Overview

1996-1999

Millennium

For three years, the Fox network featured the struggles of a unique and remarkable hero in Chris Carter's Millennium

 

Living in a dark world of deplorable crime and unspeakable horrors, Frank Black found himself regularly facing the evils of both human nature and the occult.  A legendary forensic profiler gifted with the ability to immerse himself within the minds of the killers he sought, Frank Black allied himself with both the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the enigmatic Millennium Group, working with virtuous men and women driven to face this world's evils defiantly.  Frank found trusted partners within the likes of Peter Watts, Lara Means, and Emma Hollis, talented professional criminal investigators likewise dedicated to protecting innocent lives. 

 

Frank's only solace from the undeniable pain of his work was embodied within the family he desperate tried to keep dissociated from it.  Catherine and Jordan Black, his wife and young daughter, proved to be the core of Frank's being and his continuing source of hope. 

 

Frank stood determined against the building force of evil that apparently accompanied the countdown to the new millennium, a bright hero against the darkest of backdrops, a strong and solemn man who knew all too well that the end is always near and the only thing needed for evil to triumph is for good people to do nothing.

 


Millennium, unquestionably the darkest network television drama of the twentieth century, had no rivals when it came to dramatic storytelling. Both the consistently high artistic production values of the show and its powerful subject matter made this series truly unique in the annals of television history. Frank Black's battle against darkness, week after week, stunned viewers on both intellectual and emotional levels. Never before have episodic stories been so imbued with honesty, emotion, exploration and experimentation. Millennium was, week after week, successful on nearly every level of production.

Vastly superior to its sister show, The X-Files, this series had no peers. Perhaps too different, too visceral and painfully honest at times, the public seemingly shunned the series, leaving only a cult following to invest their hearts and minds in the characters and mythology.


Season One

Chris Carter, pressured by the Fox network to create a companion piece to his popular hit series The X-Files, pitched his pilot episode for Millennium early in 1996.  Carter was eager to explore the other side of the horror genre.  Agents Fox Mulder and Dana Scully had spent several years fighting extraterrestrials and monsters, exploring a world of supernatural horrors. 

Thus, Carter created Frank Black, a behavioral profiler who hunted more terrifying monsters, human monsters.  Hyped to the extreme for months in advance, Millennium premiered on Fox with the highest ratings of any premiere the network had shown in its history. 

Unfortunately, in the following weeks, those numbers would continue to decline.  Millennium proved far too dark, disturbing, terrifying, and disgusting for the average American television viewer.  The first season spent twenty-two episodes exploring the darkest depths of the human soul and the most sickening portions of the human mind. The show took on a "Serial Killer of the Week" format. 

Each week Frank Black joined Peter Watts and the Millennium Group, a powerful organization of crime consultants, in assisting Lieutenant Detective Robert Bletcher of the Seattle Police Department to put an end to the latest killing spree.  The body count was high and the series spared no detail.  Viewers were able to watch the complex criminal investigation process with stunning realism and attention to details both practical and poignant. 

At home, Frank lived in a gleaming yellow house with his beautiful wife, Catherine, and his innocent young daughter, Jordan.  Frank Black proved that he would go to any lengths to protect his family and yellow house from the horrors of the outside world.  As the season moved forward, however, it became horribly clear that evil is a powerful force that can't simply be investigated, captured, and locked away.


Season Two

When writers Glen Morgan and James Wong jointly took over the Executive Producer role for Millennium's second season quite a few changes were planned and subsequently enforced.  Morgan and Wong quickly made great efforts to deviate from the "Serial Killer of the Week" pattern, they complicated the yet unexplored history of the mysterious Millennium Group, they introduced a sense of humor to the series, and they brought religion and spirituality more prominently into the scripts. 

Morgan and Wong's second season was immediately accused of subconsciously aping The X-Files, of deviating from Chris Carter's original vision for the series.  Although these claims are not entirely unfounded, the show's new direction proved to be more of a blessing than a curse. 

As the second season wore on, fans found themselves growing more attached to the revitalized Millennium while, at the same time, the diverse episode themes attracted new audience members.  The show, week by week, became dramatically more complex and bravely more artistic.  Millennium was continually reinventing itself.  Glen Morgan and James Wong held nothing back as their scripts delved unabashedly into a world of demons, angels, dreams, visions, mythology, science, and the human spirit.  Glen's brother, Darin Morgan, brought the show its first stand-out comedy episodes and it was clear that Millennium definitely had more than one facet to its complicated nature. 

Knowing the second season would be their, and possibly the show's, last, Morgan and Wong created a stunning two part finale, a brilliant piece of television art that brought the show's world to a dramatic end.


Season Three

Morgan and Wong's destruction of the Millennium world at the close of the second season created a difficult creative challenge for writer Chip Johannessen when he took over the Executive Producer role once the show was renewed for a third season.  How could the creative staff continue a series in which most of the major characters, all of the powerful plot threads, had apparently been put to rest?  The answer, of course, was to reinvent the series once again. 

Downplaying the disasters seen at the end of the second season, Frank and Jordan Black packed their bags and left what had gone before behind them.  The show followed Frank to Washington, D.C., as he re-enlisted with the Federal Bureau of Investigation.  Peter Watts and the Millennium Group became chilling and unpredictable enemies as a variety of young new characters were introduced as Frank's allies, including Agents Emma Hollis and Barry Baldwin. 

The third season of Millennium was plagued by network attempts to tweak the show into what they thought would make a more appealing drama series.  Writing assistants were assigned to examine and alter the show's scripts, writer/producer Michael Duggan was temporarily appointed to an Executive Producer position he didn't truly fit, episodes lost their dismal tone, and the season began with a shaky start.  Just as with the second season, some loyal fans began to become worried. 

Fortunately, it didn't take long for the cast and crew to meet these challenges, producing commendable results.  Millennium's third season would go on to provide some of the show's most intelligent, bizarre, artistic, and intriguing stories. 

None of this, tragically, was enough to save the series from the harsh demands of the network television industry.  In May of 1999, just months before the dawn of the new millennium, the series was cancelled and aired its final episode.  Frank Black's journey had come to an end.


 

All in all, Millennium grew over the course of three years to become one of the most powerful and unique drama series of all time.  Frank Black's investigations were continually being shaped by a group of brilliant writers and producers, a talented crew, and an unforgettable cast of characters.  The show truly deserves a spot in the annals of television history and will always remain prominent in the hearts and minds of its loyal fans.

 

 

THE MILLENNIAL ABYSS