The 4400 succeeds where shows like Heroes, No Ordinary Family, and Marvel's Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. have failed. It puts a human face to super powers. This innovative series has such a mind-blowing take on what would happen if people developed superhuman abilities. It also uses other science-fiction conventions, plot twists and great actors to create a binge-worthy series.
Over the course of 50 years, 4400 people are abducted. On one day, they all return seemingly unchanged, but different. A government task force is created to manage their assimilation back into society. An FBI agent, Tom Baldwin (Joel Gretsch), and a CDC agent, Diana Skouris (Jacqueline McKenzie), head up this task force to deal with their developing abilities and discover the reason they’ve returned. What follows is a shocking reveal that they were not abducted by aliens but by humans from the future. They have been given abilities to help save humanity’s future.
The series doesn’t rely too much on super powers and flashy special effects. Instead, it creates an X-Files style procedural with rich characters and an engrossing plot. Each episode, Tom and Diana must help one of the 4400 with their abilities and discover their benefit to society’s future. Meanwhile, various members of the 4400 must adjust to how life has changed since their disappearance. Baldwin’s nephew Shawn Farrell (Patrick Flueger) comes back with the power to heal and his family having adjusted to life without him. Conchita Campbell plays Maya Rutledge, an 8 year old abducted in 1938, and brought back with the ability to see the future. The characters are sympathetic and this adds heart to the series.
The 4400 has some pretty great acting talent. Billy Campbell (The Killing, Enough) plays Jordan Collier, a successful businessman who creates a Scientology-style religion around The 4400. The series also features appearances by Summer Glau (Serenity), Sherilyn Fenn (Twin Peaks) and Garret Dillahunt (Raising Hope).
Fans of superheroes and science fiction will love The 4400. It also adds enough plot twists and dynamic relationships that non-geeks will love it too. All four seasons of the series are available on Netflix.
After five wildly underrated seasons on the air, the gritty cop drama Southland has been canceled by TNT.
The cable network released the news in a statement that read: "TNT has made the difficult decision not to renew Southland for another season. We are enormously proud of Southland, which stands as one of the best police dramas ever made. Executive producers John Wells, Chris Chulack and Jonathan Lisco, along with creator Ann Biderman and our partners at Warner Bros. Television, have given us five seasons of powerful, unforgettable storytelling, for which we are deeply grateful. We also want to thank the amazing cast for their impassioned, no-holds-barred performances, and the production team for their tenacity shooting on the streets of real-world Los Angeles. We wish everyone associated with Southland the very best."
The show — which started on NBC and moved to TNT — had a stellar cast which included Ben McKenzie, Regina King and Shawn Hatosy, all of whom have upcoming series pilots. The Season 5 finale, which turned out to be the series finale, averaged 1.8 million viewers when it aired in April.
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
More: 'Go On' Canceled By NBC NBC Axes 'Whitney' and Three Other Comedies 'Burn Notice' To End After Seven Seasons on USA
From Our Partners:Watch Justin Bieber Attacked in Dubai (Celebuzz)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
In This Means War – a stylish action/rom-com hybrid from director McG – Tom Hardy (The Dark Knight Rises) and Chris Pine (Star Trek) star as CIA operatives whose close friendship is strained by the fires of romantic rivalry. Best pals FDR (Pine) and Tuck (Hardy) are equally accomplished at the spy game but their fortunes diverge dramatically in the dating realm: FDR (so nicknamed for his obvious resemblance to our 32nd president) is a smooth-talking player with an endless string of conquests while Tuck is a straight-laced introvert whose love life has stalled since his divorce. Enter Lauren (Reese Witherspoon) a pretty plucky consumer-products evaluator who piques both their interests in separate unrelated encounters. Tuck meets her via an online-dating site FDR at a video-rental store. (That Lauren is tech-savvy enough to date online but still rents movies in video stores is either a testament to her fascinating mix of contradictions or more likely an example of lazy screenwriting.)
When Tuck and FDR realize they’re pursuing the same girl it sparks their respective competitive natures and they decide to make a friendly game of it. But what begins as a good-natured rivalry swiftly devolves into romantic bloodsport with both men using the vast array of espionage tools at their disposal – from digital surveillance to poison darts – to gain an edge in the battle for Lauren’s affections. If her constitutional rights happen to be violated repeatedly in the process then so be it.
Lauren for her part remains oblivious to the clandestine machinations of her dueling suitors and happily basks in the sudden attention from two gorgeous men. Herein we find the Reese Witherspoon Dilemma: While certainly desirable Lauren is far from the irresistible Helen of Troy type that would inspire the likes of Tuck and FDR to risk their friendship their careers and potential incarceration for. At several points in This Means War I found myself wondering if there were no other peppy blondes in Los Angeles (where the film is primarily set) for these men to pursue. Then again this is a film that wishes us to believe that Tom Hardy would have trouble finding a date so perhaps plausibility is not its strong point.
When Lauren needs advice she looks to her boozy foul-mouthed best friend Trish (Chelsea Handler). Essentially an extension of Handler’s talk-show persona – an acquired taste if there ever was one – Trish’s dialogue consists almost exclusively of filthy one-liners delivered in rapid-fire succession. Handler does have some choice lines – indeed they’re practically the centerpiece of This Means War’s ad campaign – but the film derives the bulk of its humor from the outrageous lengths Tuck and FDR go to sabotage each others’ efforts a raucous game of spy-versus-spy that carries the film long after Handler’s shtick has grown stale.
Business occasionally intrudes upon matters in the guise of Heinrich (Til Schweiger) a Teutonic arms dealer bent on revenge for the death of his brother. The subplot is largely an afterthought existing primarily as a means to provide third-act fireworks – and to allow McGenius an outlet for his ADD-inspired aesthetic proclivities. The film’s action scenes are edited in such a manic quick-cut fashion that they become almost laughably incoherent. In fairness to McG he does stage a rather marvelous sequence in the middle of the film in which Tuck and FDR surreptitiously skulk about Lauren's apartment unaware of each other's presence carefully avoiding detection by Lauren who grooves absentmindedly to Montel Jordan's "This Is How We Do It." The whole scene unfolds in one continuous take – or is at least craftily constructed to appear as such – captured by one very agile steadicam operator.
Whatever his flaws as a director McG is at least smart enough to know how much a witty script and appealing leads can compensate for a film’s structural and logical deficiencies. He proved as much with Charlie’s Angels a film that enjoys a permanent spot on many a critic’s Guilty Pleasures list and does so again with This Means War. The film coasts on the chemistry of its three co-stars and only runs into trouble when the time comes to resolve its romantic competition which by the end has driven its male protagonists to engage in all manner of underhanded and duplicitous activities. This Means War being a commercial film – and likely an expensive one at that – Witherspoon's heroine is mandated to make a choice and McG all but sidesteps the whole thorny matter of Tuck and FDR’s unwavering dishonesty not to mention their craven disregard for her privacy. (They regularly eavesdrop on her activities.) For all their obvious charms the truth is that neither deserves Lauren – or anything other than a lengthy jail sentence for that matter.
Follow Thomas Leupp on Twitter.
Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter.
Lucy Liu has appeared on the small screen as much as the big one of late, and it looks like that trend will continue.
The onetime Charlie's Angel has landed a prominent role on season 4 of TNT's cop drama Southland, alongside series regulars Michael Cudlitz, Shawn Hatosy, Regina King and Ben 'Don't Call Me Benjamin' McKenzie.
The series has posted very solid viewer ratings for TNT ever since the network picked it up in 2009 from NBC, which dropped it. The series returns in January 2012.
Liu has recently been seen on shows such as Dirty Sexy Money and Cashmere Mafia, and heard in Kung Fu Panda 2.