ChuckMe Mondays – Twitter Ahoy!

In honour of the third season renewal of NBCs Chuck, and to keep up awareness of the show, ChuckMe Mondays start today. The links below will explain it in full detail. The basis idea is to rewatch the first and second season of Chuck every Monday until the third season starts and twitter about it.

#chuckmemondays has begun! Please pass these links around: http://tinyurl.com/kjdqzc http://tinyurl.com/odagmf and http://tinyurl.com/klk9nf

Chuck Me!

Christmas Chuck – Heart Warming Is A Double Edged Sword


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Chuck 2.11 – Chuck Vs Santa Claus

Heart warmed.

Nothing stokes up the emotional needs of a family life than the Christmas holiday period. Unfortunately for Sarah Walker, under the tutelage of her grifter father, Christmas has never meant much more than the annual Salvation Army scam. Chuck calls Sarah on her Scrooge attitude and tells her she is no different than anyone else and wants a true Christmas as much as the next person.

What is gratifying to see is the continuing evolution in the Chuck and Sarah relationship. The comfort level between the two is increasing each week. Sarah divulges personal information freely for the first time and Chuck, picking up on Sarah’s gyspy childhood from the last episode with her father, now steers their conversations away from mentions of normal and different and towards guiding Sarah with comments about her not being that different from anyone else under her spy persona. It is these insights by Chuck that continually win us over with his basic goodness. That plus his ongoing nerd creds. What girl can resist a Christmas day that includes egg nog, Pjs, a fake fireplace, and Twilight Zone marathons? I mean really!

Sarah’s heart warming continues later that day during a hostage situation at the BuyMore. Riffing off of Die Hard, Christmas Eve Day finds the staff of the BuyMore, Chuck’s sister Ellie, and her fiancee Devon aka Captain Awesome are all held hostage. A lone gunman has crashed his car into the BuyMore; the final destination of a high speed pursuit. During a lull in the action, Chuck gives Sarah an early Christmas gift, a charm bracelet his father had given to his mother when Ellie was born. In another of those patented quiet moments between Sarah and Chuck the dance around their cover relationship and true feelings continue. Sarah demurs at first saying Chuck should save the gift for a real girlfriend. Chuck responds with a knowing sigh and look and tells Sarah he knows.

As the episode moves through its light hearted first half there are many things to smile at. Turns out Big Mike’s cousin is a police sargeant Al. The very same police sargeant, and actor, from the first Die Hard movie. Throw in crazy Christmas antics by the rest of the BuyMore crew and the show continues to pump out the successful blend of comedy, drama, and action. Of particular is a many finger bandaged NSA toughguy Casey, whose pet name from Mom is Johnny Boy, suffered from being assigned gift wrapping duty.

Things turn dark, as in wont in Chuck’s world, and both he and Sarah pay the price for Sarah’s vow to never let anyone hurt Chuck. This is the dark side of the spy world and the two of them have some issues to work out. Sarah does not know Chuck saw what she did. When Chuck questions her on it, she lies about it. This hopefully brief dip into soap opera territory is justifiable because Chuck needs to realize that his insistence on maintaining his cover life comes with a heavy price.

This episode marks the halfway point of the season. Now we wait until Feburary for the next episode. Given the series’s track record this latest obstacle in their relationship should be resolved quickly. There was talk of the second half of Season Two turning dark. Looks like the show is hitting that promise already. Not the happy Christmas ending fans were hoping for but I applaud the show for tackling an issue that I was hoping they would back in Season One. The Chuck and Sarah relationship is moving out of the giddy,childlike state and into the awkward teenage years as the two struggle to come to grips with their feelings and how to make it work within the worlds of their cover and spy lives.

Chuck Gets Back To The Future; Dexter Lets A Dream Die

Chuck 2.10

Chuck Vs The Delorean

Gary Cole, bar none, owns the best guest role in the series entire run. With little screen time he has Cole creates the most multi-layered guest character. His mix of scoundrel and loving father with regrets was excellent and really enriched Sarah’s background. He confirmed Sarah’s thoughts about Chuck and for Chuck gave his blessing on their relationship with, ‘Lucky for me, she found the right schnook.’

And Chuck offering Sarah his jacket and then seeing her father nod his approval was just as good as a hug. It was also a symbolic handoff as Sarah’s father did the same for Sarah at the beginning of the episode.

The quiet scenes were awesome as usual. Yvonne really nailed the last scene with her father.

The only part that really grated for me was Sarah not telling Chuck about her date with her father. Even Casey knew! I mean come on. It was a cheap ploy to create tension and unnecessarily undermined Chuck. Also, the Jeff comment about seeing Lester’s birth totally fell flat and should never have been spoken.

Overall probably my second most favourite episode of the season and it was rife with 80’s callback including the Ferris Bueller music riff – ‘Oh Yeah’ by Yello. Even the General Lee makes an appearance.

So Chuck and Sarah are niftily synched up. They both realize their childhoods were less than ideal and that their families do not know what they do for a living. They are truly soulmates.

BTW Time Magazine listed Chuck as the #10 best TV show.

http://www.time.com/time/specials/2008/top10/article/0,30583,1855948_1863395,00.html

 

Dexter 2.11

I Had A Dream

So the end game between Dexter and Miguel ended with this one. An episode earlier than expected.

The fake abduction this episode bothered me more than the fake rage scene one last episode.

Miguel going down this episode surprised me. Now to tie the Skinner to the crime. And if the Skinner is caught will his reveal of Dexter having info on Freebo have any lasting consequence? Most probable the Skinner will not be brought in alive.

And, potentially, the biggest reveal could be Dexter’s slip of admitting to Deb that their Dad had an affair. If Deb finds out that the affair was with an informant and that informant is Dexter’s and his brother’s – the Ice Cream Truck Killer from Season 1 -mother are her step brothers, and that she slept with her step brother; the mind boggles how far she could run with this.

Especially since Dexter has made Deb his ‘best man.’

I think this last item could be the seeds for Season 4.

Burn Notice – Season 1 & First Two Episodes of Season 2

Burn Notice is the antithesis of Chuck.  In Burn Notice the lead character is a spy who has fallen out of favour ie burned and dumped unceremoniously in Miami.  In Chuck the lead character has been forced into the world of espionage and is desperately trying to hang onto his ‘real’ life which is being chipped away.  Here are two guys that need to compare notes.  Burn Notice soars on story, Chuck succeeds on characters.

In Burn Notice, the series hero Michael has no ID – everything has been taken away from him and Michael has been put on a short leash with the warning not to leave the city.  Naturally Michael’s quest is to have his Burn Notice revoked enabling him to return to his former life as a spy.  The show is rounded out with a great cast highlighted by fan favourite Bruce Campbell and Cagney and Lacey vet – Sharon Gless.  The show is tightly plotted – something which Chuck can never lay claim to, quickly paced, humourous, and fills the necessary action quotient. 

The weakest link of the show is the main character Michael.  He is intelligent, charming, athletic, and must have been force fed McGuyver reruns growing up as he turns everyday items in weapons or espionage tools.  He has foibles and his relationship with his mother is often hilarious.  Sadly his past is predictable with unresolved issues between the two and Michael’s father – who has passed away.  It all rings a little false though.  For a character this cool and calculating the home issues don’t quite ring true.  Something about the actor or character just doesn’t make me buy into him caring that much about his past. 

Maybe as the show progresses Michael may come to realize that the old life he is so desperately trying to go back is ultimately a shallow one and that the life he is living now offers the true things that are important.  It would be a nice payoff for him to suceed in getting his burn notice revoked and then decide to stay.  His obsession has already caused his girl friend to break up with him.

Besides that the show is a blast to watch and seeing Bruce Campbell and Sharon Gless throw out zingers is well worth watching.  In the end the show is imminently enjoyable  but also instantly disposable ie little to no replay value.

There is a upcoming Chuck/Burn Notice tie in.  Tricia Helfer who is playing Michael’s handler so far in the first two episodes of Season 2 will be showing up in a guest spot on Chuck in the same capacity.  General Beckman is becoming concerned about the growing bond between Asset Chuck and Handler Sarah.  Should be a fun installment and expect some BattleStar Galatica references to be worked in.

Reading

Been in a real reading funk lately.  Can’t seem to find anything that will hold my interest.  Just picked up Stephen King’s latest short story collection – Just After Sunset.  I am expecting the Master to get my reading restarted.

Chuck Unthaws From the CHILL Era.

Chuck 2.09 – Chuck Vs the Sensei

This one finds us with Chuck still recovering from the shock of Jill being a Fulcrum agent but the Chuck/Jill – CHILL era is rapidly becoming ancient history.

Best integration of Chuck into both storylines this year. Chuck/Morgan screen time together again, Chuck’s sadness over Pluto no longer being considered a planet – AWESOME!, Sarah’s nifty stickhandling with Casey about her feelings for Chuck, Chuck’s Force and McGuyver references – and I vote Richard Dean Anderson to play his father, Casey’s voice mail answering message – this is John Casey,grrrr!, Casey’s Firefly callback – you are seriously damaging my calm, Jeff losing it on a customer, Ellie’s wish for their father to walk her down the aisle etc, etc

All that plus Chuck seeing Casey’s pain over his Sensei going rogue to reflect on his recent Jill encounter to begin focusing outward again instead of inward. And the father storyline – it was ambiguous at best whether or not he was alive. The mother seemed more certain.

A fun show all around.

Chuck – The Jill Trilogy – Episodes 2.06 – 2.08

Chuck – the TV show about a nerdy computer tech specialist who works at a big box electronics store chain; BuyMore, while handling the intrigue and deception that abounds in the world of espionage, continues to entertain, provide laughs and tug at the heart strings.

The last three episodes force Chuck to confront the biggest wound on his psyche.  The girlfriend from the past who unceremoniously dumped him.  Jill.

The three episodes covering Chuck’s journey of resolution are titled:
2.06 – Chuck Vs The Ex
2.07 – Chuck Vs The Fat Lady
2.08 – Chuck Vs The Gravitron

The Chuck/Jill relationship – dubbed the CHILL relationship by yours truly – examined during this trilogy put fans of the show on edge as it brought the slowly building Chuck/Sarah relationship to a dead stop.  Many proclaimed that relationship permanently damaged and others cried the Chuck and Sarah dynamic forever tainted. 

My view on it is as painful as it may have been to go through this revisitation of Chuck’s worst memory it was necessary given how often Jill had been referenced throughout the show’s history.  The whole breakup between Chuck and Jill and her subsequent shacking up with Chuck’s former best friend Bryce Larkin has been the albatross around Chuck’s neck that has set him adrift for the last five years.  In order for Chuck to move forward, closure was needed on his Stanford days.  And now he has it.  And in the process learned how important Sarah was to him.  The Jill trilogy also made us re-examine one of the show’s earliest conceits about Bryce Larkin stealing Jill from Chuck.

These 3 episodes encompass the show’s strengths and weaknesses.  The charm of the cast coupled with crafty use of geek references continue to power the show past plotlines with holes in them large enough to drive,  well a Flying DeLorean through.  In the end storytelling deficiencies can be put aside because the show is so damn entertaining. 

And by the end of 2.08 our plucky Chuck has finally realized that the Jill of today is not the one he was in love with.  In true Chuck fashion he saves the day by taking the time to RTFM for the underground CIA base dubbed the Castle and uses the manual to turn the computer and security systems to his control to defeat the bad guys.  A delicious piece of geekery for anyone who has ever had to respond to a technical problem from a clueless customer.

Chuck emerges on the other side, sadder and wiser.  Throughout the CHILL arc he has led with his heart and inadvertently led his friends into danger.  This was a growth process for Chuck and going forward we can expect to see him operate as a more competent member of the Chuck, Sarah, and Casey team.

As for the Chuck and Sarah relationship there were definite strains put on it.  But this trilogy finally gave the show an opportunity for Sarah to visibly display her feelings for Chuck and how torn up she was.  She remained professional and also took the high road understanding Chuck’s desire to live a normal life.  Sarah was supportive and continued to defend Chuck’s right to have the relationship and some measure of privacy.  Kudos go to Yvonne Strahovski and her ability to convey so much through her facial expressions.  She generated a lovely mix of protection and pining.

And now we wait to see how things progress from here.  The growth process of Chuck continues as he finds his niche with the team.  As Chuck says, ‘The running, jumping, shooting things are what you guys do.  The puzzle stuff is my thing.’  The Chuck/Sarah relationship dance continues and it will be interesting to see how quickly the show lets it progress.  As things look now it is inevitable that the two succumb to their mutual feelings for one another.  I am apprehensive that false road bumps will be added such as new romantic interests etc.  At this point in the ongoing story any such devices will be blatantly obvious.  Hopefully the show has the strength to progress things.

In the meantime laughs, fun, and enjoyment are sure to continue.

Dexter & Chuck – Monday Pals

Monday nights is turning into a buddy double header night with Dexter, Chuck, and I hooking up.  And there could no two further TV shows apart in mood and content.

Dexter is a, so far, sympathetically in a dark humourous way , a serial killer who hides behind the cloak of a normal life.  Chuck is your typical nerd who lives a typical normal life behind which he does double duty as a spy.  Dexter is dark, biting, and twisted.  Chuck is goofy, fun, and romantic.  Two TV shows operating at different ends of the spectrum.

And  I love them both.  Hmmm, maybe I should be worried.

Chuck vs Tom Sawyer – Episode 2.05 – The perfect mathematical model contained in the music and lyrics of Rush’s Tom Sawyer married with the Atari video arcade game Missile Command are the keys to Chuck saving the world from World War III.  Geek references abound from BuyMore employee burnout Jeff – who 25 years ago was the World Champion Missile Command player to the introduction of Arrested Development’s Tony Hale as the new Assistant Manager Emett Millbarge to mocking references of Microsoft’s Zune. 

Ellie’s concern about Chuck slipping back into the ‘Morgan years’, a veritable wasteland of endless videogame sessions prompts Sarah and Casey to have Stanford acknowledge Chuck’s clandestine operations and grant him his Stanford diploma.  A nice touch which underlines the growing friendship on Team Bartowski highlighted by Sarah’s open proclamation that she trusts Chuck and that he will be successful in pursuing his alternative plan to deactivating an abandoned missile satellite before Casey is forced to blow it up over California.

Great use of all cast members plus a skillful blend of the BuyMore and spy worlds.

Dexter – Turning Bimenese – Episode 2.05 – Dexter struggles with balancing his newly acquired domestic duties, his growing friendship with Miguel, and answering the needs of his dark passengar.  Another solid episode with Dexter and Miguel slowly feeling their way to some form of a partnership where they act as judge and executioner.  Dexter targets a victim and satisfies his needs but for the first time I sided more with the victim than Dexter.  Not sure if this was intentional or not.

Meanwhile Dexter is struggling with his responsibilities on the domestic with almost disastrous results.
The highlight secondary or tertiary storyline deals with Dexter’s lab partner – Vincent Masuka -played brilliantly  by CS Lee as a pervert who finally realizes he has made himself into the department joke and has no friends.  He turns the department around when he buttons himself down and steps in to repudiate another department’s crime report.

Wheels are in motion and next week’s installment appears to be turning up the heat.

Next week Chuck takes a break and then launches into the much anticipated Jill trilogy.  Jill the ex-girl friend who broke Chuck’s heart.