Monday, August 20, 2018

The 4400


Cult craving guilt... Season 3 of any show is the most important season. Or so I think.

Let's have a look at the final two seasons of 4400 and see if my theory holds up... to anything 😁


In The 4400 the same number of people (4400, hence the name, duh) are grabbed from our history, transported to the future, and then returned to the present day. Of course, something was done to them, but it takes at least a season to find out what exactly.

To make sure we cover all the tropes it this time traveling has been done to avoid a devastating future. (Where have we seen that before...)

Still it ain't too bad. Den of Geek even agrees with me 😁

The 4400 season 3

Here we go. According to my theory, season 3 is the make or break season.If a show survives up to season 3 (not an easy task these days) this will be the moment it lives or dies.

Season 3 of The 4400 started a bit slow and I found myself now and again reaching for the remote control / fast forward. The early episodes were not necessarily bad but they were slow... which is never a good sign. And it got worse... Fortunately, the show did improve a bit towards the end, en it was wrapped up fairly well. (But it was bad, bad, bad halfway the third season.)

Third season syndrome

The 4400 again convinces me the third season is the most important season to any series. It's when the initial number of viewers drop, but its also when the show-runners either 'loose their way' (effectively killing the show) or when the show 'learns to know itself' which leads to the weirdest (and best) episodes ever.

First. Did I see any special, exceptional episodes in the third season of The 4400 to prove my point? A few, but not exceptional, neither good nor bad.  That's indicator number 1 for either a bad series or a soon-to-be-cancelled series.

Indicator number 2: filler and / or uneven pacing and / or too many 'side quests'. Oh dear, another yes. Doesn't bode well for the future. Many viewers will leave the show for good if this happens.

Three. However, over the season and especially towards the end, it became clear The 4400 started to understand itself. A certain kind of cohesion, a little bit of self-mockery, characters that are part of some (dysfunctional) family and know they are part of that family. The signs of greatness 😇

Then how many arcs are left dangling? If it's a low moving season with filler, and at the same time the creators have managed to not answer anything... ouch. Then there's the cliffhanger at the end. The bigger the cliffhanger, the bigger the change of cancellation. Now here The 4400 scored fairly well. In fact, season 3 could have provided an acceptable ending for the series.
And finally exposition. Shows that start explaining everything are clearly on their way out. It's perhaps the culmination (or consequence, or result) of exhibits 1 to 4 and it cannot always be explained, but it is easy to spot. Too much explaining. It's not arcs being resolved, or plots being wrapped up, no. It's in-show characters talking about those arcs or plots or why things are as they are. Don't get me wrong, a good voice over can be great, but it's not the same thing.

So... flat fare, filler and exposition: 3 out of 5. That would lead me to think quality would probably go down, as well as a cancellation, if not right now then at the end of next season.

(Note that I don't care about critics, ignore external events such as writer strikes, and completely ignore ratings, the latter being a function of my hypothesis 😅)

Oh well. Another season at least to watch. It's a dirty job, but someone's gotta do it.

(I suspect the show runners were expecting season 3 to be the end of it, but, surprise! There actually was another season.)

The 4400 season 4

Many websites claim the fourth season of The 4400 to be the best one, and perhaps it is. It definitely has some of the better episodes. And then it ended.

Ah... what a ride. Perhaps not exceptional in the way of individual episodes or seasons, but overall time well spend. And the ending of the 4400 wasn't too bad, except for the final episode which felt rushed.

This final season and the final episodes did wrap up some important things, leaving the future wide open without leaving a bad taste. I as a viewer, having invested all those hours watching this show I can actually live with it. Even if I typically do not like unfinished shows.

Unfinished business

I hate shows that end on cliffhangers, or leave too many threads open and unresolved.

I am convinced that every (self respecting) show should have a wrap up, as it makes the show re-watchable, re-sell-able. If only for commercial reasons. Why would one watch a show, or buy a set of DVD's / Blurays when you know the show has no conclusion? Why invest the time? Why would you trust a television station, show-runner, producer, director, if they keep cancelling their shows before they have reached a conclusion?

I keep saying it: every show should reserve a bit of budget, so they have the time and money to create a few farewell episodes, once the show finds its unavoidable cancellation standing on the the front porch.

As for The 4400, it looks like they expected season 3 to be the final season, and in spite of some cliffhangers the ending was fine. The producers took care to keep the cliffhangers for season 4 / 5 under control, so in the end, in spite of the cancellation and the lack of some additional wrap-up episodes this one is okay in my book.

Well done. (Now I still don't know if my season 3 hypothesis is correct or not, damn you! 😄)

Take a chance

The fourth season brrought an essential choice: would you be willing to take a chance, if you had 99.99% chance of dying versus 0.01% of obtaining super powers? Yes. It's another trope, but still...

Would you?

All in all not too bad, and a worthwhile waste of my time. I think one day I am going to watch this again. But for now, next series please!

Dapper / RetroTales! 86

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