Monday, April 20, 2009

Chuck: An open letter to NBC to save it - Sepinwall on TV

Today's column is directed to the heads of NBC, as I ask them to renew "Chuck" when they announce their schedule two weeks from today.

79 comments:

Joyeful said...

That letter was perfect.

Stef said...

Yeah, what Alan said!

Claudette Colbert said...

Alan, you've got some chutzpah thinking you know more about scheduling than the NBC brass. They're top four among networks, haven't you heard? Actually, putting it on Thursday seems like a good idea but I bet anything NBC doesn't risk giving Chuck that good of a slot (good for NBC anyway).


But seriously, its like every other good show trying to get a 3rd season. There's no real way to get a bump in the 3rd year with an axe hanging over you. And are they supposed to keep the show in that mode of trying to catch new viewers or actually move forward with the story?

Maybe they should go crazy with product placement and just let some company run ads in the corner of the screen; that would screw with the pirates (non-Somali) as well.

AB and the Bear Suits said...

Can I get an Amen?

Karen said...

Well-written, Alan! I agree completely, and will be in the forefront of the tschotschke-sending, once said tschotschke is decided on, for the first time ever.

The show is simply too good to cancel.

Sonia said...

yea Alan! In the words of Dr. Devon...Awesome.

And I really don't wanna burn down my living room...but these are tough times...LOL.

mj said...

I'm not actually a fan of the show but I can't help but respect the quality of the arguments in your letter. I particularly enjoyed your product integration argument. It prompted me to think: Are the NBC execs really going to listen to a self-proclaimed professional tv watcher who obviously appreciates the subtleties of quality programming? Or, are they going to listen to execs at Subway or Toyota or Chevy or Applebees or whoever is willing to pay to integrate their product? So, why don't you write an open letter to advertisers and give them suggestions for how to integrate their product into Chuck? Or perhaps you should just start a brainstorming session at this blog for integration ideas? I mean what if just one company loved a product integration idea here and used it to help sway NBC's decision? Bottom line: why not supplement your appeal to NBC hearts with an appeal to the NBC wallets, i.e., via the advertisers?

Stringer Sawyer Carmichael said...

Well put, Alan. Thanks for using the mediums available to you to say what all of us want to be able to say to NBC.

Jaynee said...

Man, I hope this show gets renewed.

Billiam said...

Thanks for writing this, Alan.

I don't think it's real likely they would cancel Earl to make room for Chuck, but I would approve.

amitytv said...

Should we be commenting on the actual letter at NJ.com, to show support in numbers or something?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Wouldn't hurt to comment over there, certainly.

mjryan said...

Yes, yes, yes to everything you said. I've never sent tchoktes to networks to save a show but I will for Chuck. Just as I'm going to buy Subway to eat while watching it tonight.

I tried to comment over on the NJ site but couldn't get logged in. May be my computer, so I'll try again later.

Fernando said...

I dont watch Chuck, though I'm getting closer and closer to watching it, but best show on network? As good as Lost has been since the season 3 finale, I have my doubts on that, but we'll see.

paul said...

Canceling Earl to keep Chuck is hardly likely to build up goodwill for Chuck. Viewers of Earl, like my family, are more likely to turn the TV off altogether or watch something else than switch to Chuck just because it's on at 8 on Thursdays. Not a strong business move.

I know Earl isn't popular in these quarters, but I find it a refreshing change from the more cynical fare that dominates TV -- as well as my own Tivo season pass list.

OldDarth said...

Way to preach Alan!

NBC please take note!!

Mike said...

Thank you Alan for your repeated efforts to save the best show on TV to date!

You, like so many others, are desprately hopeful NBC will comes to its senses and provide us with another fantastic season of our favorite nerd and his smokin' hot girlfriedn (I think I can officially say that after seeing the preview for tonight, hehe!)

Amber said...

Chuck is the best show I have watched in a long time. I really hope they don't cancel it. Thanks for fighting for it.

Anonymous said...

As much as I love Chuck, I initially scoffed at your notion that it was the best show on NBC... until I thought about it for a second. You're right. Even with the enormous plotholes and the overall goofiness of the show, it's been consistently better than anything else on the Network.

Before the FNL renewal I didn't think Silverman and NBC cared about the Network anymore. Now, there's hope.

Anonymous said...

You could have used a better picture of Yvonne.

Also, I agree with you 100% Chuck deserves a season 3. I watch this show, and I always have a smile at the end.

geekily said...

Alan, you are some kind of genius! Thank you for continually advocating for this show.

Kirsten said...

Alan, I've been reading your Chuck posts for the last couple of weeks, and I must say I am glad you are on our side. You're posts have been articulate and spot on. This letter is just perfect and says many of the things I have been thinking.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I don't think it's real likely they would cancel Earl to make room for Chuck, but I would approve.

I don't think they would cancel Earl for Chuck, but there's also been a lot of buzz that NBC is ready to cut the cord on Earl anyway -- and that Fox (which owns the show) would immediately pick it up, ala ABC with Scrubs.

I seriously doubt that NBC would actually put Chuck on Thursdays. They seem convinced that it's best, and only, place on the schedule is as a lead-in to Heroes. But I wanted to at least make the argument.

Alan Sepinwall said...

You could have used a better picture of Yvonne.Probably. The one of her being upset about Chuck apparently blowing up didn't look so great shrunk down that small (made her look like she had a red mustache), so I swapped in something else.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I dont watch Chuck, though I'm getting closer and closer to watching it, but best show on network? As good as Lost has been since the season 3 finale, I have my doubts on that, but we'll see.

Best show on their network, not all of network TV. (Though I did have "Chuck" one notch higher than "Lost" on my 2008 Top 10 list, and those were the two highest-ranked broadcast shows.) Regardless, "Chuck" = awesome.

Anonymous said...

Alan,

I think this is the best and most important article you have ever written. I hope NBC is paying attention! Chuck is my far their best show. Renew Chuck now!

PokerFool said...

Amen Brother. Amen

Julia said...

I'm so tired of hearing about Chuck. You are the second TV reviewer I'm deleting from my feed for pleas to renew Chuck.

Ingrid said...

They seem convinced that it's best, and only, place on the schedule is as a lead-in to Heroes.Are they really that stupid? Seems like they do not know what they have on their hands, or the kind of audience that tunes in to this show.

I watch Chuck despite Heroes. I am sure I am not the only one.

Anonymous said...

It's one of two shows, that I eagerly look forward to watching -- not letting it sit on my DVR. The other is Breaking Bad. Please keep it going!

Alan Sepinwall said...

Josh Schwartz talks to the NY Times about the show's future, and concurs with the idea that this will be "one of the least satisfying finales of all time."

Buzz said...

Thank you so much for making your support public like this Alan!

You'd be in a better position to know, but I have a feeling that your support (and your fellow pro critics) counts for more with networks than any letter writing campaign us peons can mount. But that didn't stop me from doing the letter and patronizing Subway.

Good luck to all of us!

Andrew Flynn said...

Most excellent letter.

Here's some additional ammunition: "It is the only show that I watch LIVE each week" even with the commercials.

Everything else - Idol, Dancing w/Stars, NBC Thursdays, Yo Gabba Gabba, etc. is all DVR'd.

My two-year-old has learned to sit through Chuck at 7pm here, knowing that it trumps YGG and Imagination Movers. THAT, my friend, is an endorsement.

FlopEJoe said...

I have nothing major to add. Just want to throw in my "me too!" for the record. Chuck is near the top of my list of must watch shows.

Faye said...

I really liked the letter, i'm still waiting for season 2 to appear in the UK and this makes me want it even more!

But this - "and you three as individuals seem to care deeply about maintaining the traditions of the Peacock".

Silverman? Really?

Mind you, flattery gets you everywhere

Alan Sepinwall said...

Silverman? Really?

Silverman talks, all the time, about how much he worships Brandon Tartikoff.

Anonymous said...

Schwartz interview in NY TIMES on fate of the show:

http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/can-chuck-be-saved-even-josh-schwartz-isnt-sure/

Anonymous said...

Bravo, well said Mr Sepinwall, I hope NBC is listening!

Buzz said...

Wow, I tried commenting on the nj.com site, but it's acting very balky.

Here's another bullet point for you Alan: Stuntcasting. Is there another show on TV now that does this as well as Chuck? That's a lot of big names for NBC to promote with..

Lane said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

Wow, I tried commenting on the nj.com site, but it's acting very balky.

Buzz, your comment showed up -- eventually. It's one of the many annoying quirks of NJ.com that comments don't always appear instantly, which means people often feel compelled to leave the same comment multiple times.

I'm told they're going to fix that with the next software upgrade, but we'll see.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Lane, while I appreciate the sentiment, please don't attack other commenters, even if they're allegedly not going to be around to read it. Rule #1 around here: be nice.

I'm a big boy; I can take the criticism (or the apparent loss of a reader). But let's try to keep things civil, okay?

Alan Sepinwall said...

Oh, and as for Buzz's point about the stunt-casting, I agree 100%, but the column had to walk a line between simply singing the show's praises and making an argument for why NBC might want to keep it. I was able to slip in some love for Jeffster!, but there wasn't room to talk guest stars, even with the current Chevy/Bakula arc.

Dio said...

Great letter Alan! Thank you for doing this!

Steve B said...

Why is this a lead-in to Heroes? I'm sure there are people out there that watch both, but I haven't met them.

No offense to anyone who still watches the show, but Heroes seems to be aimed (especially now) at a younger, more teenagerish audience. If it isn't aimed there, that's where their core viewers are coming from. Meanwhile, Chuck probably attracts an older, and somewhat wealthier audience.

Give the show a chance on another day. I too would love the Thursday slot, but that would be asking too much. Especially with Leno fouling up the schedule.

Jen said...

Alan, that open letter was great. I commented over at nj.com, but honestly had to let you know that I think the NBC heads are completely oblivious if they're not persuaded by your arguments.

Sometimes I think NBC has done everything in its power to rid its schedule of decent shows. But to let one legitimately great show go at the same time that you give Jay Leno a daily 10pm timeslot is just the most asinine thing I've ever heard. Thank you for doing this. My world will be a much sadder place without Chuck et al. in it.

Figgsrock2 said...

Alan,

That open letter is some of the best writing I've seen in a column (TV, sports, whatever) in a long time. While I am not hopeful for renewal, you make me proud to be a Chuck watcher.

Nicole said...

Great letter - hope it works because Chuck is one of the three shows I watch on NBC. (I presume Life will be cancelled, otherwise it would be four shows). As for people being surprised or annoyed with your support of Chuck, clearly those people don't actually read your blog entries, because you have been a Chuck supporter for a very long time.

I recall reading a while back that networks gave more credence to letter of support sent by snail mail as opposed to e-mail. Do you think that this is still the case?

filmcricket said...

Really nice piece, Alan, thank you. I sure hope it works.

Does anyone know how quickly the episode gets posted on NBC.com? I just found out I have to be elsewhere tonight and am not set up to record (*sob*). I'm not going to have to wait a week or anything ridiculous like that, right?

Tom said...

Product integration is reason one? Really? Hmmm.

I appreciate the dire economic difficulties besetting network TV and the evolving advertising landscape yadda yadda yadda, but to read a professional critic plead for a show's life cuz it's tailor-made to be exploited this way...it's depressing. Very depressing.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Filmcricket, Hulu posts them the next day. No 8-day waiting period like for "House" or a few other shows.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Product integration is reason one? Really? Hmmm.Again, I wasn't preaching to the choir, or simply writing a Why "Chuck" Is Awesome article; I was arguing why, in these lousy economic times, a struggling broadcast network would want to renew one of its lower-rated shows. Business before show.

Amy said...

I can't imagine a single standard you could use to compare Chuck to Friday Night Lights and have Chuck come out on top....

but.....

That said, its been obvious for a long time that Alan's favorite show is Chuck so good for him for standing up for it....

Maybe if we all engaged like this with our own favorite shows we could find a better way than Nielsen to rate shows.

Lyson said...

Great letter - particularly enjoyed the product placement and ghost of Tartikoff references.
I know I am in hte minority but I still enjoy Earl - although it's a diminishing pleasure. I would watch Chuck whereever they slotted it.
I guess the show is on the bubble but given the crticical acclaim and the net rising up in support can NBC - given it's trailing position - incur the risk of not renewing it??
Of course in a similar albeit smaller vein I think they are going to give Life a 13 episode order to use as a mid-season fill in for next year - so I must be delusional.

Frank said...

Alan,

Thank you for writing this letter! Hopefully the NBC executives are reading it! Chuck is definitely my favorite show on TV right now. I'd hate to see it go.

I was curious, since you linked the NY Times interview with Josh Schwartz, what do you think about his statement that the network supports the show on a level that surprised him, especially since it wasn't produced by them? Do you think that means that a lot of this "Will it return?" drama is really not so much ratings right now (they are mostly set in stone for now), but more about the negotiations between NBC and WB on price per episode?

Mo Ryan said...

What Alan said. Great column.

Is it wrong that part of my brain - the large segment devoted to Chuck love - is hoping Southland tanks so that Chuck has a better shot of renewal?

I know, it is wrong. Wrong yet right.

Fingers crossed for Chuck.

7s Tim said...

just want to add my thanks for taking the time and paper-space to write that article.

and i want to note how much more closely you seem to be following this thread than you do most others. even Lost doesn't get as many extra comments from you. i appreciate your attention in this matter, good sir.

Lane said...

ok, Alan, just stepping up for my man is all

I should have been more diplomatic. Like said to her "See you next Tuesday"...

filmcricket said...

Alan, thanks - but unfortunately I can't get Hulu. I'm in Canada and for whatever reason, the way I access network sites won't work on Hulu.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I believe NBC.com works on the same schedule as Hulu.

Anonymous said...

re: Amy

I think an argument can be made for Chuck over FNL. FNL clearly has better highs and more potential than Chuck, and can be a better quality show, but it's had probably worse luck than Chuck in terms of production. With the constant threat of being cancelled, FNL has rushed storylines to make sure they were told and given us pretty crappy stories (Season 2's murder plot) to try and boost ratings. Not to mention the writer's strike was REALLY poor timing for FNL in that Season 2 had no effective ending. Now that they're getting two more seasons I think FNL will relax and develop, but I think, as a show, Chuck has stayed more on course to date than FNL.

Mike F said...

I gave up on Chuck after just a couple of episodes which I didn't think were very good...looks like I might have exited prematurely...

But if its renewed for a 3rd season, I'll catch up and watch it due to the strength of Alan's reviews of the show and his letter. If NBC was waiting for people like me to tune in, a renewal would make that happen.

barbra said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
barbra said...

Chuck is my favorite show! I've never watched even one episode of Heroes. My NBC shows are Chuck, 30 Rock, The Office, and Friday Night Lights. Love them all, but Chuck is the one that I *enjoy* the most - like you said, it lifts my spirits *every time!*

It seems to me that NBC cannot weigh the ratings in their decision whatsoever. Mondays at 8! Totally an unfair comparison. There's nothing good on TV on Tuesdays or Wednesdays (I watch DVDs or DVR those nights) - it would be interesting to see what ratings Chuck would get then.

There are four (five) shows I would watch on Mondays at 8: Chuck, BBT/HIMYM, DWTS, and House. The DVR receiver can only record two shows at once, so DWTS and House have been bumped. Sometimes I catch them online later.

Oh, and by the way, I really want to boycott NBC altogether because of the stupid Leno thing, but my four NBC shows are just too good to miss!

Anonymous said...

Here's a nerd amen for a nerd show: "So say we all."

I hope they listen. I'm going to be so bummed if I lose Chuck, Pushing Daisies AND Life this year.

WWWeaves said...

This show makes me so ridiculously happy every time I watch it and I'm far from the only one. I'll gladly watch product placement galore if it means I get to see Chuck and Co. every week.

What she said. Its that bubble of happiness from Chuck that is so rare. I treasue it. MORE CHUCK!

Anonymous said...

On Alan's recommendation I watched for the first time two weeks ago (the Chevy Chase/Bakula episode) and immediately got a hold of the Season 1 DVDs. I watched 4 hours last night, and hope to squeeze in a few more hours tonight. This show is great and I can't believe I've been missing out for so long.

Anonymous said...

I just looked. Chuck isn't being shown tonight in the Cleveland market. Grrrr. Of course, my DVR broke today as well. Hello hulu, I guess.

Pamela Jaye said...

to quote michelle @ zachary-levi.com
You know it’s spring when the temperature goes up, the flowers bloom and bloggers begin their campaigns to save their favorite shows in danger of being cancelled. With just a few weeks before the networks announce their fall schedulesshe has that interview with Josh.
at the very least, this spring, I learned which spelling of his last name he uses.

I haven't read the comments cause Kay and I were on the phone for 3 hours, and cause I wrote a comment on the nj.com site, and I needed to google for a Subway (around the corner next to the grocery store, which, alas, has better roast beef subs than it has. maybe I could try something else. they were so bad by comparison to *anything else* I've ever had from Subway - and I don't get to choose, usually: Dennis shares - that I actually forgot the place was there.)

do they still have that chicken bacon ranch thingie, or was that just a wrap?

Kensington said...

How about this: Chuck has been so good that lately I'm not even timeshifting it and skip the commercials.

I'm watching it live because I just can't wait.

Jayne said...

Yeah! My girl Mo!!
And THAT'S why Chicago rocks!!

What she said; I was scrolling down the comments to see if anyone else didn't think Chuck has earned the ER slot, a much better successor than Southland (sorry, Ryan Atwood, or whatever your real name is).
ER was a drama that endured because it was interwoven with humanity, romance and humor - as is Chuck. I feel bad for kids who can't stay up til 11 on a schoolnight, but hey; if your parents haven't gotten a DVR yet, that would be the best reason to do so.
It is the perfect evolution of NBC's Thursday night strategy.

Love your column, blog, interviews, love that you loved Middleman :::sniff - still miss Dub-Dub and Sexy Boss Man:::

Everybody Google-map all Subways on your route home on April 27...

Lynda said...

Oh, I hope this letter makes an impact! We love Chuck - we're fascinated with the unique style and mix of action/comedy/romance/drama. We can't wait to see what more is in store for Chuck and Sarah and the rest. This is our favorite hour of TV in the week. Don't let it end yet!

Anonymous CBS President said...

Dear Ben,

Do not listen to all these people. Just keep partying and doing whatever you want with NBC.

Don't worry about growing your network or rehabbing its image. Just keep churning out brain-dead eye-candy like Heroes. I bet that show sell really well overseas, who gives a crap about the ratings over here.

Do not even think about giving a Chuck a third season. Just think, there are still people who think you can right the ship at the peacock, namely Jeff Zucker. You can't screw that up by renewing a show like Chuck when you can pick up a pilot that could be the next Biggest Loser. Uh, that is the best reality program on NBC, right? A weight loss competition appropriately named for the network.

Don't worry about people sending you pocket protectors. Just donate them to the nerds at MIT and let them figure out some way to save the rainforests in the Amazon with those babies.

It's late and I have to prepare to snatch up all the procedurals featuring middle-aged men or thirty-something women a couple of weeks from now.So my final words: Yvonne Strahovski and Zachary Levi? All they need is Quincy Jones and Xavier Nady to complete the first name alphabets.


With your best interest at heart,
Les Moonves

Anonymous said...

I admit, I don't watch Chuck, largely because of the 18 car pileup on Monday nights. I'm a Gossip Girl fan and I like How I met your mother and that is really all I have time for. If Chuck were on Thursdays, I think I could find time for it.

Also, I mostly only want to start watching because of your praise of it.

Sara said...

The body of the letter I mailed to NBC today:
Dear Sir and/or Madam,
I hope this letter finds you well. I know you are a very busy person, and therefore I will get straight to the point.
My husband and I are fans and watchers of several shows in your primetime lineup, including The Office, 30 Rock, and Heroes. There is one NBC series in particular that we both consider “must-watch-live, never miss, no DVR delay”, and that is Chuck. The series is inventive, humorous, and action-packed with just the right amount of geek-culture love and ‘80s nostalgia for our enjoyment. It is one of the most creative and enjoyable shows on TV, and it clearly is not even close to running out of gas quite yet. Should it disappear from your lineup, it would be sorely missed in our household.
My DVR records several other shows on Monday nights on other networks, but Chuck has my eyeballs (and those of my husband) glued to the screen as it airs, much to the benefit of your advertisers. Since I understand demographics may be important, I am 25 years old (him, 26) and we live in Jacksonville, Florida. We are not Nielsen viewers, but believe our viewership matters.
We support the show in any way we can. We own the first season on DVD, and have pre-ordered the second season. Most weeks we watch the latest episode again on Hulu.com. We have encouraged several friends and family members to tune in Monday nights at 8:00 pm Eastern. In short, we agree wholeheartedly with the numerous TV critics and thousands of fans alike; please renew Chuck for a third season today!
In closing, I’d like to tell you that I have enjoyed NBC’s programming for several years. Friends was the first show that I ever made a point to watch every week, and Thursday has always been “must-see TV” on NBC for me. In all my years of TV viewing, this is the first time I have ever been compelled to write a letter to a network, nevertheless one concerning the renewal status of a TV show. Please consider my request in that light, along with that of the several other Chuck supporters you have heard from in the last month. Please renew Chuck.
Thank you for your time and consideration.

Jenn. said...

Absolutely, 100% right.

IAmATVJunkie said...

I said a little bit more than could fit in your comment section, Alan.

I'd love you to read this.

http://iamatvjunkie.typepad.com/i_am_a_tv_junkie_a_blog_f/2009/04/my-impassioned-plea-to-nbc-save-chuck-from-elimination.html

Scott said...

I was late getting on the "Chuck-Wagon" but I have to admit that for an hour each week it's just not enough. This show is funny, smart and entertaining. NBC would be crazy to cancel a winner like this show.

Philippa said...

I suppose you've heard about the UK T1 convention breakout with Zach for Chuck?

My vids here:-
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=75OWFC97tDE

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FEn2RG4i40o

NBC - you have an international audience!

Point 5: Adam is totally knocking every line and grunt right out of the park in 'Chuck'. Badass, but funny and sexy with it!

He deserves his own "name above the title" Die Hard/Indiana Jones type movie asap!