Netflix Roulette: “Jericho”

We’re Katey Stoetzel and Sara Hettel, and we’ll be teaming up this semester to bring you Netflix Roulette.

Netflix Roulette is a source of commentary about television shows found within Netflix’s library. For each entry, we’ll randomly select a series by spinning the wheel on the Netflix Roulette website. All thoughts, observations and reviews are based only on the pilot episode of each series.

CBS’s “Jericho” sets the focus on the people of the post-apocalyptic town in Kansas. The pilot episode, aired Sep. 20, 2006, introduces main character Jake and his family and friends as they struggle through the aftermath of bomb drops across the nation.

Katey: Bless this wonderful, perfectly-flawed pilot episode.

Sara: Jerich-oh-so-stressful. This is the first show in a while I’ve wanted to continue right away.

Katey: And a nice welcome back to Netflix Roulette, I say. It’s not the greatest pilot episode ever, but I can’t help but love it. Especially when it starts us off with a montage set to The Killers’All These Things That I’ve Done.” It’s a cool twist on the prodigal son’s return tale.

Sara: Any pilot involving a song from “Hot Fuss” is worth loving. Even though the whole “main character returns and reunites with his family” thing is kind of cliche for a pilot, I was pretty emotionally invested in Jake and his life in Jericho.

Katey: I was too. That’s one cliche I never really get tired of, and obviously, this one is somewhat different what with the giant nuclear explosion — which, what a hook. Not many shows can get away with exploding a bomb as its inciting incident and get away with it. I like how the Green family dynamics are established, as well as Jake’s relationship with the rest of the town. And then the show makes everything even more complicated by having Jake stuck in the town.

Sara: You can really feel the true chaos surrounding the town during the explosion, and that’s not easy to convey without getting cheesy. The scene where Dale listens to his mother’s final voicemail as the bomb is dropped is especially powerful — this show does emotion really well, and pilots aren’t often able to showcase that effectively. Even the CGI was fairly well done for a pilot.

Katey: I love that scene with Dale. And then his revelation to the rest of the group later on about the other bomb. But I also want to talk about some of the weaker points of the pilot. I don’t really like Hawkin’s introduction. He pretty much just pops up out of nowhere, and immediately you know he knows something about something. And the whole mystery of where Jake was for five years should have been answered by episode’s end.

Sara: Yeah, that definitely comes from poor pacing in hopes to keep people watching. I agree on Hawkin — I think he’s meant to be mysterious, but it just fell flat because of his introduction. Jake’s military answer seemed to be coded and fake as well, but I’m still slightly curious as to where that will go.

Katey: As someone who has seen all 30 episodes of this show, I’ll just say they drag it out too long and are too vague with the answers. But I love seeing the town rally together. And though the whole “Jake saves a school bus full of children” is a tad sappy, I love it because it changes people’s perception of him, and those are my favorite kind of revelations.

Sara: Meh, that’s always frustrating, especially when these answers are pretty much what the audience banks on to fully understand and appreciate a show. The town honestly kind of made me angry during the initial fallout. Like, your whole town lost power, and you’re going to rant at the mayor because he doesn’t know what’s going on either? Moving on, what do you think of the line about not letting the rest of the world know Jericho was still on the map? Do you think there is a direct link to Jericho and the bombs?

Katey: Um, kind of hard to answer since I’ve seen the entire show, but I remember the first time I watched the pilot, I thought that line was super weird. It seems out of place, and an awkward way of hinting that Hawkins is a guy who knows something. It was much too early to put the idea of Jericho being integral to the bomb plot in audiences’ heads, I think.

Sara: At the same time it’s something that clues us into a bigger plot and magnifies the idea that there’s something special about Jericho — right now, it’s just a random little town in the middle of nowhere. If that were truly the case, why not tell us more about the people living in Denver and Atlanta? Side note, I am slightly concerned that the police department can’t tell the difference between a school bus and a prison bus.

Katey: Ha ha ha, oh my gosh you’re right. I never even thought of that. I don’t really like that fake out. Escaped prisoners is soap opera drama right there. No go for me.

Sara: I didn’t even feel bad for them, honestly. Like, they walked right on and were like, “WE FOUND THE SCHOOL BUS,” and then immediately got wrecked by that inmate. No sympathy.

Katey: Yeah, that didn’t really do much for me, but I do like how low-scale this show is. They explode a nuclear bomb within the first ten minutes. But it’s a show not about the bomb, but rather the people in this small Kansas town. That’s really cool.

Sara: They find a way to make the town matter despite all the craziness going on around it, and that’s not a small feat for a pilot episode.

Katey: Let’s talk about the characters, since the town is populated by them. Jake is the prodigal son, we’ve covered that. Who else do you like? Stanley and Bonnie are my other favorites.

Sara: Ahh, Stanley and Bonnie are great. I feel myself really gravitating toward Dale right now too. I kind of feel like I don’t know enough about any of them to be super attached yet, but I have a feeling I’ll get there.

Katey: I kind of hate Emily, just putting that out there.

Sara: Saaaame. It’s very obvious to me that there will be some kind of romantic plot between them, and I’m tired of stories about people leaving their current relationship for their ex. It’s exhausting to watch and crappy on all sides.

Katey: There’s definitely enough in this pilot to keep people interested, though. And despite how rocky “Jericho” gets, it deserved more than 30 episodes.

The final episode of “Jericho” aired Mar. 25, 2008. The show holds a four out of five star rating on Netflix. Similar titles include “Terra Nova,” “The 4400” and “Ascension.”