The fans spoke and CBS listened. After a massive uprising over the cancellation of Jericho CBS has resurrected the show. It will return and currently is scheduled for seven episodes which will begin in January. Executive Producer Carol Barbee and stars Skeet Ulrich, Lennie James, and Ashley Scott recently answered questions about the show and the enormous fan reaction to their cancellation last season.
Barbee said, "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. 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. I still can't believe it, but we're very grateful."
For many viewers, the death of Gerald McRaney's character was a shock. However Barbee revealed that it was always in the cards for him to die. "It was always the plan that Johnston Green would die because his arc is really tied into Jake's arc. Jake's arc is the prodigal son returns and he has to redeem himself and he has to ultimately become the man he was always meant to be which is the leader of this town, which is ultimately to replace his father in this town. So it was always that arc that would happen." She confided, "I think that it may have happened a little sooner that maybe we had planned when we just sort of mapped it out from the very beginning, but that's just because the story keeps going and you look at the eventual ending and you say, 'We're at the end of the first season. What was Jake's arc? Did he come from here and get to there,' and 'there' ends up to be it's time for you to step up and be a leader."
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Although his character is dead, that doesn't mean McRaney won't be back. Barbee was asked if he would return in flashbacks. "I don't know. We'll see. I mean, we love Gerald McRaney. He was universally excellent in every episode, and we couldn't have loved that character more. So I would love to do a story in flashback with him. But, no, it's not planned for this season for the seven episodes, because we kind of know what they are."
McRaney knew last season that his character would be killed off, however he never told anyone. "He knew that it was the arc. I think we all were going to feel out the story and see when it felt like it needed to fall. So I don't think -- it wasn't discussed that this is what's going to happen in the finale. That became a possibility when we were breaking the story for the last couple of episodes, and we kept it very hush-hush because we wanted to see if we really wanted to do it, if it was really necessary at this moment or if that's where the story needed to go. Jericho is a town in a world where people need to be able to die, and we need to understand that it's a dangerous world. And we also need to keep the audience guessing. And so it's one of those things that we always planned to do. But he was awesome. I'll tell you. First of all, when I called him and had the conversation and said it's going to happen now, his final comment was, "Let's go kick some ass," and so he was very, like, let's go do it. And then, the night we shot it -- I was also the co-writer of that episode, so I was there on the set as well. And these guys rehearse it once before they -- you know, they rehearse it just for blocking. And I was standing there in that little kitchen just, like, this close to them, and they're just supposed to be marking it just to see what they're going to do, and it was extraordinary and it -- just what they did. They couldn't mark it. It was extraordinary. And I just couldn't -- it made me cry right then. And so then, we cried for two more hours."
And for die-hard fans, Barbee said that most of the cast will return. "It is our sincere hope that you'll see everybody on the show that you've seen before who's still living, and even the people who aren't. Nobody truly dies. We tell stories in flashback too, so you never know. But Titus Welliver, we wanted back, but we couldn't get back because there was a scheduling conflict. But there's another character coming in who sort of fills those shoes, and he's pretty awesome. Sprague [Grayden] is coming back. She's coming back for several episodes, so that will be great for the fans. And in terms of the budget being cut, it's the biggest thing is just that we have less time to shoot. We're doing seven-day shoots, and we're going to see how that works, because it's a pretty big show to do that with, but we're trying to be very creative about that because we want to deliver the same punch of a show that we gave last year. But we have to be smart about it."
About the town of Jericho and their neighbors, Barbee gave an outline of what fans can expect. "We leave them with the new government from Cheyenne, Wyoming, coming in to stop the battle between New Bern and Jericho. And when we start season two, that Cheyenne government is here and they're helping us rebuild. There are revenge killings going on between Jericho and New Bern. There's still problems there. They're sort of, like, warring tribes a little bit, but there's this occupying force that's trying to bring stability to the area. And then, that becomes -- are these guys good or are these guys bad?"
She added, "With the new season, part of what happens is we get back on the grid. Cheyenne is back -- is in town to help us rebuild, and they have everything we need. So we get lights back. We get power. We get communication."
The cast was definitely surprised by the intensity of their fans who banded together to get the show back on the air.
Skeet Ulrich: You know, I won't speak for everybody else, but when we're working, I think you're so concentrated on this little word you're in and creating and the hours are so long, you don't really get a sense that really the show even comes on TV necessarily. You're really making these stories and working on the next one before it gets there, and so I certainly wasn't aware that it was to the extent that it would affect the decision-making process of a network. So it was new to me.
Lennie James: Also because the reaction to your show is on one level what the critics say and on the other level reducing your whole audience down to some figures. So everything becomes about the figures, and I think the one thing that happened over the fight to save Jericho was that our audience became faces and people and lives, and it became real. It wasn't just a number that appears in the fast nationals or whatever it is the next morning. These are real people kind of going, "Hold on a minute. This is my show. I enjoyed watching it. Stop treating me like I'm just kind of a part of a number. This is a show that I tuned in for." And one of the things I think was really exciting about the campaign is all those - for all those people to whom it kind of matters that are fans of our show kind of identified themselves. They showed what their demographic was. They showed the range of people who are watching "Jericho" and why they enjoyed it. It was a rare insight for the networks and the advertisers, and I hope they use it sensibly.
Skeet Ulrich: Yeah. It's been an eye-opener certainly. I mean, I've done a number of moviesthrough the years, and some of them have done really well. And I don't think I've had the kind of reaction when you go out somewhere -- or my kids and I just went on a trip, and the amount of people that come up to you and talk about the show and ask about the show -- it's been great. It's been interesting to see and to become aware that actually, to many people, the show really mattered in their week and they really were looking forward to seeing it. And the detailed the questions are, the thing that kept getting me, that people knew a lot about the show. It wasn't your casual viewer that was coming up. It was people that really wanted details and knew a lot of details. So it's been great to meet as many people as I have face-to-face and just casually come up and talk about it. I liked it.
Mark your calendars for January and the return of Jericho.
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