Friday, February 6, 2009

What You Should Have Been Watching: Millennium

All The Common Man can say is, don't do it America. If this CNN report is to be believed, many of you are thinking about ditching your cable TV or satellite service for the glories of television on the internet, "Data show that increasing numbers of people relying on the Internet for at least some of their TV viewing. Users watched more than 24 million videos on Hulu in December, a record for the fledgling company. And Joost users viewed 818,000 hours of video in January, up 25 percent from the previous month, a spokesman said. A recent survey of 3,000 prime-time TV watchers by Integrated Media Measurements Inc., an audience tracker, found that 20 percent watched some TV online."

It's not that TV on the internet isn't a good idea. In fact, The Common Man has been known to catch up on his Lost or his Battlestar Galactica or his 30 Rock or his Friday Night Lights on occasion. When he was painting the house, he went through the first seasons of Weeds and Dexter. But understand this, dear friends. The internet is not soon likely to replace your television. Particularly if you're a man like The Common Man. Because football, baseball, and the Final Four are not likely to be adequately represented there anytime soon. Baseball does have a Season Ticket option that will allow you to watch local games online, but for the playoffs, you'll need your TV. And the big networks have exclusive control of football for the next few years.

And if you do give up on your cable, America, you'll miss out on reruns of Millennium, the most recent installment in The Common Man's attempt to shape your viewing habits. Millennium was Chris Carter's follow-up show to the iconic X-Files, and was a creepier and more extreme version of the same show in the run up to the year 2000. The series starred veteran character actor Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, a profiler with a unique ability to see and comprehend evil. Black works for the Millennium Group, a shadowy organization of former law enforcement officers who consult for the FBI and local police departments on difficult cases, and who believe an apocolypse is coming. The Millennium Group uses the crimes they investigate to better understand the coming apocolypse and how to prevent it (or perhaps control it).

Complicating matters is Frank's driving commitment to keep his family safe. Following a breakdown, he and his wife and five-year old move back to Seattle to recover and to build anew life. Yet, danger and evil keep seeking them out, and Frank struggles to meet his goal, especially when the larger goal of preventing the apocolypse (which, you know, would benefit his family a little) seems to conflict with short term desires to protect them from harm. His struggle mirrors the difficulty of being a father and husband, when things beyond a man's control can threaten to take what he holds dear and has vowed to keep safe, no matter how strong, courageous, and intelligent a man is.

The larger plot of the series becomes very convoluted, and each of its three seasons has distinct differences, as the creative decision makers changed each year. What was consistent was the characterization of Frank and his family, and a dreary and ominous feel to the show, almost a dread. It is filled with disturbing iconography and images and just feels creepy. And as one of the first shows to deal with with "profiling" (which has since become cliche), the show was truly groundbreaking. And Hendriksen's work here, as well as the work of Meghan Gallagher and Brittany Tiplady (as Frank's wife and daughter, respectively), is really excellent. Hendriksen's haunting and gravely voice bely a weariness and worry, but also wisdom and compassion, and his face seems etched with the evil he has faced.

If you're a fan of the horror genre, and of serial television like Lost, Millennium is a terrific show for you (plus, Terry O'Quinn!). It's not perfect; at times, for instance, in the third season it drags. But it's compelling and addictive. You can find Millennium on ChillerTV, where it's rerun three times a day, and you can find out whether this world survives an apocolypse in the year 2000.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

... and when you finish watching "Millennium" (it's a given that you'll love it), please visit!!!