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Monday, December 7, 2020

‘Millennium After the Millennium’ Makes a Case for Why the “Other” Chris Carter Show Was So Much More [Review]

If the “general public” remembers Millennium at all, it’s probably as The X Files’ little sister series. Chris Carter’s second show arrived with a flurry of hype—the teaser promos, with a drooling nutcase bellowing “the thousand years is OVER!” were all but inescapable in the fall of 1996—but faced a tough road as viewers declined, seemingly scared off by the relentlessly dark tone of the first season; and the Fox Network waffled in its support. The idiosyncratic show, about an impassioned force for good (Lance Henriksen’s profiler Frank Black) confronting the forces of darkness in a world on the verge of apocalypse, lasted for three seasons, supported by a fiercely loyal fan base. But Millennium was unceremoniously cancelled right before the actual year 2000. 

True believers have kept Millennium’s peculiar legacy alive, though, leading to websites, a two volume soundtrack release, a 2015 comic book, and last year’s Millennium After the Millennium, a lean, spunky documentary lovingly crafted by impassioned fans of the show. Executive produced by entertainment writer Troy L. Foreman and written by Joseph Maddrey (Nightmares in Red, White, and Blue: The Evolution of the American Horror Film), the film brings together a range of participants from Millennium, including Carter, Henriksen, actors like Sarah Jane Redmond (the seductive villain Lucy Butler), and director Thomas J. Wright to share their memories of the series, comment on its strengths and meanings, and float the possibility of a reboot. The film grew out of Back to Frank Black, a campaign to resurrect Millennium spearheaded by Foreman and MATM director/editor Jason D. Morris. 

The filmmakers keep the runtime brisk (ninety minutes) and concentrate on the core strength of the project: the interviews. After an inspired intro homaging the series’ opening titles and filled with visual Easter eggs, they delve into the origins of the show. Carter, inspired by the Earth-bound terrors of X Files episodes like “Irresistible,” decided to create a show in which a man of integrity would battle them. He approached Henriksen, whom he’d written the Frank Black character for, and the actor overcame his initial misgivings when Carter told him that “the yellow house”—representing all of Black’s hopes and dreams for happiness with his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady)—would be the light opposing the show’s otherwise bleak tone. Millennium *is* Frank Black in many ways, and the documentary offers fascinating insights into his character, his arc, and the differing interpretations of his visions (initially more akin to intense intuition, later suggested as supernatural). Carter states that he never wanted Frank to use his hands when talking so as to avoid the appearance of “salesmanship,” instead having him convey everything with his face and voice—an approach that paid off thanks to Henriksen’s strength as an actor.

Henriksen, who is funny, introspective, and endlessly compelling throughout the film, credits composer Mark Snow as “the soul of Frank Black.”

The film reviews the highlights of each season, as well as the awkward quasi-finale episode shoehorned into The X Files (season seven’s “Millennium”). I would have liked to see a little more attention paid to certain episodes and characters, like Frank’s clairvoyant ally Lara Means (Kristen Cloke), but that may say more about my own preferences than any failing on the filmmakers’ part. I also wanted to hear from Terry Quinn (Frank’s mercurial friend/foe Peter Watts) and season two show-runners Glen Morgan and James Wong (Final Destination), but these things can’t always be helped. (Morgan and Wong didn’t even appear in the featurette for the DVD release of season two—which, in my opinion, is one of the most brilliant and visionary seasons of television ever.)

Most of the interview subjects have some fascinating things to say. Thomas J. Wright, who memorably appears in sunglasses and leather jacket, is refreshingly honest; of the “Millennium” episode he simply states, “It got made.” Sarah Jane Redmond (“Lucy Butler”) and Henriksen provide insight into her seductive and frightening character, the show’s most memorable adversary for Frank. Klea Scott, who was the best part of the wildly uneven third season as Frank’s mentee Emma Hollis, is spirited and funny. “After everyone died at the end of season two, they needed a new chick,” she jokes. She speaks candidly about being an African American lead on network TV in a pre-diversity era, sharing how her agent went to bat for her with resistant casting directors. Producer/writer Chip Johannessen is surprisingly frank, if you’ll pardon the pun, about the series’ inconsistencies; he regrets not reckoning directly with the fallout from season two’s world-ending finale, “The Time Is Now,” instead of ignoring it the following year.

Not all of the movie’s flourishes work; the animated illustrations are cute, but I wish they’d done more dramatizations like the brief glimpses of a Jordan Black led Millennium reboot. Still, the team does an admirable job within the limitations of a low budget. They make a great case for why the show was important, as well as the many ways it was ahead of its time in terms of television, culture, and history. Millennium After the Millennium traces a line from the series to dark TV like The Sopranos and Dexter, and explains how its themes have proven prescient following September 11 and our frightening present day era. (Who knows what they might have made of the Coronavirus in light of the show’s own global pandemic storyline.) I don’t know that the film will be able to spark a reboot of Millennium, but I hope that it convinces more viewers to check out this underrated and visionary program.

Millennium After the Millennium is available digitally to rent or own on Amazon and iTunes.



source https://bloody-disgusting.com/reviews/3643695/millennium-millennium-makes-case-chris-carter-show-much-review/

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