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August 30, 2014

Chuck -- An early look

by Varun Lella, posted Sep 23rd 2007 11:08AM
Chuck title screen
Let me make myself clear from the get go: Watch Chuck this fall. I have seen the first two episodes and I am in love. You can read the rest of this spoiler-free early look if you want a little bit more about the show, but I just had to get that off my chest before I started.

Chuck follows the recent trend in television and film of Beta-male leads. What do I mean by that term, one that was obviously developed by some social anthropology professor with too much time on his hands?

Nerds are hot right now.

From Seth Rogen in Knocked Up to Jim from The Office, everybody loves their main characters to be nerds. They are relatable, they are non-intimidating, they don't have those six pack abs that make you want to buy the Ab-iscizer. They let the audience think, "Hey! If they can make it, so can we."

And Chuck Bartowski is the most lovable of the bunch.

The premise behind Chuck features a simple computer consultant for the Nerd Herd -- a clone of Best Buy's Geek Squad -- who is sent an email full of images encoded with secret government data. This gives our poor dork the ability to randomly access state secrets, usually triggered by some picture or sound.

Well, it seems like the big wigs want their secrets back and the CIA and the NSA send their individual agents to claim the files for themselves. And now you have poor Chuck trying to live a normal life with some not so normal circumstances.

Now if you are looking for reasons to watch Chuck beyond its complicated log line, you have come to the right place. Just looking behind the scenes you can see that this show is vetted for success. The show is written by Josh Schwartz, who created The O.C. and also has the upcoming drama Gossip Girls. I was never a huge O.C. fan, but I have to admit that Schwartz writes really realistic and smart dialogue. The pilot was directed by the mono-monikered McG (Charlie's Angels). The former music video director has style and a hip attitude that can breath life and legitimacy into any project, no matter how ridiculous it is (Charlie's Angels 2: Full Throttle).

The action sequences are also essential to making Chuck so full of .... Chuckocity. In the first two episodes alone there were car chases, explosions, helicopters, gun fights and some stuff that I just can't share with you. It would ruin the fun.

But Schwartz at the end of the day is a character writer and this show is full of good ones. Zachary Levi (who I spoke to recently, watch for that interview soon), is the perfect hesitant hero. His ability to telegraph his insecurities and anxieties simply forces audiences to sympathize with him. You just can't resist it. Levi transitions well into a lead role from his previous spot as a supporting character on the Sarah Rue-vehicle Less Than Perfect. As we say in the biz he's got screen presence and marketability. Or that is what WE would say in the biz if WE were actually in the biz. For the love of God, why am I calling it the biz?

The supporting characters are also significantly solid. Dark-haired-Seth Green-look-a-like Joshua Gomez is hilarious as Morgan. Annoying, clueless, random, Morgan constantly pesters Chuck's sister Dr. Ellie Bartowski (Sarah Lancaster) and her dumb as a rock boyfriend Captain Awesome (Ryan McPartlin).

Playing NSA agent Major John Casey is Adam Baldwin, and no, he is not the missing Baldwin brother. You might remember Mr. Baldwin from a little phenomenal show known as Firefly. I loved Baldwin as the loose cannon Jayne and it is great to see he has the range to play the uptight, straight-laced Major Casey. If Chuck is successful, I think he should get his own spin-off. On the CIA side we have Australian superhottie Yvonne Strzechowski as Sarah Walker (was Sarah Strzechowski too complicated?). I am not saying that she adds the TV executive's requisite sex factor, but the bra and panties scene in the pilot sure does.

So between Chuck (8 p.m. EST) and Heroes (9 p.m. EST), which both premiere Sept. 24, NBC will own my Monday nights.

I just received the third episode. I am so excited to see it, I may end this early look with out a proper concl ...

How awesome will Chuck be?
Awesome73 (29.3%)
Really awesome53 (21.3%)
So awesome my face is melting from its awesomeness123 (49.4%)

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Ravi

I dont know what the people who didnt like this show are talking about.

Without a doubt, this is the best pilot of the new TV season. Its got the perfect combination of humor, drama, sex appeal, and that certain intangible requisite for television success.

Is it a ripoff of Jake 2.0? No. I loved that show, but it took itself much too seriously. This show strikes the perfect line of comedy instead.

Is it unbelievable? Yes. But you must always have sense of disbelief when watching TV. I didn't come at this show thinking "how could one computer hold all the government's secrets and then send it one email to someone." I thought "awesome action sequence" and I even laughed a few times. That, to me, makes for a better TV series. (BTW, I find it ironic that the same people say they love Pushing Daisies...its a good show, but it may be too quirky for mainstream audiences, unlike Chuck.)

Watch this show (or TiVo it). You will not be disappointed, trust me.

September 26 2007 at 1:05 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Jim

I had issues with the pilot (the bitch from What About Brian?, the Seth Green knock-off, the kindergarten sci-fi premise), but I thought the pilot was highly entertaining. I will keep watching. Especially if there are more hi-def shots of that half-naked blonde!

September 25 2007 at 9:10 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Aberdeen

I like it so far - although yet,it is a ripoff of Jake 2.0. I'll watch it so long as it doesn't interfere with Life...

September 24 2007 at 8:11 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Bash

Oh boy I've been called a flamer. *blush*

Three weeks (episodes). Then Chuck will be gone.

September 24 2007 at 6:17 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
DarthPaul

Odd, I've just watched the pilot & it ruled!
Maybe I have been spoiled by not having watched Jake 2.0 but it came across as a pretty funny distraction to me & that's fine.

September 24 2007 at 4:23 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
mike

I enjoyed the show but I'm thinking it will be off the air in the very near future. It struck me as a dramedy - which I personally like - but they don't seem to do well on network tv. It doesn't have enough laughs to be a sit-com and doesn't have enough drama/action to be a serious show, so lovers of each genre are left scratching their heads.

September 24 2007 at 10:52 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Horse N. Buggy

I'm honestly surprised by how much people disliked this show. Yes, I think the premise is a little silly because just watching a bunch of pictures won't put a "computer" in your brain. But despite that, I thought the show was a lot of fun. The strength, to me, came from the great writing. There were some really funny character moments in the pilot. (How can anyone not like the way Morgan jumps on Chuck when he announces that he has a date?)

While I admit that there are strong physical resemblances between the actors who play Jim Halpert and Chuck, I would never qualify Jim as a nerd/geek (nor a slacker). In fact, I think of Jim as the only cool guy in "The Office." However, I admit that he's not an "alpha-male." So, perhaps both Chuck and Jim can be described as "beta-males" but for different reasons.

I can't comment on the similarity to Jake 2.0. I can't believe that I never watched that show - I really like Chris Gorham. But I don't mind two shows having similar themes. If we can have 50,000 cop procedural shows, surely we can have two slightly similar nerd/government weapon/secret agent shows (especially when one of them is no longer on the air). Just because Journeyman is kinda similar to Quantum Leap, that doesn't mean that I'm not going to give it a chance. I liked the premise the first time around, so hopefully I will like it again.

September 24 2007 at 9:45 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
emor8t

I'm not impressed. This show seems more like comedy made by people who aren't "nerds" but think they have a grasp on what nerds do. And like most shows of this nature I give it half a season.

September 24 2007 at 8:23 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Paul

I thought the pilot for "Chuck" was awesome. It was very funny, and the action sequences to me actually formed the base for a lot of the most humourous lines/scenes. And personally, I'd rather see subtle jabs at the spy genre than an over-the-top farce. "Austin Powers" was over-the-top (not bad or unfunny, but not spectacular). "Chuck" is more sleek, lampooning both super-spies and geekdom in a much more understated way.

And in 2007, I'd say very much that "geek", "nerd", and "slacker" -- while maybe not completely synonymous -- share a very blurred common ground. Maybe it's just that "geek" and "nerd" have become more blanket terms that don't necessarily mean overly-smart or bookish, but rather socially awkward or introverted.

September 24 2007 at 3:50 AM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply
Kristen

I don't mind preposterous concepts on TV - many of my favorite shows are creatively elastic - but the notion that all the secrets of the nation could be downloaded into someone's brain is just ludicrous! Chuck is likeable enough, but completely without drive or ambition, and his friend Morgan is a cliched mix of interfering friend and incompetant nerd who has no boundaries whatsoever. And Adam Baldwin's fine talents are wasted as a one-liner thug. While I found the pilot somewhat entertaining, I would urge people to either TiVo "Chuck" for later viewing or ignore it all together in favor of one of NBC's more interesting new offerings: the quirky "Life."

Echoing what has already been said numerous times in this comment section, I enjoyed this concept in its original, more clever adaption: Jake 2.0.

September 23 2007 at 10:24 PM Report abuse rate up rate down Reply

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