Tube Talk: Chuck returns after ‘Finale and Footlong’ campaign

By Paula Hendrickson

Contributing Writer

Longtime readers will know that NBC’s comic spy caper Chuck is one of my favorite shows. Following the season finale last May, not even NBC executives were sure if the show would return for another season.

It’s back, thanks in large part to an industrious fan with a background in marketing, Wendy Farrington. She orchestrated “Finale and Footlong,” a campaign to save the show by asking fans to purchase Subway “$5 Footlongs” (which prominently appeared in an episode earlier in the season) on the night of the season finale and leave a comment card telling Subway they were planning to enjoy their sub while watching their favorite show, Chuck.

Subway and NBC both took notice of the positive feedback, and decided to renew the series. The amazing thing is NBC executives have even publicly admitted the successful campaign helped push them to renew the show.

So thank you, Wendy, for turning fan campaigns on their ear by supporting advertisers instead of boycotting them. If not for your efforts, we very well might not be tuning in for a brand-new season of Chuck Jan. 10. Two back-to-back episodes, no less!

You’ve probably seen the “No more Mr. Nice Spy” ads touting Chuck’s new skills attained by downloading the new-and-improved “intersect” into his brain in the season finale. Sure, Chuck Bartowski will now be able to kick butt alongside Sarah and Casey, but he’s still Chuck, and Chuck is the very definition of a nice guy. If he weren’t, he could use the intersect toward evil ends.

If you haven’t watched Chuck yet, you can’t begin to imagine how much fun you’re missing. Smart and funny writing, brilliant acting—not just by Zachary Levi as Chuck, but the rest of the cast, including Adam Baldwin as tough-as-nails Casey—and fast-paced action. I singled out Baldwin because most people are used to seeing him as a heavy, and here he really gets to show his comedic talent (something fans of Joss Whedon’s Firefly and Angel are already familiar with).

Yet, it’s the overall combination of characters, situations, intrigue and absurdity that create the perfect balance. It’s beautifully shot and full of dangerous-yet-funny action scenes, but at its core, Chuck revolves around friends and family. While “No more Mr. Nice Spy” is a great tag line, I’m sure it applies to Chuck’s interactions with enemy agents. Chuck Bartowski may be helping save the world, but often his real motivation is to keep his sister or friends safe.

If you’re so inclined, consider picking up another $5 Footlong next Monday and letting Subway know you will indeed be eating it while enjoying the season premiere of Chuck.

Programming note

Chuck’s season premiere is Sunday, Jan. 10, from 7 to 9 p.m., on NBC.

Paula Hendrickson is a regular contributor to Emmy magazine and Variety, and has been published in numerous national publications, including American Bungalow, Television Week and TVGuide. Send in your suggestions to

From the Jan. 6-12, 2010 issue

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