Wednesday, October 3, 2012

The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10: Millennium

In honor of the publication of Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium we look back at three seasons of Frank Black following a thorough investigation of Lance Henriksen's work specifically on the Chris Carter series Millennium. Millennium has led me to my latest BIG 10. I present The Sci-Fi Fanatic BIG 10, Millennium-style.

10. Beware Of The Dog [Season Two].
9. Sense And Antisense [Season Two].
8. Powers, Principalities, Thrones And Dominions [Season One].
7. The Beginning And The End [Season Two].
6. Monster [Season Two].
5. The Curse Of Frank Black [Season Two].
4. The Hand Of St. Sebastian [Season Two].
3. Midnight Of The Century [Season Two].
2. The Thin White Line [Season One].
1. Lamentation [Season One].
The Close Calls: There were probably a dozen that I would have happily placed on this list too.  Here are some of the close calls.

Force Majeure [Season One]/ Sacrament [Season One]/ Covenant [Season One] / Luminary [Season Two]/ The Mikado [Season Two]/ Owls [Season Two]/ Roosters [Season Two]/ A Room With No View [Season Two]/ The Fourth Horseman [Season Two]/ The Time Is Now [Season Two]/ Skull And Bones [Season Three]/ Through A Glass Darkly [Season Three]/ Omerta [Season Three]/ Borrowed Time [guests: Eric Mabius of Resident Evil/ Amanda Tapping of Stargate SG-1] [Season Three]/ Collateral Damage [guest: James Marsters] [Season Three]/ Matryoshka [with Barbara Bain] [Season Three]/ The Sound Of Snow [Season Three]/ Antipas [Season Three]/ Darwin's Eye [Season Three]/ Via Dolorosa [Season Three] and Goodbye To All That [Season Three].
It's clear to see, based on the top ten evidence above, that the serial, criminal nature of Season One and the mythology arc of the Millennium Group as a secret society in Season Two had the greatest appeal to me and the greatest impact on me personally.

I don't have to tell you, if you're a Millennium fan, that it's difficult to select just ten episodes from this series. Like many of the great series, even some of the weakest in the series offer something of interest.  Here is no exception. There's always something notable for one reason or another whether it be Henriksen's measured performance or the work of a particular guest. At the very least, Lance Henriksen is always at the center of each episodic storm and the creators did a splendid job of casting throughout its three amazing seasons. The series boasted regulars including the astounding Brittany Tiplady and Megan Gallagher, as Jordan and Catherine Black respectively, and Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts to guests including Barbara Bain [Matryoshka] and the late, great Andreas Katsulas [Forcing The End; also featuring Martin Landau and Barbara Bain's daughter Juliet Landau] of Babylon 5 acclaim.
I will submit to you that Season Three was, hands down, easily the weakest of the three seasons for me personally. Still, Borrowed Time, Omerta, Skull And Bones, The Sound Of Snow and the series finale are true standouts.  Season One, as one writer put it that visited this site, seems to be the true essence of the series and that's thanks in large part to Chris Carter who established its direction.

Show runners James Wong and Glen Morgan steered Season Two, for better or worse, into a tangled web of secret intrigue and they generated something special, albeit controversial, in the process with its own tone and flavor taking the series in an unexpected direction. Season One and Season Two are so radically different from one another the departure can seem jarring at times, but its easy to respond strongly to both.

Season Three is an amalgamation of those first two seasons mixing police procedural with Millennium Group conspiracy and added a new character in Klea Scott as Emma Hollis that was not entirely successful in recreating the feel of either of those seasons for this viewer. A new direction is always intriguing, but Season Three was a strange fusion of the first two seasons and the addition of Scott and a new show runner and the subtraction of Gallagher created something unique in its own right. One could certainly argue its contrasts to the previous two seasons is what makes it so distinct. Despite the fact it lacked some of the power of those first two well-executed seasons, Season Three does have some impressive moments, which I've noted in the Close Calls. Obviously, I decided Season One and Season Two would receive the greatest representation from me in my BIG 10 and deservedly so. The BIG 10 is comprised of some real corkers!

As Frank Black slowly greys over the course of Season Three one can't help but wonder what additional wisdom he might have brought to a renewed Millennium. If you haven't seen Henriksen's work on this particularly strong series you're missing out. It's a pleasure. The first two seasons, in particular, had me riveted.  New viewers are in for a rich viewing experience.  For fans of Henriksen, the work of Chris Carter or the series Millennium I hope you'll find time to support the efforts behind the new book, Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium.  It's available and the time is now.

4 comments:

Jack Thursby said...

Huge fan of the series here too (as well as everything else Chris Carter has done).

Got to say I loved the first season - dark as it was - and was very taken aback by how much it shifted in tone in the second series. I still enjoyed it but wish the change over had been handled better. The whole mythology aspect just felt to me like a cheap attempt to replicate the "success" of the X-Files conspiracy storylines.

I guess I just felt it was unnecessary to turn the group into a mysterious cult. I think I was too aware that the Millennium Group was originally meant to be based on The Academy Group - a real-life (not cult) organisation.

By the end of season 2 I'd come around to it and I thought the 'End of the World' finale was great. A truly revolutionary piece of television. Frank going grey overnight was such a great little touch.

My favourite episode would also definitely be Lamentation (S1) and I loved the follow-on episde Powers, Throne (S1) too. Just the way they kill off Bletcher is so shocking and the way they handled Lucy Butler was genuinely creepy. There's very few episodes of the first season I didn't love.

For Season 2, I liked The Mikado a lot because it felt like a brief return to the serial killer-vibe of Season 1.

I'm surprised you didn't like Darin Morgan's two episodes - Jose Chung Doomsday Defense and Somehow Satan Got Behind Me. I felt tonally they didn't fit very well but they were so clever and witty I couldn't help but love them both.

I agree with Season 3. They didn't really know what to do with the show and tried to make it even more like X-Files (which was a mistake). Borrowed Time was pretty good as was Sound of Snow. I really thought the finale - Goodbye to All That - was great. People said it didn't give closure but I kind of like that it just had Frank and Jordan running off. It seemed fitting. Also, it was the one episode of season 3 where it felt like the characters moved forward. Hollis made her choice to join the group, Baldwin turned out to not be such a cliched bad guy.

Need to get that Back to Frank Black book. Also need to give it the whole series another watch on DVD, it's been too long.

le0pard13 said...

Now I want to have a Millennium series marathon. Great post on this phenomenal series, SFF. Many thanks.

John Kenneth Muir said...

Hi SFF:

Great Millennium list, my friend. You have some great choices there, and you're right, it's tough to pick just 10 from Millennium, because so many episodes are so outstanding.

You got the jump on me, but I've got an underrated but great post coming up about Millennium's third season tomorrow am...

Great post, my friend. I can't wait to read your article in the Back to Frank Black tome.

best,
John

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Btw ..hope everyone enjoys the photos captured for the post. They are mostly screenshots from season two and three. I had already done a pretty extensive post on season one some time ago.

First, jack, thanks for your thoughtful reply. I enjoyed reading it very much.

I essentially agree with your views here almost to a sentence. I love Chris darters work myself. Always engaging, thoutful and wonderfully imagined.

Season two had to be jarring following the sensationally dark first season. It was like Morgan and Wong sighed when people expected a zag. And youre right they definitely brought their X files sensibilities to the program, but ultimately I did love the group conspiracy.

I think in many ways season three went down paths I had hoped it would have zagged on and it kind of lost it's groove for me.

Still, like you, season two was inspired stuff in my opinion and ultimately became the basis for my own essay to be found in the BOOK. I hope you enjoy it.

I too thought the season two finale was brilliant and also enjoyed the besting of frank black. Perfect.

Lamentation and powers were both amazing episodes. We agree and just incredibly powerful as you note. As much as I love the Lucy Butler character, a brilliant portrayal by the actress, the material for her was never quite as good.... It was good, but never as good as Lamentation.

Finally, i know I am really in the minority here and the comedic episodes are among fan favorites. I'm not without humor but they just never quite worked for me though I preferred the Satan episode. Like you say, the approach was so different and that's fine. I don't know, perhaps watching them in succession made it difficult for me to buy into them without the space and gift of time between episodes. That could be it.

And, like you, I loved the ending... A great great ending.

Well I hope I responded thoughtfully to your great comment. Thank you.

L13... I'm ready for going back to millennium for some of the classics as well.

JKM... Thanks for stopping. I look forward to this season three article you'll be posting. I'm not sure it will sway me but I always enjoy your arguments one way or anoer. Likewise, I can't wait to read the book and your contribution to the massive and deserved Millennium bible.

All the best folks
Gordon