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.