As I’ve noted elsewhere, when shows perform average, or way better than the network average among 18-49 year olds, the networks keep them. When shows perform way below that average, the networks don’t. Those clear cut cases are the easy ones to figure out.

But what about when a show is just a tiny bit below average? Based on where Chuck is right now, our experience is (just based on the current season and the 2007-2008 season) that Chuck will be kept. It’s on the bubble, for sure, but it’s currently at an index score that historically typically gets a show renewed. Fans are fretting because now it has to compete with House on Mondays at 8pm. But I don’t really see that making things any worse.

I don’t see it making things any better either, but nor do I see them getting worse. Why? During the fall Chuck faced off against Monday Night Football on ESPN. House will steal more female viewers than MNF, but overall it seems like Monday Night Football or House winds up being about the same level of competition for Chuck. Sure it has to compete with the CBS comedy block still, and The Bachelor has been pretty strong for ABC, and when that leaves, Dancing With the Stars comes back. But earlier in the year it faced MNF, DWTS and the CBS comedies, so the new competition does seem mostly a wash to me.

So what can we fans of the show do? Sadly the answer is besides watching and enjoying the show and telling your friends – not a lot. Is the answer writing comments on the Internet (or to NBC) that say something along the lines of:

“I love Chuck! It’s my favorite show! It’s the only show I watch on NBC! If you cancel Chuck I will never ever watch NBC again! Ever!”?

No, that is not the answer. Ultimately it’s a pretty fair way to have someone, say Bill Gorman for example, roll their eyes at you and otherwise mock you, but it will not save the show. Hopefully, the show will not need saving. After the Super Bowl, I see nothing coming down the pike that is going to seemingly help NBC’s woeful ratings, and so it seems if Chuck just merely stays where it is, its average will go up and its prospects will be better because even though it was staying the same, the rest of the network was going down.

But, rather than do nothing, or write please don’t cancel Chuck!! messages, I want to be proactive and do something that actually has some hopes of boosting the numbers or at least boost the show’s worldwide prospects.

Note to Josh Schwartz: there is a way to save your show, but it’s not the path you’re on. While I love how much you love the 80s — being a young man in my 20s for most of the 1980s — I don’t love them as much as you do! But I love the homage you pay, and so getting Chevy Chase for multi-episode arc? For fans of the show that’s just absolutely perfect on a multitude of levels. It won’t save the show, but existing fans will love it.

An appearance by Scott Bakula in the role of Chuck and Ellie’s spoiler deleted? Brilliant! Existing fans will love this, too. But it won’t save the show.

An appearance by the lovely Tricia Helfer in a role that seems destined to produce a Yvonne Strahovski versus Helfer smackdown? OMFG are you kidding me!?!? I’ll watch that 100 times in high definition super slow-mo! That episode will never get deleted off the DVR. EVER! But, alas, that won’t save the show either.

There is an answer. Yao. Yao Ming is the answer. Get a couple hundred million Chinese people saying “Save the Intersect, save the world!” and your show is golden. Have Yao Ming on the show. Sure, more people will illegally download it off the Internet than watch it live on broadcast television, but who cares? Save the intersect, save the world! If Yao Ming loves your show, appears on your show and is quoted as saying “Chuck is my favorite show in the United States,” or if either one of those things happen, you’re golden.

Have Strahovski seen in public with Yao Mingh a couple of times. Strahovski is about six feet tall herself. Put her together with Yao Ming? Your show is saved for at least a couple of more seasons! Plus, ESPN’s Pardon the Interruption will be talking about your show – or at least Strahovsky. Michael Wilbon will be salivating all over her and become a Chuck fan.

Having Wilbon as a fan of your show isn’t necessarily good news ratings-wise (he was a fan of the now cancelled Dirty Sexy Money and has been on a Damages kick lately), and his adoration of Ana Ivanovic hasn’t helped her tennis game any. But, hey, it’s hard to argue with Wilbon’s taste in women and besides, it won’t matter because…Yao Ming!

Yao Ming can save Chuck. So if you want to write anything, write to Josh Schwartz and write to NBC and tell them to have Yao Ming on Chuck! In the meanwhile, thanks to Mr. Schwartz for Chevy Chase, Scott Bakula and Tricia Helfer.

As for Yao, Gong Xi Fa Cai! I think that’s happy new year, in one Chinese dialect or the other, if not, I sincerely apologize and happy new year anyway!. The year of the Ox begins this Monday. Hopefully the year will include Yao Ming appearing on an episode of Chuck. I won’t be too broken up of Ana Ivanovic makes an appearance too.

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Posted by:TV By The Numbers

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