I can't say that I thought "Jericho" was going to be a series that topped the network ratings each week. I wondered if the series was going to be a little too grim for most viewers, as it followed the inhabitants of a small town who are cut off from the outside world after a series of nuclear explosions devastates many major American cities across the US, including Denver, which is the one closest to the town of the series.
The series did not get the ratings CBS wanted, but it managed to attract a devoted group of fans, and while the series looked to be cancelled, the push from the show's fanbase resulted in the show being brought back for another round again as a midseason replacement. The series stars Skeet Ulrich as Jake, an everyguy returning home after a mysterious five year absence in order to ask his parents (Gerald McRaney and Pamela Reed) for some funds that were left to him by his grandfather, and are controlled by his father (who is also the town's mayor.)
The series barely has time to introduce the characters before throwing the audience into the crisis: the gorgeous late afternoon sky in the distance is suddenly turned horrifying when a mushroom cloud appears far off - likely Denver. With no way of communicating with the outside world, the characters assume the worse, and try to gather around to protect themselves and plan for the worst.
As the season goes on, the show gradually offers up more information (the residents of Jericho soon find out that other major cities besides Denver were hit) and new problems to face, including potential radiation sickness and the EMP from the blast taking out electricity. Additionally, with the amount of people in "Jericho", supplies are not going to last forever. There's also other towns nearby with people trying to survive as well, and in the situation, towns that were once peaceful neighbors can quickly become bitter enemies.
The series has been criticized for being unrealistic, and while I agree that some of the personal dramas do feel a little soap opera-ish, when the show concentrates on the inhabitants of the town trying to fend for themselves and face new challenges does work and stands as consistently engaging and occasionally powerful drama. The series also does a nice job of extending/building the mystery of what happened in the outside world.
Some of the performances are better than others, but the majority of the large ensemble cast is excellent. One wonders if the producers couldn't have found a better choice than Ulrich for the lead, but he surprises here and gives what has to be one of his best efforts yet. The supporting cast is quite good, especially "Deadwood"'s McRaney as the town's mayor.
Overall, despite some personal dramas that I didn't find particularly convincing, I liked "Jericho" overall, finding it to be a mostly well-acted and interesting drama that takes a "What If?" look at a nightmarish scenario.
1. 1- 1 20 Sep 06 Pilot
2. 1- 2 27 Sep 06 Fallout
3. 1- 3 4 Oct 06 Four Horsemen
4. 1- 4 11 Oct 06 Walls of Jericho
5. 1- 5 18 Oct 06 Federal Response
6. 1- 6 25 Oct 06 9:02
7. 1- 7 1 Nov 06 Long Live the Mayor
8. 1- 8 8 Nov 06 Rogue River
9. 1- 9 15 Nov 06 Crossroads
10. 1-10 22 Nov 06 Red Flag
11. 1-11 29 Nov 06 Vox Populi
12. 1-12 21 Feb 07 The Day Before
13. 1-13 28 Feb 07 Black Jack
14. 1-14 7 Mar 07 Heart of Winter
15. 1-15 14 Mar 07 Semper Fidelis
16. 1-16 28 Mar 07 Winter's End
17. 1-17 4 Apr 07 One Man's Terrorist
18. 1-18 11 Apr 07 A.K.A.
19. 1-19 18 Apr 07 Casus Belli
20. 1-20 25 Apr 07 One If by Land
21. 1-21 2 May 07 Coalition of the Willing
22. 1-22 9 May 07 Why We Fight
VIDEO: "Jericho" is presented by Paramount in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. The presentation quality is terrific - sharpness and detail are marvelous, and the picture appeared consistently crisp and detailed whether in bright, daylight scenes or dimly-lit darkness. While some minor artifacting was spotted on rare occasions, the majority of the presentation looked clean, clear and smooth. Colors looked natural and accurate, with no smearing or other concerns. Black level looked strong, while flesh tones looked accurate and natural.
SOUND: The show is presented by Paramount in Dolby Digital 5.1. The show's 5.1 presentation was quite good for a TV program, especially in the most intense sequences. Surrounds are not used consistently aggressively, but the rear speakers do kick in when called for to deliver effects and score. Audio quality was fine, with crisp dialogue, well-recorded effects and music.
EXTRAS: The commentary for the pilot episode, by exec producers Jon Turtletaub and Carol Barbee, actually starts with some lightness, as Turtletaub jokes that the morse code under the credits is morse for "I'm John Turtletaub and this is Carol Barbee." Producers Dan Shotz and Karim Zreik also offer their thoughts for deleted scenes for the pilot episode.
Turtletaub and Barbee return for commentary for "Fallout" and Turtletaub chats with Skeet Ulrich about "Rogue River". "Red Flag" has commentary from Barbee and Lennie James, while Barbee, Ulrich and Lennie James talk about "Vox Populi". The two producers return to chat about deleted scenes for "Four Horsemen", "Walls of Jericho", "9:02", "Long Live the Mayor", "Crossorads", "Red Flag", "Vox Populi", "Black Jack", "One Man's Terrorist", "AKA" and "Coalition of the Willing".
The final disc also includes the featurettes "Building Jericho" (a documentary looking into the development of the series and some of the challenges the production faced) and "What If" (a short look at the nuclear arms race and what if a disaster were to occur.)
Final Thoughts: I couldn't get into "Jericho" enough when the first season aired, but found the series to be an interesting, engaging look at people forced to find ways to survive when the unthinkable happens. The DVD presentation offers excellent audio/video quality and a lot of great supplements, including some very informative commentaries.