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"This is the most exciting day of my life...and I was pulled on stage once to dance at a Bruce Springsteen concert."
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Thursday, June 14, 2007

Out of All The Gin Joints Shows In The World, They Had To Renew This One

In the nearly thirty years I've been walking this planet one thing is for certain. I have seen many good television shows come and many good television shows go. Sometimes they go quietly, because it simply their time. Other times they go quickly and suddenly, without warning. The death of a TV show is often like the death of a loved one that way, only instead of nails in the coffin they have Neilsen ratings to finish them off.

I could write a book about all of the television shows I've felt have gone off the air abruptly, unjustly and unfairly. Shows like My So-Called Life, Freaks and Geeks, American Dreams and Once and Again represent only a fraction of programs that have ended before they should have. This television season was no exception as shows like Gilmore Girls, Studio 60 and The Class became the most recent victims to bite the dust.

Another supposed to be casualty of the 2006-2007 television season was the CBS apocalyptic drama, Jericho. Created on the heels of successful mystery shows filled with pent up suspense like Lost and 24, CBS decided to throw its hat into the ring by creating an "its the end of the world as we know it" type drama of their own.

The plot premise was simple. Something horrible has seemingly killed off the entire world or at least most of it. Somehow the small town of Jericho, Kansas has managed to be spared. Here, the everyday citizens struggle to find out if it was a fluke or sign of what was meant to be. Every week provided very little answers and only half of those made sense, but its a formula that had been proven to work as of late, so CBS decided to give it a go.

In the beginning, my dad and I decided to watch Jericho together. We used to watch Lost together, but both of us got sick of having all these doors being opened with no one attempting to close them. Eventually we gave up on Lost and moved on. But let's make something clear, while a show like Jericho was clearly born out of the success of a show like Lost, the caliber of both programs is entirely different. Lost, although quite confusing, definitely has the bigger budget of the two. Even when they do their confusing flashbacks, seemingly no expense has been spared. There is not a lot of need for special effects on a tropical island, but there is a sense of quality that came with ABC's production.

Unfortunately the same cannot be said for Jericho. First of all, it always seemed like Jericho had a group of B-list actors living in a B-list of a town. You know they aren't rolling in dough when the heroes of your program are the likes of Skeet Ulrich and Gerald McCraney and it's NOT 1995. Then there were the location shots themselves. Just like Lost, there wasn't a huge need to build elaborate sets, but when you're watching a show and actors are sitting in a car and you can tell they are just sitting there, it's bad.

Finally there's the believability of the scripts themselves. Lost has a lot of quirks that eventually made us abandon ship. Doesn't the fat guy ever lose weight? What is up with Matthew Fox's perfect five o'clock shadow? Wouldn't the girls be hairier by now and out of lip gloss? Jericho is no different. Although it is meant to be a serious drama, my dad and I actually watched it for the purposes of comic relief.

Shows like Jericho, Lost and even Heroes decided to take a gamble this season. In an effort to keep the suspense going (and buy time on production costs, no doubt) each show took a brief hiatus before returning again mid season. In some cases the momentum worked and the return was welcomed. In Jericho's case however, it was simply too new of a show to give viewers such a huge responsibility. As a result, in what had to be the quickest turn around success to failure of any show yet, Jericho's ratings suffered when it ultimately resurfaced, leading to its ultimate demise.

While I was surprised by the cancellation, I'd be lying if I said I was overly upset. To be honest, I was actually sort of relieved. My dad and I had gotten behind a few episodes on Jericho and figured we had the summer to catch up. We knew we were both OK with it being canceled when we we realized we didn't actually have to watch the last three episodes as it was a moot point. Don't laugh, my mom and I are still trying to polish off the last three episodes of The OC.

Which brings me to the here and now. Jericho fans apparently decided they wished not to go quietly into the good night. Instead they staged a campaign to get Jericho back. They decided to start a Nuts for Jericho grass roots effort to see if they could make their show return. All interested participants apparently sent nuts to the CBS studios in protest of Jericho's cancellation. Here's how it breaks down according to the Nuts for Jericho site:

NUTS for Jericho: Success
orders $$ weight
NY 3,677 $41,062 30,219 lbs
LA 1,102 $13,760 10,078 lbs
total 4,779 $54,822 40,297 lbs
Over 20 TONS of Peanuts to CBS!!
(that's about 8 million peanuts!!)

Jericho 1 day record: 10,000 pounds hit CBS NY on 5/29!!!

After being inundated with nuts for a few weeks, CBS responded with this letter:

June 6, 2007

To the Fans of Jericho:


Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime time television series. You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard.

As a result, CBS has ordered seven episodes of "Jericho" for mid-season next year. In success, there is the potential for more. But, for there to be more "Jericho," we will need more viewers.

A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available.

We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks.

At this time, I cannot tell you the specific date or time period that "Jericho" will return to our schedule. However, in the interim, we are working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences. This includes re-broadcasting "Jericho" on CBS this summer, streaming episodes and clips from these episodes across the CBS Audience Network (online), releasing the first season DVD on September 25 and continuing the story of Jericho in the digital world until the new episodes return. We will let you know specifics when we have them so you can pass them on.

On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of "Jericho" in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference.


Nina Tassler
President, CBS Entertainment

P.S. Please stop sending us nuts :-)

My reaction to the reinstatement of Jericho has been all over the place. At first, it was disbelief. I couldn't believe a campaign to get a show to return FINALLY worked. But then my disbelief quickly turned to anger when I realized out of all the shows that I've watched that I wish it could work for, Jericho would be at the bottom of that list. Eventually I turned to skepticism. Why was it seemingly so easy to make CBS turn their heads? Did they always secretly regret their decision to cancel the show and help stage a press blitz themselves? Or maybe they never intended to truly cancel it in the first place, but yet again, hoped the press coverage would help people sit up and take notice?

Whatever the reason Jericho, it seems will be returning mid season. What this means for the show and other shows like it remains uncertain. What this does set however, is a precedent. If all is on the up and up, apparently fan feedback can make a difference. That's huge in terms of dealing with the soulless suits who seem to run network tv.

I for one doubt I will return though. I already recorded over the last three episodes, never thinking in a million years it would ever return. Yes, it's the end of my world with Jericho as a I know it. But you know what? I feel fine.



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