JERICHO - Complications Ensue
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Friday, September 22, 2006

For those of you beginning to suspect I never like anything on TV, I did like the JERICHO pilot quite a bit.

/* SPOILERS */

I particularly enjoyed watching it because I was brought onto a show with a similar premise to consult on the pilot. It was interesting to see which choices the writers made and compare them with the choices our writers made. Do you blow up the world at the first act out? Second act out? Or third act out?

I think the JERICHO writers made the right decision to get the ball rolling at the first act out -- until the town is cut off from the world and there's a mushroom cloud on the horizon, all you have is a show about a small town, and the audience is getting impatient. You can blow up the world later in the show if you foreshadow enough. But the show is really about how people deal with the unthinkable. Showing them thinking about it for an act or two will just feel strained. I think you want your show to start being about what it's going to be about as soon as you possibly can.

Of course you could blow up the world in the teaser. But we need to see who these people were in their old lives so we understand what they become in their unwilling new life.

THREE MOONS OVER MILFORD starts with the Moon already split into three pieces, and people acting crazy. (Lovably crazy, of course, because it's ABC Family.) That's another way to go -- avoid the premise pilot entirely. You miss the opportunity for a really thrilling inciting incident, of course. If THREE MOONS had gone to the SF channel, no way they would have missed showing an asteroid smash the moon into bits. But those extreme situations wouldn't be appropriate for a family audience, anyway. Do you want your kid worrying about the Moon splitting in three because she's seen it happen on TV?

Anyway, it was exciting to see how an entirely different crowd of people had addressed a very similar concept, and to see how they handled the same (yep, they had a Black Man Who Knows More Than Anyone Else too, and they went out on the whole town gathered together in confusion and worry too) and how they handled it differently...

11 Comments:

I like Jericho but I have my doubts that they can wrangle more than 22 episodes out of the premise.

By Blogger Kelly J. Compeau, at 1:59 PM  

SURVIVORS - the british series about those that are left after a plague wipes out most of humanity -ran for three years.

I think they'll deal with everything that will go wrong in the town then at season ender make contact with another town somehow... perhaps a town that approached this holocaust in a different manner entirely.

By Blogger Bill Cunningham, at 2:21 PM  

I could have taken the "we don't know if it was just Denver" premise and milked half a season out of it. I'm really surprised they burned that off this quickly.

I enjoyed it, but I enjoyed Surface and Invasion too. I don't see good odds.

Also -- blogger finally added the ability for blogger beta accounts to post comments to non-beta blogs (like this one), so I can finally comment again. Not that I do much, but it's nice.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:04 PM  

If Gilmore Girls can squeeze out a few seasons, then a story about a town after a nuclear war can get 22 episodes certainly. It's all about imagination and focussing on the details. Interesting characters help too, which I think was lacking with Jericho.

By Blogger Jutratest, at 9:49 AM  

Yes, I was surprised that "My parents were in Atlanta" wasn't even an OUT! I guess they felt that it was too similar an out to the first act out.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 9:55 AM  

What did you think about the little girl that was saved on the bus?

It seemed convenient that she recieved her injury, yet didn't stop breathing until *right* when our star got there.

Then the fact that he saved her makes me wonder how far they are willing to go for hard drama. When CPR failed, I thought she was done for and I was actually happy about that because it showed me something -- that this show even though it is set against nuclear death, it's not going to play with gloves on.

But then they did anyway. Now I can't help but feel like the entire bus deal was setup just to make our star look good rather than being a real situation that people have to deal with.

If she dies, our star looks real good for trying, but imperfect in his failure, and so more like the rest of us.

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 8:35 AM  

Yeah, also, if I'm not breathing right, please, try breathing into my mouth BEFORE you go to the emergency tracheotomy?

But hey, you don't expect them to let a little girl die in the pilot, do you? 'Cause you'll lose 25% of your audience right there.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 10:01 AM  

Vaporize 100,000 people in a nuclear blast that you don't really see and you're solid.

Off one little girl that you have to watch pass and you're down by a quarter.

Do you figure that the people you lose were people that probably weren't going to stay anyway?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 4:27 PM  

A hundred thousand fictional people are a statistic. A little girl you see die is a character we care about dying. Such are the rules are drama.

And, honestly, such are the rules of politics. Jon Benet Ramsey = headlines, even 10 years later. Elian Gonzales = headlines. Darfur = an ongoing tragedy we don't see pictures about on network TV. Easier to get upset about one pretty little girl than hundreds of thousands of people we don't know.

By Blogger Alex Epstein, at 8:27 PM  

What about being more graphic with the nukes going off. Just how far can you go and what is really optimal with a show like this, and in general?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 9:18 PM  

JERICHO IS HOLLYWOODS ATTEMPT AT GUESSING WHAT THE AVERAGE AMERICAN WILL DO. CALL ME JADED BUT THERE ARE JUST TOO MANY TOWNS AND CITIES IN THE COUNTRY FOR ANY ONE TO BE THIS ISOLATED. ALSO I'M EX'MILITARY AND HAVE FOUND THE MESSAGES BEING SENT VIA MORSE CODE DURING EACH SHOW TO BE EXCITING AND LOOK FORWARD TO EACH ONE. ANYONE ELSE OUT THERE CATCH ON TO THIS?

By Anonymous Anonymous, at 7:44 PM  

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