November 19th, 2009
Just an hour after the news breaks about Lost’s sixth season premiere, another internet criticism favourite breaks similar news. After rumours of the show gaining an order for six additional episodes broke about a month ago, it was expected that the show would be moved up from its schedule March premiere date, and today’s news of a two-night, three-hour premiere event of sorts confirms those expectations.
And yes, you read that correctly: in the spirit of 24 (and launching around the same time, really), Chuck will be airing a two-hour season premiere (which is actually two episodes, as they had not planned for a lengthy premiere) on Sunday, January 10th, at 9pm before moving to their regular timeslot with a third new episode on Monday, January 11th, at 8pm. Now, there’s something to be said about this strategy: it creates more of an “event” style premiere to capture people’s attention, which is why 24 has been doing them for a while, and it also ensures that the show gets some plot momentum going into the Olympics break in February.
However, there’s enough concerns surrounding this move for my excitement to be tempered by at least a little bit of concern, as I’ll discuss after the break.
There’s a few reasons that this plan concerns me. First, while it’s quite possible other networks might not yet be programming originals on that night, the Olympics might mean they are, which would create a lot of competition from Desperate Housewives, Brothers and Sisters, and FOX’s comedies. And since NBC has the rights to the two Wild Card games on January 9th as opposed to January 10th, there’s no actual show to really launch the night, and since NBC’s Sunday lineup will have been entirely football up to that point no one is expecting to find drama on the network on Sundays (and those football viewers will be watching CBS, who has football rights on that night that will compete directly with Chuck’s launch).
Also, while the 24 premiere schedule made sense before the proliferation of the DVR, three hours of TV is a lot for people to catch up on if there’s other programming on the night in question, which could hurt the time period debut. I don’t doubt Chuck fans will be clambering to watch the new episodes as soon as they are, but I do doubt that any new viewers will feel like they can “jump right in” with three hours to watch over two nights. The fact that they’re all individual episodes, too, sort of takes the “event” feeling out of the actual content of the episodes: I have no doubt they’ll be awesome, but they’ll be more awesome for fans than they will be for the new viewers that, let’s face it, the show needs if it has any chance of continuing (even if the expectations at NBC have at this point dropped to the point where Chuck’s second season would be one of its highest rated scripted series).
Now, I’ll be there with bells on as will all Chuck fans, but it just seems like a bit of a strange way to premiere a show like this. It allows them to get six episodes in before the Olympics, leaving 13 episodes after the break which will take them comfortably into May Sweeps, but otherwise it doesn’t feel as if it really benefits the chances for the show to gain some new viewers. If it’s confirmed that there’s a football overrun, and that NBC won’t be expecting the show to self-start on a Sunday, then this move makes more sense. However, as it is, Chuck’s future is basically behind handled in a fashion entirely dictated by NBC’s schedule shuffling as opposed to thinking about drawing in new viewers, which is something I feel needs to be pointed out.
But, seriously: really excited. Honestly.