I watch lots of television, and not all of it is good. Did you know I watch American Idol? I do. I watch that shit. Did you know that I watch The Hills with the Suze, and I actually enjoyed the last episode? Sure, I enjoyed it because somebody finally got punched in the goddamn face, but still. The point is, while I watch some of this shit, I need to be careful with what I recommend. If I actually recommended that you watch American Idol, would you ever listen to a word I had to say again? Of course not. You'd be a fool to.
So some shows come on my radar, and I watch them, but they don't quite reach the level of a "Watch" recommendation. Heroes, even in its pretty good first season, never reached that level. House never reached that level. Jim and I wrote sloppy love letters to 24 earlier this season
, but I never officially christened it with a "Watch" recommendation. There is a whole history of shows that I have watched, but never even considered recommending.
Chuck has always been solidly in this category. The premise:
Chuck Bartowski, a mild-mannered nerd works in Best Bu...uh, Buy More, for the
Geek Squ...er, Nerd Herd. His former Stanford roommate, Bryce Larkin,
who was responsible for getting him thrown out, has moved on to
becoming a super spy. Bryce steals government data from a
super-computer called the Intersect, and then, in the plot device to
end all plot devices, uploads all that information into Chuck's brain
via a series of encoded images. Now, everytime Chuck sees something
that the Intersect recognizes, he "flashes", and he suddenly knows
everything there is to know about the object/person in question. Hilarity ensues (doesn't it always?)
enjoyed the first season for what it was. The blond is super, super hot. Adam
Baldwin is always fun. The actor who plays Chuck, Zachary Levi, is
incredibly likeable. My biggest problem with the show when it first started was that it was trying too hard. The pilot episode was covered in so much flop sweat that I had to
take a shower after watching it. Look, Chuck has a Tron poster in his
room! He walks around with his shirt untucked! He makes lots of
pandering-to-geeks pop-culture references! I wanted to grab the show by
the shoulders and shake it: "I'm watching, okay! You can stop trying so
But I realized something recently: Chuck has
become my second favorite show on TV. (Sorry, Chuck, you aren't passing
Lost so easily.)
I'm not exactly sure how or when it happened,
but since the beginning of the second season, Chuck has taken its game
to another level. After some reflection, I came to the following
conclusions as to why:Chuck has started telling a cohesive story.
Or; in the beginning, there were stand-alone mission episodes with
little episode-to-episode continuity. Now it is continuity-tastic.Chuck (the character) has grown as a character.
For more on on the perils of character-development (or lack thereof)
re: American television, see my 3-part conversation on House with Jim
.The show has incredible guest stars.
My two favorites: John Larroquette was amazing as a former spy and
world-renowned ladies' man, and Scott Bakula in a recurring role as
As with all shows I enjoy (RIP Pushing Daisies
there is a good chance that the current season will be its last. You
could start watching now, but I would suggest you start with the Season
One DVD. Because of the strike, season one was only 13 or so episodes
long (I'm too lazy to check), its fun-if-light, and you can watch with
the confidence that there is some greatness ahead of you.