Nut Job Saves Jericho

CBS to resurrect postapocalyptic series for seven-episode midseason run in wake of a massive campaign in which nearly 25 tons of peanuts were sent to the network

By Gina Serpe Jun 06, 2007 10:15 PMTags

It's official: Jericho has been saved by the peanut gallery.

CBS announced Wednesday that it is resurrecting the postapocalyptic serial for a second, albeit abbreviated, season after an overwhelming fan campaign to bring back the show.

"Wow! Over the past few weeks you have put forth an impressive and probably unprecedented display of passion in support of a prime-time television series," CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said. "You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard."

CBS says seven episodes have been ordered for a midseason run, with additional shows contingent on ratings.

"In success, there is the potential for more," Tassler said. "But for there to be more Jericho, we will need more viewers."

To drum up more eyeballs, CBS will rerun the episodes this summer, continue streaming Jericho online and release the first season DVD collection on Sept. 25.

Star Skeet Ulrich said he was “so thankful to our fans for not only their passionate support but their tireless efforts to revive our show."

"The whole cast and I are thrilled to have the opportunity to be together again and I look forward to the chance to give back to the fans with more of the story that brought us here,” Ulrich continued.

The turnaround comes amid a massive—and massively unusual—grassroots effort to save the series. In addition to the typical deluge of protest letters and phone calls to the network, and to the personal cell phone of one network exec, thanks to some enterprising fans with a bone to pick and an Internet connection, more than 25 tons—yes, tons—of peanuts were sent to the network's New York and Los Angeles offices.

The nutty campaign was the brainchild of Jericho's ferocious online community and was inspired by a line uttered in the season finale last month. When the town of Jericho is ordered to surrender by a hostile neighboring community, Ulrich's character, Jake Green, responds à la the famous American reply to the Germans at the Battle of the Bulge.

"Nuts," he said.

And an Internet phenomenon was born.

Taking its cue from the nascent fan unrest, the site set up a specific Jericho account where viewers could donate money to ensure the daily delivery of roasted legumes to CBS' headquarters.

Two weeks ago, with enough honey roasteds to last a lifetime, Tassler said the network got the message and was trying to figure out how to make fans happy, and presumably stem the flow of nuts.

"We truly appreciate the commitment you made to the series and we are humbled by your disappointment," Tassler said in a message posted on the network's Website. "In the coming weeks, we hope to develop a way to provide closure to the compelling drama that was the Jericho story."

Tassler's note came just weeks after she announced at the upfront presentations that the show wouldn't be on the 2007-08 schedule.

"It just wasn't performing," she said. "You know, it had good viewers, loyal viewers, but the show just really kind of lost its engine. It was a hard decision. It's a hard decision in any year.

"It's the nature of the beast."

Jericho premiered last fall as one of the biggest buzz shows of the season. The serial drama had strong ratings during its first few weeks, averaging about 10.5 million viewers, but lost nearly a quarter of its audience after the network put it on an extended three-month winter hiatus. When it returned, CBS didn't do it any favors, putting the show opposite American Idol, where it seemed to lose all traction with viewers, averaging 8.1 million.

Still, Jericho became one of the most streamed series on CBS' InnerTube player.

CBS needs to work out some logistics before the show can come back. Talks are already underway with Ulrich and several other cast members to return to the series, as well as with a handful of the writers. The network also needs to recreate the show's set. No date has been set for its return.

One actor who won't be brought back is Gerald McRaney. He quit before the series was canceled and his character was killed in the finale.

Executive producer and showrunner Carol Barbee has already moved on to CBS' new midseason drama Swingtown, though would likely pull double duty to work on the truncated second season of Jericho.

When the expected announcement comes, Jericho boosters can thank peanuts for doing what Arrested Development's frozen banana campaign and Invasion's bottled water deliveries couldn't—successfully sway a network to bring back a show from the brink of cancellation. (The trend dates back to Roswell fans' Tabasco-powered save-our-show stunt.)

Only a few series have successfully been brought back from the dead. For instance, Family Guy was famously revived by Fox several years after getting axed; mercifully, the 'toon owes its second chance to the power of reruns and DVD sales instead of, say, a flood of Stewie-stained diapers.

And all those peanuts? CBS says it will donate them to charity.