Gone Too Soon: Jericho
by Jason Hughes, posted Oct 5th 2009 11:28AM
The modern poster-child for a show that's "gone too soon" is Jericho. The impassioned fans buried CBS under a ton of nuts, which got the show renewed for a shortened second season. Your mileage of the quality of that season may vary, but the fact remains that the fans did something none of these internet campaigns today will be able to.
What people don't realize is that when Jericho came back for the second run, the ratings weren't any better than when the first season ended. So when they cancel your favorite show and you start mailing in bizarre objects and setting up your web petitions because "it worked for Jericho," remember that the networks remember Jericho as well. They remember that it failed to find a sizable audience twice.
Still, it was an incredible statement about the power of a small but fanatical fanbase. And a testament to the strength of the show itself to engender such loyalty. Jericho was special because it was a post-apocalyptic story that didn't appeal only to that niche sci-fi audience. In fact, I'd say it appealed less to them and more to a general audience.
What was it?
[Spoilers Ahead!] In the aftermath of 23 nuclear strikes across the United States, the townspeople of Jericho, Kansas try to find out what happened and put their lives back together. They're far enough away from the blasts to have not been blown to smithereens, but they've been dramatically impacted nevertheless by the loss of a national infrastructure, and a lack of communication.
The thing that made Jericho tick was that it was a human drama. Like Lost, its more bizarre elements were but a backdrop to the relationships among the townspeople. It was also an exploration of a society, as Jericho was in a way an independent nation in this new world, having to try and fully fend for itself.
By the second season, Jericho was under the protection of the Allied States of America, but as the story progressed, we learned that they're not as benevolent as they might seem. There's also the matter of what set off the bombs in the first place. The season ended with Jake and Hawkins making it to Texas with an unexploded nuke (evidence against the former government) and the shattered nation standing on the precipice of a second Civil War.
Why did it have to go?
Jericho started strong, and maintained viewership around 10 million through its first eleven episodes. But then CBS pulled it from the air for three months, and it lost approximately 20% of that viewership, hovering around 8 million for the remainder of its first season. It was subsequently canceled due to those figures.
The second season, after the "nuts" campaign, launched with even worse numbers and slipped to six million for the finale. So ultimately it was ratings, but CBS didn't help matters along when they had a solid show on their hands that needed nurturing, instead of three months of abandonment.
How do I find out what happens next?
While the creators are holding out hope of a feature film for Jericho, they went ahead and followed several shows before them and took the story to the comics. Devil's Due Production is launching the official continuation for Jericho, kicking off this month.
Look for Jericho Season 3: Civil War #1 at your local comic shop in October. To find the nearest one you can always call 1-888-COMIC-BOOK or go to the official Comic Shop Locator Service website.
Where did the cast wind up?
- Skeet Ulrich (Jake Green) is working in films, and has a three-episode arc staring this month on CSI: NY.
- Lennie James (Robert Hawkins) can next be seen as Number 147 in AMC's remake of The Prisoner.
- Kenneth Mitchell (Eric Green) is doing the guest route, and technically is still the physical body of David Conrad's Jim on Ghost Whisperer.
- Pamela Reed (Gail Green) appeared in Eli Stone and The Beast. She has a recurring role as Leslie Knope's (Amy Poehler) mother on Parks & Recreation.
- Bob Stephenson (Jimmy) can currently be seen on The Forgotten as Walter Bailey.
- Gerald McRaney (Johnston Green), the former Major Dad and Deadwood star has done a few guest spots here and there, and has a couple of films in development.
- Clare Carey (Mary Bailey) did some guest spots, and landed the role of Christine on Starz' Crash.
- Erik Knudsen (Dale Turner) will be seen as Luke 'Crash' Wilson in the forthcoming Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.
- Sprague Grayden (Heather Lisinski) currently has a prominent role as First Daughter Olivia Taylor on 24.
- Esai Morales (Major Edward Beck) landed the lead of Joseph Adama in Syfy's Battlestar Galactica prequel series, Caprica.
- Emily Rose (Trish Merrick) slipped into the scrubs of Dr. Tracy Martin for the tail end of ER.
- D.B. Sweeney (John Goetz) also slipped into Crash as Peter Emory for a bit, as well as other guest bits.
- As this was a huge ensemble, if you don't see your favorite listed, know that they've been doing guest roles and spots in film, television, the stage or perhaps your local fast-food restaurant. Times are tough.
There's still a pretty solid core of fans for the Jericho property. Time will tell how well the Jericho comic does, and work continues on bringing Jericho to the big screen. In the meantime, there are fan-sites like Jericho Lives and Save Jericho Again keeping fans connected and current with news and status reports on all thins Jericho.
When can I see it?
You can catch several full episodes and clips of Jericho right now over at SlachControl. If you want to watch the series in its entirety, CBS.com has both full seasons available for streaming on their website.
[via Wikipedia, IMDb, CBS, Jericho Lives, NutsOnline, Devil's Due Publishing and more!]