Sunday, January 10, 2010

Review - Chuck Season 3 Episode 1 Chuck Versus the Pink Slip and Episode 2 Chuck Versus the Three Words

Last spring, NBC renewed Chuck after an amazing fan campaigned that garnered attention from everyone. No one could deny the strength of the Chuck fanbase, and despite lackluster ratings, Chuck was given another chance. With their new shows failing, NBC decided to hedge its bets on Chuck, moving the premiere date up two months, and extending the season by six episodes. They gave prime advertising spots to Chuck, and now it's time for the show to shine.

The story of Chuck is rarely important and in the case of "Chuck Versus the Pink Slip," it was almost nonexistent--not that anyone cares. The action and comedy was out in full force and I had a huge grin the entire episode. While Chuck may have new powers, everything that is likable about the show is still there. In fact, Intersect 2.0 didn't seem that big of a deal. Casey is still gun happy, toting the mingun, and shooting up the bad guys. Sarah still kicks ass. As far as new powers, Chuck does burst out and perform amazing feats, but the flashes are not consistent, and still play into the humor of the show. Chuck trying not to destroy Emmett, and playing guitar was still the goofy, aloof humor that's charming to watch.

The decision to jump ahead six months was very interesting, and worked out well. Instead of spending several episodes to reach the six months or even three weeks later when Sarah and Chuck were supposed to run off, the first episode began six months later with huge changes. All we knew is that something bad happened between Chuck and Sarah. Slowly, through a series of flashbacks, we learn what happened.

While it was obvious the incident would revolve around Sarah wanting to run away with Chuck, nothing prepared me for the scene where Sarah and Chuck met at the train station. I imagined Chuck wouldn't show up or something, but he arrives, and totally devastates Sarah. Since Yvonne Strahovski is on a comedy, her talents as a dramatic actress are often overlooked. In the scene, you can see how overjoyed she is at first, and then her expression changes as Chuck tells her he's not going with her.

The talk in the court yard at the end of the first episode was frustrating because we've seen it before. It kind of reset their relationship to somewhere in season one where they know how the other feels, but due to obligations, they can't act on it. Once again, Sarah retreats back into her protective shell, and it will be while until she comes out. I know it's tiresome to see this constant back and forth, but Josh Schwartz seems to think it works. My preference would be for them to maintain status quo from last season instead of the two steps forward and three steps back--which were more like ten steps forward and fifteen steps back.

Carina came back in the second episode, and Mini Anden was given the fan treatment twice. She and Sarah are great friends, but in the treatment of their mark/asset, there is a fundamental difference. Carina is still cold regardless of the guy, and Sarah...well we know how it is.

The party at the apartment complex was pure fun, and had plenty of Jeff and Lester. It let them say some crazy things about girls, and Chuck was able to save the day by igniting the alcoholic fountain,and talking down Karl, until he let down his guard. Morgan also can truthfully say he hooked up with her.

Much of the episode was spent with Chuck wanting to talk with Sarah, even when Chuck is supposed to be stealing a weapon. When people talk about feelings in Chuck, it's very heartfelt and the tone really pulls at the heartstrings, but the substance of what they say sometimes gets a bit old.

The final scene of the night fully explained Chuck's mindset, and Sarah who is a reasonable person, got it. Chuck decided not to go with Sarah, and to join the CIA, because he loves her. With the Intersect 2.0, he has a chance to do more and protect everyone including Sarah. It's a nice sentiment, but he really should have told her at the train station. Chuck should know by now that if he just explained everything earlier, there won't be so many problems later down the road.

I got an eery feeling at the end of the second episode reminding me of the finale of La Femme Nikita. In the finale, Michael leaves Section One to take care of his son and Nikita stays at Section to take care of the world. Luckily, Chuck is a happy show as opposed to LFN which is dark and at times downright disturbing.

Two characters, Emmett and Anna, left the show in different circumstances. Emmett's exit was quite spectacular compared to Harry Tang's exit. He confronts Javier, the assassin played by Adoni Maropis, and gets shot to death. What a way to go. The writers did an injustice to Anna, making her run off with another chef. She was fiercely loyal to Morgan in the second season, but now she's a skank? Ellie and Captain Awesome were absent from the second episode, and Big Mike was absent in the first. The budget cut have hit and we aren't going to see the supporting characters every week sadly.

There were some new developments in the spy world. General Beckman wants to tell Team Bartowski about something, but Agent Shaw has other ideas. Is he someone we already know? The CIA now has a Ring smartphone, so that could come in handy later on.

Score: 9.3/8.9


Rachael said...

Yeah good review, I agree with pretty much everything you said. I am a bit conflicted about the Chuck/Sarah back and forth as well. I love the romance aspect of this show, but I hope they don't focus on it all season in the same way that the focused on it very heavily tonight. But of course I'm assuming the reason why it was so heavy tonight was simply because they had to explain how Chuck and Sarah got to where they did, and how they are going to move forward from it. Oh and I had the exact same reaction as you did with the Chuck/Sarah talk in the courtyard at the end of the first ep. ;-) I even said to my husband, "Uh oh here we go." The back and forth dance is definitely getting old, but I'm conflicted because I don't know if I'm ready for them to be "together" yet either, heheh.

Also I think part of the reason I was a little weirded out by the hard focus on the Chuck/Sarah angst was because I told a couple newbies to watch tonight, and I'm afraid they might be thinking, "Is this how it's gonna be in every episode?" Lol. I really don't think it will be.

BUT of course the bottom line is that I spent both episodes with a huge grin plastered across my face, and had lots of big laughs throughout. Despite my grumbles (which are definitely nothing more than I normally have with Chuck or any other of my favorite shows), Chuck rules big time. And for the most part, the episodes tonight were ... awesome as always. ;-)

Charles said...

Maybe if they hired another dozen producers they might get some of the original quality of the show back. stupid plots in order to "explain" stupid stuff....

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