06 July 2007

The battle for Jericho ~ Report in Fort Worth Star-Telegram

There is a write up on Jericho in the Star-Telegam from Fort Worth Texas -

The battle for Jericho


"Jericho is the best-written show on CBS," says Joseph Saltow, a Fort Worth resident involved in a nationwide "Nuts for Jericho" campaign. Fans sent more than 20 tons of unshelled peanuts to CBS in an attention-getting gambit to save the series .

"But CBS didn't see high ratings. ... So they canceled it and promised 'closure,'" Saltow says. "Fans don't want closure; closure means an end. Fans want to see struggles and conflicts and resolution. So the battle was on."

And the fans won the battle. CBS resurrected the series, ordering seven episodes to air in the upcoming season. But the war continues: At 8 tonight, CBS will begin airing repeats that will run throughout the rest of the summer, and viewer reaction to the reruns, as well as the seven new episodes, will help determine whether Jericho will continue further. As Saltow notes, networks care about ratings.

Here are five reasons you should watch:

1 People worked hard to save this show.

During the season finale, lead character Jake Green (Skeet Ulrich) utters the word "Nuts" in response to a challenge from New Bern. That one word inspired the "Nuts for Jericho" campaign. Most of the 20 tons of nuts came from an Internet company called NutsOnline, which donated 10 cents for every pound sold to a fund to rebuild Greensburg, Kan., which was devastated by a tornado the same week the Jericho season finale aired.

Fans (including Saltow and his wife, Dori) also sent "Greetings from Kansas: Please save Jericho" postcards to newspaper writers and contacted the media via e-mail to alert them to the campaign. Their voices were heard: "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 wrote in a letter to Jericho fans. She also begged them to stop sending nuts.

2Jericho is a quality family drama.

Shortly before the nuclear attacks, Jake returns to Jericho from California, and it's apparent that he's the black sheep of his family -- his father, Mayor Johnston Green (Gerald McRaney), isn't wholly welcoming, and his brother, Eric (Kenneth Mitchell), is resentful, even though Eric has family issues of his own. Jake's mother (Pamela Reed) shows unconditional love, but she's facing an uphill task in repairing her troubled family. As the series progresses, these wounds begin to heal -- but they don't heal completely before some gaping new wounds open.

The Greens are contrasted with the family of Robert Hawkins (British actor Lennie James), a mysterious Jericho resident who arrived shortly before the country was attacked. Hawkins may be linked to the attacks, and his motives are unclear, but his purpose is slowly revealed in these repeats -- and as we come to understand more about him, his family becomes more and more fragile.

Family dramas are common on TV, but Jericho's Green family really does show that blood is thicker than water, and like many of the series' characters, they find that a crisis brings out the best in them. The writers put forth their problems in a gritty, unself-conscious manner, and that makes their losses that much more heartbreaking.

3Jericho is a quality war drama.

Saltow says that some blogs criticized the "nuts" campaign for trying to save a show that's about war when there's a real war going on. But Jericho shows just how crazy war can be and how seemingly petty things can have life-changing importance during wartime.

The mystery of who attacked the U.S. is still out there on the show, but in the latter half of the season the series became not so much about nuclear anxieties as about pre-nuclear ones: Jericho's battle with New Bern (which wants, among other things, unlimited access to Jericho's salt mines) is often a battle of inches, reminiscent of some of the fights over small patches of territory during World War I or in the modern-day Middle East.

If that doesn't sound escapist enough for your tastes, Jericho's fans point out that there's already plenty of escapism out there.

4 Jericho is a pretty good Western.

A frontier town banding together. Unknown dangers lurking on the plains. Outlaws roaming the roads. A patriarch with a supportive wife, a prodigal son returning and a loyal son at home, feeling underappreciated, with problems of his own. Although there is still some electrical and mechanical power, supplies are running low. Jericho disturbingly shows how quickly the 21st century can get blown back to the 19th century.

5Jericho is about middle America.

Like Friday Night Lights, another small-town drama saved by passionate fans, Jericho is an all-too-rare instance of a TV series not set in an urban center or on the coasts (even if its Kansas mountains are a too-obvious reminder that this is actually filmed in California). Network TV, with its bases in California and New York, too infrequently goes out to the hinterlands where the majority of Americans live. It's not about quirky people with silly problems in an upscale community, but about people who are down to earth, who are in many ways more like the average viewer than many TV series are willing to acknowledge.

"[It's] about a small town struggling to stay alive after a nuclear attack -- an attack that is very possible and more believable after 9-11," Saltow says. "It is easy to take time out from our challenges and join them every week for an hour as they handle their challenges. Because of this, many fans identify themselves in some part of Jericho."

Take a risk on this show. See if you identify with it. Don't just watch one episode and ditch it, because Jericho's effects are cumulative. The show grows in storytelling and emotional quality as it goes on. But its fight for survival isn't over, and it's a fight Jericho deserves to win.

Online: www.cbs.com/primetime/jericho; www.nutsonline.com/jericho; http://jericholives.com

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Always great to see an active fan mentioned on a news article, so who ever you are Mr. Saltow thanks for helping us save Jericho!!!!!!


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