Millennium-Season 2: Part 1 (1996)
Main Menu Introduction
Main Menu Audio
Audio Commentary-Tom Wright (Director) - The Hand Of Saint Sebastian
|Year Of Production||1996|
|RSDL / Flipper||
Multi Disc Set (3)
|Cast & Crew|
|Region Coding||4||Directed By||
Twentieth Century Fox
Stephen J. Lang
Stephen E. Miller
|Pan & Scan/Full Frame||None||
English Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
English Audio Commentary Dolby Digital 2.0 (192Kb/s)
|Widescreen Aspect Ratio||1.78:1|
|Video Format||576i (PAL)|
|Original Aspect Ratio||1.33:1||Miscellaneous|
English for the Hearing Impaired
English Audio Commentary
|Annoying Product Placement||Yes, Simpsons|
|Action In or After Credits||No|
WARNING: Fans of Season Two should skip this review. Disappointment and cynicism ahead.
Since 1997, the moments marking the demise of everyone's favourite television shows have been chronicled by jumptheshark.com. The phrase "jumping the shark" was coined in reference to the moment when Happy Days star Fonzie literally jumped over a shark on water skis, separating the good stuff from the dross that followed. When a television series jumps the shark - by, for example, killing a character, adding a character, changing direction, and so on - it has reached an end point: the rest of the series will be markedly worse and the subject of endless groaning by fans. Very few programs manage to avoid our friend the shark, but no series has managed to leap said fish as rapidly or in such a complete and dramatic fashion as Chris Carter's Millennium.
Season One (reviewed here) started the series with high potential: serial killer profiler Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) brought a level of dark intensity to television rarely seen, and the religious overtones of each week's murder(s) were often genuinely disturbing. Add in the possibility that the impending millennium could be behind an increase in violence and the Millennium Group's investigation into apocalyptically toned crime and you have the makings of an excellent, if somewhat depressing, series.
After completing Season One, Chris Carter handed production of Millennium over to Glen Morgan and James Wong. The duo had already made an impact working on The X-Files, creating several memorable episodes (including the classic Tooms), and Carter must have felt his new project was in safe hands. Not so. The serial killer of the week format was never going to last - something new had to be added into the mix to keep the series going. Morgan and Wong decided to increase the emphasis on the apocalypse, bringing evil out of the shadows, and turning the Millennium Group into an ancient cult. The ambiguity of Season One - were demons on the move or had America's psychopaths turned en masse to an imagined devil? - has been jettisoned in favour of religious conspiracies, Buffy style demons, and "meaningful" poetic reflection. Frank and his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher) separate, the symbolic yellow house is abandoned, and Frank's profiling gift becomes an "I see dead people" curse. Serial killers are almost entirely abandoned in favour of X-Files style cases that the Millennium Group now deem important.
All of these changes might have been positive if not for one key issue: Morgan and Wong have almost zero writing talent. Taking over writing duties for most of the season, the duo deliver little more than clichéd lines and ponderous speeches. And the fact that most of the posturing is done by recurring character Lara Means (Kristen Cloke - Morgan's partner) doesn't help proceedings at all. Her acting ability is limited and consists largely of pouting close-ups for her husband - cronyism at its best.
After the creepy darkness of Season One, Season Two's self-important religious thematics are laughable at best. I am perhaps alone in my dislike for Wong and Morgan's efforts - the online Millennium fan base seems to agree unanimously that Season Two was brilliant and that the series only hurtled our favourite fish at the opening of Season Three. In reality though, Millennium was dead in the water from the moment Chris Carter handed over the reigns. Move along folks, nothing to see here.
Season Two has been divided into two three disc releases. Part One contains the following episodes:
1. The Beginning and the End (43:03) - Frank tries to track down Catherine's kidnapper and discovers his own dark side.
2. Beware of the Dog (43:01) - Evil manifests itself in the form of vicious dogs and Frank meets the Millennium Group's Old Man.
3. Sense and Antisense (43:03) - A deadly disease could start an epidemic if Frank and Peter can't track down patient zero. Conspiracies and cover-ups abound.
4. Monster (43:00) - Frank and Millennium Group candidate Lara Means are both assigned to a child abuse case, without being told of the other. A clichéd plot to introduce the cliché-spouting Means.
5. A Single Blade of Grass (42:37 - The first signs that Millennium had really begun to lose it appear in this hackneyed modernization of Native American stereotypes and myths.
6. The Curse of Frank Black (42:57) - Frank faces the ghosts of his past on an eerie Halloween. And the Simpsons score some cross-promotion.
7. 19:19 (43:45) - Another religious nut believes he has been called to open one of the seals of Revelation and kidnaps and buries alive a busload of children. Frank, Peter, and Lara are on the case.
8. The Hand of St. Sebastian (43:46) - Peter attempts to track down an ancient Christian relic, risking his life to keep the hand of St. Sebastian away from a Millennium splinter group.
9. Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense (43:46) - One of two humorous episodes penned by Darin Morgan, Jose Chung brings an X-Files character into the Millennium universe and offers a keen satire of Scientology.
10. Midnight of the Century (43:43) - Frank faces the ghosts of his past again on Christmas Eve.
11. Goodbye Charlie (43:17) - Could we finally have a serial killer episode? Or did the victims want to die?
12 Luminary (43:01) - Frank has a minor falling out with the Millennium Group and heads to Alaska to investigate a boy's disappearance. The wilderness offers illumination to Frank.
The video quality for Season Two Part One is at least on par with Season One: same positives, same negatives. The series is presented at a ratio of 1.78:1, 16x9 enhanced. Originally shown in full frame 1.33:1, Fox have dropped their game a little with this version. Framing doesn't appear to have been affected adversely, but there is no reason to present Millennium in an altered ratio after Season One stuck with the original presentation.
Sharpness and shadow detail are variable again. Season Two spends less time in the dark compared with Season One and tends toward brighter colours. As a result, the image seems a little sharper than Season One, but not dramatically so. Low level noise and grain are an issue for this release also. Pixelization is plentiful and limited detail is often worsened by posterization. Moire effect is visible on computer screens and aliasing is present in every episode, though not as obviously as Season One. Beware of the Dog offers a nasty example at 42:09. The opening of Monster appears juddery. Edge enhancement is plentiful. Film artefacts are practically absent.
Subtitles are again accurate and well presented in a white font.
The audio transfer is good. Millennium is presented with an English Dolby Digital 2.0 track, surround encoded.
Dialogue is clear and audible, but includes a little crackle. Audio sync is accurate.
Mark Snow continues to furnish Millennium's score. Sounds have altered to reflect the new direction the series has taken, incorporating religious chants and so on. Snow heads to stereotype territory with his score for A Single Blade but generally produces solid work. Frank Black has also developed a love for Bobby Darrin and his music features regularly.
Surround activity doesn't draw attention to itself but provides a good level of ambience. There was enough bass information to give my subwoofer some minor work.
|Surround Channel Use|
Director Thomas J. Wright offers a commentary on The Hand of Sebastian. In a fairly dull presentation, often pointing out the obvious, Wright emphasises what he felt was the importance of focusing on the Millennium Group's history. Otherwise he's happy to point out which scenes were hard and little more.
The Region 1 release of Millennium presents Season Two in one package. Our release is identical but divided in two parts.
After a good start in Season One, Season Two of Millennium slides rapidly towards mediocre television.
Video and audio are good but not at all fantastic and on par with the Season One release.
One fairly uninteresting commentary is the only extra in this set.
|DVD||Sony DVP-S336, using Component output|
|Display||LG Flatron Widescreen RT-28FZ85RX. Calibrated with THX Optimizer. This display device is 16x9 capable.|
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver. Calibrated with THX Optimizer.|
|Speakers||DB Dynamics Belmont Series: Fronts: B50F, Centre: B50C, Rears: B50S, Sub: SW8BR|