Millennium-Season 1 (Complete) (1996)

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Released 2-Feb-2005

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Mystery Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Pilot - Chris Carter (Creator)
Audio Commentary-Gehenna - David Nutter (Director)
Featurette-Making Of-Order In Chaos: Making Millenium Season One
Featurette-Chasing The Dragon: A Conversation With The Academy Group
Featurette-Creating The Logo And Title Sequence
TV Spots-8
Rating Rated MA
Year Of Production 1996
Running Time 940:24
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Multi Disc Set (6)
Cast & Crew
Start Up Menu
Region Coding 4 Directed By Cliff Bole
Jim Charleston
Allen Coulter
Kenneth Fink
Studio
Distributor

Twentieth Century Fox
Starring Lance Henriksen
Brittany Tiplady
Megan Gallagher
Klea Scott
Terry O'Quinn
Case ?
RPI $74.95 Music Mark Snow


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame Full Frame English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
Widescreen Aspect Ratio None
16x9 Enhancement No
Video Format 576i (PAL)
Original Aspect Ratio 1.33:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
Smoking Yes
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits No

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    With the turn of the millennium safely negotiated without so much as a hint of a Second Coming or even the smallest whimper from the Anti-Christ, last century's end-of-times paranoia and despair seems, if not merely passé, no more than a high point in vividly poetic imagery. No comets ploughing into the earth, no bitter Wormwood, no mark of the beast, no trumps sounding the end. Yet, it would be hard to argue that Yeats wasn't at least partly right to suggest that "mere anarchy" and the "blood-dimmed tide" have been "loosed upon the world": the year 2000 didn't exactly mark the end, but then planet Earth isn't exactly at its most pleasant. Has there been an increase in evil over the last century? And if the hoards of Beelzebub are not to blame, what is? In the late 1990s, all the answers were available in X-Files creator and Fox Network darling Chris Carter's short lived Millennium.

    After setting the X-Files juggernaut in motion, Carter was given free reign to put together a new project or two for Fox. Tapping into the fin-de-siecle atmosphere of the 1990s, Carter produced the dark and foreboding Millennium. Lance Henriksen stars as Frank Black, an ex-FBI profiler gifted (or cursed) with the unique ability to understand a serial killer's mind so well as to be able to see visions of the crime from the killer's point of view. Living with such a close, empathetic connection with evil takes an emotional toll on Frank, and when a stalker begins to threaten his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and daughter Jordan (Britany Tiplady), a breakdown pulls Frank out of the FBI. Frank manages to overcome his fears for his family when a crime consulting group of ex-law enforcement professionals, the Millennium Group, offers him a position and considerable resources to hold back the world's evil. The Millennium Group believes that the approach of the year 2000 is fuelling crime and that Frank's gift can help eliminate spreading violence.

    Millennium is structured as a serial-killer-of-the-week drama and doesn't pull back from the disturbing possibilities its focus implies: this is dark, visceral and often nasty television, depicting events all the more disturbing for their plausibility in real life. When Millennium hits its mark, it's scary stuff indeed and may have you checking your locks more than once. Behind the weekly scarefest, though, is a developing mythology, a suggestion that an unworldly force might be behind the crimes, that demonic powers might in fact be hastening some millennial agenda. To the writers' credit, both explanations for the spread of crime - cloven-foot demons or seriously messed-up psychopaths who believe in demons - remain plausible throughout Season 1, although episodes Lamentation and Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions dance along a very fine line. While the balance is maintained, Millennium remains intriguing and addictive viewing. Inevitably, though, focusing on far-reaching myth-arcs leads to less than satisfactory explanations and plot turns, and like The X-Files, Millennium manages to completely "jump the shark" in Seasons 2 and 3 as it begins to focus on government and religious conspiracies and brings the literal face of evil out of the dark (and the less said about the X-Files crossover the better). Season 1 certainly holds its own as far and away the best of Millennium and as solid, if disturbing, television. If you missed Millennium on its first run, then this release is highly recommended, even if the next millennial apocalypse is some 990-odd years away. Millennium should keep you nicely entertained until then.

    Millennium - Season 1 includes all 22 episodes over six discs.

    Disc One

    1. Pilot (44:03) - A serial killer fond of reading Yeats in French has set himself on a mission to remove from Seattle the plague of sin embodied in strippers, prostitutes, and hustlers. Frank begins to work for the Millennium Group and aims to bring the Frenchman to justice. A genuinely creepy debut with some unforgettable and disturbing imagery. The major characters are nicely established and the Polaroid stalker begins to make his presence felt.

    2. Gehenna (42:58) - A telephone sales company cum satanic cult offer the unfaithful to a shadowy figure as sacrifice. Cremated human remains begin to nourish rose beds and Frank is soon investigating.

    3. Dead Letters (42:53) - Another violent serial killer leaves hidden messages for Frank. Teamed with Millennium Group candidate Jim Horn, Frank works hard to stop his partner barrelling down the path to breakdown he took years earlier.

    4. The Judge (43:03) - A self-appointed judge dispenses violent justice on those who have slipped through the legal system's grasp, righting wrongs Old Testament style.

    Disc Two

    5. 522666 (41:56) - A serial bomber aiming for fame and stardom manipulates Frank in his terrorist plans.

    6. Kingdom Come (42:56) - Priests from all denominations fall victim to the rage of a tormented man determined to kill his own faith.

    7. Blood Relatives (42:47) - A young man fresh from juvenile detention takes advantage of grieving families at funerals. Vicious murders follow his every step.

    8. The Well-Worn Lock (42:52) - Placing Catherine in the spotlight as she attempts to help a victim of sexual abuse, this is perhaps the first series misfire. Overwrought courtroom drama.

    Disc Three

    9. Wide Open (41:52) - Another week, another psychopath. A young girl is forced to watch as her parents are tortured and murdered by an axe wielding killer who uses real estate open houses to conceal himself in secure homes. This one scared me ten years ago and I've never forgotten. Its impact has lessened, but Wide Open is still creepy.

    10. The Wild and the Innocent (41:57) - A young woman and her violent boyfriend weave a violent path in search of "Angel." Place this one in the same bundle with The Well-Worn Lock

    11. Weeds (42:52) - The sins of the fathers are visited upon the children as another vigilante forces parents to admit past wrongs by kidnapping and torturing their sons.

    12. Loin Like a Hunting Flame (42:40) - A sexually repressed husband begins to live out violent fantasies, mixing deadly drugs with twisted pleasure.

    Disc Four

    13. Force Majeure (42:57) - A Noah-like figure trapped in an iron lung gathers his blonde, cloned children to his desert arc in preparation for the disasters of the May 2000 planetary alignment.

    14. The Thin White Line (42:58) - A serial killer who came close to murdering Frank passes on his techniques to a new protégé.

    15. Sacrament (42:57) - Frank's sister-in-law is kidnapped by a man convinced he is being used by the Devil.

    16. Covenant (43:07) - A Utah man is on trial for murdering his wife and children. Frank is convinced of his innocence.

    Disc Five

    17. Walkabout (42:14) - A group of patients act out violently, poking out their own eyes and attacking anyone near them. One of the patients is a disturbed Frank Black.

    18. Lamentation (43:00) -A prisoner escapes while recuperating from a kidney removal. Frank put him behind bars before and is called in to do so again. Recurring character Lucy Butler is introduced, revealing the darker forces that threaten Frank and his family. When evil strikes close to home, the series takes an unexpected turn. One of the best episodes.

    19. Powers, Principalities, Thrones, and Dominions (43:04) - A follow on from the previous episode, Frank watches a young man kill another with a supernatural blast. To reveal any more would spoil both this episode and the previous.

    20. Broken World (42:07) - Another sexually repressed man finds gratification in slaughtering horses. Franks is concerned that the killer may be gaining the confidence to attack a human victim.

    Disc Six

    21. Maranatha (43:02) - The New York Russian community is attacked by a methodical assassin somehow linked to the Chernobyl disaster and a mythical anti-Christ figure known as Yaponchik.

    22. Paper Dove (43:01) - Polaroid photos, annoying mothers, and woodland murders lead to a cliffhanger finale.

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Transfer Quality

Video

    Millenium has been given a good transfer, although your mileage may vary if viewing on plasma or LCD. Each episode is presented in its original aspect ratio of full frame 1.33:1.

    Sharpness and detail varies throughout. Daylight scenes are for the most part quite crisp, with some visible contrast boosting, especially in the edge enhancement department. Most of the episodes are shot at night or in dark rooms and these scenes are handled only adequately. Low level noise and grain are present and shadow detail does drop away at times. At 8:18 in Blood Relatives the image shows excessive low level noise, giving the image a canvas-like texture. The darker scenes often tend towards posterization. Colour is muted in all episodes, deliberately toned back for effect. The exceptions are Frank's red 4WD drive and the Black's yellow house, both rendered far more vividly than other colours. Skin tones often appear washed out and overly brown and at other times a little purple. Blacks are generally quite deep, but often troubled by low level noise.

    Apart from posterization, I noticed little in the way of MPEG artefacts besides some pixelization. Mild aliasing is present throughout. On several occasions aliasing is severe (see, for example, Blood Relatives at 13:21 or The Wild and the Innocent at 1:49, amongst others). Moire effect is visible in Kingdom Come at 16:10. Dirt marks and small blemishes appear in rare flashes.

    Subtitles are white, in a readable font and well placed. They are accurate to the dialogue.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    The audio transfer for this release is good, but reflects its television roots. Each episode carries a Dolby Digital 2.0 surround encoded track and commentary tracks for Pilot and Gehenna.

    Dialogue is clear and audible, but exhibits a little crackle and hiss at times and sounds flat and undynamic. Lance Henriksen's voice is very deep, but carries very little resonance in this track at all. Audio sync is accurate.

    X-Files composer Mark Snow has produced his usual solid score-work on Millennium. Using synthesiser, heavy percussion (including a large one-two tympani beat to mark ad breaks) and mournful strings, the score is atmospheric and effective. The title theme is an excellent piece, using Celtic sounds and rhythms to augment excellent opening titles.

    Audio is centre focused, but effective use is made of the surrounds, pushing echoes and other creepy ambient effects to the rear. My subwoofer made itself known for percussive sounds and in support of the score: subwoofer presence will depend on your setup's bass management. It's not a completely immersive track, but effective enough when ambience counts.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

Main Menu Introduction

    The menu introduction and menus are 16x9 enhanced.

Audio Commentary

    Series creator Chris Carter and director David Nutter offer a commentary each. Both are fairly open about the series' strengths and weaknesses and offer a good overview of the show's debut and development.

Featurette-Making Of - Order in Chaos: Making Millennium Season One (48:46)

    Manages to cover the making-of process fairly comprehensively without offering anything of real substance. The usual self-congratulatory documentary we've come to expect.

Featurette - Chasing the Dragon: A Conversation with The Academy Group (21:21)

    Apparently, the Millennium Group is based on a real group of ex-law enforcement professionals acting as consultants for police departments and so on. I don't imagine the Academy Group was too impressed by the Millennium group's development in the following seasons.

Featurette - Creating the Logo and Title Sequence (9:35)

    An interesting look at the Millennium logo and title design. A little more information on the symbols used in the logo would have been appreciated, but what we get is informative enough.

TV Spots (5:16)

    4x3 trailers, some letterboxed. Mostly developed from the pilot, the same images are repeated over and again.

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    The Region 1 release is identical to ours bar a few extra trailers for other releases and NTSC formatting. Likewise the Region 2 UK release. Video and audio quality appear similar. Equal all round.

Summary

    Millennium didn't last long, totally derailing itself in later seasons. Season 1, though, is solid TV drama, with more hits than misses and a thick, foreboding atmosphere.

    Video is good, but far from perfect.

    Audio is reproduced well, offering some nice immersive moments.

    Extras are expansive and well done, but fall just inside the realm of irritating self-congratulation.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Adam Atkinson (read my bio)
Thursday, March 23, 2006
Review Equipment
DVDSony DVP-S336, using Component output
DisplayLG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.
AmplificationYamaha RX-V357
SpeakersDB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR

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