Obsessed fans and several thousand tons of nuts brought back the CBS drama “Jericho” for seven episodes to wrap-up the series.
But it appears that producer Carol Barbee has plans for the show to continue beyond those seven episodes.
“We are not closing this story out,” Barbee told Broadcast and Cable. “We have a story to tell. It’s a really rich story, and we’ve got it mapped out for quite a while. The network suggested doing a two-hour movie to wrap up this story. We weren’t in any way interested in closing it down.
“When CBS came back to us, they said, “We only have time and space on our sound stage for you to do a limited number of episodes.” So we’ll do those with the intention that we’ll be back.”
Barbee also talked about her gratitude to the fans for their zeal in bringing the show back to the airwaves.
“I knew we had a very loyal and engaged audience,” she said. “I was surprised by the volume and incredible pressure that they kept up, the way it snowballed and the scope of it. I had no idea how it was going to turn out. And it was so gratifying.”
Barbee also took a chance to deliver a few thoughts on CBS’s reaction and the networks handling of the show’s scheduling last year.
“They were surprised. I was talking to them from time to time through all of this. The people who were the strongest voices to cancel Jericho were not the people who were very involved in Jericho,” said Barbee . “We have the good fortune/bad fortune of being on the most stable network. There’s not a lot of room on the schedule. They look at their shows and say, where shall we cut our losses? I think they just said, “Yeah, they lost 2 million viewers [during the winter hiatus], no show has ever come back from that. Let it go.””
“Yes, it’s never good to be off the air. But the network said, we don’t want to put repeats in the middle of it, and we don’t want to preempt you [during basketball]. We were going to get interrupted by the Christmas break anyway. Their first instinct was, “We need to carve out two sections of 11 weeks.” Here’s where I think we learned a little something. They had said they were going to rerun our show with some repeats, so that the break would have been enough to get new viewers up to speed. But they didn’t do that. And they ceased to advertise or show us on the traditional network. For it to work, it had to be a two-pronged advertising strategy: You have to keep advertising to the traditional viewers, and that means television spots; and you have to have a presence online. They took us off the air for, I think, good intentions.”
Barbee believes that the way shows are airing could be changing and cites examples of “24” and “Lost” that are going to longer hiatuses but long blocks of uninterrupted new episodes. She also points to the model NBC is trying for “Heroes” to make shows in blocks from not only an episode perspective but a storytelling perspective.
“I really do think that Jericho and what just happened is a sea change in television. The networks are really taking notice of the fact that you can’t just count on traditional viewers anymore,” she added. “They need people on all those different platforms, and, most importantly, they need a way to count those viewers.
“Certainly, we’re not looking to just exist on the Internet. I think every show will be a hybrid show. I think you can’t just exist on traditional television. You have to have a Web presence, and, on the Web, you tell different types of stories than you have on traditional television.”
Repeats of “Jericho” begin this Friday on CBS. Season two will air in the fall.