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'Jericho': A ratings bump, and the fans have their say

Ratings for last night’s “Jericho” actually rebounded a bit from the week before to a 4.3 overnight rating, up from a 3.9.

But don’t get too excited. Those numbers are still pretty weak, and there’s no question “Jericho” received some kind of boost from viewers fleeing NBC’s disastrous special preview of webisode drama “Quarterlife” in the time slot. “Quarterlife,” which pre-empted the usually reliable “Law & Order: SVU,” earned a 2.7 rating, good for under 4 million viewers, according to preliminary reports from Nielsen.

You can’t say CBS isn’t trying. Last night’s episode of “Big Brother” reportedly included a competition involving the “Hudson River virus,” a fictional disease that played a major role in last night’s “Jericho.”

I say reportedly because I’ve never been able to watch more than five minutes of “Big Brother” without wanting to tear my eyeballs from their sockets. Nevertheless, someone at CBS clearly thinks there’s a way to use the reality show to funnel viewers into a quality drama.

Too bad “Big Brother’s” ratings have been even worse than “Jericho’s,” because as pure drama “Jericho” is on a roll.

Just consider how many plotlines were balanced in last night’s episode: the return of budding entrepreneur Dale Turner, the Hudson River virus, Goetz’s shady past, the eerily Blackwater-esque Ravenwood, Hawkins bringing Maj. Beck over to his side, Bonnie deciding she can leave her brother behind and two highly satisfying examples of characters doing good deeds in secret: Beck followed Heather’s request to send the military to help out HRV victims in Missouri and conflicted Jennings & Rall employee Trish falsified records and destroyed documents to make sure the HRV vaccine got to people who need it.

Now consider how much of that would make any sense to someone who hasn’t been following the show and you’ll see the dilemma CBS faces in sticking with a show that seems unlikely to bring in new viewers over time.

But that’s enough out of me. As promised, I’d like to share portions of some of the e-mails I’ve been getting from “Jericho” fans over the last two weeks.

In regards to last week’s item about the Los Angeles Comic Book and Science Fiction Convention, Scott wrote:

“I too found the ‘Jericho’ presentation a bit awkward last week and have been trying understand why… I felt bad that few people stood up to ask any questions. Personally, I didn't have any questions because the production has done such a good job of putting information out there… The production has done a great job with the show and I hope that they don't regret their appearance last Sunday, it was a great gesture.”

Markus wrote a particularly detailed and passionate love letter to “Jericho,” briefly excerpted here:

“I wasn't one of the fans who sent a can of nuts to the network/producers of the show; just not that kind of guy I guess. But I have watched, and will continue to watch, ‘Jericho’ faithfully… When I see it on my DVR list, I get a little bit giddy, holding out for a day or two, not wanting to watch immediately because I don't want the experience to be over. (‘Battlestar Galactica’ is the only other example of that in today's TV landscape.)… Just when I think ‘Jericho’ is headed one direction, it veers off with reckless and woolly wild abandon into another.”

Jonathan wrote:

“Why ‘Jericho’ fans are so passionate is this show is all about American values and is good family programming. About the only show my wife and sons (10, 13) watched together. Something I felt worth fighting for then and more NOW.”

J Mary wrote:

“To be able to see dramatic actors confront our worst nightmare and how they grapple with the morality of each decision -- that is why we find this show so compelling.”

Cyn wrote:

“Still miffed by the numbers -- everyone on the board has recruited and recruited -– I still am positive that CBS execs will see the opportunity of the virtual numbers -– you nailed it on the head that it doesn’t quite fit the established brand, but I think it still has a place somewhere with CBS!”

James forwarded a copy of a letter he sent to CBS exec Nina Tassler:

“I am a NEW ‘Jericho’ viewer.... 35-year-old married male, and my wife and I are now watching ‘Jericho’ live albeit with no Nielson box.... I think it would be a mistake to base the future of this show on outdated Nielsen ratings. I think it safe to say that I will be extremely disappointed in CBS if ‘Jericho’ is canceled again.”

--Geoff Berkshire

Comments () | Archives (6)

It will be just disgusting if this gets canceled. I"m sorry but Tuesdays at 10 after the incredibly disgusting Big Brother is akin to sticking your plants in a closet and saying "Well, see, I didn't KILL it. It just died on its own". It is hard to get new viewers because of the serial nature, but did CBS during the draught that was the writers strike run any previous eps up to the debut. I didn't even know SciFi was running it until after the season started. And they ran a marathon the Monday before. Gee, because no one who watches TV or might be intersted in Jericho WORKS FOR A LIVING apparently. I haven't seen one cast member on the CBS Early show, but hey, lets get those CSI folks or Survivior or Amazing Race people on. I mean, they *could* have done a better job promoting. Running spots is not the same thing as using your own resources and sticking a show in a death slot isn't doing it a promotional favor either. People who watch television do work. They go to bed early, many of them. Look at Tivo rankings for Jericho if you don't believe me. Nielsen's no matter how you slice are still trying to figure out how to rate viewership wtih new media and Jericho is going to suffer for it. Today in USA Today, Quincy Smith, CBS' new media guy, declined to cite specifics, said Jericho has a bigger online audience than it does on traditional TV. WEll, how is that reflected in overnights which is what the execs are judging on? Is a loyal fan base not worth something? If Jericho gets dropped so does my TV. It is the last show I am interested in following. I'll join Netflix and catch up on those thousands of movies I never had time to watch and get going on more hobbies. If you aren't "mainstream America" and you like something different for your TV viewing, in this day and age you are sunk.

I sincerely hope that CBS is taking more than just the ratings into consideration when deciding the fate of Jericho. Jericho is doing very well on iTunes, Amazon downloads and selling the first season.

You're right. It is difficult to catch up with a serial, but a lot of people seem to be doing it, and I hope a lot more do so.

If you did some research before writing you would have seen that Big Brother Ratings were HIGHER than Jericho in the 18-49 BB 2.6 --Jer.2.2 AND all viewiers. BB 4.4 and Jer. 4.3. So why dont you actually look up the ratings before you write garbage like

"Too bad “Big Brother’s” ratings have been even worse than “Jericho’s,” because as pure drama “Jericho” is on a roll."

You're wrong, try research please.

Thanks so much for your article!
JERICHO fans have been LOVING this season and we implore CBS to renew the show.
If anyone wants to catch up all they have to do is either buy season one on DVD or watch it for free on CBS.com.

So come on guy, please try JERICHO, I promise you will love it.

Tues. 10 p.m. EST on CBS.


My wife and I are two more new Jericho viewers, we were recruited by some nut senders when season 1 came out on DVD. We rented season 1, watched it in its entirety and waited for season 2 to go live. My wife is dissapointed at McRaney's departure but otherwise we are enjoying the show and we both hope it does not get cancelled a second time, or that maybe someone else would pick it up, such as Sci Fi or USA.

It deserves a chance at a 5 season run to tell its complex and intriguing "Lost" like story. The only down side to season 2 is it is clear to me so far that the writers are cramming in as much as they can, as fast as they can, because they think they might get cancelled. Thats good and bad at the same time, good in that we get a larger helping of events, action etc, but bad in that we also move at such breakneck pace that it can be confusing at times.

So, CBS, please consider keeping Jericho and cancelling junk like Big Brother. Ugh.


For potential fans wanting to catch up and understand Jericho, why don't they just go to the cbs.com site and stream the back episodes to get caught up? There are only a very few decent dramas left, Jericho - is one of the last. If CBS supports it, they may well put themselves as the final bastion of quality episodic television drama....... patience please. I'm not a nut sender. I am a new "Alpha" viewer.


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