Anyone who watched The O.C. and liked it, will probably admit that what made the show appealing was it’s sly use of pop-culture references, geek comedy as well as beautiful locales and bikini clad cast members. Indeed, The O.C. was at it’s best when it mixed sweetness, wit, and an unwillingness to take itself too seriously. All of those ingredients mixed together to charm audiences. Thankfully, The O.C. creator Josh Schwartz has taken all of those aforementioned ingredients and mixed it with an action-packed spy show to create Chuck.
The premise to chuck is simple. Bryce Larkin, a former college friend and roommate who happens to be a CIA agent, steals The Intersect; a combination of both the CIA and NSA’s intelligence files on virtually everything. In danger, he sends these files to the only person he can trust, Chuck Bartowski(Zachary Levi). Chuck opens what he thinks is a birthday email to find a hypnotizing video encoded with millions of government secrets which all essentially upload directly into Chucks brain. Thus begins the end of Chuck, just an employee at the Buy More (a Best Buy ripoff) and the start of his journey into the dangerous and shadowy world of espionage, secrets and lies.
The problem is that Chuck’s head is now the most valuable and dangerous thing in the world. Enter drop dead gorgeous CIA agent Sarah Walker(Yvonne Strahovski) and NSA killing machine John Casey(Firefly’s Adam Baldwin) who become tasked with keeping Chuck alive, and using his newfound knowledge to take down rogue agents, assassination attempts, bomb threats, etc.
So now the general pattern is that each week Chuck “flashes” on something. It might be a person he sees or a symbol or name that jolts his memory. These “flashes” usually set off a chain of events that lead inevitably to Chuck being held at gunpoint, or his mistakes putting Casey and Sarah in danger. Of course they manage to get out of these tight situations, but part of the fun is watching how they do it, and still get their mission accomplished.
Despite all of the spy missions, gunplay and hilarious comedy that make up most of each episode, Chuck is really the story of an ordinary but kinda geeky guy who falls in love with the perfect woman, and what a woman. Sarah is simply a stunner there is no denying it. She’s like an archangel, both beautiful and deadly. But beyond that beauty and ass-kicking ability, is a wonderfully intelligent woman who wants more than the spy life. It’s possible that before she met Chuck, she had no idea that what she wanted, was some thread of normalcy in her life; a boyfriend or husband who she could be honest with. No lies, no secrets.
It just so happens that Chuck is the person she falls for and the chemistry between Zachary Levi and Yvonne Stahovski is unbelievable. They make the “will they or won’t they?” aspect of the show believable and exciting to watch. Watching these two dance around one another probing for what the other is feeling is sweet to watch.
Besides Chuck, Sarah and Casey’s, there is a whole host of other wonderful supporting characters as well. There is Morgan(Joshua Gomez) Chuck’s weird, but lovable best friend, Chuck’s sister Ellie(Sarah Lancaster) and her boyfriend Devon ‘Captain Awesome'(Ryan McPartlin), and of course Jeff(Scott Krinksky) and Lester(Vik Sahay) who are two of the creepiest and brainless people I’ve ever seen. Those two should get medals for their brilliant work.
As I said above in my review, Chuck is a show that does not take itself too seriously. I’ts primarily a comedy first and an action/spy show second. The joy is in the great characters, hilarious shenanigans and of course, the love story blooming between Sarah and Chuck.
As Chuck, Levi is perfectly funny as a man who is in way over his head, and yet his geeky nervousness and wit manages to charm Sarah.
Casey and Morgan who provide some of the shows comic relief are nevertheless given their own story lines and moments that let them shine. “Captain Awesome” is just as great as any character on the show and McPartlin appears to be having a ball playing the character.
One of the few complaints I have about the first season is the “freak of the week” episodes. Due to the writer’s strike, there are few episodes that deal directly with the ever evolving mythology in the show. Without those kind of episodes, the repetition of the episodes pattern can wear a little thin, although with only thirteen episodes, it’s not stretched to far.
Overall, the first season of Chuck is a real winner. Those looking for a show that can make you laugh and find thrills in fighting and chase sequences will love this show. Like an appetizer at a restaurant, this season will on whet your appetite for season two.