by Carl David Leeth

I was never an X-Files fan, so when series creator Chris Carter came out with a new show, Millennium, I watched with guarded interest. Within a few episodes, I was hooked on this dark and brooding examination of our society.

Lance Henriksen portrays Frank Black, a retired FBI profiler now working in Seattle with a mysterious organization known as the Millennium Group. Using his supernatural insight into evil, Black investigates bizarre murders, largely within the Pacific Northwest.

The genius of the series lies in the deliberate way in which its mythos unfolds. First you think it's just a show about a troubled but brilliant man who preternaturally understands murderers. As the season proceeds, however, you realize it is leading up to a much more sinister cohesion, in which the killers are all part of a larger movement of evil across the world.

Henriksen is perfectly cast as the show's craggy-faced protagonist. You feel for his gifted/cursed character. When Black experiences a rare instance of peace and breaks into a smile, the relief you feel is palpable.

Such is the immersive effect of Millennium. The supporting cast is spare, but highlighted by Megan Gallagher as Frank's very understand-ing wife, and Britanny Tiplady as their young daughter, the show's main symbol of innocence, whom Frank desperately wants to protect from the horrors he sees in life.

Though it occasionally borrows devices from movies such as Silence of the Lambs and Se7en, Millennium generates plenty of its own horror and gloom. Indeed, it may have been this lack of humor and sense of impending biblical doom that caused the show's cancellation after only three seasons. There are nightmares at the core of Millennium, and a foreboding that has never been equaled in the history of television. In spite of its depressing atmosphere and visions of death and demons, it is a show that makes you feel acutely the miracle and fragility of human life.

The few extras on this DVD set are excellent, but all I needed was the show itself. It may not be for everyone, but Millennium pays off if you're brave enough to see the wonder through its murky patina of the human condition.

Publication date: 08/12/04

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