Chuck Official Site
The Time: Mondays, 8:00 PM, NBC
Chuck Bartowski is just an average guy who works at the local Burbank, California Buy More (think Best Buy) store and lives with his sister, Ellie and her fiance, Captain Awesome. Chuck’s life has stagnated since his best friend Bryce Larkin framed him for cheating, resulting in his getting kicked out of Stanford. However, Chuck’s life changes when Bryce, who’s actually a rogue CIA agent, chooses Chuck into which to download the only copy of the CIA / NSA computer database called The Intersect. Now, until the government can find a way to get the Intersect out of his head, Chuck is an unwilling secret agent, able to access the data whenever he sees or hears something that causes a mnemonic “flash” of the Intersect in his mind. Chuck is protected by CIA Agent Sarah Walker, a hot and lethal CIA agent on whom he has a crush, and NSA Agent John Casey, of whom he’s constantly afraid.
• Zachary Levi – Chuck Bartowski
• Yvonne Strahovski – CIA Agent Sarah Walker
• Adam Baldwin – NSA Agent John Casey
• Joshua Gomez – Morgan Grimes
• Sarah Lancaster – Ellie Bartowski
• Ryan McPartlin – Captain Awesome
• Vik Sahay – Lester Patel
• Mark Christopher Lawrence – Big Mike
• Julia Ling – Anna Wu
• Scott Krinsky – Jeff
The Episode: “Chuck vs. the Ex”
Chuck is thrown for a loop when he runs into his old girlfriend, Jill (Jordana Brewster), who dumped him for Bryce Larkin when Chuck got thrown out of Stanford five years prior. Now she’s a successful biophysicist and Chuck is still stuck at the Buy More. Chuck flashes on her boss and reports to Sarah and Casey that he’s planning some sort of terrorist sale of an new and lethal strain of influenza. The mission then is for Chuck to pump Jill for info to see how much she knows, which Chuck isn’t thrilled about.
I love Chuck. It’s consistently entertaining and takes a rather one-note premise – Chuck having to mix his secret agent life with that of Buy More Nerd Herd loser – and keeps it fresh and fun. A good way to describe Chuck is that it’s Alias meets 40-Year-Old Virgin. Both elements of his dual life are mutually exclusive, yet keep getting crossed in the most humorous ways. And Levi himself is fantastic as Chuck, easily moving from the reluctant secret agent world to his dysfunctional Buy More environment and back. Strahovski and Baldwin are both also great as Sarah and Casey. Strahovski plays well between ass-kicking super agent and vulnerable object of Chuck’s affections. And Baldwin is doing what he does best, playing a gun-loving, intimidating, gung-ho tough guy who’d shoot you just as soon as say your name.
Normally I don’t like overuse of supporting characters in an action show because generally, who cares? But I can’t get enough of the Buy More gang. It’s always a crazy situation that they find themselves in, from a kegger to pay off sales discrepancies, to a cage fight to establish a new assistant manager, to a media event to break the Missile Command high score. Frequently the situations tie into what’s going on in Chuck’s secret agent life, and always for they funnier. All of the Buy More characters, especially Jeff, Lester, Biig Mike and Anna are great comic relief and although Chuck, Sarah and Casey are always an entertaining A-story, the Buy More B-stories are never just filler. This is one thing that Knight Rider could learn in spades. However, Morgan usually threatens to steal virtually every show. Joshua Gomez is the comedic backbone of this show I think.
This particular episode is pretty good, although there have been better ones this season. Chuck has to dip back into his painful past yet again and deal with his ongoing humiliation of working at Buy More and not becoming the success he always envisioned. I’d forgotten how luscious Jordana Brewster is, and here she plays a character who finds herself drawn to Chuck again, yet creeped out by the suspicious things he has to do, like bug her phone and lie about who he really is and where he works. Her reintroduction into Chuck’s life is going to once again bring out the mixed feelings in Sarah. They’ve plowed that field several times now, but it hasn’t gotten tiresome yet, because Levi and Strahovski are working it well. Seeing Baldwin in a hipster wig and soul patch alone was worth the price of admission. The Chuck / Casey kiss of life that turned out not to be was uproarious.
Likewise, the Buy More B-story is pretty entertaining as Morgan, Lester and Jeff scheme to get out of taking a CPR test when Awesome is volunteering to teach them after Big Mike almost chokes on a donut. They first try to steal the test and then their resolution to cheating on it is fun when Jeff pretends to choke while the test is in session. I know they can’t keep the Chuck / Buy More status quo forever, but I’m in no hurry to lose it. It’s usually the comedic highlight of an episode. If you’re not watching this show, you’re missing out.