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Televisionary Soapbox: Please Watch "Chuck" Tonight on NBC

If the real world were just as awesome as the fictional one we tune in to each Monday night to see on NBC's Chuck, the action-comedy series wouldn't be in any danger of cancellation.

And yet, with the series about to air the final installment of its second season tonight at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC, that's just where we are. It's entirely possible that tonight's episode of Chuck, which has yet to receive a pickup for a third season, could be the series' last.

I'm still keeping my fingers firmly crossed that NBC realizes what a sensational series this is and renews Chuck for a third season. Monday nights surely wouldn't be the same without Chuck. Hell, television right now wouldn't be the same without Chuck, which offers a winning combination of action, humor, workplace comedy, and, well, a sly skewering of underemployed twenty-somethings, stuck in a perpetual state of arrested development. It's a series that the whole family can watch together... and that's a rare beast in this day and age.

Those of you who watch this intelligent and fun series agree that Chuck is utterly unique. So why aren't more people watching? I'm not entirely sure. Maybe it was the fact that, due to the writers strike of last winter, the series' freshman season wrapped after just thirteen episodes and NBC opted not to get the series back into production and on the air until the following fall.

Or perhaps it's that the 8 pm timeslot on Monday nights has Chuck facing some stiff competition from Two and a Half Men and The Big Bang Theory on CBS, House on FOX, Dancing with the Stars on ABC, and Gossip Girl on CW. Personally, I always watch Chuck live and TiVo whatever else I want to watch in that same time period. (I'd urge you to do the same, especially tonight.)

I've also wondered if Chuck's genius conflating of several storytelling genres--action/adventure, buddy comedy, romantic drama, workplace comedy--into one awesome package make it hard for fans to describe the series in a reductive logline to people who haven't watched the series before. One of the many beauties of the series has been that it's completely accessible to newbies, thanks to a mission-of-the-week format, but also keeps long-term viewers hooked with an overarching mythology that isn't confusing to follow or overly elaborate.

I've written endearingly (and at times gushingly) about Chuck since the very beginning. I've been hooked on Chuck since I first saw the pilot episode way back in early May of 2007 (it was one of the first I watched that year after loving the pilot script), so it's hard for me to imagine why more people aren't tuning in to this fantastic series. Bringing Chuck to life are the talents of a top-notch writing staff, working under the watchful eyes of creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, star-making performances from series leads Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, and Adam Baldwin, and a truly superb supporting cast who bring the off-kilter world of the Buy More to life each week.

It's crunch time now, with only one original episode of Chuck left to air this season. I am sure that all eyes at the Peacock are going to be on tonight's ratings as they debate whether or not to give the series another shot on its 2009-2010 schedule. I'm hoping that studio Warner Bros. Television, which produces the series, has been looking to make some innovative deals in order to keep the series on the air, whether that means accepting a reduced episode count (say, thirteen episodes rather than the traditional twenty-two) perhaps with an option for additional installments, structuring a second window on a cable or satellite channel (DirecTV, perhaps?), or implementing some drastic budget/license fee reductions.

Personally, I'm willing to support both WBTV and NBC in all and any of those efforts. Thirteen episodes of Chuck is far too little, but it's better than not having any more episodes altogether. Watching Chuck on both NBC and in another window (plus on Hulu or is something I'm very happy to do. I'm even willing to see some beloved characters/actors from Chuck's sprawling cast leave the series--or get downgraded from series regulars to recurring--if it means reducing the series' episodic budgets.

Basically, the bottom line is this: I'm willing to do whatever it takes to see that Chuck gets renewed for a third season. I'm willing to get on my soap box and keep writing about Chuck, keeping Twittering about it, and keep talking about it until I'm blue in the face.

So, please, do me--and the entire Chuck fan base--a favor and tune in tonight at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC. Tell everyone you know to tune in. Talk about the series on Twitter, comment on blogs and web sites, spread information about tonight's season finale via word of mouth, and visit Subway (a company that has paid for product placement on the series) today and buy a sandwich for Chuck.

Chuck's fans are just as determined, loyal, and canny as our beloved troika of Chuck Bartowski, Sarah Walker, and John Casey, so send a message to NBC today that we're not going to let them kill off our smart and sly series without a fight.

Chuck's second season finale airs tonight at 8 pm ET/PT on NBC.


Jeff C. said…
I'll be enjoying a Subway footlong as I watch tonight, and hoping it's not the last time I get to watch this amazing show.
Anonymous said…

The Subway Footlong campaign...
Doug said…
I sent in my nerds, bought a Subway foot long and I am going to be tuning all of my 4 tv's to CHUCK tonight.I told all my friends to watch to. I will be royally pissed if NBC doesn't renew it
Mazza said…
Thanks for this eloquent plea, Jace. You've always been honest about your support for Chuck and I only started watching it because of your recommendation. I'll be watching tonight of course and am going to go to Subway and fill out a comment card as well!
ted23 said…
You raise some good points. I don't get why people aren't watching Chuck. I can definitely see NBC cutting down the S3 order to 13 eps. It would make sense and appease viewers without them having to commit to whole season. But I don't really get what NBC is thinking most of the time. They saved FNL b/c they owned the show so could do a deal with DirecTV where they were protected and got the most money. Will they be willing to let WBTV do that w/ Chuck???? Dunno.
Heatherette said…
Looking forward to Chuck tonight and really hoping that it won't be the last episode. I am baffled as to why more people aren't watching the show. It's "feelgood" entertainment without being dumbed down!
Tempest said…
Chuck just makes my Mondays. I'd love for NBC to keep it for no other reason than it's good tv. Hopefully, though, they'll consider the potential PR nightmare on their hands if they don't. I've seen so much internet/blogger support for Chuck -- more than I've ever seen for a show. The backlash should be enough to scare them into renewal. (But please, NBC, do it for good and noble reasons. Also, my birthday is this week. Consider renewal my birthday present. You don't have to get a card to go with it.)
slippy said…
Great post again Jace, very passionate and hopefully rouses a few more people to the cause.

It'll be interesting to see how the Subway thing works out with the network - but if nothing else, it's newsworthy and at least the fans won't go hungry!

Actually, in case you've not seen it, check out this great fan video (link below) of Zach leading 600 convention attendees to a bemused Subway outlet at the NEC in Birmingham, during the T1 Convention this last weekend.... it's weird seeing lots of friends in the clip, but even better to watch the star of the show actively working with fan campaigns. He deserves a 3rd season for that alone!

Cheers, Steve UK
Jace Lacob said…
As I just said over on my Twitter feed:

I do wish people would also put demographic information, such as their age, M/F, education level, household income, etc., on the comment cards they are leaving in support of Chuck so that Subway can see their ads and product placement on Chuck are reaching the appropriate audience.

It's all very well that people are supporting Subway but I am sure Subway would be even more appreciative if they knew that their ad dollars were reaching the right segment of the demographic.
Unknown said…
I've said it before. I'll say it again: I couldn't agree more. Chuck is the best thing on TV now. I'd give up everything else if I could just watch Chuck. How hard is it to describe: It's fun, and so few shows are today.

If they do order a reduced count, I hope they keep an option for the back nine. I think a 13-ep season contributed to Chuck's lack of traction. The weird s2 start didn't help either.
The CineManiac said…
I'm hitting up Subway on my way home and I can't wait to watch tonight's Chuck.
I also recommend watching it on and purchasing it on iTunes to show support.
As one article said (I believe at The Times) the real way to show support is spending your money. Pick up some Subway, buy the show on some outlet be it iTunes or on DVD. Just do something to let NBC and its advertisers know the show is worth keeping around.
rockauteur said…
I love Chuck!!! But I forgot to go to Subway!!!
Jace Lacob said…

The day's not over yet. Still plenty of time to drop in at one. ;)
greg said…
Going to stop by Subway on my way home and have a foot long while I watch Chuck tonight.
Kim Moffat said…
I'm not sure why the ratings for the show have been trending down so much, but I'm pretty sure NBC hasn't been helping anything. They'll do anything in their power to point people in the direction of shows they're already watching, but heaven forbid they would do anything to support shows that need a little backing. The whole thing is ridiculous. Move nights, take another DirecTV deal, whatever - just do something! Come on NBC, try QUALITY for once. I'm gonna drop this before I get too pissed (again haha), but first let me say this - I think you could do a much better job running NBC right now. Not only do you know what you're talking about, and are willing to try new things to save the network, but you've got a unique quality it seems like no other network head has... you actually care about good, smart television. I just hope all your efforts to save this show haven't been in vain. For my part, I've been trying to push Chuck to everyone I come in contact with (including the Best Buy employees who, oddly enough, have never seen the show), as well as linking to your blog from mine.

Maybe they should look to Studio 60's Jordan McDeere. Oh wait - they cancelled that show too.

Save the nerd, save the network.
The CineManiac said…
OMG Chuck was Amazing Tonight! I need a 3rd season. If this is how the show ends I will cry myself to sleep every night until I die, Screaming "CHUCK!" in the middle of the night.
Also nice BTTF and Matrix references.

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