On July 11, 2004, a six part miniseries named The 4400
aired its first episode on the USA network, and it quickly grew a small but enthusiastic group of loyal fans. The mysterious sci-fi drama was filmed in Vancouver with a large cast of relative unknowns, and the miniseries turned into a full series, airing four seasons before it was announced in December that "The 4400," along with another USA Sci-fi show "The Dead Zone
," was canceled.
As with several other canceled cult favorite sci-fi shows, the internet community immediately began circulating 'Save The 4400' petitions in a desperate attempt to save the show, or at the very least request a conclusion since the last season ended on a cliffhanger. A website went up, www.savethe4400.net, with a MySpace and Livejournal community to build support and fan notice.
There is currently a plan that on Feb. 1, 2008, viewers will gather sunflower seeds (an inside joke from the show itself) and send letters to the USA Network every day for one week, in an effort to show the corporation how serious the fans are about getting more of their favorite show.
"The 4400" is a fascinating story that caught my attention and imagination from the very first episode. One day, a meteor made of light crashes towards the Earth, and instead of slamming into the planet it hovers and releases 4,400 people who were missing for the past 100 years. These were citizens of different countries, races, gender, ages, and time periods. The government assigns the National Threat Assessment Command (NTAC) to take care of the situation, and it is revealed that the 4400 returned with special gifts, superhero abilities, that can be both beneficial and murderous.
The world goes into chaos as people react to the super-powered presence, and many of the 4400 are confused, ostracized, and alone. In time it is revealed that humans from the future plucked the 4400 out of the time stream and sent them back to try and change the past so their destructive, bleak future never can occur. The later seasons focus on the creation of Promicin, a special drug created by the scientist who was said to be the "Father of the 4400," which could give anyone extraordinary gifts. The problem is there is only a 50/50 chance of survival.
Emerging out of the large cast came three specific groups. NTAC agents Tom and Diana and the US government try to contain the 4400. The charismatic and martyr figure Jordan Collier and his followers take over a part of Seattle as their own. Collier wants the world to take Promicin, even at the risk of mass suicide. The third party is Sean, Tom's nephew and Collier's protégé, who tries to find a middle road of peace between his people and the general populace.
The fourth and final season ended with Sean's brother taking Promicin, and his horrible gift causes a Promicin virus that spreads over a huge portion of Seattle and causes the death of thousands of people, including their mother. The world has to cope with a city almost entirely made up of super-powered loose canons, and that is where the show ends.
This cliffhanger is one of the major reasons why fans reacted so negatively to the sudden ending of the series. Each year "The 4400" was on shaky grounds for renewal, but the ending of this season was the most bold and tense of all. This season had differing reactions from critics and fans alike, but there was no doubt that the show was getting edgier and stronger with each passing episode.
The cancellation was truly disappointing and heartbreaking because from the first episode fans were drawn in and intrigued by the storyline. It's almost a blend of "Lost
," with all of the mysterious entanglements between characters and constant questions, and "Heroes
." No real explanation has been given for this decision. The statements from USA and the show's creator Scott Peters remains polite, but no details were released. Whatever shows will be replacing "The 4400" and "The Dead Zone" better be exceptionally interesting, more so than the ho-hum original series "Burn Notice
" that incidentally will be returning for a new season.
"The 4400" was a commentary on fear of the unknown, of humanity at its best and worst, and a realistic look at what would happen if something so mysterious and peculiar truly happened in modern day America. It was a beautifully plotted show, with many twists and turns and surprising character developments. I fully intend to try and save "The 4400" ... it wouldn't be the first time that the fans managed to bring back a show
worth a second chance.
Story by Dee Doyle
Starpulse contributing writer