Monday, 23 March 2009

Why 'Chuck' should be saved and why you should watch it (if you don't already).

It will soon be that time of year when the line up for next season will be announced (May is not that far away), so I thought I would get in there early and suggest why ‘Chuck’ should be featured in the NBC 2009-2010 schedule. The ratings for ‘Chuck’ haven’t been great which is why there has been some concern that it may get cancelled (a show in this precarious place is often called ‘on the bubble’). This is a worry for fans of ‘Chuck’ as the amount of scripted shows for NBC will be reduced next season due to Jay Leno’s talk show airing week nights at 10pm, which traditionally is an hour block reserved for original scripted programming. What I propose here is a list of reasons why ‘Chuck’ should be saved and why you should start watching it if you don’t already. Herein will be examples of the shows brilliance but I will try to keep them as non-spoilery as possible for those who haven’t but might start watching:



  1. The character Chuck: In the pilot Chuck unwittingly downloaded all the US government’s secrets in to his brain (its sounds a little ridiculous but just go with it). He is a normal guy who works in an electronics store called Buy More and he lives with his sister Ellie and her appropriately nicknamed boyfriend ‘Captain Awesome’. Chuck is the kind of guy that would know how to combat the enemy on Call of Duty or if a virus has infiltrated your hard drive due to porn spam; but not in a real life situation which makes his entry into the world of espionage all the better. He certainly isn’t a Sydney Bristow or James Bond.
  2. Supporting characters: these include his CIA/NSA handlers Sarah and Casey, the Buy More Crew (Morgan, Jeff, Lester, Anna and Big Mike) and his sister and ‘Awesome’  who are all integral to what makes ‘Chuck’ the show it is. The relationships with these characters range from ridiculous to the vital and it is this notion that Chuck is an important member of each unit, whether it is family, work or spy related that gives the show its heart.
  3. ‘Chuck vs. the…’: each episode has our hero up against a series of potentially national security risking villains and it is in these moments that the action elements of the show kick in (no pun intended). Whether it is Sarah fighting someone in her underwear or Casey going at it against a former mentor the action sequences are always well done. Even when Chuck gets in on the action (usually with disastrous consequences), the line between action and comedy is always portrayed and keeps the show from slipping into beyond ridiculous territory. Also they do like to blow things up and trash a lot of cars.
  4. Josh Schwartz: He is the co-creator of Chuck as well as the mastermind behind teen programmes The OC, Gossip Girl and of the new web series Rockville, CA. Chuck is the grown up Seth Cohen (and not as self-involved) and has the pop culture references to match. There is Chuck’s staple high top Converse and a TRON poster on his bedroom wall, as well as other multiple current and past (mostly 80s and 90s) nods to computer games, movies and music. As with the other Schwartz creations music is another important element, however this has not been thrust into the forefront of the promotion of the show as it was done with The OC and Gossip Girl, but has even featured a ‘Flight of the Concords’ track.
  5. It’s funny: Yes there are fully fledged comedy shows out there if you want a guaranteed laugh, but each week ‘Chuck’ has me laughing throughout. It is a hard show to place in a genre as it is comedic, but also has action and dramatic elements; this could be a reason as to why it is quite a difficult programme to promote as there is not one genre that it can be pigeonholed as.  
  6. Hot cast: From a purely superficial perspective there are some pretty hot people in the cast including Yvonne Strahovski (which aforementioned underwear fight sequences easily demonstrate this) and the adorkable Zachary Levi. If you like your men on the tough side who have a habit of communicating through snarls and grunts there is always Adam Baldwin (no relation to Billy or the rest of Baldwin family) as NSA agent John Casey, or if you like your women a bit more crazy there is always Julia Ling who plays Buy More worker and sometime Morgan girlfriend Anna. Captain Awesome and Ellie are also pretty good examples of the all American classic style (if a little vanilla) of hotness, this is best represented in the season 1 episode ‘Chuck vs. the sandworm’ when their Halloween costumes are Adam and Eve, definitely showed their physique.
  7. Will they won’t they?: The romance between Chuck and Sarah is often frustrating but like any great relationship of this kind it is the anticipation of whether they will hook up that is what keeps people interested (as good as the daddy of all ‘will they won’t they relationships’ between Bruce ‘Bruno’ Willis and Cybil Shepard in the early seasons of Moonlighting). The fact that they have to pretend that they are dating is what turns this regular TV character device on its head and leads to many shenanigans so far. This cover relationship often produces scenes that are both funny and heartbreaking as it is obvious that if circumstances were different then they would be a pretty solid couple.
  8. Guest stars: These guest spots have been pretty solid and cover a cross section of talent, from fanboy (Bruce Boxleitner of TRON and ‘Babylon 5’ fame), comedy legends (Chevy Chase) to the celebrities (Nicole Richie- who was actually pretty decent as Sarah’s former high school nemesis). There are many others including NFL players, Sports Illustrated swimsuit models as well as my own personal favourite ‘Lost’ alumni Dominic Monaghan and whilst some of these could be seen as stunt casting the guest stars never overshadow the overall quality and heart of the show that is Chuck himself. 


 So, there it is, my list of reasons why ‘Chuck’ should get a third season, if anyone can think of any others I would love to hear them. I keep mentioning the heart of ‘Chuck’ which might be due to me watching the first season of ‘Friday Night Lights’ (there’s a lot of ‘clear eyes, full heart’s, can’t lose’) in under a week and whilst I’m on that subject NBC could you also not cancel this show. But it is the heart of the ‘Chuck’ that I think is the factor that makes this show such a joy to watch and why I look forward to the next episode, hopefully you will too.


Chuck promo for the next new episode: ‘Chuck vs. the Predator’:



Some links for Chuck related sites: The official site where you can watch previous episodes (if you live in the U.S.) the oldest unofficial site for Chuck that is updated regularly with news, photos and other Chuck related goodies my favourite snarky website that has recaps and forums for Chuck as well as a huge amount of other shows unofficial Zachary Levi site that has constant updates on the actor and the show Alan Sepinwall’s blog that includes reviews and news on Chuck as well as many other great shows




  1. Also, if you're into Yvonne Strahovski, you might want to check out

  2. Let's be honest here, shows get canceled or renewed for mostly economic reasons. It rarely has anything to do with the quality of the show itself - although I'd imagine there's at least *some* tilt if the show is really good. Keeping that in mind, here are my reasons:

    It's cheap to produce: Chuck has big-name guest stars and some snazzy effects (especially in these last few episodes), but their main cast is relatively small and full of unknowns. That keeps prices down.

    Product placement: The Buy More is obviously an easy way to cram in lots and lots of product placement. Sometimes it's more obvious than others, like with the Madden NFL game. That equals more money.

    Hulu viewership: it's not much yet, but as Hulu gains viewers and as the shows gain more ads, Chuck's popularity on there will start to mean something.

    DVD sales: I'd imagine Chuck viewers will be pretty reliable in purchasing season 2 DVDs and Blu-Ray discs when it's available.

    The ratings are stable: while the ratings are pretty poor, it's been holding its own surprisingly well against a tough lineup of shows on the more popular networks. When other shows on NBC are losing viewers weekly, Chuck's ability to retain viewers has to be worth something to the higher-ups.

    And finally:

    No need to pay for R&D on a new, untested show: developing new shows costs a LOT of money to get from the initial concept to the full show, what with casting, branding, and marketing, and there's no guarantee they'll get that money back. Heck, in most cases they DON'T get their money back. Canceling Chuck for a new and untested show is very risky considering NBC's turnout these past few years.

    I personally think NBC is going to keep Chuck for at least one more season, then they'll scrap the lower-performing shows (Life, Kath and Kim, etc.) for new ones. They must be well-aware that all of their shows are performing relatively poorly because the viewers simply aren't tuning to NBC, so they'll likely keep much of their existing lineup for some much-needed stability while they hope one of the pilot shows becomes the hit they need to bring people back to their network.

    - Mike