TV REVIEW: Chuck Season 5

written by David Steffen

Chuck was an action spy action/drama/comedy show, starring Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), who started as a down-on-his-luck geek working at the BuyMore fixing computers, when he ended up with a supercomputer with government secrets downloaded into his brain, as he has been used as an intelligence asset. And later in the series he got an upgrade to the software that also gave him various physical skills like martial arts. Season 5 was only 13 episodes and aired from October 2011 through January 2012.

The end of Season 4 and the beginning of Season 5 return to the shows roots, but with a twist, as Chuck, Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski), and Casey (Adam Baldwin) use money they’ve earned to buy the Buy More and continue to use it as a base for their freelance spy organization Carmichael Industries. But, at the end of the last season, a set of programmable sunglasses that was meant to upload a new copy of the Interact computer into Chuck’s brain was instead worn by Morgan (Joshua Gomez), so Morgan now has the knowledge of a government supercomputer and extra physical capabilities of the Intersect, so he is the new focal point of their organization and Chuck is now acting as his handler (like Sarah used to do for him in the early seasons).

This final season of the show was a roller-coaster ride, where they tried new things that they hadn’t done in any of the previous seasons (Morgan as the Intersect being just the first!) and I got the impression while watching that the writers were told to build in multiple big finales throughout these episodes in case they got cancelled earlier than that (and maybe there were more finales written for later that never aired). As a result, on top of the individual episode arcs, and the overall season arc, there were also couple-of-episodes arcs throughout the season, and things that seemed like they had the shape of an overall season arc would very suddenly end.

I was sad to see the show end, and there are things about the final season that I wish had been done differently, but it was good to finally see how they wrapped up the show’s portrayal of the Chuck and Sarah story.

If you’ve watched previous stories, you really should watch it, to see how it all turns out.

TV REVIEW: Chuck Season 3

written by David Steffen

Chuck was an action spy action/drama/comedy show, starring Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), who started as a down-on-his-luck geek working at the BuyMore fixing computers, when he ended up with a supercomputer with government secrets downloaded into his brain, as he has been used as an intelligence asset.  Season 3 ran from January to May of 2010.

Season 2 ended with a major change as Chuck ended up downloading a brand new version of the Intersect computer into his brain which not only lets him suddenly remember government secrets at convenient times, but gives him a wide range of physical skills, especially martial arts.  No longer is Chuck just “the asset”, forever told to wait in the car and stay out of trouble.  Now he has the combat skills (without actually having earned them through training) to be able to take danger head on.  It had also ended with Chuck, Casey (Adam Baldwin), and Morgan (Joshua Gomez) all quitting the BuyMore, with Morgan moving to Hawaii with Anna.

Season 3 begins with much of that being rolled back–Chuck has taken some time off to try to become a full-time spy, even turning down an offer from Sarah (Yvonne Strahovski) to quit and run away, but it has not worked out well, so he ends up returning to work for the BuyMore.  Morgan’s dream to become a chef in Hawaii does not go well and Anna leaves him.  Team Bartowski ends up reuniting, albeit with a much more awkward mood because some drama happened between them that you don’t know about yet.  So, Season 2 felt like it was written as a series finale, and meant to give some sense of closure by ending an era in various ways, but when the writers began writing Season 3 realized they didn’t know how to write Chuck without the BuyMore, without Morgan, etc.  So the first several episodes the season were very awkward and felt off, I think because they were trying to put everything back together without it seeming ridiculous.  And especially with the relationship between Chuck and Sarah being kindof tense and bitter, I was starting to consider giving up on it, but it finally turned around became good again.

Despite the “putting everything back together again” feel, the season 2 finale did have a big permanent change in that Chuck does still have the upgraded intersection that lets him be an action hero.  This changes the dynamic of the show quite a bit because he’s no longer the helpless one, and also that he has to learn to control his emotions for this part of the Intersect to work properly. Which, I have mixed feelings about, because part of the appeal of the show was that the male lead is not macho, is not aggressive, is prone to talking about his feelings at inopportune times during the middle of missions.  After the first few episodes I think they made it work, and it felt like a solid show again, albeit a quite different show, it still had the parallel BuyMore hijinks, still had the comedy with the action, still had the relationship stuff between Chuck and Sarah.

And while the season is slow to start, some of the reveals and happenings later in the season are the best in the series yet.  So, I’d still highly recommend watching, just trying to push through the first 3 or 4 episodes if it’s seeming dull.

TV REVIEW: Chuck Season 2

written by David Steffen

In the premier season of Chuck, the title character Chuck Bartowsky (Zachary Levi) had been living an unextraordinary life working at the BuyMore after being kicked out of Stanford based on false accusations of cheating, and dumped by his girlfriend.  Until he gets an unexpected email from Bryce Larkin (Matt Bomer), (the one who got him kicked out Stanford), that contains coded images containing government secrets that download themselves into Chuck’s brain, and after that if he sees something that is in the Intersect (the name for the computer storing the data), then he will suddenly know the information.  So Chuck has been working with CIA Agent Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) who has been posing as his girlfriend, and NSA Agent John Casey (Adam Baldwin) who has been posing as a co-worker at the BuyMore.  Season 2 ran from 2008-2009.

As season two starts, the team goes on what Chuck thinks will be his final mission, to retrieve a component needed to make a new computer-based Intersect so that Chuck can retire.  What he doesn’t know is that Casey has been given orders to kill Chuck as soon as the new Intersect is running, because he’s too much of a liability.  (Since this is all in Episode 1 of the season you can guess that neither does our title character get killed nor does he get to go back to normal civilian life).

Season two was a great build from season one, expanding on a great formula.  The BuyMore still plays the comedic foil to the more serious spy action.  The main difference in format from the previous season is that Chuck is getting more accustomed to the spywork, the action, and the lying, which makes sense, but it’s still good old sensitive Chuck, usually trying to talk about feelings on a mission while everyone else is trying to concentrate on not being dead.  There are some major revelations having to do with Chuck’s family in this season that are awesome and fun.

I loved season two just as much as season one.  Highly recommended, fun, generally lighthearted, with lots of spy action.