Wednesday, February 27, 2008

Jericho's Huge Tiny Mistake

Since Jericho's first season ended last April, I've spent months following the program's rebirth, attempting to convince the world at large to give the apocalyptic drama a real shot. Three weeks into Jericho's seven episode Season Two run and I have to say I'm a little disappointed. What made Jericho a truly special program was that it wasn't just "24 if the bombs actually went off". The show captured the feeling of small town America, inspiring hope for our values in the face of tragedy. Part of the fun was the mystery of the attack, but the show thrived on the ever growing cast of characters who dealt with the tragedy and the aftermath in their own unique ways.

This season we're left with Hawkins and Jake struggling to reveal the truth of a massive government cover-up. We're given a taste of human drama with the ongoing story of Stanley and Mimi, but those brief moments- so disconnected from the rest of the plot- only serve to highlight everything else we're missing.

Part of the fault lies in CBS only commissioning seven episodes this spring, necessitating a more condensed story line. Additionally, from what I understand, CBS also put tighter strings on the budget, making it impossible to include the full extended cast on a weekly basis. That's why their are plenty of faces we haven't seen this year. But the truth is, even with the limitations, there's been some sloppy storytelling. First and foremost, as opposed to last season's slowly unfolding mystery, this season we've been given the plot template from day one. Clearly, there will be some sort of stand againast Valente and the new Cheyenne government. Clearly, Jennings and Rawl and the evil mercenaries of Ravenwood are intamitely connected with the new government. And clearly, the new characters, Major Beck, and the blond Jennings and Rawls employee are going to end up with our good guys. The first season gave us plenty of shades of grey- The helpful criminal Jonah Prowse, Mayor Grey Anderson's semi-incompetent administration, and the moral shortcomings of nearly all of our major characters

Beyond the basic plot, there's also the use of the show's characters. While some have been essentially written off, others are being written in. Eric Green has been a footnote the last two weeks and while his ascension to the mayor's office makes sense, there's still been very little for him to do. Emily seems to be an afterthought, sticking around because she's blond and pretty, but only doing whatever the plot requires of extra characters. And Heather, given the role of ambassador between Jericho and New Bern, seems to be similarly available as needed. We've seen the town rebuilt, but we haven't seen a clue of how anyone is doing emotionally, other than Stanley and Mimi.

The worst part is the complete loss of Jericho's sense of community. What had been a real, fully fleshed out, vibrant town seems reduced to five or six characters meeting in secret. Now this all being said, I'm still enjoying the show and I'd love to see it picked up for a full third season. But I guess it just goes to show how much work it is to actually come up with real good television.


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