Saturday, January 28, 2012

Chuck - Season 5

For its entire existence, Chuck has been an uneven show. There are some things it has always done well, mostly involving making its central characters sympathetic and likable, though they've been known to make annoying decisions at various points. There are some things it has had trouble doing consistently, but can often manage. It is occasionally very funny, though it also often isn't, especially when they return to the Buy More for yet another boring B story. And there are some things it has never quite gotten right, mostly involving the spy stuff. It will have moments of inspiration or clever homage, but it's often buried in too many references or plotting that is just poorly thought out and irritating. None of these aspects of the show really changed in the show's brief fifth and final season, but I would say it's probably the show's best since the second, because the action/drama side was at least occasionally competent, and the focus was on giving those likable characters fitting conclusions, and they all got fitting and occasionally touching send-offs, even Jeff and Lester, the bozos who are usually tolerable at best.

The silly idea of the Intersect has always been central to the spy aspect of the series, and that's once again the case this time, though they thankfully managed to put a twist on it by no longer having it stuck in Chuck's head the whole time. It's still the center of the plot though, as a bunch of guest actors and returning villains are brought on and dealt with in rapid fashion as the show teases some possible story arcs but doesn't really stick with any of them for a long time. The last handful of episodes do finally build a sense of momentum with a bad guy who lasts more than an hour, and a gut punch of a plot twist that is surprisingly effective considering how terrible the scene in which it occurs is. It leads to an ending that is not quite the comfortable fairytale finale I was honestly expecting, but is still a touching and hopeful one that does justice to characters who have maintained my affection despite the show's many ups and downs over the years. Chuck was never as good as I wanted it to be, never managing a way to mix espionage and humor in a way that does justice to both, and never quite doing enough with a protagonist that manages to be relatable to nerds rather than an irritating stereotype of one. But while it had flaws, it never stopped being easy to root for, and I'm glad the creators got the opportunity to end the story in an acceptable way despite the series never really growing beyond its small but dedicated audience.

No comments: