Chuck: In which we learn dancing can be dangerous.

First aired: 7th April 2008

Cast:

Zachary Levi – Chuck Bartowski

Yvonne Strahovski – Sarah Walker

Adam Baldwin – Maj. John Casey

Sarah Lancaster – Ellie Bartowski

Joshua Gomez – Morgan Grimes

C.S. Lee – Harry Tang

Matt Bomer – Bryce Larkin

Ryan McPartlin – Devon ‘Captain Awesome’ Woodcombe

Vik Sahay – Lester Patel

Scott Krinski – Jeff Barnes

Julia Ling – Anna Wu

Dale Dye – General Stansfield

Tony Todd – CIA Director Graham

Synopsis: Burbank California and Charles ‘Chuck’ Bartowski is desperate to escape the situation he is in, his own birthday party. The party thrown by Chuck’s older sister Ellie who Chuck lives with as well as Ellie’s boyfriend Devon or as Chuck calls him Captain Awesome. Cut to spy Bryce Larkin breaking in to some sortof top secret facility and accessing a computer called the Intersect. The information from this computer is downloaded onto a device that Bryce has and the computer is blown up, before being chased rooftop to rooftop before being shot by MAj. Casey of the NSA. With his dying breath, Bryce sends the information by e-mail to his old friend Chuck Bartowski.

After not doing well with the women at this party (most of whom he does know beforehand) Ellie tells Chuck to get over being betrayed by his best friend Bryce, losing his girlfriend and being kicked out of Stamford. It was 5 years ago already. Chuck retreats to his bedroom for gaming along with his best friend the equally socially inept Morgan. He sends Morgan home and checks his e-mail, which takes the form of lines from an old text only computer game he created with Byrce. When he gets the prompt correct, thousands of seemingly random images flood his eyes. The next morning, the images stop and somewhat fuzzy, he goes to work at the Nerd Herd section of BuyMore, a big box retail store. He flashes information that shouldn’t really know. He gets to work and briefs his team of IT support staff on a new computer virus that links to a serbian pornstar’s website.

Washington DC: The CIA and NSA are comparing notes on the Intersect debacle and some of that information points out that the e-mail was sent to LA. Back at BuyMore a beautiful blonde called Sarah visits Chuck to get her phone fixed after seeing Chuck help a father record his daughter performing a ballet recital, which didn’t record at the venue, since the father didn’t put digital tape in the camcorder. Later on, Chuck goes to LargeMart next door to get some stuff and sees a man he views as suspicious, a known terrorist which Chuck only knows because he flashes information again, but this ‘bad guy’ does do anything. Convinced that he’s just imagining things, he goes back to work for the rest of the day. That night, someone dressed like a movie cliche ninja breaks into Ellie’s house, stealing only Chuck’s computer. This person gets into a car outside and we learn that it’s Sarah. She goes back to the Nerd Herd the next day to arrange a date with Chuck. We see both of them get ready, with Chuck getting ready as you would expect and Sarah secreting weapons all over herself.

The date goes well, in that it seems natural, they do like one another. They go to a restaurant and then dancing, which is when the NSA show up. During a dance, Sarah is able to injure or incapacitate the whole team without Chuck seeing what she is doing.

Sarah pulls Chuck out and then we get a car chase, with Casey being the one doing the chasing. He wants Chuck alive, for the stuff in his head, Sarah is not so indispensable. The whole thing ends with a stand off and it’s about to go shouth when Chuck flashes again and is able to work out that a high ranking US general is speaking at a dinner in a hotel across the road and NATO has learned that he is targetted for assassination, this explains the bad guy from earlier, who is a bomb-maker. The three race to that hotel and find the bomb, with only 90 seconds left the battle hardened and experienced spies don’t know what to do, but Chuck recognises the computer the bomb is connected to and is able to access it’s DOS command prompt and directs the computer’s browser to go to the Serbian pornstar’s website, infecting and killing the computer, saving the life of everyone in the building.

As the crisis ends, Chuck realises what Byrce did to him. He sent him every piece of info from the Intersect, coded into thousands of images. All of the NSA and CIA’s secrets are between his ears. Now both agencies want him, but what he wants is simply to go home. A compromise is established. Chuck remains in his life, Casey and Sarah will be insterted into his life as handlers and protection, Casey posing as a colleague and Sarah as his new girlfriend. No one else knows any of this, this includes Chuck’s boss Big Mike and Chuck’s rival for the assistant manager’s job Harry Tang. We also learn that Bryce and Sarah were a couple before Bryce went rogue.

As Chuck hands in the application for the ass. manager job he sees Sarah there and seeing a ring on one of her fingers flashes to video of an assassin dispatching several dangerous men, it’s then revealed to be Sarah. Chuck speaks to himself “Don’t freak out.”

Notes: Sci-fi and comedy are not easy to pull off as a hybrid. Focus on the sci-fi and it stops being funny, focus too much on the comedy and the sci-fi premise doesn’t hold water and Tv is full of times were this hasn’t worked out. This show kind of got the balance correct. It’s light-hearted without making the stakes meaningless and sci-fi without losing the relatability of the characters.  Having spy information/macguffin stuck in the head/possession of a directionless slacker isn’t that new an idea and anything with a technology based premise is only ever going to date the show in a negative way, so the only way this was going to work is if the cast is up to the task. Zachary Levi is great as an everyman nerd whose life hasn’t worked out like he planned. He’s supported by his older sister and her too good to be taken seriously boyfriend, who feel he’s kind of treading water. In their defense he is, having lost everything that matters to him, he’s taken a step back, but in comes the spy stuff, courtesy of the man who was instrumental in costing Chuck everything. There’s pathos there. The spy side is handled by Yvonne Strahovski, who was a bit of an unknown to me, but had at least some comedic chemistry with Levi when it was needed, again it’s the supporting cast that makes the difference and in that we have a gift in the shape of Adam Baldwin. Baldwin shot to fame as Jayne Cobb in Firefly and brings that comedy/action mix into what could be a limited character. Levi is the star here and he does well in every scene he’s in, seemingly effortless in switching between comedic foil, romantic lead and reluctanct hero. It was a lot of fun as a first episode and was very family friendly.

It wasn’t on the docket as was originally written, but was added later and I am glad it was.

Verdict:

Does it work? Yes, it’s comedy blended with some spy-fi with some degree of skill.

Does much need fixing? Not really, but the mix between BuyMore and spy stuff needs to be sorted out.

Does it stand up? Not exceptionally well, given how technological the plot is.

Do I want to watch the next one? Not today, but I think I’ll be back again before too long.

Did I enjoy it? I was glad to see how well this still entertains.

Overall: 5 out of 5. This is fun family friendly show, that I got to share with my son.

Published by Munky

Liverpool based family man and unrepentant geek, trying to understand what's going on in my own head, which is not always being a good place to be. Remember always, we live in a world of wonders.

One thought on “Chuck: In which we learn dancing can be dangerous.

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