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Feature: Jericho

Jericho Reborn

Kenneth Mitchell, Skeet Ulrich, Pamela Reed and Gerald McRaney

Cancelled in the Spring, but revived within weeks, the post-apocalyptic drama is soon to return. We hear from the producer & cast members…

One Year ago, Jericho was a promising addition to CBS’s Fall schedule. Four months ago, it was cancelled. A month later it was resurrected, and now a seven-episode order is sitting ready for transmission. It might not run till 2008, but as executive producer Carol Barbee agrees, if CBS loses a high profile Fall launch, they could be back on air within weeks to fill the vacant slot. “We finish shooting the seven by the end of September,” she says, adding, “The quick answer is, ‘Yeah, sure. We’ll do whatever we can do,’” when asked if the series could restart production once again to have more episodes ready by the New Year. “It’s about logistics, about our stages and things like that. But yeah, we’re all ready, willing, and able, and have the stories already planned out. So we would love nothing better than to keep going.”

The cast and crew of the series have, of course, been here before since the post-holocaust drama was cancelled in May. That’s the way TV works. What still takes them by surprise is the success of the campaign to bring the series back. “I’m shocked. You know what I’m saying?” says actress Ashley Scott, who’s had both Dark Angel and Birds of Prey pulled from under her in the past. “Yeah, I think when you get cancelled in this world of television, and it happens often, you kind of think that that’s it. But man, we were really surprised.

“It sounded pretty definitive to me,” agrees co-star Skeet Ulrich.

“It was – you’re out,” affirms Scott

“You’re cancelled. You’re fired,” echoes Ulrich.

“I don’t think any of us thought that it would come back once the decision had been made, because it’s only ever happened one other time in television history,” comments Barbee. “So, you know, you sort of figure it won’t happen, but when the fans started to roll on this ‘Nuts’ campaign, it only took a couple of days before we started having conversations about, ‘Is there something more we can do to sort of keep the story going?’ And that’s when I thought there was a possibility. I still thought it was a long shot though. I still can’t believe it, but we’re very grateful.

“We had, at the end of the season, already pitched what Season Two would be to CBS, and they were all very happy with the creative of that. So they knew what the story would be already. So when they came back and said there was some talk of doing a TV movie or a little something here or there, we ultimately said, ‘Consider a mid-season replacement, consider bringing us back for a short order. You know what the story will be.’ So that’s what ended up happening.”

The slight problem with this is that seven episodes is a lot less screen time than a full order of 22, or even 13 with the possibility of a back nine, as Barbee acknowledges. “The story we pitched to them for Season Two was going to take place in three different locations – Jericho, this New Cheyenne government, and coming from New York which survived. When we got the short order, we said, ‘Okay. We’ll focus on Jericho., So we’re telling that story, and yes, we’re still burning through more story than we would normally because it would have been a 22-episode arc, and now it’s seven, but I think that’s going to be very satisfying to the fans.”

Read the full feature in
TV Zone Special #78

Photo © CBS
Feature © Visual Imagination 2007. Not for reproduction

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