MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON
Directed by Various
Produced by Various
Written by Various
Director of Photograpy Robert McLachlan
Music by Mark Snow
Cast: Lance Henriksen, Terry O'Quinn, Meghan Gallagher, Kristen Cloke
1997-98/989 mins/Color/Dolby 2.0
1.78:1 anamorphic/English/USA/NTSC Region 1
Review from the 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment DVD
It's not unusual for a television show to go through changes. Over the years, many shows have been "re-tooled" in various ways, such as changing actors, changing locations, or making changes to the tone or story-line of the program. But, few shows have made drastic changes seen in Season 2 of MILLENNIUM. Series creator Chris Carter handed the reigns of the show to X-FILES alums Glen Morgan and James Wong, who took the supernatural crime-solving show into a radically different and wholly unsatisfying new direction. MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON has now come to DVD, or as I like to call it, "So, you liked Season One of MILLENNIUM, huh? Well, screw you!"
(SPOILER WARNING!: In order to describe MILLENNIUM Season 2, I must divulge some of the plot-lines for the shows, as well as discuss events from Season 1. So, if you haven't seen Season 1 and want to be surprised by Season 2, read with caution.) The first season of MILLENNIUM established the show as a hybrid of crime-drama and supernatural-horror. Chris Carter, creator of THE X-FILES, gave the show hefty dose of both genres, although the shows usually leaned more towards the investigative nature of crime-solving. Former FBI agent Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) has a special gift which allows him to sense a criminal's motives and actions...although, he's not psychic! We learned in Season 1 that Frank had left the Bureau and moved to Seattle with his wife, Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and his daughter, Jordan (Brittany Tiplady). Frank a joined an organization called The Millennium Group, who consulted with law enforcement on unusual cases. Throughout Season 1, Frank tackled many individual cases involving serial killers, and as that season drew to a close, Catherine was abducted.
Chris Carter was busy with THE X-FILES and the movie, THE X-FILES: FIGHT THE FUTURE when Season 2 of MILLENNIUM rolled around, so he turned the reins over to X-FILES alums Glen Morgan and James Wong, who promptly took the show in a different direction. The season opener resolves the situation with Catherine's abduction, but the experience frightens her (obviously), so she chooses to separate from Frank and take Jordan with her. Now alone, Frank pours himself into his work with The Millennium Group. However, his work is no longer just about serial killers. There were hints in Season 1 that the Group was into bigger things and these ideas are revealed (sort of) in Season 2. The Millennium Group is convinced that a catastrophic event of some sort will take place at the beginning of the year 2000. Their task is to search for signs of these coming events and learn how to deal with them. So, while Frank is still typically called in to investigate a murder, the suspect usually isn't a serial killer, but someone with a link to the occult, or some form of evil which has been sent to "test" Frank. As Frank learns more and more about The Group, he begins to grow weary of their tactics and fears for the lives of himself and his family.
The differences between Seasons 1 and 2 of MILLENNIUM are incredibly jarring and it's hard to imagine the change being satisfying for many fans of the show. Sure, Season 1 wasn't the greatest thing ever -- it was far too monotonous -- but it did contain some standout episodes and showed us a crime show with a twist. Season 2 represents some of the most dis-jointed, bizarre, and downright boring television that I've ever seen. Morgan and Wong didn't just take the show in a different direction, they basically created a brand-new show. They took Frank's family out of the picture for the most part, and then took away her powers of perception. Peter Watts (Terry O'Quinn), another member of The Millennium Group, appeared in over half of the episodes of Season 1, but he's in all but four shows in Season 2 and essentially becomes Frank's partner. Also thrown into the mix is Lara Means (Kristen Cloke AKA Mrs. Glen Morgan), a member of the Group who has visions similar in nature to Frank's. Now Frank, the haunted loner, always has his "pals" around.
Aside from those issues the biggest change is the shift in focus on the show. Having eschewed the weekly hunt for a killer, Morgan and Wong begin to explore the mysteries of The Millennium Group and the effect that this affiliation is going to have on Frank's life. This would be interesting is we ever learned anything conclusive about the Group. Many episodes feel like a Michael Crichton novel, as the action will suddenly stop for a history lesson about religion or disasters from the past. It's great that someone did their research, but that doesn't make for interesting TV. There is a great deal of religious ideology spouted on the show, but it never adds up and feels like a sleight of hand to keep the viewer watching, much like the MANY alien theories on THE X-FILES.
While watching Season 2, it becomes quite clear that Morgan and Wong didn't have complete control over the series, as there are still a handful of episodes which hark back to Season 1 and have Frank on the hunt for a killer. The mixing of the two different kinds of shows makes it feel as the episodes aren't being shown in the correct order. An episode where Frank has decided that he's leaving the Group will be followed by one in which he's working on a mystery for his employers. Many of us have sworn that we aren't going back to "that job!", but Frank actually had the option to quit. One positive thing that Morgan and Wong did try to do with Season 2 is to inject some humor into the show. But, a show as dark as MILLENNIUM needs humor in small doses, not for entire episodes, such as "Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense" or "Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me" (possibly one of the worst TV shows I've ever seen). Season 1 of MILLENNIUM had brought viewers a suspenseful show which contained graphic images and disturbing ideas which could unnerve most anyone. Those ideas are gone in Season 2, as the show will only frighten those who still haven't gotten over Y2K or who fear religious prophecies.
MILLENNIUM: THE COMPLETE SECOND SEASON comes to DVD courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The six-disc boxed set contains all 23 episodes from the show's second season. All of the shows are letterboxed at 1.78:1 and the transfers are enhanced for 16 x 9 TVs. The shows look fantastic as the images are very sharp and clear. The picture is free from any grain or defects from the source material. The show is quite dark, but the image is never too dark and the splashes of bright colors look excellent. The framing looks fine and the image never looks flat. There is some mild artifacting here, but no over edge-enhancement. As with Fox's other TV shows on DVD, MILLENNIUM carries a Dolby 2.0 Surround track that sounds more like a 5.1 track. The dialogue is clear and audible, and the sound effects and music sound great. There is a great deal of surround sound action and the bass response from the front channels rival most 5.1 tracks. Overall, a great DVD set, technically speaking.
The Second Season DVD set of MILLENNIUM is oddly shorn of extras. Only two episodes have audio commentary; "The Hand of Saint Sebastian" from director Thomas J. Wright (Disc 2) and "The Mikado" from writer Michael R. Perry (Disc 4), which is quite a change from Fox's other TV sets. There are two additional extras on Disc 6. "Turn of the Tide: Making MILLENNIUM Season Two" (33 minutes) is an overview of the season which contains comments (some from archive interviews) from the cast and crew. Interestingly, Morgan and Wong were invited to participate, but declined. Which is probably good, since many of the speakers politely state that this duo took the show in a direction that didn't make anyone happy. The other extra is "Academy Group: Victimology" (24 minutes) which explores the real-life crime consulting firm which influenced creation of The Millennium Group.
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Review by Mike Long. All Right Reserved. 2005. ©