Millennium pushed out for Harsh Realm?

by Miwa Hirai

Transcribed by alfornos

[Note: the information in this article is not necessarily accurate] Nick at the XF movie premiere

Chris Carter's Millennium seems set to be cancelled at the end of its current, third season, as Fox television makes way for its creator's new science fiction show, Harsh Realm.

Lending substance to the suggestion, Fox has earmarked Millennium's current Friday timeslot for Harsh Realm's debut. As the series gears up to enter production, Fox is reported to favour turning over Millennium's Vancouver crew and studio space to the new show. Terry O'Quinn, alias Millennium's Peter Watts, has signed on to play a regular villain in Harsh Realm. Cast members from Millennium's surviving sister series The X-Files will also make the transition, however. Chris Owens (Jeffrey Spender) is said to have signed on board the show, with X-Files co-star Nicholas Lea taking the lead role.

Harsh Realm is based on a comic book published in the early Nineties by Harris Comics. Lea plays gumshoe Dexter Green, a private eye in a futuristic city. In the comic book, Dexter is hired to find missing young people in the Harsh Realm, an artificially created "pocket-universe" that exists concurrently within the real world. The Realm is a sort of virtual reality fantasy world. You can't count on high technology and science out there - or in there. You have to deal with dragons, witches, and all kinds of illusory creatures on your own, armed with only knowledge and courage. Everything in the Realm is illusion, except for one thing - you can die there.

Dexter is an urban man, comfortable with high-tech living, an unlikely hero in the world of the no-machines-available Harsh Realm. How he finds his lostlings and survives the virtual adventure is the most exciting element of the new show that has been dubbed a cross between Blade Runner and a medieval MacGyver.

"The series was created back in 1992, but it was inspired by a dream I had back in 1989." James Hudnall, the creator of the comic book series upon which Carter's Harsh Realm is based, tells DreamWatch "I had it in proposal stage for several years, then sold it as a series.

"The story is an adventure that blends the fantasy, science fiction and detective genres. I mainly wanted to show how power corrupts some people, while others don't care if they have it or not. I also wanted to examine the gaming mentality, where you can kill people by killing their character. In role playing games, the more you kill, the more you gain "experience." I posed the question "If those people were real, would you still be able to do it? And if so, what does that say about you?"

Fox has given Carter the green light for 13 episodes of Harsh Realm. "I believe Carter can do 24 episodes if it's a success. That's just this season," Hudnall relates. "If it's a hit, then, of course, it could go on for years, which would be nice. We shall see. I'm not sure exactly what Chris Carter has planned, but I imagine he will bring the story closer to our time and probably give it a running story line. The comic book was a single story with a beginning and end. But it did leave room for more adventures."

"I'm actually still writing it right now," Carter reports, "so I'm not letting too many secrets out, but it plays a little bit with virtual reality. It's quite different from the comic book that we're taking it from. There's really not much I can tell you about it, besides that it will be a kind of ensemble cast."

"If The X-Files had a very broad group of stories to tell, this will also have that kind of broad scope," he adds. "Millennium has a narrower scope in its storytelling, but it's a very broad canvas: good and evil. But it uses a little bit of virtual reality. [Harsh Realm] actually is going to play with reality in ways that I think The X-Files has done so well over the years."

[snip descriptions of Millennium eps]

"Man, I've worked hard on Millennium this year," Chris Carter states. "I've written and rewritten several shows. It's not like it was in the first year, but I've certainly paid a lot more attention to it this year than last... I really think that show is hitting its stride. I wish that more people watched it. I wish more people would give it another chance. And I hope it comes back next year."

In disappointing news for UK fans, Sky has yet to decide whether it will purchase the third season for broadcast, while Fox Home Video has no immediate plans to release the show's second season for sale in the UK.

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