"Pilot"

#MLM-100

Written by Chris Carter

Directed by David Nutter

Edited by Stephen Mark

Aired October 25, 1996

Summary: Renowned criminal profiler Frank Black retires with his family to Seattle, where he joins the mysterious Millennium Group in an effort to track a serial killer whose viciously slain victims include an exotic dancer.

 

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Synopsis:  A seedy peep show in downtown Seattle. As seedy men pay for brief glimpses of female flesh, one customer has more than sex on his mind. Mumbling obscure and ominous phrases, he hallucinates sheets of blood pouring over the body of a blond dancer. Later that night, she is savagely murdered.

 

Just arrived in Seattle, Frank and Catherine Black, and their five-year-old daughter Jordan, are happily settling into their new suburban home. But the evil of the outside world soon disturbs Frank's contentment. Spotting a newspaper account of the dancer's brutal death, Frank contacts his former boss, homicide cop Lieutenant Bob Bletcher. Frank volunteers his expertise as a retired FBI agent specializing in serial killers.

 

When he views the body, Frank catches vivid and bloody glimpses of the crime, and knows the killer will strike again. His intimate knowledge of the details spooks his old friend. Now a consultant for a consortium of ex-law enforcement officers called the Millennium Group, Frank offers their resources to help the department find the killer. Peter Watts, a member of the group, agrees with Frank's assessment. Driven by an external stressor, the killer is out of control...and out for more blood.

 

Stalking the gay cruising scene for his next victim, the killer is lost in a warped world of hallucinations, surrounded by passers-by with eyes and mouths gruesomely sewn shut. Later that night, the cops find his latest victim's charred, headless body, and nearby, an empty coffin. Again, Frank's detailed knowledge of the crime startles Bletcher. Frank's investigations and visions even lead him straight to the killer, who manages to lose Frank after a close chase.

 

Frank presents his findings to the homicide department. Obsessed by apocalyptic prophecies, and maddened by twisted sexual guilt, the killer believes he is cleansing sin from plague-infested Seattle. Not unexpectedly, the cops reject what they don't understand...except for Bletcher. He demands an explanation from Frank. And Frank, at last, reveals his secrets. 

 

His gift is also his curse. He sees what the killer sees, becoming what we most fear to hunt what we must destroy. In the past an anonymous person sent Polaroid photos of his family to him, distorting Frank's knowledge of evil into paralyzing fear. He quit the FBI, refusing to let his family out of his sight. Then he was contacted by the Millennium Group, an association formed to battle the darkness that approaches with the coming millennium. They offered to help him use his gift, and Frank moved his family back to Seattle.

 

Frank must rush to the hospital when his daughter is stricken with a high fever. Despite his love for Jordan, he can't leave his job behind. Alerted by sudden insight, Frank leads the cops to their most horrifying discovery: a man buried alive, his eyes and mouth sewn shut, his fingertips roughly amputated.

 

Finally, Frank tracks the killer to the police department's own evidence lab. In a psychotic rage, the killer savagely attacks Frank, raving about the apocalypse. Just in time, Bletcher's bullet saves Frank from the killer's deadly assault.

 

The killer's death releases Frank to seek peace in the love of his family. But his serenity is shattered by a nightmare sent in the mail: anonymous Polaroids of his family.

 

Photographs:

- Inside the Ruby Tip peep show

- Calamity is murdered by the Frenchman

- Gruesome evidence of the killer's crimes

- A glimpse of the Frenchman's visions

- Calamity burns in the Frenchman's vision

- Seattle police uncover a woodland grave

- One of the Frenchman's burning victims

- The Frenchman lurks in Seattle shadows

- Frank and police conduct a night search

- The Frenchman presents his poetry

- Seattle police discover a severed head

- A victim, his mouth and eyes sewn shut

- Bletcher and Frank visit a crime scene

- Frank reviews the killer's poetry

 

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Media Review: "In a season of massively hyped but somewhat undernourished new series, here's a program that finally delivers The anxiously awaited brainchild of X-Files creator Chris Carter, Millennium stars craggy Lance Henriksen as an ex-FBI agent whose specialty is tracking down serial killers. What gives this hypnotically frightening program its special twist is that Henriksen has the ability to see inside the minds of his murderous prey... With its creepy soundtrack, terrifying visuals and ingenious plot twists, Millennium is far and away the best new show of the year." —Joe Queenan, People

 

"Mr. Carter pushes all the right apocalyptic buttons. There are the Bible's Book of Revelations, of course, and quotations from Nostradamus. Literary sources include the William Butler Yeats poem 'The Second Coming' and its declaration that the 'the ceremony of innocence is drowned.' In a nod to J. D. Salinger, someone says of Frank, 'Think of him as the catcher in the rye, standing at the edge of the cliff trying to save the world'... We're not in fluff-land anymore, Toto. Frank's little girl does get an adorable puppy. Somehow, in this context, that cozy image is foreboding." —John J. O'Connor, The New York Times

 

"'Pilot' is perhaps the most perfect opening episode to a one-hour suspense thriller television show ever conceived. It manages to balance the necessary introductory exposition (who Frank is, why he’s retired FBI and what the Millennium Group is all about) with a tense, dread-filled storyline of sadistic serial killing. The great thing about Chris Carter’s script is that it never treats the murders as anything other than serious and finds clever, unique ways to tie them in to some manner of evolving mythology." —Bill Gibron, DVD Talk

 

Trivia: Early in 1995, The X-Files creator Chris Carter was approached by the Fox network and asked if he would consider creating a second television series.  Carter commented that he had begun thinking about a series focused on the coming millennium and an unscientific approach to examining evil. Millennium, the culmination of those two key concepts, was subsequently developed by Ten-Thirteen Productions and premiered the following year.

 

The premiere of Millennium on Fox was a record breaking ratings success, garnering the highest ratings in the network's history for a drama series debut, thanks primarily to a relentless advertising campaign. Over 17 million viewers were watching on October 25, 1996 as the series aired for the first time.

 

While Chris Carter created the role of Frank Black specifically for actor Lance Henriksen, the Fox network intended to place film star William Hurt in the lead role of the new drama series. Fortunately, Carter was successful in persuading both Henriksen and Fox that his first choice was the only man for the job.

 

Filling Fox's 9:00pm Friday timeslot, Millennium took a scheduling position The X-Files had held successfully for three years.  The move was an uneasy one at first for both fans and staff of the latter series, prompting star David Duchovny to comment, "You feel a little like, you know, you were an only child for a while and then, all of a sudden, you've got a little brother and maybe you want to go to the crib at night and drop a rock on its head."

 

Chris Carter has revealed that at some point in his family's history the surname was changed from Black to Carter. Thus, the characters on Millennium take their family name from their creator's genealogy, specifically Catherine, who is named for Carter's mother.

 

Carter recorded an audio commentary to accompany this episode for Fox Home Entertainment's DVD release of Millennium: The Complete First Season.

 

Death Toll:  3

 

Title: "Pilot" is simply an entertainment industry term for any television program produced as a prototype of a series being considered for adoption by a network. When this episode was novelized by author Elizabeth Hand it was given the title "The Frenchman" and, subsequently, the episode is also referred to by that alternate name.

 

Soundtrack:

"Head Like a Hole" by Nine Inch Nails

"More Human Than Human" by White Zombie "Piggy" by Nine Inch Nails

"Roads" by Portishead

"In the Hands of Death" by Rob Zombie & Alice Cooper

 

Awards:  People's Choice Award - Millennium, Favorite New Television Drama Series (Winner)

 

American Society of Cinematographers Award - Pete Wunstorf, Outstanding Achievement in Cinematography in a Pilot (Nominee)

 

Starring:

Lance Henriksen as Frank Black

Megan Gallagher as Catherine Black

Brittany Tiplady as Jordan Black

Bill Smitrovich as Lt. Bob Bletcher

Terry O'Quinn as Peter Watts

 

Guest Starring:
Paul Dillon as the Frenchman
Stephen E. Miller as Det. Roger Kamm
Stephen J. Lang as Det. Bob Geibelhouse
Kate Luyben as Tuesday
April Telek as Calamity
Don MacKay as Jack Meredith
Mike Puttonen as Pathologist Curt Massey
Jarred Blancard as Sammy

 

Production Credits:

Production #4C79

Music by Mark Snow
Production Designer Gary Wissner
Director of Photography Peter Wunstorf
Supervising Producer John Peter Kousakis
Co-Executive Producer David Nutter

Executive Producer Chris Carter

 

 

THE MILLENNIAL ABYSS

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