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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)

The Neilsens rating system killed this show plain and simple. And all this crap about a certain demographic being a more "valuable" group to advertise to!!

I was one of the guilty Tivo viewers. But c'mon, I'd never seen the show until SciFi started broadcasting it simultaneously with the new season. I had to watch on SciFi/Universal HD and stockpile the new season. I still haven't started watching the new ones yet!

On the other hand, maybe we just need to move to a more British understanding of a series as having 6-7 episodes? Cracker, Prime suspect...

I can't believe it's over AGAIN.
It was the best show on TV.
I'm a big fan of BSG and 24 but honestly they both have become stale.
Jericho was the only show that kept my interest for the entire hour.
I didn't even channel surf through the commercials.

CBS has become the reality TV channel or maybe they should change their name to CSI since that is most of their programming.
CSI was interesting the first two season. It quickly became laughable.

I would boycott CBS but honestly, Jericho was the only show they had worth watching.

I can't believe it's over AGAIN.
It was the best show on TV.
I'm a big fan of BSG and 24 but honestly they both have become stale.
Jericho was the only show that kept my interest for the entire hour.
I didn't even channel surf through the commercials.

CBS has become the reality TV channel or maybe they should change their name to CSI since that is most of their programming.
CSI was interesting the first two season. It quickly became laughable.

I would boycott CBS but honestly, Jericho was the only show they had worth watching.

As well as putting it after a lousy reality (pardon the redundancy) show, putting it opposite the popular Boston Legal can't have helped. Not exactly the same demographic, but that was the biggest obstacle I found in recommending it, or even being able to watch it myself (except later, on iTunes) sometimes!

Five reasons and not one of them has anything to do with quality.

Will content ever be king on television?

Broadcast TV has changed, and not for the better. Jericho was handicapped when CBS decided to put 3 months between the first 11 episodes and the last 11 episodes, especially when the collective IQ of the viewing audience seems to decay since the advent of Reality TV. Had Skeet Ulrich been married to any relative of Les Moonves, think of how Jericho would have thrived.

I'm eager to see Jericho find a home where it will be truly appreciated, where the cast and crew will be better protected from network politics, where quality is more of a concern. If justice prevails, Jericho will rise again from the ashes. CBS was smart in uncanceling Jericho the first time, but stupid in not making more the fans' passion for the show they have canceled for the last time. What CBS has shown in canceling Jericho is that they need to be canceled as well. CBS now stands for Catering to Bull and S...

Let me start by saying that overall, I really liked the series and will miss it if not picked up by another network.

That said, I do think it took a very specific type of fan to watch the show because they so many things to push people away. To really enjoy the show you have to be able to do the following:
a) ability to suspend reality, and realize that some things are done for showmanship and not reality. I do not believe that any corporation would nuke 25 cities in order to gain power. They already buy power. I dont see our military personnel following orders from a startup government that was fighting the constitutional government. I dont believe that most people would have a houseful of burning candies left months after electricity was cut off.
b) you had to like love triangles because Jericho gave us 3 of them. Show almost lost me there, but the Stanley/Mimi budding relationship really intrigued me.
c0 you had to love HUGE casts. You had to be able to sit thru alot of characters you didnt care that more about to get to the ones you did.

Alot of my friends who couldnt wait to watch the show, tuned out very quickly because they couldnt/wouldnt do these things. At one point the show nearly lost me, and I had even taken it off my DVR for recording, but luckily I still managed to watch it live and it eventually drew me back in.

As strange as this will sound, I did not like the major plotline at all in the 2nd season, yet I enjoyed it more than the 1st season because the episodes flowed really well. Watching an hour of Jericho seemed like 20 minutes and boom it was over and left you wanting more.

I loved all of these post - what other show draws such an interesting and diverse group of people who have taken the time and effort to comment here. The pattern to all of them was that they had been starved for thought provoking viewing and this show gave them something to think about - even if some of it is negative - there was still a reaction. Why are we treated like the poor relation by the networks because we want something more than mind numbing, dumbed down, fake reality shows? It is time for change.

I just finished reading all the comments made since yesterday and except for some off the wall remarks, they were quite good.

Was Jericho worth watching? For me yes. For once, it was something I could analyze, think about, laugh and a few times cry. I am over 50, an antique some would say, but although I do not mind watching insipid reality shows, I also want to be challenged. And Jericho did that.

Was the show too left leaning? Perhaps, although it did not agree with everything I consider "liberal". I am not a fan of the military, but the portayal of the soldiers, especially in the last few episodes, was very good. Just read the news from Iraq, Afghanistan and other places.

The potrayal of Major Beck by Esai Morales for me was what a soldier is about, doing his job, following orders, sometimes wondering. But at some point one cannot just say "I follow orders".

The discussions about the history of the US, the constitution, the role of big business and government, it is happening today. Look around you.

I was not expecting a 10-15 years series, but something good, entertaining, with some some kind of closure... I got it last night and perhaps in the future we will see another chapter.

I was a Neilsen family. Jericho was not on at the time so I wrote it in as my favorite show. Then I recorded the rest of my week. This was the same week I learned that Jericho had been canceled. Let me tell you, my comments regarding the cancellation got rather lenghty. I attached more paper.

As for the other shows that were on, well I didn't watch much that week because it was mostly junk.

Hey Neilsen! I am the right demographic. I love Jericho.

Bottom line: "Free" network TV is worth exactly what we pay for it. Shows like "Dexter" and "Monk," hits on cable, would never survive on free TV. The same goes for Brit series like "Torchwood" and "Life on Mars."

Series like this are too smart for the majority of "free" TV viewers, who would rather tune into insipid reality shows and innumerable rip-offs of "Law & Order." I for one am stunned that "24" and "House" are still on the air. They are the exceptions.

If you want quality TV, you have to be willing to pay for cable. Otherwise, have fun watching shows like "CSI: Cardiff" and "Dancing with the Stars' Dogs."

The reason behind the cancellation is simple - CBS is obviously a cog in the “Jennings and Rall” corporate conglomerate. Some of the corporate skullduggery this show depicted is really going on in the world (can you say “Halliburton,” boys and girls?) and the powers-that-be are still doing anything they can to keep a lid on it. The thing that makes “Jericho” so compelling is that of all the “nuclear apocalypse” stories to have come out of Hollywood since the 1940s, this one is the most plausible.

The reason behind the cancellation is simple - CBS is obviously a cog in the “Jennings and Rall” corporate conglomerate. Some of the corporate skullduggery this show depicted is really going on in the world (can you say “Halliburton,” boys and girls?) and the powers-that-be are still doing anything they can to keep a lid on it. The thing that makes “Jericho” so compelling is that of all the “nuclear apocalypse” stories to have come out of Hollywood since the 1940s, this one is the most plausible.

The L A Times failed to mention the real problem with the time slot. In the first half of the first season, Jericho aired in November and ratings were awsome. In the second part of the first season, in the same Wed. night at 8 pm time slot, Jericho went up against Amerian Idol. That is when live ratings started to decline, and downloads started to increase. When CBS brought Jericho back for the second season / seven episodes, they changed the night to Tuesday, and the time to 10 pm. The problem was still the same. Once again American Idol night. Even though American Idol ends at 10 pm, you still have the two hour period where 25 to 30 million people are pounding their phones, trying to vote for their favorite idol. A show like Idol almost has to be watched live. Jericho, a continuing drama can be downloaded by tivo, dvr, itunes, etc.... That is exactly what happened. If CBS would have aired Jericho on Mon. night at say 10 pm after the comedy line up, and not during the fall because of football, it would have been a huge success. It was one great show, I will miss it.

The L A Times failed to mention the real problem with the time slot. In the first half of the first season, Jericho aired in November and ratings were awsome. In the second part of the first season, in the same Wed. night at 8 pm time slot, Jericho went up against Amerian Idol. That is when live ratings started to decline, and downloads started to increase. When CBS brought Jericho back for the second season / seven episodes, they changed the night to Tuesday, and the time to 10 pm. The problem was still the same. Once again American Idol night. Even though American Idol ends at 10 pm, you still have the two hour period where 25 to 30 million people are pounding their phones, trying to vote for their favorite idol. A show like Idol almost has to be watched live. Jericho, a continuing drama can be downloaded by tivo, dvr, itunes, etc.... That is exactly what happened. If CBS would have aired Jericho on Mon. night at say 10 pm after the comedy line up, and not during the fall because of football, it would have been a huge success. It was one great show, I will miss it.

I am VERY SAD to hear that Jericho has been cancelled - AGAIN! I have been waiting for news on when it would pick up again - what an ending! geeze! I've watched it several times over on the download. My son and daughter-in-law have the Neilsen box - and very rarely pay attention to it. It's a shame to think this may be what's happening all over America - determining what we can watch and what is taken away - because the Real Fans of certain shows Do NOT have that box!

At a time when teary-eyed fools converse with a con artist as He "" COMES THRU "" to some passed relative or loved-one in a way any child should be able to see thru ! This guy John somehow;in all the universe has the POWER to dredge up some far-fetched clue of them giving Him ability to receive vibrations or smoke-signals so he (John) can give solace to these poor clue-less people.What a load of crap! I said all of that to say tv shows like that are high-market items,while VERY classy programs as "Universal's" -JERICO-will soon, draw it's last breath . What a SHAME

 
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