That seems to be where the new CBS Thursday night series "Jericho" is set -- a dark and doomy dreamscape where a nuclear mushroom blooms silently like a magic flower on the distant horizon and made-for-TV mysteries abound and questions multiply.
Why does it suddenly get so dark? Why are dead birds falling from the sky in large numbers? Are just Denver and Atlanta gone, or are the residents of Jericho the only people left? Why does the mysterious black stranger know so much? Why does Skeet Ulrich have a James Dean East of Eden thing going with family patriarch and town mayor Gerald McRaney?
According to Robert P. Laurence, the San Diego Union-Tribune TV columnist who seems to have seen additional episodes, the questions will just keep piling up.
When half the town takes shelter in the nearby salt mine, is it really a good idea to blow up the entrance to protect them from fallout? Won't they want to leave someday? After all, there's no bathroom in there."Jericho" clearly seems to be a CBS attempt to capture some of ABC's "Lost" magic, but with bad lighting, a slower pace and less excitement.
Why does the mayor order the local ranchers to get all their livestock indoors? That doesn't sound like a practical idea in a region that counts cattle in the thousands.
And the biggest mystery of all: Why has CBS scheduled “Jericho” at 8 p.m., generally considered the hour for comedies and game shows?
A more appropriate time slot might be about, say, 2 a.m., perfect for that all-important, suicidal-insomniac demographic.
Although the town of Jericho survived, it's hard to imagine the show hanging in there very long. As of this writing, it's in 6th place on the Brilliant but Cancelled Deathwatch. "Brilliant" seems a stretch, but "canceled" doesn't.
"Jericho" does seem to take a remarkably nonchalant approach to the apparent incineration of millions of people. Apparently it's just something to get over and move on from. And in focusing on the struggle for survival of this one small town, it seems rather cavalier about the complex web of interdependence that ties together people in a modern industrial nation. Katrina wasn't that long ago, and offered a dramatic lesson in what happens when people are cut off from the outside world for even a few days. What will happen to Jericho when their fuel, food and other necessities run out?
We'll probably never find out, because the show seems unlikely to last that long.