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 was cancelled after the first season, but a considerable push from the show's fans convinced CBS to give the show a short order of episodes for another season in order to try and at least get the series some sort of proper wrap. The outpouring of support from the fans of the series was the largest of its sort that the network had ever seen. While the show was once again cancelled by CBS after the second season, the producers of the series are reportedly trying to find another home for the show.
The second season of the show sees the town of Jericho trying to rebuild after the battle that occured towards the end of the first season. The season starts with a flashback looking into what occured at the end of season one in the battle with New Bern, as well as the arrival of Major Edward Beck (Esai Morales), who put a stop to the battle with New Bern and informs the characters that this is not the first such battle he and his men have had to get in-between. Eventually, Beck assigns Jake to be Jericho's new sheriff.
Meanwhile, a new government has formed in Cheyenne, Wyoming and it soon becomes apparent that both the government is deeply corrupt and the brtual contractor working for the government to restore order has dark secrets of its own. The second season continues to see the series offering a strong, compelling drama that maintains an impressive amount of tension throughout the episodes.
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 Lennie James and Esai Morales.
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. The second season is just as superbly written and acted as the first, and it's too bad that the series - aside from the possibility of being picked up by another network - seems over.
3) Jennings & Rall
5) Termination For Cause
7) Patriots and Tyrants
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: Commentary by Dan Shotz and Jonathan E. Steinberg is offered on "Reconstruction" (deleted scenes only), "Termination For Cause" (deleted scenes only) and "Condor" (deleted scenes only), as well as "Patriots and Tyrants". Karim Zreik and Kenneth Mitchell offer commentary on "Jennings and Rall", while Dan Shotz, Robert Levine and Brad Beyer offer commentary on "Oversight". Matt Federman, Steve Scalia and Lennie James offer commentary on "Condor", while Carol Barbee and Jonathan Steinberg offer commentary on "Reconstruction" and Carol Barbee and Skeet Ulrich offer commentary on "Sedition". Finally, "Termination for Cause" offers commentary from Dan Shotz, Jonathan Steinberg and Alicia Coppola.
"Rebuilding Jericho" and "Nut Job" are two featurettes with the cast and crew discussing their thoughts about the fan outcry to bring the series back, as well as the remarkable extent that the fans went to to protest the show's dismissal. "Rebuilding Jericho" offers greater detail on the production's difficulty in trying to pull things together on a tight schedule and budget, as well as a fairly big story element that was discarded due to the shorter season.
Finally, we also get deleted scenes, including an alternate ending from the season finale that would have really set-up quite a third season.
Final Thoughts: While "Jericho"'s second season was its last (at least on CBS), I 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. Recommended.