Monday, January 11, 2010

Chuck- The Relationship Within

For the first time in a long time I watched two hours of commercial-filled television last night. From 9:00 to 11:00 p.m. this Sunday evening, I endured the brutality that is viewing advertisements, because I want to see Chuck stick around so badly. On NBC these days nothing is safe, and after the near cancellation we had at the end of last year, I'll do whatever I can to keep it around.

Now on to the Chuck-tacular season three premier. My favorite part about the spy series is that deep at the heart of Chuck is just the complicated, strained relationship between a guy and a girl. All the comedy. All the action. All the spy stuff. It's all just auxilary material to surround what is a truly great, but stressful love story between Chuck Bartowski and Sarah Walker.

As I like to stay spoiler free, I didn't know how they were going to work the new functions of the series (Chuck's intersect 2.0) into the plot of the third season. The way they handled this first hour was great. In the way that Friday Night Lights was able create new storylines based on the fact that Coach Taylor is now the coach of a terrible football team, so too are Schwartz, Fedak and company able to get new ideas for the CIA clan in Burbank. Starting out with a down on his luck Chuck that can't get back into the spy game was a nice way to differ from what they've done in the past. I'm just sad they couldn't hold out for at least two or three episodes, because in the second hour we get back to the normal formula for an episode of Chuck (not that that formula isn't fantastic).

Other Thoughts From Chuck vs. The Pink Slip

I loved that within the first six minutes of season three, we get to be enthralled by the Chuck Triple Threat. The drama is flowing during Sarah's shpeal about wanting to runaway with Chuck, the action comes early when Chuck takes out a group of Czechs, and I cracked up when he explains to those same Czechs that it's pierogi time.

The drama in the air when Chuck turned Sarah down at the train station was ridiculous. I know it wouldn't have allowed for a good season three if he went with her and they lived happily ever after, but how did he turn down a life with Sarah to be a spy? What a nutbar!

Other Thoughts From Chuck vs. The Three Words

Every time that Carina and her fake fiance Karl said smushy I lost it. It was done much more subtly than in Seinfeld oh so many years ago, but it had the same effect.
"I love you Smushy," Carina. "Love you Smush," Karl.
I was really waiting for them to argue about which one of them was actually Smushy, but unlike Seinfeld and the Shmoopy episode, it never happened. 

To get through all the red lasers, Chuck should've done more break dancing. It worked for the Night Fox in Ocean's 12, why not for Chuck?

Disagreeing With Sepinwall Again
Whatever issues I have with the pace of that relationship, the rest of this "Chuck" sandwich was so filled with the things I love about the show that I don't want to fill this review with complaints. (That I went on for that long says something, I think, about how it's the one part of the show that isn't usually working like gangbusters.)
For as much as I love the Buy More guys, the CIA crew figuring out how to get the job done, and every other aspect of Chuck, the way that Chuck and Sarah's relationship keeps circling around itself is exactly what drives the show.  To be a fantastic show you need a relationship at the heart of it.  And where the main relationship in many shows goes from courtship to romance and then stays there to get stale, the back and forth action of Chuck and Sarah makes you sit on the edge of your seat every time there's a thought that they might actually make things work.  This courtship/shooting down (mostly by Sarah) is able continually occur because of the special circumstances that the characters are in (being spies for the CIA).  In any other show it might seem ridiculous that they never actually get together, or completely break up, but here it works, and here it is fantastic.


  1. I've had my fill of Chuck launching into these lovesturck speeches. I'm not much of a fan of the Chuck character at this point.

    I also thought that him declining Sarah at the train station was inconceivable and no matter how hard they tried to sell it, it was still ludicrous. These eps were very average.

  2. I agree that the second ep was very average, but I don't see how you could think the first ep could be average. I think it was either great (like I think it was) or not good (like you seem to think it was) because of all the sappyness.

  3. Well I suppose since the second ep was more fresh in my mind I generalized. The first ep was certainly more enjoyable aside from some significant aforementioned annoyances. I am glad and a little surprised that it did well in the ratings though.

  4. me too, but if it drops back into 6 millions the rest of the way, I won't have high hopes.