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rare female film critic | by maryann johanson

Jericho: The First Season (review)

It took a while for this CBS small-town thriller series to find its groove, but once it did, it became one of the most enthralling shows of the 2006-7 TV season, one so engrossing that fans literally went nuts over its abrupt cancellation: in what is sure to go down in television history as one of the great grassroots audience responses to a network, disgruntled viewers organized to send 20 tons of peanuts to CBS execs (a play on a line of dialogue in the final episode). The upshot: the show will return to the CBS airwaves in early 2008. Catch up with the first season in this six-disc set, and be sure to stick through the uncertain early episodes: it’s worth it. When the citizens of the cosy, tight-knit Kansas burg of Jericho see a mushroom cloud in the distance — Denver’s been vaporized — they prepare for the worst (no power, no food deliveries), but things are even more dire than they can have imagined. The news trickles in that more than 20 American cities have been nuked, including Washington DC, and the nation faces its greatest crisis since the Civil War, if not ever. Skeet Ulrich (Ride with the Devil) hits his stride as an actor as the prodigal son returned home just before the bombs went off — the shady past of his Jake includes a stint with military contractor Ravenwood (read: Blackwater); also highly intriguing is Lennie James’s (Sahara) Hawkins, who is slowly revealed to be a government operative who may have been infilitrating the homegrown terrorists who set off the bombs. The sprawling cast is all-Americana; the sprawling themes come as a direct slap in the face to the terrifying road America off the tube is heading down, a world of repealed civil liberties and constricted freedoms — in the end, the message is: America is at its best when times are most trying, but only if it doesn’t forget what America is all about in the first place. Extra material includes commentaries, deleted scenes, making-of material including cast auditions and interviews, and more. [buy at Amazon]

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MPAA: not rated

viewed at home on a small screen

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