Wednesday, June 11, 2008

TV: Chuck - Next season's predictions

These are my predictions for the upcoming season 2 of Chuck.

Things yet to be seen
  • The return of Ilya - and Casey having to make a big decision
  • The return of Chuck's dad - also an agent.. too corny but always good if a twist is added. also explains why he was away a lot before leaving his mother
  • Bryce finally dying - so that Sarah and Chuck can be together without feeling guilty. Plot device for them to fall into each other's arms
Intersect 2
Now let's deal with the elephant in the room: With the completion of Intersect 2, Chuck is no longer needed. But instead of being 'taken care of', the powers-that-be are interested in how the information is stored in Chuck and how they can other agents to be like Chuck. So, Chuck gets a new job at the CIA - as a sort of field computer, to be used to get information and then put back into a box. While being a lab rat without him knowing it. The sessions that are meant to slowly extract Intersect 1 to Intersect 2 are also experiments on Chuck to see how the first Intersect was put in. This could be a Major Series Adjustment. It could mean Chuck leaving his current surroundings and friends. Risky move because those are the things that make the series interesting. The spy stuff is really over-the-top but what brings me back to the series is the 'side stories' about Chuck and the relationship with his family and friends which seems a lot more realistic. Unless replaced with a new family: people with special skills who are kept underground (literally) to work for the government, like the guy who escaped and came across Chuck for help. Easy sell to TVexecs (fits their : if-it's-good-let's-have-more-of-it mentality) but could easily end up like a version of "Mystery Men", great idea, flawed execution. Also easily to loose the soul of the series, Chuck's relationship and growth with his family and friends.

TV: Chuck - Season 1

Chuck - Chuck is in a rut. He has a dead-end job too far beneath his skill level. Probably couldn't have done better since he was kicked out of Stanford (University) three years ago. Finds himself regressing to his high-school level self not without the help of Mogran, his childhood friend. Topping it off, he is living with his sister, Ellie and her awesome boyfriend, the only family he has. Although he knows he should be angry at Bryce, his college buddy who turned him in, he can't seem to blame him entirely. Sure, the exam answers Bryce found under his bed (that got him expelled) wasn't Chuck's but Bryce couldn't have know that, right? He would have done the same thing to Bryce if it was the other way around, right? Hm..

Seems that Bryce just doesn't seem to stop figuring in Chuck's life. Bryce, now a secret agent, sends him a computer database that gets embedded in his brain. Since Bryce blows up the computer and Chuck's computer is trashed, Chuck is the only way to use the database. Now the CIA and the NSA have to protect him as well as use him to get to the database. Which makes Chuck's life that much complicated, in more ways than one. Posing as her girlfriend, Sarah is the CIA agent assigned to Chuck. Doesn't help that she was also Bryce's squeeze. Chuck and Sarah connect before he found out she was an agent. He now knows it isn't real but he still he feels it and wishes it was so.

And that is the premise of this new series that has been getting a lot of attentions because it has a Geek hero (as opposed to the oft disguised Greek Hero in other TV series) with a typical Spiderman-superhero syndrome. Each episode is centered around a spy mission involving Chuck, Sarah (his NSA handler) and Case (his CIA handler). Around each episode is an interweaving story related to Chuck's relationship with his friends or family. These stories would have a impact on Chuck's growth as a person making him in most cases a better agent.

The side antics of supporting cast is what makes the series interesting. They are not just disposable props but they themselves grow in terms of both character development and depth. Beyond just providing comic relief (Chuck's co-workers at the BuyMore) or emotional growth (his relationship with his sister and best friend Morgan Grimes), these stories are what makes the series interesting and strangely enough, real and makes us relate to the character.

Another big theme is Chuck's obvious attraction to Sara (in reality, who wouldn't be). Even when he knows that their relationship is a cover, he follows her around like a lost puppy. And when it does begin to evolve, it grows from attraction to something real for both of them (for Sara, in-spite of her own efforts not to). The big turning point was when Sara has to decide between Chuck and Bryce. Although she claims she was just following orders, she cared enough about him and his safety to stay on.

I can't wait for next season.

TV: Chuck

Starring: Zachary Levi, Yvonne Strahovski, Adam Baldwin
Category: TV, Action, Comedy

What a surprise this was! I was wanting to hate it because TV shows with geeks always get it wrong. Either stupid tech references that don't make sense or fake tech stuff (yes, Hackers, I'm talking about you). But surprisingly, Chuck gets it right. Not just technically right but the tech refs are in the right place, too.
Chuck is techie who winds up with valuable information locked in his head when it is downloaded from a top secret computer. The computer is destroyed so he brain is the only remaining copy of the information. He can't retrieve them on will but it has to be triggered. Two agents, Sarah and Casey are assigned to protect him while the actual computer is rebuilt. Sarah's partner, Bryce is the one who blew up the computer while Casey is the agent chasing Bryce. Bryce apparently dies after destroying the computer but not before transferring the data to Chuck, his old college buddy.
the characters feel real and multi-layered

I wouldn't call Chuck a dramadey.. more of an action comedy at best with a strong dash of 'fish-out-of-water' thrown in. At worst, Chuck is a weak parody of spy movies. But I don't think that was what the creators wanted it to be. The spy stuff is all fake, bordering on Alias, not even close to 24. But the characters feel real and multi-layered. More is revealed in each episode about each of them. Not just the core characters, but also the side players; Ellie - Chuck's sister who live with her boyfried, Captain Awesome (corny but watch and you can't help but agree that the name fits), Morgan - Chuck's boyhood friend who also works at the BuyMore store, The Nerd Herd gang - the technical support department that Chuck leads.
Chuck Poster TV F 11x17 Zachary Levi Vik Sahay Scott Krinsky Joshua GomezThe series creators must be under a lot of pressure to keep the episodes self contained, so all the spy stuff tends to resolve by itself by the end of each episodes but two story arches runs through the first season, first the fate of Chuck once he is no longer needed. And the growing feelings between Chuck and Sarah.
And it is story, the heart that goes into those small moments that add character to the players and makes you keep coming back for more.