Thursday, March 17, 2016


Each year I treat myself to a DVD reissue of some old television series that I either remember fondly or would have liked to have seen for years based on its under-the-TV GUIDE legendary status. Only I really didn't treat myself to JERICHO, I got this as a Christmas gift from Bill Shute so it came right at me unexpected-like. Actually (and I don't wanna sound like an ingrate Bill, even though I truly may be), for a guy who thinks highly and fondly of tee-vee past I must admit that I don't remember watching JERICHO so it wasn't like I was champing at the bit to see this 'un inna first place.

Y'see, when this mid-season cancellation was running on CBS you can betcha that I was up front for BATMAN on the other channel just like everyone else on this planet and besides, World War II series like this along with COMBAT, THE RAT PATROL, TWELVE O'CLOCK HIGHGARRISON' S GORILLAS and of course HOGAN'S HEROES seemed like stuff for the older folks who lived through those years who sure liked to reminisce a lot. For me they were more like history class (the latest chapter) done up tee-vee style, and I got enough of that in school so why bother watching it on the boob tube!

'n besides, wasn't there some sorta controversy surrounding this series? Maybe it was too violent for the Concerned Mother types, or better yet there was some sorta lapse in morality prevalent on this 'un that was bound to ruin the strict guidance that your cousin who was caught with the cigarettes and diaphragm had drilled into her. I seem to remember a program on CBS that was going by the same name or something very similar, though it was on later in the decade and I recall the leading role being played by some wild-looking guy with a mustache and maybe a 5:00 face who yelled a lot, looking somewhat like Bobby Darin during his Bob Dylan phase. I'm still trying to track down after all these years exactly what show this was, and what the heck was so immoral about it, obviously to no avail!

But back to JERICHO, a series which certainly did fit in with the mid-sixties World War II tee-vee chic that was so prevalent at the time. However, instead of a combat battalion on the rampage this series featured a special team consisting of three highly-skilled agents out to get their usually Herculeanesque tasks (ranging from rescuing kidnapped generals to hijacking cargoes of Tijuana Bibles heading for Ameriga in order to corrupt schoolchildren) done in a good hour, and that includes commercials too!

There's the Amerigan, sorta the older guiding light in the ol' Reed Richards sense, a French weapons expert who I guess is there to appeal to the continental (and maybe even incontinent) crowd and an English acrobat complete with a shaggy Beatle-type haircut, played by John Leyton of Joe Meek fame! And it's all kinda like MISSION IMPOSSIBLE meets HOGAN'S HEROES, and despite looking a bit disposable the series wasn't exactly that bad, nor that good. Good enough at least for mid-sixties television fans to peruse but sheesh, this 'un can get kinda draggy at times.

Not to say that JERICHO doesn't have its share of interesting twists and turns but man, watch two episodes and you got the entire series down pat from the old priest/headmaster/mayor that has to be won over to the overly-idealistic youthful freedom fighter (one of whom happens to be Jay North!) and of course the gal du jour, or episode as this case may be who's always a hotcha knockout even in a crappy ol' peasant dress. Sheesh, why no ugly buglies who smell like turdpiles? But hey, if ya gotta see Europe during World War II what better way can you think of 'n this? At least those gals make risking your life a li'l more fun!

Of course you have to suspend a lotta belief but you even have to do that with the tee-vee news so what else is new??? And Leyton's hair is so mop-toppy (yet I only caught one reference to him needing a haircut in the entire series!) you kinda expect him to be pluggin' his latest Brit Invasion single any minute! But even with the at-times slow moving action (only to be punctuated by a nice li'l brawl) and so many red herrings to the point where you kinda hope the trio do get blown to bits once we return from the commercials, JERICHO does make for a better hour of tee-vee fun'n anything new I've had the chance to peruse as of late.

And for me "of late" means at least thirty-five years which is probably longer'n any of you have been stomping this earth of ours! Too bad it hadda get stuck up against BATMAN or else it may have had a future, and while I'm at it couldn't you just see yer pop and uncles watching this rip roarin' about all the action they saw back when they were part and parcel of the whole Big 'un all the while chugging beer and gulping peanuts? Me three!

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