NBC has finally started handing out full-season orders to its freshman skeins, rewarding “Chuck” and “Life” with its first batch of back nines.
While most back-nine orders are handed out earlier in the fall — in order to give producers and scribes time to prep the second half of the season — the Peacock opted to hold off because of the potential (and later, the reality) of a strike and work stoppage.
Net also waited longer to get a better idea of which shows may start developing a loyal following — and “Chuck” and “Life” fit that bill, according to NBC Entertainment/Universal Media Studios co-chair Ben Silverman. Shows have both earned strong notices from critics.
“Both shows are hitting their stride creatively, have developed loyal audiences and offer unlimited potential to grow throughout the season,” Silverman said.
In particular, “Chuck” has held its own against tough competish (the top-rated “Dancing With the Stars”) and, in recent weeks, has posted the best numbers among all of NBC’s new shows. Season to date, “Chuck” has averaged a 3.4 rating/9 share among adults 18-49.
“Chuck” renewal is especially sweet for exec producer Josh Schwartz, who’s now two-for-two with new skeins (his CW drama “Gossip Girl” earned the first full-season order earlier this fall).
“I know what I was giving thanks for this Thanksgiving,” Schwartz said. “I’ve been unbelievably fortunate to work on these two shows. On the surface they may appear different, but it seems like they’re both speaking to young audiences in a similar way.”
With the Writers Guild on strike, Schwartz admits that it’s a tough time to have two new skeins picked up.
“We stand with our union, but I hope it ends soon so we can get back to work,” he said.
Zachary Levi stars as Chuck, a big-box-store computer geek who’s accidentally implanted with government secrets and must double as a secret agent. Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski, Joshua Gomez and Sarah Lancaster also star.
Warner Bros. TV produces “Chuck,” along with Wonderland Sound and Vision and College Hill Prods. Schwartz and McG exec produce.
As for “Life,” skein has averaged a 3.0 rating/9 share in adults 18-49 and is tops so far in its timeslot with adults 18-34.
Rand Ravich, Far Shariat and Dan Sackheim exec produce “Life,” which stars Damian Lewis as a cop who spent several years in prison for a crime he didn’t commit and then rejoins the force once he’s released.
Brooke Langton, Sarah Shahi, Robin Weigert and Adam Arkin also star. Universal Media Studios produces.
There’s no word yet on orders for NBC’s other frosh entries, “Bionic Woman” and “Journeyman.”
Meanwhile, in scheduling news, NBC has started airing promos announcing the premiere date for its revival of “American Gladiators: Sunday, Jan. 6. No word on whether that will become its permanent home.
And Fox has tweaked its Friday night sked, swapping its two reality skeins on the night. Starting Dec. 7 and continuing the two Fridays after that, “Don’t Forget the Lyrics” moves down to 8 p.m., while “The Next Great American Band” moves up to 9 p.m.