On this Good Friday, there is little good about the news coming from CBS. Nina Tassler, who nine months away resurrected Jericho from its premature cancellation has pulled the plug for good after unfortunately meager ratings. I’m still two episodes behind on Jericho, something I plan on fixing for Tuesday’s now Series Finale, but I wanted to stop in with a few brief thoughts.
For good reason, some articles are pegging this as the ultimate test of whether or not networks are willing to embrace the online success of series made primarily for television. Jericho was a highly streamed series, big on iTunes downloads, but these are still media in their infancy by industry standards. The result is that poor ratings, below even its performance against American Idol, is going to drag the series down in the eyes of advertisers.
It wasn’t a perfect time slot, no question – it really should have been placed earlier, but then it would have run up against American Idol. Or Lost. Or any other highly rated series that based on sheer numbers would damage Jericho more than a later timeslot would. Expectations from CBS were high, with a strike meaning less original programming airing opposite – when Jericho’s numbers failed to jump even after NBC’s Quarterlife drew abysmal ratings, the writing was pretty much on the wall.
I don’t blame CBS for their decision – they are more justified now than they were last May, having given the show a second chance and seen ratings only drop. I think that the fact they even gave seven episodes was a gesture of goodwill – their inability to market the show successfully is less negligence, and more CBS’s inability to market anything outside of their shows which sell themselves based on long-standing television cliches.
I also think that anyone who attempts to blame fans is out of their mind – the long wait between when the show returned to air and its original revival is reflective of not negligence but reality. People live busy lives during the summer, and people getting caught up in the fervor don’t always stick around. Any serialized show like Jericho requires a certain level of commitment, and expecting it to have been enough to substantially boost ratings is naive.
Really, this isn’t an issue of blame – there will be resolution to a show that was never supposed to have one, and when I reflect back on the show’s second season on Wednesday it will not be with remorse but remembrance. Hopefully, the episode lives up to that promise, and doesn’t leave fans even more frustrated.