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Introducing Chris Carter's Millennium TV Series

Delve deeper into the incredible world of Chris Carter's Millennium TV series with this introduction to the show, its main characters and an introduction to its three seasons.

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Millennium's Frank Black.

Millennium's Catherine Black.

Millennium's Jordan Black.

Millennium's Peter Watts.

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Millennium was a critically acclaimed, award winning hour-long apocalyptic drama series which was produced by the Fox Television Network in the United States between 1996 and 1999. It was based on an original idea by Chris Carter, who also created The X-Files and is produced by his Ten-Thirteen Productions.

Millennium aired in the USA from the fall of 1996 (winning the People's Choice Award for Best New Drama in 1997) to the spring of 1999. Three full seasons of the series were produced, a total of 67 individual episodes. Each season of the series had its own distinct style and unique elements as a result of the regularly shifting executive producers who supervised its creative process. Chris Carter oversaw production of the first season, writer/producers Glen Morgan and James Wong were promoted to supervise the second season after already contributing first season material, and Chris Carter returned alongside writer Chip Johannessen to guide the show's third and final year on the air.

Millennium starred Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, a retired FBI criminal profiler who struggled against the increasing presence of evil in our society at the brink of the year 2000. To protect his family, Frank Black left the Bureau and moved with his wife Catherine (Megan Gallagher) and daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) from Washington, D.C. back to his hometown of Seattle. Frank was approached by a mysterious and powerful organization known as The Millennium Group, a collective of elite and specialist ex-law enforcement personnel working to fight the force of evil that was increasing as we approached the forthcoming Millennium.

Actor Lance Henriksen brought an incredible depth of character to the pained Frank Black, earning both himself and the character he portrayed a special place in the hearts of Millennium fans forever. With Lance's craggy looks, the role was perfectly cast, indeed the show and its lead character were conceived by Chris Carter with Lance in mind. Many have identified with Frank Black, his moral code and dedication to his family.

Incredibly dark and with often terrifying levels of violence for the confined realms of network television at the time, the show is appealing to many for these exact reasons and also for its amazing imagery, atmosphere and mythology. It requires an intelligent mind to appreciate its more subtle qualities, background information and trivia. And then of course, there is composer Mark Snow's beautiful soundtrack, which many consider to be his best to date. After a long wait, Millennium is finally available to buy on DVD and should not be missed.

Millennium - Reflections from creator Chris Carter and his Production Crew

Chris Carter

Creator/Writer/Exec. Producer

Millennium Profile image of Chris Carter.

The original idea for Millennium actually took shape over time. Fox wanted to do another series and I’d done an episode of the X-Files which I liked a lot. It involved a serial killer. It didn’t actually have a paranormal element. It had a kind of supernatural element but it wasn’t the paranormal. And it got me to thinking about the sort of monsters that surround us, the people that are in the supermarket checkout line with us, at the post office with us. You just never know about someone.

I had this idea for a character in mind that became Frank Black and it took shape over time but I was under the gun. I was in Seattle doing research for this project. I knew I wanted it to take place in Seattle but I didn’t quite know what it was even though I told the network and the studio that I did know what it was.

A retired FBI agent and the idea of the prophecies, Nostradamus, taking the poetry, the millennial, apocalyptic poetry. Those things were sort of added on to this idea of this character, a person who wanted to retire from something but could not. And that basically was the long and short of that. It didn’t require a lot of research. I wanted it to be a murder mystery each week, but I wanted it to have some kind of cohesive idea. Something that I think was in the air, which was a foreboding for the end of the millennium, that something was going to happen and everyone felt it. I thought I could capitalize on it and do a murder mystery with a millennial feel.

Ken Horton

Co-Executive Producer

Millennium Profile image of Ken Horton.

I was involved in the pilot as much as anyone was involved with the pilot. It was a very interesting process, because Chris had such juice at that point. And everyone so trusted him that he skirted the normal pilot process. Which is - if you talk to anybody, it’s - your elephant gets eaten by mice on a regular basis. Because Chris had the power to basically conceive this project as he wanted to do it, there was very, very, very little input along the way.

Both the studio and the network were wary of Chris and how to handle him. And because he and I got along and because I seemed to be a pretty good interpreter of his vision, I was designated for both of the corporations, because they’re different companies, to go over and sort of find out what was going on. So I would go over periodically and go, ’Chris, what is this show exactly? What do you conceive it to be?’ And, as he does, he goes, kind of cryptically, ’Seven. I like the movie Seven.’ And that was basically it. So I’d go back and there’d be a room full of suits. They go, ’So, what is this project about?’ And I’d go, ’It’s basically Seven.’ And there’d be a blank stare, and they go ’What else?’ And I’d go, ’That’s basically it.’

David Nutter


Millennium Profile image of David Nutter.

With X-Files, there was always the slight conceit of the paranormal. But with Millennium we didn’t want to have that conceit at all, we wanted to basically take that rug out from under people and make it feel very, very real. And also the fact that this television show was really the first show to deal with profiling and FBI and serial killer situations in stories. And I think the more I read, the more I realized that truth is so much stranger than fiction. And you can never make this stuff up.

Chris and I spoke about what the story would be and so forth. And then Chris went away over the holiday and wrote a script and handed it to me. And it was perfection. It was exactly everything he had spoken to me about and more. And something that I actually saw in my head when I read the script. It was one of the situations as a director, if you can begin to see the scenes as you’re reading the story, it’s working and it plays for you.

Frank Spotnitz

Co-Producer, Co-Executive Producer and Writer

Millennium Profile image of Frank Spotnitz.

I think Chris had the idea that evil as a concept had been degraded in our society by secularism, by science, and he still believed in evil as a real force. So he wanted to make the scariest possible show he could, and that was what Millennium was.

Millennium - Reflections from a Critic

John Kenneth Muir on Millennium

John Kenneth Muir (born 1969) is an American literary critic. He has written over twenty-one reference books in the fields of film and television, with a particular accent on the horror and science fiction genres. He has been described as one of the horror genre's "most widely read critics", and as an "accomplished film journalist".

Has there ever been a more influential television program than Chris Carter’s brilliant and underrated crime/horror program, Millennium (1996-1999)? I think not, and as evidence I suggest you merely check out the new 2005 Fall TV schedule. Millennium clones dot the schedules of all the major networks, with titles such as Bones, Criminal Minds and Killer Instinct. Don’t even get me started on the immensely popular CSI and its various and sundry spin-offs. Millennium focused on forensic pathology, oddball criminals and crafty, perverted serial killers almost a decade ago, and frankly, it did it better than any of these aforementioned shows. Why someone hasn’t seriously considered producing a Millennium feature film – or a spin-off/sequel series – is seriously beyond me.

According to Variety at the time of its premiere near Halloween in ‘96, Millennium “makes Twin Peaks look like a morning in Romper Room,” and the magazine called the series “literate, well-acted and blessed with an irresistible hook…the best new show of the season.”(Jeremy Gerard, Variety, October 21-27, 1996, page 212.)

John J. O’Connor, writing for The New York Times suggests that creator “Carter pushes all the right apocalyptic buttons…The production values darkly mirror the text.”(The New York Times: “The Evil That Lurks All Around,” October 25, 1996, page B16).

In 1999, after the program finally and sadly left the air, X-Pose Magazine insightfully commented that “Millennium surpassed itself in cultivating relationships between its principal cast” and called the show “a clear artistic success, making sense out of an often chaotic, disturbing world with consummate intelligence and powerful emotions.”(X-Pose # 35, “Inner Demons,” June 1999, pages 49-51.)


Millennium was so ahead of its time in about a million ways. Back in the 1990s, it featured stories on avian flu-type bugs (”The Fourth Horseman”), stem cell research (”Bardo Thodol”), the Human Genome Project (”Sense and Anti-Sense”), end-of-life issues (”Goodbye Charlie”), the Y2K threat (”TEOTWAWKI”) and other stories that would come to dramatically affect the 21st century, and yet, despite such forward-thinking plot scenarios, you could hardly do better than to revisit the terrifying “Lamentation,” the highly-disturbing and deeply resonant “Room with No View,” and The Omen-like “Antipas.” Just three examples of how Millennium had everything you could want in a horror TV series: style, subtext, theme, and brilliant characterization.

© John Kenneth Muir

Be sure to visit John Kenneth Muir's Reflections on Film/TV website and read his full article on Millennium.