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Millennium – Walkabout (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Walkabout continues to demonstrate the flexibility of Millennium‘s format.

Millennium is often unfairly dismissed as a “serial-killer-of-the-week” show, an impression undoubtedly created by the stretch of early- to mid-season episodes that adopted an almost procedural formula in their exploration of evil. However, after Sacrament, the show takes a break from those narratives to do something a little more experimental and nuanced. Covenant had seen Frank investigating a murder that had already been solved. Here, Frank finds himself struggling to piece together a fractured memory of his own recent experiences.

A bleedin' disaster!

A bleedin’ disaster!

Walkabout is the third of four scripts from writer Chip Johannessen in the first season of Millennium. Each is a rather strange entity; doing something strange or unconventional for the show, helping to define the boundaries for this young television series. Walkabout is perhaps most interesting for the way that it engages with an aspect of Millennium that has been bubbling away in the background since The Pilot. Although Walkabout never explores the nature or purpose of Frank’s visions, the episode is built around the visions as a concept rather than simply a tool.

Walkabout is an unsettling and effective mood piece that grows more conventional as it progresses. While the final act is a little clunky, Walkabout is a fascinating piece of television and a demonstration of how Millennium has found its own voice.

"Let me outta here!"

“Let me outta here!”

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Millennium – Dead Letters (Review)

This February and March, we’re taking a trip back in time to review the fourth season of The X-Files and the first season of Millennium.

Dead Letters is the first Millennium episode credited to writers James Wong and Glen Morgan, and to director Thomas J. Wright. These are three creative forces that would come to be massively influential in the development of the show.

As with Gehenna, the obvious point of comparison in this early stage of development is with The X-Files. Chris Carter wrote the first two episodes of both shows, outlining the core themes and larger direction. However, the crucial third episode was handed to the team of James Wong and Glen Morgan. They would be the first writers other than Carter to write for Fox Mulder, Dana Scully and Frank Black. They were tasked with demonstrating that these concepts could work in the hands of writers other than Chris Carter.

A hair's breadth away from insanity...

A hair’s breadth away from insanity…

The first script that Wong and Morgan wrote for The X-Files was Squeeze. It was the show’s first stand-alone monster-of-the-week episode, and effectively codified a very flexible subgenre of The X-Files, while also creating a very popular and iconic monster. Dead Letters does something vaguely similar for Millennium, even if it is not quite as effective. Free from a lot of the millennial anxieties that drove The Pilot and Gehenna, Dead Letters offers an example of a fairly pure-blooded “serial-killer-of-the-week” story.

For better or for worse, Dead Letters sets the tone for the rest of the show’s first season.

Bits and pieces...

Bits and pieces…

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