JERICHO is a drama about what happens when a nuclear mushroom cloud suddenly appears on the horizon, plunging the residents of a small, peaceful Kansas town into chaos, leaving them completely isolated and wondering if they're the only Americans left alive. But in this time of crisis, as sensible people become paranoid, personal agendas take over and well-kept secrets threaten to be revealed, some people will find an inner strength they never knew they had and the most unlikely heroes will emerge.
Part-Lost, part-The Day After, television's first Code Orange serial drama very effectively taps into palpable post-9/11 dread. The residents of Jericho are literally in the dark when they are cut off from civilization in the wake of a nuclear blast. Has the United States been attacked? How many cities were destroyed? Was it terrorists, or something way more sinister? It is up to Johnston Green (an Emmy-worthy Gerald McRaney), the town's mayor (and series bedrock), to calm the community, keep its citizens from turning on each other, and protect them from predatory outsiders. Johnston's son, Jake (Skeet Ulrich), a "screw-up," returns home just prior to the blast following a mysterious five-year absence. Jake is at odds with his estranged father, who is running for reelection, and his brother, Eric (Kenneth Mitchell), his deputy. Nor is he welcomed back by his former girlfriend, Emily (Ashley Scott), now engaged to a man who is missing following the blast. With the fate of America in the balance, one would think that "small town problems" wouldn't amount to a hill of beans in this crazy new world, but it is Jericho's human dramas that resonate most deeply.
On the most cherished TV shows, characters come to feel like family. Jericho's characters come to feel like neighbors. Dale (Erik Knudson), the orphaned teenage outcast, forms an unexpected friendship with the town's spoiled mean girl, Skylar (Candace Bailey). Robert Hawkins (Lennie James), just arrived in town, introduces himself as a former cop from St. Louis, but his secret basement command center suggests otherwise. Gray Anderson (Michael Gaston), a mayoral candidate, politicizes the disaster to undermine Johnston. Stanley (Brad Beyer), a farmer, falls in love with his condescending IRS auditor from Washington, D.C. (Alicia Coppola). And Eric plans to leave his wife, Alice (Darby Stanchfield) for bartender Mary (Clare Carey). But at the heart of Jericho's first season is Jake's hard-earned redemption in his family's (and Emily's) eyes (suddenly, he's a regular MacGyver, able to perform a tracheotomy with a juice box straw!). Star Trek has its Trekkies/-ers and Laurel and Hardy its fraternal organization, the Sons of the Desert. Jericho has its "Nuts," who, in heroic It Takes a Village spirit, mounted a monumental campaign to rescue the series after it had been cancelled. Fans posted a barrage of videos on You Tube and deluged the studio with peanuts (the significance is explained in the season finale). "What is it about this town that has you so addicted to it?" someone asks Emily at one point. Just watch a couple of episodes, and you'll also be hooked. This First Season set should rally Jericho's army and inspire new recruits. --Donald Liebenson