Thursday, August 16, 2007

A Monster Fan Interview: Rourke

This interview is very interesting to me because it takes a different approach to what attracts some fans to Jericho. I appreciate Rourke taking the time to do it.

1. What attracted you to Jericho and how long have you been watching?

The premise of the show drew me to it, even before it aired. I have been a loyal fan from the start. IMHO CBS deserves great praise for having the guts to green light programming like this for prime time. Facing the realities of nuclear war, or nuclear terrorist attack, has basically been a taboo topic on US primetime TV since the 1983 airing of the made for TV movie “The Day After”. At first there were many comments I heard that this was to be CBS’s answer to LOST – but Jericho proved to be far more realistic in many ways, and thus is bold programming, a drama that makes you really think, and really empathize with characters.

2. What do you think is the main theme of the show?

I think the show is a wake up call as a new nuclear age where the rules of MAD (Mutual Assured Destruction) may no longer apply. (United States and Russia in a tight nuclear oligopoly set up systems whereby if one side tried to do an attack on the other, that a massive retaliation was assured, and thus served as a deterrent, arguably a success throughout the cold war). In a post 911 World with many countries in the nuclear club, the chances of a multiple nuclear attack with low yield ground bursts in major hub cities, becomes more likely. The writers of Jericho have included many homages to the post nuclear apocalyptic genre, such as River Rogue (The Postman) and Lawrence Kansas as target (The Day After). A lesser known one may be the fictional City of Jericho itself, as Mel Tappan, a well known survivalist author, forwarded the premise that a good place to be would be an agricultural town of up to 5,000 people with facilities such as a small hospital.

The theme of the show is many things based upon plausible realities. It is said we often see the best of mankind in the worst of times, but I think Jericho also shows we would see some pretty terrible things also. The fact of the matter is our society it more fragile than we like to believe it is. A small town probably is a far better place you would want to be vs. the cities. Without power, and water, and sewer, and gas, and gasoline, and transportation bringing in food, highly urban areas with dense populations would deteriorate rapidly. Hurricane Katrina certainly showed us this with New Orleans. Now imagine of 25 cities were hit that way at the same time, including DC, and the grid going down nation wide (9:02). While I have been critical of some of the presumptions made by the writers in their “mythology”, I firmly believe that making millions of Americans see the happenings in Jericho, Kansas will at least get them talking, and hopefully, preparing. The Department of Homeland Security and FEMA do offer some free basics to start with: http://www.ready.gov/america/getakit/index.html
It is my hope and belief, that many small cities, villages, and towns might actually be better prepared in at least some ways than was Jericho.

3. What would you say to someone who has never watched?

This is a fantastic show with boldly intelligent writing. It’s very different from most network prime time programming, so be prepared for some real drama and “not too shabby” acting from a great cast you will come to care about. Give it three episodes, and see if you are not hooked. It’s coming out on DVD, so rent it or buy it, and watch it, and get others hooked. It’s one of those shows that is a great conversation starter.

4. Would you join a Jericho Fan Club? Why or why not?

Yes, I already have. After the cancellation, I emailed and called CBS, and encouraged others to online. I put in my credit card order with NutsOnline.com so I’m proud to say some of those historical nuts were from me. Why? First, I love this show, and what a terrible cliffhanger to end on (episode 22)! Second, Jericho was a stunningly different show that actually brought me from cable back to CBS. Third, I was skeptical that the ratings as low as the Nielsen families made it out to be. During the main first season, I missed two episodes as I was out of town for business, etc. I was able to watch the episodes I missed online. That was the first, and remains the only show I’ve done that with. It occurred to me, many others were probably also doing this, thus I suspected the fan base a Jericho was being undercounted. The Jericho fan clubs help serve as an organized liaison between fans and CBS, and I think that’s great. I actually think new ground is being broken here, and CBS realizes this – the proof is in their official website. Finally, I have found the Jericho fan clubs to be loaded with good folks. The Nuts campaign stood out because it was classy, it was polite, and it was clever. To have a major network reverse a multi-million dollar decision because of a grass roots effort by fans and fan clubs – is astonishing. Hey, everyone likes to be a part of a winning team, right? Fact is, to be a part of this, is to be a part of history being made. Jericho fans are writing the new chapters as to what fans can do, and my hope is CBS will continue to try new interaction with Jericho fans, such as the new production blog with a few sneak peeks of what’s coming. It’s simply exciting to be a part of something new, a beta tester as some say.

5. Do you think the Nielsen ratings are capturing all of Jericho's viewers?

Absolutely not, and further I think Jericho has become nothing less than the post child for the campaign to rethink and update this system of gathering ratings. Fact of the matter is, as technology advances, and cable/satellite becomes more interactive, or becoming one with the internet, we will approach the counting of actual real time ratings in combination with actual demographic counts. What I think this would show, if in place now, is that Jericho commands an impressive and lucrative demographic that has a high level of technical savvy and IMHO, appreciation for intelligent programming, drama, writing, and acting.

Additional Comment:

From 1983, the airing of “The Day After” until Jericho, facing the possibility of nuclear attack has been nothing short of taboo on US network TV. There have been movies, books, and the British drama “Threads”, but Jericho is the one show that took on this topic full go and raised the premise shocking to most, “what if I don’t die, then what”. CBS deserves Kudos for having the guts to put this programming on, and there is no denial that this deeply connected will millions of fans. The tech savvy fans of Jericho used cutting edge internet communications to do the unthinkable, in an incredibly short period of time also. While we all hope the Jericho mythology is not our real future, the fans of Jericho have shown us the future of network/fan interaction. Be a part of this! Be a fan of Jericho!

Thanks Rourke.


kestral said...

Great interview Rourke!! It is always nice to read someone else's perspective on the show. By seeing the show from someone else's point of view, I find myself seeing things I didn't before. Thanks to JerichoMonster for another great interview!

Skeeterbit said...

Yet another great interview and another facsinating reason to watch Jericho. I find the viewpoint of fans like Rourke intriguing because they bring to light aspects of the show that I wouldn't, or couldn't, normally see. What started out as entertainment has become an education.

Once again, Jericho's diversity is astounding.

maybei said...

wow - great interview Rourke! I agree, if nothing else - Jericho should show us that we all need to be better prepared to take care of ourselves in case of emergency.

Rick Cox said...

Many thanks for the very interesting interview. I would like to add some thoughts if I may.

First, not only has this show given us much to think about in terms of what a multiple weapon nuclear attack could do to our nation. It also has provided scenarios or situations that have largely been ignored in movies and TV previously. For example, the rogue military unit that tried to extort much needed fuel and supplies from the town of Jericho by pretending to be part of a relief effort. Or the neighboring town that launched a military style attack in order to secure Jericho's resources etc. IMO these types of things have not been addressed by Hollywood before this, at least not with any sense of realism. Yet we all know that in desperate times people do desperate things. So I applaud a show that provides such blatant examples of how desperate such a situation could actually be.

I also applaud the personal interactions that abound in this show. We've seen the drama of relationships falling apart, and new ones being discovered. We've seen the courageous and the cowardly. We've seen the open and the secretive. We've seen the generosity of some and the stinginess of others. We've been given examples of good leadership as well as mediocre at best. All of this is very refreshing when considering what usually comes out of Hollywood.

Finally we've also been shown the frailty of our society and what it means when supplies (food, fuel, medicines, etc.) stop coming in. What it's like when there isn't any traditional economy and folks have to turn to barter or food for work.

I also hope many of the viewers will have realized the value of having some form of preparations on hand at all times. One never knows when a Hurricane Katrina type event, a New Madrid massive earthquake, or a terrorist nuclear attack could occur. Not to mention a Flu pandemic or similar biological crisis. No one knows how bad such a situation could be. Better to have as much food on hand as one can manage, the means to ensure healthy water for drinking and cooking, whatever medicines are needed by members of your household, and the means to defend/secure these things at all times.

Jericho Saved said...

Thank you all for your comments. This is a part of Jericho that I had never seriously considered until now. Jericho has so many fans around the world and I now wonder if all of them will perhaps take a different view of preparedness after reading this interview.
Thanks for adding more information. I really want to learn more.

Rick Cox said...

I'd be glad to discuss preparedness with anyone who would like to contact me directly.

You can reach me at whtwlf77@yahoo.com

Anonymous said...

Another great interview!! JERICHO has some amazing fans, doesn't it?
And very smart. Because of them and the show, I have started to think about what I would do if put in the situation that the people in JERICHO are in. I have been thinking about how I would eat and drink and how I would protect my family, myself and help others.
Besides that, JERICHO is also a fun show. It has a bit of comedy mixed in it. Well it did when Gerald McRaney was in it. We'll have to see if that is kept up.
Thanks again to all!

"Take a stand here." Johnston Green R.I.P.

Jericho Saved said...

Thanks Anonymous. Yes, Jericho has amazing fans and from all over the world. Keep an eye out as I'll soon start a series on preparedness.