Well… Anyone who’s been checking out Den Of Geek this week will know that the Internet has been awash with pilot shows for brand spanking new series. Another one that’s escaped is the premiere hour of Chuck, and again, we’ve had e-mails from those who have watched it. Here’s one:
”There’s no doubt that the premise of Chuck is Geek-friendly; a dude (the eponymous Mr. Bartowski) who spends his day working for the ‘Nerd Herd’ in an electrical store – think PC World’s Tech Guys, but with more cliches and more pens in their top pockets – living with his sister and hanging out with his whacky best pal Morgan (the very affable loser played by, gets an e-mail from a guy he knew at college.
He opens the e-mail and is zapped by a barrage of subliminal images which hold thousands of US intelligence secrets. Suddenly he’s being chased by the NSA and the CIA, who initially believe him to be a spy connected to the guy who sent him the e-mail. He’s not. He doesn’t know how to recall or control the knowledge in his head, kinda like having a packed hard drive with no operating system to access it.
The action trips along nicely and Chuck is at its best when it employs uber-nerd in situations that demand Rambo more than Bambi. The gangly star often bears more than at little resemblance to a fawn crossing ice.
There are of course the inevitable cringeworthy moments of comedy and smaltz, but the pilot does a great job of establishing Chuck as a slightly damaged but ultimately charming nice-guy everyman. And that contrasts well with his co-stars – the pitch-perfect CIA superwoman Sarah (with a hidden agenda and more secrets than she’s letting on?) played by the predictably lithe Yvonne Strahovski and the grissly caricature of Adam Baldwin’s NSA agent Casey. Both of whom are set to play large, and not always harmonious, parts in Chuck‘s future.
The whole set up is high concept, idiotic, fantastical and potentially brilliant TV – if the devices planted in this pilot are used well by the storytellers and producers. Hey, this isn’t going to be a masterpiece of cerebral viewing, but it’s pushing a lot of the right buttons – and that takes it a long way towards creating a very entertaining series.
The key is going to be just how long they can keep us interested in Chuck himself, his new found power and influence, and how it clashes with his seemingly ordinary life. Whilst one hour is relatively easy – and Chuck is rounded enough to establish himself in the pilot. Whether that charming inadequacy can stretch to 24 or more shows is a big ask.
Eventually Chuck‘s going to have to get good, or the producers are going to have to come up with some pretty brilliant ways of putting him in danger, and then keeping him alive, else it’s going to get pretty boring watching him get saved by Sarah or Casey or both every week.
There are other minor issues about some crayon-drawn secondary characters that really need to be sorted out. Chuck‘s work nemesis is a horrible man, with no redeeming features and thus instantly screams ‘cliche’ at you from the moment he walks on screen (that his is about the only minority character too – apart from Chuck’s predictably gruff boss Big Mike and the Candyman himself Tony Todd as the CIA boss – also jars with me). However, all of these things are can be ironed out over the course of the first few episodes.
Let’s hope they can pull off the trick of keeping Chuck‘s character believable (within the no-grounding-in-science-or-the-real-worldpremise) and yet strong enough to lead the show”.