“Chuck Versus the Undercover Lover”
January 21st, 2007
While NBC is planning to air the final two pre-strike episodes of Chuck as part of an Apprentice sandwich on Thursday, January 22nd, CityTV chose to air the episodes in Canada on the show’s regular night, Monday. The result is that viewers had a chance to gorge on the last bits of spy dramedy goodness a little earlier here in the Great White North, and that I’ve had a chance to see the final two episodes.
And, to reference one of the characters seen quite frequently in the two episodes, they’re pretty awesome. Taken as a pair, they represent both the care-free and enjoyable elements along with the dramatic core of the series. I’m going to separate them, but this does not mean they do not work in tandem. Rather, I want to stretch out the blog posts. So, for all of the details on “Chuck Versus the Marlin,” tune in tomorrow morning.
For now, let’s talk about how the show was smart enough to return to the well of Adam Baldwin’s Casey.
Last night saw three shows (Two I rarely blog about) finish their seasons prematurely due to the Writers’ Strike. It is unfortunate, of course, because this means two and a half less hours of television each week (Thursdays will never be the same). Alas, let’s take a quick look at how these shows managed with finales which were, well, not meant to be finales. (I’ll be back with Friday Night Lights tonight and Golden Globes nods tomorrow, assuming this cold doesn’t destroy me).
Grey’s Anatomy – “Lay Your Hands On Me”
This quasi-finale was a solid episode which at least felt like a conclusion to a story or two. Central to the episode is Bailey’s son being injured in an accident, extenuating the marital issues we saw before the break. Bailey blames herself, blames Hahn for keeping her out of surgery, and eventually accepts a healer who is able to pull Tuck back to life.
This was fine, but I actually felt like it felt too much like Emmy bait for Chandra Wilson, even when her character is as great as she is. We’ve had a lot of Bailey in recent weeks, ever since the Gizzie backlash became apparent. We had her fantastic episode with her childhood crush, we had her altercation with the Nazi in “Crash Into Me,” and now we have this tearful and emotional storyline here. I’d actually argue she was far more likable in the first episode, and thus it would be the better choice. Wilson was as great as ever here, but it felt a little bit too melodramatic.
Over the past four weeks, my life has been dominated by labour action – on October 15th, the faculty at Acadia University (Which I attend) went on strike. This strike did not end until Wednesday, which meant three and a half weeks out of the classroom. In covering that strike, I maintained a neutral perspective: I felt the profs were striking for sound principles, but that the administration could never simply accept their demands thanks to shrinking enrollment. The landscape of the university was changing, and this crossroads was only inevitable. In the end, our second strike in 4 years was settled, this time with a resolution that should maintain the security of the institution for over a decade.
I mention all of this because I am not neutral about the recent Writer’s strike that has threatened the state of this year’s television season. If Acadia’s administration were facing dwindling enrollment and a grave financial position, Studios are facing a boon in the form of the ability to distribute content over the internet. Hollywood stands at a content-distribution crossroads, and the idea that the internet is “too young” to enter into contract negotiations is ludicrous. New Media is here, there’s no doubt about it, and something needs to be done to respect the work of writers within this medium.
In my time working with fans of CBS’ Jericho, the way many fans caught onto the show was through watching episodes online through the network’s Innertube service. In some cases, it was the only way they watched the show as they were unable to watch the series live thanks to other commitments. The idea that the writers of that episode, the individuals responsible for crafting those words, get nothing for every time someone watches it through this medium makes me wonder whether the service is really assisting the state of television in the long run. Because it should be: there lies amazing potential within the internet, but if it is being realized to the detriment of the writers I believe its value is primarily lost.
Over the past four weeks or so, the output on Cultural Learnings has been fairly limited. This has been especially damaging when, over the past week, the WGA strike has essentially provided a whole host of important commentary that any good blogger should be commenting on. However, coincidentally, I was dealing with a strike of my own, assisting my Students’ Union with an information blog during a three and a half week long faculty strike.
As a result, I’m sorry I missed many great episodes of television, many important news stories, and in general just wasn’t around. During that time, I was fortunate enough to finish in 2nd place in Hey! Nielsen’s Best in TV Blog Contest, and I felt incredibly guilty that I wasn’t living up to this fantastic honour bestowed upon me by you, the reader. I plan on trying to live up to that in the near future, so stick with Cultural Learnings in the interim.
Tim Kring’s Apology
However, my apology is not the only one I want to discuss today. Tim Kring, creator of NBC’s slowly fading Heroes, has officially gone on the record that the second season of Heroes has been a wildly miscalculated and redundant exercise (my words, not his). For someone who has defended the show’s various problems (Which aren’t all new, let’s be honest), it is strange to see Kring backing down – the fan response has just been that overwhelmingly negative. And I tend to agree with Alan Sepinwall: just as Kring says this, the show has its best episode of the season. Coincidence? I think not.
Now, I think we shouldn’t give Kring a free ride based on this apology: he’s never been a good writer, and much of last season’s iconic moments came from the mind of Bryan Fuller, not the ex-executive producer of Crossing Jordan. But it’s good to see that he’s at least admitting that his series has fallen off the rails creatively, which shows me that he’s willing to listen to fans. However, adversely, he also considers his vision to be expendable.