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Jericho
The First Season

review by Zach B.

 

 

Running Time: 964 minutes

Starring: Skeet Ulrich, Ashley Scott, Lennie James, Michael Gaston, Sprague Grayden, Erik Knudsen, Kenneth Mitchell, Brad Beyer, Shoshannah Stern, Pamela Reed, Gerald McRaney

 

Studio: Paramount

Retail Price: $49.99

Features: Audio Commentaries, Deleted Scenes with Optional Commentary by Producer Dan Shotz and Producer Karim Zreik, Building Jericho, What If?

Specs: 1.78:1 Anamorphic Widescreen, English Dolby Digital 5.1, English Stereo Surround, English Subtitles, Spanish Subtitles, Portuguese Subtitles, Scenes (9 per episode), Six-Disc Set

Released: October 2nd, 2007

 

 

All the episodes are presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and these transfers look marvelous. Other than a bit of noise and shimmering that pops up, as well as some shots looking a bit grainy, I didn't really notice any major faults with these transfers. What struck me most were the fleshtones of the actors, and how accurate they looked. Detail is fantastic, and black levels are pretty deep. Color saturation also gets high marks - lots of browns and yellows, and the town of Jericho and the landscapes do look pretty nice. (Oh, and don't forget that ominous mushroom cloud.) The episodes are clean too, and there's no edge enhancement either. Very pleasing, overall.

 

Each episode also gets the 5.1 Dolby Digital treatment in English. The tracks are pretty strong overall, with good fidelity and dynamic range that was stronger than I anticipated. The dialogue is crisp and easy to hear, and the show's music - be it the thrilling score or the song choices used - do bring pizzaz and are mixed quite well through the channels. Even the subwoofer, while not extravagant, makes a mark here and there.

However, the surrounds are often front-centric and I felt could have been a bit more discrete. Still, they do have a fair amount of life to them. The more subtle noises - like stairs creaking and doors opening - are easy to notice, and the more intense sound effects (like crowds making noise or some of the more violent moments) bring energy, and do give the episodes their ambiance. In all though, these tracks give a lot of credibility in making the town of Jericho feeling like it's a real place - with real crises at hand.

English Stereo Surround tracks are also included on all the episodes, as well as subtitles in English, Spanish and Portuguese. English closed captions can be accessed through your TV, too.

 

Five episodes have Audio Commentary, and the participants include the mixing and matching of director Jon Turteltaub, executive producer Carol Barbee, Skeet Ulrich and Lennie James. Based on the sampling of the commentaries I listened to, I'm not sure if casual fans are really going to dig these. But if you're obsessed with the series, I'm sure you'll enjoy hearing all sorts of production details: where special effects were used, what was shot in what location, praise for the actors, thoughts on the characters, some joking around and that sort of thing. Based on what I heard, it's nothing too dull, but just your basic insider info in making the show. If you want to know a lot of background material about the series, these tracks are for you.

Spread across the set are Deleted Scenes, with Optional Commentary by Producer Dan Shotz and Producer Karim Zreik. 12 of the 22 episodes have deleted material, and these add up to a considerable chunk of time. (And they are presented in nice anamorphic widescreen to boot.) Fans of the series are sure to love going through these as the episodes get fleshed out a bit more, and they are sure to love the commentary as well where the producers, pretty thoroughly, explain the reasons for the various cuts. Enjoy.

That leaves the sixth disc, where you'll find Building Jericho - a 24 and-a-half miniute piece that covers the origin of the series. Creators Josh Schaer, Jonathan E. Steinberg and Stephen Chbosky discuss getting their inspiration, much of which stemmed from recent American tragedies. From there, the producers of the show cover a whole range of topics: the casting, creating the town, stunts, special effects and much more. Most impressive is how they built the town on a backlot once the pilot was picked up, and that it was done in a mere 8 weeks (production designer Bernard Hydes and art director John Mott give their insights on making it all look realistic). Interviews and audition footage with the principal actors are also included. This is a very engrossing overview of how the show was born, making it an easy watch for die-hard fans and casual viewers alike.

Finally, there's What If?, a nine minute featurette that seems play into the fear of the show's premise (that being the consequences of a nuclear explosion). Scholars and experts - such as David Albright, James Lee Witt and Robert Einhorn - give facts and thoughts about the United States' history with nuclear weapons. This is purely educational, with plenty of footage from the eras discussed (remember kids, if a nuclear explosion occurs, duck and cover!). It may not appeal to all fans of the show, but is still an interesting and relevant supplement that definitely warrants discussion, especially in this age of terrorism and culture of fear.

 

In addition to the upcoming batch of new episodes scheduled to debut in 2008, this first season DVD set will definitely be the holy grail for "Jericho" fans. Not only can they re-live this instant cult series, but they can now try and get millions of others addicted to this intriguing drama too (all in hopes that "Jericho" sticks around for a few more seasons). As far a set, the only disappointments come from some of the episodes' music has changed and content has been edited. Still, there are two well-made featurettes, a ton of deleted scenes and a few commentaries that will easily please those who've been with the show since the pilot and those just discovering the DVD now. Add in some high-quality 5.1 mixes and widescreen transfers, and this is a set worth investing in.