A Look Back at CHUCK

The finale of the NBC show Chuck aired over a month ago, on January 27th to be exact.

Image from Amazon.

There were numerous callbacks to the pilot of the show which made me want to watch it again to see the connections.  That turned into re-watching the entire first season, which then turned into re-watching the first four seasons since I have them all on DVD.  Well, about a month and a half later, aided by a few sick days from work and a couple of too-lazy Saturdays, I’ve finished Seasons 1 through 4.

I’ve always said when trying to recruit friends to this show that it isn’t the best show you’re ever going to watch, but it is definitely one of the most fun.  The show’s perfect blend of comedy, action, & romance will lead to a smile on your face and just pure enjoyment as you watch.  I understand people all have different tastes and of course not everyone is going to like any show, but I find it hard to see how it couldn’t at least be a guilty pleasure for someone who may not want to admit it.

I don’t want to get into a whole analysis here of the show, but before re-watching the first four seasons, my memory was that Season 2 was the best, followed closely by Season 1.  It would have been great to see what was in store for the rest of Season 1, which was shortened to 13 episodes by the WGA strike.  Then there was a decent drop off to Seasons 3 and 4, and I couldn’t honestly remember which one I liked or disliked more.  Don’t get me wrong; the worst Chuck episode is still preferable to me than 95% of what’s on TV against it.

Now that I’ve seen Seasons 1 – 4 all in the last ~6 weeks, some observations.

  • I would say Season 1 is the most consistent.  It doesn’t have the highest of the highs, but it certainly doesn’t  have the lowest of the lows.  Every episode is on par with the others (all amazing).
  • Season 2 introduces the cheesiness that would invade the show until the end.  Sure, I get the show is light-hearted and funny, but for me there was an acceptable amount of this allowable.  It was crossed.  Honestly, this doesn’t really take anything away from the show.  It only induces a few cringe-worthy moments of wondering if they really just did that.
  • The “filler” episodes are fantastic.  You can tell when you’ve got one (especially when watching through the series in order), as there is hardly any mention of the overall season story arc, and there are usually a few guest stars.  They were all handled very well, and I think the break in the serious story arc gave the actors a chance to have fun, making for quality episodes…
  • …Except for “Chuck Versus the C.A.T. Squad” towards the end of Season 4 as part of a few episodes bridging the takedown of Volkoff to the Vivian plot.  Easily my least favorite episode in the whole series.  Again, I get the whole campiness vibe this episode was going for, and I also get that reality has to be suspended to a certain point to enjoy this show.  But this one went way too far on both counts.
  • The Orion plotline (last 5-6 episodes of Season 2) is the best in the series.   You find out about Chuck’s dad; Chuck steps up and truly becomes a spy; Chuck also steps up and gets the girl; etc.  It’s somewhat cliché and you can kind of see it coming, but even though I already knew everything that happened, I loved every minute of it.  [I watched this whole part straight during one of those sick days]
  • Shaw storyline during the first half of Season 3 and the last few episodes: not as bad as I remembered.  Don’t like how Sarah goes from hating him to in love with him during the course of one episode, but whatever.
  • Finally, my ranking: Season 2 > Season 1 > Season 3 > Season 4.  Not by much though.  If I had to grade, which I don’t like doing: 9, 8.9, 8, 7.5

I could write a whole in-depth analysis of the whole series, but there are others that are even more familiar with the show to do that.  I’m just glad this show got to end its own way.  Season 5 DVD comes out in the USA in May, and I’m looking forward to again running through the series again, this time going from start all the way to the end.

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