Tonight's Returning TV Show 'Jericho' Takes a Left Turn

NewsBusters.org - Media Research CenterIt it looks like CBS's resurrected nuclear holocaust survival drama “Jericho” is turning left. “It intentionally resembles Iraq” this season. Co-producer Jon Turtletaub stated “'Jericho' is not ignoring the political and social landscape” and star Skeet Ulrich added, “I feel like we were really making a statement to some extent.”

There were previous hints about “Jericho's" shift. In season one, main characters referred to military contractors as “mercenaries” and conspiratorial forces within the government were involved in setting off the nukes. The complication of the “occupation” of the “good” “Jericho” by the “bad” government mirrors the left's position on Iraq and the lefty screed that one man's freedom fighter is another man's terrorist.

A New York Times article about “Jericho's” return tonight at 10 pm EST hints at the change (bold mine throughout):

If the first season was about how Jericho survived the attack, the second season concerns how the town responds and rebuilds. In interviews the producers and CBS executives said that first-time viewers would be able to enjoy the second season without having watched the first. Why? Because “Jericho” introduces a new face in Season 2: that of Esai Morales, once of “NYPD Blue,” who plays Maj. Edward Beck, a representative of troops based in Cheyenne, Wyo., who comes to lead the town’s reconstruction.

Through Mr. Morales’s character, viewers are introduced to the Allied States of America, a new country comprising the area west of the Mississippi River. The town of Jericho essentially becomes occupied territory. The military builds a base nearby to oversee reconstruction. A private contractor is commissioned to provide a semblance of law and order. History books are rewritten.

It intentionally resembles Iraq.

“People, and by people I mean our bosses, probably prefer to not get all political,” Mr. Turteltaub said. “But that said, ‘Jericho’ is not ignoring the political and social landscape.’

Specifically, he said, the show raises questions about trust in government and the implications of having unchecked power in an unstable area. The producers had prepared a plotline about military contractors months before the private security firm Blackwater was in the news concerning its involvement in the deaths of Iraqi civilians.

The “Jericho” character Jake Green, played by Skeet Ulrich, dropped hints last season about his time overseas. His experience ends up being a crucial plot point this year.

I feel like we were really making a statement to some extent,” Mr. Ulrich said. “You always want to hold up a mirror, but you don’t want to let people know you’re doing it. Hopefully it’s just enough for people to draw the parallels.”

Fans have not flocked to recent feature films about the Iraq war. But “Jericho” is different, [co-producer Carol] Barbee said, because it is not “some big polemic about the war.” If anything, the show draws as many parallels to post-Katrina New Orleans as it does to postinvasion Baghdad.

There's a reason “[f]ans have not flocked” to the recent lefty America-is-evil anti-war films. Hopefully “Jericho” won't follow, but the press about the new season is worrisome.

I wish Hollywood knew that many viewers don't want their TV shows to make “a statement.” Sometimes we just want sheer entertainment without any of the political drama we encounter in real life. How difficult is that to understand? But shows keep getting more political, not less. New dramady “Eli Stone” is the standard social justice spin about greedy corporations sticking it to the common man. “Brothers & Sisters" and "Nip/Tuck” regularly stereotype conservatives. Even military-friendly "The Unit" dabbled in an evil conservative conspiracy entangling the ruggedly-hot team.

In Diane Werts' February 9 Newsday article about "Jericho's" return, she noted that Jake's brother Eric Green, played by Kenneth Mitchell, is "drafted into town service, like his ex-mayor father (shootout victim Gerald McRaney), though he wonders, 'How does a government no one voted for [get to] change the Constitution?'" That kind of statement has been addressed once or twice at Daily Kos*.

So, will the show veer left, or will it continue to be a show that conservatives can watch without seeing the usual liberal clichés? I guess we'll find out in the next few weeks, beginning tonight at 10 pm EST.

*Update/Correction 02/14--Paragraph corrected to reflect that Kenneth Mitchell's character Eric Green said the quotation about changing the Constitution, not Gerald McRaney's former character Johnston Green, who is now deceased. 

Photo via NY Times.

Lynn contributes to NewsBusters. Email her with tips or even complaints at tvisgoodforyou2 --at--yahoo--dot--com