USA Network, whose movie signature (“Marilyn and Bobby” notwithstanding) disdains socially relevant, real-life material in favor of physical melodrama, uncranks another of its bread-and-butter, action-suspense yarns in “Jericho Fever.” As formulaic patterns go, the plot isn’t half bad.
The cable net recently explored past-life regression in the clunky “Dying to Remember.” Happily, its latest entry, stirring the spread of a deadly virus, Mexican-border violence and terrorists, enjoys a well-crafted script by I.C. Rapoport (from a story by Rapoport and director/exec producer Sandor Stern).
Stephanie Zimbalist, whose TV trademark is flinty, no-nonsense doctor/lawyer types, stars as a Centers for Disease Control specialist scurrying through remote New Mexico in pursuit of a German terrorist (Alan Scarfe) who unwittingly carries the antibodies that could save thousands from an impending, mysterious death.
It enriches the irony that he and his band of mercenaries, including a coldblooded Peruvian/German beauty (Elyssa Davalos), are fever-afflicted assassins with the secret to cure people who are dropping like flies.
Playing crucial roles are lantern-jawed Perry King, as Zimbalist’s lover and a doctor studying the virus, and, in the production’s showiest role, Native American Branscombe Richmond. The latter plays a dogged FBI investigator with a nose for tire and foot tracks.
Audiences will forget the show the minute they turn off the set, but that’s part of the diversion.