TV Review – Chuck Season 1


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So, I’ve previously reviewed the first two seasons of Burn Notice. While I wait for season 3 to come out on DVD, I’m going to get started on another spy themed TV series – one with more of a James Bond (pre-Daniel Craig) theme.

The Premise:

Chuck is in charge of the Nerd Herd (Not-The-Geek-Squad) at a Buy More (a Not-A-Best-Buy-Circuit-City-Or-Comp-USA consumer electronics chain). His old friend-turned-arch-nemesis from College, Bryce Larkin, sends him an E-Mail that ends up uploading the contents of the Intersect, a classified NSA & CIA database (which Larkin has also destroyed) into his brain. Chuck ends up under the tender loving care of a beautiful CIA agent (whose cover is his girlfriend) and a rather nasty NSA agent (who presumably killed Larkin), while both agencies try to get the Intersect out of Chuck’s head, and deal with various international plots in and around LA.

The Good:

While a lot of the references to certain video games end up having the serial numbers filed off, generally the references to geek humor are pretty solid, to Chuck and his friend Morgan dressing up as a sandworm from Dune for a costume party (which they correctly refer to as Shai-Hulud, though they don’t refer to it as The Maker either, but that’s okay).

Also, the concept of the Intersect, while not technologically feasible, is conceptually feasible – and is actually something that the NSA and other intelligence agencies are working on – a computer system that can connect the dots between pieces of intelligence, particularly finding connections that human analysts might have missed.

The acting is pretty solid too, with Adam Baldwin stealing the show fairly often (particularly in “Chuck vs. the LTD”).

The Bad:

This season got cut short by the Writers’ Strike, so the season doesn’t really have much of an ending – particularly in comparison to some of the endings Burn Notice has had – enough of a cliffhanger to make me come back for next season, but enough closure that if I don’t get anything more, I can be somewhat satisfied with what I’ve gotten so far (or at least it’ll tide me over until they wrap things up with a mini-series, a movie, a novel or a comic book.)

The Ugly:

The segments in the Buy More can be a little annoying, but that may be because a previous job I had was tech support combined with a heavy focus commissioned sales – which wasn’t in the original job description (sales yes, the focus on sales, no) – so those segments brought up some bad memories. The segments covering the romantic subplot between Chuck and Sarah, his CIA handler, also run into the (in my opinion) bad romance conceit of drama by utter failure to communicate. Admittedly, under the circumstances some of that failure to communicate can be forgiven, but it’s still annoying.

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