Frank-Black-Millennium

Frank Black is the central figure of “Millennium”, a television series created by “X-Files” originator Chris Carter. In the show, Frank Black is played by actor Lance Henriksen.

Black follows in the tradition started by novelist Thomas Harris, in creating the character of Will Graham, for “Red Dragon”:
That of the FBI profiler as eideteker (eidetektive? Hmm. Good word; think I’ll use it again).

Someone who can literally put themselves in the mind of a killer. See what they might see, feel what they might feel.

In Frank Black’s case, it is never fully clear whether this ability is a psychological projection of extreme empathy, or a genetic / psychic trait. The fact that Frank’s daughter, Jordan inherits the skill would seem to suggest the latter.

A bit of the character’s history, from a YouTube compilation, “The Curse of Frank Black”:

Whatever the case, it’s a dark and dangerous gift. One that takes a heavy toll on the person who possesses it.

A Heavy Toll

The legacy of Frank Black’s eidetic gift is emotional instability, and retirement from duty as a profiler for the FBI.

Frank relocates to Seattle, Washington, together with his wife Catherine (actress Megan Gallagher) and daughter Jordan (actress Brittany Tiplady). There, he overcompensates for the darkness in his soul by moving into a model suburban house, which he paints bright yellow.

Black immerses himself in domestic life, hoping to escape his past.

Fat chance.

Apocalypse, Then…

“Millennium” is set in the latter years of the 1990s. As the year 2000 approaches, several crackpot individuals and groups emerge, looking to commemorate the event in various grisly and / or apocalyptic ways.

As the death toll mounts, Frank is approached by the Millennium Group, an association of mainly ex-FBI agents (including Terry O’Quinn as Black’s former colleague Peter Watts) who have chosen to monitor the activities of these killers – and to intervene, when necessary. Black is hired as a consultant to the group.

Thrown back into the heat of active investigations, and forced to use his heightened perception again, Frank feels the strain on his health and home life.

A Hidden Agenda

Things go from bad to worse, when it emerges that the Millennium Group exists merely to prevent the coming of any Apocalypse other than the one of its own design.

Frank’s discovery of this has tragic consequences. His running battle with the group eventually forces Black and his daughter to become fugitives, from the law.

Evolution of the Show

“Millennium” ran for three seasons on the Fox Television Network, from 1996.

Fox executives initially lobbied to cast William Hurt as Frank Black, but the actor was unwilling to commit to a role in a television series. Creator Chris Carter (who wrote the show with Henriksen in mind) sent a copy of his script for the “Pilot” episode to Lance Henriksen, and the rest is history.

Here’s a YouTube clip of the series intro, with that haunting theme tune:

The first season dealt mainly with Black pursuing various serial killers and other murderers, with only occasional references to the Millennium Group’s true purpose.

The second season introduced more supernatural elements, with Frank coming into conflict with forces that often appeared to be apocalyptic or demonic in nature. Humor (along the lines of that seen in “The X-Files”) was injected into some of the storylines, to relieve what was felt to be an oppressive aura of gloom and gore from the show’s first season.

The final season had Frank returning to Washington, D.C., to work with the FBI following the death of his wife at the hands of the Millennium Group. He was joined by a new partner, Emma Hollis (actress Klea Scott) who joined the Group – despite Frank’s warnings and her own observations.

At the time of the show’s cancellation, Frank is seen escaping from Washington, having taken Jordan out of school, the Millennium Group in hot pursuit.

Frank Black returned in “The X-Files” season seven episode “Millennium”, a cross-over that effectively served as a series finale for “Millennium”. Though unresolved, the story ended on an optimistic note, with the suggestion of some kind of normal life being possible for Frank and Jordan.

A Bright Future?

To be confirmed.

With the release of “Millennium” on DVD, Lance Henriksen proposed a continuation of the series.

Henriksen has since gone on to support the Back to Frank Black campaign, a movement dedicated to the return of the character.

Creator Chris Carter has joined Henriksen in expressing interest in a film based on “Millennium”, though Fox has expressed no enthusiasm for such a project.

Which is a shame, as it could tie up some of those loose ends.

In comparison to the other eidetektives out there (See? Told you I’d use the word again) – your “Profiler”, “Mentalist”, or whoever – Frank Black is one of the more memorable.

And “Millennium”?

Worth checking out. It’s not cozy fun, by any means, but it is riveting.

I’m out, at this point.

I’ll see you, when I see you. If not, before.

Peace.

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