Fall schedule news: NBC nears deal for more Chuck, picks up four new shows
All that stuff we said yesterday about the networks cleaning house? Forget it. Because it looks like NBC is going to hang on to Chuck for at least another 13 episodes, at least according to reports from IGN. If only those in the great Subway push of 2009 could know what they hath wrought!
Chuck, which is starting to look virtually unkillable, would get to 91 episodes with the proposed order. A “back-nine” order would get the series to 100 episodes on the dot, though 91 should be more than enough for some enterprising cable network to take a chance on daily reruns of the show. (Hell, we’d argue 78’s enough, and it might be time to leave well enough alone, but this is a happy day for Chuck fans, and they’ve been known to kill dissenters with their brain powers.) The series, which is perpetually low-rated (to the point where recent episodes have just barely cracked 4 million viewers and a 1.0 rating in the key, 18-49-year-old demo), has survived by being willing to do pretty much anything to save a buck or two. Once all of television has been canceled, the cast of Chuck will soldier on, acting out new episodes in co-creator Josh Schwartz’s living room, using sofa cushions for special effects and whatever they can find in Schwartz’s kitchen to deliver awkwardly paced and timed product placement pitches.
The Chuck renewal isn’t quite final yet (though by the time it pops up at this stage of the online rumor mill, it might as well be), but it sounds like the fate of its Monday night companion, The Event, is, according to Deadline. The Event looks to be almost certainly canceled, an ignominious fate to a series that debuted with 11 million viewers, then immediately squandered nearly all of them through haphazard plotting, characters that made no sense, and big mysteries that were boring (though even we’ll admit the genetically altered little mutant girls were a nice touch). The Event will almost certainly end on a cliffhanger, which will prompt the one or two people still defending it all over the Internet to accuse everyone who tuned out of the show of being idiots who weren’t smart enough to understand the series (as one of the show’s producers all but says here).
NBC wasn’t just canceling things and continuing the unlikely reign of Zachary Levi, action star. It also picked up four new series, according to Hitfix. Smash, billed as the adult answer to Glee and happily hyping itself as a series with musical numbers but also consistent storytelling and characters, has long been considered a cinch to make the fall schedule, thanks to the fact that new network president Robert Greenblatt took a personal interest in the series. The show, which chronicles attempts to bring a musical about Marilyn Monroe to Broadway, stars Debra Messing, Jack Davenport, Katharine McPhee, and Anjelica Huston, with Steven Spielberg serving as executive producer. No word on how many songs each episode will feature, but they’ll apparently mostly be originals, written by Broadway vets Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman.
NBC’s other series pickups for the day skewed similarly female friendly. (Already, TV has picked up more shows created by women than it has in the last several development seasons combined, and we’re barely into the scheduling process. This means that we TV critics and reporters will have basically nothing else to talk about all summer long, so you might as well get used to this storyline. You're going to get sick of it.) Its other drama series pickup is a most likely misguided attempt to Americanize the classic British series of miniseries Prime Suspect, starring Maria Bello as a hard-nosed cop with a fraying personal life, a role that Helen Mirren originally made famous overseas.
The two comedy pickups also featured women in both lead roles and behind the camera. Writer Emily Spivey’s Up All Night stars Christina Applegate as a professional woman who’s recently become a mom, with Will Arnett and Maya Rudolph also in the cast. Lorne Michaels, who last landed a half-hour pilot on the air with 30 Rock, produces. The network also picked up the series Whitney, which will star stand-up Whitney Cummings and is a romantic comedy based on her act, thus fully embracing its attempts to make it once again 1997 via science or magic by getting back into the game of developing comedies around stand-ups.
NBC is expected to make further pick-ups today. Fox, which made most of its pick-ups yesterday, may still order a series or two. CBS, ABC, and The CW are all mulling their options, though the Deadline report linked above suggests both Rules Of Engagement and the two C.S.I. spinoffs are safe at CBS, while ABC may renew Body Of Proof and Happy Endings, a poorly scheduled comedy that’s attracted a surprising cult following. Still, no matter what happens, Chuck fans can retreat back to their television rooms, secure in the knowledge that they have proved victorious, at least until this time next year, when they will again begin proclaiming the show one of the best on television and buying the whole office sandwiches in a weird show of solidarity. (No, seriously, thanks for the sandwich.)