Saturday, January 9, 2010

Chuck Season 1

I've never reviewed a TV show on this blog before, but I think this gem deserves a mention. No, I haven't forgotten Burn. It's coming soon. But this is the perfect time for a post about the fantastic show known as Chuck.

The titular main character, last name Bartowski (played by the fantastic Zachary Levi), is rather pathetic when the series starts. He went to Stanford, but was kicked out due to allegedly cheating on a test. So he's now living with his older sister, Ellie, and her boyfriend/fiancee/husband (it changes from start to finish) Devon Woodcomb (nicknamed Captain Awesome by Chuck). He works as part of the Nerd Herd at the Buy More electronics store in Burbank, California with his lifelong best pal Morgan Grimes (Joshua Gomez). Dead end job, hopelessly geeky (he wears Band-Aids at the start of the pilot episode from playing Call of Duty too much)... things aren't that exciting.

But that changes in a major way when his old college roommate Bryce Larkin (remember that name) sends him an e-mail on his birthday. Chuck opens it and discovers to his immense surprise that it contains a wealth of government secrets hidden in encrypted images-- the Intersect. The next morning, he finds that these images are still in his head. Enter two agents: Sarah Walker (the beautiful Yvonne Strahovsky) from the CIA, who catches Chuck's eye before he's caught up in espionage; and John Casey (played excellently by Firefly veteran Adam Baldwin) from the NSA, who would find it much easier if he could just kill Bartowski and be done with it. Things will never be the same again.

Don't panic.

The series started with what is perhaps my favorite pilot episode ever. The rest of the show lives up to it, thankfully. It's action-packed, funny, and has great characters that you come to know and love more and more. Even Casey. Chuck and Sarah's relationship is a well-handled will they/won't they situation, and there's a lot of interesting tension that comes with this (only to be ramped up in Season 2). And the show consistently manages to juggle drama with all of the lighter material, something rarely achieved, and both actually work.

Some favorite episodes of mine (besides the pilot):

Chuck vs. the Alma Mater: Chuck has to go back to Stanford... because he "flashes" on his student ID. And it turns out Stanford and the CIA have a good working relationship.

Chuck vs. the Truth: A poisonous truth serum leads to hilarious results, but not when Ellie becomes involved.

Chuck vs. the Undercover Lover: Casey has a past after all. And it's romantic. And he was called Sugarbear. Oh yeah.

Season 1 was cut short due to the writer's strike, but it still left us with a tantilizing promise of more to come, and not all of it was so nice. Very fulfilling, even though it ended midseason.

My rating: 9/10

Season 3 airs Sunday the 10th with two hours straight of new material. I'll be watching.

Coming Soon: Chuck Season 2 and Burn.

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