NBC originally ordered 13 episodes for the third season of its sci-fi spy comedy Chuck, then added six more when it moved the season premiere to January from March 2010, and now star Zachary Levi reveals that the new eps will tell a completely new storyline.
"What worked out in our favor was that we didn't think we were going to do a back six," Levi said in a group interview on Saturday in Beverly Hills, Calif., where he was promoting Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakuel.
"We were only going to do 13, so the writers wrote an arc for 1-13," Levi added. "They were basically done writing them, and then the network said, 'Hey, we'd like to do six more,' and they're like, 'Well, great. We can't rework the first arc, so we'll just make these six stand alone.' They'll be based on the 13 that we do in the first part of the season, but it will be its own little mini-arc."
The six-episode mini-arc is a relief to Levi. He was worried that if they had to spread the 13-episode story over 19 episodes, the extra six eps would feel like filler.
"To be perfectly honest, I like 13 episodes," Levi said. "I like how cable does it. Thirteen episodes allows you to really make it lean and mean. You focus on those 13 episodes, and you make them all great, as opposed to the traditional 22-episode network season, which, if we're all being honest, there tends to be a couple episodes that are like the packing peanuts. They're the filler. 'We didn't really know what we were going to do this week, so everybody just vamp for a little while, and then we'll come back for an episode that really means something.'"
And it means they'll be on the air sooner, too, which isn't so bad. "Oh, I'm happy, yeah," Levi said. "All that stuff, anything that's outside of your hands, you just go, 'OK, whatever.' If it was still going to be still in March, then I'd be happy then, too. I'm just happy to be alive and happy to have a job."
Chuck returns Jan. 10 on NBC with a two-hour season premiere, starting at 9 p.m. ET/PT.