Tuned In

Dead Tree Alert: Postapocalypse Now

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We’re all about service here at Tuned In, so we continue to help you avoid the scourge of magazine-subscription blow-in cards by referring you to the online versions of Tuned In’s work in the print version of TIME. This week, an essay on why Americans are suddenly so interested in the end of the world and what comes after. I particular, I look at CBS’s Jericho and Cormac McCarthy’s novel The Road, which are Postapocalypse Lite and Postapocalypse Extra Special Dark, respectively.

I’m a bit rough on Jericho in the piece–mostly in a version of the same critique I blogged earlier–but I also have to say it’s one of the few new shows I’m avidly following this fall, flaws and all. I’m the target market for anything dystopian–blow the world up and I’m there with bells on–and the show has teased out a nice who-pushed-the-button-and-why mystery.

The problem with Jericho, I’ve decided, is it’s simply on the wrong network. ABC, Fox, certainly many cable networks could have taken the dark premise and done it justice without sacrificing the human interest you need to keep the show from being a total downer. But CBS seems to have little confidence in its viewers’ ability to handle a dark story, maybe rightly, since it does not exactly have the most adventurous audience in prime-time TV. It blunts the show with so many incongruous relationship storylines and soft-music, sentimental moments (as opposed to truly sad moments, which would make more sense) that it’s like  watching a postapocalyptic Maxwell House commercial.

I’ll still be watching on Wednesday, though–it’s still a decent warm-up for Lost–and maybe after one more episode I’ll be ready to give my theory on who was behind the attacks and why they chose their puzzling list of targets. (No offense, San Diego! I’m sure you’re well worth blowing up, in your own special way.)