Thursday, January 07, 2010

'Chuck' season 3 review - Sepinwall on TV

I began my review of "Chuck" season three column as an expansion of the blog post I wrote immediately after watching the new season's first five episodes. Then I decided I'd done enough preaching to the converted already about this show, and instead decided to do a sequel to my open letter to NBC from last spring - this time addressed to the many people (some of them possibly readers of this blog) who haven't yet given "Chuck" a try.

(And to answer one other question that keeps coming up: yes, you can jump on board the show with the third season if you didn't watch the first two. You'll miss some running gags, and some nuances of Chuck's main relationships, but overall the show is much more accessible and newbie-friendly than a lot of the hour-longs I pimp here. And if you get hooked, then you'll have the previous seasons - particularly the season two DVDs- to look forward to.)

Even with press tour on, I'll be back on Sunday night with a review of the first two episodes, and another on Monday for the third (and the first in the show's regular timeslot).

So go read the column, and we'll have lots more Buy More to talk about on Sunday night.

42 comments:

jo said...

Great post again Alan.

I really sincerely hope people decide to watch Sunday and then every Monday after that.

Chuck is truly an amazing and unique show. I dont want to it go down as another Arrested Development or Firefly where people dont start to catch on until after its cancelled, and then slap themselves because they never watched it when it was on.

Sonia said...

Alan -- no one can say that you didn't try your best to get people to watch this show -- great article and I can't wait for Sunday!!!

Mae said...

Thanks for doing this post Allan. I sure hope enough people will tune in this season. Chuck's audience are small but loyal since it didn't suffer much of a drop from each episode in the previous season unlike Heroes. I'm confident that if more people check out the show, they'll get to love Chuck as much as we do. We just need more eyeballs.

bsangs said...

OK Alan, you've sold me. I'm going to give "Chuck" another try. Sounds like it's much better than its (I'm sorry) woeful freshman season. God knows I kept giving "Heroes" chance after chance after chance before finally pulling the plug, guess I should give "Chuck" another try. DVR programmed!

LoopyChew said...

As someone whose viewership has no influence whatsoever on American commercial television anymore, I thank you, bsangs! If Season 3 is as awesome as I've been hearing it is from TV reviewers all over the web, and if it's anywhere CLOSE to as fun as Season 2 was, you're in for a treat.

Bill said...

Alan,

Brilliant review. I particularly like the comment on the obvious flaw. I understand that the rabid shippers can get ridiculous. But you framed it perfectly. They don’t have to be together. It’s just that the obstacles are becoming increasingly contrived and repetitive. And since that sub-plot currently consumes so much of the storyline, it’s starting to distract from where the show could go.

Kevin said...

Apologies if I missed it, but maybe you should tweet for people to get a good taste of Chuck Season Two by watching the Sy-Fy Marathon later today.

Here's to hoping the Jeffster episodes are in it.

Anlyn said...

Regarding the music...not only do they use great songs, but they work it into the plot incredibly well. The fight scene in the car during Chuck vs The Best Friend, for instance; the music made that scene work. I still get chills when "Mr. Roboto" slows way down during Bryce's entrance into the wedding hall. They are fantastic at incorporating the music to fit the story, so that it enhances instead of detracts (or distracts).

buzz said...

Once more unto breach Alan!

Thanks for all your proselytizing and message-spreading. (and I'm glad you've been recognized by the producers and Comic-Con for it)*

Really looking forward to your reviews and the new season.

* BTW, who choose you to be Comic-Con panel moderator, the Chuck producers or the Con itself?

Andrea said...

I am yet to be impressed with Levi over the last two seasons. I always thought he's just a lazy actor who tends to rehash out predictable (and exaggerated) reactions/expressions. I hope this season will change that opinion of mine.

Q Ball said...

7 hours of playoff football followed by 2 hours of new chuck...

Looks like my remote is getting a workout on Sunday

Anonymous said...

yeah the angst put me off last season sadly its turned me off this season. Shame really it was a great show but the love interest sucks the enjoyment out. Nothing i have heard makes me think anything but they have contrived to just keep them apart then they make them look pretty shallow. I will catch it on itunes or DVD when it ends.

dez said...

Are you going to the screening at the HOB, Alan? Or will your TCA duties keep you away?

Alan Sepinwall said...

I'll be at the NBC press tour party, Dez - which means, I guess, that the Chuck cast won't be.

Whiskey said...

as usual, great column on Chuck -- I've linked to it on my FB in the hopes that some of my friends who aren't watching yet will start this season.

Small nitpick: it's Awesome's father, not father-in-law, who makes the great comment about Jeff & Lester ruining the wedding.

And thanks to whoever mentioned SyFy's Chuck marathon today, I didn't know about it so I'm glad I came to comment!

Oh, and Alan: did you catch the references to Mad Men on PTI? (yesterday or the day before, now I can't remember) Husband and I thought it was hilarious!

OldDarth said...

Yep. Great enticer Alan.

Still need to see how Season 3 plays out before I can side with you on the flaw remark.

The setup seems much more developed than in previous ones.

dez said...

Alan, they might be. The website says the cast Meet & Greet is in the afternoon, but doesn't indicate that they will be at the viewing (yet another way for me to rationalize away the pain of not being able to go myself) :-) So they could very well be free by the time of the NBC event.

dez said...

Just got this from the Official CHUCK fanpage on Facebook: Zach will be on the Today show tomorrow at 8:30 & 10 a.m. (EST), plus he's doing a signing at the NBC store at 11 a.m.

Also, KROQ (L.A.) is having Yvonne on their Kevin & Bean show in the morning (not sure what time--they didn't announce it). I think you can listen on the web if you're not in L.A. or in one of the markets where they are also broadcast.

Whiskey said...

can anyone point me to a song playlist of all the great songs on Chuck S1 & S2? I've tried to catch most of them after every ep, but I just re-watched Chuck vs the Breakup and I don't have or know who performs the song that's playing as Chuck approaches Sarah's room at the beginning. And I love that moody song!

Jxl said...

The song is Fake Empire by The National. Also you can find the playlist for each episode at Chucktv.net. Hope that helps.

schoolbooksue said...

@Kevin-Thanks for the heads up on the Syfy Marathon! The snow in the Midwest caused school cancellations so I got to spend a cozy evening re-watching my favorite episodes. I finally got my husband to watch it and, of course, he loved it too. It was a great way for him to get up to speed.

filmcricket said...

Has anyone noticed that The Daily Show's globe has been "Chuck"-themed all week? I love that the TDS crowd really likes the show. Aside from them being my two favourite American shows on TV right now, it also kind of reaffirms one's taste if Jon Stewart agrees with it.

Robin said...

Question for anyone who has the S2 DVDs: are the songs that aired on NBC still in the shows on DVD? I know that this has been an issue in other shows going to DVD due to licensing.

Josh Schwartz is one of the best montage guys around, and if the original songs aren't there, I think it would really be a letdown.

Anonymous said...

I was born in 91. As such I know almost nothing of the 80s. Sorry but I've never watched Breakfast Club or Ferris Beuhler or Tron or any of that. Every time I hear about Chuck I am left with the impression of a live action Family Guy only with a more time period specific comedy style. Your post doesn't do much to alleviate that concern.

Alan Sepinwall said...

It's not Family Guy. The 80s and 90s refs are garnishes. On Family Guy, they're the while meal.

AndertonJ said...

Totally agree with the obvious flaw you'd mentioned. During the mid-season hiatus for season two, when the descriptions of the "Beefcake" & "Lethal Weapon" were out, many Chuck fansites were filled with complaints about adding another love interest just to keep the two leads apart.

According to Josh & Fedak from ComicCon, Chuck & Sarah will continue to be forced apart for "the job" and yet more love interests.

Alan, you'd mentioned "The Office" in regards to ending the will they/won't they nonsense. I'd always liked how "News Radio" put the two leads together right away, and it worked! One might also point to the record ratings hit by "The Big Bang Theory" after they put Leonard & Penny together.

I don't believe that keeping the audience interested means maintaining the WT/WT paradigm. Not like it did 20 years ago. It seems like so many shows have used this crutch over the decades that it just doesn't work these days like it did years ago. "Bones" took some heat for their backtracking with their two leads. And the WT/WT between Clark & Lana on Smallville dragged on so long that more than a fair few fans are eternally grateful that the Lana character is finally gone from the show.

Chuck's WT/WT should have ended with season 2. Back when critics everywhere were cautioning the showrunners about letting the non-relationship become an albatross around the show's neck. I believe that played out with the near cancellation of the show.

I sure don't understand why the writers felt that putting the leads together was too big of a job for them to write.

Instead of shelling out more money for stunt casting, how about hiring Paul Haggis for a day to fix their "We can't write ourselves out of this endless WT/WT loop."



If the romance of "Chuck" is little more than a meaningless subplot used for bathroom breaks, season 3 is for you. If you've found the romance too poorly written or too much of a distraction during season 2, you're not likely to become a renewed fan at any time during season 3.

FoundNemo said...

Plugging this on my Facebook and Twitter--thanks for the fantastic newbie intro!

Jxl said...

@Anonymous - Well all I would say is the best way to form an impressions is to watch the show. I've found pretty much most people who've watched an episode have enjoyed it immensely.

Anonymous said...

http://blip.fm/profile/Megatronics/playlist

All songs from Chuck S1 and S2. It has a few broken links, but most of the songs still work...

the Stanfield Org. said...

Alan- Thanks for getting me into this show- decided to forego S1 and dive right into S2- only on episode 8, but has completely exceeded expectations to this point. Great core actors, great guest stars (even Nicole Richie), good action, funny... like you've said in your write ups, just a fun show. This and Parks & Recreation easily my favorite new finds, just hope enough people will tune in so that nbc will keep them on the air, as opposed to a Biggest Loser spinoff.

ScarlettJacob said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
AndertonJ said...

Scarlett, even "Chuck" star Zach Levi has stated recently that this new season of the show is even more like "Jake 2.0" than it was previously.

Jake was a nerd with government technology in his body, which maked him super-human, who worked missions while in love with Sarah.

Chuck is a nerd with government technology in his body, which makes him super-human, who works missions while in love with Sarah.

The concept for "Chuck" is nothing close to original.

Rachael said...

@filmcricket - Re: Daily Show Globe, Oh yeah!! We had to just un-delete our eps of The Daily Show from this past week to look at the globe, and I see that it says "Chuckville". Interesting ... is it just a coincidence though?

I googled the Daily Show Globe, and this blog - http://tinyurl.com/yctzrsj - says that the show's director who came up with the concept is named Chuck O'Neil. Do you think the only meaning of "Chuckville" on the globe is due to the Daily Show director's name?

Do the Daily Show peeps mention Chuck at any other points? I did see them give Chuck a shout-out once, back when all the "Save Chuck" efforts were going on last April.

Ithiel said...

It was fantastic to get more Chuck after it was gone for so long. Does anyone know why season 3 of Chuck isn't available on iTunes? I was all set to buy a season pass again and it's not there.

Anonymous said...

Been checking all day, no season 3 pass or episodes on itunes. NBC just doesn't get it. Lost is selling a season pass for over a month before we get the season. Chuck doesn't even have the episodes.

Tapping my foot while waiting..........

Matt said...

STILL no Chuck on iTunes? NBC, you fail at just about everything. EVERYTHING.

Michael said...

I am also wanting that season pass ASAP. Having an iPhone I can store the episodes on as I go helps, of course!

vgarridof said...

Waiting for NBC to put up chuck on itunes....

Anonymous said...

I have money to spend. Have iTunes loaded and ready to go. Prime consumer willing to put down some money on a season pass.
Oh wait, STILL not available.

What's wrong with you, NBC???

Alan Sepinwall said...

NBC has nothing to do with it. The studios negotiate these deals. Not sure what the hold-up is, though.

CHUCKFAN008!!! said...

Any word yet on Season 3 of Chuck on iTunes? Dying to buy it, watching a grainy image on NBC.com just doesn't do it any justice. Hurry up Mr. Chuck's-studio-poeple-who-negotiate-deals-with-iTunes-people!!! HURRY UP!!!

libellus said...

It's just weird that Season 3 isn't on iTunes yet and we're 4 eps in. Seasons 1 and 2 were both up before the seasons started. I wonder what there could be to negotiate. Either way... if The Powers That Be are reading this get your butts in gear because people WANT to GIVE you MONEY.

Great post Alan!