Posted by: Gregg | June 13, 2007

The show is dead; long live the show.

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.


  1. I respectfully disagree. We were told we could never bring Jericho back yet we did. We will get the viewers but the question is whether or not CBS will count them. They are working with us on this but these Nielsen’s need changed. Count all viewers before you cancel a show. Thanks.

  2. I disagree with you. Sure a lot of great shows have been cancelled over the years – firefly included. But I do not think that Firefly would have survived if it came back after it was cancelled. Maybe on another network.. Maybe..

    It has fans, sure, many, many, many diehards.. But not enough “regular” people just watch the show. You don’t really need to be interested in sci-fi or the whole Firefly plot to enjoy it, but few people are willing to give such a show a chance. Sadly it is too geeky for most audience to give it a try.

    I lost several shows I watched this season. Day Break, The Black Donnellys, Veronica Mars, Studio 60, Six Degrees…. And of course Jericho, but that came back.

    None of those shows cancelled (except Jericho) would be likely to succeed if they came back for next season.

    Studio 60 was too expensive and didn’t perform as well as hoped, VM has been suffering in the ratings already from season 1.

    Six Degrees was screwed by both the network, writers schedule.

    Day Break got lots of angry Lost fans to badmouth it (it was the replacement during the hiatus),

    The Black Donnellys… I don’t know what went wrong, really. People just didn’t watch it. And that’s strange given the quality of the first episode (really, it is amazing).

    Out of the shows I watched that got cancelled, Jericho was the one with a decent chance to come back and be successful. And thankfully CBS also believes this to be the case, after some consideration. It did perform in the ratings quite good before the extended hiatus. So there are a lot of viewers out there – somewhere.

    But you do make a point on the “if Jericho gets cancelled, all other cancelled shows in the future are pretty much dead”. If Jericho doesn’t succeed, every network will just say “NUTS!!” to fans who try to ressurrect their favorite show.

    — That is why it is so important that people watch it. We need to have some leverage to hand to the networks if a show gets cancelled in the future, and the network decides to put some junk reality show in its place.

    I believe that NBC is the guiding star, actually. They put up with low ratings with Friday Night Lights, but they decided to keep it and have another season. Hopefully other networks are willing to give quality programming – like Firefly and Jericho – a fair chance.

    Thank you for your time.

  3. Well, if you don’t mind me pointing this out, it sounds a little bit like you’ve been sucking on some sour grapes….you know, fighting the occasional good fight, in support of your vanquished shows, but ultimately striking out…and, repeatedly, at that.

    And I do feel for you – after all, the myriad BAD decisions, by those clueless empty suits at the networks, are enough to drive anyone to drink. But instead of throwing in with the nay-sayers, you, and other disgruntled TV fans, should have thrown in with the “Save Jericho” movement, even if you never watched the show, or didn’t like it. Because the movement was about more than just saving a show… was about delivering a message, to an archaic network, and MAKING them listen, and forcing them to admit a mea culpa. Which, to their credit, CBS eventually did.

    You claim that Jericho is a niche show…..and I beg to differ. I guess that time will tell. But I can assure you, that network suits everywhere have sat up, and taken notice, in light of our historic victory – and none of them will want to be the next network to be bent over, and Jerichoed.

    So maybe, just maybe, we actually increased your chances of having your favourite show saved, in the future.

    No need to thank us…the pleasure was all ours. : )

  4. I also disagree. Jericho is a show that can appeal to many different demographics. Husbands and wives can watch this show together, science fiction fans love it, history buffs love it, youth love it. This is a show that has something to offer everyone. There need to be more shows like this and less “niche shows” on the air.

  5. Actually, we are STILL fighting for our show. Even though CBS has brought it back, it is up to us to help promote the show and bring in new fans. So if you truly do believe that the fate of all future shows rests in the success or failure of Jericho (which I think is pretty crazy!!), then get off your whining complaining butt and do something about it!! We didn’t get this far by sitting on our behinds! We became active and we banded together and we worked hard! If you want something in life you have to work for it! Right now we are working to make the Nielsen ratings become more technologically advaced in order to accurately reflect todays television viewers and todays consumers. So if you really are crazy enough to believe that Jericho is the final stand, then stand up and join us! Fight with us, because we have only just begun the war! History starts now!

  6. Your comments are apt, and I think you have reasonably predicted the ultimate outcome. The only hope I hold out for Jericho is that it became a much better show after the 16th episode, after a time when most had stopped watching. Hopefully, a wider audience can view this episodes and the ones that followed during re-runs.

    After the death of doctor April, who had the warmest heart on the show, the point the writing became far crisper, the characters acted more genuine, and the story moved at a brisker pace. By the end of the season, the story finally captured a sense of urgency that the show lacked for the first 2/3’s of its existence. Don’t get me wrong, I did enjoy the entire season, and I think the writers accomplished their mission of showing the slow decay that occurred to civilization after the bombs. I think the overall arc of the story deserves critical acclaim. But, to capture the wider American audience, the show needed to move with the pace established during the last 1/3 of the season. My hope is that new viewers can stick around during the re-runs until the end of the season and become hooked like I was. I think the next seven episodes will convey the proper sense of urgency in the characters and storyline that will capture a wider and more traditional audience.


  8. If you really hope you’re wrong, stop hoping and make it happen. Watch Jericho!

    Give yourself a chance to keep quality programming. Unless of course you like failure?

  9. If you’d like to sign this petition it asks all the networks to consider all viewers unstead of only Nielsen families. Thanks.

  10. July 6 at 9pm on CBS – catch what all the buzz is about. Re-broadcasts of first season shows begin then.

    If you’ve ever felt nervous about the way things are in the world today… if you’ve ever wondered “What if…..?”

    Today is the last ordinary day.

    The underlying theme of Jericho that resonates with me is a message of hope.

    Jericho answers the What if? question with “It wouldn’t be easy, but we’d come together and get through it. We’re good people. We are capable of incredible things. Life *will* go on.”

    On July 6 you’ll find the beginnings of the series that tells the What if story with humor, action, drama, romance….

    We welcome you to join us.

  11. My response to this article blog is this- obviously none of the shows you so eloquently describe as being such an adoring fan of must not have been renewed and therefore you are angry that those campaigns didn’t work and Jerichos did. Shame on you for being down on Jericho because of that!

  12. I’m sure you won’t find it surprising, coming from a Jericho fan, but I think you are wrong. Campaigns to bring shows back from cancellation are not new. There have been some that fizzled, but a choice few revived shows have found their audiences. If a show can build a large and passionate enough audience, revival will always be possible. The circumstances will just have to be right, as they were this time. Jericho is a quality show with a dedicated core audience. The cast and crew are willing, and CBS isn’t terribly sure of its fall schedule. All of those things just happen to line up in Jericho’s favor. I don’t see why that means this is the “be all, end all” show revival. There will always be conditions that are favorable or unfavorable to a show being brought back to a network’s schedule.

    In addition, Jericho has buzz now, but perhaps more importantly, the underlying story has gravitas. While more superficial fare might not stand a chance, Jericho is far from fluff. Most network television these days is like cotton candy. It looks pretty. There are a lot of flavors, all of them sweet, but it’s not very filling–or fulfilling. Jericho is more like a seven course meal. There’s something for most everyone’s palate, whether it’s action, adventure, mystery, suspense, or romance. By golly, there’s even a fish out of water course, if that’s your pleasure. (Love that Mimi!) Beyond that, it has a voice that speaks to loftier concepts, that challenges the viewer to examine beliefs about one’s own humanity. That’s what I like to call meat and potatoes, folks.

    Jericho has the potential to touch hearts in a way that most network television does not. When a show can pull it’s audience in by the heartstrings, viewership will grow given the proper environment. If you leave the table hungry despite all that is provided in this show, it has nothing to do with the variety of flavors offered by the chef.

    One would think that with all of these advantages, Jericho should have been an unqualified success. But for a couple of missing ingredients, I think it would have been just that. One essential thing that was missing last season was promotion. CBS is already making good on their promises to rectify that error, and the fans are, likewise, making good on their promises.

    As we speak, people are creating YouTube videos, banners, various promotional items, print ads, and just generally getting the word out there. They’re working on getting attention for the show and the actors from Emmy screeners. Fans are blogging, digging, and canvassing their friends and neighbors. I keep hearing from folks who are watching the episodes for the first time online because of all the publicity, and they’re loving it. I’ve personally heard from more than a dozen people who will be checking out Jericho when the reruns begin July 6th at 9 P.M. Eastern. Just consider all the promotion your invitation to dinner. 😉

    As for the other missing ingredient? Well, it simply needed a survivable timeslot. It’s hard to say where Jericho will find itself when it returns, but if the rerun schedule is any indication, things are looking good. I’m hopeful that when folks finally come to the table some time this fall, they will find their placecards and realize that CBS has seated them in good company.

  13. It isn’t JERICHO that’s the problem, it’s the NIELSEN RATINGS that are outdated.
    The Nielsen ratings MUST be changed but no one wants to do it because it will cost money.
    So the viewer loses.
    Shouldn’t we do something about that?

  14. The only thing worse than failure is to see someone come right behind you and succeed where you just failed.

    Chin up, Bookpusher! Your day will come, if you do not give into despair or jealousy.

  15. “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.”

    My dear, disheartened friend —
    On May 16th I might have agreed with you. I thought, when I signed the petition that instantly sprang up, that surely the 16,000 other people on there must be like ME: lovers of complex mythologies, spooky “what-if?” scenarios, and the Skeet. I love shows like Alias, Lost, X-Files, BSG, etc — and I expected us to sign our names, grumble for a few days, then move on.

    But the most extraordinary thing happened. Well, thing*s*, actually. The one that applies to your blog is that all those other unhappy Jericho viewers? The ones who I assumed were, like me, lovers of what you call a “niche show”? I came to see over the weeks of our fight that they are anything but like me. They are teenagers, grandmothers, former soliders, CEOs, teachers, artists, parents, and so on. Basically, they were EVERYONE! This was no “niche audience”, and we all loved the show for different reasons but we loved the show enough to fight and fight and bring it back.

    All I’m saying is don’t underestimate this little show. It may seem to just be a Skeet vehicle about surviving a nuclear blast — at least until you’ve watched an episode. Then you see there is so much more. And that is why we fight.
    We also fight to keep other great shows — like Firefly and VM — from being axed in the future because the networks continue to rely on a dinosaur Neilsen ratings system that is so outmanned and outgunned by today’s ITunes, streaming video, TiVo, and DVR options that it’s not even funny.

    I wish you luck and happy TV viewing in the future.

  16. I think you are wrong, as you hoped. In my participation in this campaign, (my first – never cared about a tv show enough before – didn’t even own a tv for 10 years), I have seen such a diverse crowd of people fighting for this show that I think it would be nigh impossible to classify them as a “niche” audience. The dilemnas the shows characters have to deal with are myriad and who could say how any of us would deal with such problems if faced with them? The show has characters who deal with the situation with the full scope of human behaviour – and this is what makes it interesting. The show makes you think – and talk about it with your friends. I think if CBS markets its return properly and new viewers come on board, they too will be hooked!

  17. If Jericho was only niche it could never have gotten back on TV. The people who worked on this campaign came from totally different backgrounds, economics, and educations. If you think a niche show has action, drama, mystery, and comedy you are right, Jericho is definitatley niche.
    Jericho speaks to everyone, because it has everyone. We all know people that we could call Grey Andersons, we all know people that we could call Gail Green, we even know punk ‘vibe’ boys.
    I know that every year TV shows are taken off the air, it’s the nature of the beast; I have never fought for them. Actually, until this year I didn’t know about upfronts. But I do know that I was never counted, and that is partly why I was a part of the campaign to renew Jericho. People watch Jericho, and more people will watch it now after this whole hubbub. I hope that when CBS does reruns starting on July 6th at 9pm you will also encourage people to turn on their TV and at least check it out. What is the harm of giving it a shot?

  18. My poor disillisoned friend we do have a case of sour grapes don’t we. Have you actually watched the show?? sounds like you havn’t. The success of the Jericho campaign benefits all viewerss of all shows not just Jericho. I agree the neilsen is out dated and gives false readings of fan base and campaigns like this help nudge forward to get the system changed.

  19. Aw, look, Jericho fans know how to use Google. Isn’t that just adorable?

    I’ve never seen Jericho. I’d barely heard of it before it was threatened with cancellation. Can’t say I’d ever had the urge to watch the show. But rabid fans of the show trolling a blog they’ve never read before? Yeah, that’ll convince me to watch it.

  20. Yes, Joshua m. neff………you were once a first time blogger too.

    Watch Jericho, give it a chance.

  21. I never did like reading a post from a jilted lover, that is what your writing sounds like… but… you will be proven wrong and I hope to be back here reading your comments then.

  22. I have had a lot of shows cancelled that I loved also but never before have I felt so passionate that I joined a campaign to save one until Jericho. We have already recruited new viewers. I have personally recruited two. Others have recuited a lot more than that. We know the audience is out there -The question is – Will CBS and the Nielsons count them. And by the way -Don’t Diss my Skeet.

  23. Jericho awakened something in its fans — a longing for small-town-America values: community, resourcefulness, self-defense, selflessness, leadership, loyalty. The show was so well-written and -acted that the viewers got drawn in, to the point that many wanted to believe as if they were residents of Jericho.

    Perhaps it says something about our society when that many people would prefer to live in a “flyspeck” town, cut-off from the rest of the world. Perhaps we’re tired of Big Government, Big Business, and Big Television making all the choices for us (too often bad choices) and dragging down our quality of life. We’re tired of naysayers and complainers. We’re making our voices heard and our wishes known.

    If Jericho is cancelled again, it will be at the hands of network executives who cannot reconcile their screwed-up “Old Media” ratings numbers with the modern, tech-savvy viewership. We will at least be able to say we tried. There is no shame in failure, only in failing to try.

  24. I totally disagree. It sounds like you haven’t actually watched the show.

    The fact is, it has great writing, great characters and a great plot.

    Perhaps you should tune in.

  25. Joshua M. Neff, you have an interesting definition of trolling imho. It appears to me that the very people Bookpusher is addressing in this blog are Jericho fans. It shouldn’t be surprising that the people being addressed found it. What is inappropriate about Jericho fans responding with well-reasoned arguments? I think the majority of the responses are persuasive in nature. It doesn’t look like trolling to me at all.

  26. I feel your pain; it is our pain.
    The Jericho protest – which is continuing – is for YOU and every fan that has ever had their show whacked without it being given a chance to survive. TV execs have to find a way to count the viewing audience beyond Neilsen boxes – the model is so far outdated it needs a funeral. That’s the underlying message being sent by the Jericho fans. The nuts signify “We will NOT surrender!” not just Jericho but quality TV viewing.
    I do, however, have to take issue with your statement that Jericho is a niche show. There is something for everyone on this show. It is not about atomic bombs — it is about survival of the American Way and What Would You Do? Would you Stand United and triumph? Or Would You Divide and be conquered?
    The fans of Jericho are standing United. We, each and every one of us, count and we WILL be counted.
    Join us – stand United as TV viewers — in our campaign against the status quo and save the next show that you value.
    P.S. – watch Jericho; you might just like it!

  27. Nothing like the Glass Teat to bring out the passionate few. This is my favorite: “But I can assure you, that network suits everywhere have sat up, and taken notice, in light of our historic victory.”

    Yes, those corporate suits are eating right out of your hand. They are scared. They will do whatever you tell them to do. You p0wn them!

    Would that so much passion and energy were devoted to something that matters.

  28. One thing I’d like to say to you: You mention that the fate of Jericho will determine whether any show in the future will have its cancellation rescinded. You’re right. So help us; and through us, help shows you will like in the future. I see it as a win-win.

  29. Wow Gregg – who knew you had such a wide readership?

    Sour grapes are your perogative. I also wonder whether the people asking – nay, begging – for your “help” in “saving” “their” “show” know how they sound? A bit desperate.

    Word to the bitter wisdom, homes.

  30. Agreed. We’ll get our closure with the 8 episode return and it’ll in all likelyhood fizzle out. I’m a huge fan of the show, and I would be fully satisfied with this.

    The part that worries me is that those 8 episodes may not be written with that in mind, and we will just get another cliff-hanger ending.

  31. Ah, am I going to get stoned on this blog if I admit the only time I’ve heard of Jericho is when there was some hullabaloo about it being preempted for storm coverage? I’ve never watched it, and doubt I ever will. And if you’re wallowing in sour grapes, well, I’ll wallow with you. I’ve never gotten over Greg the Bunny.

  32. […] The show is dead; long live the show. Congratulations, Jericho fans. Your strategy of sending thousands of pounds of nuts to CBS offices has convinced the […] […]

  33. We don’t stone, you know, Smeddley:D. Actually, what you mention is part of what we ourselves whined about. One, CBS promoted us AS a niche show, practically as a Day After remake. That’s not all that Jericho is. Second, they barely promoted us at all, hence why you never heard of it. Thirdly, our fight is for all shows which have been cancelled, and rather than wallow in sour grapes; perhaps we can all change how network execs do business all together. If others will help us, we hope to try and eventually change Nielson itself. It’s difficult, perhaps impossible; but we aim for it anyway. Care to help?

  34. Rahul –

    Interestingly enough, the people who lived in this house before us were a Nielson family – there are still wires all over the place.

    To be honest, I don’t know how much I could help. I’m not that avid of a TV watcher, I tend to forget shows are on, so I rarely bother to get involved in them. …even though I have a DVR. Even if I record things, I forget to watch them. I know, how sad is that?

    Greg –

    Congrats on the Top Post honor! 🙂

  35. Wow. Ironic that my blog that’s mostly about books gets the largest number of comments when I talk about television. Special thanks to the nameless overly-defensive dude from CBS’ Jericho message board who originally posted about me.

    To clarify a few things I’m seeing in the comments:

    I’m not playa-hating on Jericho. My wife and I actually watched the first two episodes last fall, but it just didn’t trip that invisible wire within us that controls the Season Pass option on our TiVo. And judging by the amount of Jericho advertisements I remember seeing on other CBS shows like Survivor, Amazing Race, and How I Met Your Mother, it didn’t trip that wire in other folks, either. The show had more than a decent shot; it didn’t work out.

    And when I call Jericho a niche show, that’s not an insult. Firefly was a niche show, too. Veronica Mars was another. Didn’t stop my love for them. We are discussing a primetime slot on a major network, and the goal for the network is to pull in as many viewers as possible. A drama about America surviving a nuclear attack isn’t exactly going to pull in the King of Queens crowd. It’s not going to pull in the younger demo, either, which a show needs, because the kids are too young to remember the cold war. It has to go the extra mile to pull in viewers, like dazzling writing or big name stars. Jericho had (has) neither. It probably would do just fine on cable like FX or TNT, but not network. Network is where the incompetence of the suits is at its absolute highest; time to get your big girl panties on.

    And my larger point was a complement: you did it. You got the stay of execution on your favorite show. Good job. Now go out and EARN IT. If the ratings stay the same as they were before, then all those nuts and all those petitions were a nothing but a big waste of everyone’s time.

  36. Yep, I understood you Greg; my only point was that…we’re kinda freaked, since you are right about our failure/success defining future cancelled shows as well. Oh, and I personally felt the show found its feet in the second half or so of the season; the first two weren’t the best IMO. Yes, I am shamelessly pitching you.:D As for Neilson’s, I think we are all agreed that they are rubbish. There are a couple of fallacies, mathematically and statistically speaking, with the system. First off, they select a certain crowd for Neilson’s, rejecting other candidates as not “normal” Americans. I suspect that American Idol/reality style shows are overrepresented, and WE are the normal Americans. To be statistically accurate, you MUST randomly pick your audience; not just whatever the heck you please. In addition, and I cannot stress this enough, but….NOT ENOUGH SAMPLE SIZE!!!!!!!!! A single Neilson viewer represents 40,000 of us?!?!? Imagine if we picked our presidents through the Neilson system; heck, 90% of the population could have voted another way…. I kinda hope that you guys help us out, if only for the dead shows that you loved. Heck, give some of the episodes a try. Our hope is to show them, through Jericho, that the Neilson’s are flawed, and then convince them to use another medium. One of my favorite ideas was for them to partner with the cable companies….

  37. […] got on this blog was about a year or so ago when I took a swipe at the television show Jericho when it was renewed after a viewer protest involving peanuts when so many other far, far more worthy shows never got a […]

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