Tag Archives: Intersect

Chuck – “Chuck vs. Operation Awesome”

“Chuck vs. Operation Awesome”

January 18th, 2010

Chuck, like any person with a secret identity or someone who lives a double life, is constantly forced to balance his friends and family from his normal life with his work for the CIA. And early in the show’s third season, the show has made this point especially clear with the integration of his brother-in-law Devon into the show’s espionage, which really highlighted how much more effective Chuck is because of the fact that he has a personal connection with particular missions. When he’s saving himself he overthinks and gets flustered, but when he’s saving someone he loves he is focused and capable of accessing the intersect and saving the day.

“Chuck vs. Operation Awesome” is positioned as the second part of last week’s investigation of these types of questions, and while there’s some leaps taken by the show’s writing staff in terms of getting the action rolling, the episode confirms how important those themes are going to be for the remainder of the season. Showing a tight narrative drive inspired, one presumes, by the initial short episode order (which was extended from 13 to 19 after these episodes were already finished and the season had been plotted out), the show intelligently positions a new character as a mediation on the same themes that matter most to its regular characters, and uses an exciting episode to introduce him into the fold.

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Chuck vs. The Twist vs. Season 3 Renewal

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Chuck vs. the Twist vs. Season 3 Renewal

April 28th, 2009

Perhaps it is just that I wrote considerably less about last night’s Chuck finale than Alan Sepinwall, or perhaps it is just that there has been some extremely stimulating discussion over at NeoGAF that has had me pondering the finale more carefully, but I think that there’s a bit more to say about last night’s season finale (“Chuck vs. the Ring”) as well as what it all means for a potential third season.

First off, in case you were curious, the ratings were exactly what you would expect: consistent with the past two weeks, and at the mediocre but decent levels we’ve been seeing on the mid-range level. The show drew 6.11 Million viewers, and a 2.3 rating in the 18-49 demographic – this is nearly identlcal to last week. However, the Save Chuck campaign was never designed to gain more viewers: yes, getting the word out was a key factor, but suggesting that people watch the S2 finale as their first episode ever is kind of tough, and I think the campaign smartly focused more on showing NBC (and Subway) the power of the existing fans to band together for their show. And, on a note which requires less spin, the time period was chock-full of new episodes from every other network, and Chuck stayed steady despite facing repeats of CBS’ comedies last week – that’s a good thing.

But ignoring ratings for a moment, one of the other things facing a Season 3 renewal for the series it the show’s creative direction, and on NeoGAF and in some other locations there have been some concerns over that final sequence. Last night, in my review of the episode, I was admittedly pretty postive about it, and I find myself remaining fairly close to that initial analysis. However, I think it’s something that deserves some more discussion, and something that I am extremely disappointed was not on Chris Fedak’s list of acceptable topics of discussion in his post-finale interview with Alan Sepinwall.

But where we don’t have definitive answers we have rampant speculation, a tool I shall harness to analyze just what a season three might look like.

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Chuck – “Chuck vs. the Dream Job”

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“Chuck vs. the Dream Job”

April 6th, 2009

Chuck Bartowski really only wants one thing in life: to get the intersect out of his head. However, at the same time, there are things that he needs in his life that always take precedence, his relationship with his sister being one of them. The show has always played it fast and loose as it relates to the way in which Chuck’s life as a CIA asset interacts with his domestic sphere, but in this episode there is little to no Buy More, and we find instead the convergence between Chuck’s most pressing desire and his most constant duty.

The way “Chuck vs. the Dream Job” handles this is, for the most part, predictably solid: this is not a revolutionary hour for the series, both in how the episode was plotted and the level to which anyone with half a brain called its “big reveal” as soon as Orion came on the scene. However, the show deserves a lot of credit for turning the predictable into the effective, and for doing a bangup job with casting as expected: both Scott Bakula, late of NBC’s Quantum Leap, and Chevy Chase provide that ideal combination of levity and potential menace to their respective characters.

It’s also another sign that Zachary Levi perhaps deserves more credit than he gets for his role on the show – that he is able to switch from comic pratfalls to realistic romantic drama to this week’s quite nuanced self-discovery demonstrates that the show’s star is far from a one-trick pony. And while I love the show’s comedy, and appreciate its romance, I often like it best when it finds itself in the family dynamics, the drama built less on drawn out tension and more on the idea that this character was someone before he was the intersect, before his life was a TV show; and it’s that sense that convinces me above all else that a TV show should be his future as well.

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Chuck – “Chuck vs. the Suburbs”

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“Chuck vs. The Suburbs”

February 16th, 2009

“We can’t go back there – it was just a cover.”

There has always been a certain question of how, precisely, Chuck is going to be able to manage to draw out the relationship between its eponymous hero and his handler/cover girlfriend Sarah. The “will they/won’t they” of the scenario could get old quickly, something that nobody really wants to see happen when Levy and Strahovski actually have a lot of chemistry and the episodes that focus on the intricacies of their relationship, like “Chuck vs. The Suburbs” are amongst the show’s most resonant.

The episode is a sign, though, that there is going to come a point where we can’t keep getting the same memo over and over again. While bringing Chuck and Sarah to the brink of a real relationship before tearing it away from them might have worked the first time around, or even the second, we’re getting to the point where it doesn’t really have the same impact. Changing their cover from “dating” to “married” and placing them in the confines of a happy suburbia with a golden retriever and a whole bunch of photoshopped photos of a happy couple is a pretty good setup for this part of the series’ identity, but I feel as if things are beginning to wear somewhat thin.

And yet, this is all in theory: in theory this episode shouldn’t work, its central theme of “we can’t return to something that wasn’t real” being something that the show has dealt with numerous times, but in practice Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski bring so much pathos to these scenes that it feels like the honeymoon is still ongoing long after the post-wedding bliss should have ended. And that’s a testament to the show’s quality, even if I feel they’re tempting fate at this point in the show’s run.

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