NBC Does The Right Thing: BS OUT, GASPIN IN.

Ben Silverman is out.  Jeff Gaspin is in.

First lets look at the two of them:

Ben Silverman:  Son of Mary Silverman a competent network exec for Disney, Court TV, and the like.  He graduated college in 92 and immediately made a name for himself at William Morris where he worked in the International Packaging division.  It was here where he came up with the idea of starting a production company that bought rights to international TV programs and sold Americanized versions of them here.  He had some success with it and THE OFFICE in particular. Zucker decided he’d be perfect for NBC.

Jeff Gaspin:  Gaspin made his big break in the mid 80s at NBC where he was a finance exec for SATURDAY NIGHT LIVE and was pivotal in the return of success for the show.  His work caught the eyes of people at NBC NEWS and he was made VP where he helped create DATELINE NBC.  Eventually he ended up at VH1.  There he helped create BEHIND THE MUSIC.  Eventually he would end up at NBC Universal and helped develop THE APPRENTICE and THE BIGGEST LOSER before  heading up Bravo when NBC wanted to duplicate what had happened with VH1 (Gaspin doubled the ratings and brought in 5 times the profit).  There he developed QUEER EYE FOR THE STRAIGHT GUY.  Bravo all of a sudden had a show people watched and talked about.

In 2007 Gaspin was made head of NBC’s cable division.  Here again he was successful helping develop shows like BURN NOTICE and ROYAL PAINS the top two scripted shows on Cable right now.  He has increased viewing and profit for all the major cable brands and helped increase the cable division with acquisitions of Oxygen and The Weather Channel.

So here you have 2 guys, one a loud mouthed braggart with a background that entirely relied on the abilities of others and acquiring their intellectual property to resell to another market, and another who has had success in late night, news, reality tv, and cable all while working hard and being a quiet guy.  The quiet guy got passed up twice for a job that should have been his.  Meanwhile he kept being the only success story at NBC Universal.

The kid wonder is gone.  The hard working guy finally is getting his chance.

Gaspin is a life saver for fans of NBC shows.  When CHUCK fans showed their appreciation to Subway, it was Gaspin who first noticed at NBC Universal.  One way or another the show would have been saved for CHUCK fans.  Gaspin also has a great eye for quality and understands marketing.  For NBC to be successful they need one of their new shows to do well, and for CHUCK to finally be the success it was meant to be.

What is Gaspin going to do with NBC?  For one he is going to likely find new stronger Reality programming and try and fix the scripted programming department.    Zucker has left him with a disaster.  I said last Spring to some friends in the industry that if Zucker and BS weren’t gone before next season that NBC may fall entirely apart.  They have fixed half of the problem, but the good news is that Zucker in his current position finally made the right choice.  Now it is up for him to leave Gaspin to do what he does.

Gaspin has expressed interest in a few of the new shows and has some of the stronger pilot ideas floating around right now being rounded up.  He also appears to be showing direct interest with Subway to make sure that CHUCK is a financial success.  Gaspin also has some real success in using the internet to help create hype in better ways.  Gaspin is smart he has made statements behind the scenes already that NBC needs to think outside the box and points to CHUCK.  Why?  Because cable has 2 profit streams:  subscription and advertising.  Network TV is a different beast and DVR is hurting the business of advertising.  So finding ways to implement advertising schemes in new ways and partnerships just like Subway and CHUCK are doing is the future.

No more BS, just a guy who generally tells it like it is.  I remember when the marketing guys threw around SCI-FI’s new name and slogan.  The slogan is “Imagine Greater,” and the the new name is SyFy.  I remember the “Imagine Greater,” line and I cracked a joke “I imagine better programming,” and Gaspin responded in a frank manner that admitted their lineup had been weak and wasn’t getting much better.

So we got the quiet guy now, and I think that is a good thing.  You won’t get a lot of quotes from him, but what we should get is an improvement in quality and vision.  Vision is important and NBC has to take what little successes they have and make do with them.

I don’t know how quickly he will pull the plug on Leno, but I suspect it won’t last a year.


53 responses to “NBC Does The Right Thing: BS OUT, GASPIN IN.

  1. I agree. I’m glad that Silverman is gone. I’m thankful that Silverman renewed Chuck for a third season, made the Friday Night Lights deal with DirectTV to last for two more seasons, and produced Kings (not perfect, but pretty damn good), but then again, he did want “escapist”-fare and produced mediocre and/or ratings-challegend shows like Knight Rider, Crusoe, My Own Worst Enemy, Kath & Kim, Lipstick Jungle, Howie Do It, Momma’s Boys, etc.

    I think Gaspin and Angela Bromstad will make a pretty good team also. And after reading all the scripts for Parenthood, Mercy, Trauma, Day One, Community, and 100 Questions, none of them were too bad. I was actually quite surprised. Community is a very funny comedy. Parenthood is probably the best drama of the bunch. Mercy and Trauma were better than I expected and they are two very different medical dramas. But I enjoyed Trauma a lot more. Day One was a decent (enjoyed it more than ABC’s V, but not as much as Flash Forward). And the only one that was OK but I didnt care too much for was the comedy 100 Questions, but I read it was being retooled.

    So with NBC new shows, I think they could do well. Its just Jay Leno. I can see his ratings being high in the beginning out of curiosity, but could it really sustain successful viewership 5-days a week for almost an entire year?

  2. I’m very hopeful to see what Gaspin has in store. BS once said that NBC wasn’t interested in being #1 in ratings…he was more interested in their profitability than quality. However, I kinda agree with his statement but for a different reason…NBC’s focus should be becoming #1 in viewer satisfaction…accomplish that, and the ratings will follow. Good programming, strategic advertising partnerships, and greater interaction with their consumers…the fans of their shows. Given the success Gaspin has had, I think he may get that concept. I’m not sure if he’ll be able to impact much with this season’s programming given the late hour of his appointment, but I’m excited to see if he can turn the ship around.

  3. Sounds like he knows what he’s doing. Hopefully that will benefit CHUCK in some way, shape or form, because (I know I’m a die-hard fan bordering, but not at the level of “fanboydom”) the show is just too good not to at least achieve “mid-level” success.

    Re: Leno. I thought that with Leno they didn’t really NEED to get good ratings in order to be profitable. What kind of numbers were we talking about previously in order to guarantee (or “save,” depending on your perspective) Leno at 10 p.m.??

    Thanks for all the research and info, Nick C. As I’ve stated before, I’m in the business that stresses HOPE, and I’ll remain hopeful!!

    Peace, all !!

  4. Interesting. You really think Leno will get canned by the seasons end? I must be the lone person thinking that might be a small success at 10pm for NBC.

  5. @ Wendy, i agree with you that keeping viewers satisfied will lead to better ratings. sadly, angela’s comments about chuck’s fans being so loyal that they’d wait 10 months for its return doesn’t show much value of or appreciation for their viewers. it is this kind of fan abuse that leaves viewers dissatisfied and ready to change channels.

  6. One thing that I could definitely see helping The Jay Leno Show, are the recently announced correspondents — Rachel Harris, DL Hugley, Mikey Day, Jim Norton, and NBC News anchor, Brian Williams. And I’m not going to lie, this news actually makes me interested about the new show too, which I never thought would happen.

    NBC has also been having 30-40second ad spots every night at 10pm for Jay Leno too (which gets a pretty big audience following the Tues & Weds editions of America’s Got Talent). I wouldnt be surprised if Jay Leno ends up doing much better than most of us think.

  7. Kwaku- I agree with you about Leno. The arguments are out there on both sides but when it comes down to it, no one has seen the final result yet. I have my doubts, but the quality of Jay’s “second fiddlers” is impressive. Heck- anytime Brian Williams is in a comedic position I’m watching! I think there will be a lot of people who are suprised by just how different the Leno show will be. It can’t possibly be consistently great, but it will be enough so that it’s a profit generator.

    I just don’t see the plug pulled in one season. The worst case scenario is that it drops down to a 2-3 night a week show in it’s second season. Hey, we can all beg for more scripted tv but who is to say that Leno can’t be the little brother you hate to love?

  8. Nick C, great article and definitely good news for Chuck fans and NBC as a whole. One thing that got my attention, you mentioned that Chuck would’ve been saved “one way or another.” Did that mean that Gaspin was seriously considering picking up the sho on cable i.e. USA Network? Did the show runners Schwartz and Fedak knew about this possibility?

  9. Thanks for the insight Nick. The way you describe it Zucker should be tendering his reignation for choosing BS over Gaspin previously.

    MERCY & DAY ONE look like the weak links out of the new shows. Not that I think MERCY looks awful, but I’m just not convinced it’s going to do anything sufficiently different to stand out amongst all the other medical dramas out there.

    I’m sure Leno makes sense financially, although they do seem a bit vague about what actually constitutes sucess or failure. What I think Nick C is saying here is that Leno getting cancelled in the end (if indeed it is) will have more to do with what sort of network NBC wants to be moving forward under Gaspin.

  10. >>Gaspin responded in a frank manner that admitted their lineup had been weak and wasn’t getting much better<<

    So I take it that Gaspin's not a fan of BSG/Caprica? I mean, the former was the network's (critical) flagship programme, and I'm sure they're hoping the latter is going to follow in its footsteps.

  11. ChuckNut: So typical of Angela and NBC. They assume that Chuck fans will just wait until March (which we will, lol) and that is their excuse for not striking while the iron is hot.

    Dear Angela: WOULD YOU LIKE TO INCREASE YOUR RABID FANBASE OF CHUCK FANS or just put it on the shelf until March because we will still be there eventually.

    This is retarded thinking and yet another example of NBC missing an opportunity.

    Gee what show got the most buzz this year? Let’s make sure that show goes on the shelf for as long as possible and make sure they don’t get their DVDs either. Yeah that sounds good Angela.

  12. CHUCK needs to wait until March. It’s better this way. The train wreck that happens with the NBC lineup needs to be completed before CHUCK comes back.

    Hype, waiting, and big Olympic marketing can extremely help the show, especially if the first episode does as well as I think it will with fans.

  13. Is it REALLY the case that the Season 2 DVDs aren’t coming out until FEBRUARY?? Now that is BEYOND retarded, stupid, or whatever other similar word you want to use.

    For CHUCK to EVER have a chance of growing it’s audience, it’s going to – just like it did with the survival of the show – rely on the die-hard fan base in order to do it.

    We had one wonderful avenue available to us in the ability to give to friends and family Seasons 1 or 2 – or better yet 1 & 2 together – for Christmas/Chanakuh/Kwanza or whatever gifts in December. Plenty of time for many people who still have no idea of what CHUCK is even about to sit in the comfort of their homes and watch episodes when they want – before the return in March.

    But if the DVDs aren’t coming out until FEBRUARY, there goes that excellent opportunity to introduce more folks to Chuck in time for Season 3.

    It is frustrating to see how people just mishandle all of this. They are supposed to know what they are doing – but the recent events which show that they DO get fired (call it a resignation if you want), show you that they DON’T always know what they’re doing. This again appears to be the case.

    If NBC execs are going to pull the bonehead move of definitely making the decision to wait until March to bring back Chuck – BEFORE they see what a miserable failure most of their Fall lineup WILL be (based on past history), then so be it. But at least release the DVDs in time for Christmas. Geez O Pete. How hard can that be??

    All our debating/discussing/bickering, etc. over the whole issue of the future of Chuck and Sarah isn’t going to make a bit of difference in the long run if they are going to keep making more and more stupid moves in regard to this show.

    The next thing we’ll hear is that they will do little or no promotion of the show during the Olympics – which again, wouldn’t surprise me. It would be just another to add to the list of bonehead moves.

    Let’s be honest, come February, people are going to be paying off Christmas credit card bills, and they’re sure not going to be in a position to spend the kind of $$ that they WOULD have spent on Chuck DVDs in November and December.

    Sure, call me a whiner and a negative thinker. But be honest, what I’m advocating is logical and makes sense in terms of helping promote the popularity of the show in time for Season 3 which is still some 200 days away from its premiere.


  14. I am ok with March. Truth be told, I hope they don’t use Chuck as a mid-season replacement. I want them to have that Olympics hype. I know the payoff is that we don’t get a back 9 but maybe we;ll get a S4 out of it.

    I’m so happy to read abt Gaspin’s well-established proof of success. Burn Notice and Royal Pains. Yes!

  15. As much as I’d like to see CHUCK return earlier there are so many positives going for it coming back from the Olympics.

    And the thinking is right. Chuck fans will return whenever the show comes back. They like to complain that it’s not coming back soon enough but they’ll be there when it returns.

    The biggest thing is gaining new viewers and if they do that correctly (and Chuckmeout is a step in the right direction, really push the PR for the show over several media sources, not just the online componant) over the course of it not being on the air, and advertising it properly leading up to and during the olympics I don’t see why it won’t premier with a ratings spike. Sustaining that then becomes the issue. and I think, since it’s not being promoted in the middle of the season like was done for the 3D episode it will be easier for people that aren’t familiar with it to access the show.

    But I think all good things leading up to March.

    The only misstep I think is the release of the DVD’s in 2010. Not everyone will discover the show online. I have some misgivings that NBC seems to only be putting their eggs into the online basket.

  16. Old European, if BSG is all that network has to brag about then it’s like bragging about finishing 60th in a race. There is nothing to be proud of, yes some critics liked BSG, but it was only some, it wasn’t widely considered “great,” but by a very vocal few. The show never had decent ratings numbers, EUREKA outperformed it.

  17. I’m glad BS is out too! Anyone with the initials BS needs to be GONE! Oh wait,my initials are BS.Seriously i think it’s a good thing,i guess we will see.You have to have someone that’s committed to their product,i want to see that person there!

    As far as Chuck Season 2 DVD’s,it a great lead in to Season 3 the following month.

    The Olympics killed Fear Itself last summer!Fear Itself was the ever-so popular hit that moved from Showtime to NBC and they also had to change the name from Master’s of Horror to Fear Itself! The Olympics will over rule everything while it’s going on so let NBC get that out of the way!

    Now i’m starting to hear good things about Heroes and that they may have i good season on the way!Who knows for sure till we see it!

  18. someguynamedjohn

    Febuary for theChuck Season2 DVDs… aw man, not cool, I have those on hold for the last couple of months on Amazon.. Maybe I should just buy the digital versions instead, and wait out the DVD’s. Hulu is great but it only has the last 8 episodes, and I really want to see the 1st couple again and again….;-).

    Thanks goodness BS is gone. When a broadcast network almost does nearly the same numbers as a cable channel you have to wonder why you are keeping him around. Heck you can almost justify moving the USA shows to NBC for profitability.

  19. Brian S, I’ve seen the early HEROES scripts…

    It sucks. The show is dead, dead, dead. It’s just a matter of time before the fans or NBC pull the plug.

  20. According to an article on TV.com about Comic-Con- Season 2 of Chuck is set to be released on 12/18- Just in time for the holidays!

  21. NickC, you’ve made it abundantly clear you don’t like the new BSG, and that’s fine. But clearly it was more than just “a few vocal critics” who liked the show, certainly the first two seasons. I don’t put much stock in awards, especially not actor-driven television ones, but just a look at the awards it’s won (especially the types of award) and the very diverse reactions by critics quoted on wikipedia, for example; those argue against mediocrity.

    It’s probably what saved the show, too, for as you’re right in pointing out, its ratings weren’t all that great (though DVD sales were reportedly fairly strong). Most of SyFy’s lineup is indeed utter garbage, and I’m sure they know it, so I’ve always assumed one of the reasons they kept BSG around was for image purposes. I’m sure they’re hoping that CAPRICA becomes a huge hit, but if the pilot is any indication (which, for the record, I thought was pretty awesome, but far less palatable for the average viewer than enjoyable, but lightweight formulaic fluff like EUREKA), it won’t. So I guess I’m hoping they’ll give the series a chance regardless, as long as it’s not too costly. I’m not old enough to wallow in the good old days; I need some good science-fiction shows that will, one day, become my TWILIGHT ZONE and TWIN PEAKS, unbeatable standards against which everything new and modern must automatically fail.

  22. @ Nick C. Thanks for the info. on HEROES. It was dead for me during Season 2 – which was truthfully really sad – because during Season 1 I LOVED it and was telling everyone about it just like I eventually was telling everyone about CHUCK. But then HEROES went down the tubes and THIS once RABID fan has ALREADY “chucked” it for good. No chance – EVER – that I’ll ever tune in again. It’s DONE.

    @ Gary M. 12/18 would be a better release date for the CHUCK S2 DVDs than Feb. 2010 – but a little earlier would be even better, because not everyone waits until the last week before Christmas to do their shopping, especially for on-line kind of stuff, which DVDs tend to be.

    Thanks, everyone, for your observations and comments, esp. Nick C. I’ll wait until March for my favorite show and see what happens. I’ll tune in for all 13 episodes, even if the Chuck/Sarah aspect of the show goes south instead of showing at least some reasonable progression. I’ll still eat my Subway footlong every Monday night – and even occasionally during the week to show support for them essentially saving the show from getting axed.

    But it will just be a shame if all the hard work that the fans have put into saving the show only results in it’s demise after the next 13 episode run because of bonehead moves on the part of the network execs. If they DON’T use the Olympics to REALLY, STRONGLY promote not only CHUCK but also their other “mid-season” shows, then somebody else should get fired, too.

  23. There are a lot of weak areas in the NBC schedule that will give an opportunity for Gaspin to show how he would handle things very quickly. Monday, Wednesday at 8, Southlands on Friday are all going to be problematic, as will, I think, some of the Thursday comedies. How he handles these over the short term and Leno over the long term will show at least in a small way what his ideas for the network are, it should be very interesting.

    Will he give shows time to sink or swim, will underperformers be banished to friday or saturday nights, will he keep up last year’s tactic of shoving a version of Law & Order in every open slot. What to do with Chuck is interesting and of personal interest to me, but Gaspin has much more pressing problems with the fall schedule now than what to do with Chuck until spring or summer.

  24. Nick, do you think Heroes will even make it to its 18 episodes? How bad is bad? Worse than the way they ended last season? Because that was ridiculous.

    Also, you said you think the first episode of Chuck S3 will be a hit with fans. I’m assuming you’ve got the inside track on the plan for S3. Do you think in terms of story, character development, and great writing it can top S2? My concern is that with a short season, planning for only 13 eps, we may get an abbreviated story sort of like S1. Not that that was bad, S1 was great. But S2 was pretty stellar. And I feel that the way that S2 ramped up at the end, the last five or so episodes, that that really helped the fans get motivated (both to watch and save the show) and helped the show to trend up slightly in the ratings.

  25. There is no upside to a March debut that I can think of except that it is now the plan, so I think sticking to the plan is a good idea. I would like for them to stick to the Olympics launch now…

    There is definitely no reason not to release the DVD now. That is probably a bigger mistake than anything else.

    Rick, I don’t know why you are so convinced that Chuck and Sarah might go backward. They will in the first episode because they need to have something to build back towards over the season but even Josh said their relationship will hit a new level and it will be really good.

  26. Nick,

    Community seems to have some buzz. That’s the only new NBC show I’m looking forward to.

  27. @Dave. I’m not “convinced” that it will go backward – I’m FEARFUL that it will go backward. I’m not really a “TV insider” by any means – before CHUCK I never even got on a blog of any kind. Just from what I hear from people who know J.S., they say he does this kind of stuff with romantically involved characters – always throwing something in that messes it up.

    Truthfully, I’m hopeful that what Nick C. says – and I believe/trust Nick C. – that the relationship will move forward slowly but surely.

    But even in looking at the last two episodes of Season 2. In “Colonel,” it all looks peachy, and Sarah says “It’s real.” Then in “The Ring,” she says, “Chuck, I’m leaving tomorrow. It’s classified.”

    Yes I know she eventually decides “not to go” (and since when did she ever have a choice as a CIA agent on whether or not to “accept” an assignment? Remember season 1 when she specifically told Chuck that agents DON’T get to choose).

    I – and it apparently isn’t just me – don’t want to see the Mickey Mouse backward and forward thing. Its’ been the formula for two seasons and it’s become old. As I’ve said before, I don’t think people are expecting a wedding (I’m not), nor am I expecting Ward and June Cleaver or Rob and Laura Petrie.

    My Father – God rest his soul – used to utter a common old saying. “S**t or get off the pot!” When it comes to the Chuck and Sarah thing, I think it applies. I don’t want S3 to have them spending more time sitting on the pot.

    I’m just one extremely devoted fan expressing an opinion about a show which I absolutely love, despite the time’s that it’s tortured me. No more no less.

    My main concern is that it doesn’t die with S3, because I want to see at least an S4 and if the writing keeps up, and S5, too.

  28. Frank – 13 episodes is ample time to tell any story if you know that’s how much time you have to tell it in. The reason for season 1’s abrupt end was (as I’m sure you know) the writers strike. I’m sure they had some actual conclusion to the season planned, but just never got the opportunity to tell it.

    One of the reasons I was so impressed by season 2 of Chuck was that they managed to overcome the shortening of season 1, get themselves back on track to where they planned to be originally, and at the same time turn out an improved season. “I know kung-fu” wasn’t part of the plan to begin with but I’m happy with the change. In view of the audience share the show needed a retool of sorts.

    Rick – Having been semi-forced to watch the OC by my then girlfriend I have to say that I’m not sure why JS gets such a hard time. Yeah, there was alot of angst, but then it’s teen drama, and that’s it’s thing. There’s precious little else to fill the time. Marissa & Ryan were both damaged goods, so it was entirely plausible for things to keep going wrong. I suppose killing Marissa off was perhaps a little extreme in terms of keeping them apart, but you could argue it was a resolution of sorts. I have to admit to having a small cheer when she finally parted company with this world.

    I point blank refuse to watch GOSSIP GIRL. Different girlfriend.

  29. I’m torn,i hope they don’t pull the plug! Wish it could end gracefully,i’d rather it end than get cancelled,what a promising phenom it was in the beginning!There are mixed reports out there good and bad but i do trust you!

    Rick,try Caprica when it starts in January,i have the DVD and love it!

    There wont be as many shows on this season i like,that’s for sure!

    Hey Nick C,i hear Bonnie over at CW also wants to go ahead and bring back Smallville for #10 and she also wants Kripke to keep Supernatural going after this season.Do you know anything about that?

  30. puredieselbc

    “There is nothing to be proud of, yes some critics liked BSG, but it was only some, it wasn’t widely considered “great,” but by a very vocal few. The show never had decent ratings numbers, EUREKA outperformed it.”

    Thank you NickC. I’ve believed this all along. The original BSG had a better premise but dated special effects. Thus all the fans of the remake thought the update was better…it wasn’t. Unforntuately the same crowd in now getting excited over the V remake on ABC. Boy are they gonna be disappointed.

  31. puredieselbc: Your opinion is your opinion, but as one of those fans of the remake (though not an uncritical one), I take issue with the suggestion that the special effects somehow dazzled us and blinded us to the awesomeness of the original show. No: the original is a ridiculous, campy, extremely 80ies, cashing-in-on-the-Star-Wars-craze, Mormons-in-space adventure. There’s nothing wrong with that, and I can certainly see a certain nostalgic appeal to that.

    But the new version is an entirely different beast *content-wise*. It’s relevant to our times in a way the old version never could be, because it’s *not* of our times. I don’t know viewership statistics, but I wouldn’t surprise me to hear that a significantly higher percentage of college-educated young people watched BSG than watch, say, EUREKA; if there is such a thing as a “Generation 9/11,” I’m part of it, and so are many of my friends who like the show.

    The new BSG debated a great many topics, and that was one of the reasons I rather liked the much-hated stand-alone episodes in season 3, and felt the show lost something when its story threads starting to come together in season 4.
    You can say that Moore’s approach was far from intellectual, and you wouldn’t be wrong, in that BSG never approached, say, Lynch-ian thematic density, and didn’t tend to be particularly subtle. But the show was more intelligent than a lot of other programming on at the time, and despite what you and NickC may feel, I think a lot of critics recognized that.

    So, in order to bring this comment around to what the blog post was originally about: I hope the powers-that-be saw the same potential I saw in the CAPRICA pilot when I watched it, and resist the urge to make it more palatable for a mass audience, by stripping out its more complex thematic subtexts, or by soap-diluting the characters too much.
    People who want their science-fiction to be escapist fun can still watch EUREKA or that new warehouse show. The existence of CAPRICA and (hopefully) V and DAY ONE doesn’t take away from that.

  32. @ Neil G. Thanks for the info re: the background of J.S. I’ve actually never watched an episode of “The O.C.” or “Gossip Girl,” however. But I’m hoping what your saying is correct and that J.S. kept the “ANGST” going because the shows were teen dramas.

    As I’ve said b/4, I just don’t want the Chuck and Sarah aspect of Chuck (which I know is not ALL that Chuck is about) to turn into “Angstapalooza.”

  33. Nick C – an excellent with great examples to support your opinion! I had no idea that Jeff Gaspin was behind the scenes of the successful shows you mentioned.

    On a separate note, being a huge fan of Chuck I was wondering if you think that you will still get the opportunity to ask Josh and Chris some of the Chuck questions that you asked the readers to post a little while ago.

  34. Personally, its better for Chuck to air the week following the Winter Olympics then now. Because if the show was pushed up to the fall, had it premiered to below expectations, then the show would have been done. Airing after the Olympics gives NBC the chance to give the show a huge promotional push; the net has been pretty vocal about splitting the 09-10 season into basically two seasons (with Parenthood, Chuck, Day One, 100 Questions, Celebrity Apprentice, etc), by using the Olympics as a launch pad. And unlike the Summer Olympics, NBC will have the benefit of airing all new programming the week after. Also, the Winter Olympics are in Canada this year, therefore more live viewing and ratings should be up (unlike 4 years ago when the US audiences new the outcomes of many events hours before it happened). But if Chuck still performs to below average ratings, I really dont see Bromstad wanting to keep the show for a fourth season, because in all fairness, its been relaunched twice all ready (first after the strike, then with the Superbowl).

    And as for the new Battlestar Galactica, I’m going to have to disagree with Nick C on this one. Yeah, the ratings became pretty low as the show went on (though went up again in its final season), but I thought it was amazing and I think it had VERY strong critical support —

    — AFI’s Top 10 Television Shows (2005 & 2006)
    — Time Magazine’s Best Show (#1, 2005; #7, 2006; #8, 2008)
    — Newsday Top 10 TV Shows (#1, 2005; #3, 2006)
    — Chicago Tribune’s Top 10 TV shows (2005; 2006; 2008)
    — Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Top 10 TV shows (#1, 2005)
    — Entertainment Weekly Top 10 TV Shows (#3, 2006)
    — TV Guide’s Top 10 TV Show (#5, 2006)
    — TV Guide’s Best Shows (2008)
    — Time’s The 100 Best TV Shows of All-TIME (2007)
    — The New York Times’ Top 10 TV Shows (#8, 2007)
    — TCA Program of the Year (2009)

    Its up there with other drama shows that are loved by critics (but not so much by the academy) such as Friday Night Lights and The Wire. Though I did view Caprica — not blown away by it like I was hoping… I dont know if the Syfy crowd will go for it. Its more of a family drama if anything and I can really only see it appealing to a fraction of the BSG audience. I enjoyed Ron Moore’s Virtuality a lot more and I wish that was airing on Syfy instead.

  35. One show on SyFy I’m now thoroughly hooked on is Sanctuary. What started as a Web series was re-shot and brought on SyFy,

    It’s a “classier” version of Fringe, essentially, with more interesting monsters and better acting.and more fun sets. I love this show.

    It helps that two of the stars are Amanda Tapping (who I’ve never seen before, since I never watched Stargate) and Emilie Ullerup, a new girl who kicks butt about as well as Summer Glau!

    My favorite character is John Druitt, however, played by Christopher Heyerdahl, who was the original Jack The Ripper according to the story. Alternately insane and helpful, but always sinister. And he gets to play two parts, because he also plays the Neanderthal man-servant “Big Guy”!

    They always open the show in an interesting way. One episode was set in a downed airplane, another in the lead character’s personal submarine. The two cliff-hanger ending episodes brought back two of my favorite Highlander alumni, Jim Byrnes and Peter Wingfield.

    This is a great show. Anybody who likes Fringe or the like should be watching it.

  36. Kwaku:”because in all fairness, its been relaunched twice all ready (first after the strike, then with the Superbowl).”

    Which begs the question, is it that most Americans (or Nielsen sampling) just aren’t into this kind of show? Or has it just had bad luck (writer’s strike, NBC mishandling of spacing of eps, etc)? I guess we’ll find out after the Olympics.

    As for the show V. I saw the rough pilot. I didn’t like it. Morena Baccarin was fantastic though. Seriously understated creepines.

  37. imkeh – I think the BRUTAL time slot has had alot to do with it. When you go up a television phenomenon like Dancing with the Stars, your chance of generating big ratings numbers isn’t going to be too good.

    It may be a lame a** show, but people LOVE DWTS! It’s water cooler talk, etc., etc. If Chuck is going to survive, it’s going to come down to this – NBC is going to make enough of a profit off of it with no-so-good ratings (which they seem like they’ve found a way to do with Subway), and Subway is definitely going to have to see a regular return on their investment. So CHUCK fans eating at Subway, esp. on Monday nights starting in March, is going to be key as to whether or not Subway is in this thing for a Season 4 imho.

  38. I agree with you Rick, if there’s one thing that hurt Chuck, the time slot it’s in played a significant role. Not only going up against DWTS, but also the emergence of The Big Bang Theory and resurgence of HIMYM, not to mention FOX moving HOUSE to the 8pm hour during the spring. When you have all opposing networks debuting shows some of their top shows, no doubt it’s going to be tough for Chuck.

    Not to mention bad luck and bad scheduling on NBC’s part. Chuck was growing in the ratings (viewers and the important demos) going into it’s winter finale and NBC decided to take the show off for 6 weeks. The Super Bowl “relaunch” worked to an extent as it got 8.5m and a 3.0 in the demos, both season highs. But what happen the following week? Obama had his press conference, which not only killed any momentum Chuck had coming out of the Super Bowl, but it also cause episodes to air out of order.

    What Chuck has demonstrated is that if it can air episodes uninterrupted, it will grow in the ratings. It happen during the first season and the same exact thing happen during the second season- NBC decided to put Chuck on a prolong break during the winter just as Chuck was picking up in the ratings, effectively killing momentum.

    Hopefully, things will change this upcoming season.

  39. Neil – The rumor was that the Jill arc was supposed to be in the second half of S1. I tend to think that would have been better for the show.

  40. Nick C,

    I know that NBC was thinking about running Chuck in the summer months. If they are done filming in December would NBC need to have to make the decision to order more episodes before the first episodes is shown.

    What would be the deciding factor in getting more epsiodes and when is the latest they can make that decision. Based on the Comcion interviews the producers are acting like this is Chuck’s last year. With the 13 episode order and late start I am starting to think that this might be the case.

    You have seen the Chuck bible know what Season 3 is about and you know the NBC mindset. What do you predict will happen to Chuck this year? 13 and out. 13 and a season 4 or extend season 3 to more episodes.

    Thank you,

  41. Frank – Thanks for the info. Didn’t know that about the Jill arc, but it makes sense.

    The survival of Chuck past this season is an interesting question. There are a few commentators on TVBTN that think NBC should axe Chuck after this season and that frankly it should never have been brought back due to it’s perceived poor showing. I think this is being a bit simplistic (as well as blatant trolling). There’s no guarantee that another show in the same slot would do as well which we may well see with Day One. It’s going to take something a bit special to break House & DWTS hold on that slot for the forseeable future, and I don’t think at the moment that NBC has anything up it’s sleeve. Chuck may not be setting the world alight in the ratings, but I presume it’s still profitable, and it is hanging onto its audience share.

    Big Bang Theory moving is probably the most important change. Even a moderate increase in viewers for Chuck would seem like a victory at the moment. I’d like to see it back up to where it was in S1 with around 7.5M viewers and hopefully more. They’re out there somewhere.

    With precious little scripted drama on NBC, Chuck remains one of the few that critics actually like or at least don’t outright hate (Heroes). Image counts, especially if you’re the 4th place network under new management trying to recover from a two year debacle under the previous guy.

  42. Whether Chuck returns for a fourth season, predictably, depends on what it’s ratings are this season. Leaving aside Leno’s ratings and the available schedule time it represents, there are 10 t0 13 hours of schedule available (monday to friday and sunday in the winter/spring). NBC’s top rated shows are likely to be(in no particular order) Biggest Loser, L & O SVU, The Office and (inexplicably) Celebrity Apprentice. Now anything can happen but those shows are likely to be safe, that is 5.5 hours.

    Realistically NBC is likely to keep thursday for comedies so that is another 1.5 hours of the schedule. That is a total of 7 hours, allow 2 to 3 hours of new programing and there are 3 to 4 hours available on the schedule. If Chuck’s ratings put it within the first 3 of: Heroes, Trauma, Day One, Mercy, Parenthood, L & O, Southland and whatever has the extra hour on Sunday this winter then it gets season 4, if not then it is done.

    That is why the question of when it returns is so important, is it likely to do better dropped into a slot that NBC is losing with little promotion before march or to wait until march and start as scheduled in a tough slot but with decent promotion.

  43. Whoops the other wild card, besides Leno’s time, is whether NBC sticks with the split schedule or goes back to the standard format. A split schedule increases the chances of a return but decreases the likely number of episodes.

  44. OldEuropean, according to Nielsen the majority of BSG watchers on Sci-Fi weren’t even college graduates. So your theory is shot in the foot.

    As for the original being mormons in space… I suggest you watch it, again. It’s far more relevant to our times today than you think.

  45. Can you good folks help me settle a recent disagreement – and supply me with some facts to support me (if I’m in fact, correct).

    I was talking with a friend about the “new” BSG vs. the “original” BSG. I claimed that I didn’t watch the original because it was one of those shows that just jumped on board the Star Wars Mania, and I (as a kid of about 13 or 14 or whatever, didn’t care for the BSG TV series).

    The people with whom I was having this discussion claimed that NO, that BSG came BEFORE Star Wars. I was sure it came after. Unless maybe they meant that there was a BSG movie that gave birth to the original series – and the movie may have come before Star Wars – while the TV series came AFTER Star Wars.

    Anyway. HELP! What were the dates of the original Star Wars movie, the BSG original series, and the BSG original movie (if my memory is right and there was one).

    Thanks, everybody. And Peace!

  46. Rick – Star Wars came before BSG. Star Wars was released in 1977, and the orginal season of BSG ran from 78-79. The pilot came out the same year.

    Ken – There’s none there that look like being outright successes. With a bit of crystal ball gazing I reckon Parenthood looks like it has potential. I’m going to say that Heroes is doomed, unless something radically improves, and even then maybe not. I’m not optimistic about Southlands. L&O is a known quantity, so it really depends if Gaspin wants to be the guy who pulls the plug or not. The medical dramas will do ok, with my money on Trauma. Day One may be ok but based on the comments from Angela Bromstad about genre shows, has it effectively been cancelled before it starts?

  47. Neil G. Thanks for the info!!

  48. Rick — IMDB & Wikipedia are your friend —

    The original BSG premiered Sept 17 1978, Star Wars opened May 25 1977.

    According to Wikipedia entry, BSG’s Executive Producer Glen Larson claims he originally came up with the idea in the ’60s, but couldn’t get the project green-lit until ’78 (likely due to the desire by the networks to cash in on the Star Wars craze).

  49. I think some Chuck fans are too close to the trees to see the woods. Chuck has been gaining fans from word of mouth…most people don’t watch obscure shows on dead last networks until somebody else makes them. I think more people want to see Chuck today than ever before because more people are aware of the show now. I know the people I have shown the show to like it.

    Also, Chuck is the case model for what could be a whole new way of doing product placement and show sponsorship. I doubt NBC wants that to fail. NBC seems to be angling Chuck to be the exciting new show for people to tune into after the olympics. It could literally be all they have at that point besides maybe one or two surprise hits out of the ‘original content’ barrel and Thursday comedy.

    The idea that the show was launched twice is a little silly. The first season nearly died off from the writers strike which was a black hole for all other newly launched shows that season.

    I don’t remember any particular ‘launching’ in season two, just the most competitve timeslot on television on the worst channel. I don’t even remember the show starting on the same week as other shows in the fall. The super bowl promotion still hurts my head, the episode gives you a headache without those 3-D glasses to combine the different color streams.

    I think people are so scared about so many factors at this point that aren’t going to happen. Chuck will probably have an uptick in their type fans. That is all NBC and Subway needs to make some money on the show. In a recession you don’t make crazy bets if you can help it but take a sure bet.

    Now if we could get the DVD released…

  50. @Rick Holy:

    Glen Larson’s original idea was called Adam’s Ark and it involved a Howard Hughes type’s computers predicting the imminent destruction of the planet Earth. He gathers the greatest minds of his age at a party and unbeknown to them, the venue for the party is part of a space ship that takes off, leaving the Earth in search of a new home planet for the selected few to re-establish the human race.

    Larson came up with this idea when the original Star Trek was on the air, but he couldn’t get a network to bite.

    When Star Wars hit, everyone and their mother was looking for the next Star Wars and Universal went to Larson (their go-to TV guy) when they sold ABC on the idea of doing a space show. Larson dusted off Adam’s Ark, reversed the premise (instead of us going out there, they were coming to us) and Adam’s Ark, or Star Worlds, or Earthstar eventually became Battlestar Galactica.

  51. NickC: Well, d’uh! The majority (by far) of *Americans* aren’t college graduates. So I’m not sure what that factlet of yours is supposed to prove; it certainly doesn’t commit violence against my “theory,” which is more of an impression, anyway: that it wouldn’t surprise me to hear that the *percentage* (which, you know, is what I wrote) of young people my generation (about 16-27, maybe) among BSG viewers was unusually high for the network and for TV in general. The idea is that the show’s ideas and thematic treatment resonate with my generation more than the old version ever could, with or without outdated special effects. I’d also expect this resonance in particular among young people who attended at least some college, just because the show’s subject matter lends itself to be intellectually appreciated; that’s where the college part came in.
    Is it true? I have no idea. I don’t have access to the data (except an article google found: that apparently BSG’s female viewers tended to have above-average income; the link to my argument is, of course, only tangential). I may well be wrong, and the show’s main audience may consist of high school dropouts who just watch it for the pretty explosions. I kind of doubt that, though.

    As for relevancy, I actually don’t see how the somewhat simplistic Cold-War-mindset of good guys versus bad guys from the original can possibly be more relevant to today than the re-imagined version with its terrorism, enemies from within, ideological rifts and insurgencies (among other topics). Why don’t you enlighten me?

  52. Okay Nick C. I figured out what you are talking about with Ali. Josh ain’t holding anything back this season, huh? We get the whole story don’t we?

    So do we let the angst ridden fans twist in the wind for a while longer? LOL.

  53. WRT Chuck, since the decision was made to launch Season 3 in March, on the heels of heavy promotion during the Winter Olympics, NBC should absolutely stick to that schedule.

    I believe using Chuck as a mid season replacement, would kill the show. It wouldn’t have the excitement of a normal September season launch. But would instead be placed in a slot that already had no one watching at that time.

    I will say the decision to release the DVD in February is stupidity. I figure the best thing to do is to get more new people interested in Chuck before the series restarts in March. Releasing the DVD in February will not do that.

    I figure the only people who will be buying the Chuck DVD in February are folks who are already fans of the show. The time to release it is in time for the Holiday gift giving season. That means sometime before Thanksgiving since a lot of people start their Holiday giving then.