As weird and wonderful as the X-Files was — particularly when it came to capturing the sort of weird conspiratorial paranoia of its time — I've always felt that producer Chris Carter's real masterpiece was the "other" series" he produced for FOX, Millennium.
And as pleased as I am that somehow they convinced David Duchovny to come back for this summer's new X-Files movie, what I'd really like to see is a final conclusion to the far more complex — and unresolved — issues left unanswered when FOX canceled Millennium after its third season.
The thing is — from The Twilight Zone to The X-Files to most recently, Lost — I've always been a sucker for those television shows that leave the viewer hanging with far more questions within the plotline than are ever really answered. Millennium, especially during its amazing second season, did this more effectively than any show I can ever remember watching.
I loved this show so much at the time, that I had no problem leaving my buddies waiting just up the street at the Rocksport for me to join them, while I watched that particular week's episode.
As good as The X-Files was, with its then fashionable mythology of UFO's, Aliens, and government conspiracy, Millennium was a show that really cut to the chase of the Y2K sort of apocalyptic paranoia of those times, leading right up to the dawn of the year 2000.
In its first season, the show began innocently enough as a sort of dark crime thriller based on FBI profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen). Week after week, Black chased down what amounted to a sort of serial killer of the week, aided by his unique ability to be able to "see" the crimes. It was definitely dark stuff, especially for network television airing in a primetime spot on Friday nights.
But much like the mythology of The X-Files, there was also a recurring storyline with Millennium involving Black's membership in the mysterious "Millennium Group." This was a secret group consisting of shadowy sort of cloak and dagger types, who seemed to harbor insider knowledge of the relationship between the growing evil of the killers in society, and the impending biblical apocalypse of the soon approaching millennium.
This relationship was explored much further in the series amazing second season with some of the most revolutionary dramatic television of its time, or for that matter any other. Here, the storyline delved much further into the inner workings and machinations of the Millennium group itself. The plotlines also grew increasingly darker, burrowing ever deeper into the various motives of Millennium's splinter groups like the Roosters (who seemed hell bent to bring the carnage on), and the Owls (good guys who were more like a "Watchers" type group).
Season two also introduced a fascinating new character in Lara Means (played by Kristen Cloke), whose visions of angels usually meant all hell was about to break loose. As television goes, this was definitely heady stuff even by today's standards of the bizarre plotlines of something like Lost.
The other thing about this show though was the way they made such incredible use of music to bring home the message of impending doom and gloom. Nowhere is this more apparent than in the episode "The Time Is Now."
Here Lara Means apparently is driven completely insane by her nightmarish visions of the approaching apocalypse, to the tune of Patti Smith's "Land." It is what I would have to call just about the most riveting ten minutes of televison I have ever seen.
Season two ended with Frank Black and his family holed up in a cabin waiting for the world to end courtesy of something called the Marburg Virus.
By the time of the third season — in one of the greatest examples of a great show failing to deliver a payoff ever — everything was more or less back to normal with Black once again investigating serial killers. Not surprisingly, the series was canceled not long afterwards.
Still, it has remained a cult favorite. For the longest time, it was also unavailable on DVD. I obtained my own bootleg copy through a fan website, and have to sit through japanese subtitles whenever I decide to watch. Fortunately for the rest of the world, it has long since been released on DVD.
Recently, the upstart cable channel cable Chiller has began running old Millennium episodes. With any hope, this will spur a revival of interest. Then perhaps fans like myself will finally get some answers, and a real conclusion to the one of the best, if largely unappreciated TV series ever.