Tuesday, June 26, 2007

A Future For Jericho?

Earlier this month, CBS announced that Jericho, previously cancelled after one season, will be brought back for a shortened seven-episode run. Having received thousands of pounds of peanuts – alluding to a comment in the season finale – CBS bowed to loyal viewers and changed their decision to leave the show for dead. Jericho fans have reason to cheer, but not for the long run.

Averaging around 8 million viewers as the lead-in to widely popular Criminal Minds, Jericho was by no means a bust. Most networks would kill for a drama averaging such numbers, but CBS, like other networks, is loaded with other, more popular shows including the extremely popular CSI franchise.

As a fan of the show, I too, was dishearten by the initial decision to cancel the show, especially with so many questions left unanswered, but yet I understand CBS’s thinking. Jericho, which is about a small Kansas town that survives nation-wide nuclear terrorist attack, was never thought to even make it to mid-season. Critics scorned the depth and development of its’ characters without the show having even aired. After a few episodes, the ratings were much higher than expected and CBS order a full season. With the order came improved writing, more in-depth character development, and the re-emergence of Skeet Ulrich as viable leading man. After years of obscurity, Ulrich brought a very likable, yet humble Jake, to the small screen. Best known for his role in Scream where he played an arrogant, but charismatic murder suspect, Ulrich has used Jericho to re-launch his career and possibly define his acting future, which for all intents and purposes, was doomed to B-list obscurity. Whereas Jericho may have brought newfound legitimacy to Ulrich, no amount of second season theatrics can solve the problem that doomed the show from the start.

Make no mistake, Jericho deserves a second shot – the ratings are there. Jericho’s fans deserve closure to the story, which seemed to have ended with a standoff between the seemingly wholesome inhabitants of Jericho and the power-hungry attackers from up the road in Dearborn. However, like any other doomsday plot, the show can only be dragged out for so long before the buzz is gone. What more can happen to these people? They’ve witnessed their country blown to pieces, their former mayor killed, and they’ve been attacked by their former friendly neighbors.

In this writer’s opinion, this type of plot is best suited for a feature length movie than it does for the cereal format. When Jericho began it’s successful, but improbable run, we already knew the worst that could happen to the characters, and while flashbacks and character development have made the storyline entertaining and interesting to watch, the climax happened in the first hour of the show. Seven episodes is a generous offering from CBS. All the unanswered questions will be addressed, the fate of the United States will be known, and Jericho will either thrive in the new world order or continue to be a stop along the way for desperate refugees. Regardless of what happens, the creators and writers of the show have exceeded everyone expectations and delivered something different in primetime that doesn’t revolve around crime scenes and various investigative units. I’m grateful to get the chance to see seven more episodes of this show, but also hope that they provide the due diligence the show deserves by tying up loose ends, telling a fun and engaging story, but not dragging out the inevitable.

For those who missed the first season, CBS will air re-runs of the whole first season, beginning July 6th at 9:00 with the pilot. Following weeks will also air on Fridays, but the show will air at 10:00 EST. CBS has also promised a behind-the-scene special to help viewers get up to speed and maybe draw in a few extra folks for the shows' mid-season return in either late December or January, 2008.

For more info, go to CBS.com/Jericho


rel=nofollowcbsplaysdirty said...

You should check out Skeet in the short-lived MIRACLES, an ABC show that was cancelled far too soon. His acting range was even wider in that show, and the directors gave him more leway I think. The eipsode called, YOU ARE MY SUNSHINE was emmy calibre and reminiscent of Scream. He is a fantastic actor. Underrated.