In continuing with the web world’s ” Save Chuck” week, I have added yet another article I’ve written about the NBC spy dramedy.
10. Awesome Guest Star
This was confirmed on Monday with Chevy Chase playing a Steve Jobs- type Ted Roark and Scott Bakula playing Stephen Bartowski, Ellie and Chuck’s long absent father. The show has used high profile guest stars in very clever ways. Tony Todd played a CIA operative in season one ( he got blown up in the season two premiere). Jenny McCarthy and Andy Richter showed up in an episode playing Stepford style neighbors when Chuck and Sarah were undercover in suburbia. Melinda Clarke, Michael Clarke Duncan, Jordana Brewster, John Fleck, Iqbal Theba, James Hong, Kevin Weisman, and Nicole Richie have all shown up to cause some havoc, Tony Hale has recently joined as Chuck’s new Buy More nemesis, and there have been inspired turns by John Laroquette as a Bond-like spy, Gary Cole as Sarah’s con man father, Rachel Bilson as a momentary Chuck distraction with a fondness for sandwiches, and the inspired casting of Bruce Boxleitner and Morgan Fairchild as Captain Awesome’s awesome parents. The show has never gotten it’s guest casting wrong. Ever.
9. Cool Gadgets
Product placement means everyone has a I Phone in Chuck’s world, but whatever. It’s the bugs, the watch, the Nerd Herd mobile in place of an Aston Martin, guitar pins, and of course, the coolest of them all, the intersect in Chuck’s brain. Close second would probably be the Intersect 2.0. It looked awesome.
8. Cool action.
The pilot had Sarah driving the Nerd Herd mobile backwards down a fight of stairs, Sarah nearly getting run over by an SUV, a close call with a bomb that was disarmed by a death knell computer virus named after a Serbian porn star, an awesome foot chase by CIA agents, the original Intersect exploding- in on 42 minute episode. The action hasn’t let up much. So far Chuck has flown a helicopter, disarmed more bombs, been chased through Stanford among other locations, been poisoned, stolen nuclear codes, stolen a diamond, escaped exploding vehicles, turned a Chinese spy to save her brother, lost his sister’s engagement ring, stopped a massive biological warfare tactic, pulled a massive con to obtain terrorist bank account info, saved everyone in Buy More from a hostage situation, partied with a drugged out rock star who is wanted by terrorists, has had three separate intersects downloaded into his brain and is still somehow managing to walk around, escaped a Predator, and we can’t count how many knives and guns have been near this guy without managing to kill him. I sometimes feel like I’m the one running from the bad guys.
7. It’s a Nerd Heaven show.
As it Rush loving, video game worshipping, comic book collecting, vinyl searching Nerd Heaven. It’s referenced almost every major sci-fi film and TV show ( including having Adam Baldwin on the cast- and the sly little Firefly references that brings). This show is almost like a graphic novel type of story come to life on our TVs every Monday, and it’s clever working in of Nerd knowledge makes geeks everywhere ( like myself) feel all warm and happy inside. Best of all- they had a sandworm from Dune! Who thinks up that shit?
6. Smart and Smartly written.
There does seem to be a new movement among a certain group of TV writers not to dumb down the material, and Chuck never does. It throws around very heavy ideas of national security and the constant danger we are never aware we are. It actually grounds the show, which could easily spin off into wild and wacky, original Casino Royale territory. In the millennium we are now in, where the public knowledge of terrorism is so acute, it could be easy to turn something that is a loving comic homage into an outright spoof, but it never does that.
5. Zac. Adam. Yvonne. Joshua. Sarah. And the rest.
Yes, my simultaneous crushes on Zachary Levi and Adam Baldwin compelled me to watch the show in the first place. But the cast is so winsome, charming, funny, and the chemistry is so great that you just can’t help but love every one of them.
4. It says something about family.
As someone who barely speaks to her father and lost her mother even before I physically lost my mother, the sibling relationship between Levi’s Chuck and Sarah Lancaster’s Ellie speaks to me deeply. I often felt during my teen years while my mom was sick that it was just me and my brothers alone in the world. We are not as crazy close as they are now, but we always fight it out for each other. It’s a realistic relationship between siblings that is warm and nurturing instead of the usual snarking and underhandedness seen in today’s TV families.
3. ” It’s Complicated”
This is the mantra of the show, used to explain almost everything to everyone. There is no easy way out for anybody, not from their emotions, not from their jobs, not from their relationships. There is no real fix. It allows the show to be even that much more clever than the average show.
2. It’s as funny as hell.
It’s smart funny. It doesn’t rely much on dumb laughs ( it has it’s moments, but hey, everyone loves a good “sitting on an exercise ball in an office makes fart noises over your CIA issued listening device” joke, right?), but on worplay, physical comedy, and cultural references that makes almost everyone smile. Levi was on the sitcom Less Than Perfect a few years back ( and was, frankly, the best thing on it). He has amazing comic chops. And again, let us remind everyone that a show that nicknames a character Captain awesome with no cynicism is truly awesome itself.
1.The mythology is intriguing.
As someone who loves comic books, you would think I would love those mythology heavy serial shows like Lost and Heroes. The truth is- I don’t. I like Fringe, but I ended up being so exhausted after Buffy and X-Files both ended that I just never tried again. Until Chuck Bartowski opened that email from Bryce Larkin.
The show requires enormous leaps of faith by the audience, since some of the things done in the context of Buymoria is flat out ridiculous. But I never doubt the computer in Chuck’s brain, the sudden rise of Fulcrum, the fact that a Nerd Herder fro the local Buy More may be the most important intelligence asset in the world, and the fact Casey and Sarah can apparently kill everyone and anyone with a wood skewer. I’ve watched every episode multiple times and I learn something new every single time. It’s been a while where I have felt this much passion about a show that requires this much involvement. God, I’ve missed it.