Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Save Chuck A Seamingly Impossible Task

Is it possible to save Chuck on NBC? I mean really save it. Every season of this incredible show gets better and better and of course every season, fans are faced with the possible threat of cancellation. Last season it actually happened but the fans (with the help of Subway) pulled together and breathed life (with ham on white) back into the helpless victim of the show eating peacock. Why does NBC throw away such good entertainment? For example they sent Scrubs to it's near death by moving it from time slot to time slot until no one knew if, or when the show would be on at all. ABC tried to revive Scrubs but by then, I believe the damage was done. Now Scrubs is nothing more (to me) than a bad attempt to continue on without it's star on a new network. On top of that, I don't have to remind you what happened to a certain red headed late-night step-child when he made a deal with the peacock do I?

How many great shows have started slow and ended up hits? It seems a little NBC show called Seinfeld did that many years ago. How can you take the work of so many talented people and flush it when it has such a devoted fan base? Mind you, I understand an awful show being canceled, but really can Chuck be considered an awful show? No way.

The fact of the matter is, ad money gives the thumbs up or down to shows. It doesn't matter that the show has a great cast and an incredible story. What matters is that you buy crap that you see on TV. If official ratings are low that means sponsors may not be selling their crap. Not only that but according to Chuck himself, Zachary Levi speaking at Wondercon on Sunday, the network and sponsors really only pay attention to live ratings. DVR recordings are considered non-advertising viewings because of the fast forward button and even on there is only one real ad per break.

Keeping this fact in mind, how do the fans win? What is a big enough fan base? Should live-only data of a limited Nielsen network decide the fate of good shows (and actor's/crew jobs)? What about my rabbit ears? What is the alternative? For "Chuck" fans, writers in essence wrote a series finale and then the show was extended by six episodes according to the creators of the show. Extended by six episodes yet the show is still in jeopardy? The sad part about "Chuck" is that sometimes when the love story is satisfied, that is the kiss of death for shows. If you haven't seen yet, in the latest episode Chuck and Sarah finally get together near the Eiffel Tower, satisfying two of Chuck's life goals. What now? Do we get to watch the relationship roller coaster around until the show finally does end? If I may interject to the writers as a huge fan, just let Sarah and Chuck be together as they were in season one, happy without complications. We like it like it when Chuck is happy, we don't need Sarah being mean to our hero while kissing another man. Back to the point, is it right that fear of cancellation determines the creativity of the writers? There is a sure way to make a show bomb, right.

I have a couple of solutions. First, what about viewer supported shows with minimal sponsors? Why do companies have to be the sole sponsors in this instant payment age of Paypal and Ebay? Second, product placement instead of commercials. I would be happy to watch Chuck eat a Subway sandwich working on a Mac laptop listening to his ipod and drinking a Coke in Morgan's Prius that won't stop if that meant no commercials. The network could keep a central break for the feminine hygiene products and insurance companies. No sponsor, no show, right? My fear is that NBC is canceling shows as a preemptive strike without sponsor input. Of course that is as I said a fear and not necessarily fact.

This is a new age NBC (and all networks for that matter), let's try to think outside the box a little. After all, you need your consumers happy just as much as you need your sponsors happy. After O'Brien VS Leno, you really should work on that image before no one wants to play with you...

1 comment:

  1. I'd direct NBC [and anyone else] to the success of 'Sanctuary' and 'Dr Horrible's Sing-Along Blog'. Both available by pay-per-view in the first instance. Sanctuary is now a TV series and Dr Horrible has sold so many DVDs that there's a sequel planned.