November 08, 1996 at 05:00 AM EST

The only show with the chutzpah to mix W.H. Auden with LSD, Millennium is, as if you needed to be told, Chris X-Files Carter’s new show starring Lance Henriksen as Frank Black, a psychic killer-catcher who works with the Millennium Group, an organization whose motives are noble but shadowy.

The big difference between Black and The X-Files‘ Mulder and Scully is that Black has a personal life — a solid marriage with a wife (Megan Gallagher) and young daughter (Brittany Tiplady), and they all live together in a rambling Seattle house. Therein lies creator Carter’s challenge: how to combine horror and domesticity without making one of them seem silly.

In the series’ pilot, the ickiest image was so striking — crime victims buried alive, their eyes and mouths sewn shut — that the drippy scenes of Black home life were easy to ignore. The second episode, written by Carter, commenced with a quote from Auden and featured villains who drop acid and work part-time for some sort of satanic version of Amway; in this context, a shot of a severed ear seemed quaint.

Although Millennium hasn’t quite found its tone, it’s got great visuals and a commanding performance by Henriksen, whose tired eyes and rumbly voice are mood enhancing. Gallagher must be stopped from reciting lines like ”Sometimes I think of Frank as the Catcher in the Rye, standing at the edge of the world trying to save everyone.” But given Carter’s achievement with The X-Files, he deserves all the slack you can cut him. (Grade is provisional.) B+

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