Sunday, October 05, 2008

The Time is Now

Now this is genre news you can use! Or at least I can use it. An Internet campaign to bring back Frank Black -- the hero of Millennium (the incomparable Lance Henriksen) -- has officially launched. The actual goal: get a Millennium movie starring Lance Henriksen (and created by Chris Carter) on the launching pad.

Millennium (1996-1999) remains one of the creepiest, most symbolic, and most beautifully-visualized genre TV programs of all time. This is a snippet of how I described the series in my book, Terror Television (page 473):


From frame one of episode one, Millennium announces its ambition to be much more than filler between fast food commercials. Each story, including the pilot, opens with a white-lettered quotation from a literary or religious source, and then serves to unveil a drama which echoes or contrasts with that opening selection. Yeats ("Pilot"), Dostoyevsky ("Dead Letters"), Herman Melville ("The Judge"), Jean-Paul Sartre ("522666"), Robert Louis Stevenson ("The Well Worn Lock"), Cicero ("Walkabout"), Nietzsche ("Broken World", William Rose Benet ("The Paper Dove") and, inevitably, Shakespeare ("Monster") are just some of the great figures Millennium has referenced and then mirrored.

...The opening quotations serve an invigorating purpose: they remind active viewers that there is a connection between past and present, a universality of human condition. The situations Frank Black encounters are situations that Shakespeare or Cicero might have contemplated or written about. The opening quotes of Millennium connect the series to a literary and historical past...

...[I]t is illuminating to witness how Millennium was devised in sheer artistic terms - from its opening quotations to its very interesting application of symbols and imagery (an application which catapults it to the same plateau of high quality as David Lynch's Twin Peaks.) That oft-mentioned yellow house, for instance, is a resonant, important symbol. Viewers naturally associate the color yellow with brightness, and with bright happy things like the sun. Of course, the house represents Frank Black's bright place away from the darkness and horrors which he sees on the job and even inside his own tortured mind.

...In the first season, the house is seen primarily as a sanctuary, a place of safety. In the second, it is a representation of paradise lost and the object of a heroic quest. In the third season, the house is but a memory, a sad one, but one that remains intact inside Frank's head. Frank visits his former home in the episode "The Sound of Snow" and it has been painted pure white. Frank -- ever perceptive - still sees into the past, still sees his yellow house, standing there on Ezekial Drive. Perhaps he still sees the yellow in the white because he is aware (as we are) that any chronicle of Frank Black will always involve that yellow house in some fashion. For it is not merely a shelter, not merely a comfortable abode, it is Frank's ideal, the very place of joy and innocence that he seeks to protect and find inside himself every day. It is an externalization of the perfect place he cherishes in his mind as paradise or bliss. It represents family, safety, sanctuary, succor.

One can argue that the yellow house of Millennium also represents an escape from the evils of the outside world, yet contrarily, it is also the very reason Frank faces the heart of human darkness every single day. By facing "the black" inside and out, Frank preserves the yellow, inside and out. So the yellow house could also symbolize, on a more basic scale, small town America. Frank must save it from the encroaching evil all around as the millennium turns. Thus the yellow house is not just beautiful architecture, it is a brilliant (and artistic symbol) because it immediately shares with viewers an insight into Frank's personality, his interior architecture, if you will...

Just re-reading these passages makes me really, really miss Millennium. I remember the episode that satirized Scientology (on Millennium amusingly termed Self-osophy). I remember the trilogy featuring Lucy Butler (Sarah Jane Redmond)r - one of the most diabolical and seductive villains ever to appear on network television. I recall the transcendent and transormative beauty of "Luminary," about a search for a missing young man in the Alaskan wilderness. I recollect - with horror - one of the most macabre (and goriest...) scenes I've ever seen on television: an American nuclear family felled suddenly by disease around the Sunday dinner table in "The Fourth Horseman."

A Millennium movie could be made relatively cheaply today. All it needs is Lance Henriksen, Terry O'Quinn, Brittany Tiplady and a clever Chris Carter/Frank Spotnitz script. And Mark Snow's evocative, sad violins. If you believe in the cause...the time is now. This is who we are.

3 comments:

  1. I'm for it! Would it be wrong to hope for a Mulder/Scully cameo since Frank appeared on XF? Yeah, probably hard to explain, but still...

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  2. Hell yes, bring Frank Black back!!

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  3. Anonymous12:47 AM

    This Movie must happen Now!
    John Muir, can you help our plight?

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