Monday, April 06, 2009

Chuck, "Chuck vs. the Dream Job": I am your father, Chuck

Spoilers for "Chuck" coming up just as soon as I go out for pancakes...
"I'm not who you think I am." -Chuck Bartowski
"Don't worry, Charles, I'm not who you think I am, either." -Stephen Bartowski
Chuck's dad serves neatly as a metaphor for "Chuck vs. the Dream Job" as a whole. The episode is rambling and confusing but still fairly entertaining (since it's not my long-lost father, after all), but it doesn't really kick into gear until we find out that Papa Bartowski is also Orion, father of the Intersect.

Let's get the bad stuff out of the way quickly. Even by the low standards of the "Chuck" Plot Hole Of The Week (insert your ad here), dad's explanation for not telling Chuck who he really was makes no sense. Sure, he's worried that Chuck thinks he's a nut, but any sentence featuring a combination of the worlds "Intersect," "Fulcrum" and "Orion" should have done the trick.

Also, while Chuck's brief stint as a Roark employee had its share of fine moments both dramatic (Chuck again viewing a cover identity as more appealing than his real life) and comic (Chuck struggling to balance himself on the exercise ball chair, Jeff throwing a body block while Chuck was running from Roark's goons), it felt like there were several scenes missing in the middle, and/or that some got shuffled out of order. One minute, Chuck's being dragged away by Roark security after turning a worldwide live product launch, and the next he's turning up for work at the Buy More to cast another glimpse at this place that makes him so miserable? Huh? Shouldn't there have been at least a throwaway line about Casey having to bail him out of jail(*), and/or someone from the Buy More confronting him about the gossip of him taking a job with Roark (or even about his appearance in said disastrous live webcast)?

(*) Glossing over the probable legal ramifications of that stunt feels like a missed opportunity. Sarah sold Chuck using his own identity as a good thing -- a way to boost his self-esteem by showing he has what it takes to get this job using nothing but his own (non-spy) credentials -- but instead it should have turned into a very bad thing. Even if Roark somehow didn't have him arrested, possibly to avoid the Fulcrum connection, Chuck has now been involved, on-camera, in a very public gaffe involving the biggest software company in "Chuck" World, while working under his own name. If he ever hopes to get out of the spy life and get an actual job in the computer game, wouldn't this come back to haunt him, big-time?

But any concerns I had about the plot holes started to waver when Chuck combat suit-ed up for the first time, and they vanished altogether once Chuck's dad turned up at Roark and took out Vincent(**), Orion-style. It was a moment a lot of us assumed was coming, but it was so well-executed in every phase -- from the "Princess Bride"-esque exchange quoted above to the way Scott Bakula effortlessly flipped the switch from crazy and ineffectual Stephen to vigilante genius Orion -- that the lack of surprise didn't matter.

(**) Didn't Casey kill Vincent the last time we saw him? Or will his Rasputin powers turn into a running gag?

And from there, things just got better and better. His true identity revealed, Stephen showed himself to be very much his son's father, talking about how didn't design all of the Intersect -- just the really cool parts. In a moment near and dear to any comic book or "Star Wars" fan, he taught Chuck that the Intersect in his head was more powerful than he could possibly imagine. And when Roark showed up -- outing himself not just as a smug, rich SOB, but an evil, smug and rich SOB -- the tension got even higher, until we came to that great moment(***) where Casey and Sarah had to pull Chuck away from his dad while under the gun of Vincent and his Fulcrum agents. As Stephen Bartowski himself said, while quoting Scott Bakula's most famous role, "Oh, boy."

(***) Time to play Pick The '80s Reference! Do you go with Han and Leia saying goodbye before he's frozen in "Empire Strikes Back," or McCoy and Scotty at the end of "Wrath of Khan" holding Kirk back from going into the irradiated chamber with Spock? The great thing about this game: everyone's a winner!

Of our two Very Special Guest Stars, Bakula got more to do, and did more with it. Again, I went in assuming he was Orion (despite Josh Schwartz playing with semantics by telling me at Comic-Con that Chuck's dad would not turn out to be "a spy"). But in spite of that, Bakula did a nice job making Stephen's crazy loner persona seem real enough that, if I didn't start to doubt my theory, I was at least impressed when he dropped the act (mostly; I think even as Orion, Stephen's a bit nuts). Extremely likable, believable in both personas -- and as Zachary Levi's dad -- and I look forward to more.

Chevy Chase was mostly asked to be Chevy Chase -- specifically, the more obnoxious persona we've come to know in his later years, after everyone bagged on him in Tom Shales' "SNL" book and after everyone was so vicious to him at his Friars' Club roast -- and he did that very well. In some ways, the idea of Chevy Chase being on a show that owes such a debt to Chevy movies of the '80s is almost more important than actually getting him to do a lot. (In that way, it's sort of like the Bob Hope cameo in the Hope & Crosby-esque "Spies Like Us," which I'll link to again.)

Three episodes to go -- for the season, I hope, and not for the series. I'm hoping to get Chris Fedak on the phone tomorrow to post-mortem some of the developments here, and preview (without spoiling) what's to come. If so, I'd look for it (based on East/West coast time differences and other scheduling issues) late afternoon or early evening tomorrow.

Some other thoughts:

• I liked the symmetry of Chuck putting on Casey's combat gear (and proving surprisingly adept with his tranq guns) in the same episode where Casey and Sarah went undercover as nerds. I just wish their nerd disguises had been either A)More convincing, B)More imaginative than putting on glasses and striped shirts (if ever there was a time for the return of Sarah's Louise Brooks wig, or something else anime-looking, it was this), or C)Been mocked by Chuck for not being A or B.

• This episode was co-written (along with Corey Nickerson) by Phil Klemmer, whose previous gig was on "Veronica Mars." I mention this because one of the missions of the "Mars" writing staff was to try to smuggle, line-by-line, the entire script of "The Big Lebowski" into that show, and because here Casey warned Chuck, "You're entering a world of pain." If next week features Chuck being accosted at the Orange-Orange and declaring, "Hey, careful, man, there's a beverage here!," we'll know Klemmer has converted an entire new writing staff to the cause.

• As Fienberg pointed out in his eloquent preview of "Chuck vs. the Dream Job," this was a very good episode for Ryan McPartlin as Captain Awesome. You don't usually think of him as being the show's most nuanced actor, but he really nailed Devon's fear of disappointing Ellie. Sarah Lancaster, for that matter, was very good, playing her resentment of her dad so well that it added credence for a while to the idea that he really was just an ordinary guy who went out for pancakes one night and never came back.

• The amount of spy and Bartowski family drama meant that the Buy More gang got back-burnered for the week, but Josh Gomez did have that really nice moment where Morgan got off the phone with Jeff and Lester and reacted for real to the news that Chuck had seemingly abandoned him for the Roark job.

What did everybody else think?


Lane said...

Alan, I took your advice, I never watched "Chuck" before, and the notion of Bakula and Chevy was intriguing enough for me to give it a shot -- I loved it and now am kicking myself for not watching it before. I will be catching up on the last 2 seasons.

Did anyone catch Bakula's shout out to "Quantum Leap" with his "Oh Boy..."?


Anonymous said...

I love chuck more than sex right now ....

Mac said...

Steven Bartowski is also almost a 70s/80s reference.

Steve Bartkowski - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

MCB said...

At the end of this episode, I told my fiance that my heart will break into a thousand little pieces if NBC cancels "Chuck." I stand by that. Great episode -- funny, heartbreaking, well-acted. Yes, there were some plot holes (I too thought that Chuck would automatically believe someone who knew the words "Intersect" and "Fulcrum" and thought Stephen's explanation was therefore lame) but Chuck is minute for minute the most entertaining, consistently FUN show on TV.

Also, I hypothesize that Casey's respect for Chuck goes up times 1000 now that Chuck has shot him with tranq darts.

Zack Smith said...

The second half was excellent-- but again, this is an idea that could have been spread over a few eps. It would have been fun to see Chuck being good at his new job, building a WISEGUY-esque relationship with Roark, etc.

As you mentioned, there would be real-world consequences to Chuck's actions -- depressingly, this is the sort of thing that could keep him at the Buy More for a while. It also seemed like Sarah and Casey were quite assy to Chuck in the second half, but at least they came through at the end.

It'll be curious to see how the game changes as the season winds down...this is sort of like CHUCK: THE MOVIE.

J said...

The best thing about this episode, by about three million miles, was Adam Baldwin's series of expressions after being tranq'd.

Almost more hole than plot this week, which, y'know, the show is what it is. I was really hoping that next week's promo would be for the Season Finale, because it feels like we're at about that point in the show's plot. Or hole. Or something.

Joyeful said...

{sigh} What on earth will I do if they cancel this show...

I was just waiting for the "Oh Boy"...that made me so happy! LOL, years of Quantum Leap came rushing back :-)

As usual, Alan, I agree with your review. I thought Stephen's explanation was pretty lame, but that's where the writers always seem to lapse: when they get the characters to explain why they do things. As for the other stuff...well, there's only so much you can fit into an hour...

"Awesome" did really well in this episode. It was also good to see that despite the fact that they thought Chuck left them (and as much as they seem to fear/dislike/resent him), Jeff and Lester still had his back!!

Alyson said...

I'll be quote honest - I am disappointed in Schwartz and Fedak for going what I consider to be the incredibly obvious route and revealing Orion to have been Steven Bartowski all along. Given that everyone and their dog seemed to have predicted this plot development means that either they telegraphed it too hard, or I hang out online with people who watch this show far too closely. Could be a bit of both. I think it would have been far more interesting, both for Chuck and Roark, had Roark been Orion, playing both Fulcrum and the CIA simultaneously. Right now, Roark comes off as nothing more than an evil jackass, and I was hoping for something a little more nuanced from this last act's "Big Bad".

That being said, Scott Bakula was genius casting as Papa Bartowski, and I'll let the rest of this arc play itself out before I render final judgment.

Joyeful said...

OH...and to add:

(**) Didn't Casey kill Vincent the last time we saw him? Or will his Rasputin powers turn into a running gag?

No, I believe he got away. Casey shot him but he still managed to run out of the room.

55 said...

"but again, this is an idea that could have been spread over a few eps."

That might be a luxury they don't have right now.

Fantastic episode. My favorite moment was Jeff and Lester throwing up blocks like Chuck was their running back. Feeling scorned yet still loyal- the Buymoria way.

Maxed Out said...

Light on the funny, but otherwise very good. The Buy More gang does bring a lot of straight comedy, but at the same time, I didn't miss them much. We sill had a sprinkle of Lester/Jeff and that did the trick and was enough. In episdoes that are heavy on plot developments, it sometimes is a bit of a chore to get thru Buy More stuff, and so I think the less is more approach worked for this one. Bakula is very well cast and I bought him as Chuck and Ellie's father, as a paranoid, and a computer genesis. Looking fwd to where they are going with it. The arm computer, though, just looks to cheesy.

Also a little light, for my taste, in the Chuck/Sarah moments, but there were a few and I can understand that they had a lot going on in the dad/chuck/roark/ellie stuff for that. Am hoping that they ramp the relationship up a bit in the last 3, and seems that they will with the returning of Jill. Not sure if I can stand her return, but am hoping we don't get any waffling from Chuck on feelings for her. I admit, that the Chuck/Sarah relationship and chemistry is the main reason I watch!

All in all, love Chuck!

Anonymous said...

Incredible episode. I was in tears as Chuck and his dad were dragged away. There is NO ONE who was a better idea to play dad than Bakula. At first I thought it should be Chevy Chase but he's good as a bad guy and Bakula makes you care so much for them.

No one has mentioned this but the opening scene in the trailer was so well acted -- it didn't have a spy scene or Buy More moment. It was just great acting.

Unknown said...

Alan, thank you for ALL your great writing, and for being a an honest advocate for this show.

As last week, what bothered you here didn't even register for me.

The opening scenes were so emotionally honest -- I really believed that Chuck was seeing his father after ten years -- that he & Ellie still feel the pain of his abandonment.

I thought "Wow our funny never- takes-itself-seriously show is growing up.. and I love it!'';

Of course, then we got exercise ball interview and the spies as nerds. Beautiful..

If NBC does not renew, I 'll have my old country relatives put a curse on them and Leno that will make the Red Sox curse look like small potatoes.

Anonymous said...

Did anyone else wonder just how many tranq darts it was going to take to bring Casey down? I was counting... and waiting... and counting...and waiting... When Chuck finally put the third one straight into his neck and he dropped I cracked up especially after he had made fun of Chuck for not using a "real gun".

Andrew said...

Genius casting of Bakula. But generally, the casting in Chuck is very good, with both the main cast and the guests.

I don't think there's any show that I've enjoyed and engaged with more than Chuck this season. The way it balances goofy with emotional (as well as saving the world in secret on a weekly basis) reminds me a lot of what made Buffy the Vampire Slayer a great show.

But to balance the interview on exercise balls and the chase through the Macworld, er, Roark Expo with Chuck/Sarah/Dad in the trailer, Chuck/Ellie and Dad/Awesome scenes is what makes the show so, well, awesome.

Karen said...

I only thought the first half was weak-ISH--but the second half was 10 pounds of awesome in a five-pound bag. Oh my gosh. There's really too much even to take on.

I will say I loved the Apple-y staging of the NextExpo, and how even the soundtrack was in on the joke: as Chuck reported for his first big day, the soundtrack played Asteroids Galaxy Tour's "Around the Bend," which was used in the most recent iPod commercial.

The song at the end--"He's Gone"?--was quite lovely and evocative, too.

I love this show so damn much.

Matt B said...

Great episode, plot holes aside.

Chevy Chase is really great at playing a pompous a-hole.

Rae said...

I really loved the music used in this episode. Made me sad all over again there are no plans for a soundtrack.

And, as great as the scene with Casey and Sarah pulling Chuck away was, it was a far more subtle moment that moved me the most. Early in the episode, Chuck admits to Sarah he wishes his father had more of a reason to be proud of him. Then, after Sarah sees Chuck freak out and is worried about him and goes off on Stephen about it, he tells her, "Trust me, sweetie, your brother knows what he's doing." Until you know for sure that he's Orion, it seems just like any dad who wants to believe the best of his son. But re-watching after the reveal, I got choked up thinking about how Chuck is doing something that makes his father proud, even if he doesn't know it. Someone else up-thread said it best, the show just gets the emotional beats right and that always seems to make up for the plot problems for me.

PS: Did anyone else get the idea that Stephen knew all about the bachelor party and was messing with Devon a bit when he asked about it?

Pamela Jaye said...

and very happy (even though I didn't want everyone in Chuck's past to be a spy, either)
when the brother sees it, the Oh boy will make him happy. in the meantime, he's been passing on the Save Chuck stuff.

Stacey said...

This show will never get any awards love, but Zachary Levi should win a Mr. Versatility emmy.

I'm going to fan wank that it dawned on Sarah during the trailer scene that her potential future children will possess very impressive eyebrows.

Rae said...

It also seemed like Sarah and Casey were quite assy to Chuck in the second half, but at least they came through at the end.

Zach, I thought they were reacting to him withholding information from them. They've done a lot to stick up for Chuck lately and yet he still kept information from them. Not that they haven't spent a lot of time keeping info from him but it's not like Chuck to keep secrets so I can see why it'd make them a little annoyed.

55 said...

I hope they go into some more background to make it not a coincidence that everyone in Chuck's life was a spy. E.g. Orion/Dad designed the intersect for himself, but it also works on his genetically similar son. Bryce, having gone deep undercover investigating the intersect, discovered that Orion/Dad was the one who made it. Etc., etc. All seems very plausible to me.

Anonymous said...

Alan, please save chuck ... let us know what we have to do. 3 hours is not enough.

SarahWalkerWasStolenFromCoupling said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Alan Sepinwall said...

No talking about things in the previews. No spoiler talk of any kind for upcoming episodes.

Dudleys Mom said...

Klemmer previously inserted this Big Lebowski line in season one:

"Hello! Do you speak English sir? Parla usted Ingles?"

And...he immediately followed it up with a Tara Reid reference (you'd have to be a Veronica Mars trivia buff to get that--they tried to get Tara for the part of Trina, then used Tara Reid lines as throwaways).

What do you call a Klemmer fan? A Klemmophile? A Klemmenthusiast? A Klemmenazi? I know! A toe-sucking, beverage-sipping, DUDERINO.

(I'll be hanging out, waiting for the cable guy.)

Word verification: (I kid you not) phipstin

Jenn. said...

Alan, I love your recaps. And I love this show. Viva la resistance, or something like that.

In a world where the economy stinks and the news is almost always bad, really, don't we all deserve another episode of Chuck?

WWWeaves said...

I was reminded tonight that I started watching this show because I am an Adam Baldwin fan. The progressive tranquilizers were hilarious.

This show is so good. I can't believe Heroes gets a free pass and Chuck is on the bubble. I take a class on Monday nights and I was so excited when it was canceled tonight and I didn't have to wait until tomorrow to see Scott Bakula! As Chuck's Dad! Whee!

Number Five said...

Definitely some improvements...I liked the honest portrayal of Ellie and Awesome struggling with the bachelor party aftermath but still being committed to each other. Ellie can be portrayed as a wet blanket character sometimes, but now we know that Chuck's father and everyone else in his life are spies or Buy More comic relief (including Morgan, as his friendship with Chuck has been pushed to the background, although his scene on the cell phone was really well done), it's important for keeping him grounded. Given the predictable redemption of Chuck's dad (he stayed away to protect them!), that was actually the emotional heart of the episode for me.

Oh, and the entire Casey trank scene was golden. Golden!

On the other hand, I like that they're pushing Chuck out into the spy world, but yeah, sooner or later there have to be consequences to all of Fulcrum knowing everything about him other than that he's the Intersect. It's a tricky balance but they have to deal with it at some point.

I don't enjoy Chuck as much as many on here (just enough to keep watching), but I appreciate the dedication and I certainly hope it lives to see another season.

filmcricket said...

I can't believe I had to go watch the Hannah Montana movie instead of watching Chuck "live." I swear, advertisers, I didn't fast forward through a single commercial!

The Stephen/Orion plot hole didn't bother me as much as the timeline issues Alan mentioned, as well as the fact that the whole Morgan thing got dropped, and that Ellie, after watching Chuck lose it, didn't have anything to say about him coming home a day later. I also agree that Chuck's kind of screwed himself professionally, unless or until he takes down Roark and gets the credit for it(speculation only! Not a spoiler!) I'm not usually a fan of directors' cuts, but I hope there are extended versions of these episodes on the DVDs.

The best parts for me were definitely Casey's expressions as the tranquilizers took effect, and Chuck finally pointing out to Beckman that, hey, Team Bartowski gets better results than anyone. God, I hope this show gets renewed. It just makes Monday so much better.

Anonymous said...
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Nicole said...

I enjoyed the entire episode, and couldn't help but cheer when I heard the "Oh boy" and then shout "yes" when the reveal confirmed that Orion was Chuck's dad.

I think this storyline could extend to a third season, that being Chuck's search for his father. There are plenty of crappy shows on NBC, but Chuck is not one of them and it should be renewed.

filmcricket said...

I forgot to mention one other great thing: that Chuck flashed at will for the first time! That's a huge step. If he's able to gain some kind of control over how he accesses the information, he's going to be nigh unstoppable (but also in greater danger, no doubt).

Anonymous said...

Great review as always, Alan.

I absolutely loved this episode - there isn't an episode of Chuck I don't like, but generally, how much I like an episode is proportional to the amount of Chuck/Sarah stuff, which this episode didn't have much of. But it still rocked.

I had honestly dismissed any theories I ever had about Chuck's dad being Orion. It just seemed so obvious to me, so Luke-I-am-Your-Father, that I figured he couldn't possibly be Orion. So when I saw that arm!computer, I was shocked. Which was kind of fun, being shocked by the completely obvious.

BigTed said...

I also would have liked an extra episode in which Chuck somehow became pals with Chevy -- and Chevy at first seemed to be a great guy and the world's greatest boss. It could have taken off from the "Simpsons" episode in which Homer went to work for the evil tech genius played by Albert Brooks.

Holly Martins said...

Thanks, Alan - I don't think I ever would have started watching this show if not for your very convincing positive reviews, and now it's one of my favorites. An episode like tonight's reminded me that I've grown really attached to the characters, and that I'm not just watching for the handsome guys and 80s pop-culture references anymore.

And of course I always look forward to reading your thoughts after the show, too... here's hoping there's many more than three Chuck posts to come.

dez said...

My favorite parts of tonight's eps were the "Oh, boy!" and the goofy thing Casey did before he passed out from the three tranqs. Please, NBC, please keep this show on the air!

Is there a place to see the Friar's Roast of Chase? I'm dying to know what they said about him.

JackiWhitford said...

This is one of the best Chuck episodes to date. I thought everyone was fantastic, but especially Scott Bakula. He is still a joy to watch. I hope this is a recurring role, and not just for the next few episodes.

Beyond that, I hope Bakula is back on TV in a series of his own soon. He deserves it.

Anonymous said...

Before, Alan had mentioned his suspicions that Chuck's dad would turn out to be Orion. I must admit that I was really hoping this would not turn out to be the case, that everyone that Chuck was close to ends up being a covert agent.

However, after tonight's episode, I really don't mind it. I think the episode was very well executed, and I am really excited to see how this plot arc develops through the rest of this season.

And of course, like everyone else, this episode is Exhibit "A" as to why NBC must stop stalling, and stressing all of us out, and just sign this show to another season!

Viva Buymoria. Viva Chuck.

Anonymous said...

There've been many mentions of Adam Baldwin's awesome reactions to the repeated tranq darts, but my favorite moment of his was actually earlier in the episode - the expression on his face as he has to clap excitedly for the Next Expo opening while in Nerd-Casey disguise is priceless.

electricia said...

I love Chuck, and no matter how many plot holes they throw out, I will still love Chuck. I think they've moved from Buymoria to the People's Republic of Plotholia.

But seriously, FULCRUM must be he dumbest spy organization on the planet. They now know that Chuck is Orion's son, that he knows about the Intersect, that he's involved with the CIA. that he went to Stanford and studied computer stuff (and it seems likely that they'd find out he took that class with the prof who recruited both him and Bryce Larkin), that he was Bryce Larkin's roommate, that he works at the Buy More where their agents keep disappearing and that they think is a CIA substation, and it seems shocking that they haven't quite yet figured out that Charles Carmichael = Chuck Bartowski. That's a whoooole lot of info for them to not put together that Chuck has the Intersect in his head.

Regardless of the myriad plotholes, it was a fun episode, and I love Scott Bakula. I hope we get to have both him and Bruce Boxleitner together for the wedding!

(Though I will say I wish the wedding weren't happening and Heinous Screeching Shrew, I mean Ellie, didn't exist, but her existence gives us Captain Awesome, so it's a trade-off I guess.)

cgeye said...

Zach, I thought they were reacting to him withholding information from them. They've done a lot to stick up for Chuck lately and yet he still kept information from them. Not that they haven't spent a lot of time keeping info from him but it's not like Chuck to keep secrets so I can see why it'd make them a little annoyed.

Every time I think they have a right to be pissed at Chuck, I think of when Casey was seconds away from killing him as part of his job, and Sarah kept herself in a job beside him... because she knew he wanted her, and that made him more amenable than with another handler. She might be in love, too, but she's also career-minded.

I yelled "YES!" when Mr. B made his confession, but then I was confused. Why would he allow Chuck to erase his brain in a non-secure place? Exposing him as the Intersect would allow Fulcrum to capture Chuck and experiment on his unique brain, and the NSA would shoot him as soon as he was of no use to them -- a fact Casey or no one else has explained to him, but should be obvious to Chuck, by now.

The fact that no one in the NSA has heard of data mining, cloud computing or warrantless wiretapping -- in short, the security state we've been soaking in -- made them look like fools when Chuck rightly pointed out that commandeering millions of computers with a free OS would practically create a nationally distributed supercomputer -- unstoppable, untraceable, as mobile as a spambot net. *That* was the plot hole of the week I couldn't understand. I mean, let the General say no about a invasion of Roark, as she's programmed to do. Putting the No on Casey and Sarah was just an excuse for Chuck to finally butch up and Have An Adventure. Too bad he inadvertently sacrificed his dad, to have it.

Otherwise, I loved it. I knew Mr. B. was Orion as soon as he got in the guards' grill -- he came out of the cold not only to protect Chuck as he got closer to the truth, but to stop the Roark OS launch himself. He probably maneuvered Busgang into the General's attention, knowing that he'd talk about Orion -- then letting Chuck's geekiness provide an excuse to reach out. Remember the McGuffin of what Big Mike expected as a delivery -- a Roark laptop, on national rollout? *That* was the key to why everything was coming to a head. Fulcrum was making its move nationally through Roark. It's like Steve Jobs made eevil iPods, people. I'd watch them, if I were you....

Somehow I did not hate Bakula, which meant the first few seasons of ENTERPRISE have been expunged by encoded images on the teevee tonight. Somehow I feel cleansed.

Anonymous said...

I had to laugh at the 200 miles east of Barstow description of where Chuck's dad was. At 200 miles, you're in Nevada. Why not just say that?

ghoti said...

I've been listening to Glasvegas a lot recently, so I was really happy.

Between this and Phoenix on SNL, I'm really loving NBC right now!

Bruce Reid said...

The Orion reveal shot the charm of the show's premise dead for me: so long average guy dropped into a situation beyond his ken, hello destiny's child achieving his birthright. Sci-fi and fantasy stories often go down this track eventually, filling in backstory till the odd man out is revealed to have been the crux all along, but I wish Chuck had avoided it.

Is there that much difference between having Chuck be the victim of a set up by Bryce or knowing that the weird, wonderful, terrifying life that got dropped on him out of the blue was all along part of his heritage? Objectively, sure, not much; but enough to put me off the show.

I'm still watching, and hope it sticks around next season. Mostly for the Casey and Sarah interplay, and the Ellie/Awesome romance, which I find quite touching and funny. The spy stuff can go hang.

I'll give them that Bakula was about perfectly cast in the part.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Casey kill Vincent the last time we saw him? Or will his Rasputin powers turn into a running gag?

Probably, as a shoutout to Arnold Vosloo's previous role as the Mummy in the Mummy and the Mummy Returns.

Anonymous said...

I think my only disappointment was no shoutout to "Firefly" (I know, it's not an '80s show) when Baldwin got tranked. Why's everything going all bendy?
Other than that, the usual goodness. If NBC cancels this AND Life, next TV season's going to be so disappointing for me.

Brandy said...

I figured Chuck's dad had to be Orion, or if not Orion somehow involved in the mythology of the show because they cast Scott Bakula. You don't cast Bakula to not be the awesome.

I've been a little worried about how they were going to make Chuck's dad somebody I liked given his history with Chuck and Ellie.

Because they lost the luxury of making him somebody I hated when the cast Bakula.

I think they did a beautiful job. Mad props to Bakula for taking on some Chuck mannorisms. Orion is to Stephen Bartowski as Charles Carmichael is to Chuck.

And I think ultimately in the series Chuck is going to have to come to terms with the intersect. And knowing his own father's choices could play an interesting part of that decision.

55 said...

Why does it matter if Fulcrum knows Chuck is the intersect? Now they're about to get one of their own, and they don't have to have another failed mission trying to invade the "CIA operation" that is the BuyMore (remember- that's what they think it is).

Jen said...

I think it says a lot about this show that so many people are willing to overlook plot holes like the ones you described or consider them inconsequential in the larger scheme of things due to the overall awesomeness of the show as a whole. To echo what others have said, somehow the writers and the cast always manage to hit the right emotional notes while adding some great comedy and action-y bits.

But that being said, I totally bought Stephen's explanation to Chuck (until I read your comments) and seeing him morph into a still slightly crazy but yet competent version of himself as Orion was pretty awesome.

Also I'm sure it's just a staple of good guy/bad guy exchanges but Roark saying "Kill his son" after learning that Chuck is not just an agent, but also Stephen's son, seemed very referential to me but I can't quite place it. Anyone have any thoughts?

I would be hard pressed to name another show on tv now that is as much FUN as Chuck.

Jay said...

Scott Bakula was in a show from the eighties? I had no idea!

Much as I love (OK, like) this show, it would be nice if we could stop pretending that Chuck's never-ending eighties' pop culture references add anything to the show. I have yet to see the Chuck writers use some throwaway line from a movie you watched a thousand times on home video in a way that actually says something about either the source material or the world of Chuck. If you want to hear Bakula quote a trademark line from Quantum Leap, go and watch Quantum Leap. Or if you want to play a game of name the geek reference, there are those atrocious Friedberg & Seltzer movies.

Sorry for the rant, but I'm expecting a less easily enthused audience (and much less easily enthused professional media critics, Alan) -- I'm sure the Chuck team could keep up, but maybe we could finally leave the Friedberg/Seltzer crowd in the dust.

Anonymous said...

did anybody notice this? Orion is to Chuck as Roark is to Bryce Larkin

Zach said...

Time to play Pick The '80s Reference! Do you go with...

ah come ON!

The intersect 2.0 is a *RUBIK'S* *CUBE*, PEOPLE!!

If there were a capstone 80s reference to end all references, literally such that no further references ever need be made.. could there possibly, possibly exist one more on the nose than a glowing, light blue (TRON marker reference for "evil software", naturally) floating Rubik's Cube, rotating gently above the table?


cgeye said...

The Orion reveal shot the charm of the show's premise dead for me: so long average guy dropped into a situation beyond his ken, hello destiny's child achieving his birthright. Sci-fi and fantasy stories often go down this track eventually, filling in backstory till the odd man out is revealed to have been the crux all along, but I wish Chuck had avoided it.

Yeah, I'm leery of the whole kwitsatz haderach tendency in SF/Action/genre, but in this case it explains the wackness of one man's mind being able to encompass a huge database in his mind.

[Full-force VR.5 action, actually, if the oldsters remember that series. Mom and Dad, wiring their kids in the womb to accept modem signals from them phone cradle thingies. *And* Anthony Head, pre-BUFFY? Good times, good times. And who knew they worked the concept out to VR.10 = God?]

Anyhoo, I can accept the whole incestuous Bristow/Derevko-like plot momentum due to the near-impossibility of Chuck's mind surviving an untried experiment supervised by his a-hole 'friend'. It makes *more* sense that Bryce would choose him, if Fulcrum had some clue of what his father did for an (unclassified) living.

cgeye said...

If you want to hear Bakula quote a trademark line from Quantum Leap, go and watch Quantum Leap

Nuh-uh. Bakula's entire fan base was denied this simple pleasure during the entire run of ENTERPRISE; hell, they forced him to *scowl* for most of the series, and on him that does not look good.

Having Bakula not say "oh, boy" in a SF/Action/Comedy is like telling Jolson he can't wear blackface anymore. Sure, it was offensive to many, but also deeply cherished by others....

barefootjim said...


Noticed the Rubik's cube as well. Hilarious.

We also realized last night that every really good episode of Chuck has a least a half-dozen times where we say "awww, poor Chuck."

Dave said...

Am I the only one who wanted to see (or wants to see, assuming he's in future episodes) Chevy Chase stand up at the podium and find a reason to say, "I'm Ted Rourk, and you're not."?

Anonymous said...

I love this show, but I'm kind of annoyed that Chuck and the gang sneak into places so easily. The intersect is in a building that doesn't even use security cameras at the door? Not even a guard at the front desk? Even the complicated keypad sequence... Casey and Sarah were spending an awful lot of time fiddling with it with their Expo badges on and people were walking around in the background. My apartment building is more secure than that place.

Mary KD said...

I couldn't wait for the "Oh, Boy!" and I was kind of hoping for a cameo from "Al", which we may still get.

This is by far one of the best shows on TV.

Cindy said...

The part where father and son have their goodbyes left something to be desired. Not much nuances as I would expected; not powerful enough to jerk tears for me. Nonetheless, Levi still proves he has comedic skills throughout, particularly during the scene where Chuck tries to balance himself on the exercise ball.

Great castings with our two special guest stars. Scott Bakula was excellent as Chuck fathers. His portrayal of Papa B. surely let us see from whom Chuck got his bumbling personality from. And Chevy Chase? Mean and a delight to see.

Alan Sepinwall said...

Fedak interview is up.

Anonymous said...

CGEye: VR5! Wow. Memories.

Dave T said...

Bakula's entire fan base was denied this simple pleasure during the entire run of ENTERPRISE

Of course not. It was a different character. On a different show!

What? Actors are supposed to take characterizations with them forever, no matter what else they do?

Having Bakula not say "oh, boy" in a SF/Action/Comedy is like telling Jolson he can't wear blackface anymore.

It's NOTHING like that. It's like telling Leonard Nimoy not saying "logical" when he was on "Mission: Impossible."

Am I the only one who wanted to see (or wants to see, assuming he's in future episodes) Chevy Chase stand up at the podium and find a reason to say, "I'm Ted Rourk, and you're not."?

That would be pathetic, a reminder of how Chevy used to be funny - three decades ago - but not so much since then.

Should Norm Macdonald then play a character who finds a reason to tell us that the Germans love David Hasselhoff?

dez said...

Noticed the Rubik's cube as well. Hilarious.

Same here.

I can see not having Bakula whip out an "Oh, boy" on "Enterprise," but on "Chuck," it's perfect. I don't see the problem with any of their '80s refs, to be honest (except the ones I don't get, heh ). It's part of the show's geeky charm.

Unknown said...

I wasn't expecting the Orion reveal so I was very happily surprised. I went through the first part of the episode feeling sorry for Scott Bakula being reduced to playing such a loser (but playing him very believably).

I missed the Rubik's Cube in the intersect till my kid pointed it out to me.

LoopyChew said...

I loved the "Aces, Charles." callback from the pilot. (Ellie says it when complementing Chuck, and Chuck remarks on that being a Dad line. Papa B uses it after Chuck's self-induced flashing.)

Anonymous said...


I don't see the problem with the eighties references either. They're fun. *That* is what they add to the show.

I'm firmly in the "happy to go the Skywalker route" camp. I have no problem with there being a reason for everything and I welcome it. I think it opens things up in the same way that the more random Peter Parker option would because regardless of whether Chuck was born into this thing, he still wants out. I don't think it limits things, it opens up more conflicts.

Robin said...

Just had a chance to watch last night's episode and I agree...awesome.

I didn't see anyone catch this reference, but I don't think it's just coincidence:

The Roark operating system was premiered at the "NextExpo," obviously substituting for MacExpo. And the keyboard Bakula was using was obviously a Mac. In the late 80's/early 90's, Steve Jobs co-created a freeware operating system called the NeXT OS that colleges frequently used. The NeXT symbol was incredibly similar to a Rubik's Cube.

I love it when this show is really geeky.

Anna Weaver Lopiccolo said...

LoopyChew, I liked that "Aces, Charles" reference too. For a second I thought they were doing another movie reference.

Man, when the baddies were taking away Orion and Chuck was struggling to go after him, I wanted to scream, "Why would they cancel this show?"

Tordesque said...

I just got around to watching this on the DVR last night. It was impressive.

Having read your interview with Fedak, the "A, B, and C plots" challenge stood out and I am glad that the Buy More guys were given short (or maybe just enough) shrift.

Chuck's family history took center stage and it sets up some wonderful dilemmas:

Watching Chuck in the scene with Ellie when she is bagging on their Dad and Chuck says "Don't count him out" it struck me how much Bartowski the elder and Chuck have lied to Ellie. Chuck has even come close to "abandoning" Ellie against his will. What will things be like between these characters if Ellie ever learns the truth?

There is also the similar trajectories of Chuck and his Dad. Both are gifted, both are on the itelligence radar and both are hiding their true selves to protect others.

Finally, I have a bad feeling about the future of Team Bartowski. Orion doesn't trust Sarah and Casey and neither do I. We've already seen Casey willing to kill Chuck on orders and I can't see Beckman letting Chuck or Orion walk away if things are ever resolved.

Anonymous said...

Drew, I think you may have missed the last thing Orion said to his son. He said he may have been wrong about not trusting his handlers.

Anyway, great episode. Loved it. The second half was one of the best things on any TV show in many years. I hope this show survives the NBC cancellations and comes back for a third season. I am not sure what I would do without it. I guess I better write that letter to NBC today.

Pamela Jaye said...

This show is so good. I can't believe Heroes gets a free pass and Chuck is on the bubble. I take a class on Monday nights and I was so excited when it was canceled tonight and I didn't have to wait until tomorrow to see Scott Bakula! As Chuck's Dad!

My friends were out till 11. When they got home 3 out of 4 of them grabbed the recorded DVD (no DVR in their house) and watched Chuck.

I've been so busy (it must be those DVDs, the Chuck Campaign and the fact I pulled the on/off chain out of my ceiling light yesterday - never do this - I'm still catching up here (on SBFF - where people are still almost from from the Quantum Leap Convention - I'm running as fast as I can and i was up till 3:30 the other night fixing the left column of my website cause Scott is doinf Old Christine on May 13 (it's give away your "daughter" at her wedding year for Scott (on TV - already done on stage) and Guy's and Dolls at the hollywood bowl in July.

I've only seen the ep 3 times (a lot for Chuck, little for Scott) and darn it, I never get the little references (okay, He's Gone wasn't little, but even the Veronica Mars bts intrigue... :-( )

Last night there must have been a Bond marathon - I've never seen one movie, but did argue with the roomie over who sang All Time High. (he thought it was Carly Simon.)

My brother says that he's only ever seen Scott "play Scott" - this week I was torn. I'm usually a lot more aware I'm watching Scott. Then again, his doddering old man - I've seen before - somewhere (it's bugging me I can't remember). and then again...

See, it's the downside of loving an actor *that* much. I am rarely able to let myself forget that it's him. (this gets in the way of me praising his work to his face (that, and the fact i'd just be babbling if I tried. The man must wonder why I instead do odd things like show him a pic of my duck. Gushing at him would be so embarrassing!))
But he was doing a fairly good job this week.

So, if he's doing a good job, generally someone else will have to tell me. But I'm halfway there, at least, on *this* show.

Tordesque said...


Actually I caught that, but I think his recommendation of trust was contingent on the situation they were in so Casey/Sarah were, at that moment, preferable to Roark and his goons. Earlier, Orion also said that he went into hiding when he found out what the gov't would do with the Intersect. I'm not sure that the gov't are the white hats in this at all (if there are any).

Still, I could be wrong. Just can't get Casey's near assassination of Chuck out of my mind for some reason:)

Pamela Jaye said...

okay, I don't know if anyone is still here but...

it's true that Scott did not say Oh Boy, during Enterprise - but really I didn't want him to. My brother did. I'm not sure if I was afraid of typecasting, silliness, or what, but I just didn't want it.
Then again, the only reason I watched the show is that Scott was in it, and if I had read more reviews, as I did later, I would have been totally bummed out as it seems that Enterprise was the show that made people believe Scott couldn't act.

As for a series of his own - not quite, but next January (a million years from now) there will be a series on TNT starring Ray Romano, that Scott will be in. It sounds good. And, being cable, should have shorter seasons.
In the meantime he will also be on Old Christine on May 13 (and he's doing Guys and Dolls at the Hollywood Bowl for a couple nights in the summer, AND there was just a 20th anniversary Quantum Leap Convention. I'm tired just typing it up)

I usually just post it at my website

and yes, he was on a series (besides QL) in the 80's - two, in fact. Gung Ho and Eisenhower & Lutz. He also recurred, slightly, on Designing Women and did a Matlock.
And then there was Murphy Brown... that had its high points.

Anyway, despite my aversion to Oh Boy on Enterprise, I loved it here.