Sunday, October 11, 2009

The double-edged sword of an October Chuck return

When Ausiello first reported that NBC was considering moving Chuck's premiere date from March to October, many people were ecstatic, and rightfully so. Chuck is a great show that is highly entertaining to watch; watching it now is surely better than watching it in 5 months. There are many problems with Chuck's early return that people need to consider. The ultimate goal of course is a fourth season, but a return in October may pose a threat to that goal.

NBC was hoping to advertise Chuck during the Winter Olympics and build the hype. There certainly is a lot to look forward to. Chuck is at the top of its game in terms of creativity and acting, and with good advertising, could have returned in March with relatively big numbers, assuring success. If NBC wants to start airing Chuck by the end of October, they need to start promoting the show now.

As it stands now, NBC is doing horribly. Other than The Office, Law & Order: SVU, and unscripted shows people aren't tuning in to NBC. They've heard how bad NBC is. They've seen how bad some NBC shows are. What would make them tune into NBC for a random program they've never seen before?

There is also a problem with scheduling. With Jay Leno eating up the 10 PM slot every night of the week, Chuck has almost no slot to be in. Assuming NBC doesn't want Chuck on Fridays which would be certain death, there is only Monday and Wednesday.

Trauma on Mondays will most likely be the first to go. Each episode is very expensive to produce and the ratings are lower than that of Chuck's last season. Once again, the Monday slot at 9 PM has heavy competition with DWTS, Two and a Half Men, The Big Bang Theory, and Lie to Me - all shows that do much better than Chuck did last year.

Wednesday would be the preferable spot for Chuck, replacing Mercy at 8 PM. As of last week, the other shows in the timeslot are doing about as well as Chuck did last season. Mercy is still hanging in with the other shows in the timeslot, so NBC probably won't cancel it too soon. If I had to guess, Mercy would be moved to Friday to accomodate Chuck if NBC wants it on Wednesdays.

I do not think Chuck would succeed on Mondays. It would probably do marginally better than Trauma, and with NBC currently with its finger on the trigger, we should be worried if Chuck does end up on Mondays. Wednesday would provide Chuck with the best chance to succeed. The competition is very weak, and Chuck could easily destroy them. If it does, NBC will probably give it a back 9 with just a 2.2-2.5 which should be doable.

I know this is all hypothetical, as shown by the number of times I used 'if,' but if Ausiello's sources at NBC are correct, there are realistic problems we must acknowledge. The situation at NBC is not good and they are going down the path to eliminating all scripted programming. Chuck is certainly not untouchable and after the surprising and abrupt cancellation of Southland, anything can happen.


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