Saturday, August 6, 2011

TV Time - Chuck!

I must admit I'm a couple months behind, but that's the joy of a DVR - whether I'm 6 weeks or 6 months behind, weekly TV airing schedules don't rule my life.  My busy work schedule and life simply doesn't allow me to be so flip about such things.  However, having a DVR that records shows for me without having to put in a new tape and set a goofy schedule (that sometimes changes depending on the week) is a marvelous technology that I have enjoyed now for the last 5+ years.

No, not THAT Chuck!

What about advanced computer technology that allows a human to become a super-computer?  Oh sure, there are Mentats in the Dune mythos, and advanced thinkers in many other science fiction and fantasy realms, but things are brought more down to earth and closer to home with the underdog NBC series Chuck.  One of my favorite TV shows the last few years, Chuck finished up its 4th season toward the end of May, and along with The Event, is definitely showing that NBC can still find a good show that isn't a situation comedy.  Let me extol the virtues of Chuck as a TV series.  Don't worry, no intentional spoilers ahead!

Carmichael.  Charles Carmichael.

  1. Chuck is a mixture of "spy-fi", action, adventure, drama, and comedy.  The main ingredient is comedy, as any of the advertisements for the show would attest, but Chuck combines all those elements into a potent mixture.  TV shows in the past have combined all those things into a cohesive package, but always with either drama, horror, or action as the primary backdrop.  Never before has a show taken all the ingredients in such delicate proportions and tied them all together so well thematically.
  2. Chuck has likable characters through and through.  Aside from the main character, Charles Bartowski, the whole ensemble cast is really likable and extremely well cast.  From the plucky comic relief of Jeff and Lester to the co-dependent best friend Morgan, to the love interest Sarah and "man of few words" Agent/Colonel John Casey, every recurring character is endearing in their own way, and character development is strong across the board.  Even the smaller character parts or the recurring faces who rarely (if ever) get any lines (many of the Chuck faithful would lovingly refer to them as NPC's) are likable in their own way.
  3. Chuck is a positive show.  Many shows claim to be positive in some manner, but they don't often deliver on that promise.  I mean, I love a good angsty show as much as the next guy, but sometimes you want a show that is "up" and positive.  For all of its action, violence, and twists/turns, Chuck remains a show dedicated to keeping the storylines light enough that the laughs aren't forced or rote.  Rather, Chuck succeeds at giving viewers a positive glimpse at a reality that might be a bit scary when view through the laity's eyes, but injected with enough humor, personality, and positivity to keep it from being dark or depressing.  Kudos.
Sadly, this looks like the end for Chuck.  NBC has ordered a measly batch of 13 episodes for it's 5th (and apparently final) season.  There is a campaign to keep Chuck on the air as long as possible, and while that notion is fun in theory, it does mean the show would go on well past the "jump the shark" moment.  Still, given what the cast is looking forward to this next year, the show has potential to continue on for another 2-3 seasons based on the shift in concept alone.  Unfortunately, unless there are enough voices to tell NBC we want more Chuck (13 episodes for a final season is paltry), and that we believe the show has more life left in it, it will die an untimely death.  So please, let NBC know that Chuck deserves better - it's a great show with a lot going for it that just hasn't quite got its due.  It's just a tad too niche for its own good, though that's one reason why I love it.  But look beyond all the geek in-jokes and nerd humor and you still have a lovable cast of characters that show you what's really possible when you take good source material and give 100% of your talent to making it successful.

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