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Thanks for being awesome, NBC — Breaking down the Chuck renewal


Well it came two days early and with a few caveats, but Chuck will be back for a third season.

And that is cause for celebration. This is among the funniest, smartest and surprisingly deep shows on television, and it clearly has a flock of devoted, not to mention intelligent and good-hearted fans who rallied to its cause.

Whether the network heard them or only heard its own dollar signs can be debated. I doubt there’s a definitive answer to be had to that question. But me, I’d like to believe the cleverness of the Finale and a Footlong campaign, followed by the compassionate ingenuity of the We Heart Chuck effort, which has raised upwards of $15,000 for the American Heart Association in the shows name, couldn’t have gone unnoticed.

And if the network noticed, it had to be impressed as well as confident renewal would be as bottom-line friendly as it would be fan-friendly.

To be sure, all the leading observers had the show on a very positive bubble, expecting a fall pickup to be only a matter for the beancounters to work out. No one erroneously believed this was a runaway hit on the chopping block. Rather, its supporters knew it was more than some niche show and that it might actually have thrived if not for killer competition in its time slot.

So I’m happy. But about those caveats…

Ausiello seems to be the biggest grumbler so far.

Here’s the bad news: The 13-episode pickup came after Warner Bros. agreed to make significant budget concessions, including scaling back the number of episodes several members of the show’s stellar supporting cast will appear in and, per one insider, possibly eliminating one actor altogether (R.I.P. Anna Wu?). The show is also expected to cut two of its staff writers.

He’s right. That’d be bad news. You hate to see a successful writing team take a hit (and I always hate to see writers lose work). I really hate to see the cast cutbacks, because I think the depth of the supporting cast is a real strength of the show. I do NOT want Anna to go.

By the way, Ausiello also updated his Fall TV cheat sheet, and it shows the deserved cancellation of the at times awesome but usually flawed and uneven Terminator The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I hate to see that show go, but I hated more to see it wait until the end of its run to really get good.

James Hibberd offers most of the same details but includes the show’s demographic chart, which shows just how consistent it was all season with the most advertiser-desired viewers. Variety echoes the same points. I’d say Sepinwall put it best.

I think we need to follow the lead of Zachary-Levi.net, which states, ” Now we all need to support the show 150%!!! We will not give up on it!”

Because for all the talk of budget cuts and 13-episode orders, this show’s success in the ratings will determine its future. If the fans who turned up at Subway and chipped in to the AHA also tune in and watch, and convince several friends to do the same, it’ll get a full-season order and a fourth season to boot. And it’ll get all the budget it needs.

And if people don’t tune in, its budget will be the least of its worries.

This entry was posted on Sunday, May 17th, 2009 at 9:58 pm by Brian Howard. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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