Five Reasons to Watch ITV’s Jericho

Annie, Johnny and Ralph - Jericho

So there is no confusion, this article is not about the 2006 TV program called Jericho that was the story of a post-apocalyptic world which was set in the Midwest. The Jericho I am talking about is a 2016 British production that is a period drama set in the 1870s. The story revolves around the construction of a railway viaduct. It was produced by ITV, a commercial TV network in the United Kingdom.

Jericho is the name of one of the shanty towns commonly created to house the workers and their families during this type of construction project. It is set in the Yorkshire Dales region of the UK. The story is inspired by the construction of the Ribblehead Viaduct. There are eight episodes the first season, and sadly there will not be a second season. Consequently, some of the story threads are left hanging. The series has been available in the US on acorn.tv, a streaming video service, since July 11, 2016.

As with any drama, there are several familiar elements. While in some cases the resolution of problems is predictable, the route to the solution is not. In addition, the acting is top notch and I found myself on the edge of my seat worrying for the characters. Let’s take a look at my top five reasons to watch this series.

Characters
 

Charles - Jericho

Jericho is full of interesting characters. Ralph Coates, the only American, brings his expertise as the new railway agent, supervising the workers and running the shanty town. But what are his motivations and background? Charles Blackwood, the wealthy landowner and financier of the project has lots of reasons for his somber demeanor, but what are they? Johnny Jackson turns up in the first episode but what is his backstory? Why is he in Jericho? And of course Annie Quaintain is a new widow with her family uprooted just to survive. Will they survive?

Secrets
 

Isabella and Johnny - Jericho

All the main characters, and even some of the peripheral ones, seem to have secrets. In fact, Johnny has more than one secret involving at least two other people each. Annie and her family have secrets. Ralph has secrets. Charles has secrets. I think you get the idea!

As is to be expected, those secrets are revealed at different times, and sometimes at the most inconvenient moment to heighten the drama. But it is the repercussions of the secrets and their revelations that continue to complicate the lives of these people as they frequently struggle to do what is right.

Murder
 

Earl - Jericho

People drop like flies in this program. Just about every episode has someone dying; sometimes more than one! While one of the deaths is from natural causes, all the others are the result of foul play as these characters fight, sometimes literally, for dominance.

Lacking the forensic skills we are used to, determining that a crime was even committed is very difficult. Nonetheless a detective does make significant headway in his investigation. And, thank goodness for suspicious people who are able to figure out something does not seem right!

A Bit of History and Terminology
 

Shanty Town - Jericho

While I do not recommend learning history from TV or the movies, if the program or movie is well made, then especially in a period piece you can sometimes have a window into an accurate depiction of life in the past.

Specifically in Jericho, it is clear just how bad the life of a widow could be in the 1870s. Annie Quaintain is recently widowed, and saddled with the debt her husband left behind. She is forced to sell all her worldly belongings and her house to pay them off. She then must find a way to provide for her children. Also, when another woman in the shanty town is widowed, she is forced into prostitution to pay her bills and keep her home.

Another important aspect of a period piece that stands out in this program is the terminology used. For instance, do you know what navvy means? I did not until I looked it up after hearing it used on this program! And, I thought I knew what a viaduct was, but after reading more about them I learned that they do not carry just water and that there is more than one type.

Family Dynamics
 

Annie, George and Martha - Jericho

The families on this program are very complicated. Some of the complications are the result of the secrets mentioned earlier. Within the Blackwood family there is betrayal, sacrifice and pride. All of these contribute to the complications and drama which help drive the action.

Then there is the Quaintain family, whose lives were turned upside down by the death of the head of the household. Annie struggles to keep her family together in this totally foreign reality into which she has been thrust. Her children, and in particular her son, strive to find their new place in the altered family they are now experiencing.

 

Have you see ITV’s Jericho? If not, check it out. If you have seen it, what did you think? I would love to hear your thoughts in the comments section below!