One night back in the mid-late Nineties, I was flicking through the Scottish Television Channels with the weariness of one who was fast moving towards the idea of removing my TV set from the house altogether. I had become bored and disinterested with most TV shows, so this was a genuine option for me. I happened to notice that something called MillenniuM was on. To be honest, I thought it might actually be an airing of a film I remember seeing in the Eighties. It starred Cheryl Lad & Kris Kristofferson and concerned the removal of people about to die in major catastrophes and replacing them with copies so that investigators didn't get suspicious as to where everyone went. They were taken into the future or another dimension I think, but that's not the point. The point is I was mistaken. It was not that Millennium but another MillenniuM; one which I was unprepared for- unprepared to the point where an early bed became a late night resulting in a
bleary eyed, thoughtful next-working day. MillenniuM was in some ways, a resurrection of some long gone aspect of my life. It literally was a re-awakening of sorts.
In opening with Strippers, rivers of blood, biblical quotes and poetry dealing with a sense of catastrophe, MillenniuM was, for a wee Scottish Fella like me, something disturbing at the primal level. I come from a land of ancient curses, sexual repression, demons that roam the glens and where a feeling that the de'il is aye gunnin fur ye is ever present. I also have a lifelong interest in spiritual matters, as well as philosophy and dealing with the Jekyll & Hyde nature of hard boozers who treat women like intrusive goats; hence MillenniuM (Pilot) for me was TV heaven-sent.
But it wasn't just the darkness of the episode that grabbed me. The family home with a rugged, worn & weary man and two bonnie lasses with long, flowing locks and fresh faces was a highland ideal. And of course, we cannot forget the collie puppy at the end. To me this was instantly recognisable as the preferred dog of Scottish shepherds (and “we are all shepherds”) which would not only herd the sheep but fight off those demons in the glen. What I'm saying is that for me, the pilot of MillenniuM was an archetypal resemblance of part of my deeper cultural psyche and this meant it was welcome tae come in and sit doon fur a while.
Like many of us who remember the first broadcast of the pilot show, I recall the sense of incredulity that took root within me following the event. Less than an hour before, I had never heard of MillenniuM (Scottish Television was not that hooked in to Twentieth Century Fox programming). When that hour had passed however, I was enthused for the first time in years, about a TV show. Admittedly it is to be conceded that for many the Pilot episode alone was too much. Perhaps it was too adult for some. Maybe it belonged in a darkened cinema where unsuspecting grannies having a cup of late night cocoa were unlikely to see their life-long partner light up at the stripper then grimace at the blood and gore, eventually wondering what the hell Frank Black was talking about? But it's for exactly these reasons that the Pilot is important in its own right. It disturbed the comforted - a necessarily evil for the avoidance of complacency.
Paradoxically however, it also comforted the disturbed. There are many among us who can't openly and comfortably explore our disturbances, our confusions and our differences. Yet here was a show that was in effect an episodic meditation upon disturbance; upon confusion and upon difference, but which inevitably left us with hope; with the deep, deep message that we can influence the outcome; that we are just like that little collie puppy. We can be part of the shepherding of our own, brighter future.
In that first episode (forgetting all others) we learned that all we have to do is be frank, look at the black, remember Jordan (our children), work with our friends (who are our rocks and lights; our Peter Watts) and engender our facilities, our capabilities, in order that we might see the harm that is coming towards us and recognise the healing powers of those we lie with during the night-our Kathryn's.
In conclusion, classing MillenniuM (Pilot or collective series) as just another pre millennial madness-based TV show would be to dismiss the archetypal foundation upon which it was built, that is, the archetypal foundation of a species adrift in a world it doesn't quite understand, subject to powers it can't quite understand and scratching relentlessly for an insight into those powers.
Some may have indeed found the Millennium (Pilot) too much. Perhaps they do see it as about depravity, nothing to do with human beings - but as Asia Argento said when questioned on the issue of depravity versus humanity ‐ “What you might see as depravity is, to me, just another aspect of the human condition.”
With this, I suggest that any dismissal of MillenniuM would in some ways be a dismissal of humanity. That is fundamentally what the Pilot Episode brought me to understand- I must not dismiss humanity, even its depravity; a bold message for a TV show ‐ one which is sadly missing in many other shows claiming to have a moral centre. Ahh, what a night that was!