‘Save Jericho’: Considering a ‘Jericho’ Miniseries

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.

Event Programming

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.

Casual Viewers

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).

Cost

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.

Closure

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.

17 Comments

Filed under Jericho, Television

17 responses to “‘Save Jericho’: Considering a ‘Jericho’ Miniseries

  1. Judi Massey

    I only want to see a second season and give Jericho a fair shot at proving it has the stamina to go forward. My feelings have been and will continue to be the same.

  2. Memles, thank you so much for your continued coverage of the “Nuts to CBS” campaign! You offer open and intellectually honest debate — that is a rare thing these days.

    A week and a half ago, a 4 hour mini series would probably have worked. An announcement like that would have killed the “Nuts to CBS” movement before it really had gotten started, and it would have made CBS look very magnanimous.

    Now, however, I think an offer like that would be a day late and a dollar short. I appreciate that CBS is a bureaucracy and that it can’t exactly turn on a dime, but it has fallen far behind the curve of this viral internet movement. The core group of the campaign has solidified quickly with a mantra and a single goal — season 2 (somewhere, anywhere) or bust. And as new people just learning about the cancellation come aboard, they are instantly swept up into that same mind set.

    And it is not exactly like CBS holds all of the chips. “Nuts to CBS” is in essence an online company with between 30,000 and 50,000 volunteer employees with low overhead and an operating budget of roughly $120,000 per month (currently). Should the recent mainstream media coverage (ABC, Michelle Malkin) and/or the Tuesday full page ads bring in more people or money (which is the intent), then things could get sticky PR-wise for CBS.

    Perhaps it is not realistic for fans to expect CBS to run a second season (though I would vigorously debate that). However, I do not think it is realistic for CBS to expect the “Nuts to CBS” campaign to disband itself on the announcement of a 4 hour wrap up either. “Nuts to CBS” has had too many successes of late and has developed too large a sense of empowerment to accept anything less than season 2.

  3. David, thank you. We’ll likely never see entirely eye to eye, but no campaign of this nature can exist without some level of intellectual debate, and thank you for assisting in ensuring this takes place.
    The thing is, I don’t think that a four-hour miniseries should kill the campaign but rather shift its focus. Instead of attacking CBS, the campaign can shift into making people aware of the series. Buying copies of the Season One DVD for libraries, organizing web campaigns, and getting the series out there. Right now, I think the campaign is verging on vengeance; a mini-series announcement wouldn’t eliminate that, but allow it to channel itself naturally into productive efforts. The more the campaign is focused on lobbying against CBS, the more I think that it risks becomes insular. Having something tangible could be a positive step for ‘Nuts to CBS’, as opposed to a killer.

  4. Memles, you bring up some interesting points! The idea of a mini-series leading into a second season sits very well with me. A mini series gives all of us more Jericho (very needed and wanted by fans) and more time to bring new viewers on board (very needed and wanted by CBS). It is actually a perfect plan in my viewpoint; a win-win scenario. CBS would be able to utilize this viral marketing campaign to its advantage. I watched Battlestar Galactica’s mini-series as suggested to me by my local Blockbuster manager. THEN I started watching the series. I was hooked on the mini-series first. If CBS releases Jericho season 1 on DVD and puts out a mini-series as a prelude to season 2, watch out CBS. If they think we are crazy now, wait until we are happy and crazy! We’ll do more marketing for them than they could ever budget for a single show!

  5. Myles we do see eye to eye about one thing for sure — any cause that cannot tolerate self scrutiny is a very weak cause. I hope that others take note of that.

    For the diuscussion at hand, in an ideal world your idea would be perfect. In fact, 2 weeks ago, in ANY world it would have been perfect 🙂

    On May 18th, 2 days after cancellation and the uproar, CBS could have said “We are open for a possible second season. What we are going to do is move up the DVD sales to early summer and then in late summer air a 4 hour special that will wrap up season one and bridge into a potential season 2. If DVD sales are good, and the 4 hour special rates well, then we will be looking at Jericho season 2 as a mid year addition.”

    I think timing is everything, and I think that CBS missed the window on that opportunity. It would just be too little too late at this point.

    My biggest fear now is that neither side will blink. What happens if CBS just writes off Jericho and the fan base, and the fans write off CBS — or worse, go on a scorched earth policy against CBS?

    To be honest, I don’t know. But it wouldn’t be good for anyone.

  6. Wildcards88

    I for one have made several attempt to open the lines of communication with CBS so that they and the viewer can have a win-win. We all need to be realistic. I don’t think we will get a full 22 episode season. What I really like to see is for CBS to have a 10-13 episode as a replacement for a failed show.

    Then judge the viewership. If it’s good, then order a full 3rd season. But don’t put it up against Idol!!

    A two hour closer movie will be trashy. Even a four hour mini is not good, you will need a six hour or more.

  7. When CBS comes down with a decision, whatever decision it is, this campaign cannot stop. If the decision falls the way of a Miniseries, this campaign needs to rally around exactly what djhawkins is describing: letting the public know Jericho is out there, and ensuring that the miniseries is a success. If CBS comes down with a shortened Season Two as a midseason replacement, this campaign needs to turn into a marketing machine, making sure that people know it will be coming back.

    No matter what, there are going to be challenges. What if friday night’s Moonlight is the cancelled show? Jericho, like every show aired on Fridays, will struggle. It is the job of this campaign, this group, to make sure that it survives. And if it’s just a miniseries with a chance for something more (They could technically build that into contracts), it’s up to fans to grab for that something more.

    David, you make a great point about this:

    “My biggest fear now is that neither side will blink. What happens if CBS just writes off Jericho and the fan base, and the fans write off CBS — or worse, go on a scorched earth policy against CBS?”

    We need to keep this from happening. If CBS makes a decision that isn’t “We now love Jericho and are giving it a complete 2nd Season”, it is the job of this campaign not to write off the network but rather to embrace and build the campaign further.

    This campaign, in its current form, is making CBS’ PR Department really nervous, and it’s making executives and the public take notice. The next step is turning that notice into interest, and that interest into the rabid fandom you all exhibit. That is the real test, and I’d hate to see you not get to that point simply because a compromise is the best CBS will do.

    Thanks to all who have commented.

  8. Mergele

    This piece raises some very good points. I do think that the longer CBS waits to take some sort of public position on the future of Jericho, the greater the risk.

    While a mini-series, with the potential for continuation in series format beyond that, would have headed off much of the current outcry if offered a week ago, the clamor now is for nothing less than a second season. And the clamor continues to grow by the day.

  9. John

    My understanding is that the producers had essentially a five-year plan for the show’s storyline. If CBS wasn’t willing to commit money and resources to such a program, they wouldn’t have picked it up in the first place. So I think the argument about cost is flawed. To say that there is no room for it in the fall schedule is to assume CBS is unwilling to adjust to requests of the viewers. If the only concern is the bottom line, then CBS should just sell a full hour of discount advertising time next year against American Idol and forget about making a series to run against such a popular show.

    No closure. No miniseries. Season two or bust.

    NUTS to CBS!!!

  10. Grace

    The fans of JERICHO want another season.

    NUTS to CBS!! They were very wrong in leaving us all hanging after we got involved in the story and the characters. I think we DESERVE the story that the writers and producers want to tell.

    “Make a stand here.” Johnston Green RIP

  11. Nancy

    It is NOT too late for CBS to bring JERICHO back for another season or two or three.
    The actors are still under contract until June 15th.
    And I know at least one actor who had a 5 year contract.

    NUTS TO CBS!!
    “You never know when you might need a tank.”
    Johnston Green

  12. Charles

    Thank you for this article. Our goal is a second season (and beyond). It would be difficult and unsatisfying to wrap up the complex storylines in just 4 hours. I also disagree with the argument that a miniseries could lead to another season if the ratings are high. Even if the miniseries is a success, by that time many of the actors and writers would be unavailable for a whole season, likely having found other work. So a second season in that case would look and feel very different.

    But if CBS realizes that Jericho is a successful series and renews it in the next few days, the series can return intact. In so doing, CBS will be a leader in the revolution in the way TV is created, presented, and evaluated.

  13. Rob M

    We don’t want a mini series.

    Only Season 2 Will Do !!

    CBS Bring back Jericho.

    Save Jericho !!

  14. NH

    on a related note, jeffrey braverman (the man behind the NUTS for JERICHO campaign) will be doing an interactive chat today on this site called PalTalk.com. 5 p.m. eastern time. thought i’d repost. yay!

    ———-

    LINK: http://www.paltalk.com/newstalk/jbraverman_episode.shtml

    OFFICIAL RELEASE:

    TODAY (5/30) 5 PM EST: NUTS FOR JERICHO on PALTALK!

    This afternoon at 5 p.m. EST, join host Gary Baumgarten as he welcomes
    “NUTS for Jericho” visionary Jeffrey Braverman to his interactive video chat show, NewsTalk, found exclusively on PalTalk.com.

    PalTalk is pleased to assist Jericho enthusiasts’ awesome efforts to revive their favorite show. Help maintain the fight by logging onto http://www.paltalk.com/newstalk/jbraverman_episode.shtml TODAY at 5 p.m. EST, and telling friends and family to do the same!

  15. I personally love Jericho! i will not allow CBS to cancel it. help me save Jericho .The Save jericho campaign was made to make our voices louder for CBS to hear us. Check it out and tell your family and friends. Thank Xavier
    http://www.youchoose.net/pledge/save_jericho/from/xavierr

  16. Pingback: Report: 'Jericho' to Return for 7-8 Episodes at Midseason « Cultural Learnings

  17. Hi, I found your blog on yahoo. I’m pretty glad to have found your blog because I think it is informative! I will definitely come back! Great resource for my students. Youproblog

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