Friday, March 28, 2008

Don't Say It's Over!

Is it really time to eulogize Jericho? I, for one, am not ready. So please excuse the randomness of this post, I am still working through the grieving process, and I'm not sure which stage I am actually working through yet.

Season Two as a whole: Wow! Given the truncated season, and the slashed budget and a shortened shooting schedule, they really gave us something to behold. Not only did they pick up and run with a compelling storyline, but they gave us action, thrills, tears and satisfying character growth. Jake grew up, Stanley was deeper and more layered than we had ever seen, Heather showed us her steely side, and even Stupid Ol' Eric grew a pair and showed us that he is Johnston's son after all.

The writers and producers gave us a tight, focused seven episodes, and had us on the edge of our seats for an hour every Tuesday night for almost two months. It was a great ride, and highly satisfying.

The impact of Jericho: This show had an enormous impact on me. If someone had told me a year ago that a TV show would lead me to a rousing SOS campaign, and introduce me to a great bunch of folks, I would have rolled my eyes and shook my head. As I've said before, I was a cynical bastard when it came to believing in people, but I have a new group of pals that are kind and thoughtful and actually do their best to help each other. Just like those crazy Jerichoians. Looking back, I shouldn't be that suprized that a show that touted loyalty, family, and stepping up when times are tough would attract exactly those kind of people. Schmaltzy and starry-eyed? Maybe. But really, I have met some awesome souls, and I don't care how cheezy it sounds, it is the truth, and I love it!

Why was no one watching this show??!!!!: Honestly, such a great show. My friends and I would shake our heads at the end of each episode of season two, knowing the ratings, and declare this statement time and time again. I understand the people who were scared off by the beginning of the first season, the show took some time to get its legs. But once things got rolling, it was smart and asked very interesting questions of how people react to great adversity. I am a fan of the history of our country. HBO is airing an excellent take on the American Revolution right now, putting David McCullough's awesome book 'John Adams' the TV as a lovely mini-series (no really, check it out, it's gooooood). After watching the first two installments, I thought to myself, Jericho has stolen some of these stories, and retold them in a modern and interesting way. Watching characters struggle with making the tough choices while doing their best to keep their humanity is good stuff. One of the only things that makes me truly happy, is the knowledge that people are still discovering this show, and most of them, no matter how cranky and fight-y they are about it at the beginning, eventually find themselves cheering and getting sucked in like the rest of us Nuts. That is most satisfying, indeed.

No, really, why weren't people watching this show?: Please take the Nielsen numbers with a big, fat, grain of salt. Because for some reason, this show appealed to the Internet types. Jericho has had good numbers on iTunes, Unbox and various other alternate viewing platforms. The numbers of streaming episodes on were high. Two weeks ago or so, Jericho was #15 in the Top 20 of all shows DVRd (that's what my Entertainment Weekly told me!). So first of all, the numbers were generally higher than the old-fashioned, creaky Nielsen numbers would tell us.

But other than that, why didn't this show have higher 'live' numbers? I mostly blame CBS. The show was actually doing pretty well in its first season before a poorly-timed hiatus, and practically ignored return, against American Idol, killed the ratings. I know plenty of people who thought it had been cancelled, or who just plain forgot it was back on. And while the show got lots of press after the Nuts Campaign brought it back, and the bloggers made some noise when it returned, CBS waited much too long to air Season Two in a bleak, writer's strike induced wasteland. They promoted the shit out of it on their own network, but we didn't see ANY magazine covers, billboards, talk show visits or blitz of any kind trumpeting its return. If you weren't a regular viewer of CBS (kinda like me), you probably didn't know it was on.

Some are lamenting the viewing audience as a whole. Saying that your average TV viewer just wasn't interested. Hmmmm... I'm not buying that. One of the most complex, interesting, genre-busting shows on TV has a huge audience, and its name is Lost. That show has numbers that networks kill for. It has a passionate, loyal base, and is a complicated, conspiracy driven serial. I used to get mad at people comparing Lost to Jericho, but they do have some similarities, and somehow, ABC figured out how to not only market the show effectively, but engage that rabid fan base and expand upon it. Personally, I think the real problem, is that CBS was fat and happy as the ratings leader, and didn't have a stake in nurturing a newbie, no matter how promising it was. They already had all the money, while ABC was struggling when Lost came along, saw the gem they had, and busted their asses to make it work.

What's next?: There are still a lot of Jericho fans (me included), who aren't ready to give up hope. Many of the fan built message boards, and the CBS boards, are full of motivated, passionate fans throwing out any idea to try and save the show again, hoping something will stick. I love it. It makes me happy that so many are still moved by this show. I am getting out my snail mail to Paramount, letting them know that I will follow this show, and to give the producers the option to take the show somewhere else. Executive Producer Carol Barbee has said that she is shopping the show, and there is some interest out there. Maybe a long shot, but Jericho was all about hope, in my opinion, so I am on board. If you'd like to voice your opinion, send your cards and letters to:

CBS-Paramount Network Television
4024 Radford Ave.
Studio City, CA 91604

Final thoughts: It's always nice to have a show that you adore. I am lucky enough to have a few of them. But I am a TV junkie. It is always sad to have a show you adore not given its due. The years are littered with shows I loved that never got a chance. This is the first time I was engaged enough to participate in a SOS campaign. Glad I did. No matter what happens next, I have learned some stuff, I have seen some amazing acts of love because of this show, and I have the ability to always say, I was part of that. Yes, it's just a TV show. But it is also a bunch of people. The fans, the cast and crew, the bloggers, the cheerleaders. Even the people who hated the show, even the people who attacked my friends, all of them affected me, and many others, and being affected by anyone in this world is important and a great part of life. It helps you put a focus on what you want your life to be, and that should be an ever evolving thing. That is what I got from Jericho. Pretty cool, yo.

Just because I can, a little quick trip to the shallow end, because even though I like to think I am above all the fluff of the world, sometimes the shallow end makes us all feel better. Hee!


Anonymous said...

The Fact is, people DID watch this show. Everytime I went to download it off of iTunes it was in the top 5. These networks are going to have start taking into consideration the internet. And those admen out there had better start thinking about a way to get at us. I would say I watch 90% of my "television" viewing online. There are a lot of us. Jericho would still be here if they just kept that in mind.

very very disappointing.

AmyV said...

Rock on, kricka...

Anonymous said...


Great article. I've put a link and summary in our Jericho blog/news archive.


Welcome2CHO said...

Kricka: I agree with everything you said! Love your inspirational posters. Thanks!

Juanita's Journal said...

Fran is right. The fans were watching JERICHO on the Internet. Even CBS managed to profit from the online viewing. But the execs there prefered to judge the series, based upon the creaky old Nielsen ratings.