A cult sci-fi series is making a comeback. The CW has given a straight-to-series order to The 4400, a reimagining of the 2004 USA Network drama. It hails from Riverdale co-executive producer Ariana Jackson and Anna Fricke, who successfully rebooted Walker, Texas Ranger for the CW.
The 4400 is part of four greenlights given by the CW on Tuesday. The network, which last year did not do traditional pilots because of the coronavirus pandemic, ordering four projects straight-to-series, will film at least three pilots in 2021: Diablo Cody and Berlanti Prods.’ Powerpuff Girls; Ava DuVernay and Jill Blankenship’s DC-themed Naomi; and a millennial nun dramedy from Jennie Snyder Urman, Claire Rothrock & Ryann Weir. All four projects have all-female creative teams.
The 4400 has been a title that the CW chairman Mark Pedowitz has been high on. Its development history mirrored that of The Lost Boys. Both went through multiple cycles with different writers as they were kept alive by the network. (The Lost Boys’ latest incarnation remains in contention but did not make it to today’s list of pickups.)
In The 4400, written by Jackson, 4400 overlooked, undervalued, or otherwise marginalized people who vanished without a trace over the last hundred years are all returned in an instant, having not aged a day and with no memory of what happened to them. As the government races to analyze the potential threat and contain the story, the 4400 themselves must grapple with the fact that they’ve been returned with a few…upgrades, and the increasing likelihood that they were all brought back now for a specific reason.
Jackson executive produces with Fricke and Laura Terry. CBS Studios, which was behind the original series, is the studio.
The original 4400, created by Scott Peters and René Echevarria, was part of the first batch of series ordered by USA under its renewed push into original programming in the early 2000s. It followed the successful launches of The Dead Zone and Monk as the network at the time was exploring different genres, including sci-fi, before focusing squarely on blue-sky procedurals for a long period of time.
The 4400, which starred Joel Gretsch, Jacqueline McKenzie, Mahershala Ali and Patrick Flueger, quickly developed a following and ran for four seasons, until the cable network moved away from genre. It remained a cult favorite and a title in the CBS Studios library that the studio brass had been keen on revisiting.
The CW originally developed a reboot during the 2018-19 season with different writers-producers. The project was ultimately rolled and remained bubbling on the back burner as the network and studio were waiting for the right new take on the premise.
Since The 4400, there have been several other series about the unexplained return of people presumed dead, including The Returned and Manifest.