Monday, October 29, 2007

Chuck: For your ears only, Casey

Spoilers for the latest "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I rank the James Bond movies in qualitative order (a list that would have "A View to a Kill" at or near the bottom)...

Damn, I enjoyed that. Easily the funniest "Chuck" to date, and one with a decent emotional core, too. I don't know if the show has levels beyond what it's giving us now, but if the execution can be this good every week, I'm cool with it.

Start with the funny, with the episode hilariously bookended by Morgan playing Mystery Crisper (I'll admit that I have a weakness for comedy about people eating or smelling disgusting things) and Chuck tormenting Casey with a rehash of the desert island sandwich debate. In between we got the Captain dressed as Biblical Adam (twice!), the Captain teaching Morgan how to be a tucker (and does it speak ill of me that I'm several years older than both Morgan and the Captain and yet I prefer to be untucked?), and Josh Schwartz spoofing himself with the slo-mo montage of Chuck running to profess his bromantic love to Morgan, which was note-for-note from the New Year's Eve episode of "The O.C." season one, down to the use of Finley Quaye's "Dice" on the soundtrack.

(And if you're not an "O.C." viewer, it's still funny as a spoof of the climax to half the bad romantic comedies produced since "When Harry Met Sally.")

On the emotional core side, the villain of the week worked well as a counterpoint to Chuck, with some similarities but not so many as to be "ER" or "Grey's Anatomy"-level sledgehammer-y, and Chuck and Morgan both dealt with some maturation issues and yet still managed to end the episode doing the Sandworm dance.

Good stuff all around (with the exception of Chuck's "View to a Kill" love, though it's probably age-appropriate as one of the first Bonds he saw). As I'm still wrestling with my twee tolerance when it comes to "Pushing Daisies," I'd have to say this episode puts "Chuck" in the lead as my favorite new show of the season.

What did everybody else think?


Anonymous said...

My favorite bit of the night: Casey has a small framed picture of Ronald Reagan that sits on the little table next to his recliner. Awesome. Or should I say outstanding?

Mac said...

I've been a tucker all my life, and it's never gotten me anywhere. It may be time to try untucked.

I think I'd put "Pushing Daisies" first and "Chuck" second (and "Dirty Sexy Money" third) but it's close.

Anonymous said...

I really love this show and I hope it does well enough to surive. I'm okay with it never being a huge hit and it's probably too offbeat and weird to be, but I read in TV Guide that someone compared it to BUFFY and I think its not completely an unfair comparison, at least in terms of a cult following and being able to balance the bad guy/demon of the week with real emotion and heart and good characters.

I really think the characters are what works here. Alan you said that after the second episode in the helicopter that maybe it wasn't as funny or smooth as the pilot but they were really digging in and trying to tell emotional stories and make you care and that's paying off now. The show has a lot of heart.

If I had to rank I'd put Chuck at number 1. Daisies at number 2. The rest of the pack lags behind.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Chuck and Pushing Daisies as the class of the season. I'd probably rank Chuck first, but you know, this week, they've got Kristen Chenowith as a jockey, and that may earn some bonus points.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Because I always forget to check YouTube before I do posts that reference other shows, here's the comparable "Dice" scene from "The O.C."

Anonymous said...

Probably my least favourite episode since "Chuck vs. The Helicopter" although: props to whoever came up with all the costumes.

Aside from all the gadgetry which was too over-the-top even for this show, I'm a little tired of how willing Chuck is to trust complete strangers. I know that's a part of who he is, and it's endearing, but it twice now, with Karina the superspy and with Gadget Boy, it's been more about how pissed he is at Sarah and/or Casey, not about how inherently trustworthy the others are. Also, still a little too much Morgan for my taste.

That said, much better use of Captain Awesome, Casey and the extended Buy More gang, and while I'm sure most people were geeking out over the Star Wars and Dune references, I was doing my own little nerd dance over the Wargames shout-out.

Anonymous said...

I can only hope that the Morgan-as-Marissa analogy carries through to its logical conclusion sooner rather than later.


Anonymous said...

Yeah that was a really good episode. I agree that it was the funniest one so far, and that they did a great job using the whole cast. The prodigy/bad guy was actually two-dimensional for once. I also liked that they continued exploring the issue of trust with the bugs, although my only complaint is that they ignored that Chuck would be mad at Sarah, not just Casey, for planting them without telling him.

The other nice use of music was the brief western whistling notes when Harry Tang confronted Morgan followed by playing "When Johnny Comes Marching Home" as Morgan tried to save Chuck's interview for him.

As far as references, I'm assuming the fake Comic-Con photo was a nod in that direction. I also liked archrival Harry Tang's full name, Harold Tiberius Tang. With that middle name no wonder he thinks he's the greatest.

Alan, have we seen the guest star on other shows? He looked familiar, kinda Ben Affleck-ish, but IMDB is not up to date with TV shows currently airing so he wasn't listed under Chuck.

Anonymous said...

There was some very nice red-herring casting in getting Rick Hoffman to play the kid's handler; his puffy bureaucratic sneer sold the bad guy as an innocent done wrong more than anything else in the episode.

The only thing from the first batch of episodes I didn't care for was the too-familiar rivalry being set up between Chuck's sister and best friend; I'm delighted Morgan and Ellie have gone past the obvious friction to a place of mutual respect and advice-giving--especially when it's actually passed along by Captain Awesome, so sweet when he forsook his catch phrase this week.

Good catch on the Reagan photo, Anonymous.

My favorite show of the new season? Pretty close, but I think I'd have to give it to Dirty Sexy Money so far. Though a strong dark horse contender is, surprisingly, Samantha Who?, where Applegate has been doing a deft job of revealing how much nasty, mean old Samantha is still driving the new, wannabe-improved model.

Bobman said...

As a red-blooded male, I feel you're remiss not mentioning Yvonne Strahovski in her Princess Leia outfit. Man oh man.

Great episode all around. This show takes "not taking itself seriously" to a whole new level, and amidst all of the shows that take themselves way TOO seriously, it's a great breath of fresh air.

Alan Sepinwall said...

As a red-blooded male, I feel you're remiss not mentioning Yvonne Strahovski in her Princess Leia outfit. Man oh man.

I praised the awesome design of the Wienerlicious uniform when it first appeared, and remarked on her barely-there fighting outfits in the diamond episode. There comes a point where if I keep talking about how hot she looks, I'm going to sound like a drooling freak.

That said, I like that this show is an equal-opportunity flesh peddler. The same episode that put Sarah into the Leia costume had Captain Awesome wearing nothing but a fig leaf, and even Morgan got some shirtless time during Mystery Crisper. (Admittedly, Morgan's not equivalent to a half-naked Sarah or Ellie, but having Chuck take his shirt off would probably ruin the whole Clark Kent illusion they've created for Zachary Levi.)

memphish said...

I gave up on this show last week, and as a red-blooded American woman, the Slave Leia costume does nothing to make me think I should seek out this episode. The level of gymnastics to maintain everyone's cover got too high for me, the plot is basically the same every week, and like Chuck's sister I find Morgan repulsive.

dark tyler said...

Chuck randomly praising the Arcade Fire, and then following that with a demeaning comment towards The Editors? Well, I guess we already knew Josh Schwartz had great taste in music, but this cements it!

Hal Incandenza said...

Right now:
1A. Chuck
1B. Pushing Daisies
2. Kid Nation (can't really explain it...)
3. Dirty Sexy Money (but it pales in comparison to 1-3)
57. The Big Bang Theory

Dark Tyler: I missed the Editors (whom I actually like) slam. What did Chuck say?

Also: I couldn't find an Arcade Fire CD that was 42:15 in length. The EP is too short; Funeral too long--but I loved, loved, loved the reference.

Matty said...

Can they please get rid of Morgan? I love everything about this show except for Morgan. I wish he simply wasn't there one week with no explanation, a la Chuck Cunningham in Happy Days. I'd have to include Aliens in America with Chuck and Pushing Daisies as my top 3 new shows. It's just as funny as HIMYM and any of the NBC Thursday night shows.

Riana said...

Is it wrong that I wished Phil Klemmer wrote last week's episode rather than last night's, simply for the "Private Eyes" synchronicity?

That being said, I don't thing I loved the episode as much as I wanted to. Chuck's trust in "the bad guy" and subsequent guilt felt like something we had already seen before. Don't get me wrong. There were moments I loved: the "Jessica Alba sandwich", the Captain pausing a moment before he said "Outstanding", and Chuck telling Morgan he could be the head this year.

Anonymous said...

In terms of pure entertainment value, this was definitely the best episode of "Chuck" and one of the best episodes of any show this year.

One more pop-culture reference: I wonder if naming the other agent Laslow was a shout-out to Lazlo Hollyfeld, the crazy, burnt-out super-genius who lived in the dorm basement in Real Genius (the best youth comedy of the '80s)?

Shawn Anderson said...

I wasn't sure if they meant to have the opening track from Funeral ("Neighborhood #1 (Tunnels)") and instead had to settle for Editors' "Weight of the World" because Arcade Fire are pretty tight about licensing their music (unless it's a perfect match of brands like Six Feet Under was?)

Anyway, the guy who played Lazslo (Jonathan Sadowski) also played one of the doctors fired early on in Dr House's competition.

I like the thought that the name Lazslo might reference Real Genius. Seems like something Schwartz would do.

Shawn Anderson said...

A View To A Kill actually is a pretty good reference when you think about another movie/book referenced: Dune. Both plots deal with sand as a sought after commodity (as silicon for Kill's Zorin, and the sandworms' spice byproduct for Dune's Baron Harkonnen) and the destruction involved in attempting to gain a monopoly in distribution of these products.

Stef said...

I laughed out loud at the Reagan photo, too! And they showed it twice, so they REALLY wanted us to see it.

I still think Dirty Sexy Money is the best new show of the season, but Chuck has rapidly risen to a very close 2nd. They are the only new shows I've added to the regular repertoire. Worst of the year? Sadly, Private Practice. Get Addison back to Seattle, stat!

Anonymous said...

A View to a Kill is so much better than Live or Let Die.

Anonymous said...

This was the first episode where I didn't hate Morgan. In fact, he was my favorite part. Wait, the gold bikini. Okay, 2nd-favorite part.

I didn't even recognize that scene as an O.C. reference until you pointed it out. That was the moment of The O.C. where I was like, "Well, this is what this show is going to be about, and I'm okay with myself for liking it." It was even better the second time around, because, y'know, no Oliver.