So I am as I have said before I like television. Perhaps one of the greatest examples of what tv did well was the Twilight Zone. It used solid writing and filmwork to carry fear, elation, wonder and lessons in short little bursts. The man behind it was Rod Serling. He had a decided love hate relationship with the medium. He certainly was one of the early luminaries of television despite his distaste for the advertisers growing grip on what was shown.
One of the episodes he did explore what humanity would do to itself with faced with the fear of an imminent nuclear attack. The episode was called The Shelter and Rod wrote it himself. I believe this quote is from that.
“"The tools of conquest do not necessarily come with bombs, and explosions, and fallout. There are weapons that are simply thoughts, ideas, predjudices, to be found only in the minds of men. For the record, predjudices can kill and suspicion can destroy. A thoughtless, freightened search for a scapegoat has a fallout all it's own for the children yet unborn. And the pity of it is, is that these things can not be confined to the Twighlight Zone.”
Jericho is built upon this simple premise. It is a taunt little show with a tremendous sense that the writers are deliberately keeping things from you and so you keep watching to see what those things are. The town of Jericho Kansas is a small rural farm and mine community in the middle of no where. Our hero, Jake(played by Skeet Ulrich) comes back home to get some money he had gotten as an inheritance. He and his father have the familiar dynamic of opposition, disappointment and lack of communication. All in all a fairly ordinary start really. Boy asks for money, does not get it and leaves in a huff. Things break when the mushroom cloud appears on the horizon. Everything from then on is built on fear. This show is a monument of human mob mentality and our own fear. They keep it tense and unknown but not telling you what has happened. Just little clues. A deciphered morse code message indicating cities, a brief glimpse of a chinese tv signal complete with places marked in red in north america, even cut off call with screams from Atlanta. There is no communication to the outside world other than brief burst of hidden clues. The mystery of it and the almost forgotten terror that was the thought of nuclear war make this a show not really like anything else on the air.
All in all there may be a bit of hollowness to some of the characters and situations. The cute blond on the show played by Ashley Scott is a bit whiny and forgettable. There are some political opportunist characters. A ham handed secret romance. all in all predictable and common stuff in the margins. But that is just it. All of that is in the margins. the heart of this show is as strong as that twilight zone episode. It is a harsh mirror of fear we kind of forgot about and mystery to make it more than just a single Vignette. I will keep watching to see what they are hiding which for a network television show is saying something.
oh well thats my thoughts on Jericho.