Courtesy of my friend Joe, two bits of very good news (one surprising, one not) about shows of interest here on the blog:
• NBC is going to order six extra episodes of "Chuck," on top of the 13 already ordered (thanks in part to the passion of all the Subway-eating fans).
• "Scrubs" will be back on Dec. 1 at 9 with back-to-back episodes, and "Better Off Ted" will follow at 9:30 on Dec. 8. (I talked about the revamped version of "Scrubs" with Bill Lawrence a couple of months ago.)
We knew that ABC was going to bring those two comedies back in that hour, in between seasons of "Dancing with the Stars," so it was just a question of specifics.
The "Chuck" news, on the other hand, is as unexpected as it is cool, and I'll have some more thoughts on that after the jump...
None of this is official as yet, but coupled with the news that NBC won't give "Trauma" a back-nine order, it sure sounds like the plan is to pair "Chuck" with "Heroes" again ("Chuck" at 8, "Heroes" at 9), and probably to bring "Chuck" back in January so a bunch of episodes can air before the Olympics, as opposed to keeping the show off the air until March. (The alternative, which Joe suggests, would be to stick with the March launch and then run the show into the summer, but that seems less likely, given the network business model.)
While the Monday at 8 pile-up is still not ideal for the show, at least "Big Bang Theory" (which has by far the biggest audience overlap of any show in that timeslot last year) has moved. And between the failure of "Trauma," the delays on "Parenthood" (which at least has Lauren Graham to replace Maura Tierney) and the network's decision not to air "Southland" at all, there are holes to fill, even with Leno taking up five hours a week. "Chuck" is a known quantity for NBC, albeit a relatively low-rated one, so it can help fill those holes. And getting it on the air in January, if that's the plan, seems a good compromise between March (Olympic promotion, but way too long off the air) and rushing it on the air to replace either "Trauma" or "Southland" with no promotion. Now they can plug it for a while, at least during football and the Thursday comedies.
My one question is how the writers are going to handle the shift from 13 to 19 episodes. "Chuck" writer Ali Adler tweeted yesterday that they had just finished filming episode 8, and writing tends to be several episodes ahead of production, so they're not far from the end. So Fedak, Schwartz and company have two options:
1)Do the first 13 as planned, then continue the story with six more episodes after that.
2)End the season as planned, only in the 19th episode, and try to wedge in a bunch of additional stories (some self-contained, some not) in episodes 13-18.
Each option has its potential downside. "Felicity" tried Option 1 when the WB unexpectedly ordered some extra episodes at the end of their final season, which led to a weird time-travel storyline. "The Sopranos" went with Option 2 when its final season was split into two parts, which led to Gay Vito's trip to New Hampshire.
But one of my concerns about the 13-episode order (after I got over the joy and relief that the show would come back at all) was that the tight schedule meant we wouldn't get a chance to have some self-contained episodes that had nothing to do with the main arc, like "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer" or "Chuck vs. the Best Friend". The extension may give the writers an opportunity to do a few more of those, though the timing may be awkward if they all come in a clump right after, say, The Ring has kidnapped Ellie and burned down the Buy More.
But it's six more hours of "Chuck" than I thought we'd be getting this year, on top of the 13 hours of "Chuck" I wasn't so sure we'd be getting, so I ain't complaining.