Why fewer episodes will be better for Chuck's new season

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Dec 14, 2012, 3:54 PM EST

The "Save Chuck" campaign worked, and NBC ordered a third season. It will be a shorter season of only 13 episodes, but viewers won't be missing out on anything. Chuck Bartowski actor Zachary Levi said the shorter order only means you'll see nothing but the best Chuck.

"To be perfectly honest, I think 13 episodes is a great season," Levi said in an exclusive interview on Aug. 5 in Pasadena, Calif. as part of the Television Critics Association fall press tour. "I think that cable does it right. They've always done it right. I think that network television has done 22 for a long time and sometimes more. That's the tradition, but I feel like [in] 22 episodes, even the best shows end up with a few episodes that are a little soft around the middle. They're not what the fans would really want to chomp into, so I say 13, rock 'n' roll, make it lean and mean."

Viewers have to wait until 2010 to see new Chuck, as NBC has the third season scheduled for their midseason. Again, Levi touted the benefit of NBC's strategy. "Honestly, I feel like whatever is supposed to happen will happen," Levi said. "I think our fans are dedicated enough and they're solidified enough where no matter when we're going to be on, they'll be like, 'Okay, I'll check that out.' Not to mention so many of our fans DVR, download, stream, so whatever. They're able to get it when they want it. If they have to wait till March, I know that they are with us. Plus, we get the Olympics leading us in, which I think is a beautiful thing."

Levi began work on the third season on Aug. 6. He and co-star Joshua Gomez began singing "Tomorrow" from Annie, tweaked with the perspective that they were starting work tomorrow. Levi wouldn't spoil the first script but promised big things right away.

"Look, this whole season, we've got 13 episodes, so it's going to be chuck full of Chuck," Levi said.

Sadly, however, the impending work schedule meant that Levi would have to shave the beard he's been sporting all summer. "The beard dies tomorrow," Levi said. "I'm going to keep it in a baggie. I'm going to scatter its ashes in the Pacific."

With Intersect 2.0 downloaded into his brain, Chuck Bartowski has inherited some fighting skills. Levi did not spend the summer training, however, because, for continuity's sake, he's still new to his physical abilities.

"We pick up right where we left off, and aside from just me rationalizing why I haven't been working out, I couldn't just go get ripped over the summertime," Levi said. "There's no continuity in that."

Gomez chimed in that perhaps Levi should gain wait so he could employ sumo fighting skills on missions. "Sumo, the most underappreciated fighting skill," Gomez joked. "You're on your way, bro."

At the time, Levi did not yet know about new casting of actors like Brandon Routh. He instead touted some of the guest stars, who were not major names. "There are, but no, like, 'Oh, it's Heather Locklear,'" Levi said. "There's a great guy playing Yuri. He seems like a talented guy."

Season three picks up Morgan (Gomez) working toward his hibachi-chef dreams in Hawaii, having quit the Buy More. "As it stands right now, I'm off in Hawaii," Gomez said. "So the Buy More is sort of in limbo at this point as we sort of open up the new season. It's not going too well over there, apparently, not without us. It's tightly under Emmett Milbarge [Tony Hale]'s control when we open up the season, so we'll see what happens."

Chuck returns in March on NBC.