Tuesday, 20 December 2011


FBI agents Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) and Emma Hollis (Klea Scott) make a stand against the darkness in the final season of MILLENNIUM. Images: FOX.

The time is near...

Unexpectedly bought back for a renewed third season by TWENTIETH CENTURY FOX, the surprised but delighted behind the scenes crew of the unique horror/thriller series MILLENNIUM would quickly reform to work out how they were going to get out of the prior world apocalypse scenario created at the end of Season Two by departed producers James Wong (now a firm creative fixture on AMERICAN HORROR STORY) and Glen Morgan: an inventive pairing allegedly estranged with series creator Chris Carter, who apparently would go on to voice his unhappiness with certain aspects of their one season creative tenure.

Thinking that his original series idea had seemingly veered off course, Carter was determined to bring back more of the elements that had made his original first season so unique, though there was also a chance to develop the show into a new direction that also combined some of the stronger storytelling aspects of Season Two which he had liked, linked to the continued prophecies of the Millennium and what they may bring for the strong but mostly isolated figure of series lead character Frank Black, as played by the shows greatest asset: the intense and totally absorbing lead star presence of Lance Henriksen, whose grizzled double lined face added character depth and possessing eyes of kindness, yet coldness, that could pierce your soul if you looked into them for too long, and now sporting a shocking thatch of grey hair as he recovers from the terrible incidents of the recent past.

Five months after the eventually Seattle contained Marburg variant virus epidemic/outbreak, which cost the lives of seventy people, of whom he knows the Millennium Group was responsible, Frank, now a single parent after the death of his beloved Catherine from the almost Armageddon, is now living in Virginia with his daughter Jordan (an impressive series performance from the fun and precocious Brittany Tiplady, who shines in several Jordan-centric episodes in year three and continues to have a charming and endearing on and off screen relationship with Frank/Henriksen), and has a new job: back at the FBI as a consultant, re-hired by his old friend Assistant Director Andy McClaren (Stephen E. Miller). He’s also undergoing regular psychiatric reviews for his mental health, which had almost been destroyed after two previous years fighting the darkness and corruption of humanity.

Klea Scott makes a welcome addition to the series as new heroine Emma Hollis.

Unfortunately, it isn’t long before Frank is back in conflict with the Millennium Group, operating even more slyly and manipulatively behind the scenes than ever before, who still want him and his cognitive paranormal abilities – his “gift”- as a member of their organisation, whose primary shadowy role model face continues to be his ex-friend Peter Watts (a creepy and often intimidating performance from LOST’s Terry O’Quinn), whom Frank now has a very hostile and aggressive relationship with after the events of Season Two, and making him now more determined than ever to uncover and reveal the truth behind the group and its plans to control the world. Caught in the middle of this intense conflict is the new and intriguing character of FBI Agent Emma Hollis, as played by Klea Scott, a welcome and fresh tonic for the series who, in her early casting, shone above all the others in her reading for the character of the FBI agent and defied the kind of blond bimbo requirements that the network actually wanted for the new series-Scott would prove a brave and right hiring stance by Chris Carter and his team that echoed their prior against type original casting choice of Gillian Anderson for the pilot episode of THE X FILES.

Dedicated, bright, intelligent and brave into danger, Emma is trying to make sense of the senseless. She’s slightly world weary, and her personal life is a wreck (even more so now that she is looking after her Alzheimer riddled ex-military man father). Spurred on in her absorbing work by the unsolved murder of her older sister in 1978 (another presumably unconscious link to THE X-FILES? Scully’s sister Melissa was also murdered in that show), Hollis soon proves an eager to learn, if slightly reckless, compatriot to Frank, of whose abilities she is fascinated by, and the pairing, if a new take on the kind of relationship seen between Mulder and Scully in THE X-FILES, proves likable, interesting and different to what was seen in MILLENNIUM’s previous season-and also a conscious move to try and win over new audiences not previously familiar with the series.

Frank and Emma attend another gruesome crime scene.

In many instances Frank tries to protect his new partner from some of the dark mysteries and truths behind the things he see, but, later on, Emma, more willing than ever to believe in what's going on with humanity and the Millennium Group, ultimately feels she’s being betrayed, often misled and left out by him as the power plays against his secret enemy intensify. As Emma’s well plotted character arc plays out, will she ultimately be strong enough on a personal level to handle the stresses and strains to come linked to her friendship with Frank and their investigations? And just what pressure will be exerted against her by both the Millennium Group and Peter Watts?

Working alongside Emma in the opening two-part serial, and other occurring episodes over the series, is her ambitious rising star agency colleague Barry Baldwin (Peter Outerbridge), soon clashing with Frank (who quickly sees that Baldwin does not possess the ability to look beyond the norm or be dedicated and clever/bold enough to make important leaps of intuitive insight), and not won over by the ex-profiler’s “gifts” to see into the minds of the killers. Soon enough, there is also a building and disapproving antagonism and resentment towards Hollis, too.

Getting off to a bang quite literally- several bangs in fact: a house exploding and a terrifying plane crash- mans inhumanity to man and the impending dread and worry associated with the then arrival of the Millennium are fears that continue to be well amplified by Carter and his team throughout this new series, where a wide and diverse variety of more visceral and experimental storytelling makes the Third and final year of Millennium an interesting viewing experience. The spectre of doom and chaos, alongside the darker aspects of Humanity, that made Years One and Two so noteworthy is still within the series format, gaining momentum as the episodes go on, mixed with increased thriller elements. There's even a look back into the early origins of the Millennium Group that we know today within the horrors of World War II and the emergence of the Atomic Bomb.

Though Producer and Series One and Two writer Ted Mann is sadly no longer with the show, most of the series previous and dedicated series writers and story editors would return, including Michael Duggan, Patrick Harbinson and Chip Johannessen, veterans of the Chris Carter universe, who would additional be executive producers, and contributing strong episodes, whilst Marjorie David, Ken Horton and Frank Spotnitz add further creative weight. Michael R. Perry would also give us some of the most memorable episodes of that final year...

The series directorial style remains consistently strong, confident and atmospheric from the likes of series regulars Thomas J. Wright, Paul Shapiro and later CSI director Ken Fink.

Behind the scenes, Henriksen has fun with guest stars KISS during the episode ...Thirteen Years Later.

Alongside the further heavy delving’s into religion and other types of Armageddon prophesizing being added to the mix, of which Frank is tested by dark and sinister forces like never before, Season Three still has the chance to tell the odd quirky story mixing horror with humour, especially with the Halloween transmitted episode, …Thirteen Years Later, another Michael R. Perry tale and almost a kind of prototype SCREAM in the way it mixes comedy and horror (of which Lance Henriksen continues to have a fine deadpan knack for comedy delivery), alongside a fine guest cast which sees in a fun appearance from the US mega-rock band KISS, and includes V’s Jeff Yagher playing an actor playing Frank Black! The lighter touch continues further with the modern fantasy Omertà, which is a perfect Xmas tale involving Frank and Jordan, on a seasonal holiday to try and recover from the loss of Catherine, discovering a dead gangster alive and well and being cared for by a group of young mute empaths in the nearby forest. A very nice performance from Jon Polito as the gangster Eddie Scarpino is a highlight, which also features a beautiful and evocative score-one of the shows best- from series composer Mark Snow.

Links to the series past also continue with the return of previous plot strands and support characters, like the Season One and Two character of Detective Bob Giebelhouse (played by Stephen James Lang), THE WIRE’s CCH Pounder as Millennium member Cheryl Andrews in episode Skull and Bones, and finally, most importantly, Megan Gallagher, who makes an important one-off return to play the ghostly figure of Catherine Black, bringing closure to her storyline and relationship with her husband, in the excellent The Sound of Snow. Other strong guest stars for the run would include BUFFY’s James Marsters, SPACE: 1999’s Barbara Bain, BABYLON 5’s Andreas Katsulas, Arye Gross and Juliet Landau.

Despite the many fine episodes, as the series darkening end eventually approached, Henriksen would eventually prove slightly disappointed with the Millennium Group’s final confirmation as baddies, as well as frustrated with the way the series and his character seemed to have veered away from how it was originally conceived by Chris Carter back in its premiere year. Writing plans that might have strengthened the developments of the series finale into a fourth year would surely have gained greater enthusiasm from the lead star, but these ambitions were ultimately not to be.

Sadly, despite solid ratings that would be a veritable goldmine in today’s challenged TV audience environment, they weren't enough to guarantee FOX’s enthusiasm for a fourth season of MILLENNIUM, despite the impending event then being only six months away. Not officially cancelled, more like quietly killed off, it would be Frank Spotnitz’s idea to being some sense of closure to Frank Black and Jordan’s destinies in an episode within the seventh season of the upcoming THE X-FILES, as its episodes approached the start of the Millennium, with an ultimate episode, titled Millennium, that eventually proved to be a mixed success both critically and with fans, not only of MILLENNIUM but also THE X-FILES, and which the series writer would later testify was a difficult challenge to pen and satisfy all parties.

Frank Black returns to aid Agent Fox Mulder in THE X-FILES episode Millennium.

Set on the eve of the Millennium, the crossover tale sees a mental institute observational Frank helping Mulder and Scully fight undead members of the Millennium Group: the new Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. The series goes into creepy Voodoo mode in a script by Vince Gilligan and Chip Johannessen, spookily directed by MILLENNIUM series regular Thomas J. Wright- always a safe pair of hands visually- as they try to give the series an exciting and memorable wrap up within the confines of THE X-FILES, and in the process picking up the threads six months after the series closed, and providing information on what happened in the six months between the series conclusion and this episode.

Ultimately the final results are an enjoyable, if hardly classic, wrap-up, with the episode eventually becoming more famous with the press of the time for the finale scene showing Mulder finally kissing Scully: an early foreshadowing of the loving relationship they would start a season later...

No longer shown by SKY TV in the UK (who, for no apparent reason, had gave up the ghost after its showings of Years One and Two), and abandoned by the terrestrial ITV channel after its premiere season, Year Three of MILLENNIUM would eventually hit British shores several years on from the original US screenings, shown in its entirety on the cable/satellite SCI-FI CHANNEL (which had at the same time also purchased the one season only THE X-FILES comedy spin-off, THE LONE GUNMEN), though the season’s opening two episodes, involving a plane crash, would end up being shown later in the series run, in the wake of the previous horrific events of 9/11 which were still so fresh and disturbing in the public eye. Prior to the full season screening, FOX had also released a successful compendium tape of Year Three's final two episodes, along with THE X-FILES episode.

Season Three of MILLENNIUM may not have totally lived up to the standards of its impressive opening year, but it was nonetheless a well made and acted series. A worthy sister series to THE X-FILES, but with its own unique, if changing, identity, MILLENNIUM was often a brave and innovative television of the type that, despite elements of reproduction by other later television series rivals, remains more creative, thought provoking and genre-setting as time goes on…

Here’s a look at KOOL TV’s favourite episodes from Season Three…

Frank and Emma join forces to investigate an unusual airplane crash in The Innocents.

The Innocents/Exogenesis: (Opening two-parter) A link between a house explosion and the crash of a passenger jet leads Frank and FBI agent Emma Hollis in a race against time to protect a group of blue eyed female seers capable of looking into the future, whose recent predictions endanger the world dominant plans of the Millennium Group.

Skull and Bones: Investigating a mass-grave site found beneath a highway, Emma discovers more about the Millennium Group and Peter Watts. A nice showcase for Klea Scott in a well-made and atmospheric episode that sets up many important sub-plots eventually to be played out successfully by seasons end.

Human Essence: Now a pariah from the FBI, Emma travels to Vancouver and gets caught in a nightmare underground existence as she searches for a missing friend heavily involved in a world of drugs and prostitution, and who claims that missing people are turning into monsters via a deadly new strain of heroin. Another very atmospheric tale, laced with grim menace, and a further fine episode for Klea Scott to get centre stage.

Frank confronts child-killer Max Brunelli (Tom McCleister) in Through a Glass, Darkly.

Through a Glass, Darkly: Warning a local town prison service not to release a convicted child killer and sex offender, Max Brunelli, who's served a twenty year sentence, back into the community, Frank’s worries seem to come true when another young girl disappears in mysterious circumstances. Has the released man regained his frightening ways, or is there more going on that first thought? A well scripted tale with a memorable central performance from guest actor Tom McCleister.

Borrowed Time: A train accident, two strange drowning’s on dry land and Jordan mysteriously collapsing into a returned case of life threatening meningitis. How is all this connected to a mysterious man who seems to be present at each occurrence?

One of the seasons superior episodes: an unusual, almost TWILIGHT ZONE-ish script from Chip Johannessen –and one of his very best- ultimately about life’s checks and balance and a tense and sometimes disturbing story about life and death, with some great acting from Henriksen and little Brittany Tiplady, whose life hangs on the brink throughout. There’s also fine guest support from a charismatic Eric Mabius and a pre-STAR GATE Amanda Tapping.

Lucy Butler (Sarah Jane Redmond) returns in Antipas.

Antipas: Satan's greatest sexually charged disciple and recruitment officer, Lucy Butler (played by Sarah Jane Redmond with the kind of distinction and feminine power to make men worry!) is back to inflict more pain and conflict against Frank Black, trapping him in the affairs of a state prosecutor- about to hit the big time in politics (a Clinton/ Kennedy-like figure)- and his family, whom she is manipulating in her guise as the Nanny from Hell (literally!). There’s shades of THE OMEN II (of which Henriksen made an appearance back in 1979) and TO THE DEVIL A DAUGHTER in an enjoyable if barmy episode from Chris Carter, where the supernatural elements are quite broadly present (and watch out for the horrible snake, too!), whilst Redmond is as creepy, dangerous and devilishly clever as ever. Sadly, a fourth season re-match between Lucy and Frank was never to happen…

Frank is consoled by the vision of his dead wife, Catherine (Megan Gallagher), in The Sound of Snow.

The Sound of Snow: Frank’s investigation into the unexplained deaths of two people in bizarre circumstances linked to a tape cassette playing unusual White Noise interference soon threatens to send him to the edge of sanity and death in this very memorable episode with a finale twist. Here, writer Patrick Harbinson, in between charting the disturbing experiences of the White Noise and it's mysterious originator, also gets the chance to delve into the nitty-gritty of what exactly happened back story-wise in the almost apocalyptic happenings between Seasons Two and Three: a series of events that also see the welcome return of actress Megan Gallagher for one last appearance in the series, of which her on-screen partnership with Henriksen shines once more.

Seven and One: Receiving a snapshot of his drowned demise, and plagued with foreboding visions of helplessness, a vulnerable and paranoid Frank is surely being victimised by a new voyeur of evil? Or could it all be his imaginings? As it looks like our Frank is finally on the verge of mental collapse, Emma does her best to discover the truth. But are untouchable powers of a very different order at work here? Seven and One is at times a baffling, but ultimately well-made episode from Chris Carter and Frank Spotnitz that lets viewers make their own conclusions about its events, with great moments of suspense and atmosphere from director Peter Markle. Frank’s drowning and Emma being buried alive (pre-KILL BILL 2!) are standout moments amongst the Millennium prophecies…

Emma and Frank survive a deadly trap in Goodbye to All That.

Via Dolorosa and Goodbye to All That  (Two part Season Finale): Serial killer Edward Cuffle is executed in front of Frank’s eyes, so who is the copycat successor getting his sexual and sadistic bent on murdering wealthy couples? And what links do both ultimately have in relation to the Millennium Group? As Frank tries to dot the complex dots together, Emma’s Alzheimer’s ridden Father gets worse, leading to dangerous temptation and a possible cure from Peter Watts. But how high a price must she pay in order to save her family?

Friends become enemies and enemies become friends in this satisfying finale to the season, packed with some surprising and gruesome moments that recall the best of Season One, alongside a literally smashing moment in the story’s second part between Frank and Peter Watts, as the format game board changes again for a series that sadly never came back for a fourth run, and ends on a defiant note as Frank is forced out of the FBI and into a new and uncertain future with Jordan, on the run from the Millennium Group and what may be looming on the horizon…

Chris Carter doesn't ultimately write the script for the finale, which is instead spread across four key series writers (Marjorie David, Patrick Harbinson, Ken Horton and Chip Johannessen), but it’s a fusion that works well, with the two-parter proving to be a solid and successful ending: it's first part taking us back to the shows serial killer origins, mixed with the conspiracy elements linked to the Millennium Group that had been so successful in Season Two, of which part two paves the way for a death and a fate not confirmed for two of the series characters, alongside some memorable final imagery from director Thomas J. Wright.

All three seasons of MILLENNIUM are available on DVD from FOX

THIS IS WHO WE ARE- a superb site which also has the largest database of MILLENNIUM facts, information, articles, screencaps, media and much more. Link: http://millennium-thisiswhoweare.net/  This excellent looking tribute also has a community forum and is home to the Virtual Seasons of the show, the fan-film Millennium Apocalypse and everything from the kitchen sink to a fridge with a plate of kidneys! Link: http://www.tiwwa.info/

Lance Henriksen has a great news website which is in the process of being revamped: http://www.lancehenriksen.info/

Sarah-Jane Redmond's Official Website can be found here: http://sarahjaneredmond.com/

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