CBS
Mary (Clare Carey), Eric (Kenneth Mitchell), Stanley (Bred Beyer), Mimi (Alicia Coppola), Jimmy (Bob Stephenson), Emily (Ashley Scott) and Bill (Richard Speight Jr.) bury Bonnie at the Richmond farm on the final episode of "Jericho" (9 p.m., CBS/Ch. 2).

As expected, tonight's second-season finale of "Jericho" is also the series finale.

The show (9 p.m., Ch. 2) has been canceled. And no matter how many peanuts fans send to CBS, there will be no second reprieve.

"Without question, there are passionate viewers watching this program," CBS Entertainment president Nina Tassler said in a prepared statement. "We simply wish there were more."

Networks have to attract enough viewers so that advertisers will pay for commercial time. Not enough viewers — game over.

That's not a comment on the quality of "Jericho," which isn't the first and won't be the last good TV show that didn't make it.

At this point, "Jericho" fans ought to be grateful.

As has been well documented, when CBS canceled the show in May 2007, fans sent truckloads of peanuts to CBS in protest. (Because one of the characters declared "Nuts!" to the suggestion that the town surrender.)

And Tassler relented. "We said, 'Look, this is a rare opportunity for us to really interact with our audience and take another shot,"' she said.

Which they did. You could complain that CBS only ordered seven episodes, but it did promote the heck out of the show.

Unfortunately, it didn't work. The six episodes that have aired so far this season have averaged only 6.19 million viewers. Which isn't many for network television.

Worse yet, the numbers trended down this season. And the most-watched episode in Season 2 was seen by fewer viewers than the least-watched episode of Season 1.

The good news is that two different endings were filmed for tonight's episode, "Patriots and Tyrants" — one if the show was going to return (and, thus, with more of a cliffhanger); one that has a more definitive ending as a reward to the show's fans.

And CBS deserves a big round of applause not only for giving "Jericho" a second chance, but for giving fans a conclusion. Neither of those things happens with any great frequency.

"We thank an engaged and spirited fan base for keeping the show alive this long," Tassler continued, "and an outstanding team of producers, cast and crew that went through creative hoops to deliver a compelling, high quality second season.

"We have no regrets bringing the show back for a second try. We listened to our viewers, gave the series an opportunity to grow, and the producers put a great story on the screen. We're proud of everyone's efforts."

The bigger issue is what, if any, effect all of this will have on other shows. We're already seeing fan groups trying to mimic the peanuts ploy — "Las Vegas" devotees are currently mailing baby booties (a reference to an unresolved pregnancy storyline) to NBC in an effort to bring that show back from the dead.

(Or, at least, to get a resolution to the cliffhanger in the final "Las Vegas" episode.)

What happened with "Jericho" isn't going to help future efforts.. Executives at all the networks, whether they admit it or not, will look at this and be less likely to "save" a show from cancellation.

It doesn't help that, in this age of the Internet, the fans of virtually every show on TV — the crummy ones as well as the good ones — are able to band together and attempt to convince network executives to "save" their shows.

Network execs will simply tune out all the noise.

It's great that the effort by "Jericho" fans succeeded. It's fantastic that loyal fans aren't going to be left hanging.

But this sort of thing isn't going to happen very often. So savor it, "Jericho" fans.

And maybe send a nice thank-you note to CBS.


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