120. Millennium

Tapehead no 120 

Gradually, however we resist, the dark deeds of American TV ensnare us.

On Sky, for example, the second series of Murder One is only three episodes old, and already an addiction. When it ends, the pain begins. You want another one.

Against the odds, new guy Anthony La Paglia is a germ, a cross between Robert De Niro, Shakin’ Stevens and Billy Corkhill.

Happily, he is maintaining some of the Great Murder One Traditions. Although he goes into plenty of expensive restaurants, he never gets to order, let alone eat anything. (Someone always storms off or gets called away, preferably by beeper.) His office is always empty so that people can wander in after hours and try to bribe him or seduce him. (The blonde dolls in tight sweaters are all over him.)

Tapehead’s hunch is that, eventually, as with the Neil Avedon case, the perpetrator won’t be one of the bad guys (like Ralph Waite from The Waltons), but someone who has hardly been in the series at all (John Boy from the Waltons ?).

“My feeling about life,” Millennium creator Chris Carter once said, “is everything gets worse.”

The series so far has been truly grim. Just nasty. Nasty visuals with nasty music thrown in. Even the typography is nasty. Tapehead loves it.

Millennium is dark, sick sin and slick sickness filmed with consummate class. It’s like Seven to the power of seven, with added steals from Cronenberg’s Dead Zone and The Silence Of the Lambs.

Episodes are prefaced with quotes such as “I smell blood and an era of prominent madness” as, weekly, serial killers mutilate strippers, send body parts though the post or feed them to pigs.

They microwave cult members, preach the apocalypse, and never fail to leave messages under victims’ skin. The way in which they defecate on their remains is usually crucial. In short, it is not like The Bill.

Investigating agents trade psychological profiling techniques with an expertise which, frankly leaves June Ackland and Reg Hollis wanting.

In one episode, the killer’s feelings were interpreted as fearful rather than angry because his letters contained “too many intransitive verbs.” Another alluded to the fact that “there is a deliberate error in the pyramid of Ezah.”

These are not things that you see in The Bill. 

But while his colleagues flounder, our telepathic, empathetic hero, Frank Black, sniffs around, finds the clues (the bodies) and solves everything (he cheats, basically). He knows what’s happened and what’s going to happen. (He is incredibly annoying.)

“They haven’t paged you yet,” simpers his dull, drippy, Andie MacDowell wife, as Frank gets packing.

“They will,” he mutters dryly. 

It’s a great part – hardly any lines to learn. Frank is too dark to say very much; he just mumbles something in his hoarse growl, like: “he’s close” or (to a colleague) “I’ve been there too.”

No one ever says to him: “Frank, have you ever head of Lockets ?”

This week, Frank is strangely short of brainwaves in the case of a sexually disturbed bomber. It is directed by Millennium regular, David Nutter.

Even the cops are twisted.

“If you’d been sitting in that booth at the time of the explosion,” says one, “your flesh would be Kleenex.”

Speaking of Kleenex, it emerges the killer masturbated before the, erm, explosion.

“My own preference,” says the cop cheerfully (looking into a Kleenex), “is thinking of girls who wouldn’t date me.”

Chris Carter must have psychos and stalkers all over America looking for him. Millennium is like a manual on How Not Get To Caught.

(This week, we learn that if the FBI are trying to trace a call, they might hang up on you so that you angrily call back for another.)

Would-be serial killers and sickos are probably benefiting tremendously from following it. 

Tapehead’s collection, for example, is coming along nicely.


Millennium: Sun, 10pm, Sky 1

Murder One: Weds, 10pm, Sky 1