Directed by: Jason D. Morris
Documentary Film Review by: Hannah Sayer
Created by Chris Carter, famous for his hit series The X Files, Millennium aired on Fox between 1996 and 1999. It was cancelled in early 1999, ironically, just before the millennium. This documentary explores why it still endures twenty years later, through interviews with many of the major cast and crew members involved. Through in-depth discussions about individual episodes and the vastly differing three seasons, Millennium after the Millennium delves deeper into the show’s production and release, the reasons why it was cancelled, how the show could potentially be revived and how it has had a part in changing the shape of television today.
After Chris Carter’s work on The X Files, he was approached about creating a new series, which became Millennium. With similarities between the show and more modern TV drama series, particularly David Fincher’s Mindhunter, Millennium followed a tortured FBI agent Frank Black, played by Lance Henriksen, who was able to see beyond reality into the minds of killers. Carter describes the series as “hyper reality” and highlights that what makes the show scary is that it realistically captures something of the everyday. Millennium tapped into the worldwide sense of foreboding about the impending millennium and it was the only show to capture this feeling of dread. This fear of the unknown made it all the more frightening to viewers at the time.
The documentary highlights how the pilot was terrifying and darker than anything else seen on TV in the 1990s. Multiple interviewees express how they were expecting it not to be allowed to go to air. It was an extremely dark TV show but one which was unusual because it was one of the first instances of television which proved that the medium could be cinematic. It was concerned with character, relationships, metaphor and mythology, amidst its plotting, and this made it exciting and distinct from the popular procedural dramas of the time. Cinematic television is a big thing of the present as many filmmakers turn to TV as their medium of choice. Shows like Twin Peaks: The Return, True Detective and Sharp Objects are examples of how television has evolved and has begun to challenge film as the most effective and visually exciting way to tell a story.
Interviews are interspersed with clips and images which make the documentary exciting visually. This balances the dialogue heavy discussion based interview segments. Eerie music is played throughout most of the documentary which mirrors the tone of Millennium, but this does become repetitive and at times distracting. Clips from different TV success stories such as Breaking Bad and The Sopranos provide the viewer with a great level of context to fully understand Millennium’s role within the history of television. It may seem alienating for those not familiar with Millennium and it is not something many would seek out unless they were big fans of the show, yet the documentary is still an interesting watch for fans of television who are keen to learn more about how the medium became what it is today. As someone new to Millennium, the documentary also gives an insight into the intentions behind decision making during production.
Millennium after the Millennium is ultimately a documentary made out of love for the show. The filmmakers wanted to give something back to the fans, even campaigning for a return of their beloved Millennium to the small screen. The cast and crew of Millennium’s eagerness to talk about the show means that the documentary is a success as it effectively captures the love everyone has for this show. Overall, the film works well as a celebration of this short lived series and how it pushed boundaries of what a TV series could be.
Watch the official movie trailer for Millennium after the Millennium below.