A Blog for Fans of the 4400

Thursday, August 31, 2006

Third Season Finale and Season In Review

It's been a week or so since I posted here - real life has been hectic - but that was some season finale, huh?

I didn't personally find the episode as well-paced, satisfying or thrilling as the second season finale, but I also knew going into it that it was going to be hard to out-cool that second season finale, seeing that it was one of the best endings to a season on any show that I've ever seen. This season itself has been unevenly paced for me, so it's only fitting that the finale was, too. I did like the open possibilities and the closure provided to several storylines - something last year's finale did superlatively well, too.

I felt that it was a bit of a cop out to have Tom make the final decision that he did. It was anticlimactic and would have been far more affecting had he made the other choice. (I'm trying not to spoil it too much for anyone who hasn't seen it, though my policy on this site has always been that already-aired episodes in the US are open for discussion in the posts, so continue reading at your own risk.) Kyle's decision also makes sense, as did Anna's. I know we're supposed to wonder if either of them are going to die, but I'm calling it now - neither of them will, especially Kyle, since I presume he was already promicin-compatible in the first place, seeing as the future-people chose him and not Shawn to abduct originally.

There were moments in the finale that seemed very ill-timed, as though there had been gaps in the editing and some filler was needed for a minute or two after the fact. In particular, the scene with the children and Isabelle dragged. On. For. Ever. And... a. Day. An episode that's going to end on a breakneck cliffhanger simply cannot afford three entire minutes of characters giving each other determined stares, issuing soundbytes and waiting for something to happen. The pacing and editing were the biggest downsides of this episode, which is all the more glaring since, again, these are things in which this show normally excels.

It WAS a great deal of fun to watch Isabelle have a breakdown after she discovered her new state. I didn't enjoy Isabelle very much as a wide-eyed but potentially destructive superpowered innocent and I thought she really dragged the season down the first half of the season. I think a big problem is that Megalyn Echikunwoke's rather thin dramatic repertoire did not cover all the nuances this character needed. I can't help but compare her performance negatively to Summer Glau, who had a very similar (and even more difficult) role on Firefly and the Serenity film and was much more affecting and charismatic. Additionally, Megalyn's distractingly glaring Northwestern accent which causes unusual-to-my-ears speech inflections and rapid-fire delivery of many of her lines put many of her more dramatic moments this season on the spectrum of unaffecting to unintelligible. I simply could not understand what the girl was saying half the time.

That said, as the UberQueenBitch of Maybe!Future!Humanity, I rather enjoyed Isabelle a lot more. At least she created some kind of dramatic tension in the story as this type of plot contrivance, rather than spending, as she did in the first five episodes, all her time navel-gazing.

More things I enjoyed about this season and the finale: I liked that we got to see Shawn mature and learn from his mistakes and respond competently, for the most part, to increasing amounts of pressure. But I also liked that the finale gave us a reminder of just how young and idealistic Shawn really is. The season definitely picked up for me when the writers finally remembered they gave Richard telekenesis last year and started using it in this season's plot arc in an active way, rather than waste talent and magnetism of Maharshalalhashbaz Ali's caliber by making him stand around looking concerned a lot.

There was not enough Richard this season. Period. After the loss of Lily, there should have been a heavy emphasis on the aftermath for him, but that was eclipsed by Isabelle's self-discovery plot arc, which made her grate all the more for me.

By the way, in the BuddyTV chat session last week with Joel and Patrick, I was user Andie and I asked them to both pronounce "Maharshalalhashbaz" and they were both able to rattle it off like it was nuthin. ;)

Diana's feelings at the end of the season and her decisions based on those feelings were very organic as a mother and just as a person. Tom had very little left to lose by the time we leave him at the end of this season, but Diana is faced with the prospect of beginning a very, very good life - a safe life for herself and her child and her fiance (yeah, I can't see that lasting, sorry, Diana). I don't blame her for wanting a lifestyle that is a lot less dangerous and high-octane. Do I think it'll last and we'll never see her again? Psh. Of course not.

So, in summation, the season was hit-or-miss for me and so was the finale. I didn't love the magic cigar episode - come on, y'all! Really? A magic cigar??? - and I did ADORE the Jordan and Kevin/KevinandTess episodes. This season in general just didn't seem as tightly put together as the previous two, but it also underwent some major shifts in the cast dynamics. Some of these were very effective - Jordan's triumphant comings and goings, Kevin, Tess, and Kevin/Tess- and some of them were not - the absence of Kyle for most of the season, the death of Lily, the overexposure of Isabelle - so that was to be expected, but I was happy with the way it all turned out in the end. I could have done without the cheesy last three seconds, but what can ya do. :)

If you'd like to hear me talk more about the season in person, come check out the three 4400-related panels at which I'll be speaking at DragonCon this weekend, where I will also get a chance to meet and hopefully talk to Kavan Smith and Summer Glau! See you all next week, when I get back from the con, when I'll finally start posting all the backlog of post-finale articles, reviews and interviews.

And in the meantime, let me know what YOU thought of this season in the comments. And for those of you in the US: Have a safe and happy Labor Day!

Sunday, August 20, 2006

Fourth Season of The 4400!

According to Jacqueline McKenzie's MySpace bulletin, the USA Network has renewed The 4400 for a fourth season! Says Jacqui:
Tell you what - I've got my fingers AND toes crossed! (Thanks for the heads-up, amber!)

Friday, August 18, 2006

Chat with Joel and Patrick!

In case you are seriously unobservant (hey, nobody's perfect!) and didn't notice the giant animated ticky countdown on the right over there, the fabulous folks over at BuddyTV have arranged yet another chat with the cast of The 4400 this Monday night, August 21, 2006 starting at 9PM EST. This time, it's with Joel Gretsch and Patrick Flueger. For more information, click on the ticky. This one, I'll definitely make it to. Be afraid, Patrick and Joel. Be very afraid. ;)

Now if only they got Maharshalalhashbaz Ali, Richard Kahan and/or Jeffrey Combs next. A girl can dream, right?

Patrick Named One of Summer's Best Performers

I know I'm way behind for the blogging here, so expect one of my article and post blitzes today.

My girl Amy Amatangelo aka TVGal for Zap2It.com has named Patrick Flueger one of summer's best performers in this article:
Of all the characters on the sci-fi drama, Shawn has undergone the biggest transformation. And he plays both sides of his character so well -- the young guy who would like to reconnect with an old girlfriend or go on tour with a rock star and the leader of the returnees who must be wise beyond his years.
Very nice, and very true.

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

Jacqui Chat Transcripts

In case you, like moi, missed the two 1-hour chats with Jacqueline McKenzie last night on BuddyTV.com, they've been kind enough to archive them here. She looks like she had a pretty good time. :)

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Bill Campbell Writes Article for TVGuide

I swear I'm not that obsessed with Bill Campbell, it's just that most of the 4400-related news lately has been about him.

In the August 7-13 print issue of TVGuide, Bill wrote a wonderful article about his time aboard the Picton Castle.Cujoy has scanned and posted the entire thing with pictures here, and he makes it sound like the thrilling adventure of a lifetime. Also, I love the picture of him and the kitty napping together. Reminds me of why I've crushed on him since I was a teenager and saw him in The Rocketeer. ;)

Chat with Jacqui Tonight

The folks over at BuddyTV are having a live chat with Jacqueline McKenzie tonight! Details are here. Per the website:
Don't Miss this Special 4400 Event! Jacqueline McKenzie, who plays NTAC agent Diana Skouris, will be with us LIVE during the airing of The 4400 on Sunday, August 6th at 9pm ET/8pm CT and again at 9pm PT. She will comment on the action, answer fan questions, and maybe even drop a few nuggets of inside info. Be sure to get here early!
I'm not a good multitasker, but I do have TiVO, so I'll try to make it to both because I'm a geek like that. Thanks to TVSquad for the heads up!