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Season 2 Dvd Review.


Guest ModernDayMoriarty

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Guest ModernDayMoriarty

I got my copy of S2 last week and obviously, the extras were of great interest to me. S2 was very, very different to S1 and given the 'denial of existence' that the S1 documentary had given to Seasons 2 and 3, I was wondering what 1013 would say about the new direction. So, here is what I found...

The making of Season 2.

It is fairly well out now that this making of is not exactly complimentary to the series it is talking about. There are two ways of looking at this documentary. Firstly, there is much merit to be had because of the frank attitudes the 1013 crew adopt when discussing what they really felt about the Season. We all knew that a great many of them didn't approve of, and flat out were quite appalled with, Season 2 and they don't insult us by pretending otherwise. However, you can also adopt the viewpoint that these people really aren't presenting the whole picture or even making much of an effort to. It's obvious that pretty much all the crew really don't like S2 and they make only the most basic attempts to explain why the 2nd Season is so different, in what ways and how it was done. But more on that later.

I was disapointed by the 1st Season documentary because it just felt like a hard sell; the crew were gushing a bit too much at times and it didn't give much of a feeling about what they really felt about the episodes and series as a whoie. This is much better as they try to explain the actions that led to the season being different. They don't really try to say these actions were taken but it does give a pretty good idea of what Chris Carter was up to and how Morgan and Wong were drafted in. The documentary is fascinating at times as it exposes what appears to have been quite a significant rift between M+W and the S1 writers (rift is perhaps strong; more of a 'agree to disagree' style stance over where the season should go). Mike Perry explains that it really was M+W doing their thing whilst the S1 writers did their own thing. Chris Carter also comes fairly clean in his belief that the Season really didn't fit into his vision of what MLM should be; that M+W had pretty much rewrote MLM and started afresh. It basically pans out that Carter, whilst he has respect for M+W, thought their ideas were ill-advised and certainly were not what he would have done. He doesn't come off very well though as he seems to be constantly passing the buck, not accepting any responsbility for this and always intimating that had he been working on it, it would have been much better.

As to the rest... well the documentary is rather awkward in that it includes excepts from interviews both before and after the Season is shot. Therefore we have Lance praising the Season in places (before) and criticising it in others (after). Lance doesn't actually say very much beyond the fact that he was quite dismayed at how 'tongue in cheek' the programme became; that the lighter tone moved the show too far away from its serious roots. Chip J makes one brief appearance on this making of, in which he expresses his belief that it was wrong to change the Series because it ruined continuity and was basically not giving fans of the shows (loyalists who stuck with a show that the crew were aware was dark and sometimes difficult to watch) what they thought they would get. It is easy to criticise Chip for being very negative but I would point out that M+W have been very critical of Season 3 (helmed by Johanessen) in interviews so some bitterness is to be expected. This can explain the whole documentary; M+W have cricised S1 for being too dark, too obsessed with Serial killers, poor stories etc etc. They then panned S3 which they were not involved in... Can you really expect the writers (who seem genuinely proud of their accomlishments on MLM), not to feel some irritation towards M+W for this?

But still... this is a making of and one thing that the documentary does not do very well, is actually explain much of the creative process behind S2. Of the writers in S2 (Glen Morgan + James Wong, Chip Johanessen, Erin Maher + Kay Reindl, Darin Morgan, Richard Whitley, Mike Perry and Ken Horton), there are very few in evidence here. M+W (12 episodes including pretty much all the mytharc episodes) are not here. Chip J (3 episodes) makes one very short appearance, Maher + Reindl (3 episodes) are not here, Darin Morgan (2 episodes) not here, Richard Whitley (1 episode) not here, Ken Horton (1 episode) one sentence basically in which he just says 'It's different' from what I can remember. Only Mike Perry speaks at any length and he to be fair is very interesting indeed for the most part. Sadly though, he doesn't engage with what M+W were trying to do. The ongoing story of S2 is not really mentioned beyond 'M+W put in some mytharc elements' - that is literally all it gets! Perry also spends an uncomfortable amount of time talking about 'The Mikado'. Now, it's a great episode but we have a commentary about it so do we really need an extra 10 minutes (well, 5 definately anyway) on it here too? It is hard to say for sure what should have been done here. Perry is talking about the elements he knows about - he wrote the episode and knows it inside out but it does expose how little the crew really seem to know about the S2 mytharc. Either they don't understand it or they choose not to analyse it but the amount of time spent on the mikado reveals that they don't really have anything to say about the M+W episodes. Nothing is really made of the hero's journey that M+W spoke of, the separation from the yellow house and return, nothing. It just hammers home that the people speaking were responsible for a (reletively) insignificant proportion of the Season. All the real meat was handled by people not in attendance. So as an explanation of the Season it really falls flat because the people aren't really qualified to give much of an opinion on it. Perry makes it quite clear that the S1 pretty much just let M+W get on with it.

It's not all one way traffic though. Frank Spotnitz, T J Wright and Megan G all express some sentiments that M+W had some interesting, exciting ideas but that it just didn't fit in with the show. Megan G appears to be more supportive than most claiming to have liked the Season and to have worked with M+W. However, she also says that she understood why people thought the change was bad for the show. Also, she thinks the decision to kill her character was ill-advised (she stresses she had no problem accepting it but that she thought the decision was a poor one). Wright expresses later (on the commentary for 'The Hand...' that he initially approved of the changes but grew disillusioned as the Season went on and felt the stories didn't really seem to go anywhere after a while, not fulfilling the early promise. There is a bit of a love in for Darin Morgan as the crew fondly remember working with him and John Kousakis appears to be less hardline against the Season than some of the others (he basically outlines that it was different, that he was proud to work on all the Seasons and was pleased to have directed 'Anamesis' because he felt it was a strong episode).

There are no real mentions of Lara Means. Kirsten Cloke appears very briefly in an obviously pre-Season interview where she speculates about her character. The rest of the crew avoid talking about her. Terry o Quinn is absent again unfortunately and very little is made of the change to his character (I believe only T J Wright mentions it at all in his commentary). While I remember, Wright's contribution to the making of is very small, doesn't say much here at all. I enjoyed the documentary for its honesty; I could relate to the anti S2 sentiments which helped I guess but I like seeing what crew really think years on past the need to hype it and tow the party line. The lack of so many key S2 players is unfortunate but as the end credits attest, M+W were asked to participate but refused. It communicates well that the crew from S1 particularly were very frustrated with the changes and just plain didn't agree with M+W's new vision.

That's all for the making of review. Like it or loathe it, there's some harsh truths.

Commentary for 'The Hand of Saint Sebastian'.

The commentaries for the S1 DVD were pretty awful really. Neither Carter nor Nutter had much charisma to offer on voiceover and didn't connect with the episodes. I wasn't hopeful for this; I hate 'The Hand of Saint Sebastian' as an episode and was sceptical that a director would say much I was interested in as I wanted to hear about the thinking that went into writing the episodes. I was pleasantly surprised that this was then quite good. Wright is rather softly spoken and there are some quite uncomfortable gaps when he is silent but overall he comes off rather well. He appears as someone who has a genuine love of his craft and has no time for shirkers and pretenders who think they know what they are talking about. At first I thought he was a bit self important claiming that others methods were sloppy or outright lies but it soon becomes apparent that Wright is simply fed up listening to fly-by-nights who come bursting in claiming to know all about directing and generally boasting instead of working. Wright takes his job very seriously and gives some nice insights into how he works. He opens up on how he became disatisfied with S2 over time and is pleasingly down to earth in his assessment of matters. My only real criticisms of this commentary is that Wright doesn't engage with the story at all really - not his job here you may say but it does make it difficult to determine for a while what he thinks of the episode (he likes it as it happens). Also, he doesn't talk of the show's very different look (i.e all the extra colour in S2 wheras S1 was washed out etc) which is sad as I was interested in knowing what he thought of the decision (whose decision it was) as it was scrapped for S3 again. Overall though, a quiet triumph. Not something you'll listen to again and again but not bad.

Commentary on 'The Mikado'.

Excellent. Mike Perry delivers the best commentary by far on this episode. He talks at length of what he was trying to achieve, how he thinks the episode fits in with MLM in general and as regards S2 and also says what he now thinks of the episode (he still loves it). This is what I really wanted from the commentaries and it is just a shame that such a reletively simple episode as 'The Mikado' is the only one to get such treatment. Still, it is very entertaining as Perry is well spoken and seems genuinely excited to have worked on MLM, the episode and to be there talking about it. He relates anecdotes, explores each scene in depth and comments on what use each set of actions in those scenes have towards explaining the overall message and concept of the episode (which are presenting the dark side to the Internet at a time it was being trumpeted as a great, useful tool for all the family and of Frank Black's frustration at not being able to see past the advancing technology of the times). Words don't do this commentary justice really as it simply everything I would have wanted for all the episodes. Perry comes off extremely well because he seems not only a crew member of MLM, he is a fan too.

I may talk of the (again tedious) Academy group segement at a later date. Overall, the Season set is pretty good. The extras are informative (or at least as informative as they can be in M+W's absence), and certainly enhanced my enjoyment of S2 in a way the S1 extras did not. The episodes also benefit far more from the enhanced quality of DVD. S1 I still maintain, is more suited to VHS/TV because the grainy, dark look actually enhances the images making them appear ghostly (people look very pale in S1 because of the harsh film and they glow in the dark scenes). S2 just looked bad on TV; it looks much better on DVD. The scenes have much better lighting and definition (particularly noticeable on 'The begininning and the end' in the stalker's house). It is a quality package, if at times a rather strange one (because the crew slag off the product you have bought!)

Just my opinion. Thanks for reading.

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Guest chrisnu

I do hope that it was mentioned that it was CC's decision to kill off Catherine, not M&W's! They were only writing what they were told to in that aspect. I also don't see how all the griping about the season is justified; CC let go of the creative reigns to work on the X-Files movie and Season 5, and essentially let M&W have free reign. If as executive producer you don't keep things in check like you'd want them, of course things are going to be changed! It's also disappointing that most of the key players in creating S2 aren't featured. I'd actually like to hear some positive things about the making of the season.

About the gushing issue in the S1 making-of: that's also the problem with all of the X-Files making-ofs as well. Nothing is tapped into about what the creators, actors, crew, etc. didn't like about the show. It's interesting that only with this season of this show, these feelings come out. I'd certainly like to see some of the "other side" of comments regarding the final two seasons of X-Files.

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Guest ModernDayMoriarty

I suspect that the fact that this isn't actually a Season involving Chris Carter has freed him to properly get out the knives! I do encourage people to buy it (like I need to here), because it's such a rarity to see 1013 do this level of self analysis. For S2 critics it gives them a chance to have their arguments supported by the crew, for S2 fans it gives a quality package of episodes with excellent sound and visuals.

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....it was not C.C.'s idea to kill off katherine. Gallagher discusses this in the making off of S2, which i just read the transcript of this past weekend. ...it was all M&Ding-dong's idea i'm afraid.

~se7en :ouro:

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Guest Discopolis
....it was not C.C.'s idea to kill off katherine. Gallagher discusses this in the making off of S2, which i just read the transcript of this past weekend. ...it was all M&Ding-dong's idea i'm afraid.

And where does she actually say this? I've watched the documentary, and I don't think she ever in any way indicates whose idea it was. I can't remember where, but I've read somewhere that it was CC's suggestion to kill of Catherine. It's pretty much trademark Chris Carter-thing to kill off a beloved supporting character in a season finale.

EDIT: Yup, from The Millennial Abyss:

Uncertain whether or not Millennium would return in the fall, Morgan and Wong discussed a variety of possible endings with series creator Chris Carter. Carter's suggestion, that Catherine Black be killed during the climax, took the two by surprise. After considering the choice, however, Morgan came to realize how meaningful the death might be for the series. The writers discussed the decision with actress Megan Gallagher, who agreed. Morgan explains, "I told her the neat part will be that after Frank Black has done so much sacrificing for his family, ultimately it will be Catherine who makes the ultimate sacrifice. She liked that. So, that had a big part in the decision to kill Catherine."

Edited by Discopolis
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Since i have to wait 3 months for S2, thanks for the reviews.....It was Chris Carters idea to kill off Catherine, personally i didnt like that idea at all. For me in Season 2 there are just a few episodes i never saw, The Beginning and The End.......Siren....Sense and Antisense and 4th Horseman. I remember a hand full of great stand-outs like Monster-Mikado-The Hand and Curse of Frank Black. I think Season 2 tried to live up to the direction Chris was going when Season 1 was ending. Millenium is meant to be dark and murky. I believe Chris was trying to explain the reason behind the behaviors of serial killers in which i dont have a problem with. M&W made mistakes with splitting and changing the Millenium Grp and adding humor. Chris should of never handed it over to M&W.....letting them write some episodes would be ok but thats about it. I think Millenium would of survived for 5 seasons but alot of bad decisions where made and led to their demise. I am looking forward to recieving S2

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It will be cool seeing the episodes in 1.78:1. The "Who killed Catherine?" debate goes on (or did it end?).

Be Seeing You,

David Blackwell

Edited by voidprime

"Don't tug on that, you never know what it might be attached to. "- Buckaroo Banzai

Ā 

"There are no answers- only choices."

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Seasons 2 was my favorite and I am truly looking forward to January.

I thought that Season 2 demonstrated some daring growth from Season 1 and that the shows evolvment, if you will, was believable in context and content. I did believe and still believe the transition worked. To pigeon-hole the show as a dark murder/crime show with "battle of good/evil" undertones might have been the creator's intent, but I am glad that it did not remain as such. The progression into more spiritual matters with regard to the aforesaid resonated well with me and I thoroughly enjoyed it.

:ouro:

JosH

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.....sorry but i cannot help myself, C.C. did not come up with the idea to kill off katherine. It simply didn't happen. and C.C. certainly didn't want it to happen either! He was supposedly apoplectic about it when he heard.-(not that he had a right to complain in my view.)-He never said this in ANY of the interviews i have read and researched for the guide-book. it was M&W who approached Meghan gallagher about the possibility of killing off her character because they really wanted a crushing finale for the series end.....or so they thought. -(it was crushing all right; artistically crushing.)- ...but then again, people will beleive what they want so i suppose it doesn't really matter if protest or not. Just trying to keep factual info out there is all.

~se7en :ouro:

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Guest Discopolis

So...it wasn't Chris's idea because he hasn't commented his involvement on the decision anywhere? M&W just go telling that it was Chris's suggestion and no one has ever corrected them? I believe you if you say so, but I would like to see some proof of this other than your word.

Edited by Discopolis
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