Chuck needs help. Will you watch it if all of us Chuck fans ask you really nicely? We swear, you’ll enjoy it. I wrote earlier this week about Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles, and how the end might be near for that series, due to its abysmally low ratings for a network series. Chuck’s ratings are almost exactly the same as Terminator’s, and both shows inhabit the same Mondays at 8pm time slot. The difference is that Chuck has already been picked up for a full second season by NBC. Does that mean that Chuck is really, truly safe? Or, is it a false emergency blanket, the kind of thing that gives fans hope before NBC cruelly rips the carpet out from under us, leaving viewers with a Chuck-less existence?
Critically, Chuck is enjoying a stellar start to its second season. The show is finding a groove, and its first two episodes this season have been as enjoyable and fun as anything we saw in season one. The self-aware spy comedy, like Pushing Daisies in a way, lacks pretension and is only concerned with giving viewers a care-free good time. NBC clearly has confidence in Chuck as a creative endeavor, as evidenced by their almost unprecedented decision to order a full season before the season remiere even aired. NBC may regret this decision now after the awful ratings Chuck has received over its first two episodes (it’s averaging around 6 million viewers per episode – for comparison’s sake, Saturday Night Live is averaging more viewers than Chuck this season), but NBC has shown recently that ratings aren’t the be all end all.
Say what you will about the Ben Silverman regime over at NBC, but it hasn’t lacked new ideas and outside the box thinking. Silverman has ushered in a plethora of risky and often critically acclaimed series, and shown otherworldly patience in shows that don’t receive great ratings. More so than any other network, NBC has embraced the idea that, in today’s world of iTunes, Hulu and rampant DVD sales, pure ratings numbers aren’t the most important gauge of television success.
If NBC had based their decisions completely on ratings, The Office would have been discarded unceremoniously after its first six-episode season. 30 Rock likely would have been jettisoned after half of a season. Or, in the greatest example of Silverman and NBC sticking up for a critically acclaimed show, there’s the continued existence of Friday Night Lights. That show would have been canceled by any other network, but NBC loves the show so much, and understands the need to create great programming, that they set up a deal with DirecTV specifically to keep Friday Night Lights alive.
NBC, like with Friday Night Lights, has confidence in Chuck. They know that sometimes, if you let a good show simply exist for an extended period of time, if you let the DVDs percolate in the marketplace, a TV show will eventually find its audience. While FOX will probably grow impatient and cancel Terminator fairly soon, I bet NBC will show some wherewithal and stay with Chuck, even if the ratings remain low. And, for that, we can thank NBC for being the most modern of networks, one that, despite sometimes questionable programming decisions, will keep a good show on the air simply because it’s a good show.
-Oscar Dahl, BuddyTV Senior Writer
(Image Courtesy of NBC)