Jericho

Tagged: TV

US tv series (2006-2008). CBS Paramount Network Television/Junction Entertainment for CBS-TV. Created by Stephen Chbosky, Josh Schaer, Jonathan E Steinberg. Produced by Dan Shotz, Nancy Won, Karim Zreik, Joy Gregory. Directors included Guy Norman Bee, Sandford Bookstaver, Jon Turtletaub. Writers included Carol Barbee, Joy Gregory, Robert Levine, Stephen Scaia. Cast includes Lennie James, Gerald McRaney, April Parker-Jones, Pamela Reed (Gail Green), Ashley Scott (Emily Sullivan) and Skeet Ulrich. 29 45-minute episodes. Colour.

Jake Green (Ulrich) has just returned to the small Kansas town of Jericho when there is a series of nuclear attacks on the USA, apparently a well-coordinated terrorist strike which destroys at least 23 cities, and presumably a number of military installations as well. Order quickly falls apart after this Disaster, though Jake's father Mayor Johnston Green (McRaney) does a good job of organizing Jericho's citizens to deal with fallout, loss of electricity, etc. Jake had left the town for a time due to an unexplained dispute with his father, apparently concerning some minor legal offence on Jake's part. A retaliatory missile strike is observed passing overhead; the target nation(s) are never identified. Mysterious strangers Robert Hawkins (James) and Darcy Hawkins (Parker-Jones) have also recently arrived in the town: Robert in particular is evasive about their background. As matters unfold, it becomes clear that the attacks were delivered by ground-based vehicles with most nuclear devices hidden inside moving vans and the like. The nation has quickly fragmented with the loss of central government after the destruction of Washington, District of Columbia, leading to a far-smaller USA based in Ohio, plus the Northeast, a dictatorial 21-state alliance mostly along the former US west coast, and a resurrected Republic of Texas. It is unclear whether a new Confederacy has arisen in the Southeastern states; the fates of Alaska and Hawaii are not disclosed.

Conflict shortly begins between the towns near Jericho, and it is gradually revealed that rogue elements in the US government (rather than a foreign power) were in fact behind the initial attacks. Whether or not any foreign nations launched a limited nuclear strike in response to the missile launch shown in the pilot episode remains unclear. Serious efforts are made to deal with the resulting chaos, but the limitations of the Television format left this unsatisfactory. Like the earlier series Lost (2004-2010), the programme attempts to follow multiple characters, slowly unveiling more of their various backgrounds as the story progresses. Robert Hawkins is revealed to have been a conspirator in the plot, who changed his mind at the last moment and fled to Jericho before the attacks. Mayor Johnston, in the final episode of the first season, dies in a battle with residents of a near-by town over supplies. Owing to low ratings the series was then cancelled.

An online campaign to revive Jericho resulted in a further seven episodes being produced for a delayed second season, but ratings continued to slide and the series was cancelled again in early 2008, leaving the final episode unaired. Efforts were made to interest other networks, including the Sci-Fi Channel, in picking up the series – without success. Some continuations of the storylines have appeared in Comics format from IDW Publications and others. A feature film to resolve the series has been proposed since 2009, but has not appeared as of 2014. The fact that only five years had passed since the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the US may have contributed to the series' failure to find a wide-based audience, despite being a well-done effort. [GSt]

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