While I would be the first in line to say that putting shows on a 3 month hiatus isn't good for ratings and that CBS botched that - as NBC did with Heroes last year, as ABC did by holding out LOST until January of this year, etc., the 'Jericho ain't over until Carol Barbee says it's over' line of thinking is almost certainly complete nonsense. At least if CBS is actually airing the "tie it all up, no cliffhanger" series finale.
It's not completely untenable for Barbee and the crew at Jericho, assuming they can find a home. There's a way around it and it has been done once and by a CBS show to boot. Dallas. Dallas ended its 1984-1985 season by running over Bobby Ewing with a car and killing him right on the screen. Patrick Duffy wanted out so he could be a star, and they took him...out.
Dallas is one of the primary reasons I don't buy into the HUT/PUT as much as the average lemming. This is the same old school legacy thinking that causes some to obsess over lead-in. The data is in. Lead-in just ain't that big a deal. It's not that lead in is never important. If the is your lead-in, it's a big deal. If is your lead-in, it's a bigger deal than if it wasn't, but more than 50% of the AI viewers will tune out anyway. Remote control rules all and once we didn't have to get up off our butts to change the channel the world changed and lead-in became vastly less significant. Many whine about the low HUT/PUT on Fridays, but in the glory days of my youth (I was 22 when the Dallas 1984-85 season ran) Dallas was the #2 show for the whole season with a 24.7 household and a 37 share to boot. On a Friday.
But after killing off Bobby, Dallas fell to 6th place for the 1985-86 season with a 21.8/35. Back then a drop of almost 3 ratings points sent the network executives into a panicked frenzy (ah, the good old days!). Fortunately, Patrick Duffy's (who played JR's little brother Bobby) movie career didn't take off like he'd hoped and so they figured out a way to bring him back. When Pamela Jean Barnes Ewing (played by the lovely Victoria Principal) wakes up at the end of the finale of the 1985-1986 season, she sees not her new husband (she remarried kind of quick after Bobby's demise), but none other than Bobby himself coming out of the shower and wishing her a good morning. The show ends and huge, huge props to the Dallas producers for the end credits which listed "Starring Patrick Duffy As: ?"
I LOVED the question mark. I didn't like the handy dandy tidy way they solved all of that at the beginning of the 1986-1987 season though when it turns out Pam had dreamed the entire 1985-1986 season (other than Bobby wishing her a good morning with a towel wrapped around him).
If the series finale aired for Jericho ties things up so much that it makes it hard to continue the show, they can do the dream deus ex machina thing and it will be way easier than it was for Dallas to handle. Dallas suffered all kinds of plotline and continuity issues as a result, not to mention that Bobby's death was also written into the story of spinoff Knots Landing. Still, it was probably a good move for CBS, ratings held on fairly steady for the next 2 years before dropping out of the top 20 and then ending its run a couple of years later. But Dallas was a show with huge ratings. It averaged a 31.2/52 (household rating/share) for the 1980-1981 season. Those were different times. Jericho could conceivably pull it off much easier than Dallas - they'd only have to have one episode as a dream. I don't love the solution, but if that's the best way to continue the storyline, undo the "series" finale and get the show back on the air somewhere picking up where it left off last Tuesday? Fine by me.
I don't see the dream scenario as a likely means for Jericho to land on another network. So unless CBS is fibbing a little bit about which episode its airing, I think this Tuesday marks the last new episode of Jericho we'll ever see anywhere. But I reserve the right to change my mind once I've actually seen the finale. I will definitely be watching.
Nielsen TV Ratings Data: ©1980-2008 Nielsen Media Research, Inc. All Rights Reserved.