Jericho – Subversion in Prime Time

March 8, 2008

Jericho - TV SeriesScreenwriter John Rogers writes:

“So, there’s this miniseries about how factions within the US government, paired with a major corporation in the military industrial complex, create a massive terrorist attack on US soil.

Then, taking advantage of the chaos and fear-mongering, fascist* elements within the government move to take control while the corporation uses its special no-oversight, no-accountability position to administrate the devastated regions — both for their own profit and so they can control the population without any of the standard protocols of either the occupying military or local law enforcement. It’s a become better plotted espionage thriller than 24 ever was on its best day.

It’s also sharp commentary on the privatization of warfare, the cozy symbiosis of politicians and massive corporations, out of control contractors in Iraq, and the relationship between the US military and populations they’re “administering”. It does all this while still casting the US military in an overwhelmingly positive light. The Army = Good Guys. This series casts the “insurgents” as American revolutionaries rising up against unfair administration by an outside force. There’s even a Stamp Act reference.

And their version of Paul Bremer shoots a teenage girl to death.

And it’s on CBS in prime time.

I’m almost terrified to write about this, in the fear that at some point the buzz will motivate someone at CBS will turn on the channel and realize they’re broadcasting perhaps the most genuinely subversive piece of entertainment in the last 8 years.”

(no, I didn’t want to quote that much, but there’s no good place to cut it — which I suspect is a survival skill for a good screenwriter — go read the whole thing, and then the rest of his blog; it’s damn good)

Rogers has it in one — perhaps the real saving grace of Jericho’s continuing low viewership is that there’s a lot of people out there who would be trying to cancel it right now if they paid attention to what it was saying.

Jericho got a last minute reprieve from a network death sentence last fall, and they’re going at it like they’ve got nothing to lose — and perhaps they don’t — if it wasn’t for how screwed up network TV is in the wake of the Writer’s Strike, there wouldn’t be a prayer that the show would survive, and as it is, if they have a prayer at all, it’s a tiny one.

But in the meantime, the gloves are well off.

I had a bit of a love-hate relationship with Jericho last year — between flirting with wanting to be “The Waltons”, killing off main characters and having the main bad guy being the butt-of-jokes cop from “Psyched”, I really didn’t care whether they came back from the dead this year or not.

Until I watched a bit (due to the lack of anything else to watch). Jericho this season has cranked the “Harsh” knob all the way up to 11, and broken it off.