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Paramount Home Video presents
Jericho: The First Season (2006-2007)

"Now, something happened in Denver, in Atlanta, and it could be that we wake up and find out that’s where it stopped. But, until we know, are we going to use our imaginations to solve problems or to cause them? Now...we can get the power back on. We can find out how big this thing is. If we have to we can fight. We can fight anybody. We can fight all enemies. The only way that's going to happen is if we work together. Now, go on home. We’ll meet tomorrow at the town hall. And folks, don’t you break my heart again."
- Mayor Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney)

Review By: Rich Rosell   
Published: October 01, 2007

Stars: Skeet Ulrich
Other Stars: Lennie James, Kenneth Mitchell, Pamela Reed, Gerald McRaney, Ashley Scott, April D. Parker, Brad Beyer, Alicia Coppola, Michael Gaston, Erik Knudsen, Shoshannah Stern, Sprague Grayden, Candace Bailey, Clare Carey, Sterling Ardrey, Jazz Raycole, Darby Stanchfield, Bob Stephenson, Beth Grant, Christopher Wiehl, Esai Morales, Siena Goines, James Remar, Clayne Crawford, Aasif Mandvi, D.B. Sweeney
Director: Jon Turtletaub, James Whitmore Jr., Martha Mitchell, Duane Clark, J. Miller Tobin, Sanford Bookstaver, Guy Norman Bee, Paul McCrane, Matt Earl Beasley, Helen Shaver, Steve Gomer, Kevin Dowling, Christine Moore, Steven DePaul, Seith Mann

MPAA Rating: Not Rated for (nothing objectionable)
Run Time: 16h:04m:00s
Release Date: October 02, 2007
UPC: 097361239149
Genre: television


Style
Grade
Substance
Grade
Image Transfer
Grade
Audio Transfer
Grade
Extras
Grade
C+ B-BB+ C+

DVD Review

When Jericho debuted on CBS in the fall of 2006, it appeared to be trading on many of our post-9/11 fears by dishing out a nuclear attack-on-the-United-States scenario, all seen through the eyes of the inhabitants of one small, isolated Kansas farm town.

The hard-working residents of Jericho are all but cut off from the rest of the world after a mushroom cloud is seen rising on the horizon over what is presumed to be Denver, early on in the very first episode. Rumors of similar attacks on other major cities seem to be fact—something shown at the close of the ep Fallout—though televisions and radios are largely useless thanks to an apparent electromagnetic pulse, so news reports are tough to come by. With a rich, frightening tapestry to work from, the promise of chaos, anarchy, and survival should really have been at the forefront of the action here, with the potential for Jericho to be a dark thriller that could theoretically be not all that far from a possible reality.

Skeet Ulrich is ostensibly the hero as the steely-eyed/hot-rod-driving Jake Green, returning to his hometown of Jericho after a long, mysterious absence, coincidently on the day the bombs drop. He has a strained relationship with his dad, the town's folksy-but-gruff mayor (Gerald McRaney), but the family troubles almost pale next to the pouty drama of Jake's former love interest Emily (Ashley Scott)—currently engaged to a man missing after the attacks—and cute-as-button school teacher Heather (Sprague Grayden), who, mid-season, becomes quite adept at building wind turbines. Lennie James plays Jericho's resident man-of-mystery Robert Hawkins, the series' most compelling and multi-faceted character, whose dominant role in the town's survival immediately arouses suspicion.

But the series sputtered when it should have roared, bogging itself down with a large ensemble cast that threatens to stall the major storyline and turn things into the stuff of soap operas. The characters too often seem to forget the gravity of their situation, wandering off into seen-it-before subplots about extramarital affairs and love/hate/love relationships like something out of a Bad Screenplay 101 course. Bombs have dropped, the government is in shambles, there are roving gangs on the roads, yet we're supposed to care whether a big city IRS agent (Alice Coppola) will fall for a hunky farmer (Brad Beyer). Yeesh!

Some elements do work much better than others, such as the ongoing battle of political ideologies between McRaney's homespun mayor and his shoot-first rival Gray Anderson (Michael Gaston), but too often viewers are left to chew on regurgitated mismatched romantic angles for characters that are dramatically as flat as pancakes. For every fascinating reveal about James' complex Dawkins character or the fragmented status of the outside world, there are two giant steps backward in terms of progress from some other resident of Jericho.

And even at its best, Jericho plays like a bad B-movie, a little on the jive side, but still somehow all very watchable jiveness, no doubt because of the whole nuclear attack angle. The acting is certainly fluttery, and can easily range from laughable to above bar, sometimes from the same actor. McRaney and Hawkins are the most consistent components throughout, breathing a refreshing three-dimensionality into their characters, and making them seem real, which naturally makes the weaker actors look twice as awful. Small breadcrumb details of the perpetually unfolding main storyline are sprinkled out, yet the conflict and resolution of the so-called action bits (racing to get medicine, bartering for much needed supplies) often involve some preposterous fights or stodgy posturing.

But that's nearly acceptable to a point, because these little post-bomb related conflicts are the hooks that are supposed to define the series, stacked right on top of the poorly handled and reshuffled human dynamics. Solid dramatic tidbits like the eerie Homeland Security phone message of Federal Response or the foreign-made supply drop of Red Flag give the premise suspenseful legs for a while, but they are too few and far between to make this the great apocalyptic show it could and should be. Instead, it exists in a vortex, like the equivalent of slightly stale junk food. You'll eat it if nothing else is around, and it doesn't taste all that good, but you convince yourself it is going to get better the more you eat.

This six-disc collection, with all 22 Season One episodes, offers a more enjoyable viewing experience than the series as originally aired. Instead of that momentum-killing three-month November-to-February hiatus (that gave new meaning to the phrase "out of sight, out of mind"), it's possible to barrel through the whole season in one fell swoop, glossing over the giggly personal drama bits while killing time until the core storyline of the bombs is put into play.

And there's the knowing that, though the series was canceled by CBS, a fan-based letter writing campaign has resurrected it; at least the cliffhanger that ends the season finale Why We Fight will get an opportunity for proper closure in the near future.

This set also includes the disclaimer "some music has been changed for this home entertainment version," which means somewhere across the 22 episodes there's going to be some bad stock music inserted for songs CBS wouldn't pay the royalties for.

Rating for Style: C+
Rating for Substance: B-

 

Image Transfer

 One
Aspect Ratio1.78:1 - Widescreen
Original Aspect Ratioyes
Anamorphicyes


Image Transfer Review: All 22 episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen. It's a strong set of transfers all the way around, with colors looking bright, with pleasing, natural fleshtones Shadows and edges do appear more defined than during the original broadcasts, though there are still moments when some night sequences seem a bit muddy. No measurable levels of grain or compression issues.

Image Transfer Grade: B

 

Audio Transfer

 LanguageRemote Access
DS 2.0Englishyes
Dolby Digital
5.1
Englishyes


Audio Transfer Review: Audio is available in either Dolby Digital 2.0 stereo surround or Dolby Digital 5.1 surround. Go for the obvious and opt for the 5.1; there's a wider, slightly more nuanced presentation overall, with voices crisper, and ambient cues painting a modest but pronounced sense of directionality.

Nice.

Audio Transfer Grade: B+

 

Disc Extras

Animated menu with music
Scene Access with 176 cues and remote access
Subtitles/Captions in English, Spanish, Portuguese with remote access
6 Other Trailer(s) featuring Dexter: Season One, CSI: Miami, Numbers, Medium, The 4400, Twin Peaks: The Definitive Gold Box Edition
12 Deleted Scenes
1 Documentaries
1 Featurette(s)
5 Feature/Episode commentaries by Jon Turtletaub, Carol Barbee, Skeet Ulrich, Lennie James
Packaging: Nexpak
Picture Disc
6 Discs
6-Sided disc(s)
Layers: dual

Extras Review: Six discs in three thin Nexpak cases is how this one is packaged, all inside of a thick side-open cardboard slipcase. The inner case artwork has episode titles, one-sentence plot descriptions and original airdates.

There are five commentaries spread across 22 episodes, featuring rotating combo platters of producers Jon Turtletaub, Carol Barbee, and cast members Skeet Ulrich and Lennie James for the episodes Pilot, Fallout, Rogue River, Red Flag, and Vox Populi. We're given confirmation of different Morse Code messages used during the show's open, and Turtletaub feels it necessary to inform us during the Rogue River track that a particular driving scene was actually done in front a green screen, as if we couldn't tell.

Twelve episodes feature blocks of deleted scenes, all available with optional commentary from producers Dan Shotz and Karim Zreik. The clips are presented in varying formats, sometimes with work print counters, sometimes without. The input from Shotz and Zreik does shed a little light on why they were cut, but most of these were for ye olde pacing concerns.

Disc 6 holds the only other supplements, in the form of the making-of doc Building Jericho (24m:31s) and a how-close-is-this-to-reality What If? (09m:12s). Building Jericho has the usual happy-talk interviews and a tosses in a peek at audition tapes, too. What If?, on the other hand, is a bit of a downer, and in under ten minutes reminds us just how screwed we'll be if the bombs start falling for real.

Extras Grade: C+

 

Final Comments

A terrific premise is periodically watered down with attempts at soapy personal drama, though it seems that a multi-city nuclear attack on U.S. soil would be plenty big enough. Hokey in spots, compelling in others, engaging cast members like Lennie James override the possible lameness factor.

The series plays much better on DVD than it did when aired, and nice audio/video transfers do a good job of dressing this one up. A fan-based campaign was successful in resurrecting the show after its cancellation; perhaps there's hope for Jericho yet.

 


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