As viewers of CBS’ Jericho know all too well, the network cancelled the drama last May after one season. Suffice it to say that the devoted fans freaked out and began the most highly publicized resuscitation campaign in television history, sending literally 20 tons of nuts to CBS. After several weeks, the network realized that the show indeed has a few devoted viewers and relented.
In June 2007, CBS ordered a slim second season of seven episodes and announced that Jericho would return sometime in early 2008. CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler warned fans that the show’s ratings would have to improve if there are to be more episodes after that. Tassler encouraged them to turn the passion of the nuts campaign into one of attracting viewers to the show.
The race to attract more viewers is now officially on as the network has just announced that Jericho will return on Tuesday, February 12, 2008. It will be replacing the low-rated drama Cane. In the announcement, Tassler spoke directly to fans and reiterated her earlier plea, saying, “We hope you will rally around the new episodes of Jericho with the same passion and volume you displayed this summer to bring the show back.”
Because production of Jericho’s second season wrapped on September 28th, the series thankfully won’t be directly affected by the ongoing writers strike. All seven episodes have been completed and many of the cast and crew members have joined the picket lines.
What may be impacted by the strike however is the opportunity for additional second season episodes. The thinking was that, if the seven episodes performed well, an additional episode order would be made by CBS. If the strike wears on for many months, that may not be possible.
On the other hand, the strike could help Jericho get a third season renewal. If the strike continues for many months, Jericho could be one of the few first-run scripted series on the air at the time. Also, the winter months are typically when new series are being developed for the following fall’s schedule. With the writers on strike, the networks will have fewer new series pilots from which to choose. As a result, CBS may have no other choice but to renew a greater number of existing programs.
The show’s future will all come down to ratings, as series star Skeet Ulrich is well aware. “We have to have more viewers, and that is what we hope to do.” As a private homage to the fans, Ulrich says that nuts will be very visible in several scenes in the new season.
So, what else can we expect for season two of Jericho?
The producers have said that they had a full second season all mapped out. With such a small season order though, they’ve had to jam 22 episodes worth of stories into seven. While there will certainly be plenty of action, some of the planned ideas had to be sacrificed. Actress Sprague Grayden told UndergroundOnline, “As far as I know, in the second season, the plan was always to give more back story to [my character] Heather. But because our second season is so short, nobody is getting more back story. The only people who are getting more are necessary to the plot, like Jake [Skeet Ulrich].”
Executive producer Carol Barbee promises that viewers won’t be disappointed however. She told TV Guide, “By the end [of the seven episodes] you’ll know who did [the bombing], why they did this, what their plan is, and who is going to prevail.” She added that viewers can expect to see a face off between Jake and Major Beck (Esai Morales) who’s there to end the Cheyenne’s feud with New Bern.
Beck also has a secret agenda which includes finding Robert Hawkins (Lennie James). Hawkins used a tracking device at the end of season one before he realized that it could be traced. She says, “They don’t know that they’re hunting Hawkins, but they know they’re hunting what they call a terrorist with a nuclear bomb. So Jake is going to have to help Hawkins stay out of the clutches of the Cheyenne government.” She continued, “Essentially, [the town is] going to be occupied. A lot of things happen when they’re under occupation.”
Barbee says that, if the second season ends up being the last hurrah for Jericho, they are ready. An alternative ending has been filmed to give the series some closure. “The ending that we planned was always meant to be a payoff for the seven-episode arc. It won’t close off the whole story but it will show you where we would go in a third season.” If the show isn’t renewed, “It gives you a huge mythology so that you understand so much about what has happened.”