In this time of self imposed quarantine we need something to take our minds off of the awfulness that is occurring in the real world. Not surprisingly viewing habits seem to reflect the real world events, the number of people watching films such as Contagion has skyrocketed. So here is my Pandemic Pick for today which I have just finished binging for what is probably the fiftieth time. Jericho.
I’ll preface this with saying this is going to be a brief unspoilery overview of why it’s a good watch as I plan on doing a more in depth article about the series at some point. I’m keeping this spoiler free because it is a really good show that you should go into without having things spoiled for you if possible.
Jericho is the story of a small town in Kansas trying to survive the after effects of a series of nuclear blasts occurring all over the US which has crippled the country. Not only was the series about survival but it was also had an espionage twist and an aura of mystery surrounding several of the characters. It also has some very chilling images, one of the most iconic from the series was that of a young boy witnessing the mushroom cloud of a nuclear blast. This image became heavily used in marketing and is on the cover of the Complete Series DVD Set in the UK.
The series tackles the standard things that you would expect from a post apocalyptic series, getting food, resources, power, heat and the like. But it also has a central group of interesting characters which make the series so good. Leading the cast is Skeet Ulrich as Jake Green, the black sheep of the Green family. His father, Johnston, is the Mayor of Jericho and his brother the Deputy Mayor. Jake very quickly becomes the person everyone turns to for help as he steps up to protect his town and fellow townsfolk.
Whilst the series does have some soap opera’y elements – it was on CBS when it originally aired – there are also some realistic representations of trying to survive a nuclear holocaust. Fallout plays a huge part in the second episode. Whilst it’s not as realistic and chilling a portrayal as The Day After or the British series Threads it is still gripping. This is mostly due to the vast array of characters. Their chemistry shines though, and you can tell the way they act together that this was a cast that really enjoyed working together. I always get a little excited the first time that Jake and the mysterious Robert Hawkins meet for the first time.
Speaking of Hawkins, he is played with an effortless badassery and coolness by British actor Lennie James. James, who went on to appear in another popular post apocalyptic series, The Walking Dead, carries the burden of exposing the audience to the wider mystery that surrounds the attacks and who is ultimately responsible. Not only that, though; he manages to do all of this whilst almost achieving Steve McQueen levels of cool. There is one particular shot in the series that I love and all he is doing is getting out of a truck and looking around, but with the way it is shot, the way James handles the actions and the music behind it makes it to me a very cool moment.
Jericho was cancelled after the first season, but thanks to a successful campaign from fans it was renewed for a second season. Unfortunately, the show was canceled once again. Because of this there are only 30 episodes of the series, which makes it perfect binge viewing for a Pandemic Lock down.
Jericho is available to stream on Netflix in the USA and is available to purchase on Amazon Instant Video in the UK