THE 4400 DVD Review

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DVD Review by David Blackwell

DETAILS: 5 episodes (256 minutes) on 2 discs, no extras

STUDIO: PARAMOUNT/ American Zoetrope

RELEASE DATE: 12-21-2004



ANALYSIS: THE 4400 is amazing. The show provides a compelling mystery of why 4400 people were taken over the course of the last 60 years that have all reappeared now as they were delivered by a ball of light near Mount Rainer. Homeland Security in Seattle, Washington is assigned to monitor the 4400 as two top investigators, Diane Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie) and Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch), find out there is a reason why the 4400 have returned now and that some of them have new abilities. Diane take in one of the 4400, a girl named Maia (Conchita Campbell puts in an amazing performance), who has the ability to see into the future. Tom has an interest in one of the returnees who happens to be his nephew, Shawn (Patrick Flueger). Tom seeks answers to why his son, Kyle, has been in a coma for three years since Shawn disappeared.

THE 4400 comes alive with interesting characters and good writing (I pray that season 2 is as good even though some of the writers of the first five episodes won't be around for season 2). The episodes follow several of the 4400 as they try to pick up their lives and the fear (and hate) that some people have for the 4400. One of the most poignant relationships is between two of the 4400, Richard (Mahershalalhashbaz Ali) and Lily (Laura Allen) who is the granddaughter of the woman Richard was involved with before he was taken back during the Korean War. Richard has no one and Lily has lost her husband (who has remarried) and her daughter (that considers another woman as her mom and doesn't know the truth). Then there is the rich and powerful Richard Collier (Bill Campbell) who may or may not have the best intentions for the 4400 even though he was taken and was missing for 18 months.

No doubt we will see new members of the 4400 to focus on in the second season. The first season put a spotlight on such people in the 4400 as Orson Bailey, a suspected serial killer, and Carl Morrissey who thinks his job now is to clean up the local park (and make the neighborhood safe again). The climax of WHITE LIGHT is jaw dropping as the questions are answered about where the 4400 have been and why they shown up at this point in time.

VIDEO/AUDIO: All episodes including the double-length pilot are in 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen. The transfer is soft. Colors are good, but blacks vary in quality from OK to murky. Many blacks and shadows lack fine detail. Dark scenes have some video noise. When you pause the DVD during scenes of motion, you can notice figures in movement lose some image detail and become a little blurry. The episodes are watchable, but the overall quality could have been better. The average transfers are mediocre compared to the care that went into the Star Trek sets or the Keen Eddie set.

You can hear the episodes in English 5.1 Dolby Digital or English 2.0 Dolby Surround with the option of English subtitles. Dialogue comes through clear as a bell. On the other hand, the 5.1 mix mostly only takes advantage of the music for the show and overall the 5.1 isn't very dynamic.

EXTRAS: No extras. I am disappointed that Paramount couldn't have included promos from USA Network or even a short featurette lifted from USA Network. I would have loved to had a commentary track or two. Hopefully, Paramount will include some extras for the next season set of THE 4400.

DVD DESIGN: The DVD art looks cool and the disc art reflects that design. Menus are simple menus reflecting the design of the discs and DVD cover sleeve. I wished the menus were more flashy.

FINAL ANALYSIS: Fans of the show will want to own this DVD of relive the experience of the first season and no doubt some who discover THE 4400 during season 2 in 2005 will flock to buy the Season One DVD. Also the low price for Season One will make this DVD the perfect gift or impulse buy. THE 4400 is highly recommended because it is a compelling series driven by the characters and the mystery behind their return.

Review of the Pilot Episode and a short Q&A with the writer of TRIAL BY FIRE:  http://enterline2.tripod.com/id34.html

this DVD review is (c)12-15-2004 David Blackwell and cannot be reprinted without permission. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia