This article discusses the Jericho tv show, a 2006 CBS television series. ***Spoilers Below***
The Jericho TV show has gained a cult following in popular perpper culture. The series is set in a small town, “Jericho, Kansas.” It starts when Jericho’s prodigal son, Jake Green, returns. Jericho’s citizens witness the horror of an atomic fireball rising on the horizon and their rural serenity is shattered. The series follows the people of Jericho as they deal with the nuclear attack. In this article, I’ll discuss a few of the plot points. We’ll go over the real preparedness concerns as well as Hollywood fluff.
The Jericho tv show protagonist, Jake Green, returns to his hometown after a long absence.
The town has another new arrival. Robert Hawkins recently moved to town. He purchased a home with cash. Hawkins seems to have expertise in the best course of action regardless of the situation.
After Jake realizes he is not be able to access the money he inherited from his Grandfather, the reason he returned, he prepares to leave. Jake visit’s his Grandfather’s grave and heads out of town.
Jericho witness an atomic fireball forming a mushroom cloud in the distance. Jake’s crashes into a motorist distracted by the explosion. He is hurt in the accident, and the two occupants of the other vehicle were killed.
The townsfolk think the explosion came from Denver. Panic begins to crop up in the town as concerns the country has been attacked grow. Parents of school children worry because their children have not returned from a school trip.
The mysterious stranger, Hawkins, contacts Jericho’s sheriff and identifies himself as a former cop, from St Louis. Hawkins suggests the Patrol cars have their Jericho markings painted over. The sheriff, with some disdain dismisses, Hawkins suggestion. The sheriff and deputies begin a search for the missing bus.
The school bus crashes when avoiding a deer. The school children now on foot come across Jake on the road. Jake helps out with first aid to the injured children on the bus.
The stock boy from the local store, Dale Turner, listens to a phone message from his mother in Atlanta. The message ends abruptly, indicating Atlanta was also attacked.
The bumbling sheriff locates a bus, believing it to be the missing school bus. He approaches and finds it is a prison transport. The sheriff and some deputies are ambushed and killed by convicts.
The townsfolk are clearly anxious. Many of the towns people people carry firearms. Citizens of Jericho begin to fight over essential supplies such as gasoline. Hawkins finds an open minded ear from a fire fighter and the pair try to quell the rising chaos.
Mayor Johnston Green calms the rising riot, as Jake Green returns in the school bus with the children. Johnston explains to the town that Atlanta was also destroyed. The town realizes that the United States is likely under attack.
What they got right…
The prospect of panic after this incident is a certainty. When Hurricanes hit the Southern United States, supermarket shelves empty in a day. A nuclear attack is a much scarier situation. Gas and food would be desperately sought after items. Rioting, looting and price gouging would follow.
Convicts could be a serious issue in this type of crisis. Prison guards would need to care for the safety of their own families. Convicts might not immediately be released, but many would escape via various routes. Society paroles a large number of convicts, who often prove dangerous. Criminals would probably capitalize on this type of crisis.
Skills like first aid would be critical. Determination while injured could be the difference between life and death.
Law Enforcement resources would quickly be consumed. Currently there is a nation wide shortage of officers. Understaffed departments would see an exponential increase of police problems. An interruption in police service would be inevitable.
Citizens would certainly arm themselves. On a side note, if you didn’t have a gun obtaining one would be extremely costly, if it were possible to obtain one at all. Think a service pistol or tactical rifle is expensive now? Wait until something bad happens. I hope you have something good to trade that you can live without.
What’s Hollywood fluff…
This episode has a scene where there are a whole bunch of cops at town hall with apparently no clue what to do. In reality, police would likely self-deploy. If police service was still in effect they wouldn’t be waiting around to hear what the mayor had to say. Perhaps Jericho is an exception though:
Johnston Green is portrayed as the stalwart mayor, who leads the town. Throughout the rest of the series he demonstrates his competency and leadership. Unfortunately most mayors are not cut from the same cloth. In an actual crisis of this magnitude “Look out for number one” would be in effect.
The town only has one HAM radio. The radio’s owner is demonstrably mentally ill. He brandishes a Shotgun and rambles about aliens when the Mayor and Deputy Mayor(Eric Green–Jake’s Brother) arrive in an attempt to contact the State Government. HAM radio requires proficiency and operators must pass a test to lawfully transmit over the air. Most HAM radio operators are fairly competent.
Episode 2: Fallout
Jericho finds themselves frantically preparing for fallout as the radiation-laden mushroom cloud approaches. It is revealed that Jericho has only 2 fallout shelters. One shelter is at City Hall, the Other is under the medical center.
Hawkins demonstrates his competency as he instructs officials on how to deal with the incoming radiation. School teacher Emily Sullivan unknowingly meets up with convicts posing as police. Townsfolk attempt to prepare neglected shelters to receive people.
Citizens with basements are advised to get in their basements and seal their houses. Eric Green confronts bar patrons refusing to shelter. Eric describes the nasty effects of radiation poisoning. The patrons the decide to find shelter.
Emily and the convicts drive to a local family’s Ranch attempting to obtain fuel for the stolen patrol car. Emily notices blood on the deputy’s uniform and becomes concerned.
The citizens raid the library, searching for anything they can find on atomic war. They find some antiquated books, but Hawkins provides fast details on what to do.
Jake discovers the medical center’s shelter is so neglected it is unsuitable for occupants. Eric’s wife, April Green, is a doctor at this location. She jumps the gun and brings the patients into the inadequate shelter. April then demands that Eric house the patients at the town hall shelter despite its inadequate space.
Citizens empty the local supermarket to stock the shelters. The owner, Gracie Lee, confronts people for not bothering to pay for food. April arrives at town hall and finds out there isn’t enough room.
Jake has an idea to shelter the remaining folks at the town’s salt mine. Emily hatches a plan to turn the tables on the two convicts who have control of the local ranch. Jake gets the citizens into the salt mine but it doesn’t have a door to keep radioactive rain from flowing into the mine. They decide to seal the mine with explosives and rescue the occupants after the fallout passes.
Emily has obtained and loaded a revolver at the farm. Emily calls for help on the police car radio. Meanwhile Jake readies explosives to seal the mine. Mine owner, Gray Anderson, provides Jake with a revolver to go help Emily. Jake seals the mine. Johnston’s wife Gail finds him collapsed in his office due to stress and illness.
Emily discovers two police officers alive in the trunk of the patrol car. There is a dramatic confrontation between Emily and the fake cops. A ranch occupant is taken hostage by one of the fake cops. Jake arrives just in time to even the odds. A shootout takes place and the convicts are killed.
Emily is stunned after shooting one of the convicts. Jake admonishes her to hurry as the storm is approaching. Jake and Emily shelter in the ranch’s storm cellar.
What they got right…
Sheltering is very important when dealing with fallout. Dedicated shelters would be best, followed by expedient shelters like basements or a mine. The “No Nukes” crowd has been very effective at dismantling US civil defense programs. Most public shelters are in disrepair and inoperable. The thought that a town would have even one functional public shelter is generous. The idea that a public shelter would be derelict is spot on.
The urgency and chaos depicted is also probable. Lack of preparedness and knowledge would lead to hysteria. Conversely the bar patrons who preferred to keep drinking instead of sheltering is probably realistic. I’ve been told of more than one plan to “run toward the blast.” Again, the nuclear disarmament movement has promoted the idea of the unsurvivable nuclear war. Many folks don’t understand that sheltering will handily mitigate the effects of radiation and fallout.
The convicts’ willingness to kill for gas is a realistic problem. Resources are needed to live, and people will kill to live. Convicts particularly are known to take risks to avoid incarceration. Violence in the immediate disaster response time frame is a certainty.
April’s character’s behavior is concerning and plausible. Some individuals will be demanding and entitled. They are looking for a pushover to take resources from. Plenty of people think that preparing is someone else’s job. I’ve had numerous people tell me “If we get nuked I’m heading to Dave’s house.” The prepared individual has devoted financial resources to that end. Plenty of people think they can cash in on the preparedness of others while neglecting their own responsibility.
What’s Hollywood Fluff…
The extreme short-term shelter plan would not be effective for dealing with fallout. This is especially true if your location was close enough to see the fireball. Effective plans to Shelter for fallout would mean multiple days.
The bound an captured police officers is dubious. Criminals would have few reasons to leave their victims alive. Bill and Jimmy survive so they can be police officer characters for the rest of the series. Dealing with criminals is dangerous, in a crisis they will only be worse.
Using explosives to collapse the mine entrance would be dangerous. Didn’t anyone have a tarp. This is a contrived risk. In real life innovating a covering for the mine would be much safer and easier.
The Jericho TV show is one of my favorite series. Overall it has a fair amount of Hollywood fluff. However, Jericho also gives you a lot to think about. Television shows are about telling a story, and characters. I’ll forgive a bit of fluff. Jericho is a good way to break ground when it comes to prepping and possible scenarios that could arise.