Posted by: Captain Easychord | January 12, 2010

Chuck and Conan vs. The Nielsens and NBC

“Chuck” is the best show on television today and on Sunday night, it made its long-awaited two hour season premiere.  Monday night, another episode aired at its regularly scheduled time, getting the show’s third season started with a bang.  I’ve previously mentioned how good “Chuck” is, what with the smart writing, appealing characters and pop culture references, so I can’t help but recommend checking it out if you missed it (even if the first of season three’s new episodes was perhaps the worst in the show’s tenure… it seems to have been an aberration).

Although it’s an exciting time for “Chuck” fans like myself, there is also some anxiety as the show makes its season three debut.  A year ago, lagging ratings numbers evidently put “Chuck” on the bubble for cancellation.  Fortunately, the bubble broke favorably and “Chuck” was picked up for another half-season.  Despite the reprieve (or perhaps because of it), some people still put “Chuck” on the cancellation watchlist for this year.

So although this season has gotten off to a great start with two strong episodes (yes, and the one clunker), the ultimate harbinger of the show’s fate won’t be the critic’s opinions or my own subjective assessments of quality.  In the television business, audience numbers are usually the sole determining factor in renewal decisions.  It’s a game where quantity trumps quality every time.  There just isn’t a way to account for an audience’s enthusiasm just yet.

So today, I took a look at the ratings numbers for the first two nights of “Chuck.”  Now I’m not a TV numbers guru – perhaps Dan can read the tea leaves a little better – but it looks like a bit of a mixed bag.  “Chuck” seems to have had fewer total viewers than any show on a Big-4 network, so that’s bad (and seriously America… “The Batchelor”?!?  Get some taste!).  On the flipside, ratings were up over last year and perhaps more importantly, among the highest for any NBC show this year.  Furthermore, with the demise of the Jay Leno Show, NBC is going to have an additional five hours of primetime to fill next year.  Now TV executives aren’t the brightest folks around, but hopefully they’re smart enough to keep a critically acclaimed show that does better than anything else the network has to offer when they’re hard pressed to fill out a lineup.

Oh and speaking of stupid network executives and NBC’s late night situation, that’s a mighty fine mess that NBC has made of Conan O’Brien and The Tonight Show.  I don’t watch late night talk shows that often, but Conan has been the funniest guy in the genre for a good long time now.  David Letterman’s schtick hasn’t been funny for at least ten years and Jay Leno was never entertaining.  Jimmy Kimmel doesn’t even belong in the conversation.  The only guy who can really rival Conan is his replacement at Late Night, Jimmy Fallon.  Fallon may be hit-and-miss, but the hits are good and his enthusiasm is endearing.

All the controversy has evidently been good for The Tonight Show’s viewership, and after announcing that he won’t accept a move to 12:05, I’m certainly tuning in tonight to see what Conan has to say… and yeah, it’s just a coincidence that “Chuck” star Zachary Levi will be on tonight as well.  But so far, Conan has handled his situation with class and humor… for a good example of the latter from last night, see the clip below:

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more about “Chuck and Conan vs. The Nielsens and NBC“, posted with vodpod

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