'Jericho' walls come crashing down

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CBS has nuked "Jericho."

Producers were told late last week that the show is ending its run on the broadcast network.

CBS will air the season finale Tuesday with a resolution that helps give closure to fans.

After the first season concluded with an abrupt cut to black, fans famously inundated CBS with tens of thousands of pounds of peanuts to urge the network to continue the show.

For the seven-episode second season, producers shot two endings — one that leaves viewers in suspense for a third round and another that is more conclusive.

The ending chosen by CBS will wrap up the final season's story line, where the nuclear war survivors of a Kansas town struggled under a violent occupation by a government contractor.

"Without question, there are passionate viewers watching this program; we simply wish there were more," CBS said. "We thank an engaged and spirited fan base for keeping the show alive this long and an outstanding team of producers, cast and crew that went through creative hoops to deliver a compelling, high-quality second season."

Tuesday's finale doesn't entirely slam the door on the series but is notably different from the cliffhanger version. The ending also doesn't entirely preclude the possibility of "Jericho" finding a second life on cable. The high cost of the production, however, likely will prevent a continuation of the show.

Despite the erosion of broadcast ratings in recent years, the protest that saved "Jericho" last year has been called the largest fan effort ever to try to halt a network cancellation.

The outcry put CBS in a tough position over whether to renew a show that had below-the-line ratings yet unprecedented fan support. "Jericho" also performed well online on CBS.com and in iTunes downloads.

Unfortunately for the network and fans, the second season's Nielsen ratings were even lower than the first. The most recent episodes have averaged a 1.9 rating among adults 18-49 in the show's 10 p.m. Tuesday period. The network's decision to cancel the show might not have been easy, but it was easier to see coming.

" 'Jericho' is unique because the fans saved it — watching it on the Internet and streaming and iTunes downloads, all those things that are not being counted," executive producer Carol Barbee said recently. "That's what 'Jericho' will be known for."
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