The 4400 - The Complete First Season Studio: Paramount Year: 2004 Rated: NR Length: 4 Hours, 16 Minutes Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 Audio: English Digital 5.1, English 2.0 Subtitles: None Closed Captioned Special Features: None Price: around $20 USD, street Release Date: December 21, 2004 In the last hundred years or so, thousands of people have mysteriously disappeared. In the present day, what appears to be a comet hurtles toward Earth. Countries around the globe quickly respond by launching nuclear missiles toward the rogue comet. The missiles have no effect. The object slows down, enters the atmosphere, and hovers over a lake in the state of Washington - apparently it is not a comet after all. Agents from the Department of Homeland Security arrive on scene as the ball of light suddenly disappears in a flash, leaving behind 4400 people, all of whom had disappeared over the last century. The people appear exactly as they were on the day they disappeared. Time has apparently stood still for them. The government investigates the 4400 in an attempt to piece together where they’ve been, and why they have returned. They also investigate the strange abilities these returnees seem to posses - ranging from precognition to super strength to telekinetic abilities. The two hour pilot is somewhat rushed. The introduction of the object from space comes too quickly, and the Earthly response is implausible, to say the least. In the latter half, the stories of too many returnees were tackled at once, causing you to wonder where they were headed with this show. The second episode, “The New & Improved Carl Morrissey,” plays very much like an episode of “X-Files,” without the interplay of believer Mulder and non-believer Sculley. It was okay, but left me still wondering where this show was headed. Starting with the third episode, “Becoming,” things start to get interesting. We leave familiar “X-Files” territory and the story seems to stabilize and focus on the same characters. It becomes very much a continuing story from here, though only two episodes follow - “Trial by Fire” and “White Light.” When The 4400 first aired, I watched the first two episodes, and wasn’t convinced that the show deserved my continued attention. I stopped watching. It was my loss. I watched all five episodes for this review, and the series really picks up with episode three. While some of it is predictable, I must say that the show still held some big surprises, right up until the shocking revelation at the end. The show plays like a cross between “X-Files” and “X-Men,” and was produced by the creative forces behind Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (Rene Echevarria, Ira Steven Behr, Robert Hewitt Wolfe). The 4400 will be returning to the USA Network next summer. The Transfer The video is anamorphically enhanced for widescreen televisions. The show is represented by a sharp, detailed image, with only an occasional hint of edge enhancement. Contrast is very good, with deep blacks that retain image detail and whites that only bloom when style dictates. Colors are true and accurate, with a slightly muted saturation. There are no signs of compression artifacts that I can see, even in the more difficult compression situations. The series is well shot with high production values, and the transfer does it justice. The audio is in Dolby Digital 5.1. There are excellent directional effects across the front soundstage, but the surrounds are rather mute, providing only the subtlest of surround effects. Frequency response is very good, with solid bass (though lacking real LFE punch) and crystal clear highs. Dialog is clean and full with just the right amount of sibilance. Voices sound full and natural, and music sounds good as well. Final Thoughts This is a bare-bones package. It would have been nice to see at least a short featurette about the making of the series. The creators of the show have proven their willingness to contribute in such a way with the Deep Space Nine extras. Regardless, once the show gets in gear, it is definitely worth watching. This two disc set contains a quality presentation of the source material. Recommended.