Season Two

Starring: Lance Henriksen
20th Century Fox
RRP 39.99
Certificate: 18
27 September 2004

Retired serial-profiler Frank Black has moved his family to Seattle to escape the violence and horror he dealt with while working for the FBI in Washington, D.C. Although his ability to see into the minds of serial killers has caused him much inner torment, Black knows his "gift" can still be used to help protect and save others. For that reason he has joined the mysterious Millennium Group, a team of underground ex-law enforcement experts dedicated to fighting against the ever-growing forces of evil and darkness in the world...

Season two of Millennium shifts focus dramatically from the crime based episodes and starts to concentrate more on what the Millennium Group is really all about. There are still plenty of 'monsters of the week' episodes, but thankfully Frank's abilities are not so overbearing as they were in season one.

Sadly, season two doesn't get off to the best of starts. In The Beginning and the End, Frank's wife is kidnapped and it is up to Frank to track her down and save the day. This episode starts well, but quickly descends into mediocre territory. If only this episode had been drawn out a little better. As the kidnaper reveals, he has committed no serious crime - only kidnapping. So, how come Frank is allowed to get away with his actions in this episode? It was a shame that events set up so painstakingly last season (Frank receiving Polaroid pictures of his family in the post) ended so weakly.

Monster is another example of a great idea which never blossoms. A nursery school teacher is accused of physically harming the children in her care. The suspense is built to an exciting crescendo... and then it ends too suddenly.

Ironically, as it's a dark show, this series is at its best when it isn't taking itself too seriously. Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense is a fantastically funny episode that revolves around a cult known as Selfosophy. Incidentally, this has a blink-and-you'll-miss-it in-gag as David Duchovny (who starred in the most famous Chris Carter series, The X-Files) is the face of Hollywood superstar Bobby Wingood. While Duchovny never actually appears in person in this episode, if you pay attention you'll see him on a poster for a movie called Mr. Ne'er Do Well. This episode is really poking fun at Scientology - we are told that many Hollywood actors are involved therefore how could it be immoral? The writer and director, Darin Morgan, pokes fun at how moody Frank is when one of the Selfosophy followers tells Black: "People are reluctant to open up to dark, moody, brooders." To which Black looks surprised and says: "They are?"

Morgan's other writer/director episode this season is Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me which sees four old men meeting for a chat in a diner. However these are old men with a secret - they are all demons. This is funnier than Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense, and again features a nod to the X-Files. This time a crime is committed on the set of a TV show - a sci-fi show where the main characters look spookily familiar. For me Jose Chung's Doomsday Defense and Somehow, Satan Got Behind Me are the best two episodes of this season.

Midnight of the Century, is a Christmas episode - and one that starts to look as though it might be gushingly sentimental. While it does follow stereotypical Christmas themes about getting along with your family, Frank's broken relationship with his father is rather moving.

As I mentioned previously, Fransk's abilities don't seem to be so much of an issue in this season. Nowhere is this more obvious than Goodbye, Charlie. Frank's powers don't seem to be used as a crutch any more and this is more a cop show.

This is also the episode that made me appreciate how the producers also managed to use inappropriate music as a backdrop to horrific events. In this episode the killer sings Karaoke songs to his victims as they are about to die. But this is also used effectively in Beware of the Dog - where a couple are killed by vicious dogs to the The Carpenters's Close to You and in the episode Owls, where a murder is committed to A Horse With No Name by America. But by far the scariest is A Room with No View in which a terrible version of Love is Blue by Paul Mauriat is played constantly to inmates of a house who are being held prisoner by a mentally deranged woman.

Music also plays a large part in The Mikado. Here Frank and Peter investigate a murder committed live on the Internet. Clues lead Frank to the past and a serial killer called Avatar. It was a refreshing change to see opera play a large part in an episode and while this idea has been done to death (Fear Dot Com and My Little Eye being probably the best examples and I'm sure an episode of CSI trod very similar ground) this is probably the first instance of using the Internet as a crime scene - web cameras were only just starting to appear when this episode was shot.

This seasons The Pest House is also entertaining. In this episode asylum inmates become prime suspects in a series of murders involving urban legends. Look out for Brendan Fehr (Roswell's Michael Guerin) who has a short role.

The interesting thing about this season is that episodes often leave you hanging in mid-air. As with The X-Files, the villains don't always get caught, and we don't always get closure - just like the real world.

The most powerful epodes was the two-parter Owls and Roosters. Although while this cleverly sets up another power in opposition to the Millennium Group, by it's conclusion everything is back to normal. A real opportunity to have an ongoing power struggle was wasted. If it was that easy to wipe the other side out, why wasn't it done years previously?

Not all episodes work as well as they should have. In Anamnesis Frank is obviously bored and has popped off on holiday, leaving Catherine and Lara to investigate a girl who appears to be having visions. Sadly, by the halfway point I was wishing I was wherever Frank was. Another boring affair is Luminary in which Frank, acting against the orders of the Millennium Group, searches for a missing boy in Alaska.

It wasn't just some of the episodes that lost their footing - not all of the guest stars were really up to the challenge either. While Terry O'Quinn is about the best thing in this series, I didn't really take to Kristen Cloke, who plays Lata Means. On occasion it felt as though she didn't really understand the words she was speaking. There were at least two occasions, when she had to deliver long speeches on technical and biblical matters, where she just seemed to be regurgitating meaningless babble.

The extras on this collection are fairly average. There's a behind the scenes documentary, some audio commentaries and another feature with the Academy Group on their involvement with real serial killers.

This season is a lot more enjoyable than the first season - but not without it's faults. On the whole though, I enjoyed it.

Ray Thomspson

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