CBS Jericho Returns: Was It Worth All the Nuts?
As CBS’ Jericho finally stands poised to start its second season on the Tiffany Network tonight, you gotta wonder: Was this show worth it?
After watching three of the show's seven new episodes, I'm not quite sure.
It depends a bit on whether you cared about this scrappy action adventure show before CBS made its second-biggest mistake in 2007 (the biggest was Hugh Jackman’s horrid musical drama Viva Laughlin).
Moving last year to cancel this series about a plucky Kansas town struggling when nuclear explosions decimate America – after building an online site filled with fans devoted to the show – was like dropping Barry Manilow in the mosh pit at a Foo Fighters show. There was no good ending to be had, really.
Tonight’s episode, the first of seven new episodes bought by the fan revolt, picks up quickly. NYPD Blue alum Esai Morales is a military officer brought in to quell fighting between Jericho and a murderous neighboring town, leaving lots of folks looking to settle scores old and new.
Before long, it’s obvious the new government, centered in Cheyenne, Wyo., has nefarious hidden intentions. Our hero, Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich), must decide whether he can trust Morales’ character while working with onetime CIA operative Robert Hawkins (Brit actor Lennie James, working an unplaceable American accent) to prove the nuclear detonations were an inside job.
There’s unmistakable allusions to current events, including a good looking, charismatic new president who fronts for a crusty, ruthless behind the scenes powerbroker. There’s also a Haliburton-style ruthless corporation dominating the west’s reconstruction and a ruthless, Blackwater-ish private security firm which does their bidding, dubbed Ravenwood.
And CBS once again works its magic, cloaking an array of conventional TV relationships – reluctant hero made good, a marriage between two people who once hated each other, a gruff patriarch who dies before revealing how much he really cares -- in a contemporary-feeling framework, guilded with bursts of violence and suspense.
It may not be enough to hook those who weren’t already on board with this survivalist fantasy brought to life. But for fans who sent cases of Planters to CBS chief Les Moonves – and couch potatoes tired of TV schedules packed with reality shows amid the winding down writers’ strike – the citizens of Jericho just might bridge the gap between good and good enough.
Here's a synopsis of last season's action, whipped up by the creative minds at CBS: