Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Chuck - Season 4

I'll admit that I was pretty darn close to breaking up with Chuck. It conflicts with a superior show on Monday night (the one I blogged about yesterday), it was never that great in the first place, and the way it flailed about this season searching for anything interesting to do was getting pathetic. The specifics of its fifth season renewal though made me decide to stick with it to the end. It'll be airing on Friday where there's less competition for my attention, it's definitely the last season, and there will only be 13 episodes. This along with the relatively decent way they wrapped up this year was enough for me to stay on board. I've never loved Chuck due to its bad plotting and distracting, usually failed attempts at humor, but there's something charming about it that starts with the main cast (besides Jeff and Lester) and ends with the fact that their relationships are often able to overcome the frequent failures of its storytelling. Most of the characters besides Casey tend to annoy me once in a while, but never enough that I get sick of seeing them (Again, besides Jeff and Lester. As solid as the end of the finale was, it would have been better if the Buy More exploded and then got sucked into a wormhole that prevents it from ever being rebuilt).

This season expanded on the family history that drives the spy intrigue on the show by bringing in Chuck's mother, played by Linda Hamilton, an apparent traitor to the CIA. But obviously that's not the whole story, and there's a whole bunch of stuff involving her and her mission and Timothy Dalton's Alexei Volkoff, a villain who's not quite who he seems and has own family issues and blah blah blah. It's all for the most part less interesting than the overarching stuff that came before, and it's not helped by the fact that the show again didn't get a full season order at first and so had to develop and try to pull off consecutive stories on the fly, which isn't that easy to do.

What's worse is just the continued inconsistency of the individual episodes. It's anyone's guess each week whether the show will be a pretty fun time, kind of bland, or a total train wreck. Feeling the need to have someone for Chuck to lie to, some of stuff in his relationship with Sarah that arises from his absurd insecurities, a lot of Morgan's subplots - they just become really irritating and make it easy to forget why you liked the show in the first place. They generally do a good job when a season (or mid-season) finale is coming up of pulling things together, but otherwise there's no knowing. And there are so many shows that manage to be at least passable every week that it's hard to keep excusing after four years. Still though, as I said, there are only 13 episodes left, and they aren't interfering with anything major going on, so I'll watch them. I hardly owe the show anything, but I'll do it the favor of watching it try to tie everything they've done into one neat package.

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