Showtime's 'Jeremiah' Justifies Second Watch

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Showtime makes yet another foray into the science-fiction genre with Jeremiah, a promising original series starring two former teen TV stars.

Luke Perry, Beverly Hills: 90210's brooding heartthrob Dylan, plays the title role while Malcolm-Jamal Warner — Bill Cosby's wisecracking, underachieving son Theo from The Cosby Show
days — plays sidekick, Kurdy.

But for once, Perry's brooding, James Dean-lite persona works for him. And though Warner sometimes takes a few steps too far in terms of comic relief, his performance mostly makes you forget his TV-teen years.

Based on a series of graphic novels by Hermann Huppen — and developed for TV by Babylon 5
creator J. Michael Straczynski —Jeremiah
is set 15 years in the future, in a post-apocalyptic United States inhabited by children whose parents were caught in something called "the big death."

The title character is a drifter set loose in a Mad Max
-meets-Night of the Comet
world in which resources are dwindling and teens and twentysomethings must scrounge to get by.

Unlike most of his peers, though, Jeremiah has memories of the "old world" — and of the Valhalla Sector, the place to which his father, an epidemiologist of some sort, might have escaped. In his quest for more information, he heads to a new town and has a run-in with Kurdy, who tries to steal his freshly caught fish.

Jeremiah gets drawn into events in town after the local boss, Theo (Kim Hawthorne), tries to foil a robbery. He saves her life, and — temporarily — wins her favor.

He's also approached by two others who witnessed the scene in the market: Simon and Matthew, who want to recruit him for their "cause." Simon and Matthew traveled to town in a camouflaged Land Rover, but Theo captures the vehicle, and the men. She then decides Jeremiah was in on the plot, forcing Kurdy to make the choice of rescuing his new friend.

The two new partners agree to return the Land Rover to its rightful owners — the inhabitants of "Thunder Mountain," an underground nuclear bomb shelter and one of the last remnants of civilization. They join forces with its leader, Marcus Alexander, to find new recruits and resources for the community — and to help stave off a potential new disease threat.

Action in the two-hour premiere unfolds slowly, and development of the show's main plot points isn't overly telegraphed. And neither the script nor the scenery overdoes it. Jeremiah
strikes just the right balance and, at first glance, appears to be worth a second look.

The series bows Sunday, March 3 at 8 p.m. on Showtime.

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