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The 4400: The Complete First Season (2004) – DVD Review

The 4400: The Complete First Season DVD cover art


Created by Scott Peters & René Echevarria
Starring Bill Campbell, Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mahershalalhashbaz Ali, Patrick Flueger, Conchita Campbell, Laura Allen


  • All five first season episodes, including the pilot

Released by: Paramount
Rating: NR
Region: 1
Anamorphic: Yes.

My Advice: Skip it unless you need to catch up to watch Season 2 on TV. Even then it’s just a rental.

Over the past sixty years, people have been disappearing in mysterious circumstances, never heard from again. Then, one night, a strange light in the sky presumed to be a comet hovers over Mt. Ranier. When it’s gone, 4400 people are left–the same people that have been disappearing. A division of Homeland Security is allocated to deal with the new issue of relocating and tracking the returnees after they are released from quarantine. The 4400 vary quite a bit in where and when they are from; we meet Maia (Campbell), a little 9-year old girl missing since the 1940s; Richard (Ali), a serviceman taken during the Korean war (who finds that another returnee, Lily (Allen) is the granddaughter of his girlfriend), and a high-school student, Shawn (Fleuger), who has only been gone a couple of years, as well as numerous others.

[ad#longpost]As time goes on, some of the 4400 start exhibiting supernatural powers, such as telling the future, giving or taking life from something with a touch, and inadvertantly exploding things (including people) in moments of anger. Agents Tom Baldwin (Gresh) and Diana Skouris (McKenzie) are in charge of tracking any problems among the 4400 and helping them to resolve the issues of their newfound powers however they can. Shawn, Richard, Lily, and Maia are followed in each episode, and other members of the 4400 with different powers are profiled in each episode as well.

The premise of the series is interesting, and the stories of each of the returnees are usually pretty neat as well. I got hooked watching it on television and wanted to fill in what I had seen of Season 2, which is currently playing. With all of the interesting stories, the only big downer is that the writing is sometimes forced and stilted. When the Homeland Security agents talk about going to the “theory room” to find out the results of some data, it’s more laughable than realistic or even believable. And the occasionally bad writing is a shame, because the idea of the series is fascinating. The theory (which not surprisingly is developed in the “theory room”) is that something took these people and sent them back with powers designed to specifically alter the course of human history in small ways, such as exposing an illegal lending scheme, or causing a community to come together to revitalize a blighted park. I would assume that as the series continues, the goal of the sum of the little events in each episode will become clearer.

Right now, I see no reason to purchase this set, however. The series is on USA almost every day; they recently even had an all-day marathon. Since there are zero features on the discs, there is nothing except the episodes to entice you, and since the series is going on, I would assume that at some point, we’ll be seeing the entire series on DVD, hopefully with some bonus bits. I’m surprised there’s not even a teaser for the second season, or some other kind of featurette designed to hint at the overall arc of the series and draw in more viewers. But maybe in the future.

If you need to catch up on the episodes you missed, or if you don’t have cable, rent it by all means, but save your money for a version with features.

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