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“Nuclear war is not exactly 'Everybody Loves Raymond'.” - Jericho Executive Producer Jon Turteltaub

I was invited to an interview session held Tuesday night with bloggers for CBS's upcoming show Jericho as part of a large scale “viral marketing” campaign. Executive producer Jon Turteltaub and star Skeet Ulrich addressed questions about the inspiration for the post apocalyptic drama as well as where the show will go in future episodes.


When asked if they drew from any post apocalyptic movies or other media to develop the show, Turteltaub responded that head writer Stephen Chbosky is a big fan of the PA genre. Specifically they mentioned “Twilight Zone” episode “The Shelter”, in which a family enters a fallout shelter in fear of nuclear attack, and the rest of the neighborhood wants in. The show's creators were also inspired by “old educational films” about nuclear war, much like the laughable and slightly disturbing “Duck and Cover” films from the Cold War era.

Turteltaub also focused on what they didn't want “Jericho” to look like: “We did not want to make 'Road Warrior' or 'Mad Max' or 'The Postman'.” Instead, the show will focus on characters – where they have been, and where they are going. They stressed this point pretty heavily. Jon cited the decided lack of post apocalyptic movies in the last twenty years as a reason for creating this program.

As for how the show's creators plan to handle the dire situation of nuclear fallout, Jon Turteltaub says that all information we receive will be “from the point of view of the characters.” They want to look at the catastrophe on a very human level: “How does an event like this change your life? What would the average person do if confronted with this type of event?”

Skeet Ulrich professed to be drawn to the spiritual implications of the show, like “Who do we become? Who are we?” Turteltaub said that he is fascinated by exploring society's structure – and what happens when that structure is suddenly torn away. “What would it feel like to have no government? Complete freedom could be more frightening because you have nothing to lean on,” said Jon. “What would you do with that freedom?”

Although Turteltaub and Ulrich were predictably unwilling to divulge much detail about the show's future plot, they did reveal a few things. The first episode will cover the first seventeen hours after the attack. The next episodes will focus on the first few weeks after the attack. Obviously, much more will be divulged about what Jake (Ulrich's character) was doing before he came back to Jericho the day of the attack. And, in episode six, we find out why he left Jericho in the first place. They also revealed that “not everyone in the pilot is alive by episode nine,” and stated that “one character has a lot more going on than it seems.” (One viewing of the pilot makes clear who this character is likely to be.)

In a recent review, Entertainment Weekly gave Jericho a largely positive review and a solid “B” rating. However, on another page of the magazine, it pegged the show as a likely candidate for cancellation. The review criticized Jericho of focusing too much on the “action-adventure stuff” and not enough on the sobering reality of the nuclear attack.

Jon Turteltaub admitted that the show's producers “have been nervous that audiences may be scared off” while developing the show. After all, he pointed out, “Nuclear war is not exactly Everybody Loves Raymond.” For that reason, show developers “made a point of concentrating on characters and making sure there is still some humor in the show.”

The people behind Jericho have already been working on building a fan base for the show through the blog press and “getting the word about Jericho online.” Based on CBS's heavy emphasis on the "viral marketing" campaign, I'm guessing the pilot episode (which has been available online for weeks) may have been purposely leaked to generate buzz for the show.

Jericho premieres Wednesday, September 20, on CBS in primetime. Check your local listings.

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george (13 years ago) Reply

Good show. With all the crazy news of war or rumors of wars makes Jericho almost a reality show! So far it seems mild as to what I always felt the 'day after SHTF' would be.


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