February 20, 2007

TV Preview: Jericho - "The Day Before"

When last we visited Jericho, KS, the town was greeting refugees from the bombs. A large number of people, dirty, tired, hungry, bedraggled, and crippled by shock. Jake and the rest of the citizens of Jericho, welcomed them with open arms, prepared to do whatever they could for the visitors. Meanwhile, the mysterious Hawkins was on his laptop in the basement of his home. He received an ominous message, a photo of him and his children, accompanied by the words "See you soon." That was two months ago, now CBS is prepared to take us back to the town, and hopefully get deeper into the show's larger mysteries, like what Hawkin's deal is, why Jake came back, and who dropped the bombs?

When Jericho first started, I was drawn into the apocalyptic nature of the series. I was drawn to how it strayed from the front line action that is generally associated with this type of subject matter. It is my belief that the first inclination is to put us right at ground zero, not necessarily at the point of explosion, but with the people who know what is going on and who have the power to react. Instead, the creators have put us in a small town in the middle of nowhere, close enough to see the blast, and experience some of the fallout, but far enough out of the mainstream that they are cut off and clueless as to what happened. I looked forward to seeing how the people would react, how the town and its fractured psyche would pull through in remaining a functioning town, and their quest for information, and dealing with all of the uncertainties that go with it.

For awhile, the show did just that. We saw a town crumble to the brink of anarchy, but have enough strong personalities to keep the semblance of order going. Unfortunately, the show became reminiscent of a lesser Lost. It meandered around with stories and issues that took us further and further away from what I was interested in. There were a couple of times when I teetered on the brink of abandoning the show. I watch too much television, and need to make cuts, and Jericho came dangerously close to the brink. Just when I was about to exise it, they would do something interesting to keep me coming back. Now, after disappearing for a couple of months, they have come back with an episode that makes me want to know more, to actually anticipate the next new episode.

"The Day Before" is exactly what it says it is. This return episode rewinds the clock, in the show's timeline, it has been 8 weeks since the explosions changed their world forever, now we are taken back. This episode chronicles the 36 hours leading up to the bombs. Rather than deal with the burgeoning love, building fires, and elections, we get a look at some of the key players and where they came from, successfully peeling away some of their mystery, enough to feel like a revelation, little enough to keep you wanting more.

We learn why Jake came back to Jericho, and why he was lying about what he has been up to, and it may be more closely related to the bombs than you think. Hawkins has the biggest revelation, why he just sort of showed up, where he came from and why he would have that radiation suit. His revelation answers questions, but it also asks a whole lot more. We also get a few tidbits about the lives of the supporting cast members, but the best parts of the episode revolve around Jake and Hawkins.

This is a killer episode, it may not be as edgy as other shows going, or as consistently entertaining, but there is definitely an allure to the subject matter. This is the episode that I needed, that show that puts focus back on the mystery of the bombs. Set aside the petty squabbles that had eaten up so much of the other episodes and give us what we are thirsting for. "The Day Before" successfully amps up the intrigue of the situation.

Now, this is not a perfect series, and it would probably benefit from a time change, perhaps just to 9pm, and be allowed to get a little grittier. That is what the show needs, as right now it has a little bit of a glossy sheen, a polish that seems to sanitize it just enough to take away that edge. Again, not necessarily bad, but definitely a touch off putting.

Anyway, Jericho is back and it is back to stay. Despite my reservations, they successfully deleivered an episode that got my interest back up, way up, in where the story is going. Be sure to tune in and give it shot, you may be surprised. CBS 8:00 Eastern time 2/21.

You can catch up, watching full episodes at the Jericho CBS site.


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