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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

‘Jericho’ blogging: “Patriots & Tyrants”

(previous: “Sedition”)

I’m very depressed today. Jericho is over. It was barely given a chance by CBS, but that’s the way network TV works these days: nothing gets a serious chance of survival unless it’s an instant hit. There’s no point in blaming CBS particularly, unless you want to rail against the entirety of corporate entertainment today. More power to you if you have that kind of strength.
What depresses me is that in this second season, the show became so relevant to what was actually happening in America today. There were hints of that in the first season — when Ravenwood (read: Blackwater) became a major player, for instance — but perhaps not enough to catch fire with audiences. And then it was too late. At least I hope it was merely that it was too late. I’d hate to think that mainstream American audiences don’t want to think about the issues that are driving so much public policy today: fears of terrorism, balancing security and freedom, government and corporations in bed together for their own betterment, and not for ours.

How often do you hear character say things like this on network television: “He said this government is corrupt and illegitimate. That it lied about who attacked us… You know there’s something wrong with this country, and you refuse to open your eyes and see it.” Okay, sure, that was said about a fictional alternative government on a fantasy TV show, but still: wow. Or this: “This is the Constitution we’re talking about, not a stereo manual.” Or this: “This government is corrupt at its core, its actions are criminal, and I no longer recognize its right to lead.” Wow.

Jericho was always about the best of what makes America America, and we see a lot of that here in this series finale. Mimi and Stanley don’t give up, even after the worst happens: they still want to make a life together. Beck’s company commanders stick with him because they’re not machine soldiers who can’t recognize when orders are simply wrong. Eric refuses to become a psychopath like Constantino, because it would be winning by giving up everything he was fighting for in the first place. Jericho‘s attitude was always hopeful even when it was confronting really difficult, seemingly intractable problems. For a show about collapse of the United States of America from its own cancerous disease, it was pretty darn optimistic.

I can’t help but think of Robert Hawkins and Jake Green’s daring flight from Cheyenne to Texas as something like Paul Revere’s midnight ride. “I think we started a war today,” Jake says, and then the show ends? There was Season Three (and maybe Four and Five) laid out for us: “the next American civil war.” Or the next American revolution. Because this is what “Patriots & Tyrants” made me think of:

…Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, – That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government…

I’m just sayin’, is all…

Random thoughts on “Patriots & Tyrants”:

• Most chilling moment here: “J&R’s own private country,” and the new capitol going up in Cheyenne.

• The embassy of the Independent Republic of Texas? Oh my…

• Gray wandering through his trashed mayor’s office — what a powerful symbol of the trashing of democracy that’s happening in the ASA.

• Good thing Jake knows how to fly a plane!

(Get a full recap or watch the entire episode at CBS’s official site for the show.)



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  • JT

    Barely given a chance by CBS? That’s completely untrue. This blog entry sums it up well.

  • MaryAnn

    Nice apologetics. But it’s bullshit. Jerking a show around the schedule, putting it in a deadly timeslot, and taking it off the air for months at a time is NOT giving a show a fair shot.

    From the link above:

    Online downloads were solid, but as you may have heard during the writers strike, networks and studios are having a hard time monetizing that stuff.

    Bullshit. The networks have already admitted publicly, before the strike, that they’re already rolling in Internet dough.

    But as I said in the posting, CBS is only doing what all the major networks are doing these days. The industry is changing, and *Jericho* is unlikely to have survived in this new environment.

  • Yep, it sucks that Jericho is now consigned to the history books. I doubt very much that any other network will pick it up, and even if they do, the odds of getting the cast back together seem pretty slim.

    This second season was definitely rushed. I think that the producers jammed two or possibly three seasons’ worth of stuff into the small group of episodes we got, because they knew this was it as far as the show was going. But one big question I have is: How could the town of Jericho really matter that much, behind enemy (ASA) lines, now that the bomb has been revealed to the Texas government? Surely they would not keep it a secret, but let the USA government in Columbus, the UN, and everyone else know that the ASA government and J&R conspired to take over the US. I’m thinking that delivering the bomb to safety is really how the show was originally supposed to end, because Jericho itself now becomes kind of irrelevant to the larger story.

  • JT

    Well, according to this site:

    The show premiered on 9/20/06 and had an uninterrupted run of 11 episodes, during which it bled some viewers. Then it was off for 3 months and had another almost uninterrupted run. The ratings at that point were pathetic. 7 to 8 million viewers? The Office gets more viewers than that, plus it’s a huge hit on DVD, plus it gets way more in the 18-49 share. And I guarantee you The Office is cheaper to make than Jericho.

    So then the show gets canceled. Fans revolt and they bring it back on to give it a dignified sendoff, and meanwhile ratings drop even more.

    It appears that the show started on Wednesday night and for the second season, switched to Tuesday. That’s not being ‘jerked around the schedule’ in TV these days. The show was taken off the air for 3 months in season 1 because serialized shows like this, Lost and 24 work best without too many reruns. All shows have to spread a 20 – 24 episode season across 8 or 9 months. Some have reruns every alternate episode, but I think serialized shows work best with a run, followed by a break, followed by another run.

    CBS gave it a fairer shot than most shows get. Enough viewers just didn’t watch.

  • Marshall
  • MaryAnn

    in TV these days

    And I DID qualify my depiction of CBS’s behavior regarding the show thusly.

    In the TV era of not too long ago, a show would have been given more than one season to prove itself. It didn’t get that under the current attitudes about what network TV is supposed to be. The second season of *Jericho,* for all its problems, was FAR superior to the first, but it never had a chance, no matter how many people explain how benevolent CBS was to the show.

  • Rosie Powell

    “CBS gave it a fairer shot than most shows get. Enough viewers just didn’t watch.”

    A good number of viewers did watch. ONLINE. Only CBS refuses to consider that judging a TV show by its Nielsen ratings is irrevelant in the entertainment business of the early 21st century.

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