Tuesday, December 04, 2007

Chuck: Who can retell the things that befell us, who can count them?

Spoilers for "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I try some of Jeff's eggnog...

"Chuck Bartowski will return after the New Year... at least, we hope so."

Well, thanks to the back nine (or whatever) pick-up, not to mention the two episodes in the can that are being saved for whenever production resumes, we know "Chuck" will be back -- at some point -- and this wasn't a bad one to go out on for however many weeks or months it's going to take for the strike to end.

The meat of "Chuck Versus the Crown Vic" was ostensibly the status of Chuck and Sarah's relationship post-Bryce and post-kiss, but for me the real heart of the episode was Casey. Casey always gets stuck as the third wheel, posing as the limo driver or the roulette dealer or the cater waiter while Chuck and Sarah get glammed up, but he's kind of carrying the team, staying level-headed and (other than his boxers-and-handcuffs incident) not letting himself get sucked into the romantic shenanigans that so often distract his partners. As he said to Sarah, they made a choice when they became spies, and he has no problems living with the ramifications of that choice -- but damn if he didn't look conflicted when reminded that Chuck would be taken care of once the new Intersect gets up and running. The guy's human, after all, and not just for inanimate objects like his bansai tree, his guns or his beloved, now-totaled Crown Vic. Adam Baldwin always brings the one-liner-y goodness on this show, but last night he had a number of really nice dramatic moments, like his speech to Sarah or the aforementioned reaction to the Intersect news. But my favorite may have been a combination of the funny and the serious, as Casey tried to deal with the Crown Vic's destruction, and you could see him going through all five stages of grief simultaneously. He wanted to kill Chuck, but he also understood why it happened.

(That said, couldn't the three of them have just jumped off the boat? Or were there too many unconscious bad guys lying around who would have blown up real good?)

After Casey, my favorite part of the episode was Lester hustling the staff at dreidel to the tune of "Pimp Juice." (One of two superb hip-hop selections on the soundtrack, the other being Run-DMC's "Christmas in Hollis" at the party.) I had almost forgotten that Lester was taking bar mitzvah lessons for whatever reason, and the idea of him trying to exploit his apparent conversion to Judaism to get over on his co-workers -- whether with the dreidel, forcing Big Mike to refer to the Christmas party as a holiday party, calling Jeff "bubeleh" (Hebrew -- or maybe Yiddish, I forget -- for "sweetheart") was damned amusing to me on the night before the Festival of Lights begins. Even though Schwartz refuses to make Chuck Jewish, it's nice to have some kind of Semitic culture from the man who gave us Chrismukkah.

The episode had a few weak spots -- after being really engaged in the Chuck/Sarah thing for the last three episodes, their bickering here didn't click for me, and Morgan with Anna's parents was definitely on the low end of the Morgan curve -- but what other show is going to give me gratuitous "Passenger 57" references in the middle of a Bond parody scene?

Bye, "Chuck." Of the new shows being scuttled by the strike, I'll miss you most of all. Come back soon, okay?

What did everybody else think?


SJ said...

I have slowly grown fond of the show. I'm glad it's coming back.

David J. Loehr said...

A few months back on my own tv blog, I wrote about the show after only the pilot. I liked it, but I liked Levi more than the show itself, which struck me as having a little in common with "The Greatest American Hero" in some ways. But I ended by saying I'd probably TiVo it and check back in later.

I'm glad I did. It's probably the only new network show I've watched every week, and I've enjoyed it more and more each time. (I do like "Pushing Daisies," but the tone is just a little off to me; even the best episodes I've seen make me think it should be better than it is. And that's not even mentioning the twee-ness.)

So yeah, I'm going to miss Chuck. And "Chuck."

Taleena said...

I am not usually on the Morgan hate bandwagon but Morgan was really annoying this last episode. Anna is much too good for him and forgiving of a lot of Morgan's stuff.

Hurray for Adam Baldwin who is the icing to this delicious cake. Casey is the breath of air to Sarah's emotional knee jerks. Plus, I love his tee shirts.

Anonymous said...

This episode made me wish they had kept Rachel Bilson around longer. It seems as if Chuck is stuck in the same romantic limbo with Sarah that he worked so hard to get out of. He's back to being her fake boyfriend, but it's even worse now, because he knows she maybe has feelings for him, but she definitely still has feelings for Bryce. But she values her job, which apparently sometimes involves getting up close and personal with bad guys, more than either one. I'm sure her fondness for Chuck will come in handy if she has to choose between him and her orders. But on a personal level, it just gets more and more frustrating for the guy.

This episode also really showed the illogic of believing the Intercept knows everything. Because Chuck made a mistake as to what was in the boxes, everyone thinks he screwed up? From the beginning, they should have considered the possibility that someone might have taken the counterfeiting gear out of those particular boxes after the computer was programmed. It's just information, not magic.

Where were Sis and Awesome in this episode? And why did Chuck and Sarah have to discuss their absence -- was it so we wouldn't worry about them? The show could have used some of them in place of some of the relationship talk.

Anonymous said...

Weird that the comments for this show have slowed down here and yet exploded on every other site I've visited. Maybe its due to the late post.

Anyway, another solid fun episode. Not as good as the last four, or five including Halloween, but better than the Shrimp episode and the 2nd one. The show has found its groove - you know that cause even in a less than stellar spy plot (what was the plot here exactly and super lame villain) they manage to still find tons of great funny moments, scenes, and the last five minutes were terrific. A heartwarming Chuck Sarah scene that made up for what felt like a tonally off episode for them - I like yearning not bickering from these two - and a great cliffhanger/set up of the second half of the season.

This show has easily become my favorite of the new year and I hope the creative momentum, and the momentum from viewers, isn't lost. Chuck is a winner and I really enjoy it.

And did it make HEROES feel slower and lamer this year by comparison? Or would that have happened to Heroes anyway even after Howie Mandel?

Shawn Anderson said...

Happy Hanukkah!

The whole Lester conversion thing is still kind of weird to me, but it did did provide some great comic relief with the old 'no one ever remembers how to play dreidel' thing. I know I've never been able to play it at Hanukkah without someone first having to look up what the Nun, Gimel, Hei and Shin mean.

There's got to be more to the Lester conversion thing coming in the future.

Karen said...

Hardcore dreidel gambling--TV doesn't get much better than that, my friends.

Thanks for reminding me that Lester was converting; I spent most of last night thinking, "He really doesn't look Jewish."

This weekend I was sick in bed, stuck with an empty DVR queue and all my Netflix discs returned. I fell back on watching the complete "Firefly," followed by "Serenity." Watching "Chuck" the next day, I was struck anew by how much Adam Baldwin brings to his supporting roles. His face, after the Crown Vic blew up, was a patchwork quilt of emotion that not every actor could pull off. "Firefly" managed to give him a couple of episodes, at least, where he was more of the focus than usual, and I hope "Chuck" gives him the same opportunity. He's come a long way since "My Bodyguard"!

I thought the Morgan/Anna storyline was too predictable to be interesting, but it didn't bother me that much. I confess I was kind of hoping that her father would turn out to be one of the Taiwanese bad guys.

I'm sorry to see "Chuck" go, even for hiatus; it's really become something I look forward to on a Monday night.

Anonymous said...

After the first few episodes, Chuck has been surprisingly consistent for a new show. I enjoy and dislike the same things week after week, and it all adds to up to an solid, second-tier show.

If Adam Baldwin is nominated for best supporting actor, comedy (this needs to happen!), the scene after his Crown Vic is destroyed should be all he needs to win. Wow. The outlaws/guns t-shirt was also great.

I agree with BigTed about the Intersect. You would think they (meaning the characters on the show as well as the writers outside the show) would be more careful about the difference between what is directly proven by the flashes versus what Chuck is inferring or deducing from them. There are a lot more interesting ways they could use the flashes other than narrative shortcuts or "oh no Chuck was wrong!" moments.

I'm glad the show got the back nine and looking forward to see how they handle the Intersect II issue in the spring! That is, if there are any new episodes left?

Jon88 said...

No story credit to Chekhov? If you mention the GPS system on the Crown Vic in the first act ....

Shawn Anderson said...

Oddly enough, of the Crown Vic's features, the one that seemed like it (or I imagined) would come back into play was the prisoner containment unit.

On a side note, Tommy Lee Jones' character in Men in Black also drove a black Crown Vic (that transformed into a rocket ship). Possibly a reference to that... older agent explaining the benefits of the classic car to a newbie?

Also loved hearing Baldwin say "I like it shiny" (Firefly!).

Stef said...

Zachary Levi + Adam Baldwin = 2 crushes, a totally valid reason to watch this show! And it's fun, too. Now we just have to wait for the new eps.

afoglia said...

Am I the only one who thought the GPS stuff made no sense? GPS lets objects determine their position. There's no reason for those device to broadcast their position, and there's no standard. So Chuck's hacking the missile to point at Casey's car made no sense.

Oh well, it's just a TV show.

Anonymous said...

I'm going to miss "Chuck" too! Hope it'll come back soon. An extremely minor gripe: no way was the Mandarin spoken by Anna's parents in a Taiwanese accent. Nice to know that inaccurate accents isn't only exclusive to English on TV shows :)

Anonymous said...

Mr. Foglia:

Not only did it not make sense for a GPS unit to broadcast or even have its own position on Earth, it's highly unlikely that Casey would be able to give its position relative to the missile programming unit or to a standard point both GPS systems would recognize... with only four digits.

I considered it wanking, like the Stanford Spy Kidz being able to access their on campus weapons quickly and carry them to a gunfight in a lecture hall, without being noticed by a campus full of football fans, visitors, and the security necessary for some VIPs to enjoy the game safely.

Anonymous said...

Or, that spies at two punch-the-clock retail organizations can leave their posts, let alone their stores, for more than 15 minutes without being fired.

Or, if they're not fired, then having their supervisors wonder they get special treatment.

You know, the little things.

Anonymous said...

I'm surprised the sharp folks here didn't catch Casey's line "Flush out your headgear, new guy" - directly cribbed from Adam Baldwin's role in "Full Metal Jacket".

I noticed a lot of little inside jokes in the episode.

Anonymous said...

Morgan does get a little tedious, but the reference to the Bud Dry commercial was great. "There I was, there I was ... in the Congo."

Anonymous said...

Morgan does get a little tedious, but the reference to the Bud Dry commercial was great. "There I was, there I was ... in the Congo."

That's my favorite Morgan incident so far. Or ever.

Anonymous said...

Who else but Alan Sepinwall could pull off a "Me Yemalel" headline like this? Who? No one, that's who.

Anonymous said...

I finally caught up on the last 6 episodes on the ol' Tivo. My wish for Chuck in '08: MORE JEFF.

Also, I was reading that the guy who plays Bryce almost got the part of the new Superman. He could have pulled it off if he wasn't like 5'8".