Wednesday, October 10, 2007

"Now that's what I call moving some merchandise": Chuck

So that was fun, wasn’t it? For the most part, Chuck’s third episode delivers everything I like and hope for from this show: fun, amusment and Adam Baldwin throwing microwaves at people. Seriously, that is possibly the greatest moment in television history. Adam Baldwin throwing a MICROWAVE into someone’s FACE. And then proclaiming: “Now that’s what I call moving some merchandise”. For that moment alone, Chuck deserves an instant back-nine order.

The plot, such as it is, involves bad guys using a painting to transfer plutonium hidden in its frame. Chuck, Sarah and Casey suit up for an auction which will be attended by La Ciudad, a villainous arms dealer. From hereon in, writer Matt Miller mostly just plays around, having everything possible go wrong on Chuck’s first mission. First La Ciudad is thought to be a dodgy-looking British guy, who turns out to be MI6. (He doesn’t show up again, apparently happy to leave the proper spy work to the Americans.) Turns out La Ciudad is actually a woman, one of the weaker twists in the tale as its been done too many times before. Still, it’s following this reveal that things get really fun. We get a shootout, a knife fight, Casey throwing someone in a freezer, and the aforementioned microwave-related piece of genius. All in all, the story develops well (the odd dull moment aside) and the execution is lively.

Strong also were the scenes between Chuck and his sister Ellie. So far I have no complaints about her being detached from the main story, as their segments provide a pleasant relief from all the spy business. They have an easygoing chemistry, and Sarah Lancaster is sweet. Their final scene – Ellie telling Chuck what a great guy he is, followed by a brother-sister hug – at least partially allayed my fears about the show's emotional heart. I continue to worry about the suggestions of Chuck and Sarah as a couple; wouldn’t it be far funnier if her and Casey got together at some point?

The only big weak-link here is Morgan. This week he got his own sub-plot, but it wasn’t very funny and Joshua Gomez is often very annoying. Most irritatingly, his story got almost as much screen-time as Chuck’s, which won't work even if they find Morgan something more interesting to do than sitting in a cage. When Gomez gets good lines, he’s funny, but when he’s just doing the whole nervous nerd shtick (which Levi is far better at) he’s near insufferable.

Chuck has its faults, but they’re not ingrained into the show’s template or anything – they can be fixed. As long as Chuck’s adventures stay as fun as this one, the only problem is going to be finding things for Ellie and Morgan to do. I can feel myself getting attached to these characters already, so I really hope Chuck is only going to get better, as the ratings suggest it’s going to need all the support it can get.


Carrie said...

I really like this show, so much that I dumped Prison Break to give this one a coveted Tivo season pass. (Prison Break can go suck it after what they did on Monday's episode, but that's a comment for another post.)

I was not a fan of Sarah Lancaster on either Everwood or What About Brian, but she really works in this role. I like that Chuck has a strong support system at home and think it grounds the show in a bit of reality. Zachary Levi and Lancaster have great brother/sister chemistry. Also, I adore Captain Awesome. Anyone named Captain Awesome is all right by me.

Justin said...

Ugh, I agree about Prison Break.

And I have to recap it!

Two episode recap on Tuesday!