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UPFRONTS CHUCKDATE… Moving from #SaveChuck to #WatchChuck, and ideas about who’ll be back

May
19

UPDATES: Creator Josh Schwartz tells TV Week’s TV MoJoe Chuck will be back on Mondays at 8, but not until after the Olympics. Aaarggghhhh!!!!

“We are happy to be back,” he e-mailed after the Times broke the ‘Chuck’ scheduling. “Ready to serve – whenever. Wherever. We have the best audience in the world and we will do everything we can to make this worth the wait.”

Here’s NBC’s official press release about Chuck that, unless I’m blind, doesn’t mention the return date but does read like a payday for Subway.

Here’s the Fall Schedule press release that buries the news about Chuck‘s post-Olympic return in the fifth paragraph.

Nikki Finke reports that the Peacock suits credit the online fanbase for the show’s return.

But the network said it didn’t cancel Chuck “because of the demand for Chuck that came out of the online community, the¬†critical community, and the advertising base. The other shows had none of that attention or energy.” Said one of the top execs: “I was sent more Nerds than anyone could consume in a lifetime.”

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The following was posted earlier this morning, prior to NBC’s upfronts presentation.

Sometime today we should hear word from NBC’s upfronts presentation about where Chuck will land on the network’s fall schedule. We might even learn which character and which two writers will be cut, lamentably.

My guess on the former is Thursdays at 8, with Parks and Recreation shifting far away from its genetic twin The Office. A Thursday lineup of ChuckThe Office-30 Rock would guarantee I’d never touch my remote for two hours. My speculation about who’s leaving the show on-screen follows.

But first, this Tweet from The WB got me thinking. It appeared after Sunday night’s news broke that Chuck had been picked up for a third season.

Congrats Nerd Herd! U did it! CHUCK will be back for Season 3. We can’t thank u enough for your #savechuck support, now #watchchuck!!!

That last bit is the salient part, I think. The show’s been saved but only for as long as viewers tune in. The gang over at ChuckTV.net and elsewhere have already turned their attention to the next mission: Keeping Chuck on the air.

Their advice: keep watching on Hulu.com and at TheWB.com. Buy the DVDs, and lend them out. Encourage friends and family to watch. Buy the official merchandise. Blog and tweet about the show. (Done and done.) And keep buying those Subway footlongs.

All good advice, because TV programming still comes down to eyeballs and ad dollars, no matter how impressive a Save Our Show campaign. (A tidy $16,520.92 and counting for heart disease research, anyone?) The last thing Chuck fans want is for it to become the next Jericho, saved only to die again soon after.

But assuming the show returns, and assuming it finds itself a healthy, sustainable following in a most awesome time slot, what kind of show will we be seeing? Well, a scaled back show, for starters. As reported at many outlets, the show will be short two writers and its cast will be thinned by one, with the remaining supporting actors getting less screen time than before.

Film.com asks the salient question, who’s leaving the cast? The piece offers up cogent arguments for five possible departures, none of which makes me real happy. The depth of this cast is one of the show’s best strengths, that you can get all the way down to Big Mike and Jeffster, and the scenes are still strong.

Ah well, instead of speculating who’s leaving — it’s Tony Hale’s eminently expendable Emmet Milbarge, for the record — I’d rather offer my two cents about Chuck’s Least Expendable Co-stars. (This assumes Chuck, Sarah and Casey are inexpendable, which they are.)

5. Jeffster — The most expendable of the least expendable, these two aren’t even separate characters in my mind. Sure, their departure could be justified, mainly since the Buy More itself hardly seems to fit into Season 3 based on the way Season 2 ended. But their musical exploits, their urinal cake eating, their utter lack of spines or romantic prospects bring a dimension to the show I think is too easily underestimated. Plus, how much could axing them really save?

4. Anna — I hear Julia Ling is fielding movie offers, and the move to Hawaii offers the writers an out. But her relationship with Morgan has given the guy sorely needed respectability. Plus, she’s hilarious and cute. I’d say she more than pays her way.

3. Morgan — His every storyline is a parallel to Chuck’s latest superagent dilemma. He grounds his best friend in reality. He’s the link between Chuck Bartowski: Stanford drop-out-turned-Nerd Herder and Chuck Bartowski: Home of the Intersect and defender of truth, justice, the American way and Sarah’s heart. It’s just not Chuck without Morgan. As with Anna, though, the Hawaii venture could justify scaled back screen time.

2. Ellie — She’s Chuck’s human side, a reflection of all that he is as a person, coming from the same challenged upbringing, and all that he could have been had the CIA not intervened. Things got a little too creepy-cozy between brother and sister early in Season 1, but their bond since then is a key component of the show’s emotional heart.

1. Awesome — He is an extension of all that Ellie brings to the show. Plus, it would be too big a bummer to kill off the groom right after the wedding. Besides, there’s too much story potential in his knowing Chuck’s secret. Also, he’s Awesome.

Oh yeah, and the Fifteenth day of Chuck at TVByTheNumbers is a ton of fun, if only for savoring the agony of the hate-filled trolls whose souls have been crushed by cancellations. As that kid on The Simpsons always said, “Ha ha!”

This entry was posted on Tuesday, May 19th, 2009 at 11:00 am by Brian Howard. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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