The Return of Jericho: Reruns, The CW, and the Audacity of Hope

jerichoad.jpgTonight, Jericho returns.

A year and a half ago, this was a revelation. Today, it feels quite different, an odd and unexpected consolation prize for fans who worked so hard to get the show back on the air. Tens of thousands of pounds of peanuts were enough the get the show a second season, but not enough to convince CBS that it should run consistent reruns of the series in every available setting. In other words, the renewal came with a caveat: the fans, who provided such a great grassroots campaign, were responsible for pulling their weight to grow the show’s audience.

But now, in an ironic turn of events, Jericho returns in an unexpected capacity as the lead-off for The CW’s new Sunday nights. After the Media Right Capital deal, which saw the production company program its own lineup to enormously middling results, fell through, The CW had a lot of options of what to program in the slot. Repeats of their struggling comedies could help their audience, the MGM movies are cheap and always decent counter-programming, but then came the kicker: Jericho reruns, starting from episode one of the first season, at 7/6c every Sunday into the foreseeable future.

For fans, this is a sign of hope: a sign that there is an off-chance of the fanbase growing, of the show pulling a Family Guy and making its way back onto the schedule. And while I remain skeptical that this is in the cards, and feel that The CW (And Viacom) have more subtle motives with this particular move, one cannot remain pessimistic in the presence of the fans who changed network television’s definition of cancelled with a whack of peanuts and sheer determination.

Why Jericho?

I asked myself this question when the release came out: it’s a serialized show, which makes it tough to repeat in the time slot – one would think that one of CBS’ procedurals would have been the better option in terms of capturing audience on a week-by-week basis. Their decision not to do this, at the very least, tells me that they have some type of reason here that goes beyond “because we can” to something designed to expand Jericho’s potential.

First and foremost, I think it was a headline grabbing decision; without Jericho, the headlines for the new CW Sunday would have read “CW programs repeats and movies for Sundays” as opposed to “CW resurrects Jericho.” News outlets were quicker to pick up the story when it related to the cultural zeitgeist that was Jericho’s return from the dead, and the result was more hype about a rather tepid Sunday lineup than they would have received otherwise.

At the same time, I think it’s also an attempt at tapping into the fanbase that exists and trying to push them back into the spotlight. CBS knows that they have an unusually devoted group of fans for a canceled TV show, and they want to use them as much as possible: Jericho’s first season is now on YouTube, the DVDs are on store shelves (and likely sold better than the DVDs for a lot of other CBS-owned shows that aren’t really collectible/rewatchable), and there remains financial benefits to the show’s continued success.

And, yes, there is also the off chance that CBS is looking to Jericho as a potential show to revitalize in the future. Personally, I think this is unlikely (the show’s cast is off doing different things and, perhaps more importantly, it doesn’t fit the target demographics of The CW), but I don’t think that fans should see this as discouraging. Instead, this is an opportunity that they wouldn’t had had otherwise: a chance for them to reband to, even if they’re not saving the show, at least bring it to a larger audience.

As someone who had given up on Jericho before the last campaign, I can say that it gave me a chance to play catchup, and to get to know the show’s characters better. As anyone who’s still kicking around from the Jericho days at Cultural Learnings knows, I still had some issues with the show’s pacing in both the first and second seasons, but the fan support gave the show a new perspective. And new viewers who get to experience that for the first time tonight on The CW, or on Universal HD, or on YouTube, would benefit from having the same kind of perspective.

So, if you’re a fan, hope you enjoy seeing Jericho all over again; and if you’re not, I’d suggest giving it a chance – worst thing that could happen is what you find a new way to spend your early Sunday evenings.

Jericho reruns debut tonight at 7/6c on The CW, and the show is also airing on Universal HD. For more information on fan efforts to save the show, Jericho Junction has a post regarding “Operation Pheonix.” If you want to learn more about the campaign that saved the show to begin with, you can check out Cultural Learnings’ Jericho archives.

15 Comments

Filed under Jericho

15 responses to “The Return of Jericho: Reruns, The CW, and the Audacity of Hope

  1. Norsu

    The Audacity of hope

    Line of the year and great Jericho story – thanks

  2. law0621

    I believe CW made the right choice with Jericho. I will always hope for a new season of Jericho and maybe CW is the station to do it.

  3. terocious

    Great Article Myles. Thank You.

    The timing of the CW announcement was interesting to say the least as it coincided with CBS pulling the plug on its own Jericho message board.

    Was this a Bait and Switch? CBS has evoked all of its corporate savvy to minimize further Jericho fan revolt in the past. Got me thinking…

  4. NorthernND

    Great article. Many Thanks!

    Jericho is the first show that completely captured my interest.

    I’m not particularly web saavy, but I ventured into the Jericho CBS boards when I learned it had been cancelled. It’s really great to see the show back on a network again. I truly hope this is a sign that there is still hope for more seasons!

  5. twister

    thanks for the article!!!!! 🙂
    im bumed that i dont get CW in Romania but its great news…i will never give up hope….

  6. Rangerette

    Thanks for the great article about Jericho. I truly enjoyed watching the show back on tv last night. I am still holding onto hope that Jericho will live on in either a movie or future seasons or both.

  7. Cher

    Great article….Thanks!

    I don’t mind the CW using Jericho fans if it means we get to watch Jericho again. Must admit last night’s airing of the 1st episode was the first time in a long time that I have watched the CW. Just wish it go beyond the existing 2 seasons!

  8. beebull

    Why resurrect Jericho? Tapping into the fan base that exist, unusual devoted group of loyal fan, off chance to revitalize, That would require someone with brains to figure out that the loyal fan base requires time and promotion to expand, not likely at CBS, great article thank you.

  9. Debby

    Great article and insight. I have hope that this new network will tap into an audience that has not discovered Jericho before and hopefully a season 3 can become a reality. I know my 24 year old daughter only found it after it had been canceled the first time and loved it. I think other people in her demographic would feel the same.

  10. AngelaRK

    Thank you for the great article-and the insight. This is a great show, it has substance, it has character and depth. I am so glad to see it back on television and I hope it leads to greater things!

  11. Thanks Myles. Nice article. Keep the Faith! I say. Positive thoughts everyone.

    I’m hoping for a book; a series of books – real books would be nice. AND I have faith that we will get a TV movie, too.

    I’m guess I’m audacious! Whoo Hoo. I think I like that.

  12. Welcome2CHO

    I love being audacious and bodacious! Without exercising those qualities against great odds, the magnificent, stupendous (and sometimes pleasantly unexpected) realization of lofty goals simply won’t happen. Audacity suits us just fine, and hey….what have we got to lose?

    Nice to hear from you, Myles.

  13. Curlybean

    The Audacity of Hope…..that’s a great tag line and is definitely applicable to Jericho and it’s fans. We’ve fought hard for a show that means so much to all of us, hoping against all hope that our beloved story will continue. New fans are found every day, and now that Jericho is showing on network tv again, even more fans will be found.

    Thanks for the great article.

  14. Great post. I only just found the series after it was cancelled and I am hooked. I have the new xbox live software that lets me use my netflix subscription to watch movies instantly and as soon as it was available I found jericho and added it to my list. My wife and I have been watching each episode and just couldn’t stop watching. We finished the first season in a weekend and the second season in 2 days. Great show and I really wish after just watching the last episode that this could be a really good movie. Fill in the holes that the 7 episode season 2 missed. Hopefully it comes true, I will be the first in line for the movie.

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