A few months back I had 1000 or so negatives from 2001-2004 scanned by ScanCafe.com. They ship them off to India and you pay only 19 cents per scan. You may remember I posted a few.
In what was some very bad timing indeed, just after I had paid my $200 for the scans, I was given a professional Nikon slide scanner. A woman I used to work with bought it for me on the condition I scan all her old slides for her.
It took me weeks to scan them all. It was one of the most tedious things I have ever done, and throughout, I pitied the poor Indians who scanned all of mine for me.
Still, I now owned a slide scanner and it seemed a shame not to utilize it. I had my parents bring a bunch of my old negatives to France with them. I thought I may as well scan all of those too. They date from 1988-1998. (The years 1999-2001 are a photographic black hole in my life).
Scanning your own negatives is much less tedious than scanning someone else’s, but the job is still far from stimulating. I needed a distraction, and that’s where The 4400 came in. The 4400 is a sci-fi show about 4400 people being abducted from Earth then sent back with special abilities. In the time it took me to scan 1000 or so negatives I watched all 4 seasons of it. About 50 episodes.
There’s a couple of things I should say about this show: 1. It is shit and 2. It is fantastic.
I don’t mean it’s so bad it’s good or any other such nonsense like that. It’s just some very average television, with unoriginal plots and ropey acting, but it has a wonderfully likable cast and the escapism it offers is so comforting that once you’re hooked, you just have to see the whole silly thing through to the end.
People come and go from the cast like leaves in the wind, they switch allegiances, they die, they come back to life, none of it affects you in any way. It’s like when characters die in Star Trek. You know they’ll be back, and if they don’t come back, big deal; you’ve forgotten about them soon enough anyway. Every twist in the plot is utterly predictable. Or not. Who cares. It plods on at its own pace, new things happen, new people come, yet it’s always the same.
It is the perfect accompaniment to a mind-numbingly dull task, like ironing, knitting or cleaning. It’s also great when you don’t want to sleep, but don’t have the mental energy to engage with anything useful or good. You just lie down and watch 4 hours of it. Let it wash over you like warm bath. Once you’re done you won’t have learned anything and it won’t make you see the world in a different light, but those 4 hours were still well spent.
During the last episode last night I packed my scanner into its box ready for shipping. I sold it on ebay, I’m done with scanning for life.
I sat down for the last 10 minutes of the show and something very strange happened. For the first time in 50 episodes I became 100% engaged with it. The show reached a new plateau. All those hours of semi-concentration, the half-understood plot lines, the dozens of characters; all of it came together in one of those soppy montages to music that Lost is so fond of using. This one was scored by The Pixies and it was awesome. I almost had a tear in my eye. Either my brain has melted from too much exposure to garbage, or season 5 of The 4400 is something to actually look forward to. Whether it is or it isn’t, I’ll definitively be watching and I recommend you do too.
I’ll show you a few of those old scans soon too.