Monday, October 27, 2008

Chuck, "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer": Chuck's got the touch

Spoilers for "Chuck" season two, episode five coming up just as soon as I make a decision between some tasty choices...

Chuck saves the world. Chuck Bartowski saves the world. Whoa.

What could have been a very cheesey storyline -- particularly since this seemed the most budget-conscious episode of the season, with the bulk of the action taking place inside the Buy More -- instead felt entirely earned. When Chuck stands on that stage, getting cheered on by the geeks for what they think was his big accomplishment (beating Missile Command) while missing the real one (averting World War III) the smile on my face was as broad as the Mississippi.

The follow-up scene, where Sarah rewards Chuck for all his hard work and sacrifice by arranging to get him a real Stanford diploma, was also awfully nice. For such a fundamentally goofy show that requires you to throw logic out the window left and right, "Chuck" can be kind of brilliant in the more emotional moments, can't it? Credit a lot of that to Zachary Levi (and, in this case, to Sarah Lancaster and Yvonne Strahovski), but also to the writers (in this case, Phil Klemmer) doing a much better job at making Chuck's missions in some way reflect on his own life. I know I've complained recently about other shows (particularly about medical dramas like "House") that frequently construct parallels between the procedural and the personal, but it gets annoying there because it feels done with sledgehammer subtlety. Plus, without some kind of dramatic weight -- even something as simple as Ellie worrying what her brother is doing with his life -- "Chuck" might threaten to become so insubstantial that it would just float away, funny or no. I'm always reluctant to make the "Buffy" comparison -- different kinds of shows, plus invoking "Buffy" creates strong reactions from people who hold that show sacred -- but I definitely have the sense that Schwartz, Fedak and company are on some level taking a page from the "Buffy" model by having the weekly villains mean more to our heroes than simple danger.

And I've now spent several paragraphs talking about the dramatic parts of what was one of the funniest "Chuck"s to date, which shows just how good the show has gotten at blending the comedy with the drama with the action. Look at Jeff, who's a walking punchline for three-quarters of the episode -- the mullet and 'stashe in the 1983 flashback, the drinking pants, the "My name is Jeff and I'm lost" business card for use in case of his frequent blackouts -- and then turns into a (slightly) more three-dimensional, even sympathetic character towards the end as Chuck tries to encourage him to make a comeback. Jeff confronting the Missile Command game at the end of the episode could have very easily been played for laughs (ala Dave vs. Stargate Defender in the classic "Arcade" episode of "NewsRadio"), but instead it's this quiet, wistful moment.

"Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer" also featured three superb musical choices, starting with the Rush song from the episode's title. I dislike almost all prog-rock, but dammit if "Tom Sawyer" didn't work as kick-ass accompaniment to both Chuck's video game challenge and Sarah's cool jacket vs. knife fight at the TV studio. Just as perfect -- and even funnier -- was the use of Stan Bush's "The Touch" -- or, as I like to think of it, the love theme from the animated "Transformers" movie -- for the getting pumped montage of Jeff's fans coming out of hibernation. (Question: would people have preferred that they used the Dirk Diggler version?) And "All Out of Love" playing over Jeff's stalking video of Anna made it a cheeseball classic 3-for-3.

(I asked Klemmer about the use of "Tom Sawyer" and whether it was in any way inspired by the people who figured out you could play "The Dark Side of the Moon" along with "The Wizard of Oz" and the two would match up perfectly. Klemmer said, "Yeah, the Wizard of Oz/Dark Side of the Moon overlay is what we had in mind. I was looking for a pop rock song that could conceivably conceal a secret mathematical code that could match the pattern in our video game. I knew that Rush's drummer Neil Pert was famous for using various complicated time signatures (although Tom Sawyer isn't the best example).")

Man, "Chuck" is firing on all cylinders right now, isn't it? I took some heat last year when I put the show in my annual Top 10 list, and even at the time I felt I was doing it as much on potential (and a lack of other more impressive candidates) than for what the show had done to that point. Not anymore. There are few shows I look forward to, week in, week out, than "Chuck."

Some other thoughts on "Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer":

• The brief field trip to Atari headquarters gave us the opportunity to see Casey looking awkward in a Nerd Herd uniform, followed by Sarah looking... what's the opposite of awkward?... in a slutty version of same. I do think they missed an opportunity for both humor and to show Sarah thinking on her feet by not having her cover for her lack of computer knowledge by pitting the different Atari geeks against each other to fix the problem without her. (There was a hint of that, but Sarah mostly seemed flustered.)

• As Emmett Millbarge, the Buy More efficiency expert turned temporary New Ass Man, Tony Hale didn't get to say "Hey, brother," or any of his other "Arrested Development" catchphrases, but it was still a pleasure to hear the fussy contempt in his voice as he uttered phrases like "lewd use of a musical montage" and "What is this abomination?"

• I love that our first glimpse of Chuck in the episode is him waking up with a fake mustache from an unseen mission. As with the climax of "Chuck vs. the Break-Up" where we saw Casey with the bag of money, the writers are recognizing that sometimes they can leave it to our imagination to fill in the blanks. Plus, it created the illusion of an elaborate mission that there was no time or money to show us.

• One night after making such a memorable appearance in the "Mad Men" season finale, Ryan McPartlin is back in Captain Awesome mode talking about how a ginseng protein shake "does wonders for your wang energy." That's versatility, folks.

• Know your '80s references: Emmett Millbarge is an amalgamation of the names of the Chevy Chase and Dan Aykroyd characters in "Spies Like Us," while Jeff's line to the Missile Command game ("Hey, bud, let's party") is our second "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" reference in two weeks. (Spicoli tells it to a sportscaster in a segment not dissimilar to Jeff's interview at the start of this episode.)

• Two familiar faces in guest roles here: Faran Tahir, who played the terrorist leader in "Iron Man," was a, um, terrorist leader here. (Typecasting!) Meanwhile, '70s and '80s TV Hey, It's That Guy! Clyde Kusatsu played Missile Command designer Morimoto, whom I'm assuming was named for the guy from "Iron Chef" classic.

• Blink and you may have missed writer Phil Klemmer as one of Jeff's many fanboys getting off the couch to watch Jeff take on that fickle machine one more time. (Klemmer's the skinny blonde guy.)

• Not sure I like Chuck being able to carry a big guy like Jeff around on his shoulders so much. Yes, Zachary Levi is more athletic-looking than Chuck's supposed to be, but they've made Chuck's physical weakness into such a good running gag that gets undercut when we see him doing that, even while appearing to strain under the weight.

• Morgan and Lester's panic over seeing Chuck and Jeff bond was amusing, particularly Chuck's pep talk to Morgan about all the ways -- "Mama Mia" roadie for four straight summers, owns his own smoke machine -- that Morgan is cooler than Jeff. I also liked the random diss of the Zune; do you think iPod paid product integration money for the episode?

What did everybody else think?


Stef said...

Haven't watched the ep yet, but just have to say how darn ticked I was at 8:30 to tune in and see HIMYM was a rerun! I could've been watching Chuck for the whole hour. Phooey.

Anonymous said...

Levi might be a little bigger and better looking than what you'd expect in a nerd, but I know more nerds that look like him. He does a great job looking uncomfortable in his own body and flustered when he has to use social skills.

Anonymous said...

Good lord, that was the greatest nerd-hour of television EVER.

There is but one reference that would make this immaculate. Did the TV station broadcasting the terrorist signal have the same name as the one in John Carpenter's THEY LIVE? If so, this would achieve Explosivo levels of awesomeness.

Alan Sepinwall said...

I feel very annoyed with myself, by the way, for somehow getting through that entire review without mentioning "King of Kong," the movie where us non-gamers first learned of the concept of kill screens.

wcdixon said...

Another solid effort, 'Chuck' is making my Monday TV nights fun again (unlike 'Pushing Daisies' which although pleasant enough ultimately gets buried in its whimsy)

Anonymous said...

I really really loved this episode. I was a little wary (and still am) about "saving the world" storyline, especially with a plan as Bond-villian-esque as the terrorist's was but they pulled it off nicely. I just hope every week isn't going to be a "save the world" situation (which it probably isn't).

My biggest laugh was the Zune diss. That just had all sorts of great comedic timing, and pretty awesome geek humor.

Also, this episode gets bonus points for taking nods from King of Kong, the awesome documentary about the Donkey Kong high score. I was kind of hoping there was going to be a Billy Mitchell cameo. If you haven't seen this movie, rent it now.

Anonymous said...

To be fair, Chuck was huffing and puffing from the exertion of carrying Jeff around. He's no Captain Awesome.

Figgsrock2 said...

I must say, this might have been the best ep of Chuck yet. The use of "Tom Sawyer" was spot on perfect. Being a former video game nerd (and former on air talent at a rock station in the late 80s through mid 90s) I couldn't help but laugh hysterically throughout. I would love if that clip ended up on Hulu--I'd have to email it to a bunch of old work buddies.

And thank you Stef for saying HIMYM was a rerun--I was wondering why my DVR didn't record it. (I have it set only for new eps.) Now I don't have to call my cable company and complain.

wcdixon said...

And you just beat me to mentioning 'King of Kong', a great doc)

Anonymous said...

Funniest part to me. When Casey says all of Jeffs fans would now be forty-something with jobs and wives and it cuts away to Chuck who is just shaking his head at that unlikely scenario:)

Anonymous said...

I totally supported this show on Mo Ryan's blog last year. She ccnnected me to your blog and I'm glad to see you were an early fan too!!! This show is too fresh. BTW your Mad Men reviews are the best

J said...

I thought this one was atrocious. Felt like an endless series of mishandled ideas. Was ready to be wowed from the start with the Jeff opener, but everything felt dumber and more formulaic than it had to be, shallower than this series usually is. I mean: Chuck is supposed to cozy up to Jeff, so instead of spending a night at his house where all of Jeff's stuff is, they decide to get drunk at the Buy More where there's a new uptight efficiency guy lurking around? That's just a blip in a bad plot, but typical of this one.

I hooted for joy when I saw Buster, and I'm going to reserve judgment until he's in a good episode. But while the Buy More end of things has longed for a new Tang, in Milbarge it feels like the show's found a Tritter of its very own.

I know it wasn't presented as such, but the diploma thing felt as much the action of an underminer as Chuck's usurption of Jeff's commander status. Super Spy internship credits? Hail the conquering BS.

Also: Anna upskirt photos? And grass skirt costumes? And prostitute jokes? Seriously? I know Jeff's skeevy, but does the show have to be? If the actress playing her got even a single moment as an active participant in the episode, even a chance to freaking object to her objectification, it might not have come off as reprehensible. The reason it's okay to ogle Sarah (in the show's logic) is that she's almost constantly in control; Anna was just slapped around like a toy. Pathetic.

I've really come to look forward to this show, but when it lays an egg this hard, it makes me want to explore one of the ten billion other Monday night options. Maybe even get a life. Hated, hated, hated this episode. Hated.

Bobman said...

Tony Hale didn't get an AD line, but him saying "thanks Michael" to the boss there made me laugh anyway. Talk about shows you really miss when they're gone.

The Zune diss was a great geek moment.

Also, I LOATHE Rush (yes they're musically talented, that doesn't mean they're good) but I do begrudgingly admit that Tom Sawyer worked almost perfectly for this purpose.

JakesAlterEgo said...

OK. I realize that I am posting blind here--I'm in the UK and I haven't been able to....come across....this episode yet.

Didn't Futurama also use "Tom Sawyer" when Fry had to defend the Earth from the invading Omnicron-Perseids? I just, you know, thought I should mention that thing that may or may not have anything to do with this episode.

Unknown said...

Great reviews Alan. I was pointed towards your site after becoming disatisfied with another reviewer's constantly negative write-ups! Yours are bang-on (or near bang-on, but nobody's perfect! lol).

This was the best Chuck to-date. The Zune bashing/iPod praising line was awesome, and Chuck's word-play on the kill screen code - namely the last letter - was hilarious.

Anonymous said...

Wow. the Buffy analogy is dead on. When will this show break out - if not in ratings - then in the critical hosannas that should be coming its way? Zune, Rush, King of Kong, Fast Times - coming off of last week's pop culture bonanza... this is the funniest, coolest, nerdiest show out there. And Sarah in that black tanktop??? Yowza.

This is the most fun, most entertaining, smartest (in a goofy way), least appreciated show on tv.

floretbroccoli said...

Just to clarify, Morimoto made the leap from Iron Chef to Iron Chef America. And you could, from where you sit, visit his New York restaurant or his original one in Philadelphia.

He's got you flanked.

Karen said...

This was pure deliciousness. I didn't think Anna was exploited; I think she kind of dug it, and I also think she trusts Morgan enough to do what he asks.

Also, it may have been a cheap set-up and pay-off, but I have to say this exchange made me laugh out loud:

Casey: our only hope is burnt to a crisp.
Chuck: no, I meant Jeff.
Casey: so did I.

I suffered through the arena rock era in high school, and was never a fan of Rush, but I have to say I've never seen it used in a movie or TV episode where it hasn't worked. What's that about?

And, for what it's worth, I totally buy it that the CIA and NSA could approach Stanford, describe an agent's skills in favorable terms, and get the equivalent of one semester's credits for it. It's not unusual. When I graduated NYU in 1993, Alec Baldwin was in our graduating class (he marched at commencement and everything), having just satisfied a requirement to finish his own long-incomplete degree, by writing some kind of essay about the acting profession.

It depends on who you are and what you've done, but it's hardly impossible.

Mike said...

@pale writer:

"Alright. It's Saturday night. I have no date, a two liter bottle of Shasta, and my all-Rush mixtape. Let's rock."

Fry, from Raiders of the Lost Arcade, from Futurama's "Anthology of Interest II."

Still, this was a great episode of a great show.

Eric said...

I do wish we'd gotten to see Casey's interview with Ass Man Buster.

So, on a related note, when's Reaper coming back?

Anonymous said...

Though they weren't exactly the same, the kill screen and satellite code reminded me of "War Games":

"Congratulations, Mr. Morimoto. Would you like to play again?" versus "Greetings, Professor Falken. Shall we play a game?"

Anonymous said...

And the original, Stan Bush version of "The Touch" is the only choice for this situation.

Bonus nerd points to anyone who thought, "Holy Crap! that song is from Transformers" the first time they saw "Boogie Nights."

SJ said...

This show is so great for geeks and nerds. Zune diss, this is the touch and an 80s videogame??

There seems to be product placement on the show. They have shown the Playstation 3 videogame system, but today they showed a Nintendo Wii box.

dying alone said...

My favorite moment was when Tony Hale used the surgeon analogy, that the Buy More needs a surgeon who "doesn't mind getting up to his elbows in guts," and Casey has the goofiest grin on his face. I'm looking forward to interactions between these two in future episodes.

Anonymous said...

I feel very annoyed with myself, by the way, for somehow getting through that entire review without mentioning "King of Kong," the movie where us non-gamers first learned of the concept of kill screens.

You need to nerd up for this show, dude. I thought everyone knew what a kill screen is :-)

This was my fave ep of the season so far, both hilarious and touching. What scares me about it, though, is that I knew guys like Jeff (when he was in his heyday) and I admired them. Yikes!

Anonymous said...

I think Sarah getting Chuck the Stanford subplot also quickly resolved the issue of whether Chuck would ever go back to school to finish his degree.

Now, of course, the question is what is a guy with a Stanford degree doing working at the Buy More (albeit as more than simply a salesperson)?

Another good episode, though slightly geekier than usual (which naturally led to some awesome dialog--the Zune line was hilarious). I hope some of the new viewers from last week checked it out again this week.

Mike said...

Did anyone catch the other 80's reference? Maybe I am wrong, but I think Casey made an awesome Top Gun reference when he said something about "this bogey is bugging out and going home..."

Nicole said...

I couldn't help think what Jason Segel's Freaks and Geeks' character would think of using Rush to master a videogame. Had there been more than one season, I think they would have gone there.

My knowledge of kill screens also stemmed from the "King of Kong" so it was nice to know what they were talking about in this episode.

The "All Out of Love" sequence cracked me up to no end, mostly because that could be the cheesiest song ever.

While not a huge Rush fan, you should check out their recent interview on the Colbert Report. It is quite hilarious.

lap said...

Strangely I was just as enamored of Chuck getting to the kill screen as I was that great confessional scene with Peggy and Pete on yesterday's Mad Men. Both somehow speak to everything I love and want in television, just fine, fine writing.

And now two great shows have used Tom Sawyer well enough to make me forget I hate it both times. (Because I can never hear it without thinking of Nick's drum set on Freaks and Geeks).

Pamela Jaye said...

temporary New Ass Man - I am somewhat concerned we might have another Tritter/Vogler

aside from that - awesome ep! (though I had to wait a while to see it, as the brother was yelling from the computer room "are you watching unauthorized Chuck?" as he dealt with a spam attack and trying to determine if the rain delay in the world series was permanent. (it was mostly the spam) (so I watched half an ep of Brothers & Sisters still not finished, from last night)

Great shoulder carry, great diploma from Stanford. Awwwwww-some. (and no mooning over Sarah this week - and more Ellie! Yay!)

Pamela Jaye said...

oh and my brother noted -
Best Chuck Episode Ever

Bruce Reid said...

So I'm the only Chuck fan keeping up with Samantha Who? (eh, the cast spins a laugh out of even mediocre lines). Because it was a Tony Hale double-feature tonight for me.

Rachel: "Now, of course, the question is what is a guy with a Stanford degree doing working at the Buy More (albeit as more than simply a salesperson)?"

At some point the irresistible force of a character who's supposed to be growing out of prolonged adolescence is going to smack up against the immovable object of keeping Chuck's low-key cover. This could be an increasing problem, but I've faith the show can adjust without too many growing pains. (To extend Alan's comparison, see Buffy season 4; which I liked, but no, it wasn't always pretty.)

Garrett said...

At one point, I'm pretty sure they showed a computer screen with the Twin Galaxies Web site on it.

(And yes, count me in as another one who learned about kill screens from The King of Kong.)

Anonymous said...

Chuck and The Office...I don't need to watch anything else ever.

Great episode...but now I wonder how Chuck will keep his sister at bay regarding his future now that he has his diploma.

My first concert (besides David cassidy, which just doesn't count because I was 7) was Rush opening for Blue Oyster Cult. Yikes. Safe to say my taste in music has evolved.

My husband and I love Boogie Nights, and quote it all the I loved You Got The Touch!!!! I know it wasn't the Marky Mark/Dirk Diggler version, but SNL's Mark Wahlberg Talks To Animals really made me appreciate how hilarious he is (on purpose or not).

Anonymous said...

I need to put the "Chuck" DVDs on my Christmas list. What a great show. *sigh*

The Zune line had me laughing out loud HARD. Chuck's disbelieving reaction followed by Morgan laughing response was awesome.

I keep trying to talk my nerd husband into watching this show because it's right up his alley, but he refuses for some weird reason. However, I DID manage to get him to watch a couple episodes of HIMYM recently and he admitted it was pretty funny.

Robin said...

My favorite geek line:

"A more elegant solution would be to format the hard drive and flash the bios."

Awesome episode. This has replaced The Office as the show I look forward to most every week.

Hal Incandenza said...

That was the Twin Galaxies web site (mentioned here:

Great, great episode. I really am so fond of this program.

And I'm loving the King of Kong shout outs. Fabulous film.

Anonymous said...

So I'm the only Chuck fan keeping up with Samantha Who? ... Because it was a Tony Hale double-feature tonight for me.

Not only that, but it involved some memory "flashes" from its title character as well!

Matt said...

Not to get too tangential, but it was nice to see a Samantha Who that gave Melissa McCarthy and Jennifer Esposito a chance to play off each other. Actually, their B plot was much funnier than the A plot.

Pamela Jaye said...

Samantha Who was a possibilty here but the schedule was overloaded as was the DVR which necessitated a dump. Eli Stone and Pushing Daisies are still pending.

pixelwax said...

dez, how does one "nerd up"?

mike, I caught that. Top Gun, I still don't know what to think. Guilty pleasure?

Having missed most of season one, I hope to get caught up with Jane's, er, Casey's back story or hope the show provides it at some point. Adam's my favorite Baldwin "brother" by far.

Ted Kerwin said...

Rush is like Jazz, there are moments of musical genius and then the song keeps going. In TV you do not have to listen to the whole thing, good editing makes it work.

Anonymous said...

My goodness I do love this show. In fact, while I freaked out that my DVR wasn't recording HIMYM at 8:30 as well, it wasn't because I wasn't enjoying "Chuck" and "Chuck" has been the better & more consistent show this season than "Mother".

I also loved this show in season 1, so for me, the continued greatness is an extension of the work Josh Schwarz had already put in.

By the way, typical 30-something, 80's Geek male that I am, when Tony Hale introduced his character's name, I paused the DVR to explain to my wife the hilariousness of referencing one of the great 80's comedies, "Spies Like Us". My wife said "great, now press play, please".

And Alan, I wholeheartedly 2nd you on the 'awesomeness' that is Ryan McPartlin. He's also becoming the go to lothario for period shows, since he was in an episode this Summer of the surprisingly fun "Swingtown", and played on an old boyfriend of the swinger wife, Trina, whom he hooks back up with.

My guess is he needed some of that Ginseng shake for his Betty Draper tryst.

But, everything works in this show for me. And it's not just how much fun this show is, while combining it with a heart - it's specifically one of the best ensemble casts on Television. After you get past the usual suspects of "best overall cast" like "Lost" and "Mad Men" (maybe "Battlestar", too), I put "Chuck" right up there.

(I thought Morgan, aka, Joshua Gomez, was a little annoying in season 1, but he's grown on me a lot and I am a fan now).

Alan Sepinwall said...

(I thought Morgan, aka, Joshua Gomez, was a little annoying in season 1, but he's grown on me a lot and I am a fan now).

Classic case of the creative team recognizing they were using a good actor in a bad way. As Schwartz put
in our interview over the summer:

Part of the reason Morgan bumped for people was he was always getting in Chuck's way, he was the thing always jeopardizing Chuck and it became, "Why is Chuck friends with him?" And now he's definitely much more Chuck's, you know, buddy.

Mrglass said...

Anyone knows what was the music in the elevator?

In risk of out-geeking everyone, was it from 'Leisure Suit Larry'?

Anonymous said...

At one point, I'm pretty sure they showed a computer screen with the Twin Galaxies Web site on it.

Yes, during the montage of the nerds of southern California learning that Jeff would be revisiting his Missile Command.

Big difference between the Futurama episode and this Chuck was that Fry defended the earth from space invaders using, well, Space Invaders, while Chuck stopped a satellite using Missile Command before Casey and missile command shot it down.

I think someone else already mentioned that Morimoto was the one carry-over from the original Iron Chef to Food Network's Iron Chef America.

Buffy is certainly an apt comparison (though I understand the reluctance to make it)-- not only because of the characters struggle with their various demons or identities, but because they're both intentionally cheesy and aware of it. As Buffy borrows from monster movies, Chuck appropriates the cliches of spy movies. We realize that they're cliches. But unlike, say, Heroes, that borrows liberally from every comic book every written, the writers of Chuck are aware that their spy elements break no new ground and use those elements in a way that recognizes that the cliches are cliches.

If you subscribe to Netflix, The King of Kong is available for instant viewing.

Anonymous said...

In this version of reality, Stanford is a nest of spies, so hells yeah they take missions as course credit. How else would all those gun-in-backpack-stashing bozos graduate, anyway? That seemed plausible to me.

Anonymous said...

dez, how does one "nerd up"?

Same way as one "cowboys up" or "mans up," I suppose, only with, you know, nerdy things :-)

Anonymous said...

As far as pop culture references go, I'm going to assume that the Gas N Sip is a shout out to "Say Anything", what with Josh Schwartz being in love with Cameron Crowe and all.

I wanted the whole arcade game angle to be an homage to "The Last Starfighter" but then it took a bit of a twist. Plus, I'm going to assume that most people probably don't love that movie as much as I do.

Karen said...

Oh, bless you, Amysa! That "Gas and Sip" was reverberating in my brain, and I just couldn't place it. But it's the sight of the best scene in that whole movie, when Cusack's friends are telling him how to get over his breakup in the crudest possible way:
"If you guys know so much about women then why are you in the parking lot of the Gas and Sip on a Saturday night?"
[pause] "By choice, man; by choice!"

Comedy gold. First time I ever saw Piven, too.

Anonymous said...

How is it that Buster & Big Mike didn't shower Chuck with praise after that? Sure, thevideo game thing was nice, but more importantly, the Buy More was PACKED with single geeky guys in their 40s. The register totals must have been through the roof.

Anonymous said...

I love Chuck. It was quite good last year, but they really have gotten the recipe right this year. I also love Alan's reviews and look forward to them.

Finally, I love and shall now proceed to steal and propagate the term "nerd up." It is a phrase whose time has come.

afoglia said...

Alan Sepinwall said...
"(I thought Morgan, aka, Joshua Gomez, was a little annoying in season 1, but he's grown on me a lot and I am a fan now)."

Classic case of the creative team recognizing they were using a good actor in a bad way. As Schwartz put
it in our interview over the summer:

"Part of the reason Morgan bumped for people was he was always getting in Chuck's way, he was the thing always jeopardizing Chuck and it became, "Why is Chuck friends with him?" And now he's definitely much more Chuck's, you know, buddy."

Actually that's my one worry about this season. That the A and B storylines are too separate. Thematically they mesh, but plotwise, there's no overlap. I do think this is more sustainable, but if Chuck and Morgan aren't shown doing something together soon, Morgan will be little more than a friendly Lester.

Most shows can get away with a completely separate A and B story, because the characters in each switch every week. But otherwise it risks becoming the first season of Alias, with a vestigial B story.

It's nowhere there yet, but the characters work so well together that I want to see them have fun.

Anonymous said...

I wanted the whole arcade game angle to be an homage to "The Last Starfighter" but then it took a bit of a twist. Plus, I'm going to assume that most people probably don't love that movie as much as I do.

I probably do because I thought of that movie during the video gaming sequences :-)

@jenn., I'm not giving up my intellectual property rights. That's $5 per usage, please ;-)

Anonymous said...

So that makes two of us and, maybe, the dude who created it? It's always surprising to me when I'm channel surfing and one of the low rent movie channels is playing it. But, I always stop.

@karen...I think the Gas N Sip scene probably pops into my head more than the "In Your Eyes" scene. Awesome.

@rick...I wondered about the possible sales from the crowd as well. It seemed as though that was a good opportunity to make a bit of money and after last week you would think that at least *one* member of the Buy More crew would have seen the potential in a room full of nerds surrounded by electronics.

Pamela Jaye said...

a friend said something the other day about Chuck "burning off" episodes -
the futon critic is listing arcs, thanksgiving episodes and 22 episodes.
Did I miss a pickup?
(or is she right? I can't find anything other than the ratings which would imply she is)

Alan Sepinwall said...

Did I miss a pickup?


Pamela Jaye said...

and you know, if I'd just read the reply *here,* instead of my mailbox (where it appeared without its underlying link) I could have saved myself all that research that you already did. darn stupid choices.

thanks :-)

I guess those pre-season full season pickups don't give me the same thrill that the normally timed ones do. (Either that or I trust who ever is actually in charge at NBC as I do Les "I won't cancel any of our new shows before the end of the year (in November)" Moonves.)

You know I'm really not at all clear on who is programming at NBC. I thought Silverman was out, but I heard his name the other day...

Pamela Jaye said...

No Chuck this week? Did they fall behind on production? Did they think a game show would get better ratings? (probably cost-wise, it will) or
did I miss something else (there doesn't seem to be any epic competition...)

Also, do November sweeps start at the beginning of the month, or sometime later? (seems I once read about some other month's sweeps not including a certain week of said month, but no explanation was given.)

Dale said...

Chuck wasn't on because NBC decided to air a special election-themed SNL. The next episode (Chuck versus the Ex) is on the 10th.

Pamela Jaye said...

dale - according to my recordings list, the SNL thingie was on from 9 to 11. Doesn't Chuck usually air at 8?

well, it's good to know he'll be back next week, at least (though really, that last ep is a hard act to follow)

ThinkDifferent said...

One pop culture reference you missed: the terrorist guy's name is "Farrokh Bulsara", which is Freddie Mercury's real name.