Jericho and the 2nd Amendment

Discussion in 'General Discussion' started by E.L., Mar 27, 2008.

  1. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    'Jericho' too cynical for the times?


    This season, the town of Jericho was occupied by an army loyal to a corrupt government. (CBS Entertainment)

    Email|Print|Single Page| Text size – + By Joanna Weiss Globe Staff / March 27, 2008
    In the series finale of the post-apocalyptic drama "Jericho," in an offhand conversation, a couple of characters voiced one of the show's underlying points: Don't mess with the Second Amendment.
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    That's notable not just because it's a departure from typical Hollywood politics, or because the episode aired shortly after the Supreme Court heard a landmark case on the right to bear arms. It also speaks to an ongoing theme of the show, the notion that the government can't always be trusted.
    And if that doesn't sound especially radical, think of how it was received by viewers. Even amid an unpopular war, in a country with no shortage of cynics, a show this doubtful of the government's intentions can't seem to draw a mainstream audience.
    "Jericho," which ended its run on Tuesday, did have a small, fervent base of support, but it never managed to break through. The show was canceled for low viewership by CBS last spring, then resurrected for a seven-episode trial run after fans sent nuts to the network offices. (It was a reference to a we-won't-back-down slogan in the show, as well as to the Battle of the Bulge.) This season's arc - which drew even fewer viewers than last year's episodes - played out as a cautionary tale about the perils of a government that gains too much power. Like HBO's brilliant "The Wire," which ended its fifth and final season this month, it was one of few TV shows to take a decidedly cynical view of the people in charge.
    Most of the time, on TV, we get the opposite message. The detectives, lawyers, and forensic scientists of the enduring "Law and Order" and "CSI" incarnations are universally good. The fighting forces of CBS's "The Unit" sacrifice greatly to save us all. Even the corrupt cops on FX's "The Shield" are softies at the core, skimming off the top to pay for family essentials, such as private-school tuition for autistic kids. And though each season of Fox's "24" has its fair share of government high-ups gone bad, the traitors are always exceptions, destined to be caught.
    To the end, "Jericho" made no such promises. If "The Wire" was a real-time look at corruption and fatal compromise in Baltimore, "Jericho" was a worst-case-scenario fantasy, spelled out with intriguing detail. It began with a dread attack: 23 American cities destroyed by nuclear bombs. It asked what would happen next from the perspective of regular folks, represented by the good-hearted citizens of a Kansas town.
    This season, the good people of Jericho were occupied by an army loyal to a corrupt pretender government, which was intertwined with a Halliburtonesque company called Jennings & Rall. The small-town heroes had proof that the government was covering up the true source of the attacks, and may have had a hand in the plot. (In a nice touch, they had to prove their case to Texas, which had formed an independent republic and revived its Alamo spirit.) Yes, there were elements of crazed conspiracy theory here, but the premise wasn't entirely unrealistic; the vision of an encroaching military was clearly built on fears of post-9/11 government overreach in the name of national security.
    Maybe because this season was so short, "Jericho" didn't fully live up to its what-if potential. The show ended up going the easy "24" route of fingering a single, dastardly mastermind. (Could it be an accident that he was played by Xander Berkeley, who was prominent in the early seasons of "24"?) And despite considerable pressure, the core of regular folks got through with their principles intact.
    Still "Jericho" didn't end on an entirely happy note. The finale offered a hint of what would have come if the show had won a third season: a civil war between the forces of good and corruption, and a decent chance that corruption would still prevail. Perhaps it's no wonder it got so few takers; on TV these days, we still prefer to focus on the good.
    It's much easier, after all, to sell a show about charitable giving or cheerful redemption, preferably set to uplifting music. On ABC's "Dancing With the Stars" the other night, contestant Steve Guttenberg gushed about how nice this show was for America. And on "American Idol" this week, on-the-bubble contestant Kristy Lee Cook made a decent effort to have save herself by crooning Lee Greenwood's uberpatriotic "God Bless the USA." That song has a widely perceived Second Amendment message, too. It's just a message that doesn't require quite so much thinking.
    Joanna Weiss can be reached at For more on TV, go to[​IMG]
  2. Tango3

    Tango3 Aimless wanderer

    I don't get it; I loved the show...(I don't see what's so uber offensive about not trusting tptb ),
    (it was the onlything on prime time I looked forward to.)The old boy networks are dead to me. Usually its discovery,history or speed channels.
  3. E.L.

    E.L. Moderator of Lead Moderator Emeritus Founding Member

    I knew it was done for when during the series finale Mayor Davis said that during the constitutional meeting of the Allied States "the 2nd Amendment was repealed." Then he stated that repealing the 2nd was the first step to doing what they wanted with the country. Not typically Hollywood. Remember, this was filmed back in Nov. and prior to the Supreme Court case being heard.
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