Letter Re: The Jericho Television Series Returns With New Episodes

Dear Jim:
Clearly the CBS TV show Jericho is limited by confines of being an early prime time network show (nothing graphic like on HBO), a for-profit venture (thus requiring advertisers who willing to buy time and be associated with the show), budgetary constraints of a filming a new show, and of course the politically correct pressures of Hollywood. This is very much the antithesis of the 1983 “The Day After” which was conceptualized, financed and produced by ABC, specifically by the Motion Picture Department President http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Day_After who was impressed with the anti-nuclear power movie “The China Syndrome”, and obviously sent out to make this an issue oriented movie (or agenda oriented) without concern as to profit, IMHO. I seem to recall that during the original airing of “The Day After” there were no commercials (I was in high school at the time). It should be noted that “The Day After” did have a profound impact. As for myself, it steeled my resolve to learn more about survivalism (probably the opposite of the intent of the producer). It should be also noted (citing the Wikipedia link above again) that when President Reagan signed the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, the director [of The Day After] got a telegram from the Reagan administration that said, ‘Don’t think your movie didn’t have any part of this, because it did.” That is pretty powerful. Some also refer the movie “Red Dawn” this way, as having had an actual impact on the cold war, by serving to convince Russia that an invasion of the US simply would never hold against resistance (I should note that movie made Mexico an invading enemy of the US, remember?).

Taking into account how a program can create images and impressions, to allies and enemies both, this is the basis of my real issues with Jericho. Although the “mythology” of the plot, as the producers refer to it, is still largely unknown (probably also best laid out in Wikipedia: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jericho_tv) it clearly involves a coordinated nuclear strike to about a dozen US cities (the show is deliberately unclear – adding to the sense of drama of Jericho being cut off) which appears to be terrorist in nature, with the inference that in NY people were apprehended in a truck with a bomb before it went off, but this remains uncertain. These strikes are not military, they are at population centers. I therefore note, with the apparent exception of Washington DC, US military bases and installations, as well as non-DC Federal facilities, State, County, and local governments remain intact – just faced with the [power] grid down, transportation down, and fallout problems. I am not saying that isn’t massive, but to some extent, I think some American resilience is not being credited here, especially with the rest of the World apparently intact.

Although I think this show has been great in waking people up to the new reality that there could very well be a very limited nuclear exchange (such as being terrorist based), I was disappointed and alarmed as to where the show left off most recently “8 weeks” after the bombs went off. I think that many of the accusations about the show painting too rosy a picture are true. Jericho is shown to have at least one water tower, and be a city (has a mayor) of some 5,000 people. It is important to note, that once the power went out, even with rationing, that water tower is probably going to run dry within a week. This leaves serious problems as to water, sanitation, and hygiene for so many people. Would it really take until a Chinese generator was air dropped before they got any sort of power going again? The constraints of time and show only allow little blips of the factual realities, and in between all the interpersonal drama which holds most of the audience I’m sure. Still, the lasting impression is one that a small rural town would be helpless, when in fact, I think, such as place would be the least helpless. The pathetic defensive force that Jericho mustered is a good example of this. I find this to be the product of writers who have never spent any time in a Midwestern rural town, nor hunted, nor ever owned a gun. Having lived in a Wisconsin town of less than 1,500, I can assure you that long before 8 weeks past the bombs, a militia group, run through the volunteer fire dept and Village Hall most likely, would have had the town secured defensively. I can think of a single deer hunting group that was 17 guys, and they were highly organized, with radios for their hunting drives, and would have easily convinced the Ravenwood Group in Jericho that the fight was not worth it. Also, in the pilot episode, we saw a gun store in town. At the beginning of episode 2, people were openly carrying shotguns in front of City Hall. Did the writers get flack about that and back off?

Another issue that remains open is the ICBM launch in the evening which preceded the EMP attack. We don’t know yet who those missiles were targeted against, and I am somewhat worried about where they are going with this. This was a moment of great excitement for me, because I thought it was payback, that this show was going to show that a nuclear attack on the US would have a nuclear response. The post-911 world makes this more difficult, because such an attack may be not officially carried out by a government you can just target in retaliation. It is too early to really comment intelligently on this in the saga, but to be honest it very much worries me. Because the image Hollywood creates does matter, this is dangerous place alternate reality PC logic stuff. Freedom of speech, yeah I know, but you can’t yell “Fire” in a cinema, right? How about CNN covering the riots in LA after the police trials with Rodney King, reporting there were no cops on the scene. How about them showing part of the video over and over, the beating, without framing the context that he was high on drugs and had attacked the police. Is that merely reporting the news, or is that creating news by spin doctoring and fanning the fires, which bring up the issue of intent. That would have made an interesting lawsuit, if someone had the guts to bring it, rights vs. responsibility.

Overall I’m all for Jericho. It is a great show to watch and debate. So much drama between all the characters. Great cast of actors, and also of different age groups. Something for everyone! Tune in if you have not, and give it a chance. The Hawkins character is really cool, the closest thing to being a survivalist, even though he’s some sort of secret government agent or something. My only worry is that this show does more damage than good with some sort of backwards to reality politically correct “mythology”. Let’s face it, there are a limited number of people who can and would nuke US cities and kill innocent civilians as portrayed. I hope the writers/producers are willing to be realistic about that or they may do more harm than good, the good being to encourage people to prepare, the harm being to encourage evil enemies of the US that such damage could be done, and with minimum reprisal. – Rourke (Moderator of the Jericho Discussion Group)