Chuck Recap and Impressions

If you’ve been to the movies in the last twenty months then you’ve already seen NBC’s entire fall lineup, including the comedy/spy thriller Chuck. You probably also know that Chuck is about a guy named (what else?) Chuck who is a computer geek by day – actually, he’s always a computer geek – and he’s also the United States government’s newest, and improbable-est, secret agent. Stop me if you’ve already heard this one.

I know this is the wrong Chuck, but with the right one I couldn't say this: There is no theory of evolution. Just a list of animals Chuck Norris allows to live.

But before you write Chuck off as just another rehash of an unlikely hero thrust into hilariously unlikely scenarios, take a moment to see just how gosh darn likeable Chuck is.

Chuck went to Stanford, so he’s smart, but he also works at Buy More (a play on Best Buy) so he’s also an underachiever. He’s shy around women (he tries to hide from girls during his own birthday party) yet he can still be charming. He wears Converses but also a tie. See where I’m going with this? Chuck straddles the line between working stiff and slacker in a way that makes him eminently likeable without being Carson Daly bland. Think of a young Tom Hanks in a comedy spy thriller and you can see Chuck’s potential.

Is it just me or is Tom Hanks wearing a decapitated arm? It looks pretty good, whatever it is

Besides Zachary Levi’s goofball charm in the lead role, a number of behind the scenes players help make Chuck a comedy thriller that’s actually – gasp -- funny.

Writer/producer Josh Schwartz cut his teeth on a little television show you may have heard of called The O.C. This was THE young person’s soap opera during my college years and while Rachel Bilson may have used her super vixen hormones (it’s my understanding that Bilson’s hormones are currently being studied by the government for their potential uses in biological warfare) to attract a legion of drooling viewers, it was some sharp, witty dialogue that kept them glued to the screen week after week. Chuck shares a lot of the same sharp wit, thankfully streamlined for greater comedic appeal.

This is what the army calls a "flanking maneuver"

Directors McG (The O.C.) and David Solomon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) bring some snappy camerawork to the table. There’s plenty of movement and action to remind viewers that Chuck is no sitcom and the pace isn’t so fast as to induce epileptic seizures.

The on-screen talent isn’t too bad either. Yvonne Strzechowski and Adam Baldwin star as Chuck’s “covert co-workers.” Yvonne displays some nice chemistry with Levi in the two lead roles and her blonde good looks are sure to keep guys happy. And every show is better off (ie: funnier) for having Adam Baldwin in it as proven by his work in Firefly. Chuck’s co-workers and friends, played by Joshua Gomez, Vik Sahay and others seem like they’ll be playing a larger than expected role in the series and their deadpan banter evokes memories of The 40 Year Old Virgin though toned down enough for a television audience.

Monday’s pilot episode did everything right in setting up Chuck’s character. There were a few clichés (why must everyone go to the beach to contemplate deep thoughts?) but overall the show was sharp and fresh and the chemistry between the principal actors was on target. It’s hard to see exactly where Chuck is headed and this lack of long-term focus may be a problem down the road, but for now I’m simply happy to watch, and laugh, at what happens next.


Fletch said...

There is no chin behind Chuck Norris' beard. There is only another fist.

(My favorite "Norris-ism.")

april said...

I've been to the movies in the last twenty months but I've seen nothing of NBC's lineup...Anyway "Chuck" sounds entertaining so far.

"And every show is better off (ie: funnier) for having Adam Baldwin in it as proven by his work in Firefly." *nods in agreement*

Fletch said...

My Bodyguard! (look it up if you don't recall)

I have to say, I'm glad I never got into Firefly/Serenity, if only for the fact that its fans come off as really Star Treky. It can't be THAT good, people! ;)

Matt said...

fletch - Chuck Norris once ate a whole cake before his friends could tell him there was a stripper in it. - I don't really have a favorite, but I enjoyed this one too.

april - Seriously? I've been watching previews of Chuck and the Bionic Woman for months now. I feel like I've seen them both at least ten times.

fletch - I remember hearing about My Bodyguard at some point.

Aww, that's no reason to not watch Firefly. I'll admit it can a little hokey and verbose at times, but it really is a clever show with a great cast and an exciting premise. It's kind of like Brisco County in space. Eh? Don't you want to see it now?

april said...

Yes seriously, I've yet to see any tv ads at the theater.

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