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Why The Decline?

Stargate Universe. Firefly. Angel. Bionic Woman. Invasion. Jericho. Terra Nova. Etc. Etc. Etc.

The list is pretty much endless.

The last ten years have seen a vast array of science fiction blast onto our screens, and too often fizzle out very quickly. In the cinema, endless sequels such as X-Men, Men In Black, even the upcoming Star Trek threaten to milk the cash-cow of each franchise dry.

People ask why science fiction is dying. Some debate whether its decline is even an actuality, but it’s difficult to argue with the ratings and the facts.

The answer is simple: originality and understanding. Lest we forget, Star Trek: The Original Series was cancelled back in the day before its time, and has gone on to be one of the most enduring series in the history of television and cinema.

Yet today, little is appearing on our screens with the originality of Star Trek. Today, we lack a visionary like Gene Roddenberry to transport our imaginations into a plausible future. Television networks are afraid to go too far out for fear of losing their audience’s understanding: science fiction today is almost always diluted with some form of contemporary normality. Lead characters are characters from today, transplanted into a science fiction setting (think Stargate). Some shows like Jericho are allocated in a science fiction genre when, thirty years ago, they would barely be considered. True science fiction – the really visionary material – is not being written. Shows are stagnant, over-produced, under-thought and woefully advertised.

There’s not a lot of good television being written, period. It’s not exclusive to science fiction. But whereas realities and dramas continue to be popular with lousy storylines and hapless acting, maybe because they often provide a form of less intellectual and hard-talking escapism, science fiction can fall very swiftly from the realms of tremendous to absolutely awful. (Disclaimer: I love good dramas, but there are a lot of terrible ones that remain popular.)

Perhaps hope is not entirely lost.

One could argue Firefly was original, different and visionary to a degree. It presented likeable characters with great storylines in a plausible future. Yet, the network had no idea what to do with it. Was it a western? Was it a sci-fi? What they failed to grasp, of course, was that the beauty of Firefly lay in its synthesis. It blended the two uniquely, and created an original, dynamic and entertaining universe. A bit too much for the American audience to handle, FOX mused.

Until we have someone truly talented and with the vision to project humanity’s future onto our television screens in an entertaining, touching and ground-breaking way, science fiction will continue its slow and sad decline. We can, it seems, but hope.

Jericho Movie on the Cards?

JERICHO According to Sci-Fi Wire, former Jericho cast members Brad Beyer and Ashley Scott have told journalists that there have been murmurings of a Jericho feature film, and have expressed a desire to be involved. 

Beyer (Stanley Richmond in Jericho) said:

“We kind of feel like it needs some closure, because it still feels kind of weird.” 

“I mean, we didn’t get to a whole second season. … I think you can do a lot more with it. I think there’s a lot of different ways you can go with the story.”

When asked about the prospect of returning for another season (which fans are currently campaigning for, on another network/station), Beyer added:

“Yeah. I think everybody that I keep in contact with would definitely jump on board with it. … We’re all pretty much open to it. It was such a great, positive experience, why wouldn’t we want to do it again?”

Jericho returned for a short second season after having been cancelled at the end of its first season.  The second season too was cancelled due to lacklustre ratings, but allowed for a reasonable conclusion to the series.  Despite this, fans and many of the cast and crew feel the Jericho universe has more to give.

Whether it will be given that chance, only time will tell.

Morales Joins Caprica

Esai Morales, best known as Major Beck on Jericho, has joined the cast of SCI FI Channel’s two-hour pilot for Caprica, the proposed television prequel to Battlestar Galactica, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

According to reports, he will portray the character of Joseph Adama, the father of William Adama (played by Edward James Olmos in Battlestar Galactica).

A description of Joseph Adama has surfaced, with details of him being a “deeply passionate man with a strong sense of justice” as well as being “someone you wouldn’t want as your enemy”.

Morales had previously joined the cast of Jericho for the Second Season, playing Army Major Beck, placed in control of the Jericho town in the aftermath of a civil war with neighbouring town of New Bern. For more on the Jericho cancellation, please see our article.

CBS Cancels Jericho… Again

From The Hollywood Reporter
CBS has nuked "Jericho."

Producers were told Thursday the show is ending its run on the broadcast network, sources said.

CBS will air the season finale next week with a resolution that helps give closure to fans.

After the first season concluded with an abrupt cut to black, fans famously inundated CBS with tens of thousands of pounds of peanuts to urge the network to continue the show.

For the seven-episode second season, producers shot two endings — one that leaves viewers in suspense for a third round, another that is more conclusive.
The ending chosen by CBS will wrap up the final season’s storyline, where the nuclear war survivors of a Kansas town struggled under a violent occupation by a government contractor.

"The March 25th episode of Jericho will be the series finale," CBS said in a statement. "Without question, there are passionate viewers watching this program; we simply wish there were more. We thank an engaged and spirited fan base for keeping the show alive this long, and an outstanding team of producers, cast and crew that went through creative hoops to deliver a compelling, high quality second season. We have no regrets bringing the show back for a second try. We listened to our viewers, gave the series an opportunity to grow, and the producers put a great story on the screen. We’re proud of everyone’s efforts."

Tuesday’s finale doesn’t entirely slam the door on the series, but is notably different from the cliffhanger version, sources said. The ending also doesn’t entirely preclude the possibility of "Jericho" finding a second life on cable. The high cost of the production, however, will likely prevent a continuation of the show.
Despite the erosion of broadcast ratings in recent years, the massive protest that saved "Jericho" last year has been called the largest fan effort ever to try and halt a network cancellation of a series.

The outcry put CBS in a tough position, whether to renew a show that has below-the-line ratings, yet unprecedented fan support. "Jericho" also performed well online on CBS.com and in iTunes downloads.

 
Unfortunately for the network and fans, the second season’s Nielsen ratings were even lower than the first. The most recent episodes have averaged about a 1.9 rating among adults 18 to 49 in the show’s Tuesdays at 10 p.m. time period. The network’s decision to cancel the show still might not have been easy, but it was easier to see coming.

"’Jericho’ is unique because the fans saved it — watching it on the Internet and streaming and iTunes downloads, all those things that are not being counted," said executive producer Carol Barbee in a recent interview. "That’s what ‘Jericho’ will be known for."

More on “Jericho” Renewal

SyFy Portal have posted an article on the pressure platform on which Jericho has been set for its second season.

In an exclusive interview with TV Guide, Skeet Ulrich (who plays Jake Green on the program) admitted that although the initial order for Season 2 is only seven episodes, the network will be watching the performance of those shows closely with the option of extending their order to a total of 13 episodes.

Another interesting snippit is the news that the typical eight-days per episode has been cut to a mere seven.

But although the pickup for another year may seen as a chance to relax, Ulrich confirmed that when the series goes into production there will be very little time unwind as the pressure to turn around episodes is cut short by a day and that the series may have to work with a lower budget than before.

“In terms of money, and I had heard we might be working seven days per episode,” he added. “We were struggling to do a couple of last season’s episodes in eight days. But we’ll make it work.”

Nice to have some optimism. I hope these budget cuts aren’t widely felt on the show, certainly not visibily on screen with greatly reduced effects or a cast cull. Although I imagine CBS would sooner axe the show again than try that hard to nurture it to success.

Jericho Renewed!

In an unprecedented U-turn, US television network CBS has bowed to fan pressure and given Jericho a seven-episode mid-season pickup.

CBS Entertainment President Nina Tassler issued the following statement at the Jericho forums:

June 6, 2007

To the Fans of Jericho:

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. You got our attention; your emails and collective voice have been heard.

As a result, CBS has ordered seven episodes of “Jericho” for mid-season next year. In success, there is the potential for more. But, for there to be more “Jericho,” we will need more viewers.

A loyal and passionate community has clearly formed around the show. But that community needs to grow. It needs to grow on the CBS Television Network, as well as on the many digital platforms where we make the show available.

We will count on you to rally around the show, to recruit new viewers with the same grass-roots energy, intensity and volume you have displayed in recent weeks.

At this time, I cannot tell you the specific date or time period that “Jericho” will return to our schedule. However, in the interim, we are working on several initiatives to help introduce the show to new audiences. This includes re-broadcasting “Jericho” on CBS this summer, streaming episodes and clips from these episodes across the CBS Audience Network (online), releasing the first season DVD on September 25 and continuing the story of Jericho in the digital world until the new episodes return. We will let you know specifics when we have them so you can pass them on.

On behalf of everyone at CBS, thank you for expressing your support of “Jericho” in such an extraordinary manner. Your protest was creative, sustained and very thoughtful and respectful in tone. You made a difference.

Sincerely,

Nina Tassler

President, CBS Entertainment

P.S. Please stop sending us nuts :)

In brief:
– Jericho will return this Winter with 7 new episodes
– The show will be rebroadcast this summer to gain new viewers.
– The DVD set for Season One will be released on September 25th
– The Jericho “story” will “continue in the digital world until the new episodes return”.
– Episodes will be available for streaming online.

I have to say, this is incredible. Never before have I seen a fan-base literally bully a television company into renewing their show.

Imagine if the producer’s hadn’t included the “nuts” line in the finale, the future might have been very different.

Fair play to you, CBS. Fair play.

They’ve made it clear what the want, however; viewers. Sci-Fi Heaven asks all Jericho fans to tune in, and spread the word. Get the show up there. Make sure people know when and where the show is returning, and spread the DVDs as soon as they launch. Jericho needs you!

Jericho Set To Move To Other Network

“Jericho” co-executive producer, Carol Barbee, this morning announced on Shaun Mac Radio that:

Other networks ARE interested in Jericho

CBS is open to moving it and is preparing to talk to the other networks.

Good news for the Jericho fans. Could the nuts have saved the show? Makes you think; what if the “nuts” line hadn’t been included in the finale? The nut campaign wouldn’t exist, and Jericho could have already been banished to a grizzly death.

Hope remains.

JerichoLives.com

To the casual reader, it may appear as though I’m developing an obsession. However, there’s a really great site out there doing its best to get CBS’s recently ignominiously cancelled series “Jericho” back on the air in some form (all the while causing as much grief to CBS as possible).

They’ve got a handful of neat ideas to help voice your resentment at the decision, and they seem to cater for people of all enthusiasm levels. For instance, you can chose to send a pre-written email to someone at CBS, or alternatively send them an entire shipment of peanuts to register your disgust.

Most importantly, they’ve formed quickly, and are making an impact. So if you want to give a shout of support to their cause, take a visit over there.

American TV Network “Decisions of the Year”

Still bitter about the Jericho cancellation (which hasn’t been officially announced yet, actually), I found a post on TrekBBS by NX01_Mark. It’s his list of the “best” decisions taken by US TV Networks this year (edited slightly by myself).

How To Run A Network

* Let’s move our most popular show, Lost, to 10pm and then air the first 6 episodes. Take a six month break before airing the rest.

* Let’s premiere a new show on FOX, in April.

* Let’s split JERICHO up in two halves with a three month+ break in between episodes 11 and 12, even though the ratings held perfectly well until episode 11.

* Let’s split up our most succesful night of SCI FI programming and wonder why they are failing.

* Let’s air half a season of Stargate, then go on a break for 7ish months. During our ingenious beak the remaining half of the year will air in most other world countries. When we air our half, fans will have downloaded the new episodes from abroad. Magnificent. :)

Most fans could do a better job of running American TV Networks than the current heads of scheduling.

Jericho Cancelled

Variety Magazine have confirmed that CBS’ sci-fi/drama series “Jericho” has been cancelled.

In addition, Carol Barbee (co-executive producer on Jericho) has confirmed the news to Subject2Discussion radio show in Los Angeles.

According to online sources, the crew of the show were informed of the cancellation today.

One source on a popular web forum states that the cancellation has been confirmed by a member of the cast/crew of Jericho on the official CBS message boards, but that the producers have already begun trying to move the show to another network.

The news comes less than a month after other reports appeared online claiming Jericho was not only set for a second season pickup, but would also be moved to a new night to escape American Idol.

CBS are set to unveil their new Fall schedule tomorrow, so absolute confirmation will arrive with that announcement.

Jericho debuted to strong ratings in the Fall of 2006, and the decline in those ratings hasn’t been enormous since. What does a show now need to do before it’s cancelled? Jericho’s ratings were NOT poor. It was holding second for the hour each week. Does a new drama now have to win its hour each week to assure itself a place in the next years line up? Has American television really become that pathetic that shows aren’t given any chances?

Yeah, looks like it has.

If you want to try and help save Jericho, please check out our methods.
Jericho has since been renewed.