Jericho is one of the new shows from CBS this season and I'm here to tell you that it is one compelling show. When I say "compelling" I mean it quite literally... I felt compelled to keep watching it (I also saw the 2nd episode of the season).
Why did it suck me in so effectively? Well let's get to a description of the show first (and stick with me, the review starts negative but doesn't end that way)...
The show opens at a train station in Denver, soon followed by a shot of someone taking a car cover off of a 1960-something model muscle car (I'm not an expert, I think it was a Barracuda). Cut to the driver, a young thirtysomething handsome and scruffy guy (Skeet Ulrich as Jake Green) who is headed for Jericho, Kansas. My first impression was "cliche". By that I mean I saw a fairly stereotypical "cool guy" lead character, complete with 3 day beard growth, cool classic car, etc. My thoughts continued on that path when he arrived in town and a friend he hasn't seen in 5 years is overjoyed to see him and gives Jake a bear hug and we cut to Jake's fairly disinterested face. Add "disconnected cool" to the cliche character traits, I thought.
This was then compounded by the fact that he gave a different answer to anyone who asked where he'd been for five years. Army, minor league baseball, Navy, etc. And then he runs into an old girlfriend (gorgeous, of course) who just happens to be engaged (not married, hence, available) to a rich banker-type (visions of Roadhouse popped into my head). Oh, we also had the "disappointed" dad (played by the always enjoyable to watch Gerald McRaney) who didn't like his son's apparent drifter existance.
Enough set up. The main plot point of this show is the exploding of (what seems to be only one) nuclear bomb visible off in the distance, towards the horizon, and what life is like for the town afterward, and this is where for me (and my wife) the show really had us riveted and wanting to see what happened next.
With the current terrorist activity going on around the world, and (as it happens) just having read about what may be an impending nuclear attack on the U.S. by Al Qaeda the very day I watched this... well, let's just say I watched the show in an appropriate mindset. No doubt that is the "draw" for the series.
The town just begins to pull apart at the seams after the power goes out and unprepared, they start to fight over things like gasoline at the local station. The mayor (McRaney) pulls the town together despite the rabble rousing of his electoral opponent. It was as annoying to see politicizing of the situation on the show as it is to see it in the real world.
Turns out there's a storm headed towards the town from the direction of the blast, and the entire town has to get underground to get away from the radioactive rainfall. Suddenly everyone is looking for bomb shelters from the 1950's and books on nuclear attacks at the library.
Once the show got going I found it fascinating and quite riveting and was starting to like the characters that I found "cliched" only 60 minutes earlier. I may actually add this one to my weekly viewing list and I recommend that you at least check it out.
It premieres on CBS on Wednesday, September 20th.