With other US genre shows ?THRESHOLD, INVASION, SURFACE ?crashing and burning after just one season and others ?LOST ?punching far above their own weight, here? one little show which has been quietly beavering away creating a string of solid, enthralling little dramas, moving effortlessly into its third season (just airing in the US) and building up quite a reputation as one of the classiest shows out there at the moment. It? once again so frustrating to see a show this good passing almost unnoticed in the UK ?this is the sort of series which deserves a Saturday night BBC1 slot or at the very least a mid-week scheduling on BBC2.

If you saw the first brief season of THE 4400 you could be forgiven for thinking that the show? creators had gone back to the well which gave us THE X FILES all those years ago. Two government officials investigate the phenomenon of 4400 suddenly-returned ?bductees? people who have disappeared over the past sixty odd years. These returnees haven? aged a day and some of them seem to have developed remarkable powers. But what is the secret of the 4400? Where have they been? What do they want? The first season, refreshingly, provided at least some of the answers. The 4400 hadn? been abducted by aliens but by people from the future who have sent them back ?powers and all ?with a mission to save Mankind from the destruction and devastation which awaits.

Season two ?thirteen episodes ?picks up where the first series left off and I can honestly say these episodes don? drop the ball for a moment. Largely abandoning the ?eturnee of the week?format which seemed the obvious way to go, THE 4400 adopts a more agreeable continuing drama format. NTAC agents Diana Skouris and Tom Baldwin are charged with investigating the developing powers of the 4400 but they have their own more personal attachments; Diana has adopted child returnee Maia who has uncanny premonitions of the future and Tom is struggling to come to terms with the increasingly-erratic behaviour of his son Kyle. Later in the series, in ?ife Interrupted? one of those great, format-breaking episodes American shows are prone to doing every now and again, Tom Baldwin finds himself in a world where no-one has ever heard of the 4400 and he appears to be married to a sultry Latino returnee. ?ife Interrupted?is a superb piece of work and Tom spends eight years in a world which is not only not his own but also does not even exist.

THE 4400 is about so much more than just routine investigations into the returnees; it? a complex, emotional character piece, thankfully low on glossy visual effects, concentrating more on the engrossing dramas of a fine mix of characters. Tom? son Kyle has out-of-body experiences which place him in a desperate situation as the season progresses, Kyle? cousin and returnee Shaun, now a gifted healer, falls in with the philanthropic Jordan Collier, who sets up ?he 4400 Centre? a safe haven for returnees and non-returnees alike. Meanwhile abductees Richard and Lily are on the run with their newborn child Isabelle who has strange abilities of her own. And, of course, like any good thriller, there? a dark and mysterious conspiracy thriller right at the heart of the series, a conspiracy which may have fatal consequences for each and every one of the 4400?n

Modern genre TV doesn? get a lot better than THE 4400. This is classy, adult television of the highest order, intelligent TV for intelligent people. You?l want to watch these thirteen episodes one after the other and you?l be screaming for more at the shock cliffhangar ending of the final episode? Superb.

THE DISCS: Thirteen episodes, four discs ?and once again poor UK viewers get stiffed. The US boxset ?which costs about half the price of the UK version ?boasts a trio of brief but interesting featurettes as well as a handful of cast/crew commentaries on key episodes. The UK version gets nada. Your choice.]]>

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