Chuck season 3 episode 4 review

Billy wishes that Superman hadn't turned up in Chuck Versus Operation Awesome...

3.4 Chuck Versus Operation Awesome

It would be accurate to say I’ve not been enamoured with Chuck so far this year. It just doesn’t seem to have the zip it had in the excellent season 2, and some of the changes have brought their own problems, such as the overly useful intersect 2.0.

I’m, therefore, not going to say that Operation Awesome is a return to form, but it was certainly a step in the right direction. In the cliff-hanger ending of episode three, Captain Awesome is captured, and most of this story is about getting him back from The Ring, and introducing a new dynamic in the form of ex-man-of-steel, Brandon Routh, as agent Daniel Shaw. He’s up against sexy Ring spy Sydney Price (is that an Alias reference?) played by Angie Harmon, and his mission objectives and Chuck’s family values collide head-on.

But it wasn’t the spy stuff that provided the most entertainment here. It was the Buy More, sadly missing last week. Big Mike is back in his office, complete with the big fish, and he makes the fateful decision to make Morgan assistant manager. This coincides with an incident where the Intersect v2 makes Chuck karate kick Lester unconscious, triggering an orgy of violence where the lower Buy More staff start their own fight club! Some of this is hilarious, and they even manage to weave the electrified cage fighting back into the spy plotline at the end.

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The Buy More is the very soul of this show, and it’s at its best when their special blend of electrical appliance insanity is unleashed.

What’s slightly disappointing is in comparison how flat the Awesome part of the story becomes. We’ve all seen how funny Ryan McPartlin can be as Devon, but he’s given relatively little opportunity in this story to shine. However, a bigger issue here is Brandon Routh, who plays his character like a finely crafted lump of granite. Is it me or are his eyes entirely lifeless, like a shark about to bite someone?

I can’t say I entirely bought him as Superman, but Routh brought virtually nothing to this show, and it worries me that his character is reputedly around for at least five stories in this season. If the idea is to give Chuck a romantic competitor to get paranoid about with Sarah, then it might have been better to have made him mildly charming from the outset. Based on this first appearance, Chuck has no worries.

Yet, I don’t want to have a complete downer on this show, because, overall, Operation Awesome was better than the first three episodes and something they can build on. I especially liked the running gag that was developed around a lie that Chuck and Awesome told to Ellie about Casey getting drunk, which they should continue. I’m also seriously impressed with some of the geek artefacts they’ve managed to put in Chuck and Morgan’s apartment, including what looks like a Borg prosthetic.

Next week Chuck goes on his first international mission to Paris, so I guess we’ll see plenty of the NBC backlot with accompanying accordion music. But as long as they don’t use it as an excuse to squeeze out the Buy More again, I won’t really care.

Check out our review of episode 3 here.

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