If anything kept potential viewers at bay, it was one simple oversight: CBS never redefined the show from how it started to what it became.
Case in point, the original plot line read something like this...
A nuclear mushroom cloud appears on the horizon -- and for the residents of Jericho, a small Kansas town, it could mean they're the only Americans left alive.
I bounced this off a few friends and family members this weekend and none of them were interested. Who wants to see people die of radiation poisoning or be evaporated under the heat of a nuclear blast? We saw enough of that, years ago, with the movie The Day After, they said.
The descriptor is also responsible for most critics rounding up the serial as a "nuclear apocalypse drama," which conjures up those same images of radiation sickness and despair. BUT that's not the show that captured millions of fans despite a midseason break. These fans, the ones responsible for the biggest show cancellation protest in history, saw something else.
Jericho is a story of survival in a small Kansas town that has been mostly cut off from the outside world after a disaster shatters what most of us take for granted in America.
"Wow!" My friends and family, who have never watched the show, said. "Now that is something that sounds worth checking out."
Hmmm ... so a "small town survival drama" beats a "nuclear apocalypse drama." Go figure.
The above description of the show, based loosely on a compilation of fan comments I read over the last few weeks as they campaign to entice new viewers to download the series on iTunes, drives more interest and adds understanding why this fan protest has tipped from viral into the mainstream.
That's right. The Jericho fan movement has officially tipped, after capturing the attention of the The New York Times.
“We are impressed by the creativity of their campaign,” Chris Ender, a CBS spokesman in Los Angeles (which received far fewer nuts than Manhattan), told The New York Times. But so far executives haven’t changed their decision about the show, he said.
(Don't worry Mr. Ender. Jericho fans are lining up a West Coast nut company just so the Los Angeles offices will not feel left out.)
Maybe the executives will change their minds today. Dubbed "Super Nut Tuesday" by fans all over the world, today is the day that NUTSOnline delivers 5 tons of nuts to CBS offices today (the largest gift delivery of nuts in history and only a fraction of the 26,000 pounds purchased for CBS at a single store). At least ten "Jericho Rangers" (a name given to active fans) will be there when the nuts arrive to help unload.
Today is also the day that fan ads break in Variety magazine and The Hollywood Reporter, after the fundraising was so successful that Jericho Lives had to ask fans to STOP sending in donations (at least until the next ad).
These tactics are just the tip of a larger, somewhat makeshift but respectable strategy, which has also resulted in securing more than 90,000 signatures to save the show. For the most complete picture of the mounting news coverage and buzz, drop by Jericho Links.
Or, visit the CBS Jericho message boards where many efforts have unfolded in real time. The boards also include a growing number of actor and producer comments, thanking the fans for their support.
Dollar for dollar ... pound for pound ... the Jericho fans might produce some scrappy marketing material and unsure public relations practices, but the results speak for themselves. They have generated more media coverage, marketing buzz, and interest in the show after a few weeks than CBS did all season. You have to admire that, whether Jericho fans get their wish for a second season or not.