Thursday, August 5, 2010

Detonating CHUCK - Quitting Before the Cancellation

August 6th note: ChuckTV and others have blogged about this post and decided to misrepresent its purpose.  So, for those incapable of reading... nowhere does it say that anyone I have talked to said the show IS CERTAINLY GOING TO BE CANCELED, but that it is very unlikely to be renewed.  This is a hypothetical scenario being posed for debate.  An ethical site would have been sure to represent that accurately.

To quote myself in an early response in the comments section: "No insider I have talked to knows anything for sure about the fate of the show."

I have had several conversations over this summer with various people from insiders, to industry people, to journalists and most said the same thing: the CHUCK show-runners should announce that season 4 is the final season no matter what happens with the ratings. End it now before NBC cancels the show. Construct a series finale and request that NBC pick up 3 or more new episodes for the season to finish out the story.

But is this the best thing to do for the show? If the show-runners have a five or seven season arc (depending on who you talk to), would ending the show early and on purpose damage the narrative? Would the writers be forced to rush certain scenarios and characters arcs as a way to wrap them up? Not if they are given 3 or more episodes to do it.

Both BATTLESTAR GALACTICA and LOST announced that their shows would end before the networks were ready to cancel them. Both shows realized their overall story arc had a finite life and that ending them was better for the series. Granted, both shows had controversial final episodes but both also milked the resolution to the story until the final hour or so of the series. CHUCK has less weight to the grander story and so it could likely spend the final three hours closing the series out on an epic note, without it feeling rushed or contrived.

Can CHUCK actually increase its ratings enough in season 4 to get an extended episode order, or a 5th season?  History says no.  Most shows lose ratings every season, they don't increase them.  Sure, a few shows have actually seen ratings increases in later seasons but they were mostly procedural type shows that didn't have a grander arc.  Also, they were easily definable shows.  I still have a hard time describing CHUCK to new viewers in 450 words or less (granted, I use a lot of words).  The only other way CHUCK could either get more episodes in season 4 or get picked up for a 5th season is if other NBC shows do so poorly that CHUCK looks comparatively good.  And even then it is unlikely since it could be seen as part of the problem.  The show could also return if WB lowballs the licensing fee, but from what I hear that fee is already so low that it cannot get much lower.

What do you think?  Should the show-runners announce the end of the show now?  Should they do so to leverage more episodes in the 4th and final season?  Or should they just go on until NBC cancels it?  Will it serve the story and the fans best to finalize the overall arc this year?  Or is it more important to serve the specific season arc and worry about getting more later?

Finally, should WB send me the entire season on DVD as soon as it is available?


  1. Fedak and Schwartz will keep going until its cancelled, they have hope the show will pick up. They want to be around as long as possible.

  2. This is a really interesting post Magnus, and I don't know how I feel about it at first glance other than to say it is making me think if you're not right.

    On the one hand you go out on your own terms, but then you also cease any chance of a 5th season, which as you have stated is very unlikely at this point.

    I wonder if you got to talk to CF and JS off the record what they would say to your suggestion? Of course if they agreed with you, I guess they might have had that conversation with NBC, or soon might, so maybe we could hear something along these lines in a month or so.

    I think my verdict is selfishly, I really want the show to go on, so even if I have blinders on I want a miracle to happen and for new fans to discover this show we fans all love.

    The one thing with Lost and BSG, both shows of which I loved, BSG after the fact, Lost from the very first episode is that they were designed to end at a certain point, where as Chuck I could see going on for another few years with many more stories to tell.

    Anyway thanks for making me think at 2.30 in the morning with a really interesting TV thought.

    Also the current podcast is great. I had asked about doing new ones the first time I posted here a week or so ago, and it was really great to hear everyone talking about the Chuck meetup and Comiccon for someone who is on the east coast, it was almost like being there, so it is much appreciated.

    So a big Thank You to all the ladies and one gent, plus Bailey and you Magnus for giving all of us Chuck fans a sneek peek into Chuck/Comiccon 2010.


  3. well, as much as I would love love love (!) to see Chuck on the air for years and years and years and for the cast and crew to remain in employment and in a job they love etc lots of factors- i think the best thing for the show,would be as you say, to end it on their terms. announce its the last season, write a firm conclusion and go out whilst people will miss it. it is the best way.

    and, with as talented a cast and crew as this show has- they should be back on our screens in no time on other hows or movies and i'd much rather feel like i had some kind of resolution to the story/characters than be left going 'why oh why?!?'like i have been in the past (i know its overstated, but firefly is a prime example!!!)

    sorry if this is totally unreadable...

  4. After S3 disaster,Chuck can't increase its ratings for additional episodes or to be renewed for 5th season.Also,I think CF and JS used every possible spy story to create new direction.Fulcrum,Ring,Orion,Mom... If the show continues for 5th or 6th seasons,they will probably return to CS angst.

  5. JEDEPY, thanks for your support and your response.

    As for the comments, I will respond when more people have had their say.

  6. My mind tells me they should end it on their own terms...but my heart says keep going, no matter what.
    Last season was very tough I think on the cast and the fans and I hope above all else they leave on a high note, whenever that is.
    As a fan, I would like for it to continue until they are finished with the story...but as I said I'm just a fan.


  7. Magnus,
    Thanks for a really interesting and thought-provoking post.
    Certainly JS and CF changed their thinking for S3. They gambled on the ending for S2 (which really would have been a horrible way to end the show) but then seemed to have a reality check and wrote an ending to S3 with Other Guy.
    I'm going to have 5c each way on this question, and say that I hope they don't announce the show is ending, but they do write a finale that wraps things up satisfactorily, but leaves enough wiggle room to continue if they get lucky enough. I'm not sure what advantage you gain from announcing the end of the show, and you do close off your options in terms of a chance to continue.
    I don't know why, but 5 seasons has always seemed about right to me for Chuck. I'd love to see a Season 5 with some serious Sarah and Casey backstory that fills in the rest of the blanks, with a Chuck/Sarah wedding to finish. Yeah, I know. Unoriginal or what?
    I guess the question I have about ratings (knowing nothing about these things) is this - if NBC renewed last year, with the ratings down at 1.9, why wouldn't they do the same this year? (assuming the ratings were similar, or slightly better) What would have changed?

  8. Isn't it too late to "quit" since production has already begun? If you're working on the 3rd of 13 episodes and then decide to "quit" you have to work awfully hard to finish it off well. If the powers that be want to aim for S5 to be the end, it's doable.
    However, I don't want an ending that isn't an ending. That is a huge risk. I wonder what would happen if a particular episode was "guaranteed" not to be broadcast on Hulu (and you could somehow prevent those lovely illegal recordings). How many would watch Mondays at 8 if they knew there was just one chance to get the episode?

  9. Diane says...

    As a person who analyzes ratings for a living, most of the people I know who also do so were surprised about Chuck's renewal. It's almost as if NBC already renewed it with the intention of finishing the story. (I know that's not officially the case)

    As a viewer, I LOVED that both BSG and Lost set their endings. Regardless of the controversial last episodes, the storylines after they knew when the ending was were much more purposeful than the ones before they knew.

    I agree with you, Magnus. IF they could secure a few more episodes to their order for the purpose of a big finish--say, a 16-episode final season--it would be great. I know some viewers have trouble letting go, but there would be the potential to produce a true ending.

  10. Too many well loved series finish without closure. Personally I'd like Chuck to be picked up for a 5th (and maybe a 6th and 7th) season.

    Here in the UK we're still waiting for the 3rd season (and I'm waiting for the DVD/BR releases, as I don't have access to the channel that Chuck is shown on).

  11. Why are you (Magnus) sticking a fork into the Chuck show. I love what I am hearing so far from the show runners. They are bringing in beautiful and talented guest stars, along with some serious muscle. To my eyes the show runners are trying to do what they can to save the show not fork it. To me you are saying do not become invested in the Chuck Show because after the first of the year it will cease to exist. Promote the show, don't whine about it.

  12. Well I will say this, I only started watching Chuck a couple months ago. I picked up the discs from Netflix and streamed season 3. I got both my best friend and my boyfriend to start watching. And the three of us packed ourselves like sardines into ballroom 20 with 3000 other chuck fans at Comic Con. So instead of telling them to quit now, everyone get two of your friends watching. I would hate to see it go after 4 seasons.

  13. First, isn't it cute when new people pop in and suggest we do things we have been doing for years? I do love that. "Hey guys, just promote the show, you idiots!" Ponderous. No one in the industry thinks the show is going to do well enough for a 5th season, so this was a discussion I have had with people who know what they are talking about.

    Second, I accept that not everyone is capable of an original thought but... this is a question being posed, not a suggestion being promoted as the only solution. So, to accuse me of putting the nail in the coffin of the show is likely caused by reading-comprehension problems.

    Third,they are still filming early episodes and likely a bit past halfway in writing the episodes. So, if they were to make that decision, it would be in the next few weeks. The concept here is to do it WITH the request for more episodes this season as a way to close out the series.

  14. For some reason I have a feeling that Season 4 is going to see an increase in viewers. I think people are going to discover Yvonne because of her work with DeNiro (though I don't know when the movie is going to be released), and Zac is just a powerhouse personality who attracts people wherever he goes. Of course he spent most of the summer in Europe, so more viewers across the pond won't do anything for the ratings.

    Anyway, call it a hunch, call it woman's intuition, or call it total BS. I just think we're all going to be pleasantly surprised this season.

  15. I am new to all this internet buzz about Chuck. Prior to a month ago, all I knew about the show was what I watched on TV. I didn't really know anything about the actors, their Twitter accounts, ComicCon (shocking, I know), Facebook, etc. But always the optimist, if I have just discovered all of this, maybe others have too and maybe Chuck's ratings won't be a disappointment this year? How can the actors have so many followers on Twitter and the show not have good ratings? On another Twitter note, it is curious to me that nbcchuck on Twitter has less followers than Chuck's actors. Maybe if the number of followers on nbcchuck increased that would send a positive message? How are ratings determined anyway?

    Like another post above, I really would love to see Chuck continue for many years and I would love to keep seeing these actors together. I'm not so sure I care about the storyline being "wrapped up" because that rarely ends in a satisfying way anyway (see Lost finale). So I'm not in favor of calling it quits for the sake of a clean story ending. I'd rather fight for more seasons of Chuck.

  16. Hether, Yvonne's movie comes out next year. Zac's animated movie comes out around Thanksgiving. So, it is doubtful either will make any difference. Zac IS a powerhouse personality for sure, but that hasn't helped the show since people have decided to not tune in, or have essentially tuned out for whatever reason.

    People usually think that their love for something should naturally equate to anyone loving it. It just doesn't. I know people who think Zac and Yvonne are awesome, who love Adam in anything he does, but no longer watch CHUCK. It happens. So, I don't think you have a hunch... I think you have fan hope. Not that there is anything wrong with that. I would love to see the ratings increase and the show get 7-seasons.

  17. Sigh... I misspelled "Heather." Me not so smart.

  18. I've always been of this same opinion, Magnus. I think it is creatively the best thing for the show to go out with a true series finale. It always sucks when shows are canceled after unfulfilling or cliff-hanger season finales.

    I love Chuck, it's my favorite show of all time, but we all have to be realistic here. Barring a miraculous ratings surge, the show likely won't do well enough for a fifth season. It's clear that Schwartz and Fedak are well aware of the show's dire straits, hence the huge amount of casting news we've gotten about the first three episodes.

    They're trying to generate a ton of early buzz to get people watching early, which I applaud. But if that doesn't work, I'd like for it to go out with a true ending. I don't really care exactly what that ending is, just that it be an actual series finale written as such. I always just assumed that would need to be the 13th episode of this season because I didn't think about asking for an extra three eps to wrap things up. Honestly, I don't think NBC would go for that, especially if the ratings don't get back up to at least a 2.5-2.6. But if they can pull it off, I think that's the best thing for the show and will result in the highest quality.

  19. Anonymous, if that even is your name, you bring up a very good bit for discussion. The notion that Twitter, or social media, followers, equates ratings or popularity. Consider that COMMUNITY's Joel McHale has 1.8 MILLION followers... and yet his show gets around the same, or even less, ratings than Zac's show. Zac has nearly 68,000 followers.

    It is about viewers tuning in LIVE and not changing channels during the commercials. CHUCK fans may be many more than are counted, but they are not watching live and/or they are switching channels during commercials, which means their views are not counted. It all comes down to commercial viewing. Don't do it and the show dies.

    As for fighting for more seasons... well, then people better start NOW. Because if you want this show to stick around, waiting until it is too late won't work.

  20. magnus where did this come from? Anyways I would like to see Chuck go on until they get cancelled because maybe they can do what they are doing for 24 and what they did for FireFly which is they get a movie to finish off the story.

  21. Corey, I think the decisions they have made this season, casting wise, and the Greta character, have been brilliant. This is how they can effectively create buzz, keep the show in the blog headlines every week, and drive interest. They obviously want to keep the show around for another season. And I am fully in support of their efforts.

    Having said that, the discussions I have had with people in-the-know suggests that the reality is not as hopeful as fans might hope for and so this concept was born. Is it my favorite scenario? Nope. But it is a realistic one.

  22. Greg, I have heard some talk about WB doing a direct-to-DVD movie, or a final episode like what NBC talked about for HEROES, but I wouldn't count on it if the show is canceled this season. FIREFLY fans were far more motivated than CHUCK fans (buying the DVDs in the MILLIONS, not the hundreds of thousands). Granted, that was after the show was canceled. As someone once said, it is very possible that CHUCK fans will become even more motivated than FIREFLY fans after CHUCK is canceled.

    24 could be a good analog for CHUCK but since I only watched one season of 24... I can't really say.

  23. Greg, I'm sorry but a Chuck movie is never going to happen. 24 was a phenomenon that was huge at one point, and the Jack Bauer has become its own icon. And Firefly took place in a fully realized universe and had the genius of Joss Whedon behind it. There's no way Chuck will ever get a movie, that just won't happen.

  24. And Magnus, I agree the casting news has all been great, and the potential for the Greta character is insane. The different-actor-same-character approach could really work if done right.

  25. Magnus I don't appreciate that. I was attempting to illustrate that there ARE new people coming in to the fold not berate people that have been watching for years. And I never called anyone an idiot so don't pretend like my post said anything of the sort.
    By the way, BSG is a bad example. That franchise is still going. They have another movie in the works, a prequel running on syfy, and an MMO in development. If NBC wants to give Chuck the budget for movies and video games I'd be ok with "detonation." But that's not happening. In the words of zac himself (I think? Someone on the comiccon panel said it) "everybody pass around a jar and donate a couple bucks! Then we'll make a movie!" I think Chuck has a good story to tell that it doesn't need an ending quite yet.

  26. Corey, I wouldn't say it is NEVER going to happen... but it is very, very unlikely unless DVD sales are HUGE. Like, 2 million huge.

  27. Devilaria, I owe you an apology. I was reading all the postings in one and combined what you said with what BJ said. However, my quote was hyperbole and not intended to be taken as a direct quote.

    BSG is a great example, actually. Despite the fact that the show lives on in spin-offs, the initial show was ended in the 4th season. So, CHUCK could survive in other forms down the line, if support is good enough. Though, the facts of what you are saying are not as applicable. NBCU owns BSG. WB owns CHUCK and NBCU licenses it.

  28. Ok! Then if WB wants to give them the money... :) I'm going to stop now and just be grateful that they got the 4th season.

  29. I know how hard you have worked to promote this show and I can't thank you enough! You are amazing and so innovative!! I do have to say my heart just sank after reading this though. This was no where on my radar. I think we Chuck Nerds take this show so personally or at least, I know, I do!

    This is my first "show obsession". I was hooked when Zachary Levi appeared on Jay Leno promoting the show back in '07. And yes, I'm scared that this is the first show I've watched every episode multiple times, EVER bought DVD's of, have over 26 hours saved on my DVR, downloaded episodes to my phone "just in case" (I won't even go into how I had to get the iPhone4 with the 32 GB to have enough space), watch live and then rewind to have it recorded, joined Twitter to help save our show, actually written on a blog, bribed my students to watch, and I'm going to admit it--have the cheesy Chuck app on my iPhone AND made the badge with my picture in it. This angst of worrying whether a show will be canceled or not every season is new to me.

    That said, let's not forget who our fearless leaders are--JS and CF. I don't know about you but I believe in these two guys. I believe we, the fans, are an integral part of their decision making and would never let us down. Let's take a deep breath and enjoy this very moment--SEASON FOUR!!!

    P.S. I'm not sure I will ever get involved in another show like this again. Does it get easier? It's like dating the guy your mom always warned you about! A lot of highs and lows but constantly worrying about the ending you know will eventually come. However, I must say I have enjoyed the ride and getting to know you all!!

  30. Some day, down the line, I might just tell you all more about things that happened behind the scenes... but for now, you will just have to take it on faith that the lack of confidence insiders have in WB is based on experience. ;)

  31. robinfoster, again... this is a scenario being talked about by people in-the-know. People do like to latch onto a negative as if it was the absolute only suggestion. My blog about Jumping the Shaw-arc was more positive in tone. This is the more negative in tone blog posting. The next blog posting could be very positive or very negative. Whatever it is, it won't be my final say on the show. I have always enjoyed playing with scenarios. It is why I would have made a good lawyer. :)

  32. Wendy - formerly known as anonymous ;)August 5, 2010 at 12:32 PM

    Okay - first, no, my name is not anonymous. lol! Like I said, new to this computer stuff so that's the "name" I clicked in the drop down box. ;)

    Second - really - we need to watch the commercials for ratings??? I always DVR Chuck because I am in school when it airs. Also, are you saying I need to make sure my tuner is set to NBC even while I'm DVR'ing it to make it count?

    If this is the case, I think more viewers need to know this! And again, maybe Twitter can be our ally this year. From what I can see, the Chuck actors are as new to Twitter as I am so this could be a new weapon in the PR/ratings fight. (I told you I was an optimist)

  33. I have no idea how these things work but my fear is you do and are more in-the-know that we actually know. (Wait, did that make sense?) You probably know things which you cannot say and are gently trying to prepare us for it. Not sure about a lawyer but you'd make a great mom! Sooooooo...Thanks, Mom! :)

  34. robinfoster, I am more in the know than YOU know I am, clearly. ;) But no, I am not trying to prepare you for the worst. This is just a blog about a potential scenario and a chance for people to give their point of view about it. No insider I have talked to knows anything for sure about the fate of the show.

    Wendy, since that is your name, you first have to be a Nielsen viewer. But yes, you have to watch the commercials and not change channels. And we DID promote that last season. It didn't really help us much. At the end of the day, our online group exists in its own little bubble. We are able to make a big splash within the fandom and to bloggers and news media types, but in reality we are not affecting the general viewer much, if at all.

  35. So Neilsen households still exist? I guess I hoped that somehow with all the new technology there would be other ways to gauge ratings than just through those households. * sigh *

    And sorry to say you are probably right about not affecting the general viewer much. Prior to a month or two ago, I was one of those general viewers who didn't venture into the fandom world. Just watched the show and that's it. My new Droid phone and its endless ways to distract me from what I should be doing in the real world with its easy access to Twitter and Facebook - is what brought me around.

    Too bad we can't get Lady Gaga or Katy Perry to be Chuck fans and tweet about it. They have huge numbers of followers on Twitter. I watched a video Katy tweeted about go from a few thousand views on Youtube to over 427,000 views in a short time.

  36. Wendy, I am still waiting for the Lady Gaga and Katy Perry casting announcements. You never know, it could happen. But will that sustain the ratings? The show was doing fine last season until episode 3.10. Suddenly the ratings died and only briefly went up to somewhat reasonable levels.

    We could probably have a bigger splash in the social media circles if those who had the most followers would actually utilize the technology effectively. Out of the fan groups, I am the most active in social media and have the second most followers. And yet I have nowhere near the amount needed to make a big difference.

    And you would think those working on the show would recognize the need to push followers to me so I could generate the most effective results from our efforts... but they don't. I am not going to beg them to save their own show. They choose not to.

  37. BSG and Lost had clear goals. Find earth. Solve the mystery of the island.

    What is Chuck's end game? Is it Chuck and Sarah getting married? Is it Chuck becoming a full fledged super hero? Is it both? Or is it something else? Is consensus on this even possible? I rather doubt it.

    Without consensus the question cannot be answered properly.

    IMO Chuck is a hero story. A superhero story. And those stories can go on ad infinitum. Witness Batman, Superman, Spiderman etc etc.

    Which is how the show has been setup. A continual ladder of evolution and growth. No end game in sight.

    If the measuring stick is restricted to how things stand between Chuck and Sarah only, then yes the show should wrap that up this season.

    If seeing Chuck becoming the hero that Orion was then the journey is just starting and there is not enough time left to do that justice.

    So if the show ends this season or the next one or even the one after that, it will never come to a conclusive end like BSG or Lost.

    In many ways the REAL story is just about to start. What has been shown so far is like a prequel. Sad there is almost no chance of seeing that.

    Now in TV terms, shows obviously has a shelf life. Has Chuck reached its expiry date? Based on the antiquated ratings system in place the show has or is very near to it. So preparing for the end is prudent.

    Short answer - tie up the relationship stuff this season but set the stage as best possible for the rest of the story.

    The parallels between this show and the original Star Trek in terms of viewership while the show is on the air and the loyalty of the fan base are eerie. Will Chuck survive as long in the fan's mind? Who knows.....

  38. OldDarth, there is the potential that once off the air, CHUCK will become huge. This happens every now and then with nerd/geek shows, like STAR TREK or FIREFLY. People don't tune in, or tune out, and then once the show is off the air, the fandom goes into a frenzy. Then, over time, the general viewership discovers the show, either through syndication, DVD, word of mouth etc. Those general viewers react intensely to the reality of the show no longer existing... and that begins the explosive popularity of a canceled show.

    WB sure hopes that happens here. I don't know if I expect it anymore, though. And I have no idea what their end-point is for the show. I don't think Fedak and Schwartz have a specific one. Maybe a general idea and it is unlikely we have come close to it yet.

  39. LOL! Should we start the campaign for Lady Gaga and Katy Perry appearances now? j/k

    I guess the bottom line is, no matter how much we promote and utilize social media tools does it matter if we can't reach those Neilsen households? I actually once knew someone who had the ratings boxes in her house. I'm not sure how those households get selected but based on that household I can see why good shows get canceled :(

  40. Wendy, the concept is that if we can reach non-Nielsen families that it will eventually filter down to the Nielsen families provided that everyone tells their friend or family member about the show. But the reality is that no matter how much you talk about the show, people won't necessarily follow through. Traditional promotional tools still dominate.

    By the way, over the year or so that I have been searching, I have found several Nielsen families who do tune in every night, push their buttons, and watch the commercials. And yet it has not made a noticeable difference. Apparently, as they tuned in, others tuned out.

  41. Diane, I should post that as a blog.

  42. Firstly this is also my first TV show obsession as my collection of Teeshirts and memorabilia from eBay demonstrates. Secondly, the sparks are flying off my Rosary praying for a season 5 (blind faith in the show and God). But I also think that the show will pick up a cult following following it's ending/cancellation. Your ratings system is awful...2 in10,000 have the say? As stated several times before I canNOT understand why it's not more popular. I will continue to spread the word/joy on this side of the pond. What would I prefer? A proper conclusion. When? At the end of season 7 at least. But I'm a fan and we fans can dream and live in hope. Thanks for this thought provoking blog Magnus. You're awesome.

  43. guys,who is chuck? I'm a new viewer.

  44. Diane addresses this to what Annie said about Nielsen:

    Statistically speaking the Nielsen sample is sufficient and it is demographically representative of the U.S. population.

    The methodology in other countries is not that different. In fact, Nielsen does the ratings in many countries besides the U.S. Even in the countries that use another system, how do you know the ratings didn't go in the same direction as the U.S.?

    Nielsen's customers are huge corporations whose bottom lines are dependent on what the data says. They pay huge amounts of money for that data. Not surprisingly, they are very active and vocal in what Nielsen does. If any one of those corporations discovered something that was undercounting their audience vs. what it really is, Nielsen would hear about it.

    It always amazes me that laypeople rarely consider that.

    While NBC pays a license fee for Chuck, it's ultimately the advertisers that give NBC the money to pay the license fee.

    (Magnus, if you ever do use some of my stuff on the blog, please list me as "anonymous". Sometimes, I reveal way more than I'm supposed to)

  45. Roger that. We can give you a cool code name like Hawkeye. ;)

  46. My wish is somewhere between the two. Unless it gets picked up on Cable, I'd want them to announce the 5th season as the last. I think 30-44 episodes sounds about right to wrap up the series.

    I would love for it to continue, but Chuck doesn't have much of a future on NBC. It's a very volatile place for any scripted programming. I don't see Undercovers, Chase, or even The Event taking off.

  47. Unless the shows starts back sliding to some sort of Shaw-arc Revisited, I will watch "Chuck" for as long as it airs. That being said, we've already had 2 more seasons than I thought we'd get.

    For me, JS and CF have done a great job of ending each season at a point where there's still more to the story while answering enough questions that I wouldn't feel betrayed if it was The End. Meaning, I think they have the 'going out on their terms' approach down pretty well. I'm not sure officially announcing this as the final season would really be enough to leverage a larger viewing audience or more episodes, so I'm not sure what the point would be.

    I think the creative team should approach this season the same way they approached last - make every episode count because it might be your last chance. Whether they succeed or not will always be up for interpretation.

  48. I was thinking about this all day. I never thought I'd see season 3 or 4 yet here we are. I feel the same about season 5 - that it's a long shot at best. But, somehow chuck has found a way to navigate through rough waters. I think season 4 has a better chance of success than season 3. Casting news has been very positive. Makes me believe we will have more of a season 2 'feel'. The Event also has me intrigued. I've read good buzz on the show so if it's a breakout hit, chuck should benefit from this. And, some pilots are bound to fail also - chuck could be asked to pick up the slack again. Lastly, someone at the top loves chuck and that never hurts when you're on the bubble.
    I'm willing to roll the dice on a season 5!! Great topic Magnus - D.J.

  49. You did not like that I called you out by sticking a fork into it, then in anothere post you admitted that it was a negative blog. I commented that the direction of the show runners, you said it was ingenious. Where I went wrong was saying you need to promote the show. I apologize I was wrong, getting people talking about the show is promoting the show, and you do this better than any other blog. I have been following your website for about a year now, so I am not new. I thought it fun to see spoiler clues, and the responses, what I did not enjoy was your boastful arrogance to people's comments.
    And because you kept receiving less and less responses, I am assuming I was not alone. Yes you promote the show (Watch Live)but I have the feeling it is not going to be the same Chuck as season 3, (which was dark and negative), but a season full of Action, Comedy, Romance and Morgan. So my question to you is How are you going to promote the show to those not following your tweets, websites or Chuck? PS did Magnus come from the psyco Archer Icelandic spy from Chuck vs the Alma Mater or is that your real name which would be cool.

  50. Hola Amigo - Well, it looks like we just can't seem to get away from the big question...
    Its not so much what this show chooses to do -
    but HOW.
    We've rehashed S3 so many times already - I think we all agree it comes down to the way things get executed [ no irony intended].
    And, just like everything else that has happened in this show - we won't ever reach concensus.
    I'm very very happy we'll get to spend Monday nights together watching a quality show - and then spend the rest of the week discussing what happened - and then trying to figure out what will happen next....
    I'd hate to see the show focus itself on a grand finale big episode ending. As long as there is really good resolution to whatever story plot we travel this year - we should all be thankful that the Nerd got his Girl and has moved fully into the spy world. If we've learned anything from S3 - we have choices.
    Our world should not be coloured in black and white absolutes...
    Maybe we can have everything we always wanted ... a great forth season with a really good ending - and a slim chance for more to come.
    Cheers - the Gringo Chuck Fan

  51. Good talking point again Magnus. Have to say on this one I come down with Old Darth as to it not being necessary to put some final closure on the show. Other than Chuck and Sarah getting hitched I can't think of anything else that would fit the bill anyway. As with this season just finish of the current arc and set it up to imply future adventures to come, which sadly we'll never see but we can imagine. That said if we get more episodes and a better story this way I'm all on board.

    "Some day, down the line, I might just tell you all more about things that happened behind the scenes... but for now, you will just have to take it on faith that the lack of confidence insiders have in WB is based on experience."

    You piqued my interest on that. I for one would like to hear that tale at some point. I don't pretend to know anything about what goes on behind the scenes but that comment does chime with a another comment I read elsewhere a while back. We talking season one onwards with the writers strike or more recently?

  52. I'm also a fan who never was devoted to a tv show until this one. I've bought the merchandise, seen the episodes repeatedly on dvd and dvr and got a friend to get me a Chuck bag from Comic-Con (comic-con had never been on my radar before Chuck). I don't think there's all that much to "wrap up" with Chuck except for the C/S romance, which they did resolve. I think that the small (3-4 episode) arcs should continue for as long as they possibly can. I understand that you have info that I don't, but I just can't see throwing in the towel because I don't think there's that much payoff to a conclusion. Is there any chance that this show would continue on cable if it were dropped by NBC? Is there any Greta promotion that fans can do?

  53. Judy, this blog is about the notion of calling it quits now. I am not suggesting there is no chance that the show will continue on. Things could work out... the Greta casting could make for buzz... Linda Hamilton and the storylines might too. But BSG called it quits when they probably could have kept going. Clearly, people in the know feel that it could be a good choice for this show.

  54. I started watching chuck from the very first episode, I have been to all the wondercons and comic cons and I love Zac, but Magns is right, they should have an ending this season, because I know fans have a say and tehy have had a say on chuck surviving but chuck must be the first series to save 2 certain cancellations. BTW my favourite con is comic con 08, I loved how zac was so honest and said that at high school he was the best friend and his stewie impersonation was awesome, I fell in love with Zac right there and then, he is so funny and honest and cool.

  55. Gina, technically this show has almost been canceled three times. Eventually, that luck is going to run up.

  56. Yeah Magnus, I agree with you, as I said they have survived multiple cancellations and their luck will run out, then again did'nt HIMYM survive 2 cancellations from season 2 and 3 and is still around? I know they are different but maybe chuck people should ask those people what their secret is on surviving.

  57. Gina, the problem for CHUCK right now is that it is already on borrowed time, on top of borrowed time, on top of favors, on top of last legs. There ARE scenarios where the show comes back, does worse than last year, and still gets renewed. But that is for another discussion. This blog is only dealing with the notion of officially calling it quits now and going out on the show-runner's terms.

  58. I've always preferred shows to go out with a bang rather than dwindle. That said, Chuck has reinvented itself every season, and I've really enjoyed each story arc.

    Ultimately, ending the show on their own terms, rather than the network, has got to be better for the overall storyline.

  59. I've been thinking about this ratings system all day and was wondering - if we watch Chuck episodes online from nbc's site (and I'm assuming we can 'cause I've never done it - always use my dvr) can that help ratings?

  60. Yeah Gina his line that I was the best friend the guy the girls came to and said my boyfriends such a jerk he does'nt take me out enough and he says that sucks I love you secretly and can't tell you, that was amazing and the fact that he is so honest, it reminded me of chucks first date in the pilot when he tells sarah all these honest things and you can see why he is perfect as chuck. This topic is a good one and one that I think the show runners should pay attention to if they filled in all the characters back story and let us have a great happy ending would be awesome.

  61. Wendy, to make it short... not really.

  62. Well, I ask about the online viewing because it's something we non-Neilsen households can do to try to help make a difference. And just one more question - do you think they would count by ip address or just by views - so that maybe I could watch from more than one computer in my house?

  63. Excellent food for thought...

    My opinion mirrors Old Darth & Phdelicious...

    Old Darth because, he's right, aside from wrapping up the relationship with a tidy bow, it can always be an ongoing 'super hero' story.

    Phdelicious because, I agree, Fedak and Schwartz do a great job with ending each season, answering enough questions to satisfy, and yet, pique one's interest with another story if the show gets picked up. If this season had ended, we would know what our hero (Chuck) was going to do at least. The same can't be said for many other prematurely canceled shows.

    All in all, I think people, in general, have their panties all in a bunch over this post. It's a hypothetical and very thought provoking. Nothing more, nothing less.

    I'm not going to lie, of course, I would prefer to see the show go out on it's own terms. I also would love to see it continue on. It is what it is!

    All I can do is what I've been doing every year, watching live & telling everyone I know to watch live. The rest will work out how it's supposed to.

  64. Christine, it is exactly that... a hypothetical. ChuckTV posted a blog response to it, never actually referencing the accurate content of this blog, nor linking to it. They are purposely being disingenuous like any propaganda tool would be. It is the function of that site to present a very specific point of view to the fandom.

    "Everything is fine. Everyone is wonderful." And a certain element of the fandom eats that up. People who actually like thought provoking and honest discussions come here.

  65. Magnus, I wasn't going to mention that 'other' blog posting about 'your blog' BUT since you did ;)...

    I think the fact that they had to 'respond' (if you can call it that) speaks volumes about the popularity of Chuckgasmic! It saddens me that they spun your hypothetical into something other than what it was, but it doesn't surprise me. That is what ChuckTV does. They like the 'perks' they get and don't like to rock the boat. The thing is, you and I KNOW that (and others that post here), while other people take their words as gospel truth.

    The fact that some people blindly follow one particular point of view is stupid, and I think, in the end, that type of person will be hugely let down. Of course, those types of people aren't happy unless they can bitch about something, so I guess it's par for the course.

    Life isn't a bowl of cherries people! Get used to it. I like to 'keep it real' by 'thinking' about things and listening to other people's well thought out points of view. Call it 'the darkside' if you will. We have better cookies anyhow ;)

  66. Christine, like with anything, if you only WANT to hear one point of view, then you will seek out only one point of view. And once you find it, you will stick close to it. ChuckTV is about self promotion of the individuals involved with it. There is a reason why WHC's SDCC CHUCK fandom party had 200 people and ChuckTV's had 15. We are inclusive, they are exclusive. We put on charity events that promote the show and the fans, they do everything to benefit their own selfish interest.

  67. There were 5 seasons of BSG. I have them all on DVD :-)

    Nielsen is becoming more and more unrepresentative of the viewing audience, IMHO. Especially as 'Chuck' is sold internationally. The first EVER 'Chuck' convention was in the U.K which led to the huge Subway breakout with Zac!

    However, I'd rather have the ending NOT be a cliff-hanger. If 'Chuck' is really on its last season, let's have some kind of resolution please. Even if it's Chuck, Sarah and maybe Casey walking off into the sunset and towards an unknown future.

  68. Are you counting the original series? Because I can guarantee you that there are only FOUR seasons of Ronald D. Moore's BSG. :)

  69. I think it is crazy to detonate Chuck, and here is why: Chuck may not have the ratings but it has one of the strongest online and comic-con followings. Why would NBC want to loose +/- 5 million fans when they are a low rated network.
    Chuck makes money for the network, in the toughest timeslot on TV. Granted they were not against MNF last season but this season will be the true test. I am sure NBC took note that this Chuck Show took the premier ballroom and timeslot at Comic-Con. Why detonate a good thing? My prediction is that NBC will keep the 13 episodes and attempt to put another show in that timeslot for spring, planning on bringing Chuck back for Season 5, banking on the known rather than the unknown. It sounds like the showrunners have listened to the fans and are incorporating their agenda to the fans request, and asking the question "does this work?",and have gone back to the 8 day shooting schedule. The Chuck Show is just like the characters on Chuck it is hard to kill. Now my wish is that they are able to put Yvonne and Zac together to promote the show in a fun way, they kill together. Tell everyone you know to watch the sexy Chuck show this season, the show will be fun, sexy, exciting and enjoyable.

  70. Bree, while it is true that NBC makes money on CHUCK, they could likely make more money with another show. And that is how networks work. They are not going to stick with a show they make $10 million per season on if they can make $50 million with a different show. Granted, there has to be a degree of love for the show for them to keep it for a 4th season. But how long can that last? If the show drops even more in ratings this season, then NBC will have a hard time justifying keeping it.

    As Zac said in a recent interview, the show could come back for 3 episodes and get canceled. We really don't know. And anyone working on the show willing to be honest about it would say the same. There is no reason to be ridiculously positive about the future of this show just because you want to be positive.

    Though, I totally agree with you about Zac and Yvonne doing interviews together. That seems like something that would be a no-brainer.

  71. But really, why can they not get Yvonne and Zach on a bigger, better, broader promotional tour? Are the actors unwilling? Not deemed ready or capable? NBC/WB unwilling or incapable? Princess Bailey, bless her heart, should not be the loudest voice trying to get the cast on to a talk show shot on the SAME WB Lot! Getting an employed, charmingly accented, charity conscious, Hot 100 Actress on to Leno, Letterman, and whatever, should not be that difficult!
    Frankly, Bailey is the best salesman Schwarz has; if he doesn't get Bailey sitting in the comfy chair next to Yvonne talking about Chuck, values, and what Bailey represents about the positive youth in this country I will have overestimated him. Ellen, Oprah, Larry King, Today, whatever. Oh, and do it by 9/20.

  72. Heh... I responded to you in the other posting, Harrison. Unfortunately, they are working so many hours and days that I doubt they have time to do promotions until right around September 20th. But they should be putting Zac and Yvonne together for them. As for what talk shows they do, well that is a bit more complicated and I am not even sure what I should or can say about that.

    As for Bailey and the show's appreciation for her, one can hope they realize what they have there but Ali Adler was really the social media goddess on the show. I am not sure the rest are as in tune with the fandom as she was.... and still is.

  73. Well I finally read all the comments here, and I have to say, OldDarth great post, you pretty much said all I could, well done sir.

    Some really good replies all around, and thank you to Diana for filling in some of the questions I and I am sure many others have about Neilsen.


  74. A 'feel good'/'good news' story that links an 8pm Network show with good values to American youth who donate their Tooth Fairy money and raise money for charity?
    If somebody at NBC/WB PR can't get this story on the air, well... I'm fairly sure they aren't in the right job. If they haven't heard the story yet, well, what should we do about that?
    Oh, and don't announce an ending to Chuck. I'm happy with the endings that leave us both satisfied and wishing for more like we've had. In this economy, why should anyone from the Exec Producer to the assistant grip intentionally 'quit' their job? Hollywood is too fickle. I'll hold out hope for S5.

  75. Harrison, I will tell you that what you are saying right now WAS brought to the attention of some people... and that I have not heard anything else about it. And when this obviously compelling story was brought to their attention, I was just as surprised as you are right now that it wasn't met with more excitement or effort.

    But like I said somewhere else in here... there are lots of people who are puzzled by WB. Except for those with their heads so far up their butts that they can only see the sunlight from their mouths (like ChuckTV). But then those people only seek to improve their status and not actually assist the real fandom.

  76. Diane said...

    Realistically, the folks who work at any marketing department don't have unlimited resources in terms of money or manhours. Whether it is a TV network or a packaged goods company, they prioritize where those resources go.

    Chuck may be our #1 priority, but NBC has 21 other hours of Primetime programming to worry about. As with any other year, the new programs are going to get the lion's share of effort going into the week of September 20th.

    Chuck has the advantage of an existing fanbase to help with its debut. Shows like The Event and the new JJ Abrams thing (see, I already forgot the name) need to get people to try them.

    Chuck was very fortunate last January that it became a show that was top of their priority list because of the Leno debacle. But, I don't expect that kind of promotion for September.

    Similarly, WB has a huge number of shows to be concerned about, including new ones. A new series is deficit-financed. If it doesn't go beyond a few episodes, it's money that is totally lost.

    Magnus has pointed out that the producers of Chuck are very busy people. But, I think somebody has been doing a good job generating the buzz about the casting.

    Beyond that, the reality is that Chuck may not be getting anywhere near the promotion that their new shows will be getting. That's just the way it is.

  77. Diane, that is probably very accurate. Fans expect that the networks are going to put their money toward the fan favorite. But they put money into shows they think will have the best ROI for that marketing. You don't spend $30 million on marketing a show that has a ROI of ($15 million). :)

  78. Magnus as a Chuck fan I don't expect C/S not to have problems I just don't a third party coming between them. They both come from broken homes and didn't have good role models to show them how to have a loving relationship of course Chuck had Ellie

  79. Chuck should never end i dont care i want 9 seasons :D!

  80. I think we would all love to see 9 seasons... provided that they were 9 quality seasons. But what we want and what we are likely to get are probably going to clash.

  81. Spoiler warning! - Season four story arc.

    I'm certainly no expert on creating, or ending, shows, and especially on US TV, as a UK teenager, but I can say that I am an expert on loving Chuck, and, as such, in an ideal world, I would never want Chuck to end - keep it going forever at the same current quality it's experiencing, and I'd be happy.

    However, I'm very much aware that my dreams aren't likely to become reality. At all. So, personally, assuming that this fourth season gives a "finality" to the "Chuck looking for his mum" story-arc, with either her dying or re-joining the ever-growing Bartowski family, then I would like there to be a fifth season (possibly sixth) to create a sort of "this is how Chuck and the gang will be spending the rest of their days" arc...

    But, like I said at the beginning, ideally, I'd rather Chuck go on forever. If the writers feel they have enough material to make a dozen more seasons of Chuck, then I'd fully support them in any way I could. If the writers feel that they'd be rushing character, or plot, development by having a set end-date, then I'd rather them concerntrate on the story and worry about getting more seasons when that time comes.

  82. After what they did with S3 storyarc destroying completely Sarah character its the best thing they can do to this series.
    We fans have to admite the real "Chuck" ended right at the end of S2.

  83. They sure destroyed a lot with the front 13 episodes, including my love for the show.

    But thankfully things got better in the back 6. All we can do is to leave whats done in the past and hope now that they are done with the stupidities. Though I still kinda hope they will address the single most stupid thing they did (the name reveal). I get that moment can't really be fixed, but they can make me feel better about it.

    I look forward to hopefully a kick-ass fourth season(and more seasons to come).



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