TV On My Terms: Chuck Raving Mad

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Two TV On My Terms posts in one day? What can I say, sometimes the urge to say something strikes, and you have to do what you have to do.

For all TV Fanatics, the sad, painful truth is that, regardless of our feelings, TV shows end. Sometimes after a good long run, sometimes after only a season. Some shows are outstanding, some are mediocre; some go through so many changes over time that they cycle from the former to the latter - and only in the rarest of cases do they ever reverse that pattern.

Often when there is a show on the bubble, as they say, particularly genre shows with strong cult followings, fans start trying to think of all sorts of crazy ways to try and improve the viewership because they are convinced that life will not continue if said show should end up officially on the chopping block.

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I'm not trying to make fun of that feeling, I've been there. I was one of the few stalwarts who thoroughly enjoyed Alias in its final season, despite some admitted unevenness in the stories. I would have been thrilled to see it renewed for a sixth or seventh (heck even on through to a tenth!) season, if ABC had it in their hearts to do so.

Regardless of any fan campaign that may have existed at the time, Alias was going to end, and I had to accept that. I'm aware that some shows have had some success in beating the odds due to fan response in the past. Yes, Roswell got an additional season due to incessant fans refusing to give up. I believe the same was true for Jericho, and even NBC's Chuck saw a measure of success in that regard (though I attribute the latter's success more to Subway's involvement early on and the horrible performance of other NBC shows over the last four years than actual fan power).

There comes a time, however, when fandoms go so stark raving mad over the potential loss of their television lifeline, they try to go after the absolutely unachievable.

The latest somewhat-organized effort by a few of the gotta-at-least-admire-their-tenacity-if-not-ingenuity Chuck fans to actively "recruit" Nielsen viewers to  watch the show on Mondays has got to be one of the most far-fetched I've seen yet, not to mention poorly thought out. (An attempt to even mildly tamper with the Nielsen system of anonymity and statistics can't be good.)

The ratings have decreased season after season, and although seeming to have stalled at a borderline acceptable point in Chuck's fourth year, recently even those numbers have started to fall.

To put it bluntly, it's bleeding even its core fans at an alarming rate. I was once of them; a very devoted fan who enjoyed the escapades of a nerd dipping a toe into the spy world and hopefully getting the girl. It was a fun escape, even if on the more silly side. I won't go into great detail as to why I stopped watching, but essentially it boils down to a steep drop in story quality. You can't deny its there. Even some of the most diehard Chuck fans begrudgingly admit its not as good as it was two seasons ago. I love the actors, I'll always have a soft spot for the characters as they once were, but I no longer watch Chuck with any regularity, if at all. They lost me as a viewer.

My personal feelings on the quality notwithstanding, my basic point is to expect new fans to tune in en masse at this point is, frankly, ridiculous. It's not going to happen. Period. That ship has sailed. The fact that it's losing, or at least beginning to bore, even once-adoring fans should be proof enough.

My suggestion, welcome or not, to these fans mounting this ultimately ill-advised Nielsen campaign is this: let it go.

Even if Chuck gets a reprieve for one more season, it will not be due to your campaigning. Why go through the futile, frustrating efforts when there is no chance of achieving what you are setting out to accomplish? Instead, just sit back, relax and enjoy what time you have left with the show. That's really the best thing you can do. Watch it while you can. Relish whatever joy you get out of it. Discuss it with your friends and have fun with it. If you can talk a friend or family member into enjoying it with you, do it! And if you get a slight overnight ratings bump, celebrate that.

Then go outside. Get some fresh air. Smell a rose or two. Play with your kids. Kiss your significant other. Get some exercise. Enjoy your life in the three dimensional world. Remind yourself that life will go on without Chuck, or [ insert-your-favorite-show-here ] because, whether you like it or not, the end is coming, just as it did for my beloved Alias.

Before you know it, you'll find a new TV love that will fill the void in your heart without crowding out the memories of your former favorite, and you'll be just fine.

Follow Jeffrey on Twitter @TVOnMyTerms.

Jeffrey Kirkpatrick is a TV Fanatic Staff Writer. Follow him on Twitter.


Chuck's biggest stumbling block has been, and continues to be, Dancing with the Stars. It's a live competition, and popular across the viewer spectrum, and Chuck will take the back seat for weeks until it's over. I don't have a recorder and so can only try to catch repeats of Chuck, and the occasional new episode. A lot of people won't even do that. House has the same problem. I abandoned it for Chuck, and it's still frustrating that I've long since lost the storyline.


Couldn't agree more Jeff. I was too depressed learning Heroes got cancelled last time. But one thing that I did to make myself feel better was reading negative reviews about the show. Perhaps now it's time to do the same thing to get over Chuck.


@Jeffery That's a very good point but instead of acknowledging the validity of your opinion, in true internet fashion I'll just call you an idiot for having an opinion different from mine instead. :) kthxbai


@art budget has nothing to do with sloppy writing and weak plot development. The writing staff has gone through a huge turnover since season two. That's the real problem. Some of the best shows on television have limited budgets. Creatively talented writers would be able to overcome such limitations and that is just not the case here. But again, the point of my article is being missed. I'm not dissing on Chuck in general. I'm calling out the more radical fans who think that somehow they can do something to increase the viewership and it's just not gonna happen this late in the game.


Yes Chuck has dropped off in terms of story quality but I think the biggest reason is budget. NBC keeps slashing their budget year after year after year and they just can't AFFORD to do what they did in Season 2. I mean the Buy More has been reduced to "The Adventures of Jeff and Lester" and even then we only see them every other episode at best and that's because of budget. They simply can't afford to PAY them for every episode anymore (This has been stated by the creators at conventions). They are squeezing every last penny each episode. If NBC renews them I want them to give them some actual CASH so they can go back to making quality episodes.


Go outside??? When does one have time for that? (Actually at the moment I'm typing this on my laptop in the back yard)
TV is no longer the problem - it's the internet. In fact, sometimes when I'm watching TV, I wish I was on the internet (and sometimes I just am). Then again, Monday night on TV, Facebook and Twitter were mentioned more than once... I may not be seeing my friends face to face, but at least we are talking - and that's actually more interesting than a lot of TV. For the record, I won't beat NBC up if it cancels Chuck as long as it doesn't cancel Parenthood. And I say this despite the fact that this week was the first time ever that I watched an episode twice - on the same night. Good ep. I don't care if you could drive a truck thru the plot holes. Casey and fam and Sarah and fam were just great stories.


@Jason thanks for your comment! Alias is my favorite show of all time, so definitely appreciate your thoughts. Yes definite similarities to Alias (albeit in a dumbed down/comedic way) in particular with the SpyMommy story. In fact I've heard before that the creators of Chuck sort of garnered (pardon the pun) inspiration from the earlier spy series. Season 3 did cause somewhat of an uproar, folks who felt it didn't uphold the standards of quality as seasons one and two. I personally enjoyed it and agree that watching the season all the way through on DVD definitely holds up better. I agree having a singular villain ala Sloane would have helped Chuck, but obviously the show isn't intended to be taken seriously. Which is what's so frustrating, because sometimes they play the spy part serious and sometimes completely campy. That has irked me for some time. I had been losing interest in it gradually all season and finally bailed when they introduced Volkoff's daughter as his likely successor. It was then I realized the charm of seasons 1 & 2 would never return so it was best to cut my losses now. I have no idea if Chuck will get a fifth season. If it does, then that's great for all those diehard (read: kinda loco ) fans out there. I certainly will not be returning to their ranks come the fall.


First time poster, hope you don't mind, chuck vs alias caught my eye - I watched my first alias ep in january, recently made it to the finale ep of season 5 - I have watched chuck religiously since the pilot. I have a few comments: 1 - I love alias, it caught me by surprise. 2 - Many of the cringeworthy parts of chuck are put in context by watching and enjoying alias, I wish I had watched Alias first. Chuck's angst even in season 3 would seem like nothing if I had first watched alias. 3 - Chuck has more or less followed the outline of alias, which might mean the cliffy for chuck season 4 is either a sarah pregnancy or chuck and sarah are driving away on their honeymoon and getting hit by a car. My first ? is did season 3 of alias cause an uproar like season 3 of chuck did? Watching it in rapid order, was not all that bad, but I don't think I would have enjoyed sitting thru it on a weekly basis? Have you ever written an article comparing the 2 shows?
vaughn = sarah
sydney = chuck
jack = orion
dixon = casey
marshall = morgan
irina = mama b
One of chuck's problems is no sloan, not even a sark, irina's sisters, on and on ...although volkov if the show sticks, could become that complex villain the chuck show is missing.


hi, this is great


I still can't give up on it but I agree Sara. I think they're trying too hard to bring in some other viewership (people who like the romantic entanglements) that isn't going to happen. It's had some glimmers of hope with the writing this year when they STOP focusing on the relationship, it was fun to see the Big Mike/Buy More/BM episode, which was the kind of mix that made the show more fun. Season 2 was the best season of any show I've ever watched. I just recently went back through the entire series and remembered how much I loved the Chuck of that time. I only hope, when it ends, it's given proper closure.

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Chuck Quotes

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Chuck Music

  Song Artist
Wait it out Wait It Out Imogen Heap iTunes
Black and gold Black and Gold Sam Sparro iTunes
Just dropped in to see what condition my condition is in Just Dropped In (To See What Condition My Condition Is In) Kenny Rogers iTunes