The best show on television that you are not watching (and that you never have even heard of) is USA Network's The 4400. While as I have said in the past, I am not a science fiction guy by nature, despite the sci-fi elements of The 4400, I became quickly addicted to the show thanks to it smart storytelling, great actors, and compelling characters. In fact, one of the reasons why I initially disliked NBC's Heroes was because I thought it was a rip off of The 4400. And while the two shows are similar in concept (ordinary people have special abilities and must use them to save the world from disaster) both shows are excellent. Chances are, if you like Heroes, you will love The 4400.
Basically, in a nutshell (and please, while the description of the show may scare you off if you dislike science fiction, the show is really a character drama) 4400 people were abducted and vanished without a trace over a 60 year period from 1940-2000 (or thereabouts). Then, one day, they all returned, all in one place, without having aged a day from when they were taken, and some had special abilities (like being able to heal people, see the future, ect.) Over the last three seasons we have learned that these people were taken by people from the future, given special abilities, and seeded back into the timeline in hopes their abilities and return would save the world from its coming future, which isn't pretty. Here's the opening video to show which gives you the gist of the show's background.
While that's the background for the show, the reason why the show is so great is because of the characters and storytelling, not the science fiction elements. Jacqueline McKenize (a very underrated Australian actress) and Joel Grestch play Diana Skouris and Tom Baldwin play two NTAC agents (think Homeland Security) who keep tabs on a number of the 4400, including pre-teen Maia (who can see the future and was adopted by Diana) and Shawn (Tom's nephew who can heal people with his hands and was trust into leadership of The 4400 when his mentor, Jordan Collier, was "murdered", but we'll get to Collier in a moment). The true star of the show though is Billy Campbell, who plays the aforementioned Jordan Collier, evil (?) leader of The 4400. Campbell is exceptional in the part because you never really know what Collier is doing, whether it is for good, or evil, or maybe both. I'd say more, but that may give away parts of the story, which may ruin your viewing of the show for those that haven't watched it yet.
One of the reasons the show is so great is because of the relationship between the characters and the pitting of The 4400 versus the government, as nobody can quite tell whether we should embrace or eliminate the 4400 returnees. So why am I writing about the show today? Because The 4400 - The Complete Third Season was released today and trust me, this is one TV set on DVD you'll want to pick up.
It's a fast watch (13 one hour episodes) and the DVDs are packed with special features. 5 of the episodes have commentaries, which include, in varying episodes, McKenzie and Gretsch, co-creator and director Scott Peters, and executive producer and 4400 mastermind Ira Steven Behr. You can tell by listening to the actors and producers talk how much they really enjoy working on the show, and you get great insight into some of the mythology and backstory of the show. I listened to all of the commentaries on the past DVD releases and I've already checked out the McKenzie, Gretsch, and Peters commentary on "Gone (Part 2)" (one of my favorite episodes of last season) and it was a great listen. There are also five featurettes, including a blooper reel and lots of behind the scenes segments looking at both the characters and how the show and its stories are told.
New episodes of the The 4400 for its new season start June 17 on USA Network so you have plenty of time to pick up the DVD set and get caught up. The First and Second seasons are also available (the first was a 5 episode mini-series so if you want to try out the show first, that's a good way to go, but the season really hit its stride in years 2 and 3) through Amazon at the links below. This is a show which doesn't get a lot of publicity because it's on USA, but it's great, and this is coming from a non science fiction fan who loves the show. Give it a chance, you won't regret it.