Wednesday, March 26, 2008

So Long, Jericho

Last year the campaign slogan was "nuts" - Maybe the fan response to this year's cancellation of the CBS drama Jericho can similarly invoke a memorable moment from this shortened seven episode run.

Only, I can't really think of anything particularly memorable. Jericho's second season did pack a lot of plot into seven hours, but left precious little room for anything else. Tuesday night's series finale was no different as Jake and Hawkins rushed to Cheyenne, took back the nuclear bomb, and presented it to the independent Republic of Texas as evidence of the duplicity of Jennings and Rawl and the Cheyenne government. Meanwhile, back in Jericho, as Eric and company decide to stand up to Major Beck, Beck finally chooses the right side and rejects Cheyenne. Like the rest of season two, the series finale was big on concepts, but disappointing on execution.

As I've written before, Jericho lost a lot of what made it special in being rewritten into a post-apocalyptic 24. For the entire first season, Jericho at it's heart was a small town story. Yes we had the mystery of the attacks, and yes, we had the intrigue of Robert Hawkins, but at the end of the day, the story was about Jericho. Through the stories and through the overall look of the show, Jericho came to life as an idealized small town roughing it's way through tough times. But this season that small town sensibility was lost. Other than a brief meeting at Bailey's Tavern in episode three or four, I never had a sense that our main characters were actually representative of their town. It wasn't the town facing off againast Jennings and Rawl and the corrupt government- It was our cast of young people. Kids were dropped from the storyline as were the old people- Grey Anderson was sent packing to a new Constitutional convention in episode 2 and Jake and Eric's mother, Gayle, makes only
a token appearance.

The worst part of this oh-so-short season is that all the elements were there for another great season. Sure, the whole Jennings and Rawl, evil corporate influenced government bit is slightly over the top (as were much of the metaphors used this year), but it would have worked well as a plot device with the proper execution. First, obviously, the town should have remained the focus of the show- not Hawkins, not J&R, not espionage, and certainly not the maddeningly slow Major Beck. For all the craziness going on, we should have seen people have their lives return to normal after the war with New Bern- and beyond Jake and Eric's anger over their father's death, we should have seen more fallout of the war, not just political ramifications, but the personal ones as well.

All the new ideas should have been given the opportunity to play out. Grey Anderson going to the new Constitutional convention was given a few lines in the last episode, but God, what an interesting idea- Also interesting was the development of Cheyenne into the center of the American west. We don't get much more than a glimpse in the finale. The troubles of New Bern are basically unaddressed until they're brought to our (and Heather's) attention. It's not surprising that New Bern would be far more likely to turn to violence than would Jericho. In the finale we see the brief return of Phil Constantino, and Eric's rejection of his outright use of violence, but all of it is never really hashed out.

Worst of all, all the character development of season one grinds to a halt in season two. Stanley and Mimi get the chance to grow their relationship and deal with Bonnie's death, but other than that, most of the characters seem to take a step back. Jake seems to spend the whole season looking angry, while we don't get much of a clue what's going on with Eric. Hawkins, who had begun to embrace his family last year, spends a lot of time doing business with his wife and seems to have abandoned his kids. Dale's growth as a leader in Jericho is relegated to the background. Heather's given a position that seems suited to her character, yet we never get to see her actually doing her job. And Emily is reduced from a somewhat complex character to eye candy.

There are rumors that Jericho might be salvaged as a cable project. I'd watch if they did, but I'd be scared of more of the same- it's too bad they can't go back and get a do-over for season two.


Post a Comment

<< Home