Sunday, 3 May 2009

Of Chuck Season 2

Well, Chuck's second season came to a close last Monday and now I come to review this, it's potentially last season. Whilst the news as to whether we'll get a third season of this great is being held till tomorrow (or potentially next Monday), I'm here to look back on the great joy that has been brought to me, and almost everyone who has watched this season over the past 7 months.

Chuck Season 1 was a hell of a lot of fun. It was geeky and there was action, pretty much everything that makes great television (look at The OC, Seth MAKES that show). So I launched into Season 2 fully expecting the same as Season 1 and I got that. However it wasn't until "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" that we saw what Chuck was actually capable of. There were some terrific episodes in Season 1, however "Chuck Versus Santa Claus" blew everything that had come before it out of the water. The spy mission involved the ENTIRE cast rather than just Chuck, Sarah and Casey. The action was great, we got advancement on the romantic subplot, it was funny and it took a very cool dark turn towards the end which just made the episode. Oh and it proved Chuck is in the same universe as Die Hard, here's hoping for a Bruce Willis cameo in Season 3.

So why does this show rock? Well for many reasons. The first being it has everything good television needs. There's a serialised element as well a nicely implemented procedural part (like Pushing Daisies) which means it isn't necessary to see every episode. The show is also a deft mix of comedy, drama and romance. Not many shows are able to say that. Whilst many shows will showcase elements of all three, Chuck brings all of them to the forefront and perfected their mix in Season 2. Then there's the great cast. Everyone is superb and whilst some characters are pushed back a little compared to the main three, they all get their moments to shine. Zachary Levi is great as Chuck playing the nerd brilliant (although he might be a bit too good looking), Yvonne Strahovski is gorgeous (it's a big plus) and is tremendous as Sarah Walker playing a very thin line between dangerous and cool and yet quite soft. Then we have Adam Baldwin. One of the actors from the Joss Whedon pantheon and he continues with great strength here, whilst Casey might not be as great a character as Jayne in Fireflym the grunts that Adam Baldwin puts out makes him as near as possibly great. Then we have the other main characters, Jeffster is hilarious, Awesome and Ellie have possibly the best chemistry and the show (apart from Yvonne and Zachary) and Morgan is just...well Morgan. The cast is perhaps one of the strongest ensembles on television and works amazingly well together.

However it isn't just the main characters who are great. Chuck has an amazing ability to get a whole score of awesome actors to play guest roles. Michael Clarke Duncan (Green Mile), Melinda Clarke (The OC), John Larroquette, Carl Lumbly (Alias), Morgan Fairchild, Bruce Boxleitner (Tron), Gary Cole (Office Space, Dodgeball, Pineapple Express), Andy Richter, Andrew Vosloo (The Mummy), Dominic Monagahan (Lost), Tricia Helfer (Battlestar Galactica) and Ken Davitian (Borat). These guys were mostly just in a single episode but that's some tremendously cool casting. Then there were my personal favourites. Tony Hale (Arrested Development) played Emmet who was behind most of the trouble in the Buy More this year, Jordana Brewster (Fast and Furious) as Chuck's ex-girlfriend Jill, Scott Bakula as Chuck's father and Chevy Chase as Ted Roarke the last villain of the season. For a show that gets quite low ratings, it's an astounding cast of actors.

Then we have the last few episodes of the season. Starting with "Chuck Versus the Beef Cake" we got an awesome arc of episodes that built right into the finale. Those last batch of episodes dealt entirely with the history of the Intersect that lives inside Chuck's head and how that ties into the story. It's an immensely satisfying journey and ended with a really cool twist that I hope to see carried on into the next season. The episodes showcased just how strong the writers are, in particular show creators Josh Schwartz and Chris Fedak, the story unfolds at just the right pace with lots of action and some great comedy moments building towards a very dramatic finish.

Then there's the music. Chuck having the same music producer as The OC was always going to have great music tastes, and it really does. In fact I would go as far to say that the only show which nears it in terms of taste in music is Scrubs. The show mixes some nice classic tunes with the best of indie rock. With classic artists like Duran Duran, Twisted Sister's, MC Hammer, Toto, Jane's Addction, Iggy Pop, Rush and The Prodigy backing up Bon Iver, The National, Frightened Rabbit, Okkervil River, Bloc Party and Glasvegas it's a terrific mix.

Overall Chuck is just great fun. It's light and enjoyable entertainment for the whole family but it backs a punch when it wants to. Chuck is easily one of the most enjoyable shows on the air at the moment and whilst it might not win awards, it's a critical favourite. Any show that can maintain such a deft mix of genres with a kickass soundtrack, great geek references and near perfect casting is a show that deserves to be kept on the air. Whilst the season doesn't hit stride properly till about episode 15, even the standalone episodes are superb with again my personal favourite being "Chuck Versus Santa Claus being personal favourites but the last four are pretty much perfect as well. If you want to just relax but still be entertained Chuck is for you. Hell it's a show for everybody that everybody should watch. 9/10

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