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JEREMIAH: THE COMPLETE FIRST SEASON
Reviewed April 9th, 2004 by David Nusair

 

That Jeremiahís been created by J. Michael Straczynski, a well-known comic book writer, isnít much of a surprise as the series contains an outrageous premise that seems like it would be right at home in a comic.

Though the show takes place in the future, we quickly learn that a horrible plague wiped out the majority of the Earthís population in the present. Anyone over the age of puberty was killed, leaving only children to roam the planet. Our hero is Jeremiah (Luke Perry), a 20-something loner whoís drifting from town to town in the hopes of finding a mysterious place known as Valhalla Sector (his father made a cryptic reference to it just before he died). One night, he meets a slightly shady character named Kurdy (Malcolm-Jamal Warner), who eventually winds up becoming Jeremiahís closest ally.

The two begin traveling together, and itís not long before they encounter a group of survivors holed up in an abandoned bunker. Their leader, Marcus (Peter Stebbings), is determined to keep order and civility among his people, and with good reason. Marcusí group has learned that the virus, nicknamed The Big Death, might just be on its way back, and heís devoted himself to ensuring that doesnít happen. Jeremiah and Kurdy convince Marcus to allow them to take up the cause, which is exactly where the pilot leaves off. The majority of the show consists of stand-alone episodes in which Marcus sends Jeremiah and Kurdy on various missions, missions that take them to different villages and force them to encounter both friends and enemies.

It comes as no surprise that Jeremiah was originally broadcast on pay channel Showtime, as evidenced by the many instances of swearing and nudity. But given that this is a society overrun by kids, anything else wouldíve been a cheat. Creator Straczynski does a fantastic job of establishing this world, which certainly has a post-apocalyptic feel to it, while ensuring that the characters donít get lost in all the spectacle. Perry, best known for playing Dylan on Beverly Hills 90210, does a fantastic job of becoming this man that has to be both curious and cautious. On the flipside is Jamal-Warnerís Kurdy, a gregarious and out-going sort thatís probably a bit more trusting than he should be. Itís a perfect odd couple relationship, and the two actors are utterly convincing in the roles.

Although the premise of the series seems to lend itself to long story arcs, somewhere along the lines of Alias or 24, the majority of the show consists of stand-alone episodes. Much like The X-Files, thereís an underlying theme thatís always present, in this case, involving Marcusí quest to prevent the return of The Big Death, but individual episodes generally involve Jeremiah and Kurdy investigating something in a new town. The addition of guest stars such as Jason Priestly and Sean Astin goes a long way towards ensuring that such stand-alone episodes remain intriguing.

Jeremiah is an awfully intriguing sci-fi show in an era in which such programs are few and far between. Straczynski and co. have effectively created a convincing world, with Perry and Jamal-Warner effectively convincing as reluctant heroes.

Audio: Jeremiah is presented with a surround soundtrack thatís quite effective, though itís not exactly demo material. Louder sounds, such as explosions, are handled quite well, as are quietier moments of dialogue.

Video: This full-screen transfer is about as crisp and clear as one might expect a new show to be.

Extras: The pilot episode includes audio commentary from Perry and Jamal-Warner, and it becomes clear almost immediately that these two men have become friends in real life. Their easy-going manner leads to a commentary thatís always enjoyable, if not entirely informative.

Also included are ten deleted scenes from the pilot episode, a quick behind-the-scenes featurette (five minutes, and clearly produced for promotional purposes), and two photo galleries (one that includes sketches from the production, with the other containing stills from the show). The set also includes a bonus disc that holds the first three episodes of another Showtime series, Stargate SG-1.

Conclusion: Jeremiah is an intriguing and consistently entertaining show, and this DVD set should please fans, though an actual making-of documentary might have been appreciated. Perhaps for the inevitable release of season two.

 

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