Admission straight out of the gates here: I wasn’t a Chuck fan. The whole thing just seemed a little too deep within the box. As far as I could see Chuck was just cashing in on the current nerd-trend in entertainment and dropping the aforementioned nerd in the usual spy/cop setting. We’ve been spoiled of late with some ambitious television. Battlestar Galactica was gritty, realistic and dealt with some big issues. Lost continues to flaunt it’s disregard for the easily digestible forty-two minute television episode and many of those embracing that time honoured format are at least trying something different: Burn Notice throws in some narration on the intricacies of spy-work (see, there’s that spy thing) and Pushing Daisies was, well, it was something else. Chuck on the other hand seemed hugely content to just play the hour long entertainment. Even after ending up as someone who would classify themselves as liking Chuck, writing this review seemed to bring up more negatives than positives. When I got right down to it there were a lot of things that were either off-putting or things that I didn’t really enjoy.
Let’s start off with the series eye-candy, the Sarah Walker character. Early on there was a tendency to show her fairly scantily-clad and while this was toned down later on, her looks remained a big draw-card. Fine, no problem with that. My problem is with the fact that she wasn’t very discerning with her romantic attractions as pretty much everyone she worked with she ended up developing feelings for.
The Buy-More scenes seemed to me to detract more than add to the action. While I understand the point was to show Chuck’s two lives in tension, at times it felt as if the ordinary world was winning out over the spy world, which is a little disappointing cause I wanted to watch some spy action.
Adam Baldwin’s character wasn’t Jayne Cobb. Not his fault, I know and I quite liked Casey. He has some truly fantastic moments (the season 2 opener where he’s poisoned and has to scrub down and inject himself with a syringe of adrenalin stashed behind a photo of Ronald Reagan all while Chuck and Sarah are on a date is something I could watch again and again), but he wasn’t Jayne. Not a valid point at all, but I still really miss Firefly.
I never understood what was so important about the Intersect or why Fulcrum building their own version was so radically dangerous as opposed to being a mere tactical advantage. And if the Intersect was so valuable why did they keep putting Chuck in dangerous situations?
Even with all these gripes, I still enjoyed the show. Maybe because the show didn’t take itself too seriously I wasn’t as harsh on it as I could have been. More likely, what the show did well, it did really well. The music was well integrated into the show, from Indie love songs to the quirky Buy-More theme tune (and The Shins in the pilot!). The nerd references were subtle and intelligent. The action scenes were hugely impressive (Sarah Walker attacking Nicole Ritchie in a High School shower to the strains of Smack my Bitch Up was just plain, well, awesome). Most importantly Zachery Levi was just plain pleasant. He was the perfect mix of geek and hero, the slacker with potential who was just plain endearing. His relationship and feelings towards Sarah were realistic and sweet and there wasn’t a point where we were ever against him. Maybe I sympathized with him a bit more than most. I often feel like my fairly long university degree is stopping me from starting my life and while that isn’t exactly the burden of being an unwilling CIA agent I completely felt the helpless limbo that a life can become. But without the gunfire. I guess that makes me a Chuck Fan.