Why Seidman Worries About Chuck

And Why He Doesn’t Worry At All

TV By The Numbers is a great resource and decent read. Robert Seidman posted this article over the holidays wherein he admits that he has absolutely no idea about Chuck‘s chances for Season 4 and beyond. That’s probably wise. It’s too early to say anything at all about that.

I could see both a scenario where NBC cares to change its image and one where it doesn’t. “Eh, if they’re going to wanna go crazy with change once the deal is done, they’re going to do that no matter what we do this fall, so let’s stick with the status quo,” has some merits to it. But so does, “Ben Silverman killed us! We can fix this thing though! Let’s try to get out in front of this thing right now and make an effort to really improve the ratings with better programming. We’re not waiting for Comcast!”

Huh!? What Does Any Of That Have To Do With Chuck?

If NBC is ok with the status quo, that’s good news for Chuck should it pull around a 2.4 rating. If NBC decides, “We’re not gonna take it. No we ain’t gonna take it. We’re not gonna take it anymore,” well then, all bets are off and that’s not great news for Chuck, even if it is performing near NBC’s average.

In other words, if Chuck‘s rating are around 3, there’s no question that it’ll be renewed. If it remains at or around 2.4, then it’ll probably be renewed, unless… And that’s a big question mark. Seidman removes the recent purchase of NBC-U by Comcast from the equation by noticing that the deal will most likely not get past the regulators before Chuck‘s future is decided (and he’s probably right about that). The “unless…” is all about the urgency of NBC-U’s need to shake things up.

That’s a bigger question than any one show can address.

For my money, NBC needs to shake things up a lot.  Sometimes I think I’m not seeing anywhere near enough Chuck promos, and then I realize “Oh – I’m not tuned to NBC.” If I’m anywhere close to representative, they have a problem.   But here’s a scoop.   Chuck is not the problem – Chuck is the answer.  Contra Seidman, I don’t think that a big change at NBC is necessarily bad for Chuck.  If NBC wants to shake thing up to an 8 on the Richter scale, they could do much better than dropping what I consider to be the best show on TV. They could do things like, oh, I don’t know, forget about more of those Law and Order shows that became old hat about a hundred years ago and cut back on comedy/variety/host-interview *cough*Leno*cough* shows. And for pete’s sake, deliver us from reality TV! What the heck is Sing-Off, anyway? – besides unnecessary, I mean.

It’s simple, really. Give us TV that’s entertaining, intelligent and witty, with actors who are engaging and talented enough to make us care about the characters, and with stories that don’t rely on formulas, but actually have a little depth and meaning for the audience. Oh, and throw in some good music on occasion, too, okay?  Chuck is not the only show that does this. It’s merely the best example, in my not-so-humble opinion.

The fate of Chuck won’t keep me up at nights. I have almost 20 new episodes to look forward to, and I’m looking forward to them and will enjoy each episode (provided they are good). I won’t be thinking “Damn, I would really enjoy the hell out of this show if I wasn’t so worried about it being cancelled! But because I’m worried, I can’t even enjoy the show!”

If you are a Chuck fan, you shouldn’t be thinking like that either.

I can’t conceive of television without NBC (or ABC or CBS either, for that matter).  They’re not going dark.  Network television is notorious for being one of the most conservative institutions around, so I doubt that Leno is going anywhere, especially considering that it’s becoming successful in the ratings, and has been profitable from the beginning. I’m guessing that NBC isn’t ever going to shoot for an 8 on the Richter scale when it decides to shake things up, but only a 5 or a 6.  Indeed, TV is competitive, but it’s not a full contact sport, where only one is left standing.  It’s more like the two guys being chased by a bear.  “I only have to run faster than you, fella!”

And if that’s the case, then Chuck is fine being at the top of NBC’s  list of scripted shows.  Anything more is gravy.

Is it too early to start being excited about Season 4???

And on a personal note, over the holidays I got my two college age nephews interested in giving the Jan. 10 premier a try.  They’ve not seen the show before.  One of them took interest when I said that I reflexively dislike shows that insult my intelligence, and “Chuck doesn’t do that.”  Heh! Not once did the words “hot blonde” escape my lips!  Am I a salesman, or what?

– joe

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About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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20 Responses to Why Seidman Worries About Chuck

  1. OldDarth says:

    You are indeed Joe.

    NBC boss Gaspin is on record as having a preference for lighter toned shows hence the dropping of Southland. That factor can not be under-estimated if Chuck ratings are at or above the NBC average for a 4th Season renewal.

    As to the future of network TV it is difficult to say. Show based subscriptions seem to be the only viable future economic model to me but will be difficult to implement when people are used to getting such content for free.

  2. joe says:

    Both great points, Lou (and btw, you had some excellent points in the comments of that article, as well as a fun run-in with the trolls ;> )

    It’s interesting. I said that NBC, ABC and CBS aren’t going away, but you know, I think it’s actually more likely that TV itself disappears. Or, at least, TV as we know it. It’ll be supplanted by the ‘net or some next generation thingy or combination of ‘net and TV, and it may or may not happen in my life time. The networks will adapt when that happens, though. Son-of-Chuck will be seen, but on-line, what ever that means then.

    Gaspin is the big wild card right now.

  3. OldDarth says:

    Thanks – somewhat embarrassed about my comments over at TVBTN but I don’t understand why they let obvious trolling of the fanbase continue unabated.

    Media convergence is the buzzword that sticks in my mind. What is happening with cell phones and the iTouch are where I think the future is pointing to.

  4. atcdave says:

    I agree convergence will continue, but I think TV will survive for a long time yet. Passive entertainment will always serve a place, many people want TV on virtually the entire day, but only really pay attention to a select number of favorite programs. It is very likely advertizing revenues will drop if TV fills a passive “brain-dead only” niche; and of course, that would be the end of quality scripted programming on traditional television; but I do expect the networks to continue their traditional service for the foreseeable future. Quality entertainment certainly may migrate towards other venues that favor more involved viewers.

    • joe says:

      Yeah – You’re right. I may have to rescind my idea that TV will disappear. It won’t any more than radio has. Gee – Even AM radio survives.
      It’s the programming that changes, not the medium so much.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I don’t think networks are going away any time soon, but like the music business they are going to need to re-think their business model. The music industry is still stuck on a model where you package 8-12 songs and sell them on a CD. This worked fine when the only other distribution method was radio, where no permanent copy could be made, and when the albums were Led Zepplin or Fleetwood Mac where you actually wanted to listen to all 12 tracks. A lot of the music industries’ problem is quality has declined and competition has increased. Sound familiar? Well HBO and Showtime are producing some of the best TV around lately, commercial free. In addition if you are willing to wait a few months there is Netflix or Amazon or iTunes. The networks answer is apparently reality TV because it has higher profit margins. I think my situation is proof that quality could work. I’ll say it again, for the first time in about a decade I plan to follow a network TV show as it airs, commercials and all, because its that good.

  5. lou federico says:

    Lou and Joe those were quite funny posts regading phister the troll. Some people just crave attention no matter if it is good or bad. Mom did not hug him enough or he just enjoys peeing in the punch. It is hard but the best way is not to take the bait and ignore him. (even though i have failed to take my own advise with trolls) I really think HOUSE is on its way out. Too many changes and as all of the great shows found out will you start changing cast your rating will start to fall and never come back. Maybe that is what Fox is thinking as the seem obsessed with peeing in Chuck’s punch by moving house premise to the same day as Chuck’s monday and maybe moving the Simpson’s premire to the Sunday premire of Chuck. Last thing you would want to do if your the King is worry about a show that poises no threat to you. Or does it? Fox thinks so.

    Anytime you tear something down you always try to leave a few support beams from the old structure to help in the rebuild. Even though that has failed to work for my home team Detroit Lions it seems to easier to gut the inside, replace it with new appliances and a new coat of paint. Lets hope Chuck is part of the foundation. IF Nbc guts everything it may take them in excess of 5 years to regain the potiency as a network which means losing millions of dollars in advertisements.

    Prediction: Chuck will pull a 4.0-4.5 for the Sunday premire and hover around a 3.2 for the rest of the year. We will see the showkiller House lose ground on Mondays.

  6. lou federico says:

    Not to get off the Chuck topic but does anybody know why USA is breaking up their shows and moving them to all different nights starting a 10 pm. Burn Notice, White Collar, Royal Pains, etc. The 10:00 timeslot does not seem that important. Especially with Burn Notice that could compete against most network shows. Is loosing Monk that devistating? I do not understand that move at all.

    • joe says:

      I have no idea why they’re doing that, but it’s a great question, Lou.

      Hum… 10pm doesn’t seem all that important, but I sort of like those shows (and Psych) at 10. They all sort of fit somehow.

      Chuck always seemed like a 9 pm sort of show to me. TBBT at 8 pm was exactly where it should be, so I’m surprised (and happy for Chuck) that they moved it. Likewise, House was just too intense for 8 pm.

      Good thing I’m not a network scheduler! ;>

  7. Ernie Davis says:

    I think we should also note that the traditional movie business is in trouble also. Again, I think most of the issue is quality. I still watch movies, via Netflix, but I can’t remember the last time I bothered to catch a movie in theatrical release or when they released one I thought worth it.

    • atcdave says:

      I think the theatrical audience has always been a minority one. I still go to the theater, and it is often busy; but I only have a couple friends who still enjoy going like I do.
      You commented earlier on the HBO situation, I do think premium channels or pay-per-download is where quality programming will reside in the future. Reality TV is so cheap, and if the more upscale audiences are elsewhere, broadcast TV will fade as a source of scripted programming.

      • joe says:

        HBO sure had some winners a few years back. Loved The Sopranos. They seemed to make good use of the flexibility that non-commercial television offered them.

        But it’s been a while since I’ve seen something worth the cost of HBO. Maybe I’m getting jaded!

        Still love live theatre, but it gets harder to get out every year. I’ve enjoyed Wolftrap and shows at the Birchmere, but only one or two a year. It’s a shame that Merriweather Post has gone so far down hill. That used to be very convenient (and fun!) for me.

    • joe says:

      I agree with that, Ernie. There seem to be far fewer movies worth spending the money on than music. Bad English. Let’s say I’m far less satisfied with Hollywood than I used to be, and only slightly less satisfied with the music I hear.

      Saw a great Bogart/Bacall movie today – To Have and To Have Not. He’s an underachiever who wants no part of what he’s being asked to do, which is to be heroic. She’s a bit of a con. A war puts them together. There’s a tiny bit of jealousy on her part, adventure and a very electric romance. Very Chuck like, but without the comedy. There’s even some great music in it (with Hoagy Carmichael playing the part of Jeffster and Walter Brennen doing a great Morgan).

      Why can’t they make them like that anymore? Hum?

      • atcdave says:

        I may have been misunderstood before, in saying theater I meant cinema. I don’t think movies have degraded in quality, I’d actually say the opposite. Looking at movies of the past, its generally only the best that are really remembered; that, and at any given time, the number of movies “in theaters”, pales in comparison to the number of movies that have come before. So it is quite easy to find a number of great older movies, and harder to find anything great in current release. Some years we see several wonderful new movies come out, other years we don’t; but I think its very unfair to paint with such a broad brush and say movies aren’t as good as they used to be.
        Technical aspects are clearly better than they once were, and acting styles have become more natural and less “theatrical”. The down side is, large budget teen oriented movies draw the most attention, and are seen as more prevalent than they actually are.
        Regardless of the merits of an epic like “Avatar”, it just set records for box office draw; and a more serious adult oriented movie (“Blind Side”) is still pulling in large audiences. So I think the movie business is alive and well. I am more careful with my movie going budget than I was as a teen, but I still enjoy when I go, and the theaters are busy. Some of the difference is, I now view the theater as a screening room for movies I may buy, instead of watching several times at the theater; but I usually have a great time when I go.
        The music business model has also changed a lot. I know for a fact my favorite labels release far fewer albums than they did in the past; but via download, there is a large number of singles, alternate takes, and independent artists available. To me, music seems to be more in transition than cinema is; although both businesses are clearly looking at major changes.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I find that movies are less and less worth seeing in theaters. I still find a few per year worth renting, but more often than not I find myself going to the back catalog for something to watch. I think the last movie I saw in the theater was The Return of the King. Of course some of that has to do with new home theater systems being nearly as good as the little postage stamps they consider movie screens at the local googleplex odeon.

      • atcdave says:

        Sounds like a lot of your absence from the cinema has as much to do with poor venues as the films themselves. I can think of few activities I enjoy more than a night at the movies, but we have a great 20 screen theater with large screens, IMAX, stadium seating, awesome concessions…. 10 minutes from home.
        I have a nice home theater too, I do take these things pretty seriously, I was even an early adopter of Hi-def (OK, fairly early, 2001); and I really enjoy top-notch picture and sound at home, but I really get something extra out of a wall to wall picture and a good audience experience. Return of the King was certainly an awesome movie; but I wouldn’t call it the last great one; even from this year, Star Trek was a total blast, and at least a half dozen others were well worth the cost of admission. Sorry if this is just rambling, I understand some people just don’t enjoy going out so much, but I really don’t believe the quality of movies themselves has gone down any.

        I’ve been enjoying Chuck S2 on my iPod since it aired, even blown up on a big screen it doesn’t look half bad (I believe 480i is the iTunes standard), but man, I can’t wait for the Blu-Ray!

      • joe says:

        Dave, you bring up a good point. If you enjoy a show (made for TV or made for theatres) on your iPOD, then it’s the story that’s good. The rest, the hi-def, the special effects, the dolby surround sound may add to the experience, but can’t create one (IMHO).

        When I was a kid, I heard my music on a transistor radio with a three inch speaker (i.e. no base). The music was wonderful. Heaven knows I was filling in that base line in my own mind.

        Of course, when I hear the remastered CDs of that old music, I’m stunned at what I missed, on occasion. But it was still great music, even if it did sound like it was coming through a telephone.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, content is most important; sound and visuals do matter, but content is most important.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well Joe stole my reply. I tend to put more emphasis on content. The visuals are about the only reason I’ll try to find a movie in a good theater. But it has to be one I think I am interested in anyway, that is why Return of the King was the last movie I saw in the theater. A good example might be Avatar. I have absolutely no interest in the story. I’ve heard very little and watched about one or two previews and I’m pretty sure I could tell you the entire plot in a few sentences. I may rent it eventually, but visuals won’t get me into the theater if I don’t find the story compelling.

        Interesting about music. For the longest time from the late 70’s to the mid ’90’s I was really up on music and new artists. Some time around then I started to lose interest. I think part of it was that I was only hearing the same old stuff on the radio and new stuff held very little interest, but I thought there must be some good new bands and some good indie music somewhere. Oddly it was only after I started watching Chuck and started finding the music that I got back into new indie and less popular (but GOOD) music.

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