I have written in the past about how I believe CBS had justification to cancel Jericho. However, I must admit that I am incredibly impressed by the outpouring of support found on the internet for the series. The ‘Save Jericho’ campaign has swept the internet to a level that I honestly didn’t expect. I myself felt some of this, but it is clear that these fans aren’t letting up, and that the momentum is only building.
‘Save Jericho’ Links
‘Save Jericho’ @ Cultural Learnings
From the campaign to send nuts (A line from the finale) to CBS to the outpouring of anger and frustration, it is clear that the show has a rabid fanbase. And, to be honest, I would be sweating right now if I was CBS. However, I’d also be sweating if I was a fan of Jericho as we know it. Because, if CBS gives in to the fans and orders a 2nd season of the drama (As unlikely as it is), we have no idea what might emerge from that engagement.
There is no way that the network would be willing to just pick up Jericho where it left off. It failed to connect with casual viewers, shedding them as the season went forward. The result was a lowly-rated show with a strong fanbase, and yet with absolutely no room for growth. The series has now created an even more elaborate series of storylines to unravel, and just picking that up where they left off won’t provide any ratings improvement. And, I think even fans of the series would admit that the show’s ratings weren’t quite what they could be.
So, CBS isn’t just going to say “Go ahead, producers, keep doing what you’re doing!” No, instead, CBS is going to work with producers to attempt to reach a compromise. They would suggest casting changes, storyline improvements, and perhaps cutting back on the show’s serial elements to focus more on procedural developments.
Think this won’t happen? Let’s look at Veronica Mars. When it was, surprisingly, picked up for a second season, the show was told by UPN “You need to do the following”. This required the addition of a young female African-American character to appeal to the network’s demographics, and resulted in an awkward, strange character that never fit into the universe they constructed. This wasn’t because she was African-American, but because she was artificial, created for a purpose. Then, when the show was picked up in its 3rd Season, the network forced them to scrap their serialized structure and focus more on smaller mysteries. The show now, as it ends its run, is a shell of what it was in the first season, even as its acting and writing keep it above water.
I think fans of Jericho should be worried that the same could be done to their series. CBS is offering all sorts of options for tying up this story, including a TV movie, but fans aren’t having it: they want a 2nd season and nothing else. And, to be honest, I think this is the wrong attitude to have. Resurrecting this show is both not likely to happen and also potentially dangerous to the aspects of the show they enjoy most.
Jericho failed, in the eyes of CBS, because it was a sci-fi serial drama that never connected with their core audience of viewers, instead creating a strong fringe fanbase that, while devoted, don’t make up a huge audience. If CBS was really willing to let the show live in its current form, they would have renewed it. But, they didn’t: they decided that a reality show had a better chance of reaching a wide audience. And, do you know what? They’re right. That doesn’t make it fair, but chances are they’re correct.
What this means is that if CBS were to backpedal and pick up Jericho’s 2nd season, they wouldn’t do so without changes. This is why, if I were a fan of Jericho, I’d be more than willing to accept a TV movie or Miniseries. Even then, though, CBS is likely to demand a TV movie that could stand alone so casual viewers would turn in as well. Considering its ratings, there is absolutely no way that Jericho fans can get their hopes up for CBS to just let it keep going. If, through the power of the audience, CBS does makes a decision which could bring back the show, it will be a changed one.
And, to be honest, I don’t think that’s what anyone wants. At least a TV Miniseries could provide a little bit of closure, keep with the show’s main characters without fudging them around, and be a final breath for a series that likely died before its time. I don’t think there’s any security in a 2nd season, and I think that fans should remain open to the idea.