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Old 06-26-2007, 10:48 PM   #31
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Originally posted by deep

the killer clowns were just too silly


Clowns ARE scary!
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Old 06-27-2007, 03:24 AM   #32
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Originally posted by deep
sorry Muldfeld my friend

but I am out

the killer clowns were just too silly



I am 100 % with you on BSG
and I am buying season one and two to share with my two brothers

but 4400 is too inconsistent
Totally. It doesn't compare at all with BSG. I'm just saying it's a heck of a lot better than Heroes. Maybe try the 3rd season finale? That was great. I'm with you on this being a so-so episode, though the clowns thing was less than a minute and didn't it remind you of Kramer? The mythology stuff is in 3 weeks. Thanks, though, bub. I thought the stuff about Kyle has been pretty good.
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Old 06-27-2007, 03:35 AM   #33
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Ok Mudfeld, I'm completely current on the 4400 (I've spent a significant amount of time in the hospital over the last few weeks and its allowed me to catch up). While its a decent show with a great premise, I fully stick by my earlier post - its a good show that doesn't deliver.

I'm not sure what show you are watching, but I find the most characters on The 4400 to be shockingly 2 dimensional. Tom Baldwin? I wrote better characters in college. Where is the depth?

I'm not sure that they could have created a more abrupt change in Dennis Ryland's character if they tried.

Shawn? Where is the internal conflict?

Too many weeks the show focuses on underdeveloped 4400 hundreds that offer very little other than being the platform that the few 2-dimensional characters are launched from.

The only character on the show that has been developed in an interesting way is Jordan Collier. I think they have done a great job with him. (too a lesser extent, I thought they did a nice job with Matthew's character).

I do believe they have done well to maintain a healthy skepticism of both the future's intentions and the choices of the 4400 in the present, but I find myself dissatisfied for the most part with the plot of the show...
Okay, this first batch of episodes have been kinda lame with the standalone plots, but the continuing story has been good. They keep trying the X-Files route with these subplots and fail miserably, but these devices are getting better.

I'm not saying it's the greatest thing (that would be BSG), but it's a heck of a lot better than Heroes in terms of dramatic realism, and Grey's Anatomy, and even 24, which is incredibly formulaic.

The relationship between Tom and Kyle is much more real and interesting (as is the acting) than the cheerleader and Mr. Bennett or Noah and his mom and dad, who are all awful actors. Tom's love for his son can be insensitive and controlling, at times, but he's really trying, unlike the uber-evil parent generation on Heroes, which is just unrealistic. Even the way Diana took her sister's boyfriend was an understandable dilemma and one that really had me feel for both of them. The sister's reaction very much reminded me of how I feel with regard to my older, more successful brothers.

I thought there was quite a bit of conflict between Shawn and Jordan Collier throughout the show's short run -- first over how Jordan treats his employees and then over the whole promicin thing and the support of terrorists was all about ends and means. Notice how there is no overwhelming evil in the show. Ryland's side and Jordan's side are equally given their due, much as the war on terrorism is quite complicated. There's a lot more political insight on this show than Heroes which just rips off X-Men simplicities.

You're right, though, Jordan is the best character on the show (and I also really liked Matthew). His doubts at the start of this season were quite interesting. Every revolutinary throughout history must have their doubts but they don't project them publicly. It was also interesting to see a conflict between his desire to save everyone from that school kid (okay, that subplot was kinda lame, too) and his attempt to eliminate the challenge to his messiah complex.

I also like that the show is positing that superpowers pose their own problem in society. Heroes touched on this a bit with the future episode and how Sylar/Nathan was creating a two-class society, but this show is starting to delve a bit into this and may do a better job. It also shows what a terrible curse some powers can be -- not in the sense that you can be corrupted by this amazing power -- but that the power itself can actually suck or be very uncool.

Anyway, Jordan is only going to be in 10 of the 13 episodes, so if you are even considering watching the show again, maybe skip the next couple of shows. This season promises to mostly answer the questions posed in the miniseries and subsequent seasons. But only the full-on mythology eps are probably gonna do it.

Thanks for watching this, man. You should definitely check out BSG. Hope your hospital stay hasn't been too bad.
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Old 06-27-2007, 06:55 AM   #34
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I tried not to evaluate the show by comparing it to another show, but it looks like that is how this thread has turned out (no surprise considering its title).

For my money Heroes is better on every level. It has a more compelling premise. It has INFINITELY better writing. It has much better acting AND its action scenes are better. Frankly I would recommend the 4400 to Heroes fans who need a genre fix while there show is on hiatus.
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Old 06-27-2007, 03:02 PM   #35
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Originally posted by Dalton
I tried not to evaluate the show by comparing it to another show, but it looks like that is how this thread has turned out (no surprise considering its title).

For my money Heroes is better on every level. It has a more compelling premise. It has INFINITELY better writing. It has much better acting AND its action scenes are better. Frankly I would recommend the 4400 to Heroes fans who need a genre fix while there show is on hiatus.
You know, I just don't see how based on your criteria for why you had problems with The 4400, you can endorse Heroes, unless you're not being forthcoming about why you really like Heroes -- which is probably the action and suspense of people dying. It has a much bigger budget for action effects. No one on that show reacts emotionally believably and the acting is attrotious; I don't see how you can deny that.

However, I'll gladly accept the endorsement for Heroes fans to watch this!
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Old 06-27-2007, 07:14 PM   #36
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Here's what I find funny. You come on here and ask people to check out the show you like and see if it is better than Heroes.

I did that. It isn't.

Listen, I am a casual fan of Heroes, so I don't really have an ax to grind here. Yet I would rate Heroes as better in a all aspects of the show.

You hit out at Heroes for its bad acting, but its been a while since I've seen an actor as bad as Tom Baldwin. The scenes between he and his son are terrible. Was he a day time Soap star before he did this show?

You asked. I answered. You're welcome.
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Old 06-27-2007, 09:40 PM   #37
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Here's what I find funny. You come on here and ask people to check out the show you like and see if it is better than Heroes.

I did that. It isn't.

Listen, I am a casual fan of Heroes, so I don't really have an ax to grind here. Yet I would rate Heroes as better in a all aspects of the show.

You hit out at Heroes for its bad acting, but its been a while since I've seen an actor as bad as Tom Baldwin. The scenes between he and his son are terrible. Was he a day time Soap star before he did this show?

You asked. I answered. You're welcome.
Yeah, that's fine. You can disagree. I didn't say you couldn't but I'm just debating your arguments. I'm not ungrateful for your trying the show out.

I will also grant that Heroes is more exciting, at some level, but I think a lot of this is having the budget to do cool things like cut people's heads of and make it look good. It's a lot more expensive than scary clowns, and I've admitted that the start of this season of The 4400 has been a missed opportunity. From the start, I've said the show has problems, but I think a character like Jordan Collier is far more imaginative and interesting than the best character on Heroes, Sylar.
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Old 07-10-2007, 03:45 AM   #38
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You hit out at Heroes for its bad acting, but its been a while since I've seen an actor as bad as Tom Baldwin. The scenes between he and his son are terrible. Was he a day time Soap star before he did this show?
[/B]
Actually he was involved in projects by Steven Spielberg, including Minority Report. He's a terrific actor and far better than anyone on Heroes.

The major mythology story finally starts this Sunday. I can't wait.
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Old 07-20-2007, 06:01 PM   #39
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Things are really heating up on The 4400 with lots of great insight into radical religiosity and believable commentary on faith. Also, some political campaign stuff, though I could have done without the Nazism allegories, which are a bit stale. This is the most politically-insightful show after The Wire and BSG -- easily!
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Old 07-21-2007, 01:44 PM   #40
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Episodes are starting to heat, up though this could have been a little better, it did have some interesting political commentary on religious conviction, but not in a condescending way.
http://stage6.divx.com/user/zib4ever...00-4x05-vostfr
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Old 07-23-2007, 12:36 AM   #41
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Originally posted by Muldfeld

Actually he was involved in projects by Steven Spielberg, including Minority Report. He's a terrific actor and far better than anyone on Heroes.

The major mythology story finally starts this Sunday. I can't wait.

Matthew McCaunahey was also involved in Speilberg projects, does that make him a good actor?

I believe a number of actors in Heroes trump him in acting skill. Case in point - watch the 7-15-07 show. I was trying to decide which was worse, the script or his acting. The scene right after his eating of the apple pie was mind numbing.

I will watch last nights show tomorrow, but if it isn't better then it will be my last. This season has been an absolute waste.
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Old 07-23-2007, 04:16 AM   #42
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Yeah, I have problems with that scene, too, but a lot of other stuff with Jordan and Kyle was great and had a lot more to say about human nature than Heroes ever has. You're dead wrong about Tom Baldwin. He's extremely emotional and that may look like overacting, but I'm like that, too, and there are many quirks and subtleties to his acting (as when he reacted to the question of whether he fantasized about Diana) you'll never find among the cast of Heroes, except maybe Sylar -- maybe the Petrellis.

Here's my review of the okay episode you mentioned, "Try the Pie." You might find we agree on a lot.
My review
I feel conflicted by this episode because I loved the Kyle/Jordan Collier storyline and much of the Shawn/Diana/Maia storyline (except major reservations about the political commentary which I'll discuss later), but the spooky small town theme especially upset the show for me, and I don't exactly know why except that it just wasn't fully engaging. Some of the political themes relating to Maia's dream and emotional drama relating to the townsfolk seemed a bit "on the nose" -- a bit too self-conscious and not subtle enough. The most awkward but striking element was the use of the magic pie, which allowed a level of understanding among those in the room. I wonder if it's not promicin that is the key to world peace, but this pie -- probably drenched in some promicin injectee's super sweat -- because it is so often the lack of understanding of the other’s experiences that distances people in our world, and allows homogenization and dehumanization of the unfamiliar.

Regarding the townsfolk, I think it's fair to say the show has real trouble making stand-alone characters deserving of any moment of the small amount of episodes granted each year for The 4400. While I understand the need to match a certain realism in not having a select few be the only pivotal players, and conveying a more believable interconnectedness between our beloved main and recurring characters and newer or standalone ones to better reflect how society functions, the drama that grows out of this is less than satisfying. The best thing a dull character like Boyd Gelder did in Season 3, after wasting an entire episode like “Being Tom Baldwin,” was to die as a suicide bomber in the amazing season finale in a fantastic moment of political commentary about the nature of terrorism. While such characters may serve a purpose narratively for setting up such dramatic moments or affecting the setting for the better-written characters, they rarely seem very interesting; there was something cringe-worth in how that boy yelled like The X-Men's Banshee, which even Bryan Singer struggled to make believable or interesting; some powers just look silly. Some rare exceptions are Heather Tobey and Gary Navarro, who became much more interesting after their debuts. Perhaps, then, some characters are just slow to develop, but this is hardly reassuring in this show's 4th season in which every rare episode needs to be a home-run.

As usual, Kyle was fantastic in every way and I really enjoyed Jordan Collier's behavior. Instead of the reassured messianic figure I expected, he delivered some surprising moments of toughness, suspicion and uncertainty in his interaction with Kyle and especially Isabelle; I did wonder if she looked terrified enough, but perhaps she's still emotionally underdeveloped. (I just re-watched Season 3's “Graduation Day” and was reminded what a great actress she is.) I especially liked the complicated but understandable position Jordan took on injecting Tom by frighteningly taking away the latter's right to choose because of his trust of Kyle's zealous desire to fulfill fate, but later -- perhaps finding more certainty in his position -- encouraging Kyle to let Tom's free will play itself out. Also, there was some very truthful and engaging commentary on religion and political activism/terrorism that played out in this subplot. One can make comparisons between Kyle and the average faithful follower of any cause searching for meaning, be they student activist, violent revolutionary, or present-day potential fundamentalist Muslim martyr or fundamentalist Evangelical Christian -- as I saw on the documentary "Jesus Camp". For now, Jordan Collier has shown more grace and restraint than some fundamentalist Muslim clerics, but that may change if his faith in the book's prophesy is placed in doubt.

The subplot with Shawn was pretty good and there were some tense moments when it seemed Shawn was going to kill Gabriel Hewitt. Still, I found the subplot a bit of a departure from the realism for which the show aims -- on the first level, regarding the details of human interaction and, on the second, the political insight the show usually does so well. Gabriel Hewitt's remarks to the media seemed a bit too obviously against Shawn for his identity as a 4400. While this would definitely be emphasized in a real campaign, politicians usually use code language to avoid appearing bigoted. Then again, the perceived threat of The 4400 might allow people to be so overt; talk radio (including Glen Beck) certainly has no trouble taking shots at Muslims and Arabs as inherently inferior, I suppose. What I found most unbelievable was Hewitt's confession to Shawn that he had nothing against him personally, but was just using the national platform his campaign brought to elevate himself in the public spotlight. I just can’t imagine a ruthless political rival speaking so honestly if he expects to win, even if the motivations Hewitt revealed were a refreshingly unique and believable spin on the usual depiction of campaigns.

The political commentary of the Shawn/Hewitt/Diana/Maia storyline was what I found especially lacking because it employed such an obvious and cliché set of Nazi themes of persecution. So often recalled in sci-fi and other forms of Western storytelling and exploited for dramatic foreboding, threats of totalitarian Communism and Nazism are actually rarer than the more subtle and much more widespread economic and social discrimination and other forms of human cruelty that have occurred in history and, with our electoral consent in present times, continue to threaten human beings. As a result, viewers may take the message to wait until Nazi-like circumstances surround them before taking a stand, when there are so many other ways in which human viciousness manifests itself -- often with democratic consent.

While themes reflecting the threats of Communism and Nazism are worth remembering, their continual emphasis in American culture reflects less their relevance as continuing challenges to the human experience than the fact these were threats to America and its peoples. Obsession with these experiences reflects a kind of nationalist bias in which America's cultural practices of excessive individualism and capitalist profit priorities are never questioned; only the institution of slavery is emphasized comfortably because it can be relegated to the distant past as unAmerican.

The complex challenges facing American society within and without are far more indicative of those facing other societies, where the extreme circumstances leading to and part of Nazism and totalitarian Communism are unlikely to occur, and where the lessons of these political organizations are inapplicable. It would be more worthwhile to explore actions that have been practiced by the American government since its inception toward native Americans and other ethnic groups (colonialism), and toward Latin America and other peoples the world over indirectly through support of despotic regimes (in the name of anti-Communism) or defense of exploitative multilateral corporations (neo-colonialism, Capitalism, neo-liberalism) which don't take the form of overt Nazi fascism but have shattered many lives and their hopes for democratic freedom and equality. Many other societies are guilty of or likely to practice comparable actions, which means there is a greater truth and likelihood to the human experience we can decipher when we examine such frequently-occurring human activity.

Here are two examples of how complicated it is to deal with cruelty when it's not caused by the obvious form of Nazi oppression and intentional harm, but by conflicting freedoms and interests when creating justice for one group creates injustice for another; these scenarios are easily the most frequent causes of injustice, when citizens of more powerful peoples have to take responsibility for their government's policies' unintended consequences, and make hard choices. During the Cold War, the US endorsed unimpeded international capitalism when it favored its interests, while protecting its manufacturers and farmers with tariffs. This allowed America's United Fruit Company to bribe the Guatemalan government to let it confiscate common land shared by natives and establish bogus property rights. The UFC turned natives into an exploited labor force if they wanted to stay, and made them into indentured servants to work off the debt from advancing them useless supplies. The UFC replaced subsistence crops on which the inhabitants lived with cash crops that were poor in nutrition, so they had to enter this new economy to have money to buy food from elsewhere to survive. I saw a documentary year ago about either Chile or Argentina, in which a multilateral corporation is still exploiting people this way. Complete freedom of capital sometimes means the powerless lose their freedom. In this light, the American means of combating Communism could be as bad for non-Americans as the totalitarian threat they were claiming to destroy. Similarly, oversensitivity toward the terrible trauma of the Holocaust has meant much of the West, especially America, has absolved itself of its guilt in allowing its historic anti-Semitism to reach such proportions, and, in compensation, has turned a blind eye toward its support for Israeli colonialism and ethnic cleansing of Palestinians. The worthwhile principle of defending any social group (Jews, Rwandan Tutsis or anyone else) has become confused with permitting members of a historically-targeted group (Israeli Jews) to engage in aggression against another (Palestinians and Lebanese). The obsession with Nazi racism has permitted Zionist colonialism, in the name of self-defense, to victimize Palestinians, whose grievances are not due to religious identity but practical concerns. Yet all this (in addition to US Cold War interference with democratic roots in the Middle East) has helped the growth of misguided anti-Semitism and anti-Americanism in the Muslim world, which is upset by the Palestinian plight. In both these examples, American policy favored justice for one group in such a way that it created injustice for another. It supported the capitalist rights of US corporations, based on the entrepreneurial spirit that building wealth would supposedly trickle down to the poor (though it didn't), and disregarded the rights of Latin Americans, especially the lower class Indios. In the second case, it supported the goals of traumatized Zionist Jews and sympathetic evangelical Christians (President Truman, who supported the creation of Israel against the warnings of many including Secy of State George Marshall, would not let Jews into his home, but believed in the End Times prophesy.) but totally ignored the rights of Palestinians. The latter were chased out of their homes by militant Zionists, and had to live in squalor in refugee camps. Indeed, many liberal Jews (some in Israel) have opposed the occupation or, at least, further settlement of disputed land.

My fear is that sci-fi fans and much of the broader public too often may only regard as the threat of Nazi-like dominance -- as in "V for Vendetta" -- to be the societal tendency to watch out for, when most societies (not just the US) presently often allow much less obvious forms of dehumanization to occur. These terrible things are happening in the world and people should take action and mobilize against it as they did Nazism, but simply don't see these things as threatening or harmful because they don't resemble Nazism or Communist totalitarianism. Most cruelty in this world has not and does not resemble those movements or their aims (however important they were to the 20th Century), but occurs in much more subtle and widespread ways often with the complicity of the viewing public, which votes for politicians who directly or indirectly participate in or prolong this cruelty. While exploration of Nazism and Communist totalitarianism is important to understanding those kinds of extreme circumstances which affected millions, such allegories hardly depict the dilemmas facing the lives of untold billions who have lived, and who have been impacted by subtler, less concentrated, but nearly as traumatic experiences in the long-term. In short, just because Bill Clinton or George W. Bush is not Hitler doesn't mean any policies they bring about which threaten freedom and create or perpetuate human suffering should not be stopped. Vigilance of this kind against smaller scale cruelty may be a more effective way of pre-empting circumstances from ever reaching desperate levels of Nazism.

In any case, Nazism has been explored to death in fiction. My one hope is that Maia's vision was a kind of surrealism informed by her knowledge of Nazism, just as Shawn's reaction has been, and that none of these far too allegorical references will come to pass. What would be interesting is if, since Shawn, Diana, Maia and most Americans' views of the world and human nature have been affected by the specter of Nazism or Communist totalitarianism, they actually miss out in seeing the real threat that may be growing, and that Gabriel Hewitt may turn out to be a different kind of challenge. That would really be something to mirror our modern times, and point out the flawed way in which Western society engages with "evil." My fear is that it won't be anything as intricate, and that Shawn's storyline involves preventing another Nazi-type solution.

The storyline has been moving much faster than I'd expected.
Good but not great. 7.8 out of 10
I should emphasize that only the rarest of shows get 10 -- only the absolute best episodes of The X-Files ("Talitha Cumi", "Paper Hearts", "Redux II", etc.), Battlestar Galactica ("Pegasus","Lay Down Your Burdens") and Deep Space Nine ("In the Pale Moonlight"). I would give the best episode of The 4400 to date, "Fifty Fifty," around 8.5.
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Old 07-25-2007, 12:50 PM   #43
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Well, I am officially done with the show. Not since Alias has a show fallen on its ass as much as this one. Thankfully it didn't have quite as far to fall ...
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:25 PM   #44
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My review of "The Marked"

I had a complicated reaction to "The Marked" because I saw the first 8 or so minutes before going to bed and watched the rest when I woke up the next day. Based on the first part, I went to sleep exhausted but excited to watch the rest of what I thought would be a comedic episode; Ira Steven Behr wrote and co-wrote some of the rare science fiction stories that were actually hilarious, so I thought he was overseeing that same kind of work on this show. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately because of the later twists in the story, I was only partly right. The episode quickly shifted from the wonderfully light-hearted tone set by Curtis Peck's funny low-budget b-movies (including the music!) and the resulting characters' humorous yet appropriate reactions to them to seriously acknowledging the growing likelihood of a heretofore ridiculously convoluted-sounding conspiracy. Perhaps that wasn't a bad thing, especially for the deservedly serious Shawn and Jordan/Kyle subplots. Yet, while the grave resolution of the b-movie plot did break new creative ground for this series, that very resolution, in some ways, just felt less compelling and original in science fiction (with its mind-control, implants, and threats from powerful conspirators) than might have been a continuously comedic approach. It's admirable how Craig Sweeny's story self-consciously admits, early on, that such conspiracies are almost cliche in their use in bad science fiction and caricature-like in their preposterousness -- perhaps as a way of pre-empting criticism for this new twist. Yet eventually having the agents won over from their skepticism to an X-Filesian paranoia due to overwhelming evidence hardly makes this development (however neatly executed) any more believable or interesting, nor does it reassure me it won't retread well-worn paths in science fiction.

There were some nice developments among the cast. Marco had a meaty, but delightfully different role as an avid fan of Peck's films. Suspiciously touted as a potential love-interest for Tom, Meghan Doyle became instantly more interesting when she took on the adversarial role of allowing Tom's arrest and made Diana defensive. Even her reaction to the theory of the Marked was suspiciously fearful, and that intrigues me.

There were also nice turns in the continuing story. I was happy to see my reservations from last week about Gabriel Hewitt simply serving a Hitlerian allegory corrected, when he seemed grateful toward Shawn healing his stroke and indicated a willingness to change. It seems there's an opportunity for Shawn's grace to show how a man potentially hell-bent on hatred and genocide may have his views changed. It's also a chance for this program to show how our opponents are not inherently evil -- how all people have decency in them and are not fated to do wrong if shown, and influenced to follow, a different path. Great! Also, there was some great drama between Jordan and Shawn that drew upon their history. There was also some nice political discussion. Jordan denigrated the nature of politics as compromise, and I loved how Shawn explained his distrust of those who sought power but were unwilling to specify their objectives. This was a great moment for Shawn in expressing a sentiment to which we can all relate, even if we don't always operationally hold ourselves and our leaders to those same standards. Even Isabelle and Shawn discussed their past, but I have one minor gripe about Isabelle's apology to Shawn and her admission of mistakes, including that they had not been in love. Still lacking a proper upbringing, how did she come to these realizations in solitary confinement without healthy social interaction? Is it that her highly-developed brain allowed her to recognize certain things about herself in prison? I'm just a little confused at how Isabelle arrived at these emotionally-rational conclusions (for regular people) when her powers had mostly prevented her from ever having to compromise and learn boundaries and social graces from the world.

I'm conflicted about the unfolding mythology because I appreciate the ideas, but worry about the detailed execution. It was an unexpected surprise to see Jordan Collier's description in Season 3's "Terrible Swift Sword" of the coming catastrophe being caused by present-day elites now coming into clearer detail. The Marked are an interesting metaphor for the accumulation of power and favoritism that has occurred throughout human history, and is very observable today; for example, the Bush family has a privileged life and personal and financial ties to the very figures in regimes like Saudi Arabia who helped create and fund the ideologies that fuel Al Qaeda-type groups. Yet this metaphor, if it is to have any political impact in how people think, must remain grounded in recognizably human behavior people see in the world today -- observable in the very news. Otherwise, it risks being the kind of extreme allegory science fiction often unsuccessfully makes without impacting the viewer. If the audience does not feel confronted by problems of discrimination in the real world as the stark contrasts portrayed in most fiction between good and evil, it is because discrimination is often unconscious, subtle, and involves popular participation. Such black and white fiction will not impel the audience to act upon the real problems of society to improve the world because they do not see the explicit circumstances in reality which moved them so emotionally in fiction.

Conspiracies are tricky plot devices to credibly appeal to the audience. They always risk being written-off as implausible due to caricature-like assumptions about human nature in implying pure evil on the part of the conspirators. One of the best things The X-Files did in the middle of its run, climaxing in the middle of Season 6, was to explain the alien conspiracy facing the syndicate as a "Sophie's Choice" dilemma. The syndicate was doing terrible things, but for a greater perceived good of delaying colonization by collaborating. One of the realistic things about the Cigarette-Smoking Man is his depiction not as pure evil, but as a man whose dehumanizing activities to protect and preserve the project actually ruined his life. In contrast, the Well-Manicured Man served as the conscience of the group -- always urging for restraint in their cruel methods -- by appealing to their self-interest to protect the project by not risking wider exposure; he was able to raise a loving family. Comparatively, CSM's more ardent duty toward the project led him to give up on his personal life, on looking after his family and loved ones, and on finding happiness. The project was his obsession, his reason for living (he was partly suicidal). There was something so tragic in how this man's pursuits made him cold and removed from life, and, ultimately, made him almost incapable of loving healthily; he treated those close to him with demanding obedience and was quick to cut them off, if they failed him. One could say he committed evil acts, but there was always a psychologically-sympathetic and -accurate motivation behind his actions.

The idea of The Marked being labeled seems a bit obvious, and reminded me of The X-Files' super soldiers in Seasons 8 and 9, though The 4400 has at least handled this with a subtle mark. The idea of the Bill Gates of The 4400 universe, Drew Imroth, as a conspirator is intriguing because I initially reacted to it as slander, but maybe that's why such conspirators are successful. I'd almost forgotten Gates himself has changed his image over the last decade from the ugly ambition behind one of the most successful companies. Microsoft was investigated by the federal government as a ruthless monopolist which would undersell the competition to drive it out of business or buy innovative technologies from smaller companies that might challenge Microsoft's dominance only to bury them. I suppose The Marked might have different attitudes and ambitions toward life than the rest of us because they're acting with an uncommon awareness of themselves in the scheme of things.

I worry about the pod-people/mind-control type plots which may emerge with Tom as it has with Curtis Peck, which can seem very b-movie in themselves. I'd wondered if Tom and Diana's conspicuous encounter with Imroth in the parking garage was a bit much; if he'd just shut up, they'd have had their doutbs, but his coded message just made them more dedicated, though I can understand his desire to scare them off. The writers should perhaps place some humanizing doubt among the Marked. Successful zealots usually aren't doubtful, but -- as Paul Greengrass showed in his film "United 93" about the 9/11 hijackers -- they may still have some doubt and regret even if it's not enough to stop them.

While Imroth calling The Marked heroic means they're at least not consciously "evil", more needs to be done to pull this off as believably as previous adversaries. Their perspective needs some degree of understandable credibility -- just as Ryland's and the government's actions were understandable for being prompted by fear of loss of security and order. Then again, ideologies supporting slavery and discrimination had their backers, and people find no moral justification for either of these anymore, though discrimination unconsciously still occurs. So, perhaps the Marked are just a hierarchical group justifying their own selfish power structure, but they would probably find a reasonable-sounding basis for this --perhaps a self-justifying view of history or notions of social superiority that validates their power, just as colonialism and second tier treatment of non-Europeans were still popular with celebrated heroes like Winston Churchill at war's end. Also, modern parallels could be the unconscious discrimination of a US government that condescends to the Middle East with homogenizing assumptions about its peoples and controlling interference to ensure its interests (observable in their disregard for Hamas' legitimacy in Palestine and manipulation of Iraqi policy, despite hollow rhetoric about wanting democracy above all else). Then again, most cultures do this to one another. The key, I think, is to make this discriminatory belief structure motivating The Marked somehow relatable and illuminating about human nature by making it subtle and perhaps unconscious.

For example, Ronald Reagan and George W. Bush were not outright racists, but they, especially the former, were operationally racist in pushing forth economic and social policy that disregarded certain minorities who were poor due to a legacy of explicit discrimination. When judging a politician's likely conduct, my older brother says it's not so much what (s)he believes in, but what lesser goals is (s)he most likely to first sacrifice in pursuit of higher priorities? Resources are always finite and tough choices are inevitably made. Clinton cared about liberal values and gay rights, but his positions changed when he prioritized winning the 1996 election. He avoided his longtime gay activist friend, and signed into law welfare reform and "three strikes and you're out" legislation that disproportionately discriminated against the poor. Similarly, it's not that the Bush administration's members consciously wish to violate civil liberties, directly or indirectly kill innocent Muslims/Arabs in Iraq, Lebanon, Palestine, and Iran, wants blacks to suffer in Katrina in addition to many other ways, enjoy torturing mostly innocent people in Abu Ghraib and secret prisons, or are purely interested in oil for America's future, and wealth for themselves and their companions in the elite. It's that their selfish prioritization is such that their willingness to disregard human misery of some groups is intermingled with pursuit of self-serving nationalist and (conveniently inconsistent) capitalist ideologies and psychological insecurities (especially with Bush) that they have unconsciously engaged in colonialism abroad and fascist approaches at home. Not all politicians have to be so self-serving. While Lyndon Johnson engaged in a terribly racist foreign policy, he was still heroic at home. He was prepared to sacrifice his presidency to help the most powerless in society through his Civil Rights initiatives and the War on Poverty.

In watching this struggle between future factions in The 4400, I'm reminded of a situation which developed in DS9 with a higher power struggle between the Prophets -- wormhole aliens living outside of time and worshipped as gods by Bajorans -- and the fallen angel-like Pah-wraiths who had more selfish pursuits. The latter's evil nature made them far less interesting because they were less complex among the traditional adversaries on the show: the Dominion, Cardassians, etc. Even Gul Dukat descended from a complex figure to one who became, in Seasons 6 and 7, either insane or so consumed with anger, nothing was left on his mind but vengeance; I've thought Dukat's end might have been more interesting if he'd sacrificed himself at the last minute for the Alpha Quadrant instead of just remaining mindlessly power-hungry. I see the same danger happening on The 4400. What's been great on this show is how the future people are far from all-knowing or even perfectly ethical. Yet I fear a caricature-like adversary in The Marked and their future accomplices, much like the Pah-wraiths, in never really finding out what motivates them emotionally and personally. What's it like for these beings trapped in the past? How do they stay motivated, if they are so far removed from the future benefits of their present day actions? Might some diverge from the course? What specifically is it they cherish from their future that they risked this mission to combat the plans of the future people who sent back The 4400? It can't just be some future dominance they'll never enjoy, or, if so, perhaps their motivations need to be defined ideologically as well as practically. I'm hoping the writers do this and make the Marked as complex as Jordan Collier and Dennis Ryland themselves.

Much depends on where this leads. Giving the writers much benefit of the doubt, I give this an 8/10, especially for the comedy.
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Old 07-25-2007, 06:29 PM   #45
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Well, I am officially done with the show. Not since Alias has a show fallen on its ass as much as this one. Thankfully it didn't have quite as far to fall ...
Alias is the biggest load of superficial garbage I've ever seen. The most formulaic stories, lame action filler, and cheesy drama. Awful casting of Jennifer Garner, who's probably the worst highly paid actress in TV history. No wonder you don't appreciate the good aspects of this show. You actually LIKED Alias at some point.
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