Murphy’s Law – Saving Chuck

Joel Murphy

Joel Murphy

This past Monday, the Chuck season finale gave me everything I could possibly hope for – comedy, action and copious amounts of Scott Bakula. The show managed to tie up a number of loose ends and gave fans a satisfying ending while still introducing a fresh twist that set the show up beautifully for the next season. However, watching the finale was quite bittersweet, since a large part of me believes that next season will never come.

It seems like I’m not the only fan giving up hope. Numerous online campaigns have been started to save the show, including campaigns on well-known sites like Give Me My Remote. Fans even decided to gather together to buy Subway sandwiches on Monday (since the show has whored itself out to Subway with some of the most blatant and painful product placements ever witnessed), hoping that a boost in Subway’s sales would convince NBC to save the show. Chuck himself, Zachary Levi, participated – he brought hundreds of fans in Birmingham, England to a local Subway and then got behind the counter to make their sandwiches himself. In a separate campaign, fans are sending boxes of Nerds candy to NBC exec, an idea co-creator Josh Schwartz came up with.

Schwartz and the other writers of the show seemed resigned to the fact that the show might not be coming back, making Monday’s episode feel a bit like a series finale instead of a season finale. Ellie and Awesome’s wedding, Chuck’s progression with Sarah, Morgan finally chasing his dreams and the resolution to the Bryce Larkin storyline all felt like the writers saying, “In case this is our last episode, here’s everything wrapped up in a nice little bow.” If not for the “game-changing” final scene and the ominous “To be continued …” flashed on the screen at the very end, I would have thought that the writers had given up and accepted the fact that the show will be canceled.

The drop in rating to around six million viewers for season two of the show can’t possibly be a good sign. NBC has tried stunt casting, a 3-D gimmick and even gave Chuck the coveted post-Super Bowl timeslot this year, but it hasn’t made a difference in the ratings. (It seems that my pleas for all of you HoboTrashcan fans to watch the show also fell on deaf ears – thanks a lot, jerks.)

Now like Jericho and Friday Night Lights fans before us, Chuck fans are waiting with bated breath to find out if the TV Gods will be merciful and spare our beloved show. NBC has announced that they will make their final decision on the show’s fate May 5.

Instead of sitting idly by waiting for the bad news, I decided to reach out to Mark Christopher Lawrence and Scott Krinsky from Chuck to hear their thoughts on season two and to see if they have any inside info on whether or not the show will be coming back.

I interviewed Lawrence and Krinsky back in 2007, but since then both actors have seen their characters’ roles increase on the show. Lawrence’s character, Big Mike, began shacking up with Morgan’s mom and had a season-long power struggle with Emmett, which were both focal points of the season. And we discovered that Krinsky’s character, Jeff, was a videogame champion, is willing to eat anything to win a contest and is one half of the hit-group Jeffster. So before getting down to business, I decided to ask both actors how they felt about their character’s progressions.

“It has been very exciting to see Big Mike get a piece of the action, so to speak, and I am very happy with where we are now in his progression,” said Lawrence. “I realize that with such a big cast it is impossible to fully explore all the character arcs in every episode and I am a team player, so I’ll be ready when they throw the ball to me.”

“It’s been very exciting seeing the character progress,” said Krinsky. “It’s obviously been a lot of fun further exploring his friendship with Lester, the creation of Jeffster and all the hi-jinks he gets involved in with Lester. I like where Jeff has ended up as it seems he is more inspired and having fun … Being that he has worked at the Buy More for 18 years and the fact that some of his earlier aspirations and dreams never came to fruition, I think he might have become very bored with his life at one time and now these younger guys have come to work with him and he’s a little bit more exhilarated and feels a part of something, similar to anyone who has worked at a job for a very long time, and a new generation has come in and made it fun again.”

Once I got the fun stuff out of the way, I asked them both the tough question – do you think there is a chance this could be Chuck‘s final season or do you think fans are worrying over nothing?

“I haven’t heard any word,” Krinsky admitted. “Like everyone else, I am waiting. Though, I am very optimistic. It’s way too early to stop the Chuck train, there’s a lot of story left to tell, especially with the game-changing ending of the season.”

Lawrence had a slightly more pessimistic answer.

“Well, show business is a very fickle lady,” Lawrence said. “She does what she wants to do, when she wants to do it. There has been no word, as of yet, on the fate of the show. However, with Jay Leno moving into primetime, something has to give. That is five hours of non-scripted programming per week that has been cut from the schedule and all of the shows that are on the bubble are vying for the few spots that are left. I hope we are honored with a spot. I’m glad our fans are worried and moved to action. There has to be something said for fan loyalty. We will never forget the incredible love that has been pouring in for us.”

It would almost be fitting in a completely soul-crushing way if one of the most original, heart-felt and funny television shows in recent memory was canceled to make room for a guy who has made a career by hosting a bland, uninspired, lazy talk show that appeals to the lowest common denominator. But instead of dwelling on the fact that Jay Leno ruins everything, I plowed ahead and asked the two Chuck stars how they would like to see the show end.

“Well, assuming we are returning, I don’t ever want Chuck’s story to end,” said Lawrence. “I want Chuck to continue with the Intersect in his head for another 10 years or so. And then Big Mike can retire on a fishing vessel and live happily ever after.”

“Chuck is such a great character,” said Krinsky. “I feel he’s been put in these circumstances for a reason. It’s his fate. It will be great to see what he defeats in the end, and then the payoff and reward for the compromises he had to make in his life. I hope he gets a normal life with Sarah, maybe on a beach far away with some peace and quiet and no computers or electronics. For Jeff, maybe he will find a way to bring his nerd tech capabilities and music together into a moneymaking profession and find a classy girl to settle down with and share a 12 pack.”

Another 10 years of Chuck, culminating with Chuck and Sarah on an island, Big Mike fishing with Morgan’s mom and Jeff sharing beers with a classy lady would certainly make for a memorable and appropriate finale to a terrific show. But in case NBC isn’t swayed by sandwich sales and free boxes of candy, I do have one backup plan to keep Chuck fans happy – a World Tour concert featuring Lawrence’s group NWH from Fear of a Black Hat and Jeffster. Lawrence promised to pitch the idea to his fellow band members and Krinsky seemed incredibly excited about the prospect.

“Shooting and creating Jeffster was indeed a highlight of the season, and it was so wonderful to have it be so well-received by the fans,” Krinsky said. “Of course, you have to give credit to Vik [Sahay] as the ‘ster’ in Jeffster. What an amazing frontman and lead singer. You can’t have a great band without a great lead. A world tour would be awesome. If you’re reading this – we’re available and willing to travel.”

Joel Murphy is the creator of HoboTrashcan, which is probably why he has his own column. He loves pugs, hates Jimmy Fallon and has an irrational fear of robots. You can contact him at murphyslaw@hobotrashcan.com.

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