Created by Chris Carter, "Millennium" first appeared on television in 1996. It stars Lance Henriksen as Frank Black who, as a FBI Agent, specialised in profiling serial killers. After suffering a breakdown, Frank retired from the Bureau and moved from Washington to Seattle. To help with the bills, he joined a team of ex-law enforcement agents known as the "Millennium Group". Initially, this arrangement suited Frank perfectly. The Group would lend their expertise, as consultants, to whatever investigation requires their help. Naturally, given Frank's experience, the bulk of his work initially focussed on suspected serial killers. The focus of the show changed entirely, however, when Carter passed control of the show's second season to Glen Morgan and James Wong. Conspiracies appeared everywhere, while the Millennium Group suddenly became a devious, manipulative organisation - its role in fighting crime nothing more than a front. Season Two culminated in the death of Frank's wife, Catherine, from a disease developed and released by the Group.
Carter thankfully returned for Season Three, allowing for the welcome departure of Morgan and Wong. However, there were certain elements of the second season that couldn't be ignored - most notably, Catherine's death and what the Millennium Group had become. As Season Three opens, Frank has severed his ties with the Group and has returned to the FBI as a consultant. Based at the FBI Academy in Quantico, he and Jordan have left Seattle and are now living in Fall's Church, Virginia. The transition hasn't been easy for the pair - Jordan still sets a place for Catherine at the dinner table, while its obvious Catherine's father blames Frank for her death. Frank has been attending sessions at the FBI Psychiatric Evaluation Office for five months and has made, it appears, significant progress. Although Frank's boss, Andy McClaren, is reluctant to assign him to cases, Frank is keen to return to work. McClaren is also very dubious about Frank's claims about the Group - he seems to believe they indicate, at best, a certain level of stress. In fact, McClaren in happy continue working with the Group in general and Peter Watts in particular.
In addition to McClaren, Frank's new circumstances bring a couple of other new characters. The most notable is Agent Emma Hollis, played by Klea Scott, who becomes Frank's new sidekick. She's a very likeable character who's had more than her fair share of kicks in her personal life - unfortunately for Hollis, some of these kicks play key parts in some of the season's stronger episodes. Unlike some of the other support characters "Millennium" has had - particularly Lara Means - Hollis is definitely an asset. When we first meet Emma, she's partnering Barry Baldwin, an ambitious, smug and snotty individual who suffers from a definite superiority complex. He features only occasionally, but in the early episodes it's very enjoyable watching Frank pulling the rug form beneath his feet.
While Carter's return to "Millennium" didn't see a complete return to what the show had been in Season One - nor could it have following Morgan and Wong' stewardship - Season Three is a drastic improvement on Season Two. Despite Frank's vow to bring the Group down, many of the episodes don't have a `Frank against the Group' theme. Some of the episodes are conspiracy-based, while others are plain, everyday, `normal' sort of crimes. Of the 22 episodes, there were only two I didn't really enjoy. "...Thirteen Years Later" was pretty poor - it was little more than a pastiche of the slasher movie, and was like something Morgan and Wong would've dreamt up. "Omerta" didn't do a great deal for me either - there was just too much Christmas cheer ! Some of the other episodes are excellent, though - some of the very best look into Emma's past. "Human Essence" sees Emma take a trip to Vancouver on family-related business, a trip that also threatens her career. The episode also sees some contributions from two other very well-known FBI Agents. Other episodes, like "Collateral Damage", give Peter Watts a chance to come out and play. (That episode also features James Marsters, who may be better known as Spike from "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" - Marsters was one of several notable guest stars the season had to offer). "Darwin's Eye" was also excellent, though the season really saved its best for last with "Via Dolarosa" and "Goodbye to All That".
Among the extras is a "Making of Season Three" documentary which, like the equivalent features on the previous seasons, is well worth watching. There were a couple of comments that I found slightly off-the-mark though. The decision to make the Millennium Group `evil' was essentially taken by Morgan and Wong in Season Two - remember what happened in that season's finale ? - and Frank's decision to leave the Group was really the most obvious thing to do. There was also a comment Lance Henriksen made about Frank and Peter Watts no longer being friends and, at times, there is clear friction between the two. However, looking at the last couple of episodes especially, it seemed to me that Watts bore Frank no real malice and the friendship may well have been alive on his part. If anything, the Group were a little more successful in manipulating Watts than they had been with Frank.
Overall, Season Three was a strong finish for "Millennium" - the improvement over Season Two can't be exaggerated. However, I'm sorry the show had to finish at all. There is a sense that part of the story remains untold - I do have some questions about what happened between the last episode of Season Three and Frank's visit from Mulder and Scully. (There's a `bonus' episode of the X-Files, where Frank makes a guest appearance). If only someone from Fox would authorise a movie or - even better - Season Four...