Available on DVD


  1. Beyond The Sky
  2. Jacob And Jesse
  3. High Hopes
  4. Acid Tests
  5. Maintenance
  6. Charlie And Lisa
  7. God's Equation
  8. Dropping The Dishes
  9. John
  10. Taken

Russell Keys - Steve Burton

Kate Keys - Julie Benz

Allie Keys - Dakota Fanning

Charlie Keys - Adam Kaufman

Owen Crawford - Joel Gretsch

Mary Crawford - Amanda Donahue

Thomas Campbell - Michael Moriarty

John - Eric Close

Sally Clarke - Catherine Dent

Lisa Clarke - Emily Bergl

Marty Erickson - John Hawkes

Howard Bowen - Jason Gray Stanford

Dr Wakeman - Matt Frewer

The 4400
Dark Skies

Beyond The Sky

Russell Keys is a war hero, but his mind has been partly unhinged by what he saw during the war. That involved strange blue lights and nazis experimenting on them who might have been aliens. Owen Crawford discovers the Roswell crash, but when the army freeze him out of the project he takes drastic action. Sally Clarke is visited by a stranger called John who shows up in her barn and awakens feelings in her that she thought her married had buried.

TAKEN sets out its stall from the beginning with a bombing raid over Europe being interrupted by alien lights. Whilst it suggests the scale that the show is going for, it also suggests that some of the effects aren't going to be the best. The crashed spaceship and the aliens themselves show the worst and best of these effects.

TAKEN, though, is about the people and whilst a good few of them are thinly sketched and predictable, they are all pretty much likeable enough to be cared about from the very start. The one exception is Owen Crawford who is the most fun character, but a lead plated git with it. He is not above marrying a woman he doesn't love in order to keep himself involved in the spaceship project.

The voice over by a little girl character to come later is grating and annoying and not really necessary, and the plot does wander around a bit, but there is enough going on for the audience to be taken into the show and held for the entire running time.


Jacob and Jesse

Russell is now a hobo riding the rails in order to keep the aliens away from his family, but he returns home when his son is targeted by the aliens. Sally Clarke is obsessed with the alien who fathered her child, a child with remarkable mental gifts, gifts that Owen Crawford wants very badly and is willing to do whatever it takes to get hold of.

The story has leapt forward a few years, but the new tales are interesting enough to keep the audience on side. It's still all about the people and so, on kidnapped train aside, there isn't that much in the way of special effects action, but the characters are rounding out and becoming more compelling, most especially Owen Crawford who continues to be a rivetting evil villain of a man.

There are no answers here and it is hard to see where all this is going, but the journey remains worth the taking.


High Hopes

Jesse comes to see Russell and they learn that they both have identical tumours in their heads. They go to the Air Force and find Owen Crawford who promises to help them, but has his own agenda to follow. Meanwhile, Crawford's men close in on Jacob's hiding place.

The duplicity of Owen Crawford remains the central point of the show and Joel Gretch's super performance holds it all together, even when his reactions to the problems with his home life all get a bit ... well ... silly.

The experimentation on Russell to find out what is in his head is dramatic, though it offers no answers and there is no real sense of the story moving forwards even though there is plenty of actual incident.

Central characters such as Sally Clarke and Kate Keys have completely disappeared and other events have taken place (the van chase at the start) with no real purpose.


Acid Tests

It's 1970 and Owen's sons are grown up and not particularly friendly. Sam discovers a link between the artefact in his father's safe and a mummy recently discovered in Alaska. He travels to the site and finds that people are dying in strange, alien ways.

Virtually everything that has gone before is jettisoned in this episode. The story moves to the next generation, but not of the families that have been the focus to this point. The story also doesn't have a lot to do with the main arc, concerning a different event in a different place.

As a creepy horror tale, it is mildly chilling, but never really scary. As the story progresses, though, it takes on some interesting facets and then comes up with a surprising and harsh twist right at the end. To top that, it adds a postscript to Owen's story that is equally rought, though not undeserved.

We're no further forward at the end than we were at the beginning in understanding what's going on, but it was a diverting side trip.



Owen Crawford's son Eric has proven to be just as evil as his father was and his pursuit of Jacob and Jesse's families again take a more personal focus that threatens to rip marriages apart.

It's 1980 and the though the tale has moved on ten years nothing has seemed to have progressed. Though Owen has been replaced by Eric, they could be interchangeable and Jesse is now worried that his son will be targeted by both aliens and military alike.

It's all very watchable and the big finale has a scale to it that we've been waiting for, but there is still a sense that this almost another standalone episode running along a main story that we are not seeing.


Charlie And Lisa

The aliens have taken all Eric's evidence and his operation is shut down, but he is brought back into the fold years later to investigate when a secret payload is stolen in space. He goes after the latest generation of Keys and Clarke children, children who seem destined to have a very special baby.

This episode zips through several years in big jumps of six months here, five years there, all of which makes it bitty and episodic rather than seeming like part of a bigger story. Despite having the title, Charlie and Lisa seem almost incidental to the plot, but that plot seems to be a series of unconnected events rather than some sort of narrative.

We're going through the motions again with Eric Crawford once again chasing members of a family and fighting to keep his funding. As a result, patience is waning and some sort of point to all this is needed, and soon.


God's Equation

Nine years after they conceive a child on a spaceship during abductions, Charlie and Lisa find each other again. Their daughter is Allie and she has more alien powers than anyone before her. Before the government can snatch her, however, she is taken as part of a hostage seige by a man who wants the world to know the truth.

Hostage seiges are naturally tense and this is not exception, but there is very little here that hasn't been done dozens of time with only the slight wrinkle of the demands and Allie's abilities to make it any different.

That said, the focus on a single period of time and almost a single event make this the most coherent episode in a while. The fact that Eric's daughter is just like her father and grandfather makes it a bit tedious, but at least the ending has possibilities and the end is nigh, according to Allie anyway.


Dropping The Dishes

The military take over the operation, taking Allie to a secluded location as bait for a trap in which they plan to bring down an alien saucer. Charlie and Lisa track her down, but so does Mary Crawford who holds the last piece of the puzzle.

After the last show's focussing on a single story strand, this episode moves that on, with Allie being held at a remote location, Charlie and Lisa tracking her down and the dumped Mary Crawford clawing her way back into the game. The plot strands are crashing together and there is a real feeling that this is where it's all been heading. It's impressive enough to make you almost forgive the meandering path that brought us to this point.

It's not without its problems. The developing relationship between one soldier and Allie is as subtle as a sledgehammer, overlong and repetitive. Many scenes are borrowed from producer Steven Spielberg's CLOSE ENCOUNTERS OF THE THIRD KIND. Charlie and Lisa find the only guide in the whole area who would so quickly help them against the army. Likely, it's not.

The climax, though, when it finally comes is worth the effort and sets up the story for its continuation.



Soldiers board the alien spaceship and discover dead mothers, cockroach invasions and Mary, terrified out of her mind by what she has seen. It's time for the family to go on the run again, but this leads to the return of a familiar figure.

Just how stupid are the aliens in TAKEN? John, who is the same image that was projected to start off the whole breeding project, shows up and decides that he can take down a whole gang of armed youths by making one of them not feel very well. It's no wonder that he ends up with an awful lot of bullet holes in him.

Which makes him very much like the plot. The first half of the episode is far and away the more interesting as the military deal with the downed spaceship and then find themselves outflanked and outmanoeuvred. At this point, the interest leaches out of the plot as it reverts to its default status of one family being hunted by another in the name of the government.

Thank goodness that this is the penultimate episode since we might actually get some sort of answers in the hope that they make the journey worth the taking.



John takes away both the military and the aliens' ability to track Allie, but before the family can make a break for South America, Mary makes one last attempt to take the little girl and the aliens arrive en masse.

So what's it all been about? The secret is revealed right at the very start of the episode which makes you wonder exactly what they've got lined up for the rest of the final episode. Well, following a perfunctory kidnap attempt and shock twist killing, everything settles down into a seige storyline that can only have one possible ending.

It's been a long road to get to this ending and at times the viewer has to wonder whether it is worth it and the ending will very likely not satisfy everyone. The Christ allegory is overdone even before the ascension scene and the music is horribly manipulative, but the Spielbergian direction and the actors manage to suck you in and make you think that maybe it was worthwhile all along, at least until the cold light of the after-credits assessment.

TAKEN was ambitious in scope and intention, but flawed in pacing and construction. Still, it is better to shoot for the stars and fall short than to simply play in the mud.






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