''The X-Files'' creator's new series aims beyond the paranormal to just plain shocking

By Benjamin Svetkey
October 18, 1996 at 12:00 PM EDT

Chris Carter has a horrifying idea. More monstrous than the Flukeman who wormed his way onto The X-Files during its second season. More hideous than the jumbo cockroaches that wiggled across the screen last season. More appalling than the apocalyptic serial killers about to be unleashed this season on Millennium, the deeply creepy X-Files spawn arriving Oct. 25.

”Let’s go jogging,” the TV producer suggests with hair-raising cheeriness. ”How about Sunday morning? Sunday morning good for you?”

The horror, the horror. And that’s just the beginning. Hanging out with Carter for a few days in Los Angeles turns out to be an exhausting voyage into an otherworldly realm of paranormal scheduling. He may look like an ordinary 40-year-old human being — graying blond hair, blue eyes, the mellow demeanor of a man who’s spent far too much time on a surfboard — but there are definite signs that something not quite terrestrial lurks beneath the surface. For example: The guy never sleeps. At the office every morning at 7 a.m., seldom home before 11 p.m., he’s such a compulsive worker he makes James Brown look like a slacker.

Of course, Carter has lots to lose sleep over these days. After his breakthrough triumph creating The X-Files — the show that made UFO abductions chic — the world is waiting to see what he’ll come up with next. And what he’s come up with may just be the most boldly gruesome series ever allowed on the airwaves. Chockful of decapitations, live burials, incest, and other way-gross atrocities, Millennium pushes the limits of TV horror to such shockingly bleak levels it’d have Cancer Man reaching for the night-light.

Lance Henriksen (the robot from Aliens) stars as the not-so-subtly named Frank Black, an ex-FBI agent who belongs to a shadowy quasi-governmental organization of ex-law enforcers called The Millennium Group (supposedly based on a real quasi-government serial-killer-chasing group called The Academy — or so Carter insists). Using mysterious empathic powers to get into the heads of violent criminals, Henriksen skulks through each episode tracking down a growing tribe of psychopathic no-goodniks, apparently made extra cranky by the cosmic forces of the looming fin de siecle. ”We’ve got this very important date coming up,” explains Carter. ”The end of the millennium is an unsettling time, very nervous making. It sounds so obvious now, but I got this idea that someone should capitalize on it.”

That someone, of course, turned out to be the Fox network — home to The X-Files — which is betting big bucks on Carter’s new show. Spending $10 million on a feature-film-style launch, Fox is pre-premiering Millennium in 25 theaters across the country Oct. 23, followed by a satellite link-up in which Carter will answer questions from the audience. Millennium is also getting Fox’s primo time slot — The X-Files‘ Friday-night hour — while Mulder and Scully are being transferred to Sunday evenings. A Millennium book is in the works as well, to be published by HarperCollins, a company owned by the same media mogul — Rupert Murdoch — who controls the Fox network (and Mulder thinks he’s the only one who can sniff out a conspiracy).