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cultural vandal | by maryann johanson

fans save ‘Jericho’ from cancellation apocalypse

It’s gonna go down in history as one of the great fan movements in pop culture history, I suspect: Jericho fans were so passionate in their outrage over CBS’s cancellation of the series that, rather unbelievably, CBS renewed the show for another seven episodes, to air no one knows quite when yet, except that it will be midseason.

(I wrote about Jericho’s cancellation earlier here and here.)

Nina Tassler, president of CBS Entertainment, wrote a letter to fans last week, which was posted on the boards at the show’s official site. It sounds like good news, until this:

[F]or there to be more “Jericho,” [beyond the additional seven episodes] we will need more viewers.

A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available.

We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks.

Notice that there is no promise from Tassler that these seven episodes won’t air opposite the most popular show on TV, which is what happened this winter, when Jericho disappeared from the tube for three months and then came back up against American Idol. Jericho’s ratings were quite good in the fall, but that ridiculous hiatus and the impossible timeslot it landed in come February were brutal. No amount of fan passion could possibly overcome that, and of course where on the weekly schedule Jericho ends up next season is completely out of the control of fans. (Other stuff is out of fannish control, too, like the fact that Jericho showrunner Carol Barbee has moved on and won’t be contributing to the revived series in the same way she had been.)

I want to be hopeful for the new Jericho, but I’m not gonna hold my breath. But I do take some heart from CBS’s reversal — the network is recognizing that in this new era of TV ratings so low “you’d have to go back to the days of black-and-white sets to find a smaller number,” a small but passionate viewership may well be as important, if not more important, than a large but halfhearted one.

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