Congratulations, Jericho fans. Your strategy of sending thousands of pounds of nuts to CBS offices has convinced the network to save your show from the chopping block and will bring it back next season. Your hard work, passion, and utter devotion to the post-apocalyptic network drama made the network reverse gears. I applaud you; you’ve all done the impossible.
And you’ve screwed it all up for the rest of us.
I’ve been a veteran of more canceled shows than I can count. I’ve been through the “save our show” marathon blog postings (Firefly), the letter-writing campaigns (Cupid), and the suffer-in-silence-embarrassed-to-admit-you-watched-the-show moments (Once and Again). Every season some show I love gets the axe due to incompetent network executives who didn’t give the show a proper chance to find its audience. It’s become almost routine. But still: every year I write the letters, I sign the petitions, I do what I do out of love, in the hopes that the one time out of a hundred the governor is going to make the call a minute before midnight to stay the execution.
When Veronica Mars died this season, I accepted it because it was a niche show – the writing was over the heads of the younger audiences and the older crowd thought it was a kid show. I wrote no letters, signed no petitions. Veronica Mars was brilliant, granted, but it was a show that was not going to find a wider audience.
Jericho, likewise, is a niche show. It’s not the kind of show that’s going to pull in any more viewers that it already has. Even with all the publicity it’s gotten, people just aren’t going to tune in to a show about post-nuclear-war flyspeck western Kansas town with Skeet Ulrich as your lead. It’s just not. The triumphant return will sputter along for a few episodes, languishing in the Nielsen basement, and will die quietly. Someone will start sending more nuts to CBS, but this time it just won’t work.
And Jericho‘s failure is going to be any network’s ultimate one-word response to any canceled critical darling that never found its audience. No matter how many petitions we sign, no matter how many letters or Mars Bars or peanuts we send, all the network has to do is say the word “Jericho” to remind us of the rescued show that still failed. So instead of the one-in-a-hundred shot, we’ll have no shot at all.
I really hope I’m wrong.