When Fans Go Nuts: The Story of Jericho

Ladies and gentleman: people are voting, the Giants won the Super Bowl, and network executives have given Jericho a second chance. It's good to be an American.

Let me explain. Last year a new series called Jericho hit the airwaves courtesy of CBS, and all I really knew about it was that Skeet Ulrich was the star. I don't have cable, basic or otherwise (I tell myself it's something that makes me cool -- I don't own skinny jeans and therefore must rely on other tactics). So it wasn't until I was perusing this very website 22 episodes later that Jericho bleeped on my radar. CBS had canceled the show, a story not unlike most in the world of the television industry, and a story I had come to know quite well (full disclosure moment #1: my father works in the television industry).

For some television families a canceled series is like Christmas: it comes once a year, every year at the very same time. For the few involved with shows that make it big, there is an enormous pool of wealth from which to draw, and I don't mean "wealth" as a euphemism for talent or creativity -- I mean cold, hard cash. I initially drafted the previous sentence with the following words: "there is an endless pool of wealth..." but immediately changed it, because the cold, hard reality (much like the cold, hard cash) of working in television is that frequently one's work comes to an abrupt and thankless end.

Here's where the story of Jericho takes a twist. In an unprecedented combination of fan and network gumption, the show was resurrected shortly after its all-too-premature death, and seven more episodes were ordered by CBS.

How did it happen? 22 days, 5,000 fans, and 8 million peanuts, that's how.

The campaign to save Jericho was not the first of its kind, but it was one of the only campaigns that worked. More than 40,000 pounds of nuts were delivered to CBS offices in both New York and Los Angeles. The idea came from an episode in which Skeet's character says "Nuts!" to an enemy, a reference to General McAuliffe during WWII. And what's more inspiring than the fact that the nuts were sent, is that it was enough to change the minds of decision makers who'd already decided. That doesn't happen in TV. Heartwarming stories are to the television industry what crying is to baseball. Second chances are for recovering alcoholics and the occasional ex, not TV shows.

Not long after the first bleep, Jericho showed up on my radar again (full disclosure moment #2: my father was hired to work on the second season of Jericho). And I couldn't stop thinking about the nuts. You develop a thick skin in the world of TV. You refrain from attachments and keep your hopes down (way down, in some cases). You try not to let small victories carry you away. There's little cause for celebration and a whole lot of hard work. You're wary of team spirit because any moment that team can be disbanded. In essence, you train yourself to root for nothing and no one.

But, as the CBS Gods are my witnesses, I do declare that the story of Jericho makes me want to fashion an antenna out of aluminum and bend and twist until Skeet's face is coming through on my usually blank tube. This is a show I can root for.

Just months from what is probably the most important presidential election of my lifetime, Jericho serves as a reminder that we, as American citizens, have the power to affect change (the C-word!). Americans love power, whether you're the CEO of a major corporation, bouncer at a nightclub, or holding the remote control. So let's prove CBS was wrong (and then later right). Forget Obama, forget Clinton and McCain; this (week-after-Super) Tuesday choose Jericho. I'll be watching. (At a friend's. She has cable. And, yes, wears skinny jeans.)

Season two of Jericho airs tonight at 10pm ET/PT on CBS.