The ‘Save Jericho’ campaign has been going for a week and a half. The network is promising to consider fans’ cries for closure, which could mean a multitude of things. In my view, the fan response has been good enough that CBS will not suggest a simple interview with producers to let fans know how it would have ended. Instead, I believe that what CBS will suggest is a 2-hour movie which will complete the series quickly but in a more resolute fashion. Fans, clearly, are adamant that a second season is the only option: that there is no other way they will be satisfied. And this has been their focus: the message to fans is that, much like Jake facing the threat from New Bern, surrender isn’t an option.
What I want to consider here is whether or not a 4-hour miniseries would be surrendering. It has benefits for fans over a two-hour movie, and it has benefits for executives in a shorter shooting schedule. It provides CBS with an opportunity to test this fan support in gauging possible further extension of the franchise without risking it on a season order, while also providing producers more room to work with. I think that asking CBS to cough up a second season of the show is a lot, which is why I think that Jericho fans need to be prepared to compromise, not surrender. And I believe that a two-part miniseries is that compromise, and one that could continue the campaign’s momentum into the fall months.
CBS is dealing with a rabid fan audience, and they want to try to turn that into something more tangible moving forward. A series order has the possibility of being lost within the rest of their new shows (Plus there isn’t anywhere on the schedule for it, and they can’t just bump something else that easily). A Miniseries, however, is something special, and something that can be promoted as its own “event”.
And event programming is big business: CBS drew strong numbers for Jessie Stone: A Sea Change just last week. Jericho, for me, has similar potential as an event of this nature, especially considering the action-focused conclusion it came to. A miniseries is easier to promote, which might bode well for the future success of the brand should it prove successful.
One of Jericho’s toughest challenges, in my view, was drawing in casual viewers. I am not saying that people wouldn’t enjoy the show, but rather it was a commitment that many were not able to make. With a four-hour miniseries, it is a smaller commitment. By building a story that can stand on its own while also continuing the existing storylines, casual viewers might get hooked, and be willing to stick around should the show get a chance to continue.
An example of this is something I’ve discussed before: flash forward a number of years, and have a history class discussing what happened with Jericho. This can allow for flashbacks of key information from the first season, before jumping back into the finale (Reshooting some scenes for some more exposition) and then kicking off perhaps after its first half hour with the final moments at the battle with New Bern.
This would allow for new viewers to get an idea of who they’re dealing with, while also providing fans a chance to see how things would have gone (And a place to prove their support to CBS).
Look, I know that there’s been a lot of bashing of CBS because of their financially focused mindset, but capitalism is here to stay and we should consider it. For CBS to commit to a 13-episode second season, this would require sets, actors, production crew, writers, directors, etc over an extended period of months. That would be a huge burden for the network financially, especially since it already ordered all of its shows.
A Miniseries, meanwhile, it shot in a condensed period of time like a movie, and requires less money due to that shortened shooting time. While CBS needs to start working on making some financial sacrifices in its quest to remain a powerful network, I think that asking them to take on an entirely new midseason drama is a lot without proof that more people will be tuning in this time around. A cheaper Miniseries can provide them with concrete proof, while not forcing them to break their piggy banks open.
I know that fans don’t like the word, since they don’t want anything to end at all, but a Miniseries is a guarantee. If CBS is unwilling to provide the series with a second season, I think that fans need to accept that closure would be much, much better than nothing. It would provide a proper sendoff for the series, an end to the conflict with New Bern, and an opportunity for the crew to reunite together to end their marvelous journey.
And settling for a Miniseries does not guarantee failure for future seasons of the show. A Miniseries would become the new battleground where fans of the show who have mailed in peanuts, bought ads in Variety and The Hollywood Reporter, and shown their support online can prove to CBS that they are watching, anticipating, and that they’re not all talk. It’s a chance to prove CBS wrong, to prove executives wrong, and to prove that the ‘Nuts to CBS’ campaign isn’t just internet hype but real viewing strength.
But, as someone who only watched the beginning of the season (And went through the finale today), perhaps I don’t have the right perspective. However, I guess I just want to make clear that I think that a Miniseries wouldn’t be surrendering. Instead, it would be a temporary compromise that would open the door for Jericho fans to prove themselves in the Fall. Even if they won’t give the show a second season, no one wants to see this momentum die. A Miniseries extends the life of ‘Save Jericho’, and I think it’s something all fans should consider as CBS Executives apparently meet soon to decide the show’s fate.