Wednesday, June 2, 2010

Chuck - Season 3

Chuck is sort of like the little engine that could. It's not quite a great show, and its ratings are never better than decent for NBC. But its strengths tend to overcome its faults enough to keep it fun for fans, who exist in just large enough numbers to keep it going despite the odds. As hard as it might have been to believe a couple years ago, it will get a fourth season, and I'll still be watching.

If I had to break down the show's formula (and I have), it's roughly made of one third pretty good comedy, one third pretty good spy stuff, and one third bad soap opera. You can play with the portions a bit, but that's about how it hashes out. Not all of the jokes land, and in fact I'm kind of sick and tired of the Buy More (which made the season finale especially fun), but on occasion it will have a truly brilliant comedic moment, such as when Awesome has to lie to Ellie and ends up talking about a bear getting decapitated. And while the international intrigue stuff sometimes seems a bit rote and the bad guys a bit uncoordinated and stupid, it's hard to say it's not usually fun to watch Chuck and his crew pull off a job. Casey in particular continues to be a great character, if a bit of the typical tough guy. My favorite moment of the season might have been when he convinced Chuck to yank his tooth out to maintain a cover.

But yeah, that soapy stuff... it's bad. You ever notice how many problems on TV would be solved a lot easier if everybody stopped acting like idiots and just spoke honestly? That's definitely a recurring problem with this show. The writers can argue that you need tension for an exciting show, and I'd counter by saying they should write drama that doesn't count on its characters being morons to work. They finally go somewhere with Chuck/Sarah thing this season, although it continues to be hindered by silly problems and things like Chuck lying to everyone for no real reason. By the end of the season I was more pissed at Chuck than anyone else on the show, because for some reason he seems to have translated "deception is vital to being a spy" into "pointlessly lie to your loved ones all the time". The season ends well enough, although I could have done without yet another promise to quit the job when you know he's going to be back by the end of the next season premiere. Should be fun.

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