Millennium (1997) – A Single Blade of Grass, and The Curse of Frank Black

Erin Maher and Kay Reindl deliver the first real misstep of the Millennium television series with A Single Blade of Grass. Originally airing on 24 October, 1997 the story sees Frank Black (Lance Henriksen) travelling to New York City to investigate a body discovered there, on a construction site turned archaeological site turned crime scene.

Frank finds himself partnering up with an anthropologist, Dr. Liz MIcheals (Amy Steel of Friday the 13th Part 2 fame) and the supporting cast includes Floyd Red Crow Westerman. It seems there is a Native American doomsday cult amongst the construction workers of the city, and they believe that things are happening and changing, its the body of one of their fellows that Dr. Micheal discovers and Frank investigates.

As the pair look into the crime, Frank’s gift shows that it is returning and changing, as he was told it would, though he is unsure of what he is seeing, Micheals is able to suggest interpretation to some of the things Frank is seeing, and he begins to suspect that he is the cult’s next target.

There is a mish-mash of Native American mythology at work throughout the tale, but the tale never comes off as well as it could, even with the exceptional supporting cast in place, and, of course, Henriksen’s presence as Frank.

As I’ve said about other episodes of shows that I’ve watched for the blog, they can’t all be winners, and at least the series is willing to experiment and try new things.

Speaking of experimenting, The Curse of Frank Black is a Halloween episode written by Glen Morgan and James Wong that first debuted on 31 October, 1997 (and sees his daughter Jordan (Brittany Tiplady) tick or treating as Marge Simpson).

Like a Treehouse of Terror episode, the episode has a few short vignettes and flashbacks, that give us a glimpse into Frank’s past, including an encounter with a soldier, Crocell (Dean Winters) when he was a boy. And throughout the episode, there is an actual demon that seems to be stalking Frank, hanging about, and waiting to offer him a deal.

A deal with the devil that would change his downward spiral. Will he take it, or will this confrontation reinvigorate his work?

A truly spooky and unnerving episode the story layers Frank’s character beautifully, and Henriksen truly shines, balancing some comedic moments with a dark night of the soul. The episode is a standout, continues moving the series into a more paranormal direction, while also revealing how long Frank has had his gift.

It’s a joyous episode, and there’s a fluidity to the storytelling that even plays with the ‘when’ of the story. I love this one!

There’s still more to come as I continue my exploration of the darkness with Frank Black and the Millennium Group next week!

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