Preview: Jericho

Jericho

In the US: Wednesdays 8pm ET/PT, CBS. Starting in the Fall.

In the UK: Hallmark has first-run rights, with ITV getting second-run rights

While ABC may have looked at Lost and only spotted the soap opera elements (cf the review of The Nine), CBS has gone for something a lot closer. Jericho has soapiness, but it also has a far more intriguing mystery as well as the isolation of Lost. I think this one stands a good chance of running for a while.

The lure? Possible nuclear war.

Plot

Jericho is a small town somewhere near Denver. It’s mostly filled by small town people doing small town things, right down to its small town mayor (Gerald McRaney from 80s ‘classics’ Major Dad and Simon and Simon).

What would normally be the only thing of note that entire month is the return after five years’ absence of the mayor’s son (Skeet Urich from Scream and Miracles) who, depending on whom you ask, has been whiling away his time in the army, the navy or the minor baseball leagues. He’s after his grandfather’s inheritance but McRaney doesn’t think he’s mature enough to handle it yet. So Urich leaves. Or tries to.

Because the other thing of note is the nuclear explosion in Denver later that day. It knocks out the power, the telephones, the television. It knocks over a school bus and a coach load of prisoners. It also causes Urich to crash his car into another, killing its occupants.

With no one knowing what’s happened, the town begins to fall apart in a matter of minutes, with riots over petrol and demands that the overworked sheriff’s department find out what’s happened both to the children and to the rest of the world.

The bad news is that it’s soon pretty clear that Denver is just one city to have suffered a nuclear explosion that day. How many others there have been, what caused them, whether there will be more to come and what their effects will be on Jericho remain to be seen.

In fact, for all the people of Jericho know, they may be the only people left alive in the US…

Verdict

At its heart, Jericho is another soap opera. We’re going to see a whole load of angsty issues being explored as the people of Jericho put aside their differences in order to survive the aftermath of the explosions. The main focus is going to be Urich and McRaney’s family, since other characters are given precious little development time, but I’m sure that will shift as the series develops. There are enough clues about character relationships already for us to know where the tension points and the friendships are going to be.

But the addition of the nuclear plotline gives Jericho something that the likes of The Nine just doesn’t have. Few people have been in a bank robbery and we all know how infrequent they are anyway, so it’s not a very real fear. But anyone over a certain age – which is the main target demographic of Jericho – will remember the very real fear of nuclear war and its aftermath. Couple that with all those escaped prisoners and you have a combination of Lost-ian terrors to rival The Others and The Monster.

The nuclear plotline also gives Jericho a closed group of people to work with – at least for the moment, since any number of other small towns may have survived as well – and a mystery to solve: what exactly caused the explosions? Was the President’s speech at the beginning of the programme an indication that the US was going to go to war? Was it terrorists? Or was it something completely different?

The main characters are going to need a little fleshing out before they’re really interesting, although Urich’s medical training already speaks of some interesting facets to his character, even if Urich is still incapable of anything except stoic silence and occasional anger in any given situation. McRaney gives a gruff, strong performance but he doesn’t yet have anything to work with other than clich?ɬ�s at the moment.

All in all, a good one to watch out for that will hopefully go the distance – and hopefully won’t emulate Lost too much in its delivery of plot information.

You can find out more about Jericho and view a trailer over on the CBS web site. However, the trailer gives away pretty much every surprise the pilot has to offer, so you may not want to.

  • Are there any scantily clad females or stroppy teens?

  • It’s Denver, so scantily-cladness would probably be a bad idea. There’s a pouty blonde and a sullen teenager, but she wears practical outdoors clothes and he’s very respectful. “I’d do anything for you, ma’am,” he says at one point to the elderly neighbour who helps him.
    Think they’re going for an older demographic than Lost.

  • Well I don’t think I’ll watch it then. I’m saving myself for The Class.

  • Pingback: The Medium is Not Enough TV blog()