27 Aug 2013

Why You Should Watch: The 4400

Choosing a lesser known show for my second recommendation. The way I started watching it was actually pretty random. I found the first season at a second hand store for next to nothing and recalled vaguely at the back of my head that someone had mentioned in passing that this was a great show. I bought it, took it home and quickly fell in love with it. Sadly it became one of the shows that fell victim to the timing of the 2008 Writers' strike, and was cancelled before its time. A real shame, considering the show kept getting better as the seasons progressed.

The show's backstory is simple; over the past sixty years, thousands of people have been abducted, vanished without a trace, only to have 4400 of them reappear one day, all at the same spot, all not a day older than when they were taken, and none of them having any recollection of where they have been or what happened to them. Homeland security is given the daunting task of investigating this sudden re-appearance, and subsequently keep an eye on each of the returnees as they are slowly reintegrated into society.

So, why should people give this show a chance?

That is obviously the question I will have to answer with every one of these entries, so let's take a look at the reasons you should consider, which by the way is currently available on Netflix, so there really isn't any excuse not to give it a click if you have an account...

1. Interesting characters

Tom Baldwin is a former homeland security agent whose whole life crumbled when his son, Kyle mysteriously fell into a coma - coincidentally the very same night that his cousin Shawn vanished without a trace. Lost for answers, and seeing his nephew among the returnees, he asks for his job back and is ultimately partnered with former CDC-agent Diana Skouris to investigate and follow up on the returnees.

Among the returnees, we get to follow the story of Shawn Farrell, who was abducted three years earlier while sitting on a beach drinking beer with his cousin. Shawn quickly learns that getting his life back to normal isn't as easy as he'd like it to be. Not only have his friends already left for college, but with no way to avoid everyone knowing his status as a returnee, he becomes more or less a social outcast of his school. He finds a friend in his brother's girlfriend, which does little to help with his brother's insecurities and jealousy towards him. When it's revealed that Shawn has returned with the ability to manipulate someones life force, he really has no idea how to deal.

We also follow the story of Maia Rutledge, who vanished from a family picnic 60 years ago. At only eight years old, she's the youngest person to have been abducted, as well as the earliest. She copes remarkably well with the knowledge that everyone she ever loved or held dear is long dead, including her parents. When the returnees are released back into the world, Maia has nowhere to go at first, then is taken in by a childless couple looking to adopt. Upon leaving, she predicts she will be back in quarantine before the week is up. It becomes evident that Maia has been returned with the ability to predict the future, and her random and sometimes unsettling predictions rattles the couple to such a degree they choose to take her back.

Then there's the story of Richard Tyler, who was last seen in an army tent in Korea, after he was beaten up by his fellow officers for dating a white woman. In the barracks of homeland security he meets and ultimately befriends, Lily Moore, the granddaughter of his former girlfriend, who not only has the same name, but also carries a great resemblance to her grandmother. The two become each other shoulder to lean on, as Richard copes with a world he no longer recognises, and Lily copes with learning that her daughter, Heidi, who was merely a baby when Lily was taken, has no idea who she is.

2. Supernatural abilities

One of the really important aspects of the story of this show, is the characters' new abilities and the effect they have on their surroundings. Some could say this sounds a lot like the show, Heroes, and they would be correct (however, I would like to point out that this show came out two years prior). In the beginning it seems very random, as not all characters seem to be showing signs of developing an ability, also the type of abilities they develop doesn't always come across as beneficial, more like the opposite. Some abilities come off as just plain destructive.

However, as the show progresses, it becomes clear that there is most likely some kind of master plan behind it all, it just takes time to see the cause and effect of each individual event and link them together to see the big picture.

3. Ripple Effect

Touching a bit on what I said above about the characters' supernatural abilities and how it all seem to be linked to one great master plan, the way the story is mostly told is through the ripple effect. Small, seemingly unrelated and insignificant moments eventually causing a greater impact. This is one of my favourite plot devices, because I like seeing how change comes about, and how so much of it can be traced back to these little moments.

To start with, the show mostly focuses on the 'returnee of the week'. We are given a backstory, the reveal of a new ability and see that character's choices regarding their ability. We see the initial outcome of the situation, good or bad, and it seems pretty final. But then the ripples start, the individual stories start to connect and form a larger pattern. What I love especially about this is the unpredictability of it all. Because sometimes good acts will have terrible consequences, other times terrible acts will have good consequences. You just never know where it'll lead.

4. Friend or Foe

Again, touching upon what I wrote above. But like there's a sense of unpredictability on whether an event ultimately will had a poistive or negative effect on society, there's a similar uncertainty in terms of some of the characters.

One example of this is Jordan Collier, who is the first returnee to come forward on national television. He uses his connections and his fortune to build a center and housing complex for his fellow returnees, and more or less takes on the role as spokesperson and front man for 'the 4400', opposing the government's interference. His motifs for doing this are unclear at best, as his story is mostly told from other people's point of view rather than his own. At some points it seems as though he genuinely have the best interest for the people around him, other times it seems like there's a hidden agenda, even the people around him go back and forth on how much they honestly trust this man.

Tracking down a decent enough trailer for this show was pretty time consuming, and I apologize for the low video and audio quality, but at least it's a good promo, and hopefully it will be that final push to get you to give this show a chance...

No comments:

Post a Comment