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Millennium – The Pilot

Last night, I watched the pilot for the 1996 television show Millennium. Created by Chris Carter, (The X-Files) Millennium was a television show about a former FBI profiler who can feel and see the darkness in serial killers. At the time, the show was the darkest show on network television, and this created some controversary that led to attempts to lighten the mood of the show and make it a bit less controversial. The show ran for three seasons before being cancelled. A wrap-up finale story aired as an episode of The X-Files and gave fans closure.

I remember hearing about Millennium back in the 90’s and it really showed up on my radar about ten years ago when I decided it was time to watch The X-Files. And so, I’ve waited for it to show up somewhere streaming, but it never has. It’s not been available for digital purchase either.

This past Wednesday, I had a few minutes to kill before my dentist appointment, so I ran into a nearby used bookstore. Seasons one and two of Millennium were there for $5.99 apiece. The DVDs are getting pricey now as physical media sales decline and there is no other legal option to watch this show. I decided now was the time to grab these DVDs and hopefully find the third season sometime down the road.

I’m trying to limit the television shows I’m watching at one time because there is just way too many going on that I want to watch. I didn’t need to start Millennium right now, but after so many years of waiting, I decided I should at least watch the pilot. A quiet hour alone occurred last night, so I popped the DVD and settled in.

The first thing I noticed was the great set design. The darkness and vibe reminded me of Se7en, so when I learned that Chris Carter hired the set designer from Se7en I wasn’t all that surprised. The music, acting, and cinematography were all great and the story itself was solid. It reminded me a lot of Hannibal in some ways, but less graphic.

The show is very dark and unrelenting. There is no real optimism to be found and the show paints the world as unforgiving and brutal. I’d almost describe it as having noir vibe in how it presents just how crummy everything is. It reminds me a lot of Se7en in that way, which was no doubt a major influence on this pilot.

When Millennium ended, I felt satisfied. It was good, not great, and I was afraid I had overhyped it in my head. I watched a little palette cleanser episode of The Middle before bed and then shut my eyes. It was around this time that Millennium started to hit me.

Darkness runs in my family. I come from a long line of alcoholics and drug abusers and while I abstain from my sort of mind-altering substances, I know my own battles with dark thoughts have led to me wishing there was an easy way out. I used to call it my shadow, because it seemed to follow me around, sometimes when it was the brightest outside the darkness remained just feet away.

It’s very easy for me to get lost in the darkness. Life throws me a couple of bad blows and then I watch something that is hopeless and the next thing I know I’ll spend the next month thinking about humanity is doomed and how I wish I wasn’t here to deal with it.

I’ve learned that to keep this sort of mind consuming thoughts at bay, I need to watch what media I consume, study philosophy and religion, journal, avoid the news, eliminate negative people from my life, and reach out to a source of positivity when I’m feeling bad (could be a person or even a 90’s sitcom.)

Does this mean my outlook on society is different? No, not really. Sadly, I struggle to find the good in people and I do prefer to live in my own comfortable bubble away from the drama and despair. But does that mean I don’t empathize with it? Of course, not. I feel for people. I think it’s the empathy that makes it so hard for me to stomach. I struggle to accept a world that can be so cruel. I care too much and that is what causes the pain and it’s easier for me to just walk away from it all.

And that is what brings me back to Millennium. Our main character, Frank Black (portrayed brilliantly by Lance Henriksen) knows the world is cruel. He knows how terrible it is and personally it affects him to a degree that no normal human being could ever understand. He sees, feels, and understands the minds of the most deranged individuals on Earth.

He uses these skills because he cares. He knows the world he lives in is falling apart, but he still tries. His priority is protecting his family, and one way he can do that is by helping stop dangerous people. Does putting away one bad guy make a huge difference in changing the world? Probably not. It might change the world for one or two potential victims or someone that is saved by his ability to channel the evil of the killer. Frank cares about humanity, even in a world that is doomed.

I had no idea I had connected with Millennium this much until it took over my thoughts and I began seeing parallels. There is something about the Frank Black character that feels relatable and possibly even inspiring. I’ll have to be careful with a show like Millennium because I can see exactly how it paints the world and well… it’s very similar to how I paint the world and that’s not always great for my mental health. But I look forward to exploring another wonderful creation from the mind of Chris Carter and hopefully I’ll have more to write about soon.

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