I have now come to that stage of life where I have seen every standard TV plot so many times that I am now able to predict the denouement almost as soon as I see the setup and have declared a personal embargo on watching any more shows about doctors, lawyers or cops. While some of the current offerings (House, Scrubs, etc) are quite passable – there are other occupations, and other situations which in the hands of the creative, will offer sufficient interest to keep viewers returning on a regular basis. Shows like “Lost” and “Ugly Betty” are splendid examples of what can be done by stepping outside of the cop-lawyer-doc box, and “Jericho – Season One” is another. Take an intriguing and (for television) a semi-original situation, involve a large cast of interesting people reacting to it and voila – something that will bring back the audience, over and over. Especially when it is a situation that we might imagine happening to ourselves. After 9/11, and Katrina (which provided the genesis of “Jericho” to its creators) it is all to easy to imagine what happens when the world we know suddenly ends, right in the middle of all our mundane plans for a perfectly ordinary day.

Which is exactly what happens to the citizens of the small town of Jericho, Kansas, to the family of Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney) and their neighbors and friends. Jericho is a small, pleasant place, full of people going about their own business – farming, stocking the grocery store shelves, going through a mayoral election, planning a wedding and enduring an audit by a visiting IRS agent. The school children are off on a field trip and the Green’s black-sheep son Jake suddenly appears needing a great deal of money – the only ripple in the pleasant still pool of a modern American life. In one of the most quietly effective sequences, the camera follows two children, playing hide and seek in a back yard, while one climbs on the roof of a shed, and then onto the house roof. The boy suddenly freezes there, silhouetted against the clouds and the sky – and then we see what he has seen; a mushroom cloud, coming up from a line of mountains on the distant horizon.

And that is the exact point where the people of Jericho, and a handful of visitors who just happen to be there begin a long slow devolution from the twenty-first century into something that more resembles the frontier West… and then to a condition that looks more like the warring city-states of Renaissance Italy, or classical Greece. First they struggle to figure out just has happened to the rest of the country – and then begins the fight to survive, ending in a cliff-hanger which promises a large audience for the second-season premiere. It makes for a more interesting television show than I had thought, when I first heard about it. The first season set of 22 episodes is neatly packaged on 6 discs. Commentary and deleted scenes are included for selected episodes on the same disc. I would have much rather that deleted scenes be edited into the episode where they belonged, to make a sort of “director’s cut”, rather than having them tacked on as an appendage. The omitted scenes would have done a lot for the overall story; it’s clear that they were omitted to shorten each episode for broadcast.

Other extra features included a rather interesting “making of Jericho” feature, which included some actor auditions, and a look at set construction, and a short about disaster preparedness, which included some unintentionally hilarious 1950s Civil Defense footage on how one should shelter under a desk or behind some furniture in the event of a nuclear holocaust.

Jericho is available from Amazon.com and commercial retail outlets.

Sgt. Mom is a freelance writer whoo lives in San Antonio and blogs at The Daily Brief. Her latest book, “To Truckee’s Trail” is available here. More about her other books is at her website, www.celiahayes.com.

Be Sociable, Share!