Crowdsourcing to Save Chuck [Blast from the Past]

Editor’s Note: Back in April 2009, I wrote a post on a long-closed blog of mine about a show that had recently become a favorite of mine, NBC’s Chuck, and how crowdsourcing online among the small community of Chuck supporters was driving interest to save the show from cancellation after two seasons of low ratings. That post means a lot to me because it ended up somehow picking up a link from Mashable and then on IMDB. In honor of the show’s series finale tonight – almost three full years later – here’s that post.

Shortly after the Academy Awards this year, I pulled together some thoughts on the idea of the Twitter community expanding the size of a couch. Well, I’m actually really kind of excited to watch now that the community is focusing its energy on a pop culture cause: saving a bubble show from potential cancellation.

For those who aren’t familiar with NBC’s Chuck, it’s kind of a geek’s wildest dream type show. Guy (Zachary Levi’s Chuck – no relation) gets the entire secrets of the CIA downloaded into his head and has to balance his day job as a Nerd Herder (a TV-fied version of Best Buy’s Geek Squad) with being a super agent. Doesn’t hurt that his “handlers” include the smokin’ Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) and witty, business-as-usual, tough guy John Casey (Adam Baldwin).

No wonder Twitterers and Bloggers love the show: it’s the perfect type of show for the Geekdom. Scattered throughout the series are references to Tron, cheap shots at the Zune, and an episode this season in which Rush’s “Tom Sawyer” was proven to be the music of the universe as Chuck saves the world – again (check the recap of that episode below). It’s definitely perfect for the inside-the-series-of-tubes crowd.

So, when rumors started circulating that NBC has yet to pick up Chuck for a third season, the groundswell started. TV blog Give Me My Remote shifted it’s focus to “Give Me My Chuck” with a week of posts and an entire kit for you to dedicate your online presence to the show, and make sure NBC notices it. GMMR was joined by TV Squad and a bunch of separate Twitterers to drive traffic and exposure of the movement by healthy doses of the #savechuck hashtag and some key follows to drive more awareness.

Well, NBC probably isn’t going to renew a show because of hashtags alone (although, I would have to chalk that up to Twitter winning the Internet if that happened). Someone over at star Zachary Levi’s fan site had an idea for an easy offline display: and the solution involves a jingle that will not leave your head once you read this.

The $5 Footlong Campaign.

Well, it’s getting noticed. Coverage of the movement in the LA Times TV blog and the Seattle Post-Intelligencer, encouragement from some of the show’s actors and, then my favorite moment of the day, Zachary Levi at a Subway in Birmingham, UK, filling in as a Sandwich Artist (which, naturally, was Twitpic’d and is creeping up there in views).

Why I care? One, the show is one of my current favorites. It’d be a shame to lose one of the few shows that isn’t about hospitals or cops and if it gets replaced with more reality TV, I’ll cry. But, why I’m taking up space here is because I think this is a nifty case study on pop cultures new found place within Twitter. Think about the Subway idea – that would not have ever been possible back a few years ago. Not necessarily to ask people to do it, but the actual proof that it was done. Just check this Twitter search of “Subway Chuck” to see the archive of involvement.

Of course, this is noteworthy because it isn’t astroturfed by Subway or NBC (at least, it doesn’t appear that way). Imagine the storm that would happen if it was – and I’m not willing to bet the farm that someone tries this later as a copy cat campaign. Subway is the beneficiary, everyone has to eat lunch anyway, why *not* make an ironic decision to actually tweet about what you are eating – and why?

Could it be that if we had Twitter, maybe Arrested Development would still be around? NBC will announce its lineup for the 2009 fall on May 5. Please NBC: don’t cancel Chuck.


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