Posts Tagged ‘Chuck’

NBC Upfronts

May 19th, 2009 | Jonathan Gray


I’ve already discussed NBC’s new shows, since they already announced them. But the big news of the day, for me, is that Chuck was renewed. And in talks with journalists, Ben Silverman drew the line directly back to the fans’ and Subway’s campaign to keep the show around (see my post on the campaign here).

Law and Order was the other lucky survivor of the day, though Medium, Life, and My Name is Earl weren’t so lucky. Apparently, CBS might pick up Medium, and My Name is Earl’s Greg Garcia is also hoping to shop his show around. Garcia wasn’t a happy man, firing back at NBC that “It’s hard to be too upset about being thrown off the Titanic.” Ouch. I hope the show finds a new home, since I really like it (what’s not to like about Randy and/or Crab Man?), and it seems like it might be a good fit with FOX.

As for the schedule, more after the fold:

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The Strategies of the Save Chuck campaign

May 14th, 2009 | Jonathan Gray


I’ve been interested to see the Save Chuck campaign develop. The campaign, and the need for it, point to savvy strategies on the behalf of the fans, and potentially on behalf of NBC.

For the fans, one of the centerpieces of the campaign was a move to get fans to go buy a footlong sub at Subway, and fill out the comment card asking Subway to put pressure on NBC to keep the show around. Chuck‘s had a few rather garishly obvious product placements from Subway this season, hence the idea.

“SOS objects” have become popular accompaniments to campaigns to save shows, as best evidenced by the thousands of nuts sent to CBS to encourage them to renew Jericho. Sending something to a network communicates that you like their show, but a continuing problem for such campaigns has been that the network usually doesn’t care if you like the show: they care if millions of others like the show. While there’s obviously the hope that the publicity surrounding the campaign will convince the network to keep the show around in the hopes that all that publicity attracts new viewers, it’s the publicity alone that seems effective here. Networks have long shown that they don’t particularly care about active fans, or even that they find them an annoyance, and while the nets are forced to care more in a post-net era, fans who send in nuts still risk annoying the network more than convincing them to renew. So the publicity part of the plan may work, but the rest is a little misguided.


By contrast, the Chuck campaign seems to have a lot more potential. Here, after all, the fans realize that their viewership alone clearly hasn’t been enough to impress NBC. NBC needs to monetize that fandom, and is currently unsure that they’re getting enough out of it; thus, the fans respond by giving NBC another metric by which they can monetize the fans. Namely, they send the message that “we will be really good for and to your sponsors.” They add value to themselves in NBC’s eyes, and provide a new way for NBC to monetize them. Meanwhile, the publicity is still there, and yet now that publicity has a multiplying effect, since every time a journalist or a blogger writes about the campaign, Subway is getting yet more publicity. Meanwhile, given the nature of the campaign, Subway and NBC can now envision yet more garish and obvious product placements for the show in the future, since now they’ll have the ironic tinge of being shout-outs to the fans who took part in the campaign.

Admittedly, there are ethical questions we should ponder here, given that we’re now involving fans directly in product placement deals. Subway sandwiches are relatively innocuous, but we could envision other placement-fan arrangements that might bother us more. Nevertheless, I’ve been impressed by the fans’ ability to up the ante in a way that shows they know how the business works.

As long as we’re talking strategy, though, I also wonder whether NBC has full plans to renew, and is manufacturing a little extra publicity for the show in the process. If so, they’re smartly capitalizing on fan labor, letting Facebook, television critics’ articles and daily updates, blog renamings such as Give My My Remote‘s temporary change to Give Me My Chuck, and so forth do the job of promoting their show. Even if this wasn’t their original plan, they’d be foolish not to let it play out a bit at this point, and so I wouldn’t be surprised to hear they’ve made the decision to keep it, but figure their relationship with Subway and with both fans and potential new viewers will only improve. In this case, the campaign would give us not just an example of smart fan strategy, but also of smart network promotional strategy.

Of course, the show could still be cancelled, so Chuck may not live to see the fruits of the fan’s labor, but it poses an interesting model for future campaigns one way or the other

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NBC’s New Shows: Life Without Chuck?

May 4th, 2009 | Jonathan Gray

Day One

It’s upfront time. Or, NBC is calling theirs “infronts.” I don’t know why and don’t plan to find out – it sounds about as cute as adding “N’ Stuff” in a store title, so let’s leave it there. [EDIT: okay, I lie, I did go looking, and it turns out they're still having an upfront; they just want to get a headstart with this. Still a silly title]. Indeed, I’m mad at NBC. They haven’t renewed Chuck. In theory, this could happen latter, though with a third of primetime given up to Jay Leno (!), and with renewals already announced for many other shows (yay, 30 Rock and The Office!), real estate is in high demand.

In this supposedly DVR-filled world, schedule still matters a heck of a lot. Try telling any creator whose show got a Friday night slot that it doesn’t. I’m particularly interested, though, in how a show’s competition frames one’s view of it, not just when one is asked to pick sides when shows are on opposing channels at the same time, but also when an axed-yet-beloved show is replaced. Right now, I look at the proposed additions and say, “hmmm… not Chuck,” and if it’s culled, whichever show gets its slot will suffer a dark aura.

Nevertheless, below the fold I introduce you to the contenders:

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The Best of 2008, 1: Television and Reading

December 30th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

Inspired by Mike Newman’s fantastic and highly recommend Faves, 2008 list, and as a pale imitation, here are some media highlights from 2008, in installments.

First, though, a word on categorization – if I saw it in 2008, it’s on this list, even if it came out earlier; and if I saw it on the Internet, it’s web video not television.


10. Chuck. The show is infinitely silly, but that’s the point. Like Pushing Daisies, it kept me sane in hard times. Adam Baldwin, Awesome, Lester – fun stuff.

9. Food Network in HD. I knew when I got my HDTV that I’d love travel shows all the more, and nature shows. But I didn’t count on how much food porn I could stomach on a daily basis, and how that threshold would increase with HD.

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Extratextuals’ 2007 Awards Extraordinaire, Pt. 3

January 15th, 2008 | Jonathan Gray

Just before I start with our third installment, this one on TV opening credit sequences, I wanted to give a shout-out to Michael Newman’s fantastic blog post on the best of 2007 across media. His list makes no distinctions between media, and thus is chock-full of good extratextuals. It also preceded ours significantly, so don’t let my belated link suggest we got there first.

Anyways, kudos offered, let me proceed. The best opening credit sequences ready you for the program, performing the careful act of transferring you from your world to the show’s world. The best ones also bear out multiple viewings, becoming a favored announcement of the show, and a generator of anticipation. Think of the orchestra’s hum of tuning instruments before a performance, of the grand curtains being lifted at a theatre, of the “Let’s get ready to rumble” before a boxing match, or other ritualistic intros. Hence I divided this category into newer shows and long-running ones, since it’s something special when an older show can still do the business with its intro. First, the new recruits.

Best TV Opening Credit Sequence: Newer Show

Runner-Up: Chuck. One of my favorite new shows, and it has a very playful opening credit sequence that captures the silliness and fun of the show as a whole. Stick man spies seem to capture exactly what Chuck is. And the first spy falling out of Chuck’s nose cues the irreverence: Chuck doesn’t take itself seriously, and this is made clear from the very beginning. It’s perhaps worth noting, too, that the action is all shown to occur within the barcode on Chuck’s shirt lapel, appropriate for a program whose title character has a massive spy computer in his brain. The theme song’s fun, too. Moreover, it cues following an opening scene that sets up this week’s spy issue: very James Bond, yet clearly not James Bond at one and the same time.

Winner after the fold…

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Super Powers and Super Agents: Previewing NBC’s Shows

September 14th, 2007 | Jonathan Gray

NBC sure loves superpowers: first Heroes last year, now the time-traveling Journeyman (though don’t expect much similarity between Kevin McKidd and Hiro), the new Bionic Woman, the supposed super-cop in Life, and super agent Chuck. Maybe Dwight from The Office is next in line for powers? Below the fold, I continue with my fall pilot reviews. Read more…

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