How to save a TV show

They’ve announced all the shows that have been renewed or canceled, and there are some surprises. Pushing Daisies and Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles did get the ax as expected (although the last three episodes of Pushing Daisies will be aired starting this Saturday), while Castle and Dollhouse were renewed (Dollhouse was a shock, but I’ll always watch more Joss). But the biggest shock was Chuck, and I think it was due to the fans unintentionally creating a situation that harkens back to the 1950s.

In one of the later episodes of the season, there was a bit of blatant product placement of a Subway sandwich, but the discussion of it was obviously written by the show’s writers – funny and flippant. So when news that Chuck might be canceled came out, instead of sending hot dog buns or frozen yogurt containers to NBC execs, fans started a Facebook campaign to have people buy Subway sandwiches the day of the finale, then comment at the stores and online why they were doing it.

Apparently it worked – according to the Facebook page, thousands of cards and emails were received by Subway, and they in turn went to NBC to ask if they could partner with them, and that ended up bringing the show back. I don’t think it will be detrimental to the show – they already integrate a number of retail establishments currently, and using a real one won’t hold them back too much. What’s interesting about that is it feels like the 1950s, when TV shows had a single sponsor. I think this is the way to save shows now – target a single advertiser and show them that the demographic they want is both watching the show and willing to vote with their wallet to support it.

I’m happy to see Chuck come back (as I’m sure my friends who run the #1 Yvonne Strahovski site are), and with it scheduled to come back following the Winter Olympics next year, NBC could really give it a big promotional push. It’ll be interesting to see what tactics fans use next year to save shows since this technique worked well – too bad for Pushing Daisies’ sake nobody contacted Sara Lee.