Monday, March 24, 2008

Aw NUTS!!! Jericho Cancelled….AGAIN!!!

FanBoyWonder was saddened but not especially surprised to learn that our new favorite show—Jericho—has failed to win renewal as the network suits at CBS dropped the Big One on the series for the second time in as many seasons.

As we have noted, we were late into coming to the party, as we viewed Jericho for the first time during a mini-marathon of the first season just before Jericho’s second season premiere in February.

The very fact that Jericho had a second season—albeit an abbreviated seven episode season—was due to the tenacity of Jericho’s dedicated fans who flooded the Tiffany Network with peanuts (a play on the first season finale when Jake Green declares “NUTS” rather than surrender to the opposing army from the next town).

After viewing the first four episodes on the Sci-Fi Channel, we were instantly hooked on Jericho and sought to catch up on the entire 22 episode first season online as quickly as we could. And of course we viewed the new second season of the show.

Unfortunately we were among but a select few. Even more unfortunate it turns out is that the networks still don’t count I-tunes and online viewing in their cancel or renew deliberations—which is too bad considering folks (like FanBoyWonder) was eating up a lot of bandwidth getting acquainted with Jericho.

While it was granted a rare second chance after cancellation , Jericho 2.0 was not the same show as Jericho Season One—because of a limited seven episode season, a downsized budget and loss of a couple key cast members in Mayor Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney) and his wife Gail (Pamela Reed) as the town and the family patriarch and matriarch.

McRaney’s character was killed at the end of Season 1, while Reed had been relegated to a single guest start status. McRaney and Reed had great chemistry, while not lead actors, they were most definitely were the moral centers of the first season.

Worse, we had known going in that McRaney’s character had been killed at the end of the first season so it was heartbreaking to watch the character develop during the Season 1 episodes knowing his ultimate fate. His death scene with his two sons Jake and Eric (Skeet Ulrich and Kenneth Marshall) was as poignant as it was painful to watch.

Yet the sad truth is that the Jericho that rose from the ashes for a second season was not the same show from the first season.

Mark Wilson of Mark’s Sci-Fi/Fantasy blog hit the nail on the head about what happened to Jericho in the new season.

What happened this time? My guess is that the show took some risks this year that may not have paid off. The compulsive appeal of watching a single town cope with the isolation and depredations that followed a nationwide nuclear Armageddon, so arresting as the through-line of season 1, was replaced this season by a suspense plot involving high-level corruption in the new Allied States of America. Meanwhile the show lost two of its strongest characters, Johnston and Gail Green (Gerald McRaney, whose character was killed off, and Pamela Reed, who returned [last] week for a very welcome cameo).
"In other words, even though the writing, acting, and production continued to be top-notch, Jericho season 2 ended up effectively being almost a completely different show from Jericho season 1. And the new storyline, while continuing to elicit strong performances from stars Skeet Ulrich (Jake) and Lennie James (Hawkins), created a narrower focus that continually sidelined most of the cast, particularly Ashley Scott (Emily), with very little to do.”

Still there seem to be no regrets on all sides that Jericho was brought back for a second chance. The network got a critically acclaimed show and all the press that comes with it, they got a boat load of episode downloads and they got original content to air during the Writer’s Strike drama drought.

For the fans, they were allowed NOT to be left hanging following the Season 1 cliffhanger. Furthermore, Team Jericho planned ahead by shooting two endings—a season and a series finale, with the latter to be aired tomorrow night.

Jericho: Season 2, Episode 7—Patriots and Tyrants airs tomorrow (Tuesday) night at 10 p.m EST. Here’s the Upshot From CBS: Jake and Hawkins have one final opportunity to prove to the independent Texas government that they hold the evidence to one of the biggest conspiracies in history on the second-season finale.

There is a chance that the show could be picked elsewhere for a third season—as we noted Sci-Fi Channel has picked up and is airing Jericho’s Season 1 re-runs—but given the show’s high production costs, the experts seem to thing this is a long shot at best.

Worse, if the budget is cut even more than it clearly had been in Season 2 then any the show risks being “Jericho” in name only.

Bottom Line: In our estimation, Jericho Season 1 will stand along as near television perfection as every single episode was cleverly written, acted and shot. If Jericho Season 2 was only half as good working with half its budget it was still twice as good as most anything else out there.

For Team Jericho, they have much to be proud of. For FanBoyWonder, we may have arrived during the final hour before last call, but we’re still glad to have made the party and to have been part of this great television experience.

In a word—NUTS!!!!!
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