Sunday, May 17, 2009

Chuck saved! (but at a bargain price)

According to multiple reports (at TV Week, Variety and Entertainment Weekly), and according to everything I've heard, the deal to renew "Chuck" for 13 episodes is basically done. It's not "official"-official just yet, and hopefully once it is (likely tomorrow), I can interview someone on the show about it, but it's coming back.

That's the good news, but as Ausiello notes:
Here's the bad news: The 13-episode pickup came after Warner Bros. agreed to make significant budget concessions, including scaling back the number of episodes several members of the show's stellar supporting cast will appear in and, per one insider, possibly eliminating one actor altogether (R.I.P. Anna Wu?). The show is also expected to cut two of its staff writers.
Now, lots of shows are coming back next year (and/or new shows are starting out) with reduced orders, and with tighter budgets than scripted series traditionally get. (A slashed budget was one of the pre-requisites for the "Dollhouse" renewal, for instance.) That's just the way things are going in this economy. I have faith that Fedak, Schwartz and company can make the show work on a tighter budget, and maybe, if the ratings are decent enough (and compared to some of what NBC has aired since the "Chuck" finale, "Chuck" looks like a world-beater for them), that 13-episode order becomes 22.

But either way, "Chuck" is coming back. I feel very happy about that. More Awesome! More Casey! More Sarah! More Jeffster!

Life is good.


Maxed out said...

Thank goodness! Love Chuck and I have faith that budget cuts won't hurt quality. Now lets hope enough viewers tune in for a full 22!

BigTed said...

This is very good news. "Chuck" is one of the few purely fun and entertaining shows on the air right now. (If only a few more million people would realize that....)

By the way, how many episodes would it take for "Chuck" to get a rerun syndication deal? I imagine several of the cable networks would love to have it.

R said...

Congrats viewers of America and beyond.

I do wish Julia Ling gets to stick around; she makes Morgan more than just a pathetic loser. Maybe they can rotate like Scrubs did this season. And Tony Hale is moving on to a new show, right?


Byron Hauck said...

nI've heard a couple times now that our beloved, but poorly rated shows actually outperformed the dreck that followed them. Is this really true? Cause that would be awesome.

Re: Big Ted - Long ago I heard 100 thrown out as the number required for syndication, but I also remember watching Sports Night at 3am on Comedy Central.

Karen said...

I wish I could feel unconditionally joyful over this, but it just fries my ass that the network would make all these constraints on the show.


But I really am so happy it's coming back!

Matt said...

Sports Night wasn't syndicated--it was a full series rerun package picked up after cancellation.

And hour shows are notoriously more difficult to sell into syndication than half hour shows. The ones that sell tend to be ones that have two things Chuck doesn't:

1. Almost complete self-containment, with minimal serialized elements. (L&O, NCIS, Bruckheimer shows.)
2. An older-skewing fanbase. The average Chuck fan isn't likely to be at home at 4 PM on a Wednesday afternoon. The average NCIS fan? Maybe.

Pamela Jaye said...

so, is it Fridays or do we not know? (I read Ausiello and Mo, only)

and did we all just break Facebook trying to change our profile pictures back to normal?
I can't change, and I can't upload, all I can do is delete, so right now, I don't have a Face.
Twitter worked immediately.

Shall we have a SubwayUpfrontDay?

Pamela Jaye said...

great avatar, Alan :-)

Anonymous said...

I'm going to Subway tomorrow to celebrate!

Mac said...

I think that Ausiello was just speculating about what cast member would get cut; how much can Julia Ling cost? It's just that she lifts out of the ensemble better than some others.

My guess would be that everyone but Levi, Strahovski, and Baldwin will sit out episodes, ala Scrubs. Actually, I think everyone but those three and Joshua Gomez has been benched at times.

Kensington said...

I'd rather Chuck do a solid, well-planned 13 than have it's season 3 plot unnaturally inflated with filler if it gets expanded to a full 22.

But as to the matter of reducing from 22 in the first place, it seems short-sighted. NBC is going to have to fill those addition 9 weeks with something that will probably end up being more of a wild card than Chuck would be.

Kensington said...

Also, I hope that NBC will run all 13 episodes without interruption. It would be foolish to try and stretch it out the way they do with most full-season shows.

Anonymous said...

THis is good news.

Alan...some questions for you.
1)what is NBCs rationale for giving Leno 5 hours of primetime a week? I can see the finacial side, cheaper to produce, and NBC doesnt have to do a big pilot season. But do they think anyone will actually watch the show?
2) what kind of show will it be? A talk show ala Tonight Show or some other format?
3) do you think this a smart move or a dumb one. (I think dumb...Im sure I'll never watch it, which soesnt mean anything:)


R said...

I think in TV lingo 13 is the front end with an option for the back 9. I don't think for networks go for 13 ep seasons, unless they're midseason replacements or new shows. I mean Lost does 16-17 but that's a huge show for these times. For chuck or Dollhouse if they survive the season then they're doing 22. 13 means they died. Different case for cable obviously.

Anyway, I know they're self-titled Jeffster, but isn't their rightful name Creepy and Creepier? I love them but, you know...

Anonymous said...

Love Chuck and glad it's returning. Now that we've got it coming back we have to work on a full 22 epi committment.

Anonymous said...

More Awesome! More Casey! More Sarah! More Jeffster!

Life is good.

Unknown said...


We're all going to have to make sure Subway has another windfall come premiere day.

Alan, I think you and Mo Ryan deserve some kind of shout-out on the show when it comes back. Your open letter to NBC and continued advocacy had to have played a role in this.

Now, regarding the budget cutbacks, I think this the perfect reason to eliminate the BuyMore aspect of the show. I feel Chuck the character as well as the show has outgrown it. What do you folks think?

BTW, this is no slight to the actors involved. They all took minimal parts and really made the most of them. I would love to see them all again somehow, just not in that context.

Sonia said...

This is just...well...awesome.

jn613 said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jn613 said...

great post and awesome new twitter avatar, alan! life is good Chuck fans!!! let's thank NBC by making a donation -- no matter how small -- to the AHA with a note telling NBC execs "A heartfelt thank you for renewing Chuck." find out more at with enough support, we may yet get our back 9. thanks for being such awesome fans!

Stringer Sawyer Carmichael said...

Obviously, this is great, great news. I'm sure I'm in the minority here, but will the show be the same without the Buy More and the characters from the store? Some of the best episodes are where the Buy More and their employees were a part of Chuck/Sarah/Casey mission. Plus, it would mean the end of Jeffster and would likely diminish Morgan's role in the Chuck universe. My guess is that Tony Hale isn't the actor that gets cut in the arrangement because NBC already knew he was gone. My preference would be Big Mike, only because I feel like the Buy More angle of Chuck could continue as it has without him. I'm also guessing that we will be seeing a lot less of Ellie and Awesome next season, which is too bad because I love the fact that Awesome knows Chuck is a spy now. I feel like they could have some good moments and storylines with that angle.

But, for now, who cares because our beloved Chuck is coming back. I'm going to celebrate with some Subway!

Craig Ranapia said...

Yes, the budget cuts suck but I'm actually pretty positive about the 13 ep orders for both Chuck and Dollhouse as long as they're all killer, no filler. (Much as I love 'Burn Notice', for example, I don't think the show's hurt by not having to grind out a 20 episode plus network season.)

Am I being totally naive here?

Dan said...

Woo to the hoo! Thanks Alan for all the coverage.

One point I don't think anybody made in the renewals thread below: Promoting a new show costs more than an old one. It might be enough to tip the scales towards a title that the general public is somewhat familiar with... even one as clunky as "Better Off Ted"!

rspad said...

Fantastic news!! I'll take Chuck however I can get it. And I'll do whatever I can to get more people to watch it - S1 DVDs already lent out to some friends.

A 3rd season!!! Awesome!

rspad said...

Oh, and re: Byron Hauck, according to, the Chuck finale had 6.2 million viewers with a 3.6 HH Rating. The premiere of Deal or No Deal the following week had 4.4 million viewers with a 2.7 HH Rating, and it hasn't done much better since.

Not to mention NBC's "next great drama", Southland, has been on a steady decline since its premiere.

Yeah, I'd say NBC could do much worse than Chuck.

jim treacher said...

Lost only got better with fewer episodes per season. Just imagine how awesome Chuck could be.

Fawlty Towers and The Office only has 12 episodes each...

Pamela Jaye said...

Im addition to thanking Alan & Mo (and all the fans, and Twitter!) I'd like to thank Whoever at, and Wendy Farrington. (and a couple of websites but I'm way past bedtime.)

Programming note for fans of Zac, Dr Stephanie from Big Bang and even the Pretender (though *they* probably saw it the first time)
Less than Perfect premieres (in reruns) June 1 pm Lifetime. (and based on the youtube vid I saw, Zac can also sing - and did). My Brooks & Matsh says Zac was one of the tormentors of Dr Stephanie, so... no more Mr Nice Guy.
I was surprised it was on as long as it was (81 eps plus 8 unaired) and I really wonder what was in tht time slot in 200(2?) that I decided against watching it. anyone know?

Anonymous said...

Chuck vs. Marketing Statistics - How to really save Chuck

Really want to keep Chuck around for seasons to come?

1) Ask all your friends if they know anyone participating in any television rating / watching survey or system.

2) Loan these people your season 1 Chuck dvds and / or watch it with them. Direct them to the web for Season 2 ( etc).

3) If you get asked to participate in any television rating / watching surveys, do it.

4) Work a Chuck reference into every conversation with someone new you meet and tell them how good the show is if they don't know what you are talking about.

5) Chuck Season 1 dvd and Season 2 pre-order dvd's make great presents and give away items for company events.

6) Once they are hooked, give them this list.

judodog said...

I also have faith that Fedak, Schwartz et al, as well as the amazing cast that they can still produce the best show on network if not all television with a tighter budget.

Now that Chuck has some Michael Weston in him look out!

dez said...

First "Chuck," then "Better Off Ted" gets the renewal notice. Yippee!!

Memphizmike said...

First off to quote the great homer simpson WHOOOO HOOOO !!!!!!! we did it Chuck fans but yes like all of you the news that we get chuck back with some cuts is not that great like losing writers is never good and cutting charaters is not much better but hey we still have our show so let us keep up the good work keep talking about the show keep making donations to the AHA keep going to subway on chuck nite and keep buying the chuck merchandise also if you want do try something new in the chuck campaign then make donations to ST.Jude in the name of NBC and Chuck that will help not only the show but alot of sick kids as well

Nerd Herd 4 Life!!!!!!!!

Andrew said...


Given that Ellie and Awesome didn't appear in an episode or two towards the end of season 2, and there were some times where the action in Buy Moria didn't fit in that well with whatever Chuck was doing, having to demote some combination of Lancaster, McPartlin, Lawrence, Ling, Sahay and Krinsky down to recurring could be done in a way wouldn't hurt the show creatively. But hopefully, they will all be back along with Tony Hale and Scott Bakula

If Chuck isn't working at the Buy More anymore, what would the comedy potential be if the NSA/CIA hired Jeff and Lester as the analysts for Chuck's team? Think about it, Fedak.

Elena said...

Thanks for this great news on a Monday morning! Hope Big Mike is the one eliminated. He always makes me laugh.

SC Sousa said...

Hey all,

Just to clarify, Schwartz and Fedak have a full season's storyline planned...having 13 episodes ordered does NOT mean the additional 9 episodes are "filler."

As well, like others have said, some supporting characters have "sat out" episodes before, and losing an Emmett or an Anna, or even Jeff and/or Lester from time to time, ain't a bad thing!

Remember, though, that getting rid of the Buy More takes away some key components of the show: 1) comic relief, and 2) product placement. The show may provide plenty of humor outside the Buy More walls, but would Chuck be doing as well without the chance to show a Wii, a Fable 2 poster, Big Mike's Subway lunch, and so on? Advertising dollars are huge for this show, especially now with the decreased budget. The show needs more of that, not less. The Buy More might be the main way to do that.

Above all else, though, WE DID IT! Chuck is coming back!

Jayme said...

One thing to remember, though, is that it was the use of the pocketbook more than anything else that allowed Chuck to stick around. If we want Chuck to continue to stay around we need to continue to work at recruiting more viewers and we need to spend our own hard earned dollars to support show sponsors. If viewers only support the show at the end of the season, I fear it won't make it back for a 4th.

Grunt said...

I've actually thought the Buy More stuff is almost always the weakest part of the show (although it does have awesome payoff --- "Jeffster" I'm looking at you --- occasionally.

I remember when the show returned for a second season wondering why they had added, to the opening credits, the entire Buy More crew. Those characters (with the possible exception of Morgan) should never have been anything but recurring characters.

Loosing two writers is a little more troubling to me, except Fedak & Schwartz have already said that they have the season pretty-much mapped out, which I would imagine is where much of the heavy-lifting is done.

Welcome Back Chuck! Now we just have to get your ratings up.

Anonymous said...

From the press release today from NBC:

"NBC's shared time period strategy will kick off this fall on Mondays with the premiere of "Heroes" (8-9 p.m. ET) continuing with all originals before "Chuck" assumes the time period after the 2010 Winter Olympic Games, which will be a powerful launching platform with its broad, female appeal and strong ratings as the most-watched event of the year."

Looks like we will need to wait for it as a mid-season replacement, sharing the same time slot as Heroes, which now seems to have seniority, both by being broadcast longer, and by being renewed sooner.

Pamela Jaye said...

4) Work a Chuck reference into every conversation with someone new you meet Wow, I used to do this with Enterprise (and I didn't even really like Enterprise, but Scott was in it. PS good thing Old Christine was picked up: that was not a good series ending (and I don't even watch the show, but Scott was on it))

I'm not the outgoing type and definitely not the activist type, and I was talking to strangers in supermarkets like I was with the Boston Church of Christ (they can turn any conversation about any thing at all into a proselytizing experience - I've met 3; including the one who invited me to Bible Study after I hit her car)

I want a Chuck shirt. Preferably a babydoll - I can't take the crew necks.