2009 is drawing to a close, and what a year it’s been for Chuck fans! Let’s recap, shall we?
Remember way back in January when it felt like 7 weeks was too long to wait for a new episode? Those were the days. The year started with a gamer showdown, Chuck vs. Heroes, and soon heated up with promos and spoilers for the 3-D episode and the exciting news that Chevy Chase and Scott Bakula were joining the show for an extended arc later in the season.
February opened with some football game, plus Chuck‘s first 3D episode, guest starring Lost and Lord of the Rings alum Dominic Monaghan. Ratings for the episode were pretty good, but President Obama bumped the show the following week for a Presidential address, making us wait – again – for a new episode. But Chuck and Sarah did end up playing house in the suburbs and learning the importance of best friends. Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak and Yvonne Strahovski attended the New York Comic Con to promote the second half of the season while Zachary Levi was spotted celebrating the Oscars.
March was a busy month with Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Chris Fedak and Josh Schwartz kicking things off at WonderCon. Fans were in a tizzy about a beefcake and a lethal weapon, gasping over the reveal that Chuck had been conducting an investigation of his own for quite some time, and Awesome had a rather disastrous bachelor party. Meanwhile, with fans increasingly concerned about the odds of Chuck getting a third season, we launched the Watch/Buy/Share campaign.
April was season finale month and every week jaws were dropping as Chuck got his dream job and found his long-lost father then used “The Morgan” to surprising effect, Casey got a promotion while Chuck & Sarah got cozy, and the season finale was, in a word, epic. In renewal campaign news, bloggers and critics joined the cause, we added a “Win!” component to the campaign, Wendy’s infamous Finale & a Footlong element came to life with Zac taking part during a convention appearance in England, 16 members of the cast and creative team participated in a very special episode of Chuck vs the Podcast, and even CNN got in on the action by calling for fans to send in videos saying why Chuck deserved a third season.
May dawned with the promise of an answer from NBC regarding Chuck‘s fate, but it was postponed a couple of weeks, much to fans’ dismay. We updated fans frequently on the latest renewal news; in the meantime, the first We Heart Chuck campaign kicked off, raising funds for the American Heart Association, and our own Gray Jones interviewed Zachary Levi and Joshua Gomez on CNN.com. While awaiting word on his show’s fate, Zac embarked on a USO Tour in the Middle East and blogged about it. We heard about it first on May 17, but it wasn’t until May 19th that NBC officially announced that Chuck had been renewed for a third season with a 13 episode order脗聽 set to debut in March 2010, and there was much rejoicing. The third season speculation began as fans started looking ahead.
With a long hiatus stretching out ahead of us, several fans – spearheaded by Magnus and Richard – put their heads together on a new campaign to keep interest high and Chuck Me Mondays was born. The June 1st launch was a rousing success and the campaign continued through the end of the year, eventually moving primary operations to Magnus’s blog. We got our first bit of spoiler info on season three, and the month ended with Zac throwing out the first pitch at a Dodgers game.
July was dominated by talk of Comic Con as Chuck prepared for its third appearance that the annual geek fest. Before heading off to San Diego, we chatted with writer Zev Borow, Chuck was nominated for an Emmy in stunt coordination, writer Ali Adler Twitpic’d her office with a page of script from episode 3.02 on the computer screen which we promptly decoded, and we dissected the episode 3.01 casting call. Then came Comic Con with JEFFSTER! bringing down the house in what many CC veterans have called the best panel intro ever. Mel and Siskj were in the press room after the panel to chat with Adam Baldwin, Josh Schwartz, Joshua Gomez & Zachary Levi, Ryan McPartlin, Vik Sahay & Scott Krinsky, and Mark Christopher Lawrence, but sadly not Yvonne Strahovski & Sarah Lancaster. Rounding out the month was the launch of Chuck Me Out, a unique endeavor from NBC reaching out to fans with original content.
With filming of season 3 underway in August, Mo Ryan stopped by for a set visit, we saw some photos from the set, and got the news that Brandon Routh had been cast as a guest star for several episodes. We also launched a series of articles written by guest authors covering topics like Sarah: Kryptonite or Spinach, the pros and cons of the show returning earlier/getting a full season order/etc. and what might happen if Morgan discovered Chuck’s secret. We talked with Ryan McPartlin for the podcast, and casting calls continued to give us clues about season 3.
In September Lou interviewed producer/director Robert Duncan McNeill at the Toronto SF Expo, Gray revamped the Chuck vs the Podcast website, and We Heart Chuck launched a fundraising endeavor in honor of Zac’s birthday.脗聽 In casting news, we learned that Kristin Kreuk would join the show for a handful of episodes, plus we’d see Armand Assante, Angie Harmon and Vinnie Jones in guest spots early in the season. Merritt Yohnka won the Emmy for Stunt Coordination for the second year in a row, Chuck and Zac won EWwys, and the cast and co-creator Chris Fedak said thank you for hitting 1 million streams of Chuck. Our guest writer series continued with a point/counter-point on the Chuck & Sarah relationship, a call for more girl talk, and speculation about how the show might have played out if the original cast had remained intact. In addition, Gray headed to Los Angeles for a couple of weeks where he spent a lot of time with the Chuck folks and blogged about it for us. And in honor of Zac’s birthday, we wrote a year in review just for him.
October brought increased speculation that Chuck would return earlier than March 2010, and, briefly, it appeared that the show would move to Thursdays. (It’s not – season 3 debuts Sunday, January 10 with two episodes, then settles into its regular Monday 8/7c timeslot on January 11.) We were excited when NBC announced that they’d ordered 6 more episodes of Chuck, bringing the total episode order for season 3 to nineteen. We scooped that Steve Austin would guest star on an episode of Chuck, and gave you your first look at Kristin Kreuk on the set of Chuck with Gray Jones. Our guest writers took a look at Casey and examined the brunette influence in Chuck’s life. Zach directed a short film for Liberty Mutual’s Responsibility Project and we learned that he would direct an episode of Chuck this season. Yvonne appeared on Last Call With Carson Daly to promote her indie film, The Canyon, and attended the film’s premiere at Screamfest. The season 2 DVD was released in the UK, giving us a peek at the bloopers and deleted scenes, and the U.S. finally got a release date for the DVD (January 5). We had an interactive podcast interview with Phil Klemmer and Matt Barber, plus more photos from the set showed up from the cast and creative team to keep us buzzing about season 3.
Rumors of an early return were confirmed in November when NBC announced that Chuck would debut with a 2-night, 3-hour extravaganza on January 10 & 11. The promos started coming out almost faster than we could catch them, ramping up excitement for the new season. Some clues about the new season were revealed in interviews with the cast from Televisionary and AOL, and in photos from the set. Our interactive podcast interview with Julia Ling was a success, and Vik Sahay spent some time not telling us what’s coming up in season 3. Robert Patrick signed on for a guest spot and we learned that two new writers are on board. We offered up ideas for gifts this holiday season, and conducted our first fan survey.
Zac kicked off December by co-hosting Christmas at Rockefeller Center and chatting about Chuck on The Today Show. Zac also answered ten questions for Natalie Abrams and appeared on CNN to talk Chuck.脗聽 Matt Barber was the first in a series of editor interviews on the podcast, and we participated in a conference call with Josh Schwartz, Chris Fedak and Zachary Levi. Mark Sheppard signed on for an arc of unknown quantity, providing us with a little Firefly reunion with Adam Baldwin. Adam and Yvonne were confirmed as providing voices for the upcoming video game Mass Effect 2. We posted the results of our first fan survey, and NBC launched Mission: Chuck Me Out. We Heart Chuck announced Chuckfest, a celebration of Chuck benefiting the American Heart Association. The poster for season 3 was revealed, followed by promotional photos for the first three episodes. SyFy announced a Chuck marathon coming January 7, and we previewed the first five episodes.
Some milestones for us include:
- Chuck vs. the Podcast ends the year as the #1 TV podcast on Podcast Alley and #4 overall in the TV & Film category (#43 overall out of 73,000 podcasts worldwide). 脗聽It has held the #1 TV spot consistently since December 2008, and has risen as high as #1 in the TV & Film category and #6 overall. On average, 15,000 people listen to our podcasts each month, hailing from at least 20 different countries. As listenership climbed and hosting costs increased, we welcomed two sponsors, Movie Morons Podcast and serienjunkies.de. This year we released an average of 2 podcasts per month (23 total), with a whopping 31 interviews. As of now, all of the regular cast, 3 directors, 4 writers/producers, 4 editors, and the composer have now appeared on the podcast (many more than once).
- ChuckTV.net received more than 1.1 million visits and 4.1 million page views in 2009. To handle that increase in traffic, we moved to a dedicated server in April, then upgraded yet again in August. Despite the long hiatus, Chuck fans were eager for the latest news; we averaged 95,000 visitors/mo from April-December, even though the show wasn’t airing. In August, Blogs.com named us one of the Top 10 Indie TV Blogs, much to our surprise and delight.
And those are just the highlights! Plenty of discussion in the comments and on the forum, numerous other interviews and media mentions, tons of spoilers and speculation, and fan creations filled the year to overflowing with goodies for Chuck fans. Thank you to the cast and creative team of Chuck for a tremendous year, and to the fans for keeping the buzz going. With season 3 starting January 10, it looks like 2010 is going to be another banner year.