Thursday, October 19, 2006

TV REVIEW: Jericho: "Federal Response"

Last night's Jericho, "Federal Response," saw the small Kansas town (which survived a nuclear attack on America)struggling to survive its own local apocalypse. In this case, the sudden resumption of power caused electrical surges all over the city. Fires broke out in the town library (a real disaster, since this branch of the public library might be the basis for all future knowledge...), and also destroyed Eric's house.

As usual, our protagonist Jake (Skeet Ulrich) proved a little too adept at being at the right place at the right time, and figuring out a way to get a water valve open so at least some of the library could be saved in the nick of time (and so that Heather could be rescued...). I realize there's this notion here that Jake was away from Jericho for many years and learned all kinds of trades on this "mysterious" journey, but it's getting to be a little silly that he saves the day in each episode. It's not so much that he's skilled or can think on his feet (I can believe that); but he's particularly lucky at being at the right place at the right time: whether to end a prison convict shoot-out in one episode (after conveniently blowing up a mine entrance...) or finding a downed school-us full of children in need...he's always at precisely the right place and time to avert a tragedy. It makes you wonder how the town ever survived when he was away.

Also, I need someone to explain something to me. The cunning African-American character, Robert Hawkins, is obviously a sleeper agent for some covert force (either our government; or the government that attacked us...), and this week Jake spies him sitting in his backyard utilizing a fully-functioning laptop computer beside a large personal satellite dish. The two exchange brief, angry words over this discovery while trying to save Eric's house, but Jake doesn't follw up. So tell me why? Why doesn't he report the matter (or Hawkins' useful technology...) to anyone in the town? Why not tell his Dad, the mayor. Nor his brother, the mayor's assistant? In a situation like this, wouldn't you report this strange event to someone? At the very least, the equipment should be confiscated for municipal use. I think this is a central flaw in the episode.

Besides this omission, however, "Federal Response" ended on a high (and creepy...) note, as the Homeland Security signal airing on the television gave way to a view of the U.S. Presidential lectern and bald eagle iconography. We were led to expect a speech from El Presidente, but instead the episode ended with the real "Federal Response." To wit, the startling closing image of this Jericho episode involved nuclear missiles heading up from Kansas into the night sky, bound for their targets across the globe. It was a chilling shot, and further evidence that Jericho isn't playing sweet and light with its apocalyptic premise.

I'm still enjoying this program a great deal. It doesn't yet feel like it's deliberately holding information back from viewers as some kind of stalling technique (and that's how Lost feels to me now...sorry), but I would like to see Jake a little more fallible in terms of his heroism. The show has been renewed for a full season, and I think that's great. After the diffident and goofy (and flag waving...) pilot, the series has become one of the highlights of this very strong new season.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous8:03 PM

    I agree with your assessment, except the Jake heroism aspect. I think they have shown him to be fallible. Eric's house still burned down, despite Jake's best efforts. And he admitted to his father that he was a screw up even when he left in an attempt to prove that he wasn't.

    He is the protaganist, and so he will constantly be in jeopardy, that is how tv works, but I like that it isn't predictable. Eric, though I loathe his cheatin' ways, showed that he is not the stereotypical selfish coward. We all have moments of heroism.

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