The 4400 – Finally caught up

 

I can’t believe I had never seen an episode till last Saturday’s marathon. I taped them all and was able to watch season 1 and 2 this weekend. Let’s just say, I’ll have my VCR set to record the new season starting this Sunday even if I’m there to watch it. Unfortunately, I never watch the USA network so I had never caught this show. I’d seen many reviews about it in SciFi magazines, but just never made an effort to figure out when it came on. So I’m really glad I caught a commercial saying there was a marathon of every episode over the holiday weekend.

I like alien abduction stories, but the premise seemed a lot like Spielberg’s “Taken,” which I knew couldn’t compete. But they put some wonderful twists in their story which slowly is unraveling like a great mystery. Throughout the past 60 years, people have been abducted, and all 4400 are returned at the same time at Highland Beach in Washington. The abductees remember nothing, but over time some start developing strange powers like precognition, healing, and reading minds. Through the first two seasons, we find out that the abductors claim to be from the future, and sent these 4400 back to save the world from a disaster. And the 4400 each have a purpose, some having larger roles than others.

There is, obviously, a large cast. There’s no way they can run out of stories with 4400 people. The character development of the regular cast (of at least 8 returning characters) has been well thought out. I’ve put brief character descriptions below.

I can’t wait to see where the 3rd season takes us. I hope they can get a large enough following to put this show on another network, for at least reruns. I’d hate to see this show get cancelled before it’s time like Roswell. They definitely need better promotion and marketing. The 4400 could easily become a huge hit with a cult following like many other SciFi shows.

If you missed the marathon this past weekend, season 1 is already out on DVD. Plus, before each episode they do a short recap of what’s been happening. So you can easily catch up on what’s been going on.

Cast Bios of the 4400:

Tom Baldwin ( Joel Gretsch ) – Tom works for Homeland Security with his partner, Diana Skouris. He has a personal involvement with the 4400 since his nephew, Shawn, is one of them. His son, Kyle, was saved by Shawn from abduction, but instead has been in a coma for the 3 years following (which ultimately killed his marriage). Tom continues to try to unravel the mystery of the 4400, as well as being called to help prevent the forewarned disaster along with the 4400.

Diana Skouris ( Jaqueline McKenzie ) – Diana is Tom’s partner with homeland security. Besides working to figure out and help the 4400, she recently adopted one of them named Maia.

Maia Rutledge ( Conchita Campbell ) – Maia was the first of the 4400 to be abducted back in 1946. Maia just wants to live a normal life of a child, but she has an extremely special gift, precognition. She has told her adoptive mother that she no longer has been seeing the future. But Diana recently found Maia’s journal that lists all her recent visions.

Kyle Baldwin ( Chad Faust ) – Kyle should have been one of the 4400, but his cousin Shawn pushed him out of the way just in time. Kyle still ended up in an unexplained coma for 3 years. Shawn used his healing power on Kyle to wake him up. But when he awoke, he was’t the same person. The person who had control of his body claimed to be from the future, and warned Tom that the 4400 were sent back to divert a future disaster. Now, in control of his own body, with no knowledge of what had happened to him, Kyle is trying to get on with his life.

Shawn Farrell ( Patrick Flueger ) – Shawn disappeared in 2001, saving his cousin Kyle from abduction. When he returned, he found that he had the power to manipulate life-force, more specifically to heal people. After an accident where he almost killed his brother, Shawn ran away to a fellow 4400 and billionaire, Jordan Collier. Currently, Shawn works for Collier at the 4400 Center using his healing ability to not only save people, but bring in money for the Center.

Jordan Collier ( Billy Campbell ) – Jordan disappeared in 2002. He easily picked up his life where he left off, continuing his billionaire status, manipulating others to do his will. He founded the 4400 Center, a place not only for fellow returnees, but ordinary people looking to “unlock” the 4400 within themselves. Jordan has not shown any signs of special abilities yet.

Richard Tyler ( Mahershalhashbaz Ali ) – Richard disappeared in 1951, a pilot during the Korean War. He left behind a fiance who turns out to be the grandmother of Lily, a woman who looks remarkably like his former love. He soon finds himself falling in love with Lily, and as a new father to their child who was conceived supposedly while they were abducted. Richard has not shown any signs of special abilities yet.

Lily Moore-Tyler ( Laura Allen ) – Lily disappeared in 1993, and returned to find that her husband had remarried and her daughter believing that her new mother is her real mother. Her former husband has put a restraining order out on Lily so she can’t even see her own daughter. After meeting Richard Tyler in quarantine, she met up with him again and ended up falling in love. Not long after returning, Lily found out that she was pregnant, impregnated while she was abducted and not knowing for sure whom the father is. After getting married to Kyle, she gave birth to Isabelle, a beautiful and gifted baby. Isabelle’s powers are not completely known, but she can control people’s minds and has some level of telekinesis at the very least. Lily has not shown any signs of special abilities, outside of being able to communicate with her 6-month-old baby.

Fantastic Four

 

The Fantastic Four was… well… fantastic! It was everything the comic is, but brought to life. Casting was exceptional. They couldn’t have found anyone who looked and acted more like Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic than Ioan Gruffudd. Reed is the distracted, quiet genius who finds himself the reluctant leader of the Fantastic Four. Michael Chiklis played the more difficult role of Ben Grimm/The Thing, who turned into a rock-man, the only one of the four who can’t turn his power on and off. I had reservations about Jessica Alba playing Susan Storm/Invisible Woman; but I have to say she did a great job as well. Susan not only plays the mothering, nurturing-role as the only female of the group, and older sister of Johnny, but she also holds her own as a brilliant scientist and powerful hero. Of the four though, I think that Chris Evans actually became Johnny Storm/The Human Torch, and did the best job of bringing his character to life. Johnny is the playboy, thrill-seeker who loves the media attention, and loves torturing Grimm in endless pranks and jokes. Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom is played by Julian McMahon, who also does a great job as the Four’s benefactor-turned-villain.

The beginning of the movie seems a bit rushed. There are no slow parts in this movie. But I see where they needed to hurry with the events leading to the accident that changes them, just to get on with the rest of the story. Plus, with 4 people in leading roles, instead of 1 or 2, it’s harder to get into each character’s story. But with sequels already planned, they have plenty of time for more character development. This movie is mainly about how the Four get their powers, how they deal with them, and the beginning of the first super hero family.

Don’t expect the Fantastic Four movie to be like Batman Begins. The mood is completely different. Marvel takes a different approach with their comic book characters. Where DC characters, like Batman, tend to have darker stories and are more dramatic and mythological; Marvel is usually more comedic and light-hearted. The Fantastic Four is probably the funniest comic book movie ever made, without getting too cheesy. Plus it’s family aspect makes it unique as well.

The special effects for this movie were a huge challenge. Chiklis had to don a bulky rubber suit, that looked remarkably realistic as orange rock. Mr. Fantastic’s stretching was a concern of mine. I hoped it wouldn’t look too campy or cheesy. That, too, was well met. I was really impressed with all of the effects in this movie, especially The Human Torch’s fire property.

All in all, the Fantastic Four was an excellent movie and a lot of fun.

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