Jericho is now one of those words poised to make the pop culture leap from noun to verb, like “Google” or “Swiftboat.” It will come to signify any aggressive online campaign to save a TV show with a small but intensely loyal audience.
For now, diehard fans of the CBS drama are celebrating the immediate result of their grassroots effort to bring back “Jericho” after its May cancellation: seven more episodes for mid-season replacement next year.
Adopting the survivalist mindset of the show’s characters, “Jericho” fans known as “Rangers” launched a fierce counterstrike online, highlighted by the sending of some 20 tons of peanuts to CBS executives in New York and Los Angeles.
The nuts drive generated massive publicity for the show’s plight, including coverage in The New York Times, Wall Street Journal, CNN and more remote outlets including The New Zealand Herald. After a few weeks of the incessant shelling, CBS raised the white flag in early June.
“You have put forth an impressive and unprecedented display of passion in support of a primetime television series,” wrote CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler, in a message announcing the additional episodes on the network’s “Jericho” Web site.
“It’s not the first time rabid fans have tried to bring back a show, but it’s pretty rare that it actually works,” says Joe Laszlo, a research director at JupiterResearch who covers the media industry. The battle is won for now, but the war goes on.
Tassler warned it will take more than a small but dedicated band of followers to extend the show beyond seven more episodes. “For there to be more ‘Jericho,’ we will need more viewers,” she stated.