Thursday, August 29, 2013

Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium: A Book Analysis

"Millennium touched on something profound, a truth that many find too dark to look at."
-Frank Spotnitz, Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium-
 
"It's not necessarily a pleasant thing."
-Chris Carter, Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium-
 
I'm biased.  I admit it.  I am a generally ravenous advocate and lover of all things Chris Carter.  I'm a restless viewing recidivist of The X-Files (1993-2002) and Millennium (1996-1999).  I'm also simply tireless in absorbing any and all things by the writing and directing team of Glen Morgan and James Wong.  And yes, I was a contributor to this stunning book of dreams (but don't let that stop you).



Reading the book Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium (2012) is nothing short of reading a scholarly analysis of this amazing, intensive chapter in the Chris Carter legacy.  It's the Millennium equivalent to any number of the finest of publications released by Benbella on pop culture television today.  But this shining beacon of hope on Millennium by way of the written word from the remarkable Fourth Horseman Press delivers an editing gem by Adam Chamberlain and Brian A. Dixon.



The book offers the final word, in print, at least for now, on Millennium, and is a fascinating tome of well-articulated, thoughtful and organized insights into the world of Frank Black, Millennium and Chris Carter. Frank Black would be proud. Even fans of The X-Files will find plenty of interesting crossover into that equally impenetrable world. The worlds of Millennium and The X-Files, thanks to Chris Carter, are often inextricably connected and this book offers plenty of evidence to that fact.  Remember it did share the ever popular crossover episode of Millennium on The X-Files among other creative and thespian connections. This book offers no shortage of moments where the two cross paths.  If you're a fan of either series and those creatively involved with Millennium and The X-Files, this book really is a pop culture bible.



More importantly, the laser focus is squarely on Millennium and Chris Carter and Lance Henriksen's physical realization of Frank Black, a hopeful, world weary hero forging through the darkness at the end of the century as dark forces coalesce around all that Frank loves as the weight of the millennium grows.



Each chapter offers sharp analysis into the character and his relationship with wife Catherine, his daughter Jordan and the many complex characters surrounded his sphere of influence whether it be the murky Millennium Group or seemingly intangible mythological forces of the Dominion led by the likes of the evil but ever so seductive Lucy Butler.



Let us open those pages and look more closely at the labors and the love that went into analyzing this beloved series.  The cover, art beautifully painted by Matthew Ingles called Frank Black, captures the burden and weight of the millennium on our central protagonist.  The tone of that image evokes the intriguing contents of a series that, long past the turn of the millennium, continues to stir deep internal reflection and questions regarding the series.



The book opens with guiding hands in forewords by Lance Henriksen and Frank Spotnitz and an introduction by Chris Carter.  It sets the tone for the exploration of a resonant and enduring television classic.

Henriksen offered this on the character he embodied for three seasons. "Frank Black, a person with the chess player's eye for detail, stringing a thousand random pieces of information into a scenario like beads on a string, would need a gift. The Truth...."







Frank Spotnitz would write, "Millennium touched on something profound, a truth that many find too dark to look at."  The book digs deeper into these pieces and these truths with the writer's craft.





These statements set the tone as this amazing book is brought to life artfully assembled by editors Adam Chamberlain and Brian A. Dixon of Fourth Horseman Press.



FRANK BLACK AND AMERICA'S FIN DE SIECLE. "Mulder fights lies; Frank Black fights evil."  The two are certainly not mutually exclusive but writer Joseph Maddrey makes some smart distinctions.  Maddrey, the author behind website Movies Made Me and co-author of the wonderful Lance Henriksen auto-biography Not Bad For A Human, always brings a poetic grace to his work.  There is a gentle writer's touch that yields striking power in his work and the opening essay sets the scene for Millennium and how the character of Frank Black came to be embodied through Lance Henriksen.  Well-researched, Maddrey places the character in a historical context as a kind of contemporary Sherlock Holmes for a new era and how Henriksen drew upon experience and life to shape the character. Contemporary comparisons and examples bring a perspective to Frank Black one may not have considered.



PAINTING AWAY THE DARKNESS: A CONVERSATION WITH CHRIS CARTER.  "Darkness affects you...."  With Millennium, "elemental forces conspiring against Frank Black... manifestations of evil... human monsters... mythological agents of evil... we were heading towards something, that it was coalescing and... Frank sensed it." The man himself speaks.



ENEMIES WITHIN: SEASON ONE OF CHRIS CARTER'S MILLENNIUM AND AMERICA'S SUBURBAN APOCALYPSE.  In typically succinct fashion, like a surgeon, writer/author John Kenneth Muir, the author behind John Kenneth Muir's Reflections On Cult Movies And Classic TV, slices into Millennium and insightfully gets to the heart of what makes it beat as a creation. He also contextualizes the series within popular culture.  He's a master of this as he places the horror in juxtaposition against contemporary and historical popular culture as well as our own political and social realities.  Muir is more than a specialist of science fiction and horror and always reveals things about a given subject in popular culture that we sometimes never quite see.  This is the first of three epic pieces that tie the book together chronologically written by Muir for the book on Season One, Two and Three.



THE MYSTERY GUEST: A CONVERSATION WITH LANCE HENRIKSEN. "I always thought-that the gift was intellect and intuition, not psychic." This expertly captured conversation felt like a wonderful extension and natural complement to Joseph Maddrey and Lance Henriksen's own Not Bad For A Human.  Henriksen generously offers additional insights to James McLean and Troy L. Foreman which are crafted by Dixon into yet another wonderfully woven piece.  The exchange focuses more exclusively on the character Lance brought to life.



THE STORY OF LANCE HENRIKSEN AND THE FABLE OF FRANK BLACK.  "The shaping of such powerful myths help us define the world we live in."  Writer, teacher, poet, activist and how fitting, minister, Paul Clark carefully and passionately weaves the lives of both character Frank Black with that of the very real Lance Henriksen and the creation of myth resulting from these two powerhouse figures through a perspective of faith.



THE GOOD WIFE: A CONVERSATION WITH MEGAN GALLAGHER.  The actress behind one of the most critical roles in Chris Carter's series, Megan Gallagher, expounds delightfully about the part and her connection to Millennium.  The interview by McLean and Foreman and written by Chamberlain delivers the perfect segue way from the previous interview with Lance Henriksen.  The segment from Gallagher is as inspired as her work in two personal favorites, the classic The Time Is Now and The Sound Of Snow.  Gallagher has had an impressive career including a significant contribution to Season Two of China Beach (1988-1991).  Her character contribution to the themes of Millennium cannot be understated along with her on screen daughter....



MAKE-BELIEVING IN JORDAN BLACK.  This is a sweet and nostalgic essay provided by actress Brittany Tiplady reflecting back on her screen debut and her memorable associations with Henriksen, Gallagher and more. Tiplady was a joy on Millennium and offered some real light inside much of the darkness.  She has a number of highlight moments throughout the series and Borrowed Time is a real standout.



98% LESS SERIAL KILLERS: A CONVERSATION WITH GLEN MORGAN AND JAMES WONG.  This absolutely essential interview by Foreman and McLean and penned by Chamberlain and Dixon stands as one of the best interviews with Morgan and Wong in print.  It should be sought on these grounds alone immediately.  It's an enlightening segment into the controversial minds of Morgan and Wong and should not be missed.



THIS IS WHO WE ARE: SECRET SOCIETY AND FAMILY REDEFINED.  Who is this? The article penned by yours truly, author of Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic, takes great pains to specifically identify Frank Black's association to the mythical secret society that is the Millennium Group and the conflict that connection established against his traditional family.  Giving birth to an idea and to something you feel so passionately about presents its problems.  There is an endless internal debate within the writer to do the work justice.  I hope I did that.  After reading the remarkable interview with Glen Morgan and James Wong that precedes this chapter, I can only hope I did the duo's craft justice.  As a fan of those writers I can't say enough about how much I admire the excellence of their writing and their willingness to really push the envelope.  Season Two is the most compelling of the three fabulous seasons for me and that aforementioned interview was something of a revelation.  I've certainly read the occasional quotes from Morgan and Wong, but to see them really spend time with the Back To Frank Black writers offered us a glimpse of their work and history together.  I absolutely loved the chapter. And credit goes to the editors of this book who so cleverly organized the book in a fashion that makes logical sense and flows. This Is Who We Are attempts to decipher the often cerebral effort of Morgan and Wong's mythological journey on Millennium as the series' showrunners.  If you love Season Two, these two chapters work hand in hand beautifully.



Let me also note that each chapter is adorned with a gorgeous header illustration capturing the visual essence or spirit of the respective chapter.  James McLean's illustrations are striking and this chapter is represented by the gorgeous image and symbols of the Owl and the Rooster that identified the splintering factions within the Millennium Group and visually represents the fractured nature of sub-groups within a secret society.



Writer Dan Greer at Popcorn Monster referred to this chapter as "one of the most compelling chapters in the book" and said the analysis of this world "delves into the the subject superbly." I wanted to take this opportunity to thank you Dan.  I tried and I appreciate that reception. Please forgive my shameless plug, but I am proud to be part of this amazing book and I'm pleased and honored to be in the company of those involved with it and those who care so much about digging deeper into the series' meaning and mythology.



HERE'S MY THING: A CONVERSATION WITH KRISTEN CLOKE. "Lara was a mirror for Frank.  ... She was put there to be a reflection of him and help him solve the mysteries of that season and the Millennium Group."  Actress Kristen Cloke was an exceptional and pivotal addition to the Millennium series for Season Two following the demise of Morgan and Wong's own Space: Above And Beyond (1995-1996) in which Cloke starred.  She was the perfect complement to Frank Black as Lara Means, particularly given the tumultuous nature of Frank's relationship with Catherine Black in Season Two.  And no I never saw a romantic connection with Frank Black either. Gallagher spoke of working with Cloke in her conversation with Foreman and McLean.  Here, Cloke discusses memories of her thing with McLean and Foreman as penned by Chamberlain in yet another natural progression from the previous two chapters in the book.  Cloke discusses her role as a device for Frank Black in Season Two.



Of equal interest to me was Cloke's discussion of her history in entering the business, her work as Captain Shane Vansen in twenty-two episodes of Morgan and Wong's Space: Above And Beyond, and her role in The X-Files' The Field Where I Died.  Fans of Millennium will relish Cloke's candid look back at her Means character and her descent to Patti Smith's Land, her work with Gallagher in Anamnesis and most importantly her creative working relationship with husband Glen Morgan.  It's an intimate and revealing look at how the actress works in the field and I for one was riveted with the piece as much as the Morgan and Wong interview.  They stand as two personal favorites.  The Cloke interview once again highlights the editing transitions expertly crafted throughout the book moving the character of Frank Black and his journey through Millennium season to season with the precision of a forensic scientist.



DARREN MCGAVIN'S CAT: A CONVERSATION WITH ERIN MAHER AND KAY REINDL. "As a whole Season Two is a more cohesive season of television than Season Three." This interview spotlighting two scriptwriters from Millennium's second and third seasons by McLean and Foreman and penned by Chamberlain was yet another stunning and unexpected treat from a book that honestly had me quietly shaking my head, "My gosh this book is amazing."  There was no shortage of inside looks and behind-the-scenes insights into the world of Millennium, how things worked and particularly how these writing teams worked.  It was staggering to read.  Maher and Riendl, like Morgan and Wong, have the kind of connection and electricity that makes for the very best of writing partnerships.  Maher and Reindl are to Millennium and the world of Chris Carter what Lennon and McCartney were to pop music.  There is something special happening here.  Maher and Reindl share how they connected with Morgan and Wong and their relationship on the series with those writers and how that partnership worked in both Season Two and Three.  The duo's work shines on the absolutely unforgettable Midnight Of The Century and Matryoshka, two personal favorites from the series, the latter starring Space:1999's Barbara Bain.  Maher and Reindl also spoke directly to my love of the mythology in Season Two and how they cleverly connected J. Edgar Hoover as a direct associate of the Millennium Group and the idea of this secret society casting a wide shadow through history.  Its a fascinating section and once again highlights the genius of Morgan and Wong's approach to re-directing Millennium for Season Two.



SNAKES IN THE GRASS AND SNAKES IN THE OPEN: ANIMAL SYMBOLISM IN MILLENNIUM'S SECOND SEASON.  "Animal symbols are truly crucial to a deeper understanding of this season of Millennium in another important respect: The explanation and the definition of the group's nature."  John Kenneth Muir returns for his second foray into contextualizing the deeper meanings behind Millennium.  The second season in particular is dense and for some was even a little impenetrable.  Muir mines some of the most challenging ideas and places animal symbolism within perspective of Christian, Catholic and other mythologies and how that works as a backdrop to the Millennium Group.  He looks at the deeper meanings behind the dogs in Beware Of The Dog, the buffalo in A Single Blade Of Grass, the Ouroboros, the Owls and the Roosters.  For those fascinated by the deeper layers of Morgan and Wong's near flawless second season this wildly interesting essay is for you.



BIGGER THAN THE BEATLES: A CONVERSATION WITH MARK SNOW.  The latest interview demonstrates just how thoughtfully this book project was handled by Dixon, Chamberlain, McLean and Foreman.  Nearly every stone was turned to assemble what is an incomparable text to this unforgotten series.  This companion book to Millennium breathes new life into all facets of the series and what made it work as a comprehensive work of art.  Mark Snow was crucial to establishing the mood, tone and atmosphere of the series and his interview gives us tremendous insight into this man's world, his start and those iconic theme songs to both The X-Files and, of course, Millennium.  As anyone who visits Musings Of A Sci-Fi Fanatic knows, I am also a music fanatic.  I own a number of Mark Snow's scores and what a pleasure it was to read this essay as a fan of music.  Mark Snow may not have become as big as The Beatles to the masses, but in my world of science fiction and scoring composers he's indeed as big as they come.  Naturally, I couldn't have been more thrilled to find this compelling chapter backed with the next amazing chapter as a fan of music.

Stargate SG-1's Amanda Tapping guest stars.




THE EVIL EARWORM: POPULAR MUSIC IN MILLENNIUM.  "America's Horse With No Name, the song, completely independent of its content, immediately becomes a foreshadowing device...."  Joe Tangari - how about the further possibility of that song foreshadowing The Fourth Horseman?

It's not often that a song can set the tone for an episode of television whereby, as a viewer, you completely and utterly identify with that moment in television history by its uniquely selected and associative song.  When Star Trek: Enterprise (2001-2005) controversially employed the use of Where My Heart Will Take Me (2001) by Russell Watson, it seemed odd and perhaps a lightning rod rejected by many today, but I forever link that song to the series.  In Season Two of Lost (2004-2010), the use of Cass Elliot's Make Your Own Kind Of Music (1969) positively captured my imagination as the series went into the hatch. That song was never to be separated from the series from that moment forward.  Even Stargate SG-1 altered the context of Creedence Clearwater Revival's Have You Ever Seen The Rain? (1971) when it was employed for the series ending final episode Unending.  These images and moments coupled with song leave lasting impressions and these are just a few examples.



Well, one of the most powerful uses of song in Millennium for me was the repeated use of Paul Mauriat's Love Is Blue (1968) in the powerful Season Two abduction episode A Room With No View featuring Lucy Butler.  It may have grated the nerves, but there was something eerie, weird, frightening about the use of a once embraced and considerably simple number from an era gone by.



This leads me, as a major fan of music, to Joe Tangari's brilliant article about music.  Tangari nails each song to its respective episode capturing the mood, purpose and reason.  The diegetic use of music or the effective use of a soundtrack-based score always makes for better television especially when it's intended to be part of the fabric of the story in some compelling form as it is throughout Season Two under Morgan and Wong's watch.  Tangari looks closely at A Room With No View, Goodbye Charlie (named after the Bobby Darin classic) and others.  Tangari digs deep into the use of music by Morgan and Wong comparing their efforts on Millennium to their own work on The X-Files' Beyond The Sea (another Darin classic) and the frightening Home.  Tangari's application of real life experience further illustrates the power of music and image.  The Evil Earworm is among many of the highlights from this wonderful companion to the series.







THE DEVIL's LIEGE: A CONVERSATION WITH SARAH-JANE REDMOND:  How fitting the editors should lead us to the very word of Lucy Butler as brought to life by the inimitable Sarah-Jane Redmond.  The level of talent assembled for this book boggles the mind.  Reading this interview I'm surprised the book didn't light on fire in my hands.  These are special, gifted actors, writers, creative people who really opened up to McLean, Foreman, Dixon and Chamberlain.  They allow us as readers into their lives in very intimate and candid interviews.  The editing and intercutting of each chapter throughout the book alternating between interview and analysis has such a forceful rhythm and power it's a treasure to weave your way through this publication.

As Chamberlain writes here, Redmond's contribution to Millennium is unforgettable.  There are juicy roles and there are roles that allow actors to sometimes seemingly steal the show - Redmond delivered one of those performances for Millennium.  The devil had to make her do it.  Her star shines in Lamentation and it is a scorching supernova of a moment in the series.  Chamberlain delivers the goods on Redmond. Redmond as Butler creates a breathtaking, grab-you-by-your-throat-and-look-at-me work of art. It's the art of the performance at its finest.







SEEING EVIL: LUCY BUTLER AS LEGION THROUGH THE EYES OF FRANK BLACK.  "Butler parallels the enigmatic gift of Black with her own dark magic, although her power appears to be rooted firmly in an altogether more supernatural place."  Writer Alexander Zelenyj goes deep and dark for this one.  It is a well-mapped, articulate and thorough investigation of Butler from a Biblical perspective and within the context of the show's own contrasts of good versus evil.  If Frank Black represents the creation of man and his own God-given abilities, then Butler personifies something of a fallen angel from the heavens working for the other side. Zelenyj takes the subject and really delves into the contrast of Butler and Black as opponents throughout the series.

In many respects, Zelenyj takes the "dual nature of the series" contrasting darkness and light and does for the legion arc of the story what I attempted, myself, to do for the Secret Society as a contrast to the traditional family.  It's a truly splendid effort by Zelenyj.  And so the quality continues.



HEART OF DARKNESS: A CONVERSATION WITH FRANK SPOTNITZ. The self-deprecating and wonderfully talented Frank Spotnitz makes for an effortless speed read it's so tremendously entertaining. McLean, Foreman and Chamberlain deliver again.  The trio trace the history of Spotnitz move to television, his work on The X-Files, his close relationship with Chris Carter and ultimately his involvement in the dreaded dark that is Millennium.  Spotnitz tracks on his experience with Morgan and Wong in detail. "I think what they were trying to do - which I think was very smart - was elaborate on what this idea of 'millenium' meant, and what the Millennium Group was.  They were trying to give it a mythology."  Spotnitz delves extensively into the world of the Legion mythology, Darin Morgan's input, Season Three, and more. Spotnitz was involved in writing forty-eight of the episodes on The X-Files, both films that complemented the series, executive production for the series, five episodes of Millennium, one episode of Harsh Realm, creator and writer on and of The Lone Gunmen. Yes, a Spotnitz interview is a pretty big deal. And why don't you have a copy of this book already?



EVIL HAS MANY FACE: THE DARKNESS IN THE WORLD OF MILLENNIUM. "The disintegration of family life is the driving force behind acts of evil."  This is certainly a large component of Chamberlain's analysis of the evil that populates the world of Millennium.  This of course is in direct contrast to the theme of Black's preservation of home and family or as Chamberlain puts it the result of forces at work - a theme of recurring forces operating in direct "desecration of the sanctity of the home." Writer, author, editor Adam Chamberlain steps out on his own for his first appearance in the book with a solo work that really paints a picture of that nearly all-consuming darkness that enveloped the world of Frank Black and Millennium. His analysis of nature (the forces of Legion and of unnatural evil) and nurture (family) is indeed thorough and exhaustive in its intensity.  It's a well-known fact the series exhausted its creative forces like Chris Carter because it was so very dark and Chamberlain offers a fascinating investigation into this world.



The writer discusses the "dynamics of cults and secret societies" a subject of clear interest to me as a writer.  He notes Frank's frustration with the Millennium Group in Season Two and his anger directed at Peter Watts. "...Hint and intimations, passwords and candidacies, centuries old origins, end of world prophecies, secrets and lies."  This, in turn, details the further corruption of the non-nuclear family through the machinations and rigid codes of the secret society.  As Chamberlain notes, Season Two saw the disintegration of Frank's family through producers Morgan and Wong.  Suddenly, what was a reliable law enforcement entity had become an ambiguous and "grey" entity tainted by evil itself. He reflects on the nature of evil left unchained which festers when "good men do nothing."  The Millennium Group is a symbol or "cautionary tale" as evil is "allowed to prosper when god men will stop at nothing."  The idea of the secret society twisting and contorting something good is thoroughly in play.  The writer masterfully delves into the aspects of faith within the secret society.  Frank Black says, "Faith fills in the holes of uncertainty.  The group creates uncertainties with their secrets. That's not faith, that's control."  This speaks directly to the corrupting influence of "cult-based organizations," which first act as surrogate families for those "seeking some greater meaning." It becomes "insidious."  Chamberlain essentially captures the personal challenge of evil.  The infection of it can turn us all even the good shepherds.



AVATAR UNMASKED: A CONVERSATION WITH MICHAEL R. PERRY.  "Season Two was a wholly owned subsidiary of Morgan and Wong. ...  It was very much their baby.  They had a vision, they had the authority to pursue that vision, and they pursued it aggressively." McLean and Foreman strike Millennium gold in a conversation with Michael R. Perry.  Perry was story editor on Season Two and producer for Season Three of the series.  Perry speaks with commanding detail regarding his crime writing experience, his work with Morgan and Wong and his equally strong respect for Thomas J. Wright on Season Three.  Perry lends great insight into his contribution for Season Two, particularly the then groundbreaking and still influential The Mikado.  He offers extensive information on his own ...Thirteen Years Later, Omerta, Collateral Damage and Nostalgia whilst steering Millennium Season Three.  The Academy Group, The Millennium Group, rock band KISS, Terry O'Quinn, Lance Henriksen, Britany Tiplady and Megan Gallagher are all on the table as he reflects back on the series.  Also fascinating is Perry's candid input on an unproduced script Millennium script.  Could there be a foundation for a Millennium film?



SECOND SIGHT: PROFILING, PROPHECY, AND DEDUCTIVE REASONING IN CHRIS CARTER'S MILLENNIUM.  "Never before has a detective been challenged with overcoming ominous mysteries on such an apocalyptic scale."  Writer Brian A. Dixon goes above and beyond tracing the historical roots of the criminal profiler and Millennium's place in the context of television, film and literature.  Whilst placing Millennium within this vast pantheon of classics Dixon also paints a detailed portrait of what makes Millennium different and how the series pushed the bounds of television.



Tracing the crime procedural sees Dixon takes us through the influence of works of like Edgar Allan Poe's The Murders In The Rue Morgue (1841), Arthur Conan Doyle's Sherlock Holmes (1887), FBI founding criminal profiler John Douglas, Thomas Harris's The Silence Of The Lambs, Columbo, founder of The Academy group Dr. Roger Depue  and much more.  Dixon discusses how trademarks of the craft like deductive reasoning and analytical thinking have been coupled with a visual storytelling device - Frank Black's gift of - a sight that sets him apart from the work of, as Dixon accurately frames it, "honest men" in need of Black's talents.

Dixon splendidly weaves the hard boiled and classical threads of the criminal procedural into an entirely new mythology. He demonstrates how Millennium moved the needle forward concerning the genre, as well as the nature and development of the criminal investigator. He also takes great pains to underscore that Black's gifts are far from supernatural.



Dixon discusses the third season as a marriage of the previous two in a nice precursor to the final chapter contributed by John Kenneth Muir in the publication.  This ordering is a testament to the flow of the book and the kind of careful thought that went into its assembly by Adam Chamberlain and Dixon as the editorial team.

Finally, Dixon comes full circle thematically to the context of the crime story and its development in television and film history by analyzing Millennium against new crime shows like CSI, BBC's Sherlock (2010-present) and director Guy Ritchie's own Sherlock Holmes (2009, 2011) and how these shows succeed or fail by comparison in the context of human analytics and deductive reasoning.  It's a chapter that weaves like a mystery novel itself.



OUT OF THE MASTER'S SHADOW: A CONVERSATION WITH THOMAS J. WRIGHT. McLean and Foreman deliver another grade A interview with television and film director Thomas J. Wright, the creative force instrumental in the look and feel of the oft-imitated Millennium. Wright discusses his love for Millennium as a series and his love for the concept of a serial killer serial.  Find out more about this fascinating director his incredible associations with the likes of Alfred Hitchcock, Robert Wise (The Andromeda Strain), Steven Spielberg (Taken), David Fincher (Seven) as well as films like Terms Of Endearment, Jaws, Beverly Hills Cop and more.  Wright was responsible for over one-third of the Millennium series, twenty-six episodes in all, The X-Files Season Seven with three episodes, an episode of the beloved Firefly and six for the ephemeral Glen Morgan and James Wong sci-fi series Space: Above And Beyond.  So discover new information behind his work on Dead Letters, The Thin White Line, The Innocents, and ...Thirteen Years Later.



THE PAINTER OF LIGHT: A CONVERSATION WITH ROBERT MCLACHLAN. Chamberlain and Dixon paint another Millennium contributor's portrait interviewing the man instrumental in creating the look of Millennium.  Lighting is critical to the character of any series and Millennium rises to art as a result of McLachlan's hand.  We learn much of McLachlan's storied history working on projects that included television's MacGuyver, The Commish, Strange Luck and more. This extraordinary cinematographer had a crucial impact on the longevity and artistic vision of Carter's series.  The fact McLachlan brings his approach to HBO's lauded Game Of Thrones should speak volumes.

An interview with Terry O'Quinn is about the only thing missing from this mass effort. He was no doubt Lost in efforts to locate the actor.



BARDO THODOL: THE THIRD SEASON AND A NEW UNIFIED THEORY OF MILLENNIUM.  Writer John Kenneth Muir offers viewers another fascinating window into Millennium with his third and final contribution to the book.  He eloquently contextualizes the import of the third season in unifying the entirety of the Millennium series.  The often ambiguous nature of the series thematic components allows for much speculation and varied interpretations.  That "elusive" connective tissue is given a fascinating work-up here by Muir.  I don't want to give anything away but the breakdown of the series in this particular chapter is why Muir is one of the most interesting analysts in sci-fi and horror working in the business today.



RUSHING TOWARD AN APOCALYPSE: A CONVERSATION WITH CHIP JOHANNESSEN.  McLean, Foreman and Dixon work their interview magic again with Millennium second season consulting producer and third season showrunner Chip Johannessen.  Johannessen, like McLachlan, has gone on to have a successful impact on critical series like Showtime's Dexter and Homeland.  It's clear after reading the book the breadth and scope of talent knew no bounds when it came to those involved with Millennium as many have gone on to equally creative pastures.  Millennium was indeed a fertile playground for many of these talents which assured the series its longevity.  Johannessen is no exception.  Sense And Antisense, Luminary and In Arcadia Ego were all potent installments in Millennium's second season penned by Johannessen. Skull And Bones, Goodbye To All That and Borrowed Time are three of my personal favorites from Season Three and all by this writer.  Foreman and McLean manage to dig a little deeper and deliver some real candid insights into the transition between Morgan and Wong's second season to Johannessen's third which is sure to fascinate those always looking for new information on the series.



HARD GRAFT: A HISTORY OF THE BACK TO FRANK BLACK CAMPAIGN. "An interview with an actor appearing on Star Trek would be more about the show and the character than the artist behind the role.  We wanted to make sure that the artists on Millennium Group Sessions felt they were being interviewed for who they were, not being treated as a teat from which the fan could suckle more information about their favorite show."  I couldn't resist that classic quote with a sci-fi Star Trek reference.  McLean offers tremendous insight into the kind of thinking that needed to go into approaching a Millennium rebirth.  This is a lovingly penned thank you letter charting the history of the Back To Frank Black Campaign and a truly riveting read to boot.  Filled with humor and personal details, the chapter is a page turner charting a detailed portrait of fan efforts to revitalize a cancelled show and the genuine research that went into mining that path.  I was reminded of a wonderful book called The Notenki Memoirs that documented the birth of Japanese animation studio Gainax and the remarkable efforts that went into that creation. This chapter should be required reading for all that make such bold undertakings to salvage future beloved series, because regardless of results, and this book is proof of those results, much can be learned from this class act enterprise with plenty to help educate future endeavors.  If it all ended here and now, this book, all that has come of McLean's journey and those involved with this book will have achieved something of a miracle.  They should be proud. McLean understands the idea of enjoying the journey and the ride and appreciates that these efforts are a part of his life's journey.  His story and his efforts are like a giant motivational speech.  As one motivational speaker said recently, "stop saying you'll be happy when this happens, you'll be happy when that happens - be happy now!"  Amen to all that.



THE END OF INNOCENCE: A CONVERSATION WITH KLEA SCOTT.  "You can only do what the writing gives you.  I was definitely in a student-mentor relationship with Frank.  So I can imagine [it was frustrating] having to listen to Emma Hollis ask for the umpteenth time, 'What do you mean by that? I'm sorry I don't understand,' this kind of constant questioning of your lead...."  McLean and Foreman spearhead another powerful look at one of Millennium's most controversial moves in the Third Season casting of Klea Scott as Special Agent Emma Hollis.  Scott candidly discusses the negative reaction to her presence in the series and her character.  Issues of race, politics and other controversial aspects are discussed. Despite some backlash, Scott also contemplates the embrace by many fans to her character and a new appreciation of her work with that always special gift called the passage of time.  The interview unearths a great deal about the virtually unknown Scott who entered the Millenniumverse and the trajectory her character might have taken.



BACK TO FRANK BLACK: A NEW MILLENNIUM.  McLean, Foreman, Chamberlain and Dixon bring it all together for a comprehensive closing chapter with reflections from all.  Frank Spotnitz summed it up beautifully. It "was a show that was about something and made you think, and so it endures in a way that a lot of other shows won't, because with a lot of other series there's a thinness to them that Millennium never had."

This book is indeed memorable for fans of all things Millennium, Frank Black, Chris Carter, Ten Thirteen and and more.



On a personal note, as a writer and reader, I'm a huge fan of reference quality publications so to be part of one was a wonderful opportunity and I'm proud to be associated with a book of such excellence.  Books like Boarding The Enterprise: Transporters, Tribbles And The Vulcan Death Grip In Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek (2006), Finding Serenity: Anti-heroes, Lost Shepherds And Space Hookers In Joss Whedon's Firefly (2004) (its 2007 sequel Serenity Found), Farscape Forver!: Sex, Drugs And Killer Muppets (2005), Exploring Space:1999: An Episode Guide And Complete History Of The Mid-1970s Science Fiction Television Series (1997) and Stepping Through The Stargate: Science, Archaeology And The Military In Stargate SG-1 (2004) all truly set the standard for reference works on an intellectual level. Hands down Back To Frank Black: A Return To Chris Carter's Millennium (2012), joins excellent company and arrives as an intelligent, reference work to the Millennium series and easily rivals these works in quality and content.  Fans of the series finally have a literary companion that matches the series in quality and that is the highest compliment I can offer.  This book is fully loaded and will most assuredly satiate the Millennium beast inside you.



* Photos are captured primarily from Season Two and Season Three for your pleasure.

8 comments:

Olga said...

Thanks for the sincere and interesting review !

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thank you.

John Kenneth Muir said...

Epic review, SFF!

You go into great and informative detail on a fantastic book and a true labor of love.

I am so proud that our names are in this book together, especially given a project of such worth and artistry.

Your chapter is -- like you are -- inventive, original and meticulous.
Brilliant job!

best,
John

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

Thanks for taking time to write John. I appreicate the kind words. It's a heck of a page turner with an episode guide to boot.

My sincere thanks

Troy L. Foreman said...

SFF,

I don't even know what to say. We are truly humbled at this amazing review of a project we put our hearts and souls into. I know it sounds cliche, but that is the truth.

We all have put out something that is simply amazing and there is nothing else like it out there. We gathered the best people for the project and it speaks for itself.

You are right though, it would have been great to get Terry O'Quinn in the book, but he turned us down several times.

Oh well, thank you again for an amazing review and thank you also for being part of this book!

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

My sincere thanks Troy.

What a labor of love. And you have a gift for assembling interviews my friend.

Your recent interview with James over at BTFB with Barbara Bain is just tremendous,

And thank you for the acknowledgment at the end of the interview.

Best,
Sff

Anonymous said...

Thanks for this review...it is beautifully written!
Paul Clark

The Sci-Fi Fanatic said...

You are welcome Paul. My pleasure. What a book!
Glad to be part of it with you.