All season long, NBC’s “Chuck” and Fox’s “Fringe” have been in a neck-and-neck battle as the worst show I can’t seem to quit (“Glee” lost the race last November, when I kicked it to the curb. It really wasn’t hard). “Fringe” has had great ideas but lousy, convoluted execution, while “Chuck” has really had nothing much of value to offer this season other than a history I’ve developed with the characters over the last four years. I don’t enjoy watching “Chuck” but I feel a weird sense of loyalty to the people who populate the show. I had hoped — especially after the ratings began to plummet even further than they had before — that NBC would make the decision easy on me and simply cancel it. But like “Fringe” — which was renewed despite having only half the viewers of far better shows like “Chicago Code” and “Breaking In, which were cancelled — NBC has apparently decided to renew “Chuck,” too. That’s despite a 1.4 rating, which is like an old-school UPN rating. It’s bad. Really bad.
But it’s consistent. And NBC, the perpetually fourth-placed network, wants consistency, plus the ad revenue that the “Chuck” Subway sandwich campaign brings in. So, NBC has decided to pick up “Chuck” for a half-season of 13 episodes, although Seth reminds me that last year it was only picked up for 13 episodes, too, only to get a full-season pickup when NBC realized it had nothing else to air. So, it looks as though I, and others who feel similarly, will have to suffer through at least another 13 episodes because we just can’t quit the damn thing. (The announcement will not be official until Sunday).
It’s not official yet, either, but sources also say that things are looking good for a “Parenthood’s” third season renewal, and this I can get behind, as it’s become my favorite drama on network television.
Things do not look so rosy for two potential series which have received quite a bit of buzz over the last couple of months. NBC announced the pick-up of four new shows, but not among them were David E. Kelley’s “Wonder Woman” or the “Mad Men” era “The Playboy Club,” which was set to star Amber Heard. That doesn’t mean they won’t be picked up, but it would seem odd that NBC would announce four new shows without announcing those high-profile pilots.
And what are the four new shows that will make an appearance, at least briefly, on the NBC fall schedule?
Whitney: A half-hour sitcom based on the stand-up comedy of Whitney Cummings, who will also write the show about a young couple experiencing the ups and downs of a committed relationship. It will star Scott Stuber, Quan Phung and Barry Katz. I probably should know who Whitney Cummings is, but I do not. I understand she’s very funny. Sometimes that even translates into a decent series.
Up All Night: Christina Applegate will take yet another stab at a network comedy, this time starring as a mother in this comedy series that takes an “irreverent” look at parenting through the eyes of an acerbic working mother (Applegate) and her stay-at-home husband (Will Arnett). Both Arnett and Applegate have been ratings poison since “Married with Children” and “Arrested Development,” respectively, but maybe they will cancel each other out and “Up All Night” will catch on.
Smash: NBC discovered, with “The Voice,” that they could duplicate “American Idol” with even bigger stars as judges, so they look to be doing the same here with “Smash,” the network’s version of “Glee,” with Steven Spielberg a executive producer. Debra Messing and Katherine McPhee will star in this series about a cross-section of characters who work to put on a Broadway musical about Marilyn Monroe.
Prime Suspect: This is my favorite of the announcements, a remake of the stellar British miniseries starring Helen Mirren. The action moves to New York, where Mario Bello will take on the role as a detective in a precinct dominated by men. Peter Berg, who exec produced and directed the pilot for “Friday Night Lights,” will fulfill the same roles for “Prime Suspect.”
There will plenty more announcements throughout the week and into next about the network’s fall schedule, and either Seth or myself will continue to keep you updated.