MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Directed by Various
Produced by Various
Written by Various
Director of Photograpy Peter Wustorf & Robert McLachlan
Music by Mark Snow
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, Terry O'Quiin, Bill Smitrovich
1996/946 mins/Color/DD 2.0 Surround
1.33:1/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD
I was a fan of THE X-FILES from that show's inception (but gave up when Duchovny left), but I never got into any of the other products from series creator Chris Carter. Actually, I don't think that I ever watched a single episode of any other Carter show (unless you count THE NANNY, which he wrote for and produced!). Looking back, I'm not sure why I didn't give MILLENNIUM a chance when it first aired, but I was anxious to check out the show when it hit DVD. Now that I've watched THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON, I can say that I'm glad that I watched the program in a compacted form, as opposed to over the course of a season.
In MILLENNIUM, Lance Henriksen plays Frank Black, a retired FBI agent whose specialty is profiling criminals, especially serial killers. Frank has a "gift" which allows him to see inside of the killer's mind (but, he isn't psychic). Following an incident where someone was stalking his family, Frank has left Washington, D.C., and moved cross-country to Seattle with his wife, Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and their young daughter, Jordan (Brittany Tiplady). But, Frank has left the world of crime-fighting all together. He is now part of an organization called "The Millennium Group", which is made up of former law-enforcement personnel like Frank. Frank now consults with local law-enforcement agencies on unusually violent crimes. His work takes him around the nation, where he tracks serial killers, sexual predators, and the like. While Frank is involved in this dark work, he tries to make his home-life as positive as possible. However, as the season progresses, it becomes obvious that the evil that permeates the world is coming closer to Frank's home.
MILLENNIUM is an interesting show that, in Season One at least, never really lives up to its potential, especially when compared to THE X-FILES -- and while the show should be able to stand on its own, it's nearly impossible to not compare it to THE X-FILES. For everything that MILLENNIUM does right, there is usually one thing that it does wrong. As for the positive aspects, the Frank Black character, and more importantly, the performance by Lance Henriksen, is truly the driving force of the show. Frank is a man who is haunted by his past and the horrifying things that he's seen, but continues to fight the good fight, both by catching criminals and by taking care of his family. The overwhelming majority of the 22 episodes in Season One are self-contained stories (more on that in a moment). Many of these programs contain very interesting premises, most notably in the methods that the killers use to get to their victims (see the shows "Blood Relatives" and "Wide Open"). The show is very dark and graphic in its depiction of violence and sexuality (the episode "Loin Like a Hunting Flame" really pushes the envelope in terms of sex), and helps to establish the very serious edge of the show. One of the true highlights of MILLENNIUM is the fact that genre greats Lance Henriksen and Terry O'Quinn are often on-screen together. (On a side note, there is one thing about MILLENNIUM that I truly admire. One of the most noticeable DVD problems in recent years was the fact that on DAWSON'S CREEK: SEASON THREE, the familiar "I Don't Want to Wait" theme song had been replaced due to budgetary reasons. However, within the first two minutes of the MILLENNIUM pilot, we hear "More Human Than Human" by White Zombie and Nine Inch Nails' "Piggy". So, bravo for ponying up the dough for original music.)
But, for all of those positive aspects, the first season of MILLENNIUM never gels. Those who know THE X-FILES know that the show is all about story arcs. Even though there are plenty of stand-alone episodes, Chris Carter set up a very ornate mythology for THE X-FILES and those storylines were carried out across the episodes and seasons (to the point that they became annoying). But, in the first season of MILLENNIUM, no true story arc emerges. Of the 22 episodes, only 4 have any real links. Now, that isn't necessarily a bad thing, and the individual episodes do hold some power (and this would have made it easier for casual viewers to jump into the series), but the fact that the show doesn't really grow makes it hard to keep watching. (Although, I watched all 22 episodes just waiting for something to happen.) As for the various episodes, most of them have great ideas, but many of the shows are simply boring...and they quickly become redundant. By the end of the season, it becomes laughable that various law-enforcement officials can walk through a crime scene, but Frank Black can walk in and find something just sitting out in the open that becomes an important clue. As mentioned in my introduction, I stuck with MILLENNIUM throughout this boxed set, but if I'd been watching the first season in real time, I think that I would have given up by episode six. MILLENNIUM isn't necessarily a bad show, as it does many things right, but it doesn't really grab the viewer. Having said that, the season did end with a good cliffhanger, so I will be checking out the Season Two set when it arrives.
MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON arrives on DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. This six-disc set contains all 22 episodes from the show's premiere season. Each show is presented in its original 4:3 aspect ratio. The shows look very good, as the images are very sharp and clear, only showing overt grain when it is used for stylistic reasons. (Although there are some occasional odd close-ups which are grainy -- these look like digital zooms.) The shows is very dark, and the black tones are very rich. However, when color does intrude into the show, such as Frank's yellow house, it looks fine. The DVDs carry a Dolby 2.0 Surround audio tracks. These tracks provide clear dialogue and sound effects and do a great job of reproducing Mark Snow's scores. The surround sound and bass effects (from the front speakers) are good, but aren't as good as those found on the BUFFY or ANGEL DVDs, which also come from Fox.
The MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON DVD set contains a handful of extras. Disc 1 contains audio commentaries by series creator Chris Carter ("Pilot") and director David Nutter ("Gehenna"). Both of these commentaries are good, as they address the challenging nature of making such a dark show, while also providing interesting information about the actors and locations. The remainder of the extras can be found on Disc 6. We start with "Order in Chaos: Making MILLENNIUM Season One". This 51-minute documentary gives a very in-depth into the making of the show and features comments from Chris Carter, Lance Henriksen, Megan Gallagher, Mark Snow, and many of the writers, directors, and producers. This featurette contains a great deal of behind-the-scenes footage as it examines everything from the show's inception to the stylistic choices made in the program. "Chasing the Dragon: A Conversation with The Academy Group" (22 minutes) focuses on the real-life organization which inspired The Millennium Group. This segment is interesting, but it's rather dry. The 10-minute "Creating the Logo and Title Sequence" is exactly what it says it is, as Justin Carrol and Ramsey McDaniel discuss their respective duties in helping to give the show a unique identity. Finally, we have 8 TV spots for the "Pilot" episode.
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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2004. ©