Thursday, November 09, 2006

TV REVIEW: Jericho: "Rogue River"

This episode of the promising new CBS series Jericho picks up "one month after the bombs..." as siblings Eric and Jake race to Rogue River - a nearby town - to retrieve Cipro; the medicine they require to save their father's life. Dad (the mayor...) has gone septic and his organs are beginning to shut down...

The early scenes of "Rogue River" feature some really terrible process optical work for the road scenes - as we're in the car with Eric and Jake - and I was surprised to see such fakey special effects for something so simple as a driving scene. The bad fx distracted me from the deep Eric/Jake conversation, but I got the swing of things soon enough.

There was a striking and ominous scene not long after, which found the boys driving into Rogue River and interpreting the markings (left on evacuated houses...) spray-painted by FEMA. For instance, we learn that the town of Rogue River was evacuated on 10/25; and that FEMA noted how many people they rescued in each house...and how many they found dead. This segment brought up memories for me of Hurricane Katrina, the occasion many people first learned what those symbols meant, and I credit Jericho for being dark, realistic and accurate in this regard. I can't imagine that CBS is thrilled with a mainstream series dredging up memories of a real life disaster, but I think the metaphor is apt. This is definitely a post-Katrina show...there's no help coming; and the only representative we have of the Federal government, Hawkins, may be more a bad guy than a good one, though the jury is still out.

Soon after pulling into town, Eric and Jake encounter a soldier who has been fighting mercenaries, (a squad led by actor D.B. Sweeney), and attempt to retrieve the medicine they need from Fillmore County Hospital. After a gunfight and a daring escape, however, Eric realizes that he lost his wallet in the hospital. Oopsy. The episode ends on another scary, ominous note as Sweeney's character finds the wallet and reads Eric's address: "Jericho." Okay, this is a problem, and it's clear from the ending of the episode that the mercenaries are headed to town. It looks like there's gonna be a war next week on the show...

Lawlessness and heavily armed roving gangs (an argument for fewer guns or more guns, you think?) are just two problems Jericho raises this week. Here's another: back home, there's no way for April to make the ice which is necessary to reduce the mayor's fever. His wife complains bitterly about this, "This day and can someone die of a fever?" Good question, I think. The answer in Jericho is that the school teacher remembers a science project from the previous year about how to make ice. Good thing. But I wonder, how many of us could accomplish the same task in a pinch? Without sounding mean or derisive or anything, we're all "moderners," aren't we? I mean, if we had to, could we make ice without help? How about electricity? We've become a country where everything is so easy that we don't question how we receive light, television signals, or frozen foods. I'm glad Jericho is looking at this angle of the post-apocalyptic scenario.

You know, when I was a kid, I was a tremendous fan of the Mad Max/Road Warrior movies and the Planet of the Apes saga. In very different ways, these franchises gazed at post-apocalyptic scenarios. In a way, Jericho is the TV equivalent, and a show I've always wanted to see, ever since I was a thirteen-yea- old laying in my bed at night and fearing nuclear war (especially after President Reagan's joke about outlawing Russia and "the bombing" starting in "five minutes.") This is a series that really honors its dark premise; at least so far. The longer it lasts, the more desperate the characters and situations on Jericho should become, and I hope the producers and writers are up to the task and aren't going to start candy-coating the end of the world.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous10:43 AM

    JERICO is just the shiny happy version of THE DAY AFTER... where no one gets radiation sores or wastes away, where people celebrate Halloween after nuclear bombs have gone off across the country, and where drinking iodine helps stave off radiation poisoning.

    Can't tell if people are watching because it's popular, or if they're watching for the camp value - "Will they actually get away with this?".

    JERICO has a good concept, but the execution really stinks. Of course, if you actually did realism, the show would last for about 2-3 episodes.