TV: The Fall of Jericho
Variety reported today that amongst the shows not returning for another season on CBS is Jericho. Why? I can’t say for sure, but I’m guessing that it was a fairly expensive show to shoot and given it’s ‘long arc’ style I doubt that it picked up many new viewers during the course of the first season.
I really enjoyed Jericho, it quickly became one of the shows that I found myself looking forward to — Some weeks more so even than the latest LOST episode — but it’s not really a surprise to me that we wont be seeing more of it. It’s not that I’m getting jaded about these sorts of things, but over the last few years I’ve gotten attached to far too many extremely well written/directed/performed shows, only to see them disappear at the end of their first season or, even worse, vanish without a trace after only a few episodes: DRIVE, for example, appeared for only three nights on FOX (two episodes on a Sunday night, followed by two more on the consecutive Mondays).
So why does this sort of thing keep happening? Well, as much as I’d like to continue to point my finger at the morons running FOX, the reality is that while they suffer from an almost crippling case Premature-Discontinuation they are not the only ones. Sure, they have an itchy trigger finger so it seems. However, while they are quicker to pull the plug than other networks, they are by no means the worst… they’re just the worst at doing it.
With CBS sending JERICHO to join the same pile that WB sent INVASION to, and FOX sent DRIVE, FIREFLY, WONDERFALLS, THE INSIDE (to name a few) to the question begs: WHY?
Why is it that great shows keep getting hammered, while clones of CSI fill every time-slot. Why do smart, snappy shows like VERONICA MARS struggle to survive while GHOST WHISPERER forges on? Why? WHY?
Ultimately the only reasoning that I can come up with is that by their very nature shows which have a bigger scope are always going to struggle. Gone are the days where a single show like TWIN PEEKS can grab people’s attention and take them on an extended journey — If you’re not old enough to remember the phenomenon that Twin Peeks was then you should probably visit Blockbuster asap — Lost reached that peek (pardon the pun) for a brief moment, but dwindling attention spans and utter contempt for the audience by network executives have sent them scrambling to reclaim their audience by holding a light up at the end of the proverbial tunnel and announcing an end date for the show.
These shows aren’t hard to follow, they’re just hard to adopt. If you missed the first few episodes of a show like Jericho then you’re hardly likely to get into it; no matter how good the buzz about show is. Like Lost, Jericho suffered from a choppy season schedule, but unfortunately it didn’t have the initial audience weight of Lost and as a result wont be back for another season.
Am I suggesting that writers/producers should dumb their shows down so that they can be readily adopted? Hell no! There’s plenty of fast food TV out there, we don’t need more. What we do need is for networks to understand that they need to treat these shows with more respect: Make people aware of them BEFORE they air, release the first few episode online for free, run encore showings of the first few episodes, and most of all make a commitment to the show AND the audience… Otherwise why the hell should we make a commitment to them? [source]