First off, Colonel is a funny word. Like Lieutenant in Canada, where it’s pronounced ” Lefftennant”. Just saying.
As season two of Chuck winds down, I have been thinking about a lot. Like how I am regretting not touting it as much as I should have. Not talking it up every week. I felt it would find an audience. Sadness suurounds me if next weeks season finale ends up being the series finale.
There is also the fact that I have been ignoring three of the best television performances. Yvonne Strahovski as Sarah Walker has been enlightening. In the pilot she was a pretty blonde who could kick some convincing ass, but she has grown to be a woman with a deeply troubled past trying to escape through Government approved means, and one who is surprisingly caring and warm, two things one does not expect from a C.I.A. operative. Adam Baldwin, so good as Jayne Cobb and Animal Mother, got no glory as Maj. John Casey, N.S.A. super badass. Yes, Casey hasn’t been given much in extraordinary emotional range, but that’s the genius of it. Casey is always combat ready, so it makes those emotional moments strangely effecting. Then there is Zachary Levi’s Chuck Bartowski, the opposite of Casey in every way. He wears his emotions on his sleeve, unable to hide is love for Sarah even if he really needed to. He’s no spy in a classic sense, but has proved time and again he could be if he would just relax and remember that they have his back. He’s a genius with slacker tendencies, more at home with Call of Duty than his actual call of duty. Levi gives Chuck the perfect balance between sweet naivete and calculating brilliance.
This show has been one that has just improved with each passing episode. The pilot was amusing, buoyed by Levi’s excessive charm and comic stylings, and while the action was really good, it lacked a certain heart. I cared about Chuck, but not enough at the moment to be moved by the fact that his dead college roommate downloaded a computer into Chuck’s brain and ruin his life. The second episode really was just a bridge to the third, when the show began to find it’s footing. Chuck’s ability as the Intersect aids the missions, but his general good guy behavior keeps getting him into trouble. He has an inability to stay in the car. He feels the need to rescue Sarah at every moment, despite the fact he knows he proably will end up being saved by her in the end. He doesn’t know what to make of Casey, whether Casey was friend or foe. Poor Chuck, and then the show just kept getting better. Bryce Larkin wasn’t dead. Fulcrum appears. And the mythology the show builds itself on solidified and it got REALLY good REALLY fast.
Which makes last night’s episode really interesting. the few criticisms I have heard are all valid. It was packed full of the myth and the fandom. Sarah and Chuck almost go at it- to be stymied by the fact there is a Morgan Grimes ” IOU one Condom” note in Chuck’s wallet. Casey is promoted to Colonel and tries to be the cold badass, but is really just mad he wasn’t invited along for the ride. Sarah let’s all her emotion out, but at what cost in the end? Awesome stumbles into Casey’s life- and Chuck needs to tell the truth in order to ultimately protect Casey from impending stalker, assault, and attempted murder charges ( and Awesome from the unleashed Casey). Awesome comes through by being, well, awesome, and trying to calm a devastated Ellie when Chuck and her dad both appear M.I.A. Morgan decides to leave the Buy More to become a benihani chef… okay, some things are still ridiculous at the face of it.
The show has always used two things cleverly. The music ( last night, Bon Iver). A blend of 80s craptastical genius, indie brilliance, and an propulsive house score. The music is too cool for words. The other thing is the pop culture references. For one thing, Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak seem to be much enamored of the 80s Chevy Chase classic Spies Like Us. And last night, between Big Mike’s Godfather impersonation, the slow clap, Morgan carrying Anna out of Buy More ( well, attempting to), The drive-in, the ” can you dig it?”, Scott Bakula being awesome, Chevy Chase being awesome, the strange desire to have a Pepsi, Emmett Milbarge- the show is in love with pop culture.
The fact is, Chuckhas become the most consistently funny, heart warming, thrilling show on television. The fact that it’s on the bubble disappoints me a great deal, seeing as it’s fresh and unique in this landscape. Why aren’t you watching it? I know I’m tuning in next week for the season finale to see if there is any clue where it will go if it does miraculously get a third season. I pray you all do the same.