Gentle ladies and men. Fans of the show named CHUCK. Gather 'round the final fire of our beloved show as it gloriously rages against the dying of the light with flickering embers of geekery stretching across the night sky toward eternity.
For the next 21-days straight, I will write a new feature about the little show that could. From characters, to story, to relationships, to humor, drama, and whatever else I, or anyone else, can think of (I am raping the language with these prepositions, but then I'm an ee cummings fan so, sue me).
This first article will be about the name of the show. Why? Because through the years there has been discussion about whether it kept viewers away from watching it. Was the name off-putting? Could it have been something else? What effect could a name change have had even in mid-stride?
"CHUCK" isn't a big attraction.
As those who have read my CHUCK writing over the years (mostly over at that other site) know, I didn't start watching the show until episode 1 of season 2. And the reason for that was 60% the name of the show and 40% the promos. The promos just made it seem silly, and not in a good way. But the name just didn't sit well with me. CHUCK? Really? That's the name of the show? Sounds like some feel-good show for 12-year olds! I had no interest in that.
And I likely would have skipped it were it not for several things. First being a promo during season 1 that actually got me thinking about checking the show out. Second was a friend of mine who highly recommended it. And third was the fact that it came on right before a show I loved at the time, HEROES. Funnily enough, I think those three things are the industry standard for how people get into shows.
Still, the name of the show was a big obstacle for me. Even after all those things, I still resisted up until about the final days leading up to the premier of season 2. And boy was I ever happy to have been so wrong. 15-minutes into Chuck Versus the First Date and I was hooked like it was heroin.
Obviously the show isn't made for everyone. Fans like to think that if only someone just checked out the show they love, then they would love it too. That's not going to be true in every case, or even most cases as ratings show. Most people eventually stop watching a show. Why? Either they have found something else they like more, or the show isn't interesting enough to them, OR the show isn't the cool thing to watch (anymore).
So would CHUCK have benefited in having a different name? Would it have become the "cool thing to watch" if it was called any of the following:
THE NERD SPY
BARTOWSKI: NERD SPY
THE ORDINARY SPY
NERD LOVES SPY
CHUCK VERSUS THE INTERSECT
Insert your own in the comments section below if you like.
Would a name change have helped? Would more people have tuned in? Perhaps. There isn't any way to know for sure. I know that the people I either successfully turned onto CHUCK, or tried to, said either of two things to me when I talked about it.
1. Never heard of it (mostly because they didn't watch NBC), or...
2. Sounds cheesy.
But virtually every person who tried it out, stuck with it for at least one season. Most longer. So the name was one of the obstacles for those individuals. Sure, promos and being on NBC didn't help, but there is a reason why advertisers spend tons of money and effort to come up with the perfect slogan, or the perfect product name. You first have to draw in your audience before you can sell them on the product.
Would CHUCK by any other name be as loved?
Perhaps that is the most important question of all. If CHUCK had a different name, would it have been turned into a different show or even received differently? Perhaps the fact that it had this unassuming name, made it the passion-show for many people. You don't expect a show named CHUCK to be so full of heart, love, drama, comedy, and action. It surprised the hell out of me when I first watched it. I couldn't believe this insignificantly named thing was so huge. So full of life. So crazy good! Had it been named "BAD-ASS COMPUTER TECH IN NERD'S BRAIN AND HE GETS THE HOT GIRL" I wouldn't have been so surprised to see a show about a computer tech who downloads highly important government data into his brain and then falls for his hot CIA handler who tries desperately to hide her secret love for him.
And in the end, we did end up with 91 episodes. 5-seasons. Tons of story lines and multiple series ending episodes that turned out to be just one in many to come. That meant the writers had to deliver progress, on top of progress, on top of progress. Sure, that also meant we got some really weak episodes tossed into the mix because these writers had to do and try things that no other show has ever had to do. Constantly write a series finale that was still open ended, for a show that wouldn't die.
I could answer my own questions. But what's the point? We will never truly know. We could leave it up for debate for the next 50-years, or however long this underrated show lives on in the hearts and minds of the people who love it... and syndication.
But what say you? Would a name change have delivered a bigger audience? And if so, would that have framed the show differently in people's minds? Is it a good thing that the show is named CHUCK and struggled for most of its life because it forced the writers to deliver faster character progress?
Comment below. Anonymous posting is, as ALWAYS, enabled.