Critical Condition: Jericho

Jericho (Prime, 8.30 Tuesday)

“The weather has finally turned … Now we can … get down to … hunkering under a blanket in front of the telly with a bowl of thick soup and consuming dramas as hearty and satisfying as the food. Enter – with sturdy step, not flourish – Jericho, an eight-part series about people living and working in a shanty town on the moors in 1870s Yorkshire as they try to build a viaduct that will connect two railways and bring prosperity to all. Visually, it’s a bit suspect, a bit Downton-wi’-navvies. The clothes, huts and warmhearted prostitutes all look a little too clean, the machinery a little too unbattered and the moors a little too unscathed, but no matter. The story’s the thing, and there’s plenty of that.” — The Guardian.

“The series is being touted as a ‘British Western’, the frontier settlement at its centre being closer to Yorkshire’s Settle than the gun-slinging towns of California, and its desperate inhabitants seeking prosperity via the building of a railway viaduct rather than gold-mining. It’s the intrigue and historicity of Deadwood meets the industrial boom of Peaky Blinders, with more grit and grunts than a packed third-class Victorian train carriage. And if the first episode is anything to go by, that’s a pretty gripping way to ride.” — The Independent.

“It shouldn’t work, but it does. ITV’s new eight-part serial Jericho – starring Jessica Raine, the original lead from Call the Midwife – effectively takes a Western cowboy saga, and sets it in the Yorkshire Dales in the 1870s. The happy result is a kind of ‘Wild West Riding’, with rough and epic stories nestling in the time-honoured ee-by-gum ITV landscape of The Royal and Where the Heart Is.” — Forbes.

“It feels like wild-west stuff. There are hard-working men with names like Red and Skinny, some dubious types, a brothel run by a tart with a heart of gold.  The only difference is, that instead of sunshine and dusty streets, it’s green hills and clouds … The story doesn’t grab you from the start, but it soon develops and cracks along at a great pace. By the end of episode one, you want to keep watching.” — The Dominion Post.

“The coming of the railways is a fascinating period of social and industrial history, but Jericho feels little more than, at its heart, a damp romance … Laughably grim, packed with northern miserablism as the mine explodes, infection strikes and generally everyone gets muck all over them … I really do, genuinely, like epics of sweep and scale, yet Jericho just doesn’t convince me. It feels too small, too parochial, as the little, often clichéd human dramas threaten to swamp the much bigger picture of social upheaval and unimagined change.” — Radio Times.

“Now we know why our trains never run on time. It seems Britain’s railways were built by people who existed in some weird parallel dimension, outside the usual rules of time and space. Jericho, the story of how a Victorian railway viaduct was built in the Pennines, has been odd from the beginning. It portrays the Yorkshire shantytown where the navvies and their womenfolk live as a Wild West outpost, with saloons and bawdy-houses and a marshal in jingling spurs … But that’s just a hint of how bizarre the Jericho universe really is. Nothing makes any kind of sense here.” — Daily Mail.

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