They’ve been giving us strange little teasers about a new “mini-series” on channel 10. It looked pretty snazzy had the feel of X-files meets 24 so I did some surfing to find out about The 4400. The NYT arts cover story (Thelma Adams, 11 July – no hyper link cause it’ll be subscriber only) from its US release in July starts this way:
TO paraphrase Rod Serling, consider this: Suppose Steven Spielberg’s 1982 sci-fi classic ”E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial” had ended with little Elliott climbing up the ramp toward the light to join his big-headed buddy on the alien mother ship. Cut to 2004: the 10-year-old returns to earth 22 years later, not a day older, with no idea where he’s been — and a strangely enhanced sense of empathy.
That parallels the premise of ”The 4400,” a new series on USA that begins tonight at 9 with a two-hour premiere and continues for the next four weeks in one-hour episodes. There have been countless shows about alien abductions but few about the aftermath. What happens if and when these captives suddenly return to earth? What does it do to them as human beings and the people around them? Don’t call Mulder and Scully. These are the Y and Z files.
Francis Ford Copolla is the EP and the series seems to bring together all sorts of apocalypse/conspiracy themes in a sort of anti-rapture! One of its creators tells Adams that the series was loosely inspired by 9/11:
”The heart of the piece is loosely inspired by events from 9/11,” said Scott Peters, the creator and co-executive producer, referring to the idea of a single unprecedented event. ”How do you deal with something like that?” he continued. ”The scope is enormous. It touches everyone. Something that has such a large global impact, it changes us, challenges us and, like 9/11, it ultimately defines who we are by how we react to it.”
”What Peters said is really good,” Mr. Coyote [who plays the lead investigator] said. ”You’re taking a slice of what happens to a nation when it’s impacted by a huge event and you see every scope of reaction”– everything from heroism to government oppression and paranoia.
But you won’t see any burning towers here. ”The 4400” is a sci-fi soap opera that fictively examines the aftermath of 9/11. Without using laser guns or spaceships or different planets, Mr. Peters and the series’s director, Yves Simoneau (whose credits include the mini-series ”Nuremberg”), employ science fiction to probe the national psyche, dabbling in groups of every age, from 8 to 90.
”There is really an interesting dynamic that has changed us — a ripple effect, from one event, the drop in a pond that continues outward,” Mr. Peters said. ”Perceptions have changed. Cut to five years ago, you weren’t really looking at the other people on the plane with you.”