I’ve talked to others that don’t like this show. They usually complain that it’s silly and formulaic. Yes I agree, it is both those things, but actually it’s also quite funny, witty and consistently entertaining from my perspective.
If you managed to dodge its comedic bullet, Chuck is about the dyed-in-the-wool geek who works in a home appliance store and dreams of being a hero. Chuck’s spy life remained a fantasy until one day Bryce, the Stamford college room-mate who walked off with his girlfriend, sends him an email that converts his brain into the biggest repository of strategic intelligence data on the planet.
Now he’s an important ‘asset’ that the NSA and CSI must protect with two highly experienced field agents, while none of his friends must know of his secret identity.
The NSA sends the hard nosed Casey (Adam Baldwin), ruthlessly efficient killing machine, and a complete dick. While the CSI deploy the gorgeous but no less deadly Sarah, played brilliantly by the disturbingly agile Australian, Yvonne Strahovski.
Providing the emotional anchor for the life he might so easily lose is Joshua Gomez as Chuck’s geek-soul-mate Morgan, a man for whom the joy of video games has replaced the compartment in his life marked ‘socialising’.
Chuck and Morgan are co-workers in the Buy-More technical support section, aptly named the ‘Nerd Herd’, along with the weirdest assortment of socially inept characters ever assembled under the cover of one retail outlet.
Much of the humour comes from the duality of Chuck’s existence, his relationship with Sarah and Casey, and the stress of two diametrically opposed realities that can never be allowed to overlap. It could so easily have fallen entirely flat, but it rises above the simple concept and delivers action and humour in equal measures.
If I was forced to summarise why this show works where so many others have failed I’d say it has a genuine charm, something sadly lacking in many TV shows today.
This is the part where I usually complain that the season pack contains nothing but two deleted scenes and a product placement for odour-eaters. But shockingly this one is really good, possibly the best I’ve seen yet for a TV show.
The thirteen 42 minute pieces of season one are spread across four DVD discs, with most of the extra bonus material filling up the final disc. The first couple of discs have just a few deleted scenes each, but disc three and four have some well chosen and assembled material explaining about how Chuck was made, how the characters evolved and the casting choices. On disc three are all the test reels of the main players with comments about why they got chosen, and what they brought to the show.
Disc four has mini-documentaries with the Zachary Levi (Chuck), Joshua Gomez (Morgan) talking about their favourite scenes from series, and a mountain of improvised clips. There is also a full 8 minutes goof-reel, a few segments of which are hilarious. But the most laugh-out-loud funny for me are two deleted scenes, one on disc 2 and the other on 3 which involved the amazing C. S. Lee as the overly competitive ‘Harry Tang’. Why these got left out of the broadcast show is beyond me, because they’re comedy gold.
So there you have it, Chuck. A fun and innovative show, created and staring highly talented people and a DVD box set that actually does it justice. And if you’re not forced to buy it at RRP, and who does pay that, it’s actually very reasonably priced set for a 13-show season and all the goodies.
My only complain is that the tap-dancing wildebeests that our postal service employs broke the plastic shell that holds the discs in my pack even before I got it. And that makes me want to go all ‘Casey’ on their sorry asses, resulting in some more regrettable but necessary collateral damage.