out of. Tom is very protective of his son, which causes him to difficulties as an NTAC agent. This is contrasted by the problems being an NTAC agent cause him, often forcing him to violate his own personal principles. He discovers that the 4400 weren't kidnapped by aliens, but by Earth's own future, to avert a great catastrophe, and Tom is supposed to help them. In the second season, he becomes involved with one of the 4400, Alana Mareva, whose own ability was used to give them the experience of a multi-year relationship and marriage in the space of a few seconds (harder to explain in a short sentence than it is to see in the episode, I know!). In the third season of the show, a terrorist 4400 faction called the Nova Group target Tom, impersonating him to kill a captured Nova member. This same season sees Maia Skouris (Diana's adopted daughter) re-abducted, with Diana sliding slowly towards death. Tom uses an attempted suicide to get the future people's attention, which cause them to remove him from the timestream before his death. He negotiates the return of the other 4400 children who were re-abducted, but in return, he is supposed to destroy a “great evil,” but when the time comes, he can't do it. And this is only the beginning of his story in the series!
Diana Skouris (Jaqueline McKenzie): Tom's NTAC partner, Diana is the adoptive parent of Maia Skouris, one of the 4400, and has a sister, April, who eventually moves in with them. At the start of the series, she's rather cold and removed, but when Maia asks to move in with her, she starts to warm up. She's fiercely protective of Maia, who has the ability to foresee future events. When it's discovered Maia's written up a diary of her visions, she's ordered to turn the diary over. Marco Pacella, a collegue at NTAC, creates a fake diary and gives it to Diana, which she turns in instead of the real one. This starts a romance between Marco and Diana. When Maia disappears along with the other 4400 children, she starts to collapse, although this is stopped when the future people send Maia further back in time to alter history and everyone's memories, although she still remains subconsciously aware of Maia's disappearances.

Richard Tyler (Mahershalalhasbaz Ali): One of the 4400, Richard was born in St. Louis, MO in 1922, and disappeared in 1951. When the 4400 return, Richard meets Lily Moore, another 4400, who bears a striking resemblance to a woman he'd been involved with before his abduction (it turns out she's the granddaughter of that woman). The two become romantically involved, and they take a place to live together when Lily discovers she's pregnant (with Richard's child, as it turns out – the future people were responsible for doing this while they were gone). The couple eventually go on the run for several months, during which time their daughter Isabelle is born. Isabelle demonstrates powers even as an infant, often with horrifying results. They eventually go to the 4400 Center established by Jordan Collier, and Richard becomes the public face of the 4400. It's around this time that it's discovered that the government has used a promicin (the substance that apparently gave the 4400 abilities) inhibitor to inhibit the 4400's abilities, and the removal of this drug leads to all the 4400 getting their abilities, including Richard having telekinesis.

Shawn Ferrell (Patrick Flueger): Shawn disappeared in 2001, when he and his cousin Kyle were drinking at Highland Beach near Seattle. He wasn't intended to be a 4400; when he saw Kyle start to be abducted, he interrupted the process and was taken instead. Upon his return, Kyle discovers he has the ability to heal people and animals, Jordan Collier takes an interest in him. After Jordan is assassinated, Shawn takes over leadership of the 4400 Center, but later secretly funds the Nova Group (until he learns they're willing to kill for their goals).

Maia Skouris (Conchita Campbell): Born in 1938, and disappeared in 1946, she's the first of the 4400 to exhibit a special ability, having visions of the future. She can't completely control this ability.

Kyle Baldwin (Chad Faust): Tom's son and Shawn's cousin, he went into a coma for three years as a result of Shawn's interfering with his abduction. Shawn uses his power to bring Kyle out of his coma, and Kyle begins college. Shortly, Kyle starts having blackouts, during which he has no idea what he's done. Eventually, it's discovered that it was during one of these blackouts that he assassinated Jordan Collier, and he turns himself in. However, after Jordan Collier returns from the dead, Kyle is released, and he begins to speak on behalf of the 4400 Center.

Lily Tyler (Laura Allen): Born in 1966 and abducted in 1993, Lily was married before her abduction, but her husband remarried while she was gone. She has the power of empathy, and possibly the ability of age transmission (transferring days or years from other people's lives from herself or the reverse). As noted above, Lily has become pregnant with Richard's child, and she and Richard go on the run until some time after their daughter, Isabelle, is born. Lily eventually goes to work at the 4400 Center after Jordan Collier's assassination, but is manipulated by Matthew Ross during this time. When Isabelle goes missing, Lily is horrified to discover she's aged 50 years, and that Isabelle has aged about twenty years. Lily's aging is connected to Isabelle's, and the only way to stop is would be to kill Isabelle, but Lily refuses to discuss the matter, and eventually dies.

Dennis Ryland (Peter Coyote): The original supervisor and director of NTAC during the first season, he and Tom had worked together at the FBI, and were close friends. He's the person responsible for the promicin inhibitor to be used, but he's eventually put on trial for these actions. He believes that the 4400 are a danger to the country.

Nina Jarvis (Samantha Ferris): Nina takes over NTAC during the second season, although she was later dismissed and replaced by Meghan Doyle (Jenni Baird), who accepted the position because she felt she'd do some good there. She is very interested in the 4400, and gives Tom information that she shouldn't give him, risking her job.

Jordan Collier (Billy Campbell): Jordan is a multi-millionaire, a real estate mogul in Seattle, who disappeared in 2002. When Barbera Yates, a TV reporter, begins to demonize the 4400, Jordan comes out as one of the 4400, and begins to speak on their behalf. He builds a complex, the 4400 Center, where the 4400 can live and where non-4400s can supposedly “unlock their own ability.” Jordan wishes to be thought of as a hero who changed the world, how he does this is on the iffy side. Some decisions he makes are based on greed, while others are altrustic (he's a complicated man). He is assassinated at a 4400 reunion, but his body disappears almost immediately afterward. He reappears nearly a year later in a state of amnesia, probably saved by the future people. When he regains his memory, he takes control of the 4400 Center again, and steals a supply of promicin so that it can be distributed to the non-4400s.

Isabelle Tyler (Jordan Lasorsa-Simon as a toddler, Madison Pettis as a child, Megalyn Echikunwoke as an adult): The daughter of Lily and Richard, she has incredible powers that she uses to aid her parents while they're on the run. Despite being an infant, she seems to be very intelligent and aware of how she uses her powers – when Jordan learns that Maia's predicted his assassination, he goes to Maia to ask if he's safe, and she shows him a vision of the future that indicates that's the case (obviously, she lied). When she's aged to adulthood, she learns that she's apparently indestructible, and was brought into existence by future people who didn't think the 4400 were a benefit, and that she is to eliminate the 4400. It is from her that Dennis Ryland extracts promicin.

Alana Mareva (Karina Lombard): One of the 4400, she has the ability to telepathically create a subjective alternate reality, although the longer it lasts, the more flaws appear in it. Until then, it's indistinguishable from reality. A participant in this reality must be consciously willing to leave it. She uses this ability on Tom, spending eight subjective years with him during which time they fall in love and marry. When Tom escapes from it, he continues his relationship with Alana. He learned that she was sent to him to provide a “rock” to hold onto during some hard times ahead. She helps a Nova group member escape from NTAC and flees to Canada, but returns to help Jordan Collier regain his memories. At the end of the third season, she's taken in a flash of light, and sent back in time to the late 1800s. Tom learns this when Isabelle sends him to a museum, where he discovers a painting with Alana as the subject.

Geek Pedigree:

René Echevarria, co-creator of the program and co-writer of 42 episodes, was a producer on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, supervising producer for Now and Again, and executive producer for Dark Angel. He also wrote 16 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, 23 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, two episodes of Now and Again, and six episodes of Dark Angel. 'He later wrote nine episodes of Medium, an episode of Terra Nova, and was an executive producer for Medium and Terra Nova. He currently is executive producer of Teen Wolf.

Scott Peters, co-creator and executive producer, as well as co-writer of 42 episodes with Echevarria, previously was producer or co-producer of three episodes of the 2003 The Outer Limits, and wrote episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, Highlander, Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction, Ghost Stories, Animorphs, The Outer Limits (1999-2000), and later was a writer on the 2009-2011 series of V, and executive produced 12 episodes of that show as well.

Craig Sweeny, who wrote 18 episodes and was a supervising producer, co-producer and producer at various times, previously was an assistant to the producers on Dark Angel,and later wrote episodes of Medium and Elementary. He served many of the same producing roles on Medium and was executive producer on Elementary.

Ira Steven Behr wrote 15 episodes and executive produced 42 of them, and had previously written three episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, an episode of Beyond Reality, 53 episodes of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, an episode of Dark Angel, three episodes of the 2002-2003 Twilight Zone. He was a producer for 18 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation, and served in several producing capacities for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, an executive producer for 43 episodes of Twilight Zone, consulting producer for seven episodes of Dark Angel, and later wrote two episodes of Alphas and executive produced 10 episodes of Alphas.

Appropriately enough, prior to The 4400, Joe Gretsch played Colonel Owen Crawford on the TV mini-series Taken. He later guested in two episodes of Journeyman, and played Father Jack Landry in the 2009-2011 version of V. Jacqueline Mckenzie had previously appeared in an installment of Nightmares & Dreamscapes: From the Stories of Stephen King. Chad Faust had previously guested in a 2003 episode of Smallville. He later appeared in two 2008 episodes of Heroes. Richard Kahan had previously guested on episodes of Stargate: Atlantis, Masters of Horror, Supernatural, and Smallville.

Billy Campbell previously played Capt. Okoma in a 1988 episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but I'll always remember him fondly for playing Cliff in The Rocketeer. He also played Quincey P. Morris in the 1992 version of Dracula. Megalyn Echiunwoke had previously guested in single episodes of Sheena, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Veronica Mars, and Supernatural.

Samantha Ferris had previously provided the voice of Sally Po in an episode of Mobile Suit Gundam Wing, guested in two episodes of Stargate SG-1, and had single appearances in Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction and Smallville, and later guested in a 2007 episode of Battlestar Galactica, a 2010 episode of Human Target, played Felicia Castro in the 2010-2011 V, and Ellen Harvelle in nine episodes of Supernatural.

Kavan Smith, who played Jed Garrity, had previously guested in single episodes of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, First Wave, and The Crow: Stairway to Heaven, played Sergei Andropov in Escape from Mars, Nicholas Willis in Mission to Mars, appeared in five episodes of The Outer Limits from 1995-2001, guested in single episodes of Smallville, The Twilight Zone (2003) and Battlestar Galactica, played Flynn in the 2006 TV Movie The Time Tunnel, and guested in episodes of Blade: The Series and Stargate SG-1. Later, he guested in an episode of Supernatural, played Major Evan Lorne in Stargate: Atlantis (the role he originated in SG-1), guested on an episode of Human Target, played Nathan Kessler in Red: Werewolf Hunter, and played Deputy Andy 2.0 in Eureka.

While appearing on The 4400, Laura Allen fit in a guest appearance on House M.D., and later played Hannah Britten in Awake. Kaj-Erik Eriksen, who played Danny Farrell, previously played Ricky Swanson in The Girl From Mars, guested in an episode of Are You Afraid of the Dark?, two episodes of Goosebumps, an episode of Poltergeist: The Legacy, an Outer Limits (2000), Stephen King's Dead Zone, Star Trek: Enterprise, and later played Richard Kerm in the TV movie Time After Time.

Jeffrey Combs previously played Dr. Jones in The Man With Two Brains, Herbert West in Re-Animator and the sequel Bride of Re-Animator, guested on episodes of Beauty and the Beast, Freddy's Nightmares, Ultraman: The Ultimate Hero, and The Flash, played the title character in Doctor Mordrid, voiced The Scarecrow in a 1997 episode of The New Batman Adventures, played Weyoun in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, guested on a Star Trek: Voyager episode, a 2003 episode of The Twilight Zone, did voices for two episodes of the 2003 Spider-Man, played Commander Shran on Star Trek: Enterprise, voiced The Question and other characters on Justice League, and later voiced Kite Man in an episode of Batman: The Brave and the Bold, the Leader in The Avengers: Earth's Mighiest Heroes, the Chief in episodes of the 2013 Doom Patrol segments of DC Nation, among many other roles.

Karina Lombard had previously played Zerta in Kull the Conqueror and guested in an episode of Early Edition.

Geek Guests:

Summer Glau guested on eight episodes, you may recall her has River Tam in Firefly, a role she played again in Serenity. She later played Cameron Phillips on Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, voiced Supergirl in Superman/Batman: Apocalypse, played Orwell in The Cape, Skylar Adams on Alphas, and most recently, Isabel Rochev in Arrow.

Sharif Atkins guested in three episodes, he's better known for playing Clinton Jones on White Collar. Penny Johnson had previously played Kasidy Yates in 15 episodes of Deep Space Nine before playing Rebecca Parrish in three episodes. These days, she's more known for playing Capt. Victoria Gates on Castle. Alice Krige played the Borg Queen in Star Trek: First Contact and Star Trek: Voyager before her two episodes. Her most recent role was as Eir in Thor: The Dark World.

While not a geek role per se, Kevin Tighe played Roy DeSoto on Emergency!, his most famous role, and also played Sheriff Bronson in Escape to Witch Mountain (1995) prior to playing Senator Lenhoff in a pair of episodes. Helen Shaver had played Dr. Rachel Corrigan in Poltergeist: The Legacy before playing Barbara Yates in two episodes. Brian Dennehy had previously played Walter in Cocoon before his single appearance. Sherilyn Fenn guested in an episode, she'll probably be forever remembered for playing Audrey Horne in Twin Peaks. Robert Picardo guested in an episode, you'll probably recall him best as The Doctor on Star Trek: Voyager, or perhaps as Richard Woolsey in the Stargate TV franchise. I like to recall him also as the voice of Amazo and others in Justice League.

Tippi Hedren, who played the aged Lily Moore Tyler in one episode, will always be remembered for her role in The Birds. You may recall Kevin McNulty for playing Commander Gardiner in Earth Star Voyager or his two appearances in The X-Files as Agent Fuller (or an episode as Dr. Christopher Davey in another one), Dr. Arnett in Millenium, or Dr. Warner in Stargate SG-1, or Jimmy O'Hollihan in Fantastic Four, he guested in one episode of The 4400.

DVD Release: The full series is available as a complete box set, and can also be seen on Netflix.

Website: http://www2.usanetwork.com/series/the4400/ is still up as the official website. http://4400.wikia.com/wiki/Main_Page is a 4400 wiki.

Notes: When this series was first on, I caught an episode or two, but didn't get into it (one of those shows you really need to start from the beginning to get into). I've been watching assorted episodes with my wife on Netflix, and it's a pretty interesting show!

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