Saturday, February 9

Counting Down Jericho: Tick, Tick, Boom


There are only three full days left before many of the questions surrounding Jericho, the television series given a reprieve last year, begin to shift from speculations and to undeniable facts. Starting Feb. 12 and for the weeks that follow, CBS executives will be considering which of two second season episodes shot will air on week seven.

Will that episode wrap the fan-inspired story forever or usher in a complete unabridged third season?

It’s not the only question, but it is the one that is weighing heavily on the minds of several thousand fans who spent the last nine months talking up the show that they helped save with about 125,000 signatures, 40,000 pounds of nuts, and countless e-mails, postcards, letters, phone calls, blog posts, articles, interviews, forum discussions, YouTube videos, etc. No one really knows the answer, but there are plenty of people hoping for much more than seven installments.

“I was just thinking about those shiny new episodes that everyone has worked SO hard for. There seems to be a buzz about them, but my greatest fear is that this is the beginning of the end. We got CBS to reconsider their decision, but will the public follow?” — Jessielynne73 (fan screen name)

“The one thing that stands out the most to me is how Schumi made sure to stress that everyone’s efforts counted, and how much her daily ‘command orders’ inspired us all." — Maybei (fan screen name)

“What stood out to me were the awesome videos made by the fans to encourage and inspire us in the fight to get Jericho back. I am so glad that CBS is acknowledging them on the Jericho homepage with the fan video of the day." — DBalcer1 (fan screen name)

“I’m in Romania so the show aired here [much later]. I’ve gotten hooked on the show since … and I’ll be hooked for the rest of my life.” — Twister22 (fan screen name)

"What stood out in my mind was the commitment everyone made to make sure Jericho was not forgotten. I love that the actors have said how much they appreciate and love the show (and their fans). That's rare in TV series."— Idyoutlw (fan screen name)

“What stands out to me is what hard work it's been, but it has ultimately been worth it. I've talked to people I would probably never gotten to know otherwise, learned a lot, and made some good friends. Even if (heaven forbid) we don't get any more than these seven episodes, it was all worth it, and I'd do it again." — LisiBee (fan screen name)

For the fans, it must seem like another lifetime when the only question people asked was what would CBS executives do with 22,000 pounds of nuts?, an early estimate that was quickly eclipsed with 18,000 more.

That question was answered: the peanuts were sent to the zoo; the “Jericho nuts” were sent the promise of seven shows.

Jericho "nuts" doesn’t have as much charm as “Jericho Rangers,” as I know them, but Ken Tucker with Entertainment Weekly seems to have some doubts whether season two will have mass appeal. Although temperate in his review, he did see some promise in two performers, who he says bring “some cracked intensity into this grim fantasy.”

We shall see. Much like we’ll see the answers to many other questions even though I suspect some will never really be answered.

“Will CBS, which cancelled 20 projects during the writer’s strike, reconsider how it counts Nielsen ratings?”

“Did the three episode leak help, hurt, or have no bearing on the premiere of the second season?”

“Did the writer’s strike (which just reached a tentative agreement) help attract viewers who are starved for new non-reality show content on television?”

“Would fans have fared even better without the just-below-the-surface in-fighting among the most visible?”

“Did the fans meet those conditions uttered by CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler that they had to 'recruit more fans?'”

“Will CBS ever learn how lightly guided consumer marketing and social media really works?”

“Does Jake fit better with Heather or Emily?”

Doubtful. Almost. Not like it could have. Probably. Maybe. Its online viewing platform certainly looks better. And last but not least, there are some fan debates you learn to stay far away from.

Personally, I just hope the fans are able to punctuate the impossible show cancellation reversal and capture enough ratings to see their efforts stick. Objectively, the ratings of season two episode one will matter less than season two episode three or four.

I also won’t be surprised if NBC or FOX pays some attention to the outcome. With more then 2,600 boxes of Rice-A-Roni (not counting individual shipments) being mailed to Jeff Zucker, NBC might find going back in time and undoing a decision is sometimes better than starting from scratch.

Wouldn’t that be something? I know a girl detective who would think so too. But for now, it’s all about the little town in Kansas that thought it could. Given that I believe consumers matter, I hope it can.

For a behind-the-scenes look at season two and some surprisingly crisp full episodes of season one, visit CBS here.

Special thanks to Jane Sweat who contributed fan comments to this piece.

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11 comments:

Ichthus said...

A few more days and we'll find out if all are effort and passion is a success. I think I know how a playwrite must feel as opening night approaches. Will it sink or will it swim? Regardless of the answer I'll never forget this time in my life. All the ups, downs and turmoil has changed my life for the better. Thank you Rich for being there and encouraging us with your many articles.

SaveJake on 2/9/08, 4:45 PM said...

Rich,
You're the best! Thanks for always being here with us. I for one am hoping to blow their minds with ratings, postcards, and audience comments. The new viewers I have gathered are not Nielsen families...not that I'm aware of...but they know how to inform CBS that they're watching!
I just can't wait to see Jericho back on TV!!!

Jericho Returns on 2/9/08, 5:34 PM said...

Thanks Rich. I truly believe the ratings will be there. I hope so because I don't believe another campaign of any kind would ever succeed again if Jericho doesn't make it this time.

rubberpoultry on 2/9/08, 7:22 PM said...

Rich,

If we get a season 3 you will be part of the reason. Thanks for your regular words of wisdom, you stellar analysis, and your thoughtful advice.

I will be sitting on the edge of my seat willed with excitement and anxiety watching the premiere, hoping that we will get the numbers we need.

No matter what happens, I'm so proud of all of the things that so many in the fandom have done. There are too many things to list, but we are a talented bunch, and each has played a roll in the successes we've had.

If 7 is all we get, that better than what we were left with at the end of season 1. I truly believe that we'll get a season 3 though.

You are one of a kind! Thanks for everything Rich!

-Rubberpoultry

Rich on 2/10/08, 8:35 AM said...

Thanks so much. I look forward to seeing how it plays out. I also received a late entry into some of the fan comments, but wanted to share it:

"I met so many wonderful people through Jericho; people who will be friends long after Jericho is over in about, oh, I'd say 10 years. I've also met the love of my life while working with the other Rangers to save our show. Jericho is more than a television program to me, it extremely special." — chgo4jericho

You can't ask for more than that.

Best,
Rich

maybei on 2/10/08, 10:25 AM said...

"it’s all about the little town in Kansas that thought it could"

Yes, and all the fans who thought they could too, and did.

Rich on 2/10/08, 10:31 AM said...

Maybei,

True that. :)

Rich

Greg Cooper on 2/11/08, 1:41 PM said...

Rich,

You mean you don't want to weigh into the Heather versus Emily argument? (lol)

Rich on 2/11/08, 6:28 PM said...

Greg,

That's right. Absolutely no good could come from it. ;)

Best,
Rich

Rich on 2/13/08, 3:28 PM said...

UPDATE:

"Jericho" averaged 7.1 million viewers and a 2.5 rating/7 share in the adults 18-49 demographic, according to preliminary estimates released Wednesday by Nielsen Media Research. The nuclear-war drama came in just behind the first place show, a repeat "Law & Order: SVU" (8.4 million, 2.6/7) and ahead in 18-49 of an original "Boston Legal" (7.2 million, 2.5/7). It was up compared to last season's finale and about even from last year's average (2.7/8) but nothing like its first few weeks in the fall of 2007. "Boston Legal," on the other hand, was the lowest original rating ever for the series." — hollywoodreporter.com

Rich on 2/13/08, 7:19 PM said...

More words:

Maybe those ratings aren't all bad. They might even be good. Jericho outperformed all but one episode of "Cane," which was planned for that time slot.

What does that mean? Jericho is the better bet for CBS and next week's episode is reported to be even better. That has to be the feeling at CBS as Dan Shotz and Karim Zreik, co-producers, took time out to mention CBS was happy with the numbers and committed. We shall see.

Special thanks to Jane Sweat for pointing out the co-producer post. As this post also mentioned, its the second and third shows that will mean the most.

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