Millennium: The season you've never seen!

Chris Carter: Is Millennium dead? Not if you live on the internet. Someone is actually creating 22 stories this season that are, I guess, going to be the 4th season of Millennium.

In 1997 the future of Millennium remained uncertain until the news the fans had feared that the TV series was to be cancelled in May after three successful seasons.

But that was not the end for Millennium in all its forms, an unofficial fourth season of the show was already in production by that point. Millennium: Virtual Season Four represented the handiwork of 11 fans who were determined to keep the show alive, at least until the millennium came to pass.

They decided to set up the virtual season like a real TV series. Instead of short story-like narratives, they would produce polished scripts; and instead of posting whatever stories came their way, they would recruit volunteers whose fan fiction they liked to collaborate on a new season that continued story lines from the original series.

BackToFrankBlack has recently had the pleasure to speak to Dan Owen one of the originators of the project and it is our pleasure to introduce the season and the man to you all.

BACKTOFRANKBLACK: One question I get asked a lot, and one I can never satisfyingly answer I must admit, is the old chestnut "What is it about Millennium that has drawn you in to the degree it has?" I think I'll start by posing the same query to you in the hope you can iterate your thoughts on this a little better than I can?

DAN OWEN: Well, cards on the table, it's been many years since I've really watched Millennium. So, for me, it's more something that I have fond memories of while it was around on TV for 3 years. I enjoyed the performances (particularly Lance Henriksen and Terry O'Quinn) and it was stylistically something I adored. The whole vibe and mythology of the show really connected to me as a teenager. So it still has a special place in my heart, which I recall every time I walk past a box-set on a shelf somewhere!

BTFB: If the mythology was something that appealed to you would it be fair to conclude that the second season of the show was probably one you connected to more strongly as there was far less mythology in either the first or third season of the show?

DO: Yes, while I admired Millennium in season one, the second season was where I got sucked into it. I've always enjoyed shows that build a cohesive universe that extrapolates things from our own, so the way Glen Morgan and James Wong spliced season one's gritty "crime series" into a vaguely X-Files-like supernatural, apocalyptic series was what grabbed my imagination. You don't see that kind of thing done well too often.

BTFB: Too true and there has been a recent revival of that type of storytelling thanks to the success of Lost and which has been sadly lacking from the screens of late. Am I right in thinking that you guys actually began work on a virtual season whilst the show was still on air? What was the precursor to the virtual season? Was it a desire for more Millennium, a need to offer closure, a desire to take Millennium up to the Millennium and beyond or something entirely different?

DO: No, it was even more insanely scheduled than you might imagine! We waited until Fox officially cancelled it before deciding to do our own "virtual season" as a way to conclude the story in SOME way. It just felt particularly ridiculous for a show called Millennium to fizzle out in 1999, so we scrambled to get ourselves up and running in just over a month. Which was amazing, in retrospect. And that passion kept us going from summer '99 to Christmas, buoyed by the positive response from readers and media feedback.

BTFB: Did you anticipate the amount of work that creating a virtual season would entail? I believe it was very much the brainchild of yourself and Matt Asendorf for example, do you believe that partnership was integral to the success of the project?

DO: To be honest, I thought I'd perhaps write two or three episodes and just manage everyone else’s efforts. Just keep a basic storyline going and pull the whole thing together behind-the-scenes. To my recollection, Matt took on the managerial role more prominently, when it became clear VS4 would only stand a chance if there was a cohesive group of mythology episodes spread out across the season so I ended up doing the première, the mid-season two-parter and the two-part finale. Plus some standalones. So I was beavering away doing that, mainly in-between rewriting others people's scripts, and trying to draw the story together into something that worked -- as a collective thing.

BTFB: How many comprised the Virtual Season Four crew? Do you recall?

DO: Erm, not definitely. 10-12 or something. But most just submitted one or two scripts that were quite standalone things. It was just Matt and I handling the bigger picture, with input from a few others who became more vocal as time went on. Or who took it upon themselves to write scripts that plugged gaps between Millennium's mythology and VS4's.

BTFB: I'm very interested in the mythology behind your season. Millennium has a sort of identity crisis if you like, each new season was thematically different from that which preceded it. When you began to explore the idea of a virtual season of episodes did you lean more closely to one season than another in terms of tone and content or did you carry on the tradition of reinvention?

DO: Well, obviously we preferred season two overall, but wanted to keep the tone of season one for a few stories, and tie it ALL together by using a lot of the setup from season three (so we didn't ditch the FBI and Emma, for eg.) Others might have done, but we thought it was wise to bring out the BEST of each season. Almost a Greatest Hits compilation!

BTFB: That's a fantastic description and a brilliant way to sell the season to those who haven't read it actually. Now something I learned only in the last year or so was that you guys actually received the praise and support for what you were doing from Millennium writer, Kay Reindl. How did she become aware of the project and did she have any involvement at all in the direction the series took?

DO: I'm not sure how she became aware. That was more Matt's area. I believe that the writer for Salon somehow got in touch and she found out through him, because he was doing a piece on us. I'd already gotten to know her a bit beforehand though because she visited the newsgroups sometimes. She didn't have any involvement with VS4 - just wished us luck, really.

BTFB: That must have been a real morale booster for you guys?

DO: Yeah, stuff like that was incredible at the time. When we started seeing VS4 mentioned in newspapers, magazines and then Lance Henriksen and Chris Carter gave us a shout-out online. Lance even read a few of the early scripts, apparently, and was very gracious about the quality!
  • Stay tuned for part two of this interview tomorrow and don't forget, dive in here and enjoy the project Chris Carter declared Millennium's fourth season. You won't regret it.

18 Responses to "Millennium: The season you've never seen!"

RSWehman said... August 14, 2009 at 6:29 AM

Incredible. With Chris Carter exclaiming this to be the unofficial season 4...who wouldn't watch!
This Is Who We Are!!
Rhonda Wehman

David said... August 14, 2009 at 2:48 PM

There is some very good reading in the 4th season. My hat is off to all those who took the time to write the episodes and continue to show their talents in future seasons.

Sheriff Bullock said... August 14, 2009 at 4:54 PM

t's nice to know Dan is still kicking around in the ether somewhere.

Man, the VS seems like forever ago. (Ten years to be exact!)

This blogger had some real nice things to say about the project:

Good luck with the campaign, mates.

-- Matt

<0> said... August 14, 2009 at 6:05 PM

I'm Angelo of VS5 and I have to say VS4 was a real inspiration for me that deserved all the praise it received. Without Matt and Dan we never would have started our own production. To be so publicly endorsed by Chris Carter, which this campaign could do with in my opinion, is the highest accolade it could receive. So keep up the good work fan-fiction and virtual season authors you just never know!

Jósef K. said... August 15, 2009 at 12:35 AM

I used some dead time at work last night to read the first VS episode and the first 3 acts of episode 2. And I'm liking this, though I have my own opinions of direction or characterization of some persons. But overall, this makes a lot of sense.

One thought that popped up in my head, didn't Emma already have the Millennium Group screen in the final episode of Season 3? Who knows, maybe that doesn't matter regards the link to the intranet of the Millennium Group via voice recognition. I liked that moment, but still...that posed yet another question. How were they able to recognize her voice? She obviously didn't record it before hand.

Ok...enough questions, I'm going to sleep.

Cheers from Iceland!
- Jósef

The Old Man said... August 15, 2009 at 5:08 AM

Thanks for taking part in the interview Dan, I enjoyed it immensely!

The sheer hard work and talent of those involved continues to be an inspiration.

Mark Hayden said... August 15, 2009 at 7:12 AM

Well, well, Matt Assendorf himself, so glad you could see this Matt and thank you for your contribution to VS4 it is something I have enjoyed many times in the past. I do hope you will keep your eyes on this post and its comments and maybe answer a few of the queries from people who have them?

On the topic of the Millennium Desktop, yes Emma is seen looking a bit miffed in front of one at the end of Season Three but without being able to recall what exactly is said in 4.1 I'm not sure what you're referring to Josef, I think it's probably time for a re-read.

On the issue of the voice activated pass phrases. When Roedecker and Bird install Frank's new software isn't he immediately able to use the passphrase software without the need to pre-record anything? He certainly doesn't seem familiar with it so it's unlikely he's been involved in anything prior to its installation.

Maybe the group already have voice files of their candidates through covert means, bugging their phones and so on as part of a vetting process and that's enough for the software to recognise Frank's voice.

I know recordings were kept of The Old Man's passphrase and it always seemed unlikely to me that that was recorded with consent, more likely the group recorded it as a safety precaution if ever they needed his level of clearance.

If that makes any sense at all?

AgentOrange said... August 15, 2009 at 8:36 AM

I really wish the season would have been released in hardcover. I would have paid to have this great season, just to read it all over again.

To the various writers>> you are a very talented bunch of individuals and your work is most appreciated in keeping the Millennium theme and story alive. I know this must have been lots of hard work in writing and keeping a normal life schedule.

Great job and thanks to all the writers for this Awesome work!!!!!!

Dan said... August 15, 2009 at 9:44 AM

@AgentOrange: There's no chance of ever profiting from VS4, given it's NOT our intellectual property. :-) It was free and done purely for the love of the show. I know some people DID print out scripts and kept them, though!

A few years back I considered some kind of VS4 re-release (if only to upgrade the .TXT files to .PDF after putting them through Final Draft*), but also to eliminate some obvious flaws. I wince at some of the dialogue now, with the benefit of 10 years writing experience. But, hey, hopefully new readers will cut us some slack. It was a long time ago, most of us were quite young, inexperienced and a lot of software wasn't available. Skype would have a GODSEND!

* Yes, we did VS4 in Word using tabs, because only professional screenwriters had proper software in those days!

Jósef K. said... August 15, 2009 at 10:00 AM

Yeah, Mark, I kinda thought of that as well. Covert bugging, had forgotten about the Old Man voice tape.

Oh, yeah, so the voice recognition was in season 2 with Roedecker but we always were able to see the Millennium Group logo and countdown in season 1.

Duh, why am I asking these dumb question LOL! I did know the answer already. I clearly don't think right when I'm working night shifts :D

But still, strange that Emma, in VS4 E01, doesn't question this voice recognition thing...whatever serves the plot I guess :)

- Jósef

Anonymous said... August 15, 2009 at 10:19 AM

this feels like Christmas :).
love love love it.
*looks for someone to have a party with*

Thank you Team of BTFB for all your great interviews!

Sheriff Bullock said... August 15, 2009 at 7:16 PM

What Dan said: No Final Draft. No Skype. No Ventrilo or Teamspeak or any type of voice over IP software. (I still have never heard Dan's voice!) We had e-mail and a messageboard. Not exactly the ideal way to write a television serious. ;)

Mark Hayden said... August 16, 2009 at 6:22 AM

Don't knock it Dan your tools served you well. I remember in the days of Millennium: Apocalypse and Virtual Season Five watching the degree of work that went into these projects by viewing the process at TIWWA and being amazed at the enthusiasm and tenacity that the fans had for what they were doing and I expect the same was true for VS4.

Evidently life could have been made a lot easier with a shiny set of tools at your disposal but what you achieved is all the more impressive given the restrictions.

Dan said... August 16, 2009 at 1:14 PM

@Mark. Indeed, it was great what we achieved with a humble forum and email. But I definitely would have farmed out more scripts if we could have properly discussed everything on Skype, say. The only reason I ended up writing so much was that it was easier than trying to explain what we wanted to do and get others to write it.

Sheriff Bullock said... August 17, 2009 at 1:47 PM

>> I do hope you will keep your eyes on this post and its comments and maybe answer a few of the queries from people who have them?

I replied to your e-mail about appearing on one of your podcasts, but you never wrote back. If you have questions about the VS4, ask away. -- Matt

Mark Hayden said... August 17, 2009 at 2:05 PM

Hi Matt,

My apologies, it wasn't me who emailed you regarding the podcast and I guess the guys are just a little snowed under at the moment and may have missed it but if you email me at or contact me at TIWWA as ethsnafu I will certainly arrange something with regards to a VS4 chat, I would be very interested to hear your thoughts.

Warm wishes,


RavenD said... August 20, 2009 at 12:26 AM

There's a Virtual Season Five as well right? Any chance of the people involved discussing their work in the same way? Were any of the Virtual Season Four Team involved in that project as well? Thank you.

Mark Hayden said... August 21, 2009 at 12:14 AM

Funny you should mention that Raven, I spoke to one of the individuals involved in that season yesterday and he is more than happy to share his comments on that season so look for an interview in the very near future.

Also keep your eyes peeled for a few bonus features, if you will, in connection with VS4. It's an absolute honour to be bringing word of these projects to a new audience. I'm hoping anyone that hasn't read them will do so and share their feedback.

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