DVD
The 4400
The Complete First Season

Starring: Joel Gretsch and Jacqueline McKenzie
Paramount
RRP 24.99
PHE8633
Certificate: PG
Available 10 January 2005


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 first season of The 4400 establishes the premise that the abductees of varying age's and backgrounds, have been away from anything between a week and 60 years. Their return prompts a government investigation to piece together where they've been and why they've been returned. It becomes apparent that the individuals have not aged or been harmed in any way and it is gradually revealed that each of them has acquired unique paranormal skills that they did not have before disappearing.

Parallels are bound to be drawn between this series, The X-Files, Taken and The X-Men - with a hint of Close Encounters of the Third Kind. There are plenty of well used clichés here, including a bearded member of the 4400 who may be evil (the beard is always a give-away - but at least he's not a smoker); an unborn child who may be half alien (V); an intelligent and cute young girl (Taken); and a monster of the week - each episode the government agency track down another member of the 4400 who has gone berserk (The X-Files).

However, unlike The X-Files, The 4400 starts off with a bang and never lets up. The characters are believable and the viewer instantly warms to them (especially the relationship between a United States Air Force fighter pilot who fought in the Korean War (Richard Tyler - played by Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) and the granddaughter of his lover, who is now the same age as him (Lily Moore - played by Laura Allen).

There are also some terribly contrived plot twists. In one episode our heroes have to find one of the rogue members of the 4400. They do this by examining his recently dead wife's possessions and discovering an old photo of the couple in front of a log cabin in a forest. From this they use satellite tracking to pin point the exact house and then drive over there to see if the missing man is hiding out there - a little too far fetched.

As I mentioned previously, the first couple of episodes, after the pilot, take an X-Files slant as they introduce a new member of the 4400 who uses their power, either intentionally or accidentally for good or bad purposes, but there is an ongoing number of storylines which ensures everything moves along at a decent pace.

The DVD release of the first season of The 4400 contains just four 45 minute episodes and the 90 minute pilot. But, while this is a very short first season, a second has been commissioned and will be aired in the US starting in the summer of 2005.

Sadly this collection has no extras at all - which is crime. The second disc only includes three episodes, so there is ample room for a few behind the scenes featurettes, some audio commentaries or interviews. If this was available for £19.99, instead of £24.99, then this lack of extras could be forgiven.

This is still a very entertaining collection which will leave you itching for more.

Darren Rea

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£15.99 (Amazon.co.uk)
   
$20.24 (Amazon.com)
   
£19.99 (MVC.co.uk)
   
£17.99 (Powerplaydirect.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.