Spoilers for "Chuck" and "How I Met Your Mother" coming up just as soon as I rip apart this headboard...
Interesting approach for "Chuck" episode four, which was fairly light on the laughs -- minimal Casey and almost no time spent with Captain Awesome or at the Buy More -- while working to give some emotional heft to Sarah and the inevitable Chuck/Sarah 'ship. I missed the Nerd Herd and Harry Tang, but, as with episode two, I'm glad Schwartz and Fedak want us to genuinely understand and care about these characters. Chuck needed to find out about Sarah and Bryce sooner or later, but I like that the bigger obstacle to their cover becoming an actual relationship was the matter of Sarah's secrets. (Dammit, there's that word again! Sorry.) Yvonne Strahovski could probably still use a good fight trainer -- though with the outfits they keep having her fight in, I'm not sure how much of the audience even notices -- but she and Levi have great chemistry and she did a really nice job with "My middle name is Lisa."
Other things I liked: Casey falling for the same stunt that got him in trouble in Prague, and Casey -- who somehow got his pants on even with his hands in that position -- trying to make nice with the mom and daughter in the elevator; Chuck seeking refuge in the hotel business center and showing off his mad label-printing skills to protect the diamond; and Carina with her remote-controlled jet ski. If I were in a letter grade-giving mood, I'd say, B, B+ episode...
... which is just a shade better than what I'd give the latest "How I Met Your Mother." I'm still concerned, as we're four weeks into the season and there hasn't been a really strong episode yet, but this one didn't bug me nearly as much as the last two. I liked Robin's breakfast encounter with the little kid (and remain amused as always that Brad Rowe, as the dad, continues to get work entirely on the basis of his vague resemblance to Brad Pitt, rather than any identifiable talent of his own), and I really liked Ted and Barney belittling all of Marshall's attempts to assert his own game.
Still, Ted and Robin remain the show's weakest links, comedy-wise, so this pattern of one getting the A-story and one the B-story isn't a good one; when they were dating last year, we were guaranteed to have one plot or the other devoted to some combo or Barney, Marshall and Lily. These two stories had some funnier moments than the last couple of episodes and I understand the writers' desire to start the season focusing on how each of Ted and Robin is moving on from their relationship. I just don't want it to go on much longer.
Unfortunately, I have a nagging suspicion that it will. When I interviewed Thomas and Bays back at press tour, they were rattling off a bunch of upcoming stories they had planned for the characters this season, and one of them mentioned that Marshall and Lily would begin looking for their own place. I asked what else they had in mind for those two, and both guys metaphorically scratched their heads and said that, at the moment, that was kind of it. I know we have Marshall's next slap coming up sometime in October, and at some point I guess we'll get to see the apartment hunt, but unless we go heavy on Barney storylines soon, this could wind up being a lost season.
What did everybody else think?