GET BACK TO WHERE YOU ONCE BELONGED: It’s the end of the TV season, which means that it’s time for viewer campaigns to convince networks to revoke their decision to cancel shows – a quest that has to be called quixotic, at the best of times. Last year, it was Project Ferris Wheel, an attempt to persuade Dawn Ostroff and the CW to reconsider their decision to kill Everwood. Before that, there were the campaigns to bring Buffy, Angel and Firefly back to life – Joss Whedon fans have shown themselves particularly adept at this, thanks to his audience’s high geek factor.
This year, the viewer campaign to save Veronica Mars has been overshadowed by an inspired one to save Jericho, the post-apocalyptic drama canned by CBS at the end of its debut season. Readers Joel Lafleur and Jeff Castagnier both drew my attention to the campaign, which has begun attracting media attention for a novel publicity stunt.
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Taking its cue from a line delivered by Skeet Ulrich in the season’s final episode – which was itself borrowed from a famous retort made by General Anthony McAuliffe, the U.S. general in charge of the besieged city of Bastogne during World War Two’s Battle Of The Bulge – Jericho fans started sending packages of nuts to CBS to get them to reconsider. When news of the show’s cancellation broke over a week ago, fans used the show’s message boards on the CBS web site to begin organizing the campaign, which moved from letters, faxes and e-mails to packages of nuts mailed and couriered to the network’s New York headquarters.
According to a story on the SyFy Portal website, a New Jersey retailer with a mail order website called Nuts Online was the first to notice a sharp spike in orders for nuts to be shipped to a single address in midtown Manhattan. “When we first started getting these orders, and we realized what was going on, my first thought was, 'What are these weirdos doing?' It was bizarre," said Jeffrey Braverman of Nuts Online. "But you know what? These are real people. These are normal people. They have been calling up, and these are some real nice people and I understood where they were coming from."
Braverman set up a special page on the company’s website to help Jericho fans pool orders and make a bigger impression on CBS, which has been getting over a ton of nuts a day – over 16,000 pounds as of yesterday. There have been stories on the campaign by Entertainment Weekly, Rocky Mountain News, CNN Money, the Pittsbugh Post-Gazette, the New Jersey Star-Ledger, Defamer, TV.com, and even WCBS, the network’s New York City affiliate.
As with Buffy, Firefly, Angel, Everwood, Veronica Mars and every other cancelled TV show except Family Guy (and I still don’t know how that happened), the campaign will probably amount to nothing – when a network cancels a show, you can be assured that pink slips were delivered and sets knocked down months ago, but fans should keep up this sort of thing regardless, at least until the industry evolves into a more nimble, responsive business model that rewards shows with cult followings.