By Beau Smith
Background on the CBS TV Series Jericho: (Thanks to Starpulse.com)
One of the many 24 -style series of the 2006-2007 season, wherein crucial plot points were revealed with exasperating coyness on a weekly serialized basis, and in which every single solitary character seemed to have something to hide, Jericho made its CBS debut with one of the most startling openers in TV history. As prodigal son Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) returned to his hometown of Jericho, KS, after an unexplained five-year absence, he spotted what seemed to be a nuclear mushroom cloud blooming on the horizon, hundreds and hundreds of miles away. At first glance, it looked as though the super-powers were at war, but it would later be revealed that the attack was the work of terrorists—though how many terrorists, no one knew. Whatever the case, Jericho was completely cut off from the rest of the world, and no one had any idea what fate held in store for them: another bomb, perhaps; or starvation; or slow death from radiation? Jake’s father Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney), the mayor of Jericho, valiantly tried to keep the community together and to avert wholesale panic, endeavoring to maintain radio contact with the rest of the country and the world, and organizing searching parties to glean new information about the apparent nuclear holocaust. Meanwhile, Jake was uncomfortably reunited with two former lovers: Emily Sullivan (Ashley Scott), now engaged to another man, and local schoolteacher Heather Lisinski (Sprague Grayden). Weaving in and out of the story was a newcomer to Jericho, the enigmatic Mr. Hawkins (Lennie James), who claimed to be a cop from St. Louis, and who somewhat suspiciously was a veritable fountain of information about nuclear fallout and post-apocalyptic survival techniques. Jericho began weaving its multitude of tangled plot webs on September 20, 2006.
Last night (3/25/08) I watched the last episode of the CBS TV show Jericho. I came on late with Jericho. I didn’t know about it when it first came on. I happened to have caught like the third of fourth episode in reruns and even then, I think the show was in trouble of being yanked by CBS.
I found it to seem interesting. Enough to where I started making time to watch it when it was on. Later, I got filled in when the Sci-Fi Channel started rerunning the series. That helped a lot. I liked the large cast filled with a few faces known as well as actors, young and old that I didn’t know. I liked the idea of the location being in middle-America. It was nice to see a show not take place in Los Angeles or New York City. I’m so tired of seeing New York City on TV you just wouldn’t believe.
I can see where Jericho would have a rough start in grabbing viewers. Like any other serial, large cast show, I think the writers and producers aren’t sure yet who and what is going to click with viewers. A lot of it is like the Marvel Comics method of marketing, “throw stuff against the monkey cage wall and see what sticks.”
The first few episodes seem to try and grab everyone. They had the big bomb go off and with that they hoped to get some of the 24 viewers. There were a lot of soap opera relationships where they wanted to make sure they could wrangle some female viewers. There were even traces of possible high concept story stuff where they hoped to pull in the Lost crowd. Just like any new serial show you have to bear with them through the first season to see if there is any spark of goodness to come. With Jericho there was that spark. You have to stick with something like this as a viewer to see what characters will grow and develop. So many things change as writers get used to the beat and pace of a show.
I think that with the almost immediate concern that they would get axed (and they did once to be brought back and then finally axed for good) made the writers and producers of the show tighten up not only the story lines, sub-plots, but the characters as well. It was all for the better. A lot of the fat was trimmed off and the show became very lean and fast moving. Characters you might not have liked much at the start grew and grew on you as each new episode unfolded. The pace of the show picked up and with each cliffhanger solved the next was taken to a higher level, which made the show very enjoyable.
Casting was always a strong point of the show and it continued when they would bring in guest stars. They seemed to always nail the new characters perfectly by making them known faces, yet you didn’t always know their names. D.B. Sweeny and Esai Morales were prime examples. This was perhaps the greatest of Morales career. He was as powerful as John Wayne in his actions on screen. The show really brought up the chip value of such actors as Skeet Ulrich (This is the first time he has really stood out in a role to me.) Kenneth Mitchell, Brad Beyer, Alicia Coppola, Shoshannah Stern (Great example of character development as Bonnie Richmond, the deaf sister of Stanley Richmond who, without spoiling it for you, has one of the greatest last scenes in the series) and most of all the actor Lennie James as the very mysterious Robert Hawkins. He was amazing and had an edge to him that rivaled that of Jack Bauer on 24. Every time he was on the screen you were riveted to his next move. His use of facial expressions were just brilliant.
Great character actor Bob Stephenson as Jimmy, one of the deputies in the series got a career chance to stand up and be seen and he made the most of it. He is usually cast as some smart-ass teen’s bumbling dad or the goofy guy next door. Here he got to prove that there is far more to his range than just a sitcom prop.
The bad guys that would spring up in this series were always edgy and had many more layers than your run of the mill villains. There was true threat from them and you felt you had to watch their every move. One of the other highlights of the series was that every character had more depth than you first thought. If you hung in with the series, you were rewarded.
I caught some flack from friends of mine under both wings of the eagle for this series. My buddies on the left busted my chops because they thought the show was an example of what the right wing wanted the world to think would happen if the United States were attacked with bombs. My buddies on the right thought it was liberal Hollywood using the government and big business as terrible bad guys?.again to pump up the lefty agenda. I told em’ all to kiss my ass. The show was a thriller adventure and if you were looking that hard for a secret agenda then you were just ruining the entertainment for yourself. The show was action and most of all about characters that didn’t mimic the shallow ways of a Sex In The City or The O.C. It was like Little House On The Prairie?with guns and bombs.
The reason Jericho and other shows like Threshold, Drive, Wanted, Invasion, Journeyman and even Surface didn’t make it is because Hollywood is a little too trigger happy when they think they smell the possibility of losing ratings and most of all cash. It shows they’re all afraid of being in for the long haul. As viewers, our attention span is getting as short as my career would’ve been in a porn movie. The internet, cell phones and all these other devices fuel it. I enjoy my tech stuff as much as the next guy, but like everything, there’s gotta be moderation or it becomes a short cut to addiction.
Mindless, bad sitcoms, reality donkey dump and glum predictable Law & Order shows continue to stay on the air while character driven, serial dramas are castrated before the seed can be planted. If Seinfeld had waited until now to come out it would’ve never made it past the second season. I promise you, they would’ve pulled the trigger.
Lost and 24 are great TV shows. The talent and writing are there. They also carry a small bit of very good luck in being there at the right time and right place to make it over the hump. Thank Goodness for DVD box sets. We can all now catch and get caught up to become new viewers of these types of shows. Shows like Lost and 24 benefit greatly by this and can enjoy new viewers a third season in. It’s a shame the other shows I mentioned that had so much potential didn’t get that chance.
Speaking of chances, if you get the time check out these shows on DVD (Some are available now). I think you might just see my point in the fact they were cut off at the knees a little too early:
Just like past loves, we always seem to kiss the wrong ones goodbye.
Busted Knuckles Manly Cover of the Week: Police Action Featuring Lomax N.Y.P.D and Luke Malone-Manhunter #3
How can you go wrong? You push a drug dealer off a bridge and then return gunfire at the mob. This is cops and robbers at its 1970s finest. Police Action was a fun book from a very fine time in no-holds bared comics. Atlas/Seaboard hit the shelves and hit em’ hard with all sorts of fun and daring stuff. They were the ultimate one night-stand in comic book publishing. I miss them.
Busted Knuckles Babe of the Week: Zuleikha Robinson
She plays detective Eva Marquez in the new TV series New Amsterdam. You may know her from the HBO series Rome, Hildago (great movie) or even The X-Files and The Lone Gunmen. She is an amazing talent and has a face that you just can’t stare at enough. She’s another of the many British born actors that playing Americans on the TV landscape right now. She does it flawless as is the rest of her.
Mid-Life Crisis on Earth Beau
As you can see, (and by using your dirty, violent mind as I do) things weren’t so politically correct in children’s books back in the 1970’s. When you get on Oprah just blame it all on The Super Dictionary and your parents.
Manly Music Tip of the Week
My iPod has been filled with all the music of the incredible Paul Thorn this week. If I had any musical talent THIS is what I would wanna sound like. Great rock music that crosses all paths of blues, country, gospel, R&B, funk and wrapped in a great sense of humor and wit. If you like music by John Hiatt, Todd Snider, The Subdudes, Tommy Malone, Al Green, Delbert McClinton and Tony Joe White, then Paul is doing your kinda stuff. This Mississippi boy is a former boxer, furniture maker and preacher’s son that sings songs about real life and life you wish was real.
You need to check out his website and sample some of his fine southern cooking. His new song “A Long Way From Tupelo” is an instant classic. There’s a video of him and his very tight band doing that song on his website that you can watch for free. You can order his stuff through the site or on iTunes. You can’t go wrong here, amigos. He even does some podcasts where he tells some of his very humorous short stories. He’s gonna be on Jimmy Kimmel this month so make sure you check him out there as well. One of my favorite songs off his CD A Long Way From Tupelo is a live cut called “It’s A Great Day To Whup Somebody’s Ass”. Need I say more? Yeah?.check out his site at paulthorn.com Tell em’ Beau sent you.
For those of you that haven’t heard from me as regular via email as often it’s because I’ve been under the deadline crunch. Keeping late hours and poking at the keys on my computer like a blind cowboy in a Texas whorehouse.
I’m on time and keeping up and that’s a good thing. I’m looking for more work even as I burn the midnight oil or whatever it is that you burn when you say these clichés.
I want to thank all of you Knuckleheads that have sent in suggestions for The Babe of the Week, The Manly Cover of the Week and all the fine goodies that you bestow upon me. I don’t deserve them, but I’ll take em’ every time.
See y’all next week or there abouts.
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