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'Jericho': Who -- or what -- is to blame?

Now that we officially know that tonight's second-season finale of "Jericho" will also be the series finale, it's tempting to try to find someone or something to blame for what went wrong.

How did such a hyped achievement -- CBS' decision to "un-cancel" the series due to overwhelming fan response -- result in a return that faded away so unspectacularly?

Let's look at the prime suspects:

The strike
Conventional wisdom reckoned that the WGA strike and the resulting dearth of scripted shows during the winter would help "Jericho" stand out among weakened competition. But the winter's reality-heavy environment might have made it even more difficult for "Jericho" to connect with audiences. Viewers were tuning out in droves and CBS took one of the biggest ratings hits among all networks, leaving a limited audience to promote the "Jericho" return to. Even freshly written episodes of "Late Show With David Letterman" struggled due to the overall decline in CBS viewership.

The time slot
CBS moved the series out of the family-friendly 8 p.m. hour to 10 p.m. and there's the possibility that many of the original viewers were unwilling to follow. In defense of CBS, part of the plan was to give "Jericho" an established lead-in. Unfortunately (due in no small part to the strike) that established lead-in was the sleaze-tastic reality show "Big Brother 9," which had never before aired outside of the low-expectations summer season. The audiences were, to put it kindly, completely incompatible and for a few weeks "Jericho" wound up with slightly better numbers than "Big Brother" anyway.

The network
Everyone's favorite scapegoat. Clearly everything that went wrong with "Jericho" was entirely CBS' fault! Never mind that they took a big, and welcome, risk by bringing the show back in the first place. Let's face it, a serial drama was always going to have a rough go of things on the network's current schedule. "Jericho" didn't repeat its plotlines every week, or solve a problem within the hour, and that seems to be the only way to find success as a scripted drama on CBS right now. Hopefully the experience doesn't discourage the network from taking similar chances in the future, but stepping back and looking at the whole picture I'd say that both the network and the producers tried their best to make an unlikely marriage work. Some couples just aren't meant to be ...

Alternative means of viewing
Some people will point to how popular "Jericho" is with TiVo users, or how high it ranks among iTunes downloads, or how well the Season 1 DVDs sold on Amazon.com. That's all great as an after-market for a show that draws an audience to its ad-supported broadcast airings. CBS isn't HBO. The amount of people who watch on live TV (and the age and income level of those people) really does matter. And if you downloaded "Jericho" through BitTorrent, it's really not a good idea to go crying to CBS about how much you'll miss the show.

The fans
A controversial argument to be sure. But if only the "Jericho" fans had shown a little bit of passion ... oh forget it, no one's gonna buy this one.

The ratings
Last season, "Jericho" averaged 9.5 million viewers and a 2.8 in the 18-49 demo. This season, the show averaged 6.8 million viewers and a 1.9 in the 18-49 demo. The defense may raise mitigating factors, like the shady way Nielsen measures the audience or everything else mentioned above, but the bottom line is that those numbers are barely acceptable on NBC. On CBS, they'll get you a death sentence. Case closed.

-- Geoff Berkshire

Comments () | Archives (59)

Just saw the last episode on TV here in Texas. All the shows I watch tend to just stop. Maybe another network will pick it up and it will still be good. At least there was some sort of closure to the show. I'd really like to see how it all ends.

It amazes me that they keep the Big Brother show.. A bunch of idiots lying to each other to be each others ally... What a joke....

Jericho has an interesting story line, with a great cast and awesome writing...

It's sad and I hope a smart network will take the show and make some money off of it.. It's hard to believe CBS is stupid enough to get rid of a great show...

If the previously noted explanations are correct, maybe they should try moving the time/day. There are several evenings I go channel surfing for a show that is not "reality"... I put reality in quotes because we know that the most of the "reality" shows are also not reality... it's all backstabbing and mean spirited "voting' each other off the show to get money....

Sad.. NBC or ABC or any other network, please add Jericho... I am definitely a fan of Jericho and would happily switch networks to see it.

The same thing happened to Studio 60. You have to be a reality show to succeed these days.

You've missed the primary cause.

Halfway through the first season, the show went on a holiday hiatus. Not the usual 3-4 week hiatus almost all shows go into in December and January, but one that lasted about two and a half months. Then, when it finally returned, it was up against the monstrosity known as American Idol. Thee ratings in that second half of the first season were down a quarter from what they were pre-hiatus.

I don't know at whose feet the blame for that hiatus falls, but that was what ultimately led to the show's death, in my opinion.

I've never been as engaged in any show as I've been in Jericho. CBS made a slew of errors after deciding to bring the show back: waiting a year, bad time slot, bad lead in, no promotion. I can only shake my head and wonder why they didn't commit to the show the way viewers clearly did. I'll add my voice to the many who are hoping to see it picked up by another network, and I'll follow the list of things fans are being asked to do to make that happen.

I think the main reason Jericho's ratings sank is that by only ordering 8 episodes for this season, they sent a clear message that they did not have any faith in it and would not be continuing the show (long before they announced their actual decision). Shows like this need time to grow and gain an audience. People do not like to start watching a show that they know is going to be canceled. The timing of the strike and the timeslot of the show did not help, nor did the fact that they had to streamline the story and cut out a lot of the cast.
I really hope that some other network picks it up because it is just so good. Loved the season finale. I am still welling up!

Suzanne Lanoue
The TV MegaSite

Jericho is an exceptional show. I think I will give up CBS, if they "can" a show like
Jericho, then the next really good show might be canned. What is the point of getting involved in a CBS series. Sorry CBS, I just can't trust you anymore.

Remember Fox's "Millennium" starring Lance Henriksen (1996-1999)? I spent 3 years watching that show and was left high and dry. Now CBS has done the same thing to me with Jericho. I have just finished watching my last Millenium / Jericho type TV series.

Americans are getting stupid and the TV shows prove it. It's a crying shame when idiots choose mindless reality junk, staged game shows, and singing/dancing skits over quality thought provoking stories and great actors. Viewers today have no class or brain cells to speak of. Other than Jericho, Lost, and the News, I usually only watch PBS, Science channel, History channel, or TLC. Maybe Family Guy for a laugh at worst. I thought our species was supposed to be getting more intelligent, not brainless. Evolution is creating idiots, not Earthlings. FSM help us all, and watch some educational programming for once in your life, stop the Idol idiocy.


I am so tired of the networks deciding to kill quality programs like Jericho in favor or total garbage ...reality this or....celebrity that!! Furthermore, don't the executives realize that there is an increasingly larger demo out there that doesn't watch live TV and downloads, Tivos or rents their content. CBS, SHAME ON YOU!

I think it's stupid of cbs to cancel a show this good that actually makes you think instead of all those idiot so called "reality shows". It seems that many people are getting dumber every day with all those reality shows and many people now a days are very ignorant especially some teenagers that i see at school and this is coming from a 17 year old. Hopefully another cable network picks this show up.

This show was all too realistic and topical for the network handlers to allow to continue. I can't believe it was actually on TV in the first place, especially the second season where the implied criminality of the government went from passive to a mantra. Loved it. Enjoyed it while it lasted and hope it woke some people up to the reality of our times.

Not to disrespect Mr. Military vince52. I support our military and believe that the provide a vital role in keeping it so that I can even write this, but you need take 2 or 3 steps back and calm down.


1 its a tv show. Facts are missed every day in every tv show more so the news than any

2 The military is very good at following orders. The show never puts them as the enforces as much a obedient. The "enforcers" are the private contractors from JnR.

Oh and your foreign power or terrorist argument what the news. They will fill you with enough drama about that. And better yet it wont get cut. I support the writers of Jericho for taking a look at an existing problem from a different not mainstreamed version of the issue. Why couldn't one of "Us" organize something like that? How is that harder or less "entertaining" then some country attacking us.

My last thought "denigrate" our country and our military. I don't think this show denigrates our country so much as pop the invincible mindset bubble of a nation. If a fictional writing, movie, etc.. has the ability to denigrate our military more then their sacrifices then we are closer to some kind of a end of days then I thought.

Sorry for long post I hate seeing people take fiction as real life.

CBS has no idea how mad I am. They need to make a movie or sell it off to another network. This is so ridiculous, how can they just end it like this? I am legit upset, maybe if it wasn't at 10 pm on a tue. night they would have a few more viewers, or if they even advertised it. We as fans did our part, CBS pays us back by giving us seven, only SEVEN excellent episodes, at 10 and not even trying to keep the show by pushing behind it. Sweet now I have Big Brother to look foward to, I'm super excited. This was one of the few good shows on television, and its going to be replaced by Jessica Simpson asking what tuna is.

I work in the evening and so I have to Tivo my shows. Jericho was on the right track, but unfortunately "Nielson Ratings" is "Old School". I hope some other network will have the sense to pickup "Jericho". I am sick and tired of reality shows. We need real story lines. But in the end TV will suffer and the viewers will move on. Good Luck ABC, CBS, and NBC, you are all LOST.

Yep!!! lLl this season I watched every episode at CBS.com. I am a downtown dweller and chose between cable and DSL. I chose DSL. SO I watched Jericho online, primarily because of the time slot. SO I would wait until I could watch it online.

Great show by the way.

Now Lost and Boston Legal will be the only shows I watch. Nothing good on tv anymore.

So it's all about the ratings..............which is really too bad because the current ratings system does not depict the true picture of how many people are actually watching. As a fan, we were asked by CBS to get more viewers........we did this, all of us did this. We pestered everyone we knew.....we approached strangers! But, with all that, it didn't matter anyway because if they didn't have a little black Nielsen box, they were counted anyway....so what difference would it have made to get more viewers. Obviously there were a lot of viewers to begin with or there wouldn't have been such a huge revolt. Also, the time slot was not the best. It was hard for me to stay up that late but I did it.........I watched live............no, I am not a Nielsen family either so I didn't count. Other ways of viewing should have been considered as well. Not only was there 6-7 million viewers live, but on top of that, several million viewers more using the alterate means of viewing. I just think it's horrible that it has been canceled again. What really puzzles me is that we all complain so much about all the reality crap on TV.........well, we must love it because the ratings are huge and they keep making more of them! How can we hate it so but watch it at the same time?
I will not give up the fight............we have to get another Network to take over Jericho.........they will not be sorry!

I believe there were several factors that caused this show to be canceled, but plot, writing and acting were not any of those reasons. I believe Jericho was canceled for 2 major reasons. First, it was mainly about traditional American values. Although none of the characters were perfect and most had some major character flaws, most were good, average, all american people who; for the most part, believed in doing the right thing. Unfortunately, this just doesn't appeal to most of the people in America this day and time. But, it does appeal to a large group in this country based on the reaction of Jericho's die hard fan base. Morals in this country have just about disappeared completely. This doesn't bode well for shows like Jericho that have morals and human decency as it's main theme. The second reason, I believe, is the lack of sex on the show. Take a good long look at most of the shows on t.v. with the highest ratings and you'll see that majority of the episodes has something to do with sex. Whether it be a couple jumping in bed or, with the "crime dramas", some sort of sex crime. I don't know about everyone else, but if I want to watch something "ripped for the headlines" I'll watch CNN. I may be wrong, but I've always been under the impression that television shows are supposed to be for entertainment, not rehashing what we see on the news day in and day out. I'm not saying that shows like Jericho could get this country back on track as far has morals and basic human decency is concerned, but it couldn't hurt. That's why I don't believe any shows like Jericho will ever last, most people in America don't want to have morals, because it would mean that they couldn't do a lot of the things they do with a clear conscious.

So sorry to see Jericho end. One of the most engrossing shows for ages. As for Mr Military vince 52, pull your head in ! It's FICTIONAL. Maybe the writers intentionally made the bad guys domestic to reinforce the fictional aspect of the show, too many real foreign possibilities out there,(although I think perhaps having the attacks in September was not well thought out) maybe that would have actually frightened people off.

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