Jericho, season 1 (TV, 2008)


A review of the DVD release of Jericho. Both my wife and I got hooked on this unusual TV series.

FIVE STARS

2007/910mins/15

Director: Various

Writers:Various

Created by: Jonathan Steinberg, Josh Schaer and Stephen Chbosky

Starring: Skeet ulrich, Lenny James, Kenneth Mitchell, Gerald McRaney, Pamela Reed, Emily Sullivan

Absolutely engrossing post-apocalyptic fable that will have your inner gun nut shouting ‘Yeee-hah!’

The first few episodes of Jericho give you a good idea why its viewing figures were not stellar. An apocalyptic set-up, where the US is nuked out of existence by a score of well-placed atomic bombs, segues into a run of crises of the week for the isolated town of Jericho. Sundry disasters and shortages give the feel of a beat-by-beat cover version of 1980s primetime. Jericho‘s eschewed the complex mythologising currently fashionable in SF TV, so despite these conflagarations and confrontations, there’s a curious lack of incident in the opening run.

But had viewers stuck with it, they’d have seen Jericho become something remarkable, and I’d defy any SF fan not to become engrossed.

This is, in some respects, a subtle show; small-scale character play, not a vista of devastated America, is its core. As the pressures of being thrown into a modern western mount on the townsfolk, the series’ relationships become increasingly layered. It is anything but predictable, and all completely believable. There’s not a duff note to it. The central Green family are by no means the be all and end all of the show’s good characters –  Jericho is heaving with them.

We’re kept guessing at the bigger picture, of course, and linking the big and the small is another great character, mystery man Rob Hawkins, who arrives in town the day before the attack. Played with gritty conviction by Brit Lennie James, Hawkins is the coolest guy on TV.

So it is terribly right wing, though not unthinkingly, women don’t play as strong a role as they might, and there is a couple of plot points that are hard to swallow. And it’s not the most spectacular or thought-provoking essay of science fiction, but it is definitely one of the most enjoyable, Season one gets better and better with each episode, culminating in a climax so tense it would be dishonourable not to describe it as “nailbiting”. I’m hooked.

Did you know?

Jericho was cancelled at the end of the first season, but there was a massive fan response, in which 20 tons of nuts were sent to CBS. It was  re-commissioned for a run of seven episodes, currently airing in the US. The last episode has had two endings made for it. One that wraps up the series, the other a cliffhanger, in case ratings justify more episodes.

Though set in Kansas, Jericho is filmed in California, with a few winter sequences being shot in Canada.

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