Category Archives: Jericho

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.

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Pondering the Cable Timed-Exclusive: Friday Night Lights and Jericho

Last week, Friday Night Lights was saved from near cancellation by NBC and DirecTV, the later received a three month timed-exclusive on the airing of new episodes of the series. Essentially, the deal is designed to compel users to renew or sign up for DirecTV to see the episodes early, and hopefully NBC makes enough money from the deal to keep the show profitable.

Considering the apparent success of the plan in theory, the easy question is “Who’s Next?”

According to the New York Times, the answer could be the fan-favourite Jericho, a series that bowed for what was to be its final episode last month:

“Television executives say this model could help keep other sentimental favorites on the air. For instance, CBS Paramount Network Television has held talks with Comcast, the cable provider, about finding new life for “Jericho,” the low-rated drama canceled by CBS last month, according to two people briefed on the talks who requested anonymity.”

This is yet another hail mary, it seems, for Carol Barbee and the show’s producers: it is an opportunity to save the show, but also another opportunity to give fans false hope of the series’ success.

This is one of those situations where it feels as if television is finding a new way to find profit, which on the surface is a good thing: less dependence on Nielsen numbers has worked to keep some HBO/Showtime shows on the air beyond their rough patches. Showtime, in particular, showed patience with Dexter and Weeds due to their critical acclaim – the same goes for Battlestar Galactica. So seeing more of this model is good, isn’t it?

But it really isn’t that model at all – it’s a half-assed attempt at making money through that model while remaining, ultimately, dependent on the broadcast airings that would follow. NBC executives are playing down what has been called “A Victory for BitTorrent Users,” but that’s what it is – either people will pony up the cash for the early airings or they will just download the episodes illegally.

But what will the ratings be, then, for the regular viewings months later? Will even rabid Jericho fans be willing to wait months to see the new episodes when they will be readily available? NBC has said that in order to remain profitable FNL needs to retain its ratings from this past season…but why would they remain the same considering the amount of viewers who have access to the episodes early?

Which is why I’m not sure if this model actually does a show like Jericho any favours: it would return to the air as a test of an unproven method which is bound to fail, and does Jericho really want to be the poster child for a failed attempt to stray from the traditional Nielsen method of judging a show’s success? The show has the potential to continue, as these talks demonstrate, but CBS as a network has always been more conservative than NBC and it might show here in their willingness to take the risk.

Either way, stay tuned to see where this all goes – and whether Jericho fans might be flocking to a premium cable service in the months ahead.


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Series Finale – Jericho – “Patriots and Tyrants”

“Patriots and Tyrants”

March 25th, 2008

You know, say what you will about Jericho, but I have to point out how frustrating the title of this finale is. By the end of the show’s short second season, there is no questions – the world can be boiled down simply to patriots and tyrants in the world of Jericho, as we saw as the Cheyenne government’s days are coming to an end while we leave Jake and Hawkins on their way to finish saving the world.

This episode was always bound to be a disappointment due to the circumstances of the show’s cancellation, but for the most part it was a dramatic failure less due to its own accord and more due to the short season. There were arcs being resolved in this episode that were never given adequate time to develop. Would we not have been more involved with storylines like Beck’s redemption if, in fact, we had spent time in an episode examining his back story with his family? And wouldn’t we care somewhat more about Cheyenne being bombed if we knew anyone who lived in the city other than the evil Jennings & Rall? Wouldn’t we have wanted to spend more time with John Smith, or examining the nature of diplomacy in this new America?

The answer to all of these questions is an emphatic yes, which means that I left this finale wondering just how much dramatic potential had been by necessity left on the table. It’s never good when you’re thinking about what’s not there, as opposed to what it is, but thus is the nature of the only vaguely satisfactory series finale.

However, let’s take a look at what the episode brought, how it ended, and why the show’s chances of being picked up by another network are now even more slim.

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Jericho: A Question of Blame, a Legacy of Fandom

Tonight, March 25th, Jericho airs its series finale…well, it’s second one, in a way. When the series ended its first season on a cliffhanger, few expected that ten months later we’d be once again sending Jericho into the horizon. It was a bubble show then, but today it is official – Jericho is gone.

Here at Cultural Learnings, we spent a lot of time on the nature of the fan movement to save the series, as people bombarded CBS with Nuts until they cried mercy. Fans hoped in that moment, when CBS renewed the series for seven episodes, that it signaled CBS turning a leaf. That Nina Tassler, in all of her kindness she displayed in this scenario, would be there for Jericho all summer and fall long, making sure that the buzz surrounding nuts would not die down easily. Obviously, as we can see, it did.

I think that one of the things that I find most fascinating about all of this is the concept of a relationship between viewer and network. As we see  more and more producers of individual series engaging with their audience through podcasts or blogs, it seems as if the networks themselves are incapable of grasping the idea of some sort of unspoken contract between the two sides when it comes to struggling shows.

I think this is unfortunate, but I think it allows us to extend this idea of a contract of sorts further. There are many parties who eventually help make up the decisions, and the problem is that they’re all looking out for different interests.

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Reflections on the “Jericho” Cancellation

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.

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Jericho – “Oversight”

First off, I want to apologize to everyone for a three-week absence – it was a period where a lot of things were due, and I ended up feeling as if the blog was just too much of a responsibility to keep up while completing everything else. I also apologize for leaving on a note of “I’m going in for surgery” and then disappearing without a word. In retrospect, perhaps not the smartest thing to do – recovery is going fine, and I’ve finally started to catch up on some of the TV I’ve been putting off.

Yes, indeed – not only was I not blogging over my three week break, I wasn’t watching much TV either. Much of this is to do with just being too busy, and also the fact that there were only four shows on that I’ve been watching with any regularity. I stayed up to date on Lost, but just wasn’t in a position to blog about it. Needless to say, however, “The Constant” was one of the best episodes the series has seen, and “The Other Woman” and “Eggtown” were more simple and containing small moments as opposed to large ones. Still, Lost? Awesome. However, I’ve been bored with “American Idol,” and am sadly a whole three episodes behind on Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles, but what I saw up to Episode 6 leaves me hoping for a second season regardless.

But, what I really want to talk about is Jericho, a show that I am really quite sad I wasn’t able to stay caught up on as time has gone on. As some may know, I’ve never been a huge fan of Jericho on a quality basis – it’s never been bad, but it just never seemed to pull together those moments that stayed with me on an emotional level. However, I can say for certain that this changed this evening, when I finally sat down and watched “Oversight.”

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Jericho – “Condor”


February 19th, 2008

I’ve got a busy week ahead, but I wanted to leave some thoughts regarding tonight’s second episode of Jericho’s second season. If I had to summarize the reasons I’ve heard from fans for enjoying the series, I would say that it was its characters, its heart, and its premise. Now, all three of these are largely in jeopardy at this point, although to varying degrees – we’re getting less characters due to budget cuts, we lost the Green family leadership, and then the entire content of the show has shifted from a society in peril to a society threatened by constitutional rejiggering.

I’m not saying these are all terrible transitions, mind you, and I think that the new premise has, well, promise. However, at the same time, I want to take a look at how the show is handling these three issues, as opposed to a direct review of the episode, to see where the show heads from here.

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Season Premiere: Jericho – “Reconstruction”


February 12th, 2008

I have to ponder what it would have been like if Jericho had simply been renewed for another season, and I hadn’t been swept into an amazing fan initiative this past summer, what I would have thought of “Reconstruction,” Jericho’s triumphant return to television for the start of its seven episode second season. Many of the series’ problems remain present, with some of the new storyline’s potential left on the table, and yet I find myself being sucked in more than I expected. I don’t know if the episode was bad or good based on my normal standards simply because they kind of went out the window the second I returned to the small Kansas town.

Having had some time to figure things out, I think that “Reconstruction” is a solid hour of television that relies somewhat too heavily on fans’ nostalgia for the first season, but not so much as to render it unwatchable for new viewers. Those moments of reference to fan efforts, epitomized by the nuts in the show’s opening scene, largely disappear after the first episode, which allows the series’ governmental corruption storyline take center stage in the weeks ahead. Learn how that storyline is unfolding, and how the rest of the citizens of Jericho are faring, by reading the full review.

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A Whole Can of Nuts: Reflecting on the Return of CBS’ Jericho

In the summer of 2007, I had too much time on my hands when the network upfronts came around. As a result, when Jericho was cancelled, I was there to offer analysis, suggestions, commentary, criticisms, and praise for the stunning campaign which developed over the following months. I continued to follow the campaign throughout the summer, and into the fall months. However, unfortunately, I have been unable to do so in 2008 due to a variety of school-related commitments.

I am not happy about this, to be honest, because this is when Jericho fans deserve as much attention, and as much support, as possible. As a blogger who saw this campaign at first as an opportunity to get more blog stats, I have been consistently humbled by the amazing support Jericho fans have shown me and each other during this process. They made television history by earning the return of their show through a grassroots internet campaign, and that I am unable to in this moment reflect their efforts with more coverage of Jericho is going to bug me throughout the show’s seven-episode run.

But, I wanted to stop by and make sure that I congratulated all Jericho fans on an amazing accomplishment, and offer some of my own thoughts on what tonight means.

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Cable Bound: Sci-Fi Acquires Rights to Air Jericho

A while back, I noted how the Writers Strike finally showed one of its benefits when CTV picked up Mad Men for Canadian broadcast: it was a move that probably wouldn’t have happened if not for a lack of new programming, and it was vindicated by the series’ Golden Globes victory. Now, however, an entirely different sort of benefit has popped up that has big ramifications for the little series that could.

Sci-Fi Network announced today that they have picked up the rights to air the first two seasons of Jericho, starting with a four-hour marathon on February 11th, the day before the series’ new episodes air on CBS. When the series was first canceled, many fans threw out Sci-Fi as a potential alternate home for the series, and now this will become at least partially true. More importantly, however, it also sets an important precedent.

While I don’t want to create rumors with really nothing but speculation to fuel them, this provides a parachute of sorts should Jericho fail to get the ratings CBS is looking for. I don’t want to presume its failure, but it’s always nice to acknowledge a contingency plan – by already establishing this relationship with the Sci-Fi network, there is a greater likelihood that they could pick up the show for a third season.

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