Thursday, September 27, 2007

Series Premiere Review: Chuck

Chuck [s1 ep01]: "Pilot"

*** Spoiler Warning ***

Key Plot Points of Series Premiere

  • Chuck Bartowski is a geeky tech repair guy at the Nerd Herd inside a Buy More (fictional version of Geek Squad in Best Buy) where his best friend Morgan also works.

  • Chuck lives in a nice condo (that he could never afford on his own) with his successful sister Ellie and her boyfriend. Ellie and her boyfriend are both doctors, and Ellie's boyfriend is so good at everything he does that Chuck has nicknamed him Captain, short for Captain Awesome.

  • Several years ago, Chuck dropped out of Stanford University when he broke up with the only girlfriend he's had in the past few years.

  • Chuck's former roommate from Stanford, Bryce Larkin, is now a CIA agent. Bryce steals a massive amount of government secrets and, realizing he's about to be killed by his pursuer, e-mails all the data to Chuck.

  • When Chuck opens the e-mail, *all* of the government's secrets are downloaded into his head via several hours worth of subliminal images.

  • Two agents are sent to retrieve the data, Major John Casey from the NSA and the beautiful Sarah Walker from the CIA. Tracing the e-mail to Chuck, Sarah wants to protect him from the NSA, and Casey wants to threaten Chuck to get to the data.

  • Upon discovering that all the data is in Chuck's head, Casey and Sarah work together in protecting Chuck. Chuck then uses his knowledge to lead them to a terrorist bomb that is meant to assassinate a high profile military general. Chuck defeats the bomb by downloading a virus onto the laptop computer attached to the bomb.

  • Using his leverage as a living computer, Chuck insists on returning to his normal life. We learn that Sarah and Bryce were in a relationship. By the end of the episode, Casey has been hired as the newest Buy More employee so that he can keep an eye on Chuck. Posing as a customer, Sarah keeps an eye on him too. One of the pieces of top secret information that flashes in Chuck's head is about Sarah's past.

Opinions and Observations

  • This was one of the most well-made and entertaining pilots I've seen since the first episode of Alias (a masterpiece pilot that its latter two seasons didn't live up to). In the past few years, only Lost and maybe Ugly Betty or Men In Trees have had pilot episodes that have come this close to perfect.

  • Everything in the episode just clicks. The characters are interesting, the humor has perfect wit and timing, the action is exciting and fast-paced, etc.

  • I like that Chuck's sister Ellie comes off as loving and supporting. She's smart, beautiful, professional, social, and has money and a relationship. Chuck, meanwhile, makes $11 an hour and crashes in an extra room in her condo. It would be easy for her to be a b**chy, self-righteous character. Instead, she cares for Chuck, throws him a birthday party (inviting all her friends because he only has one), tries to help him get a girlfriend, and helps him prepare for his date with Sarah (before he discovers Sarah is a CIA agent).

  • The show is already quirky enough all around, but Chuck's best friend Morgan provides even more comic relief.

Hopes, Concerns, or Expectations for New Season

  • Strangely, I wasn't looking forward to this show much. But, I admit, I'm thoroughly impressed. I'm a little worried how they'll sustain the show's concept for a whole season or more, but they're definitely off to an amazing start.

  • It's probably inevitable that Chuck and Sarah will hook up at some point in the series. On their fake date, they genuinely got along. For a geek, Chuck is actually charming, and when Sarah smiled or laughed at things he said, it didn't always seem like she was acting just to get to his secret info. Their moment sitting on the beach, the morning after defusing the bomb, was very sweet. Sarah may be as smart and skilled as Sydney Bristow from Alias, but she's got the same amount of heart too.

No comments: