Chuck vs. The Ratings pt. iii – Updated

Feeding the Bear

Chuck vs. The Bear

TVBTN has one of the most watched cancellation indicies in the universe, the universe of Chuck aficionados, that is. We’re a diverse group. Some of us worry not at all and some of us worry – a lot – about the ratings.

Today brought a fresh perspective. With our appreciation to Thinkling for the graph, you can see how close the ratings race is between Chuck and the competition.

Chuck (in blazing red on the graph) continued to hold fairly steady in the ratings, and both Undercovers and Chase seem far more likely to be taken by the cancellation bear than our fav. Looking far down the road at Chuck‘s chances at a 5th season, that’s good.

Yes, it is. But TVBTN also notes, correctly, I think, that these are not the only NBC shows that will disappear for next season.

Chuck, Parenthood and The Event are all still a ways out in front of the cancellation bear, but it’s unlikely that all three will escape him and make it to next season alive.

That’s the next tier of shows and the next level of competition. All three have a solid chance of surviving but the way these things go, you can bet Costa Gravan Pesos that (at least) one of them will not. The good news (and wow, am I an optimist for using that word, or what?) is that the ratings for Event are slipping even as Chuck and Parenthood holds steady. It’s also true that Chuck needs very little in the way of a break-out to distinguish itself from the rest of this pack. The bad news is that their ratings overall are better than Chuck‘s. Parenthood is one of the strongest shows around when considering “live” viewings + 7 days.

Jace, writing for The Daily Beast, notes that this bodes pretty badly, not for Chuck, but for NBC.

It’s in keeping with just how dire the situation is at NBC that the network last week picked up full seasons of the serialized thriller The Event (which has lost more than 5 million viewers since it launched), along with Law & Order: Los Angeles (a.k.a. LOLA), critically reviled comedy Outsourced, and Jerry Bruckheimer’s struggling procedural Chase (which has sunk to 5.2 million viewers). The jury is out on J.J. Abrams’ glossy spy show, Undercovers, the pilot of which alone cost $10 million.

Quality shows these aren’t.

It’s the dog that didn’t bark. You want to read the whole thing, but for Jace and for me, more Chuck is by no means the problem. It’s the solution for NBC. He goes so far as to say so in his article.

It’s only Thursday, but we can ask already how things stack up for next week. Alan Sepinwall tweeted on this bright morning:

Next weeks “Chuck” is very good. Show’s strongest use of a guest star in a long time.

We have a bit of a spoiler from Ausiello this week.

Question: I’m in need of some Chuck spoilers to make my day better! —Natalie
There’s a major twist at the end of next Monday’s episode, and it involves him and her.

Well, it’s a tiny bit more revealing if you click on the the links to see which “him” and “her” he’s talking about. I LIKE major twists, especially during sweeps month. It certainly sounds to my ears like we’re in for yet another strong episode in a season that’s had nothing but strong episodes.

Finally, we have yet another great chance to directly help the show get a 5th season. We can vote to put Chuck on the cover of TV Guide.

– joe

Update: And right on cue, Yvonne takes it upon herself to underscore my words! She’s so attentive to me! 😉

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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38 Responses to Chuck vs. The Ratings pt. iii – Updated

  1. joe says:

    I’ll be putting up a “Speculation” post about First Fight soon, so a discussion about 4.07 can occur there.

  2. jason says:

    joe do you think the twists have been successful in the past during sweeps weeks?

    • joe says:

      Overall, yes they have. Perhaps demonstrably so. But for Chuck or for any one show in particular? It’s much harder to say.

      I can’t fault the networks and producers for going gimmicky – it’s the nature of the beast. And much like in politics when one candidate goes negative, it tends to force the others to follow suit.

      Now if you’re really asking me if twists enhance my appreciation of the show, that depends on how well a given twist is executed and how much it surprises me, of course (Joe is playing the part of Captain Obvious today!)

      I should make a list of the big surprises I’ve had in Chuck over the years. #1, I think, was the return of Bryce in Crown Vic and Nemesis, followed closely by Chuck’s re-intersection in The Ring. That’s because they were soooo well played.

      I should have been more surprised by Morgan finding out that Chuck is a spy in S3, mostly because I had no inkling that he was the one to find out next. But that whole bit and the way Morgan’s been used since has been so satisfying that it seems organic and almost pre-ordained now. – like it should never have been surprising! YMMV, of course!

      • jason says:

        bryce episodes & morgan, that is what you like about the show – wow – both get FF’d completely on rewatches by me – joe I don’t know how you and I can be fans of the same show, both liking it,

        simply amazing, yet true, I submit to you in SWEEPS time, chuck has been a complete failure in the ratings due to the angsty ‘twists’ that the creators enjoy forcing on the fans, often taking solid viewing status and turning it into disaster.

        I am guardedly optimistic that in season 4 they will not, but I despised the last couple minutes of 4.6, to me it was mask all over again, to lead chuck into sweeps yet again with a polarized and somewhat angry fan base.

      • weaselone says:

        Different strokes for different folks. I’m fond of vs. Crown Vic which isn’t popular with a good chunk of the fan base.

    • herder says:

      Can’t recall if it was a sweeps week or not but the best twist so far has been the two at the end of Leathal Weapon. “I can’t move in with you… live the life that I want with the girl that I love…” then the Tron poster reveal, genius, a great twist and a feel good one to boot.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree Herder about that being an excellent twist. If memory serves, I believe that was supposed to be February sweeps but we got pushed back by a presidential speech and Lethal Weapon didn’t run until March.

        I would say, in both S1 and S2 the November sweeps episodes were my least favorite of the entire season. For some reason, Schwedak seem to equate character angst (often the cheap manipulative sort like love triangles) with good drama. Yet the fact the show has lost many of its well-educated, affluent, male viewers shows they are clearly misguided about what excites their audience.

        Or at least they were. I would call Aisle of Terror the best set up for a sweeps period they’ve done yet. If they can craft an arc that builds excitement with this foundation, without drawing out the elements that need resolution quickly, I would say we’re in very good shape.

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  4. herder says:

    The thing about Jace’s article that caught my eye is the cost of the Undercovers pilot, 10 million, that is almost the combined budget for the first six episodes of Chuck this year. That kind of cost and loss has to be a disincentive to NBC to want to blow up the entire shedule and start from scratch.

    So long as Chuck does make money for NBC and we are told that it does, then there are probably bigger problems for the network to adress first. Perhaps we should use Jedi mind tricks “this isn’t the show you want to cancel”.

  5. Rick Holy says:

    What’s most interesting is the freefall of “The Event.” It had a little blip a week or so ago, but that was after it (and Chase) were promoted like all get out on Sunday Night Football. Now it’s creeping down again little by little. I TRIED watching it. I really did. And I can stick with “complicated” shows (LOST was one of my all time favorites). But “The Event” just was so discombobulated – one minute it’s present day, the next it’s 3 days ago – the next it’s 1954 – the next it’s 12 days from now. It was just a hodge-podge MESS. So “click” went the remote and that was the end of “The Event” for me. It appears that alot of folks with Nielsen boxes are doing the same.

    Chase – I’ve never even given a chance to watch. It just seems like another ho – hum cop show. SNORE.

    Undercovers – Still watch every week, but continue to be disappointed. It’s like, “I’ve seen this before on other spy-genre shows (CHUCK, Burn Notice, Covert Affairs, ALIAS – Oh, the good old days of ALIAS – etc.) and it was done far better on those shows. I love the lead actors. Think they have great potential. But the show remains a disappointment.

    CHUCK – what can you say? Yes, some episodes are better than others. Yes, there have been some less-than-desirable story arcs. But bottom line is that the show is entertaining and the characters are so inviting that you care about what happens to them.

    I’m enjoying every episode of this season as if there won’t be a fifth. I do think, however, that we have a good shot at a fifth due to a number of factors that have been mentioned repeatidly (so I won’t repeat them again).

    Bottom line – with CHUCK, it’s “Never Say Die!”

    (And keep on voting, folks for CHUCK on the “Make the Cover of TV guide poll.” We can’t let a bunch of teen age girls (nothing against teen age girls, mind you) vault “Supernatural” over CHUCK to victory. This ISN’T a contest to make the cover of “Seventeen” or “Tiger Beat” magazine. This is TV GUIDE! If I look at TV Guide and see “Supernatural” on the Dec. 13 cover, I think I’ll be SICK! 😉


    Take care, all. And PEACE!

    • atcdave says:

      Hey Rick, if I recall correctly you’re a fellow Chicago guy; so we have a saying for that, “vote early and vote often!”

      • Rick Holy says:

        You got it Dave! And vote in the name of all your deceased friends, relatives, neighbors, etc., etc., etc.!! 😉 In Chicagoland, that’s allowed!

      • joe says:

        Heh! My Chicago-born wife says the same thing.

        Vote early, vote often (and vote Daley!) 😉

      • herder says:

        Well, as the poll says vote as many times as you like, I don’t think it’s necessary to vote for the dearly departed, but if it makes you feel better about it fill your boots.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah its much more satisfying to think your scamming a system, if anyone cares.

    • joe says:

      That’s pretty much the way it’s gone for me too, Fr. Rick, except that I haven’t seen Undercovers at all yet.

      Even the established shows are barely doing it. Without Penny, TBBT has been a bit less fun. 2 1/2 Men needs to lose Charley and bring back Chelsea. NCIS seems almost the same ol’ same ol’, and I don’t even know who the new characters are on House this season.

      There’s been one pleasant surprise, though. Mike and Molly has actually been pretty enjoyable.

      • JC says:

        House’s quality dropped off when they marginalized Cameron and fell off the cliff when she left. She was the heart of the show.

        The surprise of the season for me has been Nikita.

  6. Robert H says:

    Jason don’t really know what you mean a “polarized
    somewhat angry fan base”. The difference between
    last year and this year is like night and day. I was
    part of that angry fan base last year and so far I
    think the producers have done an excellent job. The
    ratings which sloped downward last year so far are
    holding steady this year with little or no promotion
    from NBC. Chuck’s new show competition seems to be
    slipping farther downward week by week despite very
    strong promotion by NBC.

    It seems to me that if every minute of every show
    is not “perfect” according to the so called standards of this “polarized somewhat angry fan base” the whining starts which I find hard to understand. Chuck/Sarah are together as a couple
    and the original charm has been largely restored to
    the show on a limited budget. NBC has ordered 11 more episodes for this season. What more does this
    so called “polarized somewhat angry fan base” want,
    the show’s cancellation?

    Last year’s criticism of the show was justified but
    now it’s time to let it go and get behind the show
    as long as the producers’ are making a good faith
    effort and so far I think they are. I say that as
    being one who bitterly criticized them last year over Season 3. They deserve some credit for listening and making so far the necessary changes for Season 4.

    If the sniping from this so called fan base continues the show could get cancelled. Is that what
    these people want? Since you seem to speak for them
    you might want to give that some thought before we
    hear the next round of whining.

    When the producers mess uo they deserve to hear about it. When they do a good job overall they deserve some credit too. Compared to last year, I
    think they are doing the best they can so far to
    produce the best quality show possible in order to
    save it. There is no such thing as “perfection”,
    especially on a tight budget.

    I don’t want to see this show cancelled if that can
    be prevented. Nitpicking, sniping, and whining over
    small details because they are not “perfect” hurts
    the show’s chances for survival. It doesn’t help it
    and Chuck needs all of the help it can get right now
    assuming this so called “polarized,somewhat angry
    base” wants the show to survive.

    Or does it?

    • herder says:

      I’m happy with what has happened so far and happy about what I think is to come, as a dues paying (100 Costa Gravan pesos) member of the torch and pitchfork brigade from last year I think that is pretty good.

    • jason says:

      robert – I hardly speak for anyone other than myself – other than defend myself, I seldom have made condescending remarks towards other bloggers like several seem to be so expert at. I consider myself a complete TV novice, chuck is the only show I have ever blogged about.

      I have defended the show so far this season all the way to 4.6 and 40 some minutes. I simply do not like relational angst used as the key dramatic tool. I think I have made my case for my displeasure, based on the merits of my argument, right or wrong. I am not the reason things are polarized, the direction the showrunners took in going the relational angst route did it.

      Robert, furthermore, I have consistently said I think the show will resolve fairly quickly and fairly well this season, but yea, with each released piece of data, there is a little WTF thought going thru my head, certainly the 4.8 synopsis seems to have been written to fire up the angst, would you not agree?

      Don’t know if I addressed all your points, thank you for taking the time to write out a fair and honest discussion, which many are unwilling or maybe unable to do.

      Hope you enjoy the season

  7. Robert H says:

    Me too, herder, me too, thanks.

  8. Robert H says:

    Appreciate your comments Jason. I think we look at
    things a bit differently but that’s what this forum
    is all about-learning from each other. Thank you for
    for showing so much honesty, diplomacy, and grace in your reply.

    As far as 4.8 goes you may well be right but I think a dash of angst is ok as long as it’s credible within the story line and doesn’t get out
    of hand like it did last year with the Chuck/Sarah
    separation along with the PLI’s. I don’t think (at least I hope) the producers will make that mistake
    again or do something really stupid now that 11
    extra episodes have been ordered by NBC. So far that has not happened and hopefully it won’t.

    Something within reasonable bounds has to be done to increase viewership with the ratings being what they are and I guess this their way of doing it.It also ties in with the tension that has been building in the Chuck/Sarah relationship. A fight
    was bound to occur sooner or later as happens with
    all couples (real life not withstanding) and is part of the growing process, as long as it’s fought
    out over legitimate issues and not destructive.

    Is it angst? Yes, you’re probably right. But as silly as this might sound I think it may be “good”
    angst rather than “bad” angst which ran rampant last
    year, totally out of control which almost cancelled
    the show and angered so many viewers. As long as it’s administered in small, controlled doses that fit well within the storyline rather than being done
    strictly for itself as happened last year things should be ok. If the producers get arrogant or
    stupid again that will be the end of the show,period. Hopefully they learned their lesson and
    so far it appears they have. We’ll have to wait and see.

    Once again my thanks for your response. Looking forward to continue reading the many interesting,
    different points of view as seen on this site.

    • patty says:

      We should wait until after the show is aired to complain! If you can’t bear to watch it unknowing, DVR or TIVO it and check the observation post here. If it stunk then the comments will show up before the show even airs on the west coast. They did promise no PLI’s this year.

      I think that the arc’s theme is Chuck being forced to face his fears so that is why the synopsis emphasized this aspect of the episode.

  9. luckygirl says:

    Does anyone know how long people generally stay a nielson viewer? I’ve always wondered if alot of shows don’t lose viewers, the viewers just stop being nielson viewers. Is it a widespread changing of the guard or do they change nielson families a few at a time?

    • atcdave says:

      Two years. They get a stipend and sign a non-disclosure agreement. In addition to the box that tracks their actual viewing they fill out a journel where they say what members of the household are present for which shows and how “engaged” they all are in the program. Not sure if some of this is more automated now. (due to the “non-disclosure” part I only know former Nielsen viewers).

      • luckygirl says:

        Cool. Thanks for the info.

      • atcdave says:

        Sure, and I forgot to add I’m pretty sure they’re constantly cycling viewers in and out; so there isn’t a massive “out with the old, in with the new effect.”

  10. JC says:

    Last night’s rating for NBC

    Undercovers 1.3

    SVU 2.1

    LOLA- 1.9

    • atcdave says:

      Anyone taking odds on ANY of Undercovers back order getting made? I could see it getting shut down cold like Outlaw. The only reason that might not happen is this is NBC.

    • atcdave says:

      Latest buzz today is that Undercovers has been cancelled. Haven’t heard how long it will run and how many episodes will get made; but it is a reminder, back orders and renewals prove nothing. Only finished episodes are for sure.

      • herder says:

        I had seen a report that next week is it’s last (at least in that slot). No word as to what it is being replaced with, but I wouldn’t be suprised to see a mini shedule rearrangement for NBC. Perhaps move L&O:SVU to Tuesday at 10, new comedy bloc at 8pm Wednesday (Parks and one of their midseason comedies) followed by Parenthood.

      • herder says:

        Ooops, TVBTN is now saying it will air up to December 1 then it is effectively cancelled.

      • atcdave says:

        They’ll likely run the remaining finished episodes on Friday or Saturday nights. I suppose with such dismal numbers it may end up as an “ exclusive” or some such thing.

      • jason says:

        I’ve watched every Undercovers so far, it is almost like they took the ‘worst’ of chuck and made it into a series, not the ‘best’. chuck monday night made me laugh 3 or 4 times, the warmth of the 3 ladies scene touched me, and the show served up several nice twists – undercovers has only revulsed me several times this season, sarah – shaw type gringeworthy moments.

        @dave – have you noticed how much alike the kid’s power in no ordinary family is to chuck when he flashes, the power is even represented as ‘flashing’ lines the kid sees – Ali Adler wouldn’t do that – would she?

      • atcdave says:

        Dec.1 is 5 more episodes; that’s probably it for what’s finished.

      • atcdave says:

        That’s funny Jason; except the kid was not smart before he got his power! I already stopped watching No Ordinary family; they’re too dysfunctional and too much bickering for my taste.

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