Friday, July 23, 2010

"Jeremiah" Season 2 (2003)

Starring Luke Perry, Malcolm Jamal-Warner and Sean Astin
Created by J. Michael Straczynski

The first season of "Jeremiah" was a reasonably entertaining, if cheaply produced, sci-fi series.  The second season, however, is pretty limp from start to finish.

The best thing about the first season was the chemistry between Jeremiah (Perry) and Kurdy (Jamal-Warner) as they take to the road searching for supplies and allies and investigating the mysterious and powerful enemy known as Valhalla Sector.  Season two jettisons this premise, splitting up the team of Jeremiah and Kurdy (after making the point that there is nothing these two can't achieve together).  Valhalla Sector is disposed with as the show's primary enemy within the first two episodes, replaced by your standard sci-fi Nazi analogue, the Forces of Daniel.

It seems that, though never mentioned previously, for years a man named Daniel has been taking over the east coast one city at a time, creating work camps and killing anyone who didn't have something to contribute.  The army of Daniel wears all black, which tells us that they're evil, and are led by a man named Sims who wears a long, black leather trench coat and speaks in a horrible southern accent.  They'll roll into town, say "Pledge your allegiance to us" and if the town says no, they'll burn it to the ground.

Jeremiah is made leader of a town called Milhaven, which had previously been a stronghold of Valhalla Sector, now liberated after that organization is conveniently and easily destroyed.  Kurdy is partnered with a mysterious newcomer named Mister Smith (Sean Astin) who claims to get messages from God.  I know.

Jeremiah also starts falling for a woman named Libby, a defector from Valhalla Sector.  But, randomly, it turns out that she was actually working for Daniel the whole time... even when she was working for Jeremiah's father in Valhalla Sector.  Speaking of Jeremiah's father, searching for him was a long-running story thread for the first season.  After the two get a brief reunion, the storyline and its related emotional heft are effectively dropped.  Devon appears once or twice throughout the rest of the season, usually to deliver expository dialogue, but that's about it.

So with the characters split up and in new and uninteresting roles, a new and uninteresting villain, Season Two of "Jeremiah" just sort of falls apart.  The episodes aren't particularly interesting on their own, though some momentum builds in the final stretch of the season.  While "Jericho" had the balls to end on the cusp of a second American Civil War, "Jeremiah" feels the need to resolve this storyline through some shoddy logic.  While the season one finale felt big and important, the season two (and series) finale feels disappointing compared to the buildup before it.  The writers put the characters into dire situations, and then resolve them too easily.

I have to put this season down as a big disappointment.  Sure, the first season was no great treasure, but it was fairly entertaining and had some good ideas going for it.  Season Two throws pretty much all of it away, which is pretty unfortunate.