What I Want For Chuckmas
As we get closer to January 10th, I find myself struggling with a simple question. What do I hope to see on the season premier and throughout season 3 of Chuck?
Well, those of us who frequent the NBC Chuck boards know that the question has been discussed ad-nauseum since May, when we (finally!) found out that it was going to be renewed. We probably think we know each others’ answers to that question, too.
But the thing is, when I think about what I want to see happen, I DON’T KNOW! Really.
I guess that shouldn’t seem so strange. There’s no other show about which I would even ask that question. Never has been. I never woke up on a Friday morning in 1967 saying “I want to see Captain Kirk go to the Neutral Zone and discover that Spock’s cousin is a Romulan spy.” or anything of the sort. I never walked around in 1975 saying “Gee – I hope Mary Richards finds a date in tonight’s episode.”, or in 1998 saying “Why are Ross and Rachel still squabbling??? They must get together this season!” Frankly, I didn’t care that much if they did or didn’t. And even when I did care about a character, I wouldn’t want to know some things too soon. Not once did I expect to see Adrain find the truth about Trudy’s death until the last episode of Monk aired.
And oh yeah, I couldn’t begin to guess what Rod Serling had in store for us, and the fact that I was only 8 at the time had nothing to do with that. My parents wouldn’t hazard a guess either! That would be dumb.
By that list, you can see that trying to imagine the next season, or even the course of a single episode is pretty futile, and even a little silly. It should be futile – predictability is not a good thing in a television show. And although JS meant it for something else, the attempt can indeed spoil the fun. My problem, of course, is that since I became certifiably addicted to Chuck sometime last winter, I’ve already spent too much time ruminating about the events, and I’m only human. I know some of what I want to see. I have more than a little idea about what will entertain me, and what won’t, and I start to have expectations. I turn into Kurt Cobain – “Here we are now – entertain us.” Sadly, the scenarios I’ve created for Chuck and Sarah are a form of mental “self-gratification” that should in no way substitute for the real experience.
And if you think it’s getting pretty deep in here, then you understood me correctly. ;>
I’m trying my best to go into next month with expectations that are high, but no higher than I had for any episode in season 2. That’s not easy with the rave reviews I’ve seen already! My personal history says that I’ll be blown away, and that not every episode will reach that level. In fact, my personal experience says that most episodes will induce a range of emotions, not all of them good ones. Usually the last emotion is the one I remember about an episode, until I’ve seen it a few times and seen what follows. Only after repeated viewings will I understand some of the nuances, themes and “big-picture” ideas the creators are trying to convey (Hey! What can I say? I’m slow that way). The right side of my brain watches the show first, then the left sees it later.
My personal history says one more thing. I’ll think about what I’ve seen for a week or so, trying to understand why the characters have done what they’ve done, and how they’ve interacted. “Oh!” I’ll say. “That’s how you show trust.” or “That’s how you treat a friend or lover honestly, even when honesty hurts.” . Or sometimes I see how it’s not done. I sometimes even find lessons there, usually in the form of “I wish I had been so kind/forgiving/giving of myself when that happened to me…” (or in the case of Casey, honest and forthright). Chuck, the character, will make you think that way, about your “better angels”, even when he’s not done the right thing.
It’s going to be a flood on the 10th and 11th. First impressions will be huge, and this time, long lasting. But Chuck is a show that successfully (and I contend, intentionally) makes you go back and re-evaluate early episodes in light of what you learn later. First impressions, both good and bad, are not permanent but change over time.
But good storytelling, I find, doesn’t change over time so much as it changes you. Ultimately, that’s what I want from season 3; to be changed, once again, by these characters, and to be left a little better person. No small task, that.
And if I get a laugh out of it too, that’s all gravy.