Tuned In

Who Says TV Has to Be Good?

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CBS
Ulrich on Jericho

Any given season, there are at least a couple series that I watch, loyally and attentively, even though they are not, in any aesthetically defensible sense of the word, good. This year, that award has to go to Jericho, CBS’s postapocalyptic drama set in Kansas after a multiple nuke attack cripples the U.S. The dialogue makes your average daytime soap look like Pinter. (“I’m gonna take a page out of your book, I’m gonna throw caution to the wind”: never use one cliche where you can use two!) Skeet Ulrich’s principal means of emoting–anger, sadness, love–is staring at something or someone really hard, like he’s trying to make it explode with his mind. The whole production has a weirdly off-key, CBS-homespun, soft-focus feel, as if someone just exploded a nuclear bomb in the middle of a Folger’s coffee commercial.

And yet I watch. Because, you know, there are six presidents! China’s air-dropping relief supplies into the middle of the prairie! Samantha’s old boyfriend from Sex and the City is a black-marketeer! I can’t help myself!

The term I’m looking for here is not “guilty pleasure” exactly. I don’t feel guilty for watching Jericho, I just know that I would normally totally look down on it if it didn’t happen to appeal to my personal obsession with dystopian scenarios. Anybody out there have a Kryptonite Show–a show you know objectively is lousy, yet have an inexplicable weak spot for? I promise not to tell a soul.

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