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Millennium Review

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Occasionally fascinating and always scary series from the creator of the X-Files

★★★★

These days, X-Files creator Chris Carter appears to be a woefully stagnated talent. Eight years ago, it was another story: the writer-producer was without doubt genre TV’s pre-eminent Golden Boy. Then entering its fourth year, The X-Files had become a genuine, Zeitgeist-defining cultural phenomenon as well as a cash-hoovering juggernaut. Consequently, the feted Carter was granted carte blanche on the creative front.

From such generous circumstance arose Millennium, Carter’s most notable work outside The X-Files. In retrospect, the series’ premise — a frazzled former FBI profiler with a (possibly supernatural) affinity for the serial killer mindset becomes involved with the mysterious Millennium Group, former law-enforcement officers committed to battling a crime wave which grows as the millennium approaches — blatantly riffed on The X-Files’ core concepts of supernatural-tinted horror and conspiracy.

Yet Millennium was no knock-off — efficiently grafting then-pervading pre-millennial anxieties onto a more overt Good vs. Evil template which catered to our ever-present morbid fascination with the outright Evil that lurks under ‘normality’.

Like its sibling show, Millennium boasted impeccable production values. However, just as The X-Files was criticised for its ‘Monster-Of-The Week’ laziness, Millennium was quickly guilty of the same — further hamstrung by exploring the altogether more depressing world of ritualised murder. The show didn’t skimp on the gore either, with episodes like Gehenna not for the faint-hearted.

The latter half of the debut season, though, saw the show finding its feet, exploring the concept of Evil to great effect in episodes like Lamentation and occasionally being thrillingly creative in Force Majeure (featuring Brad Dourif).

Millennium’s hero, Frank Black, was perfectly realised through Lance Henriksen, who gave Black the undoubted look of a man who bore the burden of witnessing true horrors. Both Megan Gallagher and Brittany Tiplady, as Frank’s increasingly imperiled wife and daughter, provide an excellent counterpoint to Frank’s concerns.

Occasionally fascinating and always scary, it’s a shame Millennium ended before it could consolidate its year 2000 deadline. This remains Chris Carter’s most impressive failure.

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