Sunday, October 7, 2007

DVD review: Jericho, Season 1 (2006)

Is Jericho the most underrated television show on network TV? Many people have never heard of it, it only scraped by to manage a second season (which premieres in January 2008) and its subject matter isn't exactly cheerful, but Jericho, about a town that must come together after most of the United States is ravaged by nuclear war, is an effective drama-thriller that people should certainly check out on DVD (the first season was just recently released).

Jericho stars Skeet Ulrich, among others (including the very pretty Ashley Scott), as a young man who has returned to his hometown (where his father is mayor and brother is sheriff, and he has traditionally been on the wrong side of the law) just in time for a mushroom cloud to be seen over Denver, and reports of other explosions in Washington, D.C., Atlanta and San Diego as well as multiple other locations.

Immediately, the leaders of the town find themselves forced to act quickly to maintain order and control and, of course, figure out what has happened. Is the country under attack? Is the government still intact? Those questions linger throughout the season, as well as other mysteries in terms of where was Ulrich's character for five years, what is the true nature of the new guy in town and are loved ones in other cities really dead?

Jericho is the latest in a series of serial dramas trying to capitalize on what Lost managed to do: stick a bunch of characters in an isolated situation, have the mysteries surrounding their situation remain story arcs for the entire season or even the series, and offer individual stories for each episode. Of course, Jericho isn't supernatural and thus doesn't quite have the same intrigue as Lost, but you get the point.

I'm halfway through the third disc as of writing this review, but I'm certainly hooked. The first several episodes are hair tingling, as, of course, the first episode features a nuclear blast and lots of confusion. Subsequent episodes offer storylines revolving around nuclear fallout, escaped prisoners, stealing and looting, and so on and so forth. One especially eerie moment shows nuclear warheads being launched from the United States, presumably showing a counter attack. Other mysteries include who is in charge of the country, as so far there has been no live communication from the government, but broadcasts and food deliveries from China.

The show works to a large array for interesting characters, some intriguing relationships and relatively fast-paced stories. The acting is good, and you'll recognize several of the actors involve. The very premise of a show set in a post-nuclear America is enough to make me wet my pants.

That being said, Jericho could improve in a few parts. The show isn't quite as gritty as it probably should be to be realistic, as it's hard to believe that a month after the explosions no one would have branched out far enough to learn exactly what has happened. Even with several of the big cities destroyed, that would still leave hundreds of millions of people still alive, and it probably isn't too realistic that every resident would choose to just stay in town rather than figure out the truth. While people's lives don't go back to normal, they certainly try to maintain some normalcy; this is believable, but only to a point. If the country was under attack, I think most people would be on guard all the time until they knew everything was over.

Interestingly, the show most similar to Jericho is Battlestar Galactica, as that Sci-Fi Channel show carries the same themes: a small group of humans banding together after a nuclear holocaust, unsure of how many other survivors are out there, and having to deal with law and order in a new age. Unfortunately, Jericho isn't nearly as political, gritty or theme-based as Galactica, but for a network show set in modern day, it is quite good.

Overall, I would highly recommend Jericho!


Storm said...

Yeah, this show could have improved more but I think it might have been the timeslot it was aired at (8 pm I think) Probably if it had aired at 10 it would have been a lot stronger. But I enjoyed it enough that I'm waiting to see what they do with season 2.

another6655 said...

the show is so good and only gets better as you watch more of it. Also the finale is amazing can you imagine after watching it if we didn't get a second season how mad you would have been.

MikesMom said...

Great review of a fantastic show. Thanks for taking the time to blog this. I can't wait for Season 2.

Erik Samdahl said...

As it turns out, the season finale is quite a cliffhanger, so yes, good thing they didn't cancel the series just yet.

Here's my latest blog post on Jericho.

maybei said...

Glad you enjoyed the Jericho DVD!!! Nice review. I love seeing all the deleted scenes and "building Jericho" was great!