“This isn’t Red Dawn!” bleats farmer Stanley Richmond (Brad Beyer) as he tries to prevent a postapocalypse town-hall meeting from degenerating into a brawl over how aggressive the citizens of Jericho, Kansas, should be toward the new Wyoming-based government of the “Allied States of America.” Stanley’s argument underscores the peculiar nature of Jericho, a drama that aired on reliably promilitary CBS (home of The Unit and Navy NCIS) yet quickly turned into appointment TV for 9/11 conspiracy theorists.
The brief second season (ordered after a fan campaign reversed the original cancellation), which is largely self-contained, rejects the lamest elements from Jericho’s earlier days (family squabbles, conflicts with a rival town full of jerks) in favor of a tight, serialized story about ex-mercenary Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) and spy Robert Hawkins (Lennie James) laboring to expose the Wyoming government as a facade for a Halliburtonesque corporation that may have been involved in the destruction of half the U.S. in nuclear attacks for which Iran and North Korea took the fall. Not enough use is made of Daniel Benzali as a shadowy Homeland Security official, but D.B. Sweeney provides some very effective villainy as the local representative of a military contractor modeled on Blackwater USA. The DVD set includes a much-hyped alternate ending, which requires a second viewing of the last episode’s final half hour (as minor changes are sprinkled throughout). While it leaves the door a little more open for a third season (which ain’t never gonna happen), it’s also much less satisfying than the broadcast version.