Wednesday, September 27, 2006

Never Judge a Show by it’s Pilot: JERICHO.

I've heard that the new series Jericho is CBS's version of Lost set in a small Kansas town named Jericho following a nuclear holocaust. I don't see that this show is any more Lost than it is Gilligan's Island. Here we have a microcosm of people from different walks of life who have to work together in order to survive. Strange that while I am writing this I seem to remember that there were plans for another Gilligan's Island reunion movie where the seven castaways are the only known survivors of a nuclear holocaust. This was a common theme during the cold war. I have also heard Jericho compared to the 1983 controversial ABC TV movie The Day After staring Jason Robards. I think Jericho in actually more comparable to the BBC TV movie Testament staring Jane Alexander because the town is not at ground zero, but isolated from the rest of the world as a result of global events.

Since I used Gilligan's Island as a model let me continue with that model. The "Gilligan" is Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) the prodigal son returning home for a short visit after a five year mysterious absence. Jake's absence and life choices have been disappointing to "The Skipper" his father Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney) the town's mayor. "The Millionaire" is Gray Anderson (Michael Gaston) the owner of the local salt mine and political adversary to Mayor Green. It's nice to know that local politics like cockroaches can survive a nuclear war. This closest thing the show has to a "Mrs. Howell" is Mayor Johnston's wife, Gail (Pamela Reed). Gail takes her role as first lady of the town seriously and has to play peacemaker between her husband and her son. The "Mary Ann" is Heather Lisinski (Sprague Grayden), a pretty young schoolteacher and the "Ginger" is Emily Sullivan (Ashley Scott), Jake's high school sweetheart. The "Professor" is Robert Hawkins (Lennie James), a new arrival who claims to be a former cop from St. Louis. Robert knows everything there is to know about surviving a nuclear war claiming that after 9-11 the St. Louis Police Department were trained for all attack scenarios. I think that this show has potential to tell some great human stories. What do they do when the provisions run out? How will they survive a nuclear winter? Will the people who dropped the bombs invade? Just the fear of invasion is good for several episodes. I only hope that the show stays grounded in reality, meaning that I don't want to see the town attacked by giant radioactive spiders. I look forward to the next episode because I never judge a show by it’s pilot.

The next episode was very well laid out. A storm is coming and with the rain comes radiation. The problem is how to shelter the town’s population when the town’s only circa 1950s fallout shelters can only hold a few hundred people. We also learn that Robert Hawkins has secretly received a Morse code message on the police radio and knows what other cities were bombed. My concerns are that the show may be to slow paced for anyone under thirty years of age. I remember the cold war. I wonder how those who have no recollection of a time when we feared that someone was going to "push the button" and "drop the big one" will see the show.

To quote Jake, "I go away for five years and the town goes to hell".

Stay Tuned

Tony Figueroa

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