Oh Happy Days…”Jericho” and Anthony McAuliffe

It appears that CBS has come to its senses and is bringing back the drama Jericho.

Why am I ecstatic?

Because I enjoyed the show. I think it is creative, inventive, provocative, and energetic. I also think it the operational equivalent of a big old load of horse manure to start a show, take it off the air, bring it back, and expect it to be able to generate the same momentum. I think it is silly that the networks seek new ways to let folks see their programs-methods they know cannot be accurately tracked-and then penalize the show because viewers take advantage of the new capability.

I am ecstatic because I think the major networks are too quick to pull good shows with good casts and good writing that do not rely on gross out acts, gross out humor, or laugh tracks. I was giddy when NBC renewed Friday Night Lights-the best show on television-and am sitting Shiva for Six Degrees on ABC. I wish the networks would remember the story of Hill Street Blues, perhaps the best television drama of all time. Saddled with poor ratings its first season, the show was on the verge of cancellation…and then it received over a dozen Emmy nominations. They kept the show, and it went on to become one of the most highly honored and venerated shows in television history. Who knows how many Blues have been yanked before they could really show their stuff?

But the Jericho revival also makes me happy because it brings back the memory of Anthony McAuliffe, the brave men of the 101st Airborne, and their desperate and successful effort to hold Bastogne during the Battle of the Bulge. Bastogne was the critical intersection of several roads. As long as the Allies held Bastogne, the Germans could not move ahead. The 101st was surrounded, and could not be resupplied due to bad weather. The commanding Wehrmacht general asked McAuliffe, 101st commanding officer, to surrender. McAuliffe’s reply? “NUTS”. One day later the weather over Bastogne broke and allied air support began pummeling the German troops and lifting supplies to the embattled burgh. Five days later Patton and the 3rd army broke through. Tenacity held the city, audacity relieved it, and therein the tide of battle was turned.

This same story was told in the “finale” to Jericho, and the reply used in a combat situation on the show. When CBS cancelled the show, a move sprung on the Internet to ship lots of “nuts” to CBS to register their displeasure. To date over 50,000 pounds-25 tons-of nuts have been delivered to CBS HQ. Apparently it did the trick.

So thanks to CBS for reconsidering a bad decision, and congrats to the show. And today, on the 63rd anniversary of D-Day, thanks go to Anthony McAuliffe for what he did then and for an example that continues to echo through the ages-although in ways I imagine he did not consider!

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