Save the peanuts, ‘Jericho' is gone — and other network maneuvering

Rick Kushman
McClatchy Newspapers (MCT)

This is a weird time in the TV world, which, I know, sounds fairly redundant.

Still. In a normal year, we'd be hitting the stretch when networks try out second-string series that no one expects will work. Plus, everyone would be speculating about the fate of mid-level shows.

Instead, in the crazed aftermath of the writers' strike, the nets are about to bring their first-string shows back to TV - your "CSIs," Grey's Anatomys" and "The Offices" - while we speculate about the fate of mid-level shows that may not have aired for months.

And, frankly, that just makes the speculating better. It's way more fun to predict the future when you have no facts to back you up. Just ask a political pundit.

Anyway, we've got a heap of speculating ahead, but first, a programming note.

In what sounds like a meeting with train-wreck potential, Conan O'Brien is scheduled to visit "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" on Thursday night (at 11:35). Remember, O'Brien is supposed to take over the show in 2009 and Leno isn't particularly thrilled about it.

Recently, Leno began chatting with other networks and studios about a new late-night show, and has even taken to joking about getting shoved out the door.

So, maybe these two mule deer of late night will lock antlers and go at it? Actually, not likely. Both are classy guys, and Leno is legendary for his loyalty. All bets are that they'll play nice. Oh well.

OK, now for the speculating in what passes for this week's edition of What'd They Do to My Show?

It starts with some hard facts. CBS has officially canceled "Jericho," again and for good. Tuesday night was it. The 20 tons of peanuts that fans sent CBS last spring worked once, but 20 million tons won't help now. It's done and it's not getting shopped to any cable networks or anything.

The seven resurrected episodes averaged about 6 million viewers, more than 2 million shy of what "Jericho" was getting last spring when it got canceled the first time. CBS entertainment president Nina Tassler said in a news release last week that she has no regrets about bringing the show back from the dead once, but that was it.

"Without question, there are passionate viewers watching this program," Tassler said. "We simply wish there were more."

And for fans of other borderline shows looking for foodstuffs to mail to network offices, you're better off just buying yourself a cookie, which at least will make you feel better for a moment.

If you were looking for "Canterbury's Law" on Fox on Monday, it wasn't there. The network moved the low-rated legal drama to Friday (at 9 p.m.), where it will shrivel away in obscurity. When a network moves a poorly performing show to the quiet neighborhood of Friday nights, there isn't much chance it will live.

Except, we all hope, in the case of NBC's terrific "Friday Night Lights." NBC is looking around for ways to keep the show alive, and last week, executive producer Jason Katims was at the William S. Paley Television Festival in Hollywood and said there's no deal yet but he's "incredibly optimistic" about a third season.

NBC is looking at sharing the show with some other entity that also will get to air first-run episodes, and reports have circled through the industry that NBC and DirecTV are that close to signing the papers.

"Scrubs" is another former goner-of-a-show that may be looking at a new, longer life, and now we are deep into that factless speculation.

NBC made lots of noise that this would be "Scrubs'" last season, and hinted that the show would not even get back on the air post-strike. Meanwhile, the cast and crew went back to work to make a handful of new episodes that were thought to be headed for DVD.

But ABC has expressed interest in the show, off and on - partly because "Scrubs" is produced at ABC Studios - and in recent days, there has been more talk that ABC will pick up the show for another season. There's even talk that star Zach Braff is ready to re-sign to do this extra year. On the other hand, you know what the price of talk is. (Hint: not high.)

And if you thought the "Scrubs" item was unfounded guessing, you're going to love this. According to the Hollywood Reporter, ABC tried to sell both "Men in Trees" (a good show) and "October Road" (not so good) to Lifetime - even sent the execs some episodes - and Lifetime said no thanks.

That's not a good sign for either series, though "October Road" has earned its bad ratings on its own. The charming "Men in Trees" has been abused by ABC, which has stopped and started and rescheduled it so many times, even its producers barely know when it's on (at 10 p.m. Wednesdays). Unfortunately, that makes both shows a long shot for renewal.





The Masonic Travelers Offer Stirring Rendition of "Rock My Soul" (premiere)

The Last Shall Be First: the JCR Records Story, Volume 1 captures the sacred soul of Memphis in the 1970s and features a wide range of largely forgotten artists waiting to be rediscovered. Hear the Masonic Travelers "Rock My Soul".


Tobin Sprout Goes Americana on 'Empty Horses'

During the heyday of Guided By Voices, Tobin Sprout wasn't afraid to be absurd amongst all that fuzz. Sprout's new album, Empty Horses, is not the Tobin Sprout we know.


'All In: The Fight for Democracy' Spotlights America's Current Voting Restrictions as Jim Crow 2.0

Featuring an ebullient and combative Stacey Abrams, All In: The Fight for Democracy shows just how determined anti-democratic forces are to ensure that certain groups don't get access to the voting booth.


'Transgender Street Legend Vol. 2' Finds Left at London "At My Peak and Still Rising"

"[Pandemic lockdown] has been a detriment to many people's mental health," notes Nat Puff (aka Left at London) around her incendiary, politically-charged new album, "but goddamn it if I haven't been making some bops here and there!"


Daniel Romano's 'How Ill Thy World Is Ordered' Is His Ninth LP of 2020 and It's Glorious

No, this is isn't a typo. Daniel Romano's How Ill Thy World Is Ordered is his ninth full-length release of 2020, and it's a genre-busting thrill ride.


Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" Wryly Looks at Lost Love (premiere + interview)

Singer-songwriter Alexander Wren's "The Earth Is Flat" is a less a flat-earther's anthem and more a wry examination of heartache.


Big Little Lions' "Distant Air" Is a Powerful Folk-Anthem (premiere)

Folk-pop's Big Little Lions create a powerful anthem with "Distant Air", a song full of sophisticated pop hooks, smart dynamics, and killer choruses.


The Flat Five Invite You to "Look at the Birdy" (premiere)

Chicago's the Flat Five deliver an exciting new single that exemplifies what some have called "twisted sunshine vocal pop".


Brian Bromberg Pays Tribute to Hendrix With "Jimi" (premiere + interview)

Bass giant Brian Bromberg revisits his 2012 tribute to Jimi Hendrix 50 years after his passing, and reflects on the impact Hendrix's music has had on generations.

Jedd Beaudoin

Shirley Collins' ​'Heart's Ease'​ Affirms Her Musical Prowess

Shirley Collins' Heart's Ease makes it apparent these songs do not belong to her as they are ownerless. Collins is the conveyor of their power while ensuring the music maintains cultural importance.


What 'O Brother, Where Art Thou?' Gets Right (and Wrong) About America

Telling the tale of the cyclops through the lens of high and low culture, in O'Brother, Where Art Thou? the Coens hammer home a fatalistic criticism about the ways that commerce, violence, and cosmetic Christianity prevail in American society .


Ignorance, Fear, and Democracy in America

Anti-intellectualism in America is, sadly, older than the nation itself. A new collection of Richard Hofstadter's work from Library of America traces the history of ideas and cultural currents in American society and politics.

By the Book

Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto (excerpt)

Just as big tech leads world in data for profit, the US government can produce data for the public good, sans the bureaucracy. This excerpt of Julia Lane's Democratizing Our Data: A Manifesto will whet your appetite for disruptive change in data management, which is critical for democracy's survival.

Julia Lane

Mobley Laments the Evil of "James Crow" in the US

Austin's Mobley makes upbeat-sounding, soulful pop-rock songs with a political conscience, as on his latest single, "James Crow".


Jordan Tice's "Bad Little Idea" Is a Satirical Spin on Dire Romance (premiere)

Hawktail's Jordan Tice impresses with his solo work on "Bad Little Idea", a folk rambler that blends bluesy undertones with satiric wit.


Composer Ilan Eshkeri Discusses His Soundtrack for the 'Ghost of Tsushima' Game

Having composed for blockbuster films and ballet, Ilan Eshkeri discusses how powerful emotional narratives and the opportunity for creative freedom drew him to triple-A video game Ghost of Tsushima.


Love and Cinema: The Ruinous Lives in Żuławski's L'important c'est d'aimer

Żuławski's world of hapless also-rans in L'important C'est D'aimer is surveyed with a clear and compassionate eye. He has never done anything in his anarchic world by the halves.


On Bruce Springsteen's Music in Film and TV

Bruce Springsteen's music in film and television captured author Caroline Madden's imagination. She discuses her book, Springsteen as Soundtrack, and other things Springsteen in this interview.

Collapse Expand Reviews

Collapse Expand Features

PM Picks
Collapse Expand Pm Picks

© 1999-2020 All rights reserved.
PopMatters is wholly independent, women-owned and operated.