The 4400
The Second Season

Starring: Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mahershalalhasbaz Ali, Laura Allen and Patrick Flueger
Paramount Home Entertainment
RRP: 39.99
Certificate: 15
Available 05 June 2006

Over the last century thousands of people have gone missing and were presumed dead. When a meteor impacts over Earth, suddenly and inexplicably all 4400 people are returned at once as they were on the day they vanished; however a chain-reaction of events is set in a motion that will alter the destiny of mankind forever...

The second season of The 4400 is set six months after the events that unfolded in the first season. After a period of intense medical observation, Tom has returned to NTAC in a limited capacity, assigned only to desk duty. He eventually secures his son's release from a similar government study and is excited by the prospect of returning to a somewhat normal life. However, professionally, he's also anxious to re-team with Diana and get back out in the field.

Diana, having been through a series of inept partners, finally finds a way to cut through the red tape and get Tom back, all while in the midst of formally adopting Maia. Meanwhile, Richard, Lily and the baby - who is now six months old and showing that she is far from an ordinary child - are still living in meagre conditions in a mountain cabin far away from Jordan Collier.

Collier has now closed Arcadia Estates, his mansion and compound for The 4400 refugees, and is on the verge of opening "The 4400 Centres," a place for non-members of the 4400 to discover "the 4400 within themselves". And Collier and Shawn have developed a strong father-son bond after Shawn healed Collier from the detrimental effects he suffered after touching Lily's stomach while she was pregnant. Collier becomes Shawn's guardian and enlists him to heal important benefactors of The 4400 Centres. With the world understandably curious about The 4400, rumours begin to spread about their mysterious abilities and public opinion soon becomes divided between those who embrace The 4400 and those who fear them. As the members of The 4400 struggle to resume and rebuild their "life interrupted", each will come to play a pivotal role in events still to come... events that will shape the destiny of the human race.

The second season builds well on the events that unfolded in the first season and to be honest this is not really the sort of show you can dip in and out of that easily. The ongoing story arc makes missing an episode virtually impossible - which is not a problem, obviously, with this collection but when shown on TV is a risky gamble if ratings are what keeps your show alive. Thankfully the gamble seems to have paid of as a third season is ready to start broadcasting in the US as I review this set (at the end of May 2006).

Sure you can dip in and out on one level, as the producers have opted to go down the X-Files's "monster of the week" style of show for the majority of the episode's A-plot story lines. But to be perfectly honest his never feels like the main driving force behind the show, because there is an ongoing arc surrounding Tom and Diana's family as well as the goings on at NTAC.

Episodes that revolve around 440 members include Wake-Up Call (Which sees a returned schizophrenic attempting to build a large structure that will act as a receiver of some sort); Voices Carry (in which one of the 4400 suddenly starts to hear people's thoughts); Weight of the World (a man suddenly discovers that his saliva can make over weight people lose that excess fat); Suffer the Children (a teacher who can channel children's artistic talents in them is witch hunted); Life Interrupted (Tom's reality is totally changed but the only other person who seems to remember the original reality is a member of the 4400); Carrier (a woman believes that she was sent back to spread a plague across the Earth, when she realises that she is killing innocent people without knowing why); Rebirth (in which a Rwandan refuge - played by CSI: New York's Hill Harper - learns he can heal any abnormality in unborn babies);

Guest stars that you'll recognise from other sci-fi shows include Summer Glau (Firefly/Serenity); Jeffrey Combs (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine); and Robert Picardo (Star Trek: Voyager). Glau plays a schizophrenic (typecast already bless her); Combs plays a recurring character who, when we are first introduced to him doesn't speak (unlike his Trek roles of Weyoun and Brunt where they couldn't shut him up); and Picardo plays a down on his luck salesman whose ship finally comes in - so he thinks - when he discovers he has a fantastic ability. His saliva can make people shed lbs in weight overnight.

Now here comes the whinge... This collection contains 12 episodes spread over four discs for £40. There are no extras (not even a behind the scenes featurette) so why this couldn't have been released over three discs with a slightly lower price tag is anyone's guess. But it is the lack of extras which is really disappointing.

If some effort had gone into this release it would have gained another valuable mark (or maybe even two - this series is that good) but £40 seems a little expensive for just 12 episodes.

Darren Rea

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