A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this potentially scary drama depicts a mushroom cloud erupting in the distance, with both adult and kid characters left crying and worried after seeing it. Parents and their children become separated at times, and one teenage boy hears his mother die on an answering machine. Aside from the issues raised by the show's underlying premise (nuclear disaster striking, and people left to fight for survival), violence is the biggest issue here: Several auto accidents leave adults dead, and viewers see some blood and brief glimpses of the dead bodies; a character uses a pocketknife to perform a successful emergency tracheotomy on a young girl; and a man is shot in the back.
What's the story?
What happens to a group of people when disaster strikes? Do they rally together or fight for their own survival? These are the questions explored in JERICHO after a mushroom cloud appears on the horizon of the small Kansas town, knocking out electricity and communications. A mix between Lost and Lord of the Flies, Jericho reveals the social dynamics that emerge within a group that's cut off from the outside world and forced to rely on one another. While some people fight over hoarded gasoline, others help their neighbors in unexpected ways.
Is it any good?
Beyond the tale of a small town affected by disaster is the mystery behind the explosion. As the possibility that the United States has been attacked becomes more likely, Jericho has the potential to be truly scary. While the potential is there, the dramatic moments are softened in Jericho and tension rarely builds for long. This makes the show more family-friendly, but a bit of a letdown for mature viewers. In one scene, for example, Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) saves a dying girl by using a pocketknife and a collection of juice box straws to perform a tracheotomy. With only a bit of blood, the rescue is quick, easy, seemingly painless -- and old hat to those weaned on the likes of ER and CSI.
All in all, Jericho is by no means cutting-edge drama. It's familiar, sentimental stuff, and some viewers may find it a bit earnest and hokey, with an all-too-obvious message about patriotism and togetherness. It takes on some of the elements that make Lost so compelling and brings them down a notch to appeal to a younger, broader audience. But in doing so, much originality is lost as well.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about their experiences during crises. How did you feel and react during 9/11? Did you see people fighting or helping each other? What is it about disaster that brings out the best and worst in people? What would your family do in case of an emergency? Do you have a disaster plan and a meeting place? Do you think the show's scenarios are believable? Do stories like this make you scared or nervous? Why or why not?