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Adalian Column: Can Twittersphere Save ‘Chuck’?

Apr 10, 2009  •  Post A Comment

The Twitterverse and blogosphere rose up last week up in a preemptive bid to keep NBC’s “Chuck” on the air.
Give Me My Remote 'Chuck' Takeover
Yeah, I know: You’ve heard this story a thousand times before, from “My So-Called Life” to “Moonlight.” The plotline never seems to change: Fans beg, networks pretend to listen and, in the end, the show in question disappears.
What’s more, most TV shows these days seem to spawn an Internet-based grassroots support group within hours of their premiere. The whole situation veered dangerously close to self-parody last year, when some of the loyalists in Joss Whedon’s legion of supporters mounted a “Save Dollhouse” campaign months before the show debuted, effectively putting the show on the bubble before it was even on the air.
But what happened last week seemed different. At least a little bit.
Unlike prior Save Our Show campaigns, the Save Chuck movement didn’t begin with loyal fans launching an Internet petition or buying an ad in a Hollywood trade paper. Instead, this revolution was sparked by the decision of well-established TV blogger Kath Skerry to change the name of her site for a week.
GiveMeMyRemote.com suddenly became GiveMeMyChuck.com. Ms. Skerry declared it “Chuck Week” on her blog and turned over the whole of her home page to collecting news about what was being done to make sure “Chuck” wasn’t … chucked.
Thanks to Twitter, nearly 1,000 of Ms. Skerry’s readers—myself included—knew about her plans instantly Monday morning. Word spread quickly around Tweetsville that it was “Chuck Week,” and anyone who liked the show needed to step up and demonstrate support for NBC’s 8 p.m. Monday series.
Not surprisingly, plenty of civilian bloggers did just that.
But so did Mo Ryan, TV critic for the Chicago Tribune, and Alan Sepinwall of the Star-Ledger in New Jersey. They changed their Twitter icons to “Save Chuck” labels and began serving up “Chuck”-centric content on their Web sites and Twitter feeds.
Michael Ausiello of Entertainment Weekly put aside his Smurfs-and-scoops obsession long enough to tout “Chuck Week” to his army of Ausholes (his label, not mine).
Instead of simply sitting back and reporting on a fan campaign, some of the nation’s best-known TV columnists jumped right in and became soldiers in the campaign for “Chuck.”
Mr. Sepinwall, a rather new (and reluctant) resident of Twitter Nation, said his online activism caught him by surprise.
“I had no idea this was going to happen,” he told me. “I was on Twitter and saw all these links and ‘Chuck’ logos and said, ‘This is cool.’ I figured I might as well join in.”
Mr. Sepinwall said the “Chuck” campaign may have popped in part because it’s grounded in reality. Rather than simply flooding Ben Silverman with tchotchkes, the goal of “Save Chuck” is to use the power of the Internet to boost the show’s ratings in the final weeks of the season.
“This is a good show, and we need to remind people that it’s a good show,” Mr. Sepinwall said.
Ms. Skerry said that’s exactly her point.
“With much respect to fan campaigns that encourage people to send items in to the network, I think the network responds more to eyeballs in front of a TV,” she wrote me via e-mail. “It’s a business, so the only way I thought I could help was to encourage fans of ‘Chuck’ to become evangelists for their show and do what they can to get others to give it a shot.”
In addition to increasing the raw numbers for “Chuck,” some other supporters of the show are mounting an Internet campaign to get viewers to buy a footlong sandwich from Subway on the night of the “Chuck” finale. If the chain reports a big uptick in sales, the logic goes, NBC might be further inspired to order a third season.
And, while sending stuff to networks might seem cliched these days, some fans are considering just such an idea. A commenter on Mr. Sepinwall’s blog thinks loyalists ought to ship NBC suits a lifetime supply of Nerds candy, a tribute to the geeky types around which “Chuck” revolves.
Sounds good to me.
I’m not a completely unbiased observer in the “Save Chuck” movement, by the way. Ms. Ryan’s and Mr. Sepinwall’s actions inspired me to change my Twitter avatar to one featuring a pro-Chuck message. I’ll also no doubt tweet this column once it’s posted to TVWeek.com.
I’m also realistic about the fact that “Chuck” may well not return. NBC will have very few schedule holes in the fall, with Jay Leno at 10 p.m. weeknights, and “Chuck”—unlike the just-renewed, lower-rated “Friday Night Lights”—is owned by Warner Bros. TV rather than NBC’s sister studio.
And yet I also know that “Chuck” has maintained a solid, if small, audience base all season long Mondays at 8 p.m., a timeslot that may well be the most competitive in network TV right now.
As witnessed by the ratings for “Kings” and “The Chopping Block,” it’s also easy for NBC to attract far worse numbers at 8 p.m. than the ones “Chuck” has been earning as of late.
Bottom line: “Chuck” is a well-crafted series with a loyal audience and strong pop culture buzz—something few networks can afford to easily abandon these days.
For his part, “Chuck” creator Josh Schwartz is just happy people care enough about his Nerd Herd to rally around it.
“We are extremely appreciative,” he said. “We love making the show. And to know that there’s a passionate audience out there who feels strongly enough to campaign on the show’s behalf is so gratifying. Everyone who works on the show knows about it, and takes no small measure of inspiration from it.
“Every bit helps!”

28 Comments

  1. I love this campaign. I really think more people watch this show than are counted. That is why the neilsens are bogus. All this Chuck week doesn’t mean squat becasue it is only about those yahoos who have the box.
    If you have 10,000 people watch Chuck and only 1 person of those has a neilsens box, do the other 9.999 people who watch Chuck count.
    I think someone needs to do a pole on how many people who watch Chuck are not Neilsens members.
    I am sick of this antiquated system that makes no sense. I don’t want some idiot in Kentucky who decides to watch Dancing with the Idiots decide on what I can and cannot watch.

  2. Hi–
    In case anyone wants to join in, here’s the link to the posting of Chuck icons I made for Mo Ryan and others.
    And as someone who lives on just this side of the river from Kentucky, I’d like to reassure Agent Chuck there that there’s a lot of love for Chuck out here.

  3. I love Chuck! It’s a unique show on any network and I make a point of watching it every week, and if I can’t be there, I make sure I record it.
    I’m so tired of great shows being canceled and replaced by pap “reality” shows that I can’t stand to watch and never will.
    Please NBC, don’t chuck Chuck!!!

  4. Chuck has also held steady (including A 18-49 demo) against power-house Dancing with the Stars. Everything about Chuck is so well done–writing, acting, set and costume design.

  5. I tend not to join Save our Show efforts of any kind, because frankly, I don’t know that bottles of hot sauce or Rice-o-Roni being shipped off to network executives help.
    But, gaining critical mass online, a place that’s more measurable and probably more reliable than Nielsen, that might actually make an impact.
    So, good luck, Chuck!

  6. I know two kinds of people; those who haven’t seen the show and those who once they’ve seen it, wouldn’t miss an episode.
    I can’t say enough good things about Chuck. Its captivating, plain and simple, and deserves a Season 3.

  7. Chuck is such a (dare I say) awesome show, it deserves a third season. Not just because it’s my personal favorite, but because it’s GOOD. Humor. Action. Touching moments. Silly ones. Serious ones. Character depth. It’s just fantastic.

  8. If you’re not a Nielsen household, and you want to make a difference: go to nbc.com or Hulu and let them suck your brains out, er, um, “watch the show there (too)”.
    Yeah… that’s the ticket!

  9. I do not know a single person who watches ‘Chuck’ outside the TV web site makers and commentators. It had its chance with HEAVY Super Bowl promotion and a 3D episode. Time for it to go.
    And I saw the second half of this week’s episode, was nothing special.

  10. Chuck is THE best show on Hulu. The high quality writing and great acting make it addictive to watch. I can’t wait for the next episode. Please keep Chuck on the air for season three.

  11. The series Chuck is the best. But what makes it is the chance to see Sarah every week. Mmmmmm.

  12. Thanks for helping spread the word, Josef. Kath’s decision to feature Chuck on GMMR all week was a huge boost to the campaign we started at ChuckTV.net a couple of weeks ago, bringing Chuck to the attention of TV viewers who might have overlooked it previously.

  13. “Thanks to Twitter, nearly 1,000 of Ms. Skerry’s readers—myself included—knew about her plans instantly Monday morning.”
    Good thing, too. We can’t afford to waste a minute when it comes to important, time-sensitive stuff like saving ratings-challenged TV shows.

  14. In these times of bad news everywhere we turn, this is a refreshing show to watch. It’s very well written and easy to follow the story line! I love that you added Scott Bakula and Chevy Chase.
    Thanks to everyone on the show!
    Harley

  15. I have created a .torrent file with a Chuck video in. The video isnt anything special. But the point is. If we can get more seeders than the episodes do then it will make a big statement about the support of the internet as a whole.
    Download it at: http://isohunt.com/download/76279957/
    (you also needs something like utorrent) AND KEEP SEEDING IT!!!

  16. I can’t even believe we’re even discussing this right now. Are there actually people out there who think this show DOESN’T deserve a third season? A fourth? I mean this easily one of the greatest an dmost original shows on television today! Clearly network execs have no idea what they’re doing if they think that this show is a toss-up. We all need to do eveything in our power to keep this show going!!!

  17. Use the #savechuck hashtag for Tweets on this topic so they can be tracked!
    Also, per the reference from the show’s creator in my link (http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/04/20/can-chuck-be-saved-even-josh-schwartz-isnt-sure/?hp) send Nerds to the studios! The snail mail addresses are in this article: http://featuresblogs.chicagotribune.com/entertainment_tv/2009/04/chuck-nbc-save.html

  18. I love Chuck. I tell everyone how great it is. I can’t watch most of the programs on television, and if they remove yet another one of the best things out there for more reality trash, why watch at all?
    Networks never get this stuff right. I can only hope that people will scream loud enough for them to hear and come to their senses.

  19. As a contributor to GMMR, I am grateful that Kath’s efforts, along with those at ChuckTV.net, were recognized in such a professional manner. Kudos.
    One quick reply to Ed, who left a comment above stating “I do not know a single person who watches ‘Chuck’ outside the TV web site makers and commentators. It had its chance with HEAVY Super Bowl promotion and a 3D episode. Time for it to go.”
    Please tell that to the 326 (and counting) folks who have pledged their support for the show at GMMR’s “Be a Nerd…Join the Herd” thread, most of whom had never participated in an online forum.
    As for the Super Bowl, I would invite Ed to rewatch the NBC telecast from that Sunday, and count the number of Heroes promos run during the broadcast. There is simply no comparison. Chuck would have been the perfect choice for the post-Super Bowl time slot, in order to offer a sample of the program to the widest possible audience.

  20. I am a huge fan of Chuck! I have, like many other fans and critics have found myself caught up in the campaign to save the show! I’d like to say thanks to all those participating and encourage them and others to continue the effort. This is a show that we CAN NOT let disappear from our screens. Buy a $5 footlong, write, share, buy, WATCH and spread the word!

  21. The whole Neilsen box deal has me feeling a bit down (and living in Canada cuts me off from watching the show on Hulu and the NBC website) but I’m still trying my best to support the show. I’ve dragged friends into the mix and we’ve written the letters, eaten the subs and (most of us) sent in the “nerds” to represent our undying love for the show. It’s its own little masterpiece—I’ve never seen anything as creative as Chuck. The fans are working for the show (buying the products and voicing their thoughts) and the cast is obviously putting both feet forward into the fray (thanking the fans and, from what I’ve seen, putting in a little elbow grease (i.e. Zachary Levi rolling up the proverbial sleeves to make subs for 600+ people)). What other show deserves to stay on the air? If not Chuck, then certainly not anyone else.
    Viva la Chuck, my friends.
    Viva la Chuck.

  22. Save Chuck
    This is the first time I have ever been so enthusiastic about a tv show. I have seen many TV shows come and go but Chuck is so unique. I own three sets of TV show DVD’s – Get Smart, Firefly and Chuck season 1. It is a good thing they came up with DVDs to replace tapes, because I would have worn it out by now.
    Like the previous poster Kacey, I also live in Canada so can’t access a lot of the Chuck content on NBC. However City TV has episodes on line, and our Sci Fi channel Space carries Chuck on Thursday nights although I’m not sure if they will run them over the summer.
    NBC should run the season 2 reruns over the summer, it might be a chance to pick up more viewers. I know I sometimes check out shows in reruns and get hooked. Also I need my Chuck fix, even reruns of Chuck are better than a lot of new episodes of crappy shows. What is up with that stupid game show they replaced it with anyways?

  23. Save Chuck
    This is the first time I have ever been so enthusiastic about a tv show. I have seen many TV shows come and go but Chuck is so unique. I own three sets of TV show DVD’s – Get Smart, Firefly and Chuck season 1. It is a good thing they came up with DVDs to replace tapes, because I would have worn it out by now.
    Like the previous poster Kacey, I also live in Canada so can’t access a lot of the Chuck content on NBC. However City TV has episodes on line, and our Sci Fi channel Space carries Chuck on Thursday nights although I’m not sure if they will run them over the summer.
    NBC should run the season 2 reruns over the summer, it might be a chance to pick up more viewers. I know I sometimes check out shows in reruns and get hooked. Also I need my Chuck fix, even reruns of Chuck are better than a lot of new episodes of crappy shows. What is up with that stupid game show they replaced it with anyways?

  24. Chuck vs. Marketing Statistics – How to really save Chuck
    Really want to keep Chuck around for seasons to come?
    1) Ask all your friends if they know anyone participating in any television rating / watching survey or system.
    2) Loan these people your season 1 Chuck dvds and / or watch it with them. Direct them to the web for Season 2 (NBC.com Hulu.com TheWB.com etc).
    3) If you get asked to participate in any television rating / watching surveys, do it.
    4) Work a Chuck reference into every conversation with someone new you meet and tell them how good the show is if they don’t know what you are talking about.
    5) Chuck Season 1 dvd and Season 2 pre-order dvd’s make great presents and give away items for company events.
    6) Once they are hooked, give them this list.

  25. Hi! I’m one of the millions of Chuck fans from all over the world.. Just wanted to say thank you for your support of the show and we’re just so happy we have it back (even if we have to wait till March 2010!). 🙂 Again, thank you so, so much and best regards always.

  26. Pleaseee..!!!! Save Chuck!

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