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DVD Review: MILLENNIUM Season One

by David Blackwell

MILLENNIUM started in the mind of Chris Carter.  He wanted to have a show that was like Silence of the Lambs and Se7en on the small screen. The success of THE X-FILES allowed him to get the show made. People turned in for the first week, and then the audience dropped off. MILLENNIUM wasn't a show for everyone, but I feel MILLENNIUM is a far better show than THE X-FILES.

MILLENNIUM followed the story of Frank Black, a retired FBI serial profiler, who moves his family (Catherine and their daughter, Jordan) to Seattle because he wants his family safe from harm and he also joins the Millennium Group to keep up the fight against evil. The Millennium Group is a consulting group made of former FBI agents and policemen. They offer their services to the police, FBI, and companies. MILLENNIUM was a unique series for the time it lasted (three years) as I watched Frank Black's journey as he looked into the mind of evil from serial killers to other evil people. MILLENNIUM is an atmospheric show with a haunting music score, a mix of dark and colorful visuals, and clever writing.

IT has been a long time coming, but the first season has finally come to DVD. It is a well-designed set and the show hasn't looked better.   The show can be seen in it's full glory again (and fans won't have to rely on decaying VHS recordings or the infamous bootleg DVDs from Hong Kong).

 

DISC ONE:

"It is my gift. It is my curse."- Frank Black

"Did you catch the bad man, Frank?"- Catherine Black

"Pilot" and "Gehenna" are the best two episodes on disc one. Guest star James Morrison is what makes "Dead Letters" so good. The other episode on this disc is "The Judge".

Included on the first disc are two commentaries. Chris Carter does the commentary for the pilot episode. He talks about the production of the pilot, how the show was lighted, and violins from a song by an Australian pop star inspired the theme song for MILLENNIUM. The other commentary is for "Gehenna" as director David Nutter talks about the production of that episode, the guest cast, and the old shipyards location which doesn't exist anymore (and how locations like that are becoming harder to find today due to the real estate boom).

DISC TWO: "522666" has one of the best scenes of the season as Catherine is left on hold and she hears Frank talk to the bomber. "Kingdom Come" was originally supposed to air earlier in the season, but FOX delayed it by 1-2 weeks due to the real life murder of a priest. "Blood Relatives" has a neat twist at the end. "Well Worn Lock" is the worst episode of the season, but the episode tells us what Catherine's job is (as she is the main character for the episode).

DISC THREE: "Wide Open" is another episode showing Catherine at work. "The Wild and The Innocent" is one of the weak episodes of the season where "Weeds" show Millennium has a twisted person who thinks he is some kind of holy figure who wants family men to confess their sins. "Loin Like A Hunting Flame" is the strong episode of disc three.

DISC FOUR: Millennium starts kicking into high gear with "Force Majuere", my favorite episode of season one. "The Thin White Line" makes Frank remember his past as a copycat (of the killer who almost got Frank years ago ) is mimicking murders from 20 years ago. "Sacrament" features Frank's brother as his brother's wife is kidnapped. Detective Bletcher feels Frank is too close to the case while Watts acts like a good friend and helps him out. "Covenant" is also on disc three (and I wish the 80 minute cut of the episode was on this disc or there would be some deleted scenes for this episode).

DISC FIVE: "Walkabout" has the film noir vibe to it in the twisted Millennium way.

"Lamentation" features the first appearance of the infamous Lucy Butler (Sarah Jane Redmond). "Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions" is one of the low points for Frank Black.

"Broken Word" is the other episode on this disc.

DISC SIX:

"I don't work with assassins."- Frank Black

"Maranatha" mixes in religion, the Anti-Christ, and Russian superstition as Frank teams up with Russian Detective Yura to stop Yaponchik which some Russians believe to be the Anti-Christ.

"Paper Dove" is the season finale as the subplot with the guy taking polaroids of Frank's family sets up a cliffhanger ending to be resolved in season two.

VIDEO/AUDIO: The show has never looked better. The colors are right and the blacks are deep.  The episodes are presented in 1.33:1 full frame as they were filmed (and shown on TV).

The music comes through clear, but sometime you might have to turn up the volume to hear what Frank Black is saying. You can hear Millennium in English, French, or Spanish Dolby 2.0 Surround with the option of English or Spanish subtitles.   I laugh when I hear the French dubbing for the woodsman character in Paper Dove

MENU DESIGN: The menus are great. Nice montages of footage from the series used to lead up to the main menu. The ouroboros moving across the screen. The main menu has Frank black's face on the right and footage from season one playing on the left. The Millennium theme song plays as it leads up to the main menu.
You have the face of the character on the right side of the menu screen as a continual loop of Millennium footage plays out to the theme music of Millennium. There is a transparent circle (with star constellations) rotating on the Menu Screen.

Here are the faces that appear with each main menu:

disc One- Frank Black's face on main menu

disc Two- Catherine Black

disc Three- Jordan Black

disc Four- Bletcher

disc Five- Peter Watts

disc six- side profile of Frank Black

Episode menus features stills from the episode and each episode scene selection menu has 12 chapters with names for each chapter (and a still from that part of the episode).

Again, I wish FOX would have a play all episodes option instead of having to go back to the main menu every time to select a new episode.

SPECIAL FEATURES: There are three documentaries, 8 TV spots for the pilot (7 thirty second spots and a one minute spot), and trailers for the Alien Quadrilogy and two Special Edition DVDs (Predator and the 35th Anniversary Edition of Planet of the Apes) on disc six.

The first documentary is the 51 minute "Order In Chaos"- the Making of Season One. The first 25 minutes deal with the start of MILLENNIUM and the production of the pilot (and the reaction to that pilot). There are interviews with Chris Carter, Davdi Nutter, Ken Horton, Thomas J. Wright, Robert MacLachlan, Frank Spotnitz, Chip Johannessanm Lance Henrikson, Megan Gallagher, Mark Snow, Hohn Peter Kousakis, Robert Hazelwood (Academy Group Profiler), Dr. Roger L. DePue (Academy Group Founder), the production designer of the show, and an old interview bit (from the set of the show) with Britany Tiplady.   Terry O'Quinn doesn't appear in the interviews.  Clips from the show have been cropped to fit the 1.78:1 widescreen format of the documentaries.

The Yellow House changed after the pilot (since the production was blackballed by the neighborhood) and they had to find a new house for the series. The people interviewed said Millennium was a tough show to do with long hours and long nights as each episode went through a day to night schedule over the course of each week. Each episode was filmed in 8 days where the pilot had a month to shoot. Of course, all involved reveal that sometimes 3 scenes were being filmed at the same time and there were 80 camera set-ups for one day of shooting on "The Thin White Line" among other things. The show could have ended being called 2000. The flashback sequences of how Frank sees into the mind of the killer are also discussed like they were shot at 6 frames per second. There are some behind-the-scenes production stills and video, and an outtake from one of the episodes (a line flub by Lance).

"Chasing The Dragon"- Academy Group featurette is 22 minutes long and has interviews with members of the Academy Group as you find how the Academy Group, Inc. was founded, talk about Forensic Behavoiral Profiling, the nature of evil, false profilers, and why it is needed to keep their family lifes seperate from theire work because their work can hurt them. Sometimes you see info about each Academy Group member and crime stats at the bottom of the screen.

The final documentary is "Creating the Logo and Title Sequence" which is 9 1/2 minutes long. This docu is mostly in 1.78:1 widescreen except for the last 30-45 seconds when the Millennium title sequence is played. First there is talk with Justin Carrol who designed the logo for Millennium. Next Ramsey McDaniel (Art Designer/Editor) is interviewed and she talks about the title sequence in how she got the job and how the title sequence was shot. Ramsey used her sister for the title sequence and it was shot in 35 mm and Super 8. She mentions the work of Robert Frank inspired the images in the title sequence and one part features a stock shot from a music video from Bush. Chris Carter is also interviewed.

The three documentaries have no subtitle option.

DVD SLEEVE ARTWORK: The DVD set presents the DVDs in six thin clear plastic cases. The sleeve artwork show stills from a episode on each disc with the back cover showing one of six expressions on Frank Black's face.

Sleeve Front cover stills (with each disc case):

disc One - Gehenna

disc two- Well Worn Lock

disc three- Loin Like A Hunting Flame

disc four- Sacrement

disc five- Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions

disc six- Paper Dove

Also included are paper inserts advertising THE X-FILES DVDs (and MILLENNIUM Season One and HARSH REALM) and other TV shows on DVD from FOX.

FINAL ANALYSIS: MILLENNIUM SEASON ONE will make many MILLENNIUM fans happy. It is a must-have for fans as it is a well designed set. The only downsides are I wish the extended 80 minute cut of Covenant (or deleted scenes from it) and more commentaries were included.

this review (ENTERLINE 3.47) is (c)7-3-2004 David Blackwell and this review cannot be reprinted without permission. The Millennium Group wasn't contacted to comment on this review. Send all comments to lord_pragmagtic@hotmail.com and look for additional content (and site updates) at http://www.livejournal.com/users/enterlinemedia