I’m a big fan of Chuck, but I got the impression only a couple of minutes into Chuck Versus The Third Dimension that the production team made this one while still suffering something of a festive hangover.
Bizarrely, it marked the first mainstream TV show I’ve ever seen in 3D, and by the end I was actually more mystified about why they bothered to do this than anything else.
Morgan appears at the start and tells you to put your 3D specs on, so you can admire their handiwork, for what it is. We then get a rather poor – by Chuck standards – story, interspersed with all the obvious and clichéd uses of stereoscopic 3D that you can imagine.
That said, the initial scene does have the lingerie-enhanced cleavage of Yvonne Strahovski jumping out of the screen at you, but it went downhill from there for me. The plot is like one of those really poor episodes of Scooby Doo where they meet someone famous, who seems a jerk but turns out to be ‘ok’ by the end. In this case the famous persona is Tyler Martin, a British rocker played by Dominic Monaghan, of all people.
It turns out that people are out to kill him, because his manager has had him tattooed with secret messages in Arabic. This makes no sense whatsoever; if you’ve secret messages then you might as well send them using encrypted email or a million other means, but tattoos seems plain stupid.
The threat is realised early on, and so Casey tranquilises Tyler and leaves him in the entirely reliable hands of Chuck, which takes just seconds to go wrong when Tyler becomes conscious again.
Much of the running time is their pursuit through various nightclubs, a hotel and even a rock venue. Chuck has 3D knives thrown at him, and various other less-appropriate 3D objects.
Some of what happens is funny, but the laugh out loud bit of this week’s episode was unintentional. At one point, Chuck and Tyler are on stage when they’re threatened by a ‘bad person’. Their solution is to crowd surf away, except there aren’t really enough extras in the scene to make this convincing. It’s like they jump onto six people who then carry them through the few other extras stood around, which isn’t really ‘crowd’ surfing is it? It was a bad idea, executed badly.
If you were wondering about the Buy More side of this story, it’s also mediocre. Morgan finds a golden ticket which is a backstage pass to a Tyler concert and then stupidly gives it to a man who’s just out of prison. I’d tell you more, but it has very few high points, if any.
The only worthwhile part of this story is that Chuck actually gets to tell Sarah that he saw her kill an unarmed man, and she gets to explain that she did it for him and his family. I’m not sure that issue has gone away, but it’s in the open now. She tells him to take some time off while she and Casey handle the next mission, but Chuck doesn’t want to be left out.
Curiously, the story ends with “To Be Continued”’ in a lettering that’s exactly like the one used in Back To The Future. There are other references to Spinal Tap and Willy Wonka, but they’re not as clever or subtle as the usual crop.
Overall, this was the poorest Chuck episode this season, even if it was presented in the third dimension. I’m hoping that the show reclaims its form when it returns with Chuck Versus The Suburbs next week.
Check out Billy’s review of episode 11 here.