Sunday, February 25, 2007
Jericho Where Art Thou?
Basically, I haven’t been following any primetime TV shows. I’m not doing Lost, Heroes or CSI. Yeah, yeah, but life gets in the way. The one thing I am watching is Jericho, CBS’s post-apocalyptic drama. Sounds funny to have the words post-apocalyptic and drama in the same sentence, but essentially that’s this program’s shtick. It is really bizarre to juxtapose unrequited love and adultery with nuclear fallout and social disintegration but, hey, maybe that’s the appeal for me. I’m what I call a dissonant type of guy. I enjoy putting two seemingly unlike things together just to see what you get. Kinda’ like that Hegel dialectic if ya know what I mean. So, CBS is trying something different, and that is good, right? Sure, I guess.
The show is set in a small Kansas town that looks nothing like Kansas, with residents that struggle to survive the nuking of several major U.S. cities. Jericho’s characters are in the dark about what’s happening outside their one pickup truck berg while interpersonal relationships are pushed to the breaking point. Several characters have shadowy pasts, like Jake, played by Skeet Ulrich, and Hawkins, played by Lennie James. My understanding is Jericho is very Lost-like, but obviously the stakes are much higher as we’re dealing with a huge attack on the good old US of A and not events on some forgotten island. Although, I would say the creators have decided to go light on the nuclear holocaust in favor of soap opera sentiment. In other words, Jericho is like Party of Five meets The Day After.
While trying to do two very different genres in the same show, Jericho just manages to come out on the plus side despite some problems. Strangely, the love and angst tend to be rather predictable and there isn’t enough atomic horror for my fanboy tastes. What holds the show together at this point is the conspiracy of the who, the what, and the why, of the attacks and how the town fits into the scheme of things. Jericho will have to be careful with this though, as an audience can tire of hidden plots that string one along too slowly or for too long. Maybe that’s the reason the show’s creators are infusing it with so much drama. I do think the patience of the audience was finally rewarded with the 12th episode. I now have much more reason to like or be interested in these characters as some secrets and relationships have been revealed in this flashback episode.
The show may fail but I don’t buy “it’s too depressing” line that critics are spouting. After 9-11 and the Iraq debacle, I think Americans can handle a heavy premised program like this. Jericho earned a full season so apparently some folks want a “downer” of show. I genuinely like the actors, especially Ulrich, so if the plots and dialog tighten up we could be in for a good ride. Also, I have a sense after watching episode 12, CBS is willing to spend a little more on the budget. So, maybe I’ll get more of that atomic horror I’m looking for. As big post-apocalyptic fan I’d like this show to succeed. Maybe that’s why I watch it over other programs… …or maybe it’s because CBS had the sense to put it on demand.