Because I was fairly certain I would be asked to review this second season of Jericho, I did not watch any of the episodes as they aired. With the writer’s strike many shows were going through problems, and I guess I wanted to see how it all shook loose. So, I watched very little of anything from the networks for fear of being stranded in the middle of a compelling story. Now, before the Jericho fans out there devise any plans to have me roasted along with their next batch of nuts, let me assure you I am not a monitored watcher and participated in no survey. They tend to shy away from us critic types. Something about the deodorant we tend to wear, I think. So I had nothing to do with the ultimate demise of your show; in fact, I’ve become a fan.
The return of Jericho is a story harking back to the 1960’s and a fan base that didn’t have the internet who saved a failing show that had been cancelled after two seasons. That letter writing campaign revived a failed show that got more than an additional season on television. Today that series has made more money than any television series in history. It spawned 4 additional series for a total 24 seasons of television and next year it will enjoy its 11th feature film. Of course, I’m talking about Star Trek. So, Jericho fans should never lose faith. That group went beyond letters and internet petitions, and quite frankly, don’t you think these network execs have heard it all before? I was part of such a campaign to save a Fox series called Brimstone many years ago. My talks with programmers and execs made it clear they weren’t listening. Jericho fans took hold of a memorable moment from the first season. As the season drew to a close and Jericho was about to engage in a bloody battle with New Bern, there was a call for their surrender. Jericho’s reply parroted that by General McCullough during the Battle Of The Bulge. He was surrounded by Nazi troops who demanded his surrender. The General’s one word reply went down in history. It was, simply enough… NUTS! So Jericho fans all over the world picked up the battle cry and inundated CBS with literally tons of peanuts. Never before was a message so loud and clear. Asked to surrender their show, the fans replied with … NUTS! They bought a reprieve and 7 additional hours, and managed to donate plenty of peanuts to food banks and even our own solders serving in Iraq. Not bad for a failed television series. Not bad at all.
Unfortunately, everything here feels rushed. The combination of being a mid-season replacement and the dreaded writer’s strike meant a very truncated season for Jericho. Because of this the show was never able to deliver to the fans everything it wanted. Stories involving New York and Cheyenne were eliminated, and there was less time for the characters to flesh out their parts. Credit a determined cast and crew for making every one of those 20,820 seconds count. Everyone worked hard to get the most out of what they’ve been given. I doubt any show’s workers worked this hard just to please the fans.
The show is contained on just 2 discs.
Reconstruction: The Morse Code intro says: We’re Back, appropriately enough. That time in the Boy Scouts is finally paying off. The episode picks up almost immediately where the previous season left off. The battle between Jericho and New Bern is raging hot, and a battalion from the newly formed Federal government is stepping in to intervene. In case you had any doubt how quickly the season would move along, the season premiere wastes no time. The new government is taking control in swift order. Jake is instantly butting heads with the representative of the new government based out of Cheyenne. Major Beck is a great addition to the cast and provides the most exciting prospects for what could have been the show’s future. NYPD Blue’s Esai Morales is absolutely brilliant in the role. He is a career soldier used to following orders. When he gives an order he expects it to be followed. As time goes on he’ll become conflicted, and Morales covers it perfectly. Beck grants amnesty to New Bern for their attack that left over 60 Jericho residents, including Johnston Green, dead. Jake and Eric gather The Rangers and plan to have their own justice. Meanwhile Hawkins is dealing with his own fallout from his actions from season 1. Mimi tries to keep Stanley from getting his farm ripped off by the new Cheyenne Government. The episode ends with a fast paced breakdown of the new political landscape as Hawkins hopes to expose the secrets of the Cheyenne corruption. Finally, word is out that the new President is coming to town as part of a whistle stop tour.
Condor: The message this time is J&R Ran Boxcar. The title refers to the code name for the new Prez. He wants to address the nation from Stanley’s farm. New history books arrive in Jericho to be distributed to the school children. The books are highly critical of the former American government and call for a more militaristic attitude. Hawkins arranges for a missing walkie talkie to provoke a lockdown during the presidential visit. The diversion allows him to access government computers and download sensitive information. Mayor Anderson is invited to go to Cheyenne and participate in a Constitutional Convention, which is troubling news for most of the town (the convention, not Anderson’s attendance). Jake convinces a reporter to run with the expose the Cheyenne government with tragic results. In a humorous aside, the new President is played by actor George Newbern, whose last name is the same as Jericho’s enemy town.
Jennings & Rall: The message this time is Caller Knows All. A lot of old faces return to Jericho in this episode. Most notable of the returns is Ravenwood thug Goetz, who is placed in charge of the town by Beck. Jimmy’s out of the hospital and learns he’s answering to Jake these days. He also poses a security leak for Hawkins. Hawkins in turn is forced to play his FBI card with Beck in the hopes of cooperation. Jericho faces a new and deadly threat when they receive word that a virus is working its way towards them in direct contradiction to the official government claims that it has been stopped. Dale manages to steal plenty of vaccine, but Goetz isn’t about to let it get distributed.
Oversight: Code = A Costly Death. Hawkins is in contact with a mysterious caller who appears to want to help. Dale is arrested for his raids on J&R supply trucks and his smuggling operation. The seeds of open rebellion are beginning as Ravenwood cracks down on all local business activities. Mimi is working for J&R as an independent auditor, but when she uncovers that $10,000 has been embezzled, it leads to tragic loss for Jericho.
Termination For Cause: Tho It Is Dark is the coded message. This combines with the final two episodes to create one message. Jericho must deal with an out of control Ravenwood while mourning the loss of one of their own. Mimi fights for her life at the medical center, leading to a standoff and a siege. Hawkins has traced the Cheyenne conspiracy all the way to the new President. Jericho flushes out a traitor in their midst. Everyone wants Goetz’s head, but Stanley gets the last word, likely forcing a final confrontation with Beck and his men.
Sedition: Code is Know Our Flag. Beck is on the warpath and determined to bring Jericho under his control. The town is declared in open insurrection. Hawkins gets word from Chavez that Texas stands to tip the balance of power to either Cheyenne or the remnants of the original American Government now in Columbus. He needs to try and get the bomb to the Texas border to prove that Cheyenne and J&R actually carried out the September attacks. I have to wonder if calling the bombings the September attacks is a coincidence or a reference to 9/11. The Mystery Man interferes in Hawkins’ plan. The Rangers are in hiding, and Beck is punishing the entire town until someone turns them over.
Patriots And Tyrants: The final message is completed with Is Still There. (Though It Is Dark Know Our Flag Is Still There.) This episode was filmed two ways, and you have the option of viewing them both. The episode needed to be completed before CBS was willing to reveal their plans to renew the show or not. Here I will describe the version that aired. Any differences will be dealt with in the special features section of this review. Jake and Hawkins go to Cheyenne to recapture the bomb and deliver it to Texas before the Mysterious Man can get it and complete his own plans by destroying Cheyenne and its 800,000 residents. The series ends with plenty of action, including an ambitious aerial fight.
Each episode of Jericho is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio. In today’s world of HD production, the video presentation for Jericho is a great disappointment. Colors are all over the place. One instant you see the emergence of some sweet color reproduction, particularly reds and yellows, but other times everything appears extremely washed and faded. Black levels are average but often show traces of compression artifact. The overall tone of the picture changes too often for my eyes to get comfortable. It is my suspicion that much of this is done creatively in order to set up a particular emotion. I just found it unsettling, and I was never allowed to settle into the story and allow it to engulf me.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 track is a heck of an improvement over the first season. My subs have finally met Jericho, and the introduction was loud. There’s still not a tremendous use of surrounds, but the sound does have a ton more punch to it. Dialog is great as well.
There are Audio Commentaries for each episode with a large variety of cast and crew. You really get a sense of the love and pride these guys took from these 7 episodes.
Deleted Scenes: Nearly every episode has some extra footage. There’s not a lot here, and it mostly would have slowed this season’s rather frantic pace.
Patriots And Tyrants – Alternative Ending: Had Jericho been picked up for a third year this is the episode you would have seen. If you chose to watch it here rather than in its entirety instead of the broadcast version you’ll pick up the action about halfway through with a little over 25 minutes to go. The most notable difference is that Hawkins gets captured and does not make the flight with Jake. The season would have ended with Jake and Chavez taking off in the plane to rescue Hawkins. The third season would obviously have kicked off with that rescue attempt.
Rebuilding Jericho: Starting with the shock of getting cancelled, cast and crew share their emotional rollercoaster ride from cancellation to renewal and reuniting for 7 groundbreaking episodes. A lot of the passion and hard work is evident in this feature. You get a run down of all of the important events including spoilers, so you’ll want to save this for after you’ve seen the episodes. But, of course, you already saw them before you even read this review. The CBS rep talks here, but I don’t think she’s making too many friends.
Nut Job: This 10 minute feature looks at the extraordinary campaign to save the show. It ends with a fitting show of thanks from the cast and crew to the fans.
Jericho did receive a reprieve, but it would not escape its sentence. Again CBS has cancelled the show. There isn’t going to be any last minute call from the Governor this time around. The show’s brightest hope lies perhaps in television films or even a feature film. It’s unfortunate in so many ways. We’re likely not going to see the formation of the new nation and how the residents of Jericho play a part in that resurrection. Everyone did a phenomenal job with what they had, but there is no avoiding the unfinished nature of it all. It was a hard fought battle and there were some gains made, but ultimately Jericho fans are left with a nation in ruins, and this time there “isn’t going to be a reconciliation”.
06/18/2008 @ 11:22 pm
Don’t despair! The producers are trying to find a cable network to be Jericho’s new home for a season 3. We Rangers have put ads in “Variety” and “Hollywood Reporter”, right now we have a billboard up in Hollywood and a TV commercial running in the Hollywood area. You can get more info and see the commercial by our own rubberpoultry with voice-over by Brad Beyer at http://www.savejerichoagain.com
06/18/2008 @ 11:27 pm
Thank you for a comprehensive review of Jericho. I think you are dead on when you talk about how hard the cast and crew worked to please the fans. It inspired us to work just as hard to find Jericho a new home. And it is working! We have been told by the producers that talks are ongoing, that Season 3 is still a possibility and they are optimistic.
This will not be on a network but rather a cable station – which is just fine with me. Wherever it is aired, we nutty fans will follow.
Please check out http://www.savejerichoagain.com and see what all is going on. Also see the posts made by Jon Turtletaub and Carol Barbee.
The fat lady ain’t singing yet!
06/19/2008 @ 12:09 am
There is still hope for Season 3!
Great article and review….
06/19/2008 @ 12:13 am
Thank you for such a great review. I was able to relive every episode again through you description. And there’s not a true Jericho Ranger alive that minds reliving the Jericho experience over and over again.
And thank you for putting my mind at ease. I was a bit concerned when I first read that you didn’t see season 2 when it originally aired. But since you didn’t count anyway, just like the majority of us, I’m okay with that and won’t give you a hard time about it.
06/19/2008 @ 12:51 am
Thanks for the great and comprhensive review of Jericho. The Rangers are to stay and are continuing to fight hard for season 3. Sounds like Jericho has gained a new fan !!
06/19/2008 @ 1:47 am
Thanks for the excellent review! There is still hope for a Season 3! We will not go quietly into that good night!!!
06/19/2008 @ 2:35 am
Thank you for the great article! There is still hope that we will find a new home that will appreciate this truly intelligent and original show and all it’s loyal viewers!! I know we are not going to give up.
06/19/2008 @ 2:55 am
Thank you for the wonderful review of Jericho, and the new Season 2 DVD. And yes, you heard right, we’re still working on bringing back Jericho in some form. With our own commercial in the LA area, the billboard in Studio City, the ad’s in Variety, etc.. we’re confident that CBS Paramount will find someone eager to take over where CBS Network Television left off. You’re right, there’s too much story left to be told here! Thanks again!
06/19/2008 @ 3:15 am
There are millions of folks out here that just loved Jericho. Waiting in the wings for Season 3 hopefully somewhere. Too bad we were not counted. This story has so much more to tell. It’s a shame CBS & other Networks choose to air Reality over Scripted TV. Just my thoughts! Everyday TV has become a huge Reality Show. boring…….
06/19/2008 @ 4:45 am
Thanks for the great review.
We’re still fighting for season three.
06/19/2008 @ 12:19 pm
Thanks for your excellent review of season two. As other commenters have mentioned, the producers are looking for a new home for the series; CBS may have opted not to continue the series, but that doesn’t mean that the series has to end.
06/20/2008 @ 1:07 am
Thank you for your excellent review, not just of the episodes, but also the technical qualities of the DVD. I watched it online at CBS.com, but intend to purchase the DVDs.
I have my fingers and toes crossed that Mr. Turtletaub and Ms. Barbee find a home for “Jericho” on a cable network because I don’t think the story can be told in a network movie or a theatrical production. A mini-series, perhaps, but the episodes would need to be two to two and a half hours long each for continuity. IMMHO.
Call me ‘nutty’, but I’m not surrendering my hopes.