“Chuck Versus The First Date”
September 29th, 2008
When the TV critics started receiving their screeners for the first three episodes of Chuck’s first season, there was a lot of very positive things being said about the show really flourishing in its sophomore episodes. When the first six episodes were watched by NBC, they saw enough growth to give the show its Back Nine before it even aired an episode. And when the first episode streamed on Hulu.com, iTunes and Amazon a week ago, reviews were simple: this is a show that knows where it’s going.
For those of us who followed it last year, this news is that much more welcome. This was a show that everyone kind of appreciated, whether it was Adam Baldwin’s angry John Casey, the charm of Zachary Levi’s Chuck Bartowski, or the beauty of Yvonne Strakhowski’s Sarah. The problem was that it felt like we were appreciating parts and not the whole: while there were building blocks that really clicked on an individual level, trying to find a balance between the spy antics, the interpersonal team dynamics between Chuck/Sarah/Casey, Chuck’s relationship with his family, and the antics of the Buy More employees was something that couldn’t be done in only twelve episodes of a strike-shortened season.
But Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak went back to the drawing board over the lengthy break, and they’ve come back with a bang: even with an “imposing” guest star, the need for heavy exposition to welcome back (or welcome in) viewers, and a lot of emotional baggage from last season, Chuck is at its finest for its premiere – if it can continue on this trend, this is (as many have called it) the show to watch in the coming season.
Admittedly, I’ll have less to say about part two of this little experiment (since I got most of my general comments out of the way for the first part), but that doesn’t mean that there isn’t some really positive things to say about it.
Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along-Blog – Act II
What Act II does that Act I didn’t is embrace and engage with all of these characters. It’s still clear that Felicia Day’s Penny is the most underwritten of the characters, but it works because of how fantatic Neil Patrick Harris is on the other side of the equation. Day has a nice ease to her that allows the dialogue to flow and the songs to pop just right, so it’s not an issue of performance: it’s just a really simple character who’s trapped between two really awesome ones.
And no, enough things cannot be said about Neil Patrick Harris: his delivery during his exchange with Penny at the laundromat (In particular, the awesome “Sometimes there’s a third layer that’s the same as the first layer” line). I just love this character, and am glad that they broke my clear issue with the first part about the blog’s feasibility. It seems like before this point he would have run into the obvious problem of announcing a fiendish scheme on his blog and then having Captain Hammer/LAPD on his case, but at least it’s addressed here.
When Joss Whedon announces during the WGA Writers’ Strike that he was writing a musical, you get excited. When you learn that Neil Patrick Harris and Nathan Fillion are set to star, you get hyped. And when you find out that it will be streaming live online for free, a true test of the online medium for distribution of this nature, a television blogger like myself gets even more enthused about it all.
Link: Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog Act One
Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog is not Whedon’s first entry into the television musical of sorts, considering that Buffy the Vampire Slayer’s “Once More…with Feeling” is considered one of the show’s best episodes. And while I don’t quite think Act One of this experiment lives up to that standard (And I’ll explain why below), it does everything you expect it to do: it carefully integrates musical numbers into a charming story featuring actors who, considering the fun nature of this story, are clearly enjoying themselves immensely.
And for a “Free” (Well, not quite) internet event of this nature? I’d say that this is damn entertaining stuff.