‘Shippers are Ruining the Show!

You don’t have to read many articles, blogs, or commentaries out there to know this is a common attitude.   I’d even go farther and say I believe it is the prevalent view among professional critics and media insiders.   I’m sure it will shock no one that my response is “Hogwash!”

Let’s start with a couple definitions and disclaimers.   I believe the most common definition of a ‘shipper is someone who focuses on a central relationship in any show, and considers it the determining factor in if they enjoy an episode or not.   Basically, its the only thing they really watch the show for.

By that standard, I’m not sure if I’m a ‘shipper or not (I’m still waiting on an official ruling).   I’m certainly a functional ‘shipper, I mean that’s where my sympathies lie every time.   And I have no doubt, most of you who’ve been reading my posts, long ago decided I’m a hard core fanatic ‘shipper.   But the thing is, I was drawn to the show by its light-hearted mix of action-adventure and humor.   The episodes I like best have me laughing and cheering the explosions, gun fights, and Sarah Walker kicking the stuffing out of some villain of the week.   But without apology, I require Chuck and Sarah to be in a happy spot before any of that other stuff matters at all.   That’s made for a pretty bleak season for me.   

I’m sure many of you have noticed, I’m a guy.   I watch football, war movies and science fiction.    My hobbies are strategy war games, building models, reading military history, and watching movies/TV.   I also enjoy belching, farting, and scratching myself in places to embarrass my wife.   I have a bit of a romantic side, although I did just get in trouble for forgetting Valentine’s Day (actually I would say, being very busy last week, and prioritizing it off my list; which I’m pretty sure is actually worse).    But I do enjoy romantic comedies (um, as long as they’re actually funny), and I do always root for the featured couple to get together.   I say all this, just to establish some  context.

I’ve seen several versions of the complaint that ‘shippers are making such a big deal of the romance, that all the other details of the show are being ignored.   The writers are being bombarded with questions about Chuck and Sarah (and Shaw and Hannah), while The Ring, Buy More, and Intersect 2.0 are barely mentioned.   Some of you may remember a few months back I compared the central relationship to my glasses; well now I have a better one, right from TPTB.   Chuck and Sarah are the heart of the show.   So indulge me while I beat that metaphor into the ground.   When a heart is healthy most of us pay little attention to it; its there and working, and we sure are glad its there and working, and we get on with our lives.    But when the heart is diseased we have a problem.   Suddenly we’re making extra visits to the doctor or hospital, we have to watch our diet, exorcise, and weight.   It may become the dominant concern of our life; just so we can have a life to get back to.   We probably don’t want it that way, but because of the problem, the extra concern is forced upon us.   

To put it another way, it is only a problem because it is being applied in a negative way.   When the romance is a happy fun diversion at the end of the episode;  ‘shippers, and many casual fans go awww,  go away from the episode with a warm and fuzzy feeling, and eagerly await the next installment.    Many of us are happy and eager to discuss various plot elements and mega-trends of the story arcs.    But with a negative application, the malfunctioning romance becomes the only thing many of us can focus on.    If the writers really want to be appreciated for the quality and sophistication of their writing, they need their fans to be happy to pay attention to it.

Another “anti-‘shipper” comment I’ve seen a couple versions of is quit whining and go on a real date.   hmmm.   From what I’ve seen, most of us, who are most upset with this season, are older and married.   I don’t think the level of concern with our protagonists happiness is directly correlated to our lack of real romantic experience (OK, let’s forget about a certain Valentine’s Day incident for now).     I think the real issue is investment.   There is no doubt different people get different things out of the shows they watch.    Some of us have an easier time relating to characters than others do.   Its usually a short trip from relating to investing; that is making the effort to emotionally relate to and care about the emotional well being of certain fictional characters.   In every show I enjoy, I must find at least one character I’m willing to invest in or the show quickly becomes boring to me.   That means a character must be someone I can like,  respect, relate to on some level, and hope the best for at all times.   One of the great strengths of Chuck has been a large number of characters I can invest in;    Chuck and Sarah being almost equally engaging in this way.   Neither character is perfect, perfect would be boring; but both are characters we can either see ourselves being, wish to be, or simply wish to be someone we know.    I think its virtually impossible to invest in characters like Chuck and Sarah without wanting to see them be happy together.

Which kind of leads to my last point.   I’m sure Ernie Davis will be cringing at this point; but I’m not so inclined to just sit back and let the writers tell their story their way.   In a lifetime of watching and enjoying serial television, I’ve rarely felt compelled to take issue with the whole direction a show is taking (I’ve often given up on shows in the first season, this is about shows I’ve already decided I like).   In April, May, and June of 2009; many of us filled pages and pages at the NBC forums with ideas of things we’d love to see in season 3 of Chuck.   With few exceptions, all of our ideas were better than what we’ve seen on screen this year.   It never occurred to me a show could have two such brilliant seasons, then tank so badly and so quickly.   I don’t expect any writer to follow my suggestions or pander to me; but when no fans were thinking along the same lines the writers were,  it perhaps should have been a little warning we weren’t going to be on the same page.    For the rest of my thoughts on that subject, go back to my previous post (The Right to Complain).

-Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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129 Responses to ‘Shippers are Ruining the Show!

  1. Fake Empire says:

    Well-thought blog Dave. As a ‘shipper, I have said all along that C&S do not have to get together on my timetable. I’m not that narcissistic or foolish. Furthermore, all I hope for is for their story to be told with integrity. While I’m not ready or willing to say that’s what TPTB are not doing, the ending to the Mask was as contrived and forced as anything I have ever seen. I’m not giving up on my two favorite characters; like you, I am invested in them. However, I wish they would please tell the story without repetitive triangular angst for angst’s sake.

    To redirect and focus the holes in this season’s storytelling on the shippers and their frustration is myopic and ignores the issue of strong storytelling. Actually, it’s a classic spy move of misdirection. Please forgive me if my post reads negatively, but 2.5 seasons (to date) of geometry has worn on me.

    • Fake Empire says:

      Also Dave: you’ve got some serious amends to make re: Valentine’s Day huh? Whew!
      😉

      • atcdave says:

        Well, some flowers and Reeses, and she’s at least stopped crying. I am a moron.

      • Fake Empire says:

        Hey, my friend . . . please take this as coming from someone who is the lifetime president of the mistake-makers club: we all have moronic moments, some of which are huge. I’ve made enough mistakes for my and someone else’s lifetimes. We’re human. It’ll take work, as you already know and are doing, but the repair will be made, and things will look up! My heart goes out to you both.

        🙂

      • atcdave says:

        At least I’m trying to clean up my mess!

      • Fake Empire says:

        Yep!!

    • Lucian says:

      Great post Dave. They did a great job for two seasons. It isn’t about “angst’; its about characters we root for and telling a good story. Hopefully they can find their mojo again sometime soon. I get the sense they are saying to the fans, “okay, you want Chuck and Sarah together, fine; but we’re going to make it really hurt before we get there.” That was/is an ill-conceived strategy if they wanted to build viewership. It seems like they were not sure how to get past what they have done in OC (which I have never watched). They may not know how to write a more adult relationship.

      • atcdave says:

        Thanks for some good comments Lucian. I think you’re right about it not being “about” the angst. We’ve noted some is unavoidable; a decent guy living a dangerous double life, keeping secrets from friends and family; just screams angst. But I think in every way, Chuck’s relationship with Sarah should be the least angst filled relationship on the show. To different degrees, they share that double life; I think it would be far more fun if they were the one thing they each could always count on.

        Your thought about them making it hurt before we get there rings true. Almost like the resent having to finally hook them up. Doesn’t really work if the audience’s median age is anything north of 15.

  2. Mike B says:

    Dave, great article. TPTB spent 2 seasons developing the Chuck and Sarah relationship. Season 2 started with First Date and ended with the Ring and in between there was Chuck and Sarah growing closer and closer, with the exception of some obstacles along the way(Jill, Cole). They wanted you to be invested in the relationship! Guess what? It worked!
    Now they wonder why there is an uproar over the current direction of the show. We are half way through the the original 13 and we have got nothing that resembles the show that I got hooked on. They promised a lot of romance this season but have yet to deliver. The PLI’s are not the romantic story arc I signed up for, because in s1/s2 they wanted me to care about the Chuck and Sarah romantic story arc and I do. If that makes me a “shipper” so be it.

  3. Faith says:

    Inspired post Dave!

    I agree that there are varied definitions of shipper. For my part, I consider it like being a woman, just because I’m a woman doesn’t mean I don’t like action/adventure/sports. I do. Although I also can often be found reading romance novels in a bundle.

    Just because I watch (and I do watch) specifically for the romance it’s not the only part that appeals to me. But it is the part that draws me best. The other part? Sarah Walker’s psyche. There just isn’t another character in television that is anywhere near as complex, hopeful and strong in television. You may get one of the 3 (not just 3 but for this purpose we’ll stick with these 3) but you won’t find it in a package so aptly done and so brilliantly acted. And although on any given repeat I find myself fast forwarding through the buymore antics it doesn’t mean I don’t appreciate the comedy. (It just gets annoying sometimes—Lester and Jeff ARE creepy lol).

    In any case, I think where you and I divide is where this show is headed. I must admit I am an optimistic person by nature but I consider myself more of a realistic optimist and although the direction the show has not been one I would personally prefer I have faith (ha) that things are not only —not as bad as it seems—it’s also bound to improve very shortly.

    Although as a sidenote, the repetitive PLIS and the idea that these two aren’t together yet—while every once in awhile that annoys me, I have to say I don’t feel the nearly as aggravated with that as when the characters step out of their own zones and boundaries. I hate it when characters are out of character because I think to tell a good story it’s far too easy to just say, “oh the circumstances made them act out of character”—no that’s a convenient excuse. There needs to be a loyalty and fidelity to who they were and who they are growing to be because once that’s gone then they no longer become the characters I want to root for. And that’s really when the show is no longer fun for me and I will turn it off.

    • Jason says:

      Sarah or Chuck – Who is to blame?

      Given the recent CS angst, I started to wonder why in S1/2, I gave chuck a free romance pass with Lou / Jill, yet hated the Bryce / Cole arcs. Here is my theory, I gave chuck a free pass because I felt sarah could have chuck whenever she wanted. But with the Prague scene and events leading up to it, as well as her tortured portrayal this season, I know sarah wants chuck now too.

      Had sarah acted romantically for near 3 episodes (3.5 thru 3.7) with Shaw, I would be up in arms and called ‘gamechanger’, CS could never be the same. The reason I never would give Sarah a free pass, is because I watched sarah keep chuck at arms length for 40 episodes while rooting for Chuck to figure things out. But, starting in episode 3.5 thru the end of 3.7, chuck actively returned hannah’s advances, i.e. he was interested, same as Lou and Jill. The difference in S3, I know sarah wants chuck, matter of fact, seemingly far more than chuck wants sarah. Hence, I’ve pulled his free pass.

      So, I’m sorry to say, the show is at that gamechanger point, but it isn’t sarah’s loveless responses to shaw’s rather perverse seduction end of 3.7, it is chuck’s ‘seemingly’ real responses to hannah’s rather real seduction of chuck. He did it already. Any sarah retaliation at this point is going to hurt to watch, but don’t blame her, chuck already moved on. Shaw’s spoiler line of “You had your chance and blew it”, whether meant to describe CS or not, well, quite honestly, that is the way I see it too.

      That’s what’s wrong with season 3, it isn’t about chuck drinking whisky, or burning marks, or lying to ellie, or shooting guns, or even choosing to kill or not kill, or some mythical lame spy story, it is about what Chuck has already done. The last ten minutes of 3.7 pointed out to me graphically what snuck by me the last 3 episodes, Chuck moved on.

      So unless some elaborate ‘con’ is on, which is unlikely, the ‘unique’ love story started in S1/S2 is over. Chuck / Sarah’s relationship angst is now being spun and justified by media professionals thru comparisons to the office, the OC, Dawson’s Creek, Friends, or whatever other trash they pick. Talking to the ‘mythology’, TPTB already had the franchise on a pretty cool one going, unfortunately the show walked away from it’s mythology and instead embraced the trite tried and true approaches of the past.

      • Fake Empire says:

        Great post. Definitely, the charm of the CS love story has taken a very serious beating. Chuck’s actions toward Sarah have been a head-scratcher. I understand the choice of the greater good in Prague; frankly, a life on the run wild have been miserable to boot. And yes, Sarah has not reciprocated Chuck’s profession of love, but she left the door open for relationship repair at the end of Three Words. A guy that much in love would work on repairing the relationship versus taking the easy way out and hopping into the arms of the next woman that have him positive attention. Are his ego and self-esteem truly that fragile? Ugh!

      • Fake Empire says:

        Confidence in his emerging spy skills: definitely. Confidence regarding Sarah’s feelings: not as certain and open for debate.

      • atcdave says:

        Chuck’s actions since Three Words are one of the more troubling elements of the season to me. I understand Ernie’s comments (“He told her he loved her, and she beat him with a stick!”), but as you observed, their final comments were hopeful, about fixing their mess. Deciding from there to move on is a total head scratcher to me. That’s why the conspiracy theories work for me. They at least try to make sense of some bizarre behavior.

      • Faith says:

        I have a tendency to blame Chuck because I think, “you idiot!” so often. He’s too easily discouraged and often has a tendency to take the easy way out (moving on).

        But I have to argue against they’re over one another. Signs indicate that they aren’t. And probably will never be.

      • weaselone says:

        I think you’re being a little harsh towards Chuck. From his perspective things are over with Sarah. He’s confessed his love to her and she rebuffed it. Although she later agreed to work on things, she’s drawn the line at friends. Chuck continues to try to make amends by including her in family activities, but we’ve had no indication that Sarah’s really tried to meet Chuck half way. Chuck’s invited Sarah to dinner with his family, there’s no indication Sarah’s reciprocated by inviting him to connect with her outside of the job. Also, Sarah’s entire attitude seems to have shifted to that of an overprotective mother as opposed to a close friend or potential lover. Does Chuck have to carry the relationship and repair the damage for both of them? Sarah said “we” would fix the mess, so far it looks like Chuck’s been left to fend for himself just as he was in the courtyard.

        Chuck thinks it’s over. Prague happened six months ago and whatever his feelings for Sarah it’s pretty clear to him at this point that Sarah’s just not that in to him. He’s said what he needed to say to her, given her the opportunity to reconnect and spent his time despondent, glued to a couch eating cheese balls, growing an unreasonable amount of facial hair and avoiding the bathtub.

        It’s not as though he was in a committed relationship with Sarah and then suddenly fell for Hannah. They connected on the plane, he smiled when she followed him to the Buy More, he ignored her for all of 3.6 and things only really began moving in 3.7. Even in 3.7, he gave Sarah a veto over his blossoming relationship with Hannah. All she had to do was say no, a word which we know she’s capable of saying because she’s said it before, repeatedly to most of Chuck’s advances. This time she says yes. So what do you call a guy who for noble reasons chooses not to run away with his girlfriend six months ago, comes back, confesses his love, tries to make amends, attempts to reconnect and when he finds another girl he could be interested in gives his ex one more chance to get back together? A womanizer? A cad? A guy who jumps on any random brunette that comes along? Not by any definition I’ve ever seen. This type of action is generally deemed to be healthy behavior.

    • atcdave says:

      Actually Faith I am optimistic about where the show is heading; its the journey I’m not happy with! Seriously, we have every reason to believe by 3.13, at the latest, we will know Chuck and Sarah are together. The rub is, I’m very disappointed in both characters right now, and I’m not sure how much I’ll care when they get there.

      • Faith says:

        Actually that’s exactly what I meant in that what really aggravates me the most…

        Ok so they get together in the end but in the meantime all the actions they take are not only outside of the realm of possibilities it’s also completely unbelievable and character damaging. Journey and destination go hand and hand.

        However, apart from probably Mask (and I’ve already expressed all my thoughts on that), I didn’t feel like they were acting all that out of character. There are still signs that point to how they feel for one another and what they’re willing to do about that. I believed and felt that what it is they felt for one another and who they are continued to grow much like it has in previous seasons and perhaps even more real because this time around the hurts are deeper and the stakes are higher.

        I didn’t have a problem (I understand it I mean) with Chuck turning down Sarah in Pink Slip (I have grievance on how he explained it in that particular epi, but that explanation was expanded in 3 words so I’m mollified) but I did find fault with the implied interest they portrayed as it relates to Chuck and Hannah in First Class. That to me was the most OOC and implausible and aggravating scenario there is because not that long ago he told Sarah “I love you.” If it’s a question of moving on…well that still pisses me off too because it’s obvious they haven’t. But then you go into Nacho Sampler and it was obviously a friendship and nothing more (so I ranted for no reason). Then Mask (at face value)…

      • atcdave says:

        I agree with most of your comments Faith. I wasn’t happy with the reset from the start; but Three Words should have fixed things. Things start to come unglued in First Class (making eyes at Hannah shortly after telling Sarah he loves her, what kind of flake is our boy?). Again, the conspiracy theory seems appealing.

      • JC says:

        That’s my worry, I already feel myself not caring if they end up together or not. And I know I’m jumping to conclusions. But I can’t help thinking we’ll get some variation of PLIs and angst next season.

      • Faith says:

        I don’t necessarily think the same things keep on happening, I mean they do (obviously Lou-Jill) but the matter at which it happens and the end result of such an even are completely different.

        In Nemesis we went from it being entirely possible for Sarah to abandon Chuck and run away with Bryce to nowhere near possible for that to happen in Lethal Weapon. There’s growth there, an emergence of her femininity/humanity and her emotions.

        But you fast forward to mask and if we’re supposed to believe that she’s moved on, etc…she basically just nullified all that growth that she experienced in 2 seasons plus! If it’s not a con it’s definitely OOC. But in the meantime like I said, I don’t necessarily have a problem with the “repetitive nature” per say, it definitely gets old but so long as they handle it properly (read: don’t make me hate the same characters I once rooted for) and they continue to grow then bring back PLIs in season 4. They better have no chance in hell though!

    • Fake Empire says:

      Faith: I agree with your comments on Sarah’s complexity. I haven’t seen a character ever come close to her many layers. Because of my fascination with psychology, I often find myself trying to analyze Sarah – and the other characters too, but mainly Sarah.

      • Faith says:

        love psychology as well.

        But Sarah Walker is just indefinable lol because she is also ever evolving (though not necessarily on a forward progression—regression seems to be here most favored defense mechanism lol).

      • Fake Empire says:

        Indefinable – definitely! Trying to figure her out is like nailing Jell-O to a wall.

        Too much regression, right? lol

        Now, onto diagnosis . . . 😉

      • JC says:

        Faith..
        I probably didn’t explain myself well. Its not the use of PLIs that bothers me. Its the use of the same type of PLI. Anything but a normal brunette with a secret and super spy that makes Chuck feel inadequate. If PLIs were used to show a real threat to whole C/S relationship, I’m all for it. But by basically using the same ones with some variations it feels like artificial speedbump not an organic one. I hope that made sense.

      • Faith says:

        Perfect sense.

        But isn’t the fact that they’re contrasts an indication of how far fetched the connection really is when it comes down to it? Maybe that’s what they’re shooting for.

        I mean if you think about it it’s obvious that Chuck’s “type” is tiny, brainy brunettes (that can make a sandwich lol) and yet he fell for Sarah who is not only not short, she’s blond and probably doesn’t know how to make a sandwich (her apt has no kitchen! lol). It’s like a nonverbal way of saying, “no chance in hell.” Because when it comes down to it, it’s not a matter of type, it’s a matter of emotion. Although I agree that if they had Chuck fall for a blond and he still chose Sarah it would make for a better statement…but I personally would be seriously peeved at the similarity.

  4. JC says:

    We’re more than half way through the original 13 episode season and I haven’t seen why The Ring is worse than Fulcrum. Capt Awesome acting weird and Chuck always disappearing, oh Chuck’s got a new g/f. Sure there’s been some character growth professionally but on a personal level C/S are still acting like 16yr olds. Can you really blame people for focusing on the C/S when more or less its been the main focus this season so far.

    I remember Routh saying he would be hated. I find myself laughing because at this point my feelings on him and the season as a whole is apathy. I’ve found myself caring less and less about what happens as the season has progressed.

    • John says:

      I agree with you. If I had to sum up season 3 so far in one word, it would be apathy. Come on JS&CF, show me something to make me change my mind.

  5. OldDarth says:

    Serendipity! My concluding article on PLIs:

    http://tinyurl.com/yksra3c

  6. herder says:

    For me the most difficult part of this year is absence of personal connections in all the relationships, not just Chuck and Sarah. Looking at this year alone, why would you believe that Morgan is Chuck’s best friend, where is the closeness between Chuck and Ellie, where is Awesome’s absolute confidence in Chuck (think the Ring when he was fine when he heard that Chuck said to stall the wedding), and why would you beleive that Chuck and Sarah are meant to be together.

    This is a show that was on the bubble, that only got an order for 13 episodes, we are more than halfway through this already. Why TPTB would intentionally write half a season that sucks the heart out of the show is beyond me.

    Before this season I would not have been able to do up a list of my 5 least favorite episodes, now I can; Crown Vic, Third Dimension, Beefcake, Pink Slip and the Mask. In everyone the Chuck/Sarah relationship is pretty much absent or the characters are acting OOC. They seem to have taken the parts of my least favorite episodes and made it the theme of the first half of this year. For those who would say that those episodes are all Chuck/Sarah relationship episodes, among my favorites are Delorean and Dream Job, hardly shipper favorites.

    I realize that the writers want to have a really big finish and are building to what I hope is a strong run similar to the last six episodes of last year. But I am nervous about their ability to deliver enough of an up finish to make up the down start. Furter their reset has made me nervous about their interest in making that big finish stick. I’m at a point where I hope for the best but am fearful of the worst, I know some will say that that is good story telling, but I see it as doing damage to the characters in aid of a big payoff. Ultimately for people who all summer and fall insisted that it wasn’t the destination, it is the journey, they seem to have changed it to the desitnation will justify the journey.

    • atcdave says:

      I agree about the weakness of all the main relationships this season. The warm family and friends sort of gatherings, Chuck’s devotion to his sister and Morgan, even Jeff and Lester’s unusual friendship; have all been enjoyable elements that seem painfully neglected at this point.

    • weaselone says:

      I agree with the gaping hole caused by the lack of personal connections. I think that’s intentional and honestly it goes so far at some points as to be grotesquely and transparently manipulative. I always recall the scene where Chuck is explaining to Ellie about Paris and why he didn’t tell her. Awesome comments about Chuck’s lie being “cold.” Of course, Chuck’s lie is pretty much the exact opposite. He can’t tell Ellie he was on a spy mission to Paris. The lie both protects Ellie from the spy world and salves her hurt feelings about not being told about the trip.

      Don’t pick on Crown Vic. I love that episode.

    • amyabn says:

      I think the strain on the personal relationships is exactly the point. Chuck needs to embrace what is important in his life-the people that he loves, who makes what he does worth it. I think Chuck and Sarah will have their own epiphanies very soon and see what a toll their “go it alone” mentalities have wrought. Sarah herself said it helps if you know why you are doing what you are doing (sorry, a bad paraphrase).
      Chuck threw himself on the path to becoming a spy and he saw that to get there, he had to do things a certain way. I am hopeful he will see the value in the Team Bartowski way and regain a bit of himself in the process. Doing things Shaw’s way has alienated him which has put us where we are now.

      • herder says:

        I think that it is very deliberate, in Operation Awesome we have Chuck making the comment about friends and family. Since then the story has put almost every friend and family relationship that Chuck has in jeapordy. Strangely the sole exception seems to be Casey, although the lie about Emmitt’s death by Casey could end out making that one strained too when it comes out. The writers are purposely building Chuck up to a crisis point.

        The question to my mind is does he have to resolve them himself, proving to Sarah that he is the same person that he was prior to intersect 2.0, and winning her back. Or does she reconcile with him and together they put things right with family and work. In other words does he have to show her the way to the middle where they can both be together and be spies or do they get to discover that middle together.

        My gut feeling tells me that he will have to do it alone all the while beleiving that she has moved on with Shaw. Put another way he will have to do it for him not them.

      • atcdave says:

        I think you’re right herder about the way all the key relationships have been undermined; and rebuilding them is likely a major point of the next few episodes. But I hope its not a solo effort. I would like to see Sarah offer him the encouragement of her experience and honest feelings. Perhaps he’ll have to find part of the way back himself, but I really don’t want to sit through many more episodes like Mask.

      • amyabn says:

        I feel like Chuck has bought into Shaw’s version of how to become a spy, which is what I was trying to describe last night. Shaw says you check of these blocks and you are a spy. Oh by the way, you have to give up x, y, and z to do it my way.
        I hope his realization of the “how” is soon. I don’t think the method changes his motivation on why he is becoming a spy. Does that make sense?

      • atcdave says:

        That makes sense Amy. Perhaps the punch will be his rejection of Shaw’s methodology.

  7. lizjames says:

    The anti-shipper crowd would be right if a) The spy drama aspect of the show has ever been great. It hasn’t. We’re not talking LaCarre here. 2) The Buy More antics are great. They are not. Sometimes they are hiliarous, sometimes they are just creepy and, sometimes, like this year, they are literally non-existent. 3) John Casey could carry a show. Well, actually, he can, but he’s never allowed to. 4) The Chuck-Morgan bromance is compelling. It ain’t.

    The one and only thing that constantly pays off is Chuck and Sarah. One, because the two actors who play them have terrific opposites-attract chemistry. And the writers did a fabulous job growing and maturing the romance over the first two seasons.

    Then along comes season 3 and what happens: Not only are the characters NOT together as a couple, they aren’t even on the screen much together. It is just STUPID.

    Now I will say this: I do, honest and truly, understand why Chuck and Sarah are not together just now. It’s a business decision. When they sold NBC a show reset to get a Season 3 renewal, they basically said: Let’s do the (short, 13 episode) arc from their version of scratch: Spy meets Spy (hence the breakup of boy meets girl in Prague) and fall in love. So from a business point of view, I get it.

    However, the execution has not only been loveless (duh!), it’s been joyless. Worst of all, they forgot about the chemistry between the two lead actors. Burying that dazzling light under a bushel this year isn’t an affrort to shippers, it’s TERRIBLE business. And, frankly, since this is a business, that’s why it has been stupid to mimimize Levi and Strahovski’s on-screen time.

    Finally, let’s jump ahead to E13, when the shippers get their happy ending. What are are going to do–I GUARANTEE it–is essentially negate the two most controversial aspects of The Ring. Sarah will again be given a choice between work (staying with Shaw to help run whatever mission he on) and love (staying with Chuck). And this time she will unambiguosly choose Chuck. And when Chuck chooses Sarah again, he we repeat the clunky, “Will you do me the honor of…” speech. The only thing unknown is whether he repeats his “go on a vacation with me” line or goes for broke and asks Sarah to marry him. Either way, she says yes.

    It turns out that Ernie Davis was right: Ring was a disaster that they had to erase in order to move the story along. It just took too long, has moved too erratically, isn’t telling us anything we didn’t already know about Chuck and Sarah and squandered a dozen or so episodes by minimizing Levi and Strahovski on screen together.

    The shippers may be crazy, but TPTB are awful business people.

    • herder says:

      Liz, my other worry about 3.13 is that they are going to put them together in a sort of rabbit out of a hat way that will leave us scratching our heads like with the end of the Mask. If they can break them up twice in a season in a way that leaves the audience saying why would this character do that (ask Chuck to live a life on the run, both failing to mention that they are doing what they are doing because they love them), what is to stop them from doing the same thing when putting them back together.

      • atcdave says:

        Just to finish your thought; that gives us very little confindence in what S4 will look like. I’m so torn on if I even want to see one or not. My theory is that this season will end where it should have started. But can they do a whole season without doing more violence to the characters? I thought so after two seasons, I’m not so sure after 2.5.

      • lizjames says:

        atcdave-
        Oh, I have no doubt. End the show at the end of this year. If I thought a season 4 could be a season of Lucy-Desi squabbling, I’d be thrilled. But they’ll yo=yo the characters into more breakups in season 4 than Casey has grunts.

        No matter how dark episodes 8-12 get, I’ll hang around now because I see what they are doing (I think). If I am wrong, it’ll be bad. But I’ll watch the rest of season 3 because there will be a few show shows in the arc where they let Strahovski and Levi do their thing. And I’ll be fascinated to see how they weave in Baldwin.

        But I have ZERO confidence in a season 4.

      • Faith says:

        I see season 3 and 4 going much like the Office did. Season 3 is this angsty and frustrating thing but season 4 is the best ever.

        Well it might be wishful thinking lol.

      • cholitau says:

        Liz, TPTB still continbuing the PLI yoyo for another season would make no sense to me… even though by the way they’ve operated this season, i wouldn’t be surprised. In my opinion they have exhausted all the possible scenarios they could use to keep C&S appart. If they won’t be in a relationship with each other i don’t see why they would decide to be in one with others, unless they are really over each other. We know they will never be over each other. But as i sad, if they do bring ing other PLIs and actually hook them up with them i won’t be surprise, but i will be so disappointed.
        I feel llike Dave in that S3 wil end in what it should have started with. I don’t see how TPTB would imagine that s4 can be a repeat of s3, but they need to go back to what S1 and S2 were, but with C&S together.

      • atcdave says:

        I do believe there is a master plan or outline for the show, and I do believe it involves Chuck and Sarah together from S4 on. My main concern is if JS’s definition of “together” is remotely the same as mine.

    • Fake Empire says:

      Wow, liz: good points. Never thought about it just from a pure business perspective, but it makes complete sense. Why not maximize your greatest asset: ZL and YS’s chemistry? Even our resident genius Shaw pushes his assets to perform.

      • atcdave says:

        To follow up my master plan comment from above; I think the problem may be, Levi/Strahovski have far better chemistry than anticipated. Ideally, TPTB would have recognized this quickly, and modified their original outline to feature them on screen together more often than originally planned (not to say it was a problem earlier, just that it sure is in S3). Instead, they’ve chosen to follow a pre-ordained path that doesn’t make best use of their actual resources.

  8. Stef62 says:

    Have to say that I pretty much agree with everything you said in the article, and the other guys opinions

    Mine is that seeing that we’re concentrating on the ‘shipper’aspect of the show, and the relationships that currently exist.

    I have to say that I actually think the C/H pairing actually work on screen. The S/S pairing however is cringeworthy, with no chemistry of any sort between the two.

    I’ve watched s1/s2 for the ‘feelgood factor’ that they had. However they have taken a charming show, and turned into a charmless one.

    • John says:

      Yeah, the “feelgood factor” is what got me hooked on Chuck in the first place. If I wanted to feel mad/sad/depressed/etc. after watching a show, I would turn on the news instead.

    • Fake Empire says:

      Yeah, as you guys said: it’s been MIA and sorely missed. I liked the end of Operation Awesome because of the dinner scene. It reminded me of the Tango epi and the charm of S1. Actually, that song “Bears” from that scene has quickly become one of my favorites.

    • atcdave says:

      I’ll ditto all of that. I’m a sucker for warm and fuzzy, and that end scene of Operation Awesome was the only time we’ve seen it this season. It makes this just an entirely different show (and much less enjoyable one to me).

      • cholitau says:

        This scene was so great… and Zac and Yvonne are so amazing in it showing their emotions. Too bad not long after that we got Mask. Here’s to hoping for a con!

  9. Jason says:

    After seasons 1 & 2, which I watched in jan 2010 for the first time, I thought the spy plot was a parody of real spy stuff, sort of like the spy who shagged me, if taken seriously, the spy stuff is the lamest in all of tv, really, the CS relationship I thought to be a parody of a real one too, hot blond body guard, geeky nerd computer guy, blond kicks everyone’s butt in sight, gets hit on near every show by some babe magnet, yet only has eyes for the nerd, who has absolutely no idea what to do about it, the whole thing is a parody of a parody, yet it was really warm and funny, with all the side plots being comic in nature revolving around those two – none of it had to make that much sense, everything was ok at the end of the day

    now I have no idea how to explain the show, it sure is not what I described above????

    • Faith says:

      This is probably unfair but Chuck was fluff. It’s this fun thing where the stories are not to be taken seriously but it’s enjoyable and it’s fun and you get hooked.

      Chuck is now no longer fluff. It’s all at once serious and complicated. It’s not dark so much as no longer fluffy in its light-heartedness. I love fluff. I’m the girl that won’t watch Avatar but will go and watch Leap Year. This year’s Chuck…although I like the dark aspect and the serious aspect I do miss the fluff. I miss the light-hearted scenes where Sarah dresses provocatively to entice Chuck out of Lou’s arms and where the family is the soul of the show. Now it’s the side piece.

      Still like Dave said you can’t really blame them. They sold the show to the network with the idea that it will go more mainstream and more serious. “Stakes are higher” are the key words. Thus far, I don’t necessarily find the stakes higher so much as the characters are more serious. But even that I can live with so long as they stay in character.

  10. cholitau says:

    All this talk about shippers ruining the show is crazy, when TPTB have been selling us the CS relationship from the beginning… and why mask makes no sense.
    To me the problem start the moment Sarah doesn’t tell Chuck she had decided to stay with him in Ring… she had just told him the day before she was leaving to work with Bryce… then Chuck ends up reintersected, she never tells him she was planing on staying and talk things out, but decides running away is the best option. Chuck being Chuck can’t just do that… but then they don’t explain to each other they love each other. But by this point we are used to C&S not really communicating (but we r dying for them to finally do it and they need to!). Then comes S3 and more non-talking, but we see C&S sharing looks and smiles, Sarah knows Chuck loves her, Carina tells Chuck Sarah loves him,and we have hope…and then comes First Class, Nacho Sampler, and Mask and we areleft thinking WTH!!! This is why i want to hang on the con theory because it’s the only thing that could explain what’s happening here. If there is a con… i is being so poorly executed for the viewrs.
    I understand the reason for the changes, and Liz brought up good points on the business perspective, but they have managed to kill the magic this season. If things look up from here on and onto S4 i don’t believe i would ever re-watch any of this season’s eps up to now.

  11. cholitau says:

    On an unrelated note… i’m sitting at home watching the Winter Olympics… dreaming of becoming an Olympic Snowboarder when i grow up (if i ever learn to snowboard), and watching all these commercials. I see some for Parenthood, i see them for Leno… but i don’t see any for Chuck. Shouldn’t they be promoting like crazy right now?

    • herder says:

      I don’t think that you’ll see too many promos for Chuck, maybe one or two next monday then a few on the saturday/sunday before the return. NBC’s priority seems to be new shows(Parenthood, Marriage Ref), then debuting shows (Celebrity Apprentice) then moving shows (L&O, L&O SVU) and lastly returning shows (so far I think only Biggest Loser has had a promo). Chuck falls into that last category and so isn’t likely to get much love.

      • atcdave says:

        I think you’re right about the promos herder. There may be an additional problem of not knowing quite what to do with Chuck. My guess would be, 3.08 will be very dark, except maybe for a small sign of hope right at the end. How do you excite a depressed fan base with that? To you reveal the bright spot at the end? To you show Sarah and Shaw kissing, and Chuck punching Shaw? do you show an extended preview including some warm Chuck/Sarah moments that may reveal something big? It strikes me as a strategic PR problem.

      • herder says:

        They could do a promo starting “this spring on Chuck…” have a bunch of action sequences, a bit of comedy and then maybe a sweet moment between Sarah and Chuck using something like the “you’re so sweet” line from Sensei.

        But they don’t because they want people to have the reaction that they are having now. They want people worried about Shaw and Hannah, they like that people are invested in the show. They just don’t want anyone to criticize them for it. Which is why the blame the shippers attitude is so frustrating. They purposely poked the bear with a pointy stick then are shocked, shocked when it gets angry.

      • John says:

        What type of promo NBC chooses to air will determine the ratings for 3.08. A depressing one and the episode could pull in another 2.2 or worse.

      • atcdave says:

        I think you’re right John. The show is in a precarious position with slipping ratings and POed fans. They need to show something that looks fun; stay away from the Sarah/Shaw stuff. It makes my stomach turn every time I see it, and I’m sure enough casual viewers feel the same. The network has to be concerned; even if JS isn’t.

  12. sirissac says:

    As I consider this to be the place where the Chuck “experts” live, I am hoping someone can give me some guidance. I decided to check out the show for the first time in January and after watching the pilot was hooked! Seasons 1 and 2 took me about 6 days (at the expense of my job and my family!) and I was convinced it was the two best seasons of TV I have ever seen. So much so that I have watched both seasons, as well as season 3, two more times (job, family, who needs those, right?). Season 3 definitely took on a different tone which I didn’t necessarily consider to be better or worse, just different. Then came The Mask. While I understand, I think, what the writers are trying to do it left me with an awful taste in my mouth. Now we have the three week break which is thankfully down to 12 days, and like so many I find myself wondering how to get my Chuck “fix”. This site is wonderful as I love the insight and conjecture (the NBC board, not so much) but I found myself earlier today heading down the road of watching seasons 1 and 2 yet again. That is where my dillema hit. I can’t do it. For some reason after The Mask seasons 1 and 2 just don’t seem real anymore. It feels like everything I thought I knew, at least about Chuck and Sarah, was thrown away. So please Chuck experts….HELP! I need something to get me back in a positive frame of mind. I hate to think I can no longer enjoy the two best seasons of TV I have seen because of 15 minutes!

    • Faith says:

      I recommend scouring the youtube Chuckies.

      This is a beauty.

      And this

      This.

      It’s a good variation on re-watching the epis coz you get a song with it.

      Oh and almost forgot this!

      • sirissac says:

        Thank you for the links Faith! That helps a little. I think I’ll try watching again later today. Sadly, I think you could look for those Chuck Sarah moments throughout all of season 3 and probably only have a 20 second video. I really hope they are coming back soon!

    • John says:

      I have no problem re-watching season 1 and 2. How do I do it? I trick my brain into believing that season 3 was just a bad dream.

      • atcdave says:

        Too funny! That may be the best long term solution, or at least convince yourself S3 was only 3.14-3.19!

    • atcdave says:

      I share your pain! Seriously, I have the same problem right now. All I can offer is, it will probably feel better after we see how things play out in the next few weeks. Chuck and Sarah will figure things out.
      I don’t know if we’ll ever see the first two seasons the same. I hope when Chuck and Sarah get their current stupidity behind them, the characters and their history won’t be totally destroyed; but right now we don’t know. In time, it may be possible to forget S3, and just enjoy the two outstanding seasons that came before.

      By the way, welcome aboard! We love having new voices here, and new fans. Sorry you stopped by at a bleak period; for now I’m hoping we can pass the time discussing what’s going on.

      • atcdave says:

        Also, try some fan fiction. fanfiction.net has a lot of stuff for Chuck, including writers you’ll recognize from the NBC forums. Some of it is a lot of fun; and fans want to write stories fans will enjoy.

      • sirissac says:

        Thank you for the warm welcome! I hope you are right about feeling better after the next few weeks, but it seems as if no one has a great feel about where TPTB are going with things, at least in the short term. That is a good thing though I guess because it brings about all the wonderful creativity and brilliant deductions of all the contributors to this site! Please keep it coming!

    • cholitau says:

      Hi sirissac! Don’t dispair. Chuck will be back soon and it will be interesting to see where the writers go from Mask.

      In the meantime… check out what Faith posted. I will do the same!

    • JLR says:

      I feel you. I said the same in a previous thread… Season 3 has taken (from me) all legitimacy from the previous 2 seasons. It’s like I never did know these characters after all, since nothing is real. Even if we see “resolution” this season, I am supposed to believe it? That’s the ultimate problem w/ the Mask, IMO. It makes me uneasy that ANYTHING I see really matters; it can all be turned upside down on a dime. Such a shame; the first 2 seasons are barely watchable for me.

    • Zsjaer says:

      “I can’t do it. For some reason after The Mask seasons 1 and 2 just don’t seem real anymore. It feels like everything I thought I knew, at least about Chuck and Sarah, was thrown away. ”

      u just described all of my feelings since this Season started. (:

  13. Faith says:

    Hey I just realized the title says “Shippers are ruining the show” (honestly I read that as Shippers are running the show lol so I was actually surprised at the content).

    Anyways here are more things the shippers are to be blamed for:
    – shippers are responsible for Shaw’s acting
    – shippers are responsible for global warming
    – shippers are responsible for the snow storms

    LMAO

    • Mike B says:

      You can’t pin Shaw’s acting, or lack there of, on me…lol

      • atcdave says:

        that’s not what I heard!

      • Mike B says:

        Hey, that’s why I never undestood all the hoopla over casting BR as Shaw. I didn’t like him as Superman and I like him even less as Shaw. A cardboard cut out would be just as good and allow them to spend the money he’s costing them on more entertaining aspects of the show.

        Mike B., apologies. This got caught up in the spam filter. – joe

    • Mike B says:

      I never understood all the hoopla over casting BR as Shaw. I didn’t like him as Superman and I like him even less as Shaw. A cardboard cut would do just as well and save money that could be spent on more entertaining aspects of the show.

  14. Merve says:

    With all due respect, I find it difficult to agree with a lot of things that you’ve said in your article. But maybe that’s because I have really enjoyed Season 3 thus far. I will admit that it’s not as enjoyable as Season 2, but for me, it’s miles above Season 1. That might be an unpopular opinion around these parts, and it might sound like I’m just blindly defending TPTB, but I do have four major gripes with this season:
    – “Pink Slip” didn’t have enough jokes and was oddly paced.
    – The Prague scene was a good idea but was poorly executed with respect to dialogue, specifically Chuck’s reasons for becoming a spy.
    – Chuck was super-annoying when he wanted to talk about his feelings on-mission during “Three Words.”
    – The last quarter of Mask” made no sense.

    And that’s about it, complaints-wise. Honestly, other than that, I think that TPTB have done a good job of hitting on all the important issues:
    – Chuck losing his innocence.
    – Chuck’s busier, more serious spy life taking a toll on his relationships with his loved ones.
    – Morgan realizing that Chuck isn’t infallible.
    – Chuck’s student-mentor relationship with Casey.
    – Chuck’s aversion to firearms.
    – The lies and deceit that are required to function in the spy world.
    – Awesome realizing that Chuck isn’t as innocent as he thought.

    I agree that the show is more dramatic and not as lighthearted as in seasons past, but for me, not as lighthearted does not imply not as fun. If anything, the show is far more interesting than before. It’s delving deeper into issues that were only superficially explored in previous seasons, some of which I listed above. It’s exploring most of the things that I wanted it to explore.

    And that’s about where I completely lost you in your article: “no fans were thinking along the same lines the writers were.” I can’t agree with this statement on any level. I was thinking along many of the same lines and since there are several million Chuck fans, I have a hard time believing that I’m the ONLY one who was thinking like that. (Sorry, I understand that your statement was probably hyperbole, but it rubbed me the wrong way. I apologize if I misinterpreted your words.) Furthermore, if I were thinking along exactly the same lines as TPTB, then I might as well have written the show. I like a few surprises along the way. It’s no fun to watch a show where you can predict what happens or envision all possible scenarios before they occur. In other words, to abuse a metaphor, I like being in the same book as TPTB, but not necessarily on the same page.

    As far as how I feel about the handling of the Chuck and Sarah relationship, in his series of articles, OldDarth has put it far more eloquently than I could ever hope to write about it myself, but I’ll try to summarize how I feel. I don’t feel, even for a second, that it would be realistic or true to the characters for Chuck and Sarah to be together after the events of “Ring.” How could Sarah want to be with Chuck after he turned his back on everything that she was ready to embrace? As far as their relationship has been handled since then, I think that it’s even slightly friendlier than I would have imagined. Chuck and Sarah essentially each kicked the other to the curb. They need time to heal before they can even think about a relationship.

    Let’s suppose for argument’s sake, that Chuck and Sarah had been together at the start of Season 3. How would the events of “Nacho Sampler” have affected them? Sarah was questioning whether the qualities that attracted her to Chuck in the first place were still there. Chuck was questioning whether what initially attracted him to Sarah was real or fake, realizing how much he’d been “handled” over the past couple of years. Dealing with those issues would have torn them apart. How could Sarah be with someone she wasn’t sure she loved anymore? How could Chuck be with someone he wasn’t sure that he trusted anymore? It certainly wouldn’t have been fun to see Chuck and Sarah legitimately end their relationship, and if the fallout from such a situation weren’t catastrophic, it would be incredibly unbelievable.

    So, in sum, I totally respect the fact that many fans don’t like where this season is going. It’s understandable. People have different tastes and expectations. I however, have to disagree vehemently on two very important points. Firstly, I cannot support the sweeping generalization that almost no fans like where this season is going. Secondly, (and I’m aware that I didn’t discuss this at length) I don’t see any major character assassination happening this season. (What happened in “Mask” is certainly no worse than to what we were subjected in “Beefcake.”) I’ve enjoyed what I’ve seen thus far. Episodes 3 through 6 were stellar. “Nacho Sampler” is in my top 5 Chuck episodes. I’m looking forward to seeing where this season is heading.

    By the way, in case you think that I’m not invested in the Chuck-Sarah relationship at all, I’m totally rooting for them. I mean, how could you not? You’d have to have a lump of coal for a heart not to wish for them to get together eventually.

    • JC says:

      Everyone is entitled to there own opinion. Disagreement breeds great ideas.

      At this point I feel PLIs are unnecessary. Personally S3 would’ve been more interesting to see C/S grow slowly apart of the course of the season. Chuck embracing the spy world and Sarah growing disillusioned with it because she sees what its doing to Chuck and what it did to her. Everything we’ve seen over the course of the season but for them to figure out some sort of middle ground on there own. Finding out they need each other no matter what world they’re in spy or real. No need for third parties to push them along. Making a relationship work has all the workings for tension and drama without the need for anyone else. PLI are a quick and easy way for tension, no creativity needed.

      As for Shaw he could’ve easily been included in this season without making him an romantic interest. Just a catalyst to push Chuck in the spy world.

      I have no problem with somewhat more serious direction but I do think it has been at the expense of alot the humor. They need to find more balance.
      If they’re going to focus on the spy world they need to step up. Take a hint from shows like Burn Notice, Alias even White Collar. Because as it is the villains on the show are laughable and that worked before but it won’t if we’re really supposed to take them serious.

    • Big Kev says:

      Merve,
      Gotta agree with you – and you have put it better than I could, as you usually do. So you’re not the only one – but you might be one of two!
      My first reaction after watching the Ring and seeing Chuck reintersect was, “well that’s stuffed Chuck and Sarah for most of Season 3. She’s going to feel betrayed and he’s going to be too busy being a spy”. I completely agree with the upset around potential PLI’s – but I didn’t see any logical basis for Chuck and Sarah to be together at the start of S3. To me, the only scenario at the end of the Ring hat brings them together is if Chuck destroys 2.0 and he and Sarah walk off into the sunset. Never gonna happen.
      And Chuck being “in” the Spy world means delving into all those dark places that were only hinted at in Seasons 1 and 2. You can’t avoid that.
      So I was expecting something darker, and more intense, and with a lot less Chuck and Sarah – at least for a while. And that’s exactly what I’ve got.

      What frustrates me about S3 so far is that the execution has been so erratic. You’ve seen how good it could be with De La Muerta. Fabulous comedy, great use of Awesome in the spy world, clear signs of feelings between Chuck and Sarah, handled with grace and humour, more Ellie, less Buy More, Chuck handling things, flashing when needed and working well with Sarah. But still Chuck. Everything firing in exactly the direction that TPTB want S3 to go. As writers, when they want to, these guys can still bring it.
      3 Words was also an excellent episode, as Ali Adler’s always are, then in 4 you have the introduction of Shaw – one of the best character introductions I’ve ever seen. 5 was nicely paced and a bit fluffier after all the angst, and 6 built on that nicely. All good, in my view, with real signs about momentum building for the rest of the season.
      But when S3 has been bad, it has been horrible. As in why would I watch this horrible.
      Pink Slip was just unecessarily brutal, with the horribly OOC Prague scene to boot, and Mask was just unfunny and forced, in my view….even before the last 10 minutes. After his fabulous introduction, Shaw has been horribly wooden as well as incompetent.
      My one word take on S3 so far? Schizophrenic. If the run home matches De La Muerta, Operation Awesome or Nacho Sampler, I’ll be screaming for a Season 4. If it’s more OOC horrors like Prague or (possibly) Sarah and Shaw, then regardless of where Chuck and Sarah end up, I probably won’t care.
      For the record, my money is still on the writers – but I’m not betting as much as I would have done at the start of the season.

    • atcdave says:

      Well Merve, I guess I’m glad I didn’t completely loose you until my second to last sentence! Of course that was hyperbole. It is clear events of The Ring were setting up this season, which is why I often say the show kind of lost me there. While we seem to agree S2 was the show’s high point so far, I vastly prefer S1 to the current one. But even that isn’t an absolute statement, Angel of Death and Operation Awesome rank as two of my all time favorite Chuck episodes; while Beefcake sits wrong with me in every way. I have never expected to be in agreement with every decision the writers make, nor would I want to be; I like being surprised by various twists and turns, episodes 2.17-2.21 will always be among my all time TV favorites, and I saw very little of that coming ahead of time.
      I strongly prefer the lighter tone of the earlier seasons. Typically, shows that want to explore more serious darker themes like Chuck has done this season, get deleted from my DVR fairly quickly. I watch TV to be entertained and have a good time. Watching characters I’ve come like and respect go through such dark places (Nacho Sampler almost rubs me worse than Mask) is not entertaining to me. But I never meant to imply everyone agrees with me. I know darker entertainment is very popular these days, it makes finding light and fun shows very difficult (almost impossible if it weren’t for the USA network). My comments were meant to represent mainly my own viewpoint. I know I’m not alone, there’s a lot of ‘shippers out there who are far more upset about things than I am. And the majority of casual viewers, that I know, do share my viewpoint. As you’ve seen, a large number of commenters here agree with some or most of what I said; so my objective in both of my last posts has been to try and explain what the basis of some fan discontent is. We’ve seen a strong backlash to the initial upset many of us felt with Mask. I want to emphasize that our objections are real and important; and the show will likely loose more viewers if the tone doesn’t improve soon. That isn’t a threat, its an observation. I won’t be among those who quit watching this season (probably), but I understand many of those who do.

    • Faith says:

      If you don’t mind me asking what do you find objectionable about the last 10 minutes of the Mask?

  15. Big Kev says:

    Apologies for a poorly written – dare I say “horribly” written post – but I hope you get my point!

    • joe says:

      ??? Not at all, Kev. Great post.

      You have more people in agreement with you than you know. This particular threat *is* the place to express concerns about the direction and tone of the show – and I’ve been the one who’s been the gospel of patience and “faith in TPTB” to the point of being obnoxious, so I know.

      But it’s our turn to have faith in the fans here who’ve stated their discontent honestly. There are always signs.

  16. Ernie Davis says:

    Merve and Kev. I tend to agree with your view of the season. Pink Slip to me was a continuation of a lot of the problems I saw in the Ring at the end of S2, which I won’t re-hash again. And I also hated the babbling Chuck in the mission in Three Words. Other than that I haven’t been disappointed so much as exasperated with the direction of the show. However I find myself defending the shippers who are saying it didn’t have to be this way once again.

    Merve, you and Old Darth inadvertently point out exactly why a traumatic reset of the relationship wasn’t really necessary. There are lots of dramatic possibilities that can be played out with their new situation that HAVEN’T been explored as opposed to the easy way of one more round of PLI’s, and let’s face it, they wanted one more round of PLI’s. Merve, you and OD talk a lot about the dangers of the spy world and why the relationship can’t work in this new environment. I’d buy that a lot more if it weren’t for the fact that Wookie, Sandworm, Truth, Hard Salami, Nemesis, Crown Vic, Undercover Lover, Marlin, First Date, Seduction, Breakup, Cougars, Ex, Fat Lady, Gravitron, DeLorean, Santa Claus, Suburbs, Best Friend, Beefcake, Lethal Weapon, Broken Heart and the Colonel were all at some level about the stresses put on a developing relationship, loyalty and trust due to the requirements of the spy world. To say this is something new to season 3 is pure bunk.

    The other point I will make yet again is that you seem to be setting up a straw man that Chuck and Sarah somehow had to be “together” for the shippers to be satisfied. Again, I’ll ask as I have so often, exactly what do you mean by together and are you sure it is the same thing as no more PLI’s? You seem to limit together to some sort of normal, openly loving fully functional couple as opposed to two people struggling to find a way to be together. Chuck and Sarah were together for most of the last 6 last season. No PLI’s, but a lot of issues about trust and loyalty and sacrafice were explored. This season most of the issues explored have been through outside characters who highlight where Chuck and Sarah are now as opposed to before and give each other insight into what the other dealt with, and those characters have been Casey, Ellie, Morgan, Devon and Manoosh. You didn’t need a traumatic breakup for them to be effective in highlighting the changes in Chuck’s character moving forward or Sarah’s reaction to those changes.

    • Merve says:

      I actually agree with a lot of what you said. I don’t think that the traumatic breakup was necessary. But I don’t think that it was a bad decision story-wise either. Either way would have been fine with me.

      As for the PLIs, I also have no problem with them. What I had a problem with was Shaw’s inconsistent characterization. But again, that’s just my opinion.

      And yes, you’re right, a lot of the themes that are being explored in season 3 were previously explored. But I would argue that some of them are being explored in more depth. Maybe I’m just saying that because “Operation Awesome” and “Nacho Sampler” had a lot of emotional resonance with me. Depth is a hard thing to judge. But I do think that the show hadn’t really explored the fact that Chuck could be deceitful until this season. Before then, most of the tension on his relationships with Ellie and Morgan came from the fact that he was appearing to be unreliable.

      • atcdave says:

        Remember this thread started from a ‘shippers perspective. My main objection is Chuck and Sarah facing these issues seperately. I fully accept that Chuck would have issues with lying, burning an assett, the use of deadly force; I don’t object to any of this. I object to him facing it all alone; to me, that is the central problem. For most of two seasons, Sarah was the character there to coach him through conflicts and issues. So, whether you want to say the problems started in Ring or Pink Slip; the problem now is, they’ve been wrenched apart in way that they don’t even share as much screen time this season (no, I have done a statistical comparison, that is a perception). Again, to me, every episode, every problem, every aspect of this season would be vastly more enjoyable if Chuck and Sarah were talking these things through, instead of going off in their seperate ways.

      • Merve says:

        I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree. I find it more interesting to see Chuck take this part of his journey alone. To me, it makes his growth as a spy more believable, and watching 3 seasons of Chuck being coached by Sarah would start to get a little old for me.

      • Mike B says:

        The chemistry between ZL and YS could never get old.

      • atcdave says:

        Thanks Mike, well put. I’d say the chemistry I have with my wife doesn’t get old either. We have different strengths, and different approaches to things; when things do occasionally get painful, I deeply appreciate never having to face life’s challenges alone. I guess that has become my default setting.

  17. Rick Holy says:

    Just got back from out of the country, so haven’t been keeping up on all of these posts. However, I’m going to chime in – and if someone has already said this – SORRY!

    “Shippers” or any FANS don’t ruin a show. Creators/writers/producers ruin a show. The fans only react to either that which is good/excellent – or that which is lame/weak/pathetic.

    That’s like the chairman of Toyota coming out and blaming the buyers of Toyota vehicles for all the problems Toyota is having. It’d be like, “The accelerator pedals are sticking because you stupid Americans don’t know how to press your foot on the gas!” Laughable.

    Let’s be honest, if the stars of the show could truly speak their minds on the direction that things have taken this season and the overall quality of the story arc, I’d be willing to bet they wouldn’t be defending this as much as they are.

    Fans (be that “shippers” or whatever) can help save a show by promoting it and recommending it to their friends. But honestly, how many “shippers” do you think are out there telling their friends/acquaintenances NOT to watch the show because they’re upset with some aspect of it? If there’s more than a handful I’d be surprised. But you can bet that during Season 2 when things were better/more positive/more light-hearted/more “real,” those shippers were promoting the hell out of CHUCK.

    Bottom line. Shippers aren’t “ruining the show.” They’re only reacting to what’s being presented to them. It’s the creators/writers/PTB that ruin a show. Period.

    • atcdave says:

      Thanks Rick, is it redundant to say I agree? It is truly amazing the hate directed at those of us who dare criticize (just to be clear, I haven’t seen that here; this site has stayed quite civil!) the direction of the show. I know we can sometimes be abrasive when we claim our opinions with too much certainty or authority; but the backlash has been denying we have any right to be upset! Hopefully, as things start to look up, we will all be in a better mood.

      • Rick Holy says:

        I just hope they start looking up soon. But I’m beginning to agree with a “poster” early on – it may have been you – who said that there’d be all the same kind of B.S. games like we saw in season 2 re: C/S (rather than moving the characters forward in an intelligent and INTERESTING way) until about the last or 2nd to the last episode of the season (in this case, episode 12 or 13 of the original order by NBC).

        Sorry, but having to sit through approximately 80% of a season that is lame when IT HAD ALL THE POTENTIAL TO BE “AWESOME,” is just too much. The one or two episode “Pay off” at the end, just isn’t worth it.

        Of course, I’ll keep watching anyway – but I don’t count. I have no Nielsen box. I just hope, hope, HOPE that there is a post Olympic boost that can actually be sustained for more than one episode. Perhaps if the post-Olympic episode is a step up from most of what we’ve seen this season, then it’s a possibility. If not, then it may be “reality check” time and we need to start realizing that this show may be coming to an end after episode 19.

        Again, I sincerely hope not. I’ve got too much invested in this and STILL think that it can become the show that it is truly capable of becoming. But that’s just me. The “Dreamer.”

      • Jason says:

        rick – I think the 3.7 uproar has main stream media writing about chuck, I would guess 3.8 will do pretty well, then it is up to TPTB to bring their ‘closers’ in to keep fans for the rest of the season, I would guess that has to be Alder writing a warm CS centric story end – if not, I think the season will really flounder, if the end of 3.8 is any darker than the end of 3.7, I am not sure my tuner could make out images on the screen any longer

      • atcdave says:

        I think I’ll start calling this seasons “journey” “The Great Circle.” I do think, in the end, we’ll see a more concrete pay-off than what we saw last year. Its just too bad a show that started so clever and refreshingly original, is now recycling the worst sorts of serial television cliches.

        Best case scenario, there’s enough humor, and hope at the end of 3.08, so encourage casual or curious viewers tuning in after the Olympics. If the mood stays like it is until 3.13 or so, I don’t think there’s enough time left to rally the ratings and get another season.

      • atcdave says:

        Jason, remember one major hopeful sign; Adler is writing 3.08. I’m 80% sure that means some sign of life for Chuck and Sarah. I don’t even need a show to be all happy and sunshine; we just a reason to like, and hope for our main characters again. I think that’s a big part of what the last few episodes have squandered; and I think its Adler’s job to fix it.

      • Mike B says:

        We are all puting a lot of faith in the Ali Adler written episodes. The problem is the next episode she co-writes is 3.14.

        That noise you just heard was an ominious tone..Dun,Dun,Duuuuuuun!

  18. ReadySet says:

    You know, I’d like to open this up for conversation, if I could.

    Does anyone have a guess why TPTB first have Sarah crush Chuck at the beginning of Ring by telling him he’s leaving, then do a turnaround and decide to stay, then not be able to tell him because of Papa B’s late arrival–and then blow it all up by giving Chuck a new intersect that causes the aborted runaway in Prague.

    From a storytelling sense, wouldn’t have been more powerful for Sarah to be with Chuck from the beginning of Ring and THEN have Chuck get the new intersect, which leads to the aborted Prague thing. That, at least on the face of it, would have more power because Sarah was commited to the idea of being with Chuck for a longer time and had it ripped away.

    I know Ernie Davis has talked to this some, but does anyone think this gotta go/gonna stay thing they did with Sarah will somehow be revisited in the episodes leading up to the “happy ending” in E13?

    • ReadySet says:

      And, btw, if the purpose of having Sarah first obey orders and hurt Chuck after what we assumed was the happy ending in Colonel, doesn’t it also undercut Sarah’s anger at Chuck for his decision in Prague. After all, he was just, uh, following orders…

    • Faith says:

      I think it’s designed specifically to convey how conflicted and in shock she is really. Before she was living on just euphoria that Chuck is alive and that he’s safe and free from the intersect. That she’s in love and it’s real. And that it’s shocking for her. If you play back even to Colonel her face is the picture of shock.

      I don’t think it occurred to her really what to do and how to go about doing it until probably after the watery mess of the Jeffster ruined wedding—where she’s sitting in Chuck’s room with Chuck and his dad.

      It’s one thing to be in love with someone, to know you’re willing to die for them, another to actually plan your life accordingly and live the happily ever after in the real world. To let go of all that you defined yourself once before and immerse yourself in the person you have since become after falling in love, etc. That’s very scary and requires an adjustment. In her own Agent Walker way she regressed back to what she knew and that is her job…”I’m leaving in the morning, with Bryce” didn’t talk of anything she feels, but instead it’s a statement of fact. But her face conveyed all that she is conflicted about.

      At least that’s my interpretation of it.

      • kg says:

        That’s how I remember it Faith

      • ReadySet says:

        Faith-
        I think you missed my point. I’ve been one of the few that suggested that Sarah’s actions at the beginning of Ring made sense. Sarah always says yes to duty first, then decides whether it is the right thing to do later.

        So, unlike Ernie, I was OKAY with her following orders and then realizing that she had a better choice (being with Chuck and living that real life) as the story in Ring unfolded.

        My problem is what LOGIC that move served knowing what TPTB claim they knew: That they were gonna blow up the whole thing ANYWAY. From a storytelling perspective, it made ZERO sense. And it didn’t even make sense if you were trying to up the angst factor with the train platform scene. Sarah with Chuck without hesistation from the “It’s real” moment in Colonel on would have been MUCH more effective at the train platform scene.

        Unless they plan to come back to that moment in Ring in the next few episodes, it only adds to the confusion of the storytelling…

        OR, it’s a reveal about TPTB: For all of their claims otherwise, it might mean they DIDN’T have the runaway/breakup story in Pink Slip in mind when they wrote Ring.

        THAT would explain a lot about the choppiness of it all…

      • ReadySet says:

        And we probably shouldn’t retcon this TOO much. Sarah did act a little shocked in the car when Papa B said the intersect was out. But there was NO doubt–none–about where she was when she came to get Chuck for the rehersal dinner. Heavens, they even gave her dialogue in THAT scene! And with the hand gestures and the music being a redux from the motel scene, we were supposed to get that Chuck and Sarah had come together at that point.

      • ReadySet says:

        And not to put too fine a point on it, it was clear in Ring, when Beckman assigned her to the Intersect project, that it was something Sarah DID NOT want. She was commited to Chuck when Beckman ordered her to Zurich with Bryce.

      • Faith says:

        Ok apologies I misread your post. I thought you were asking for clarification on why it exactly she hurt him after all that has happened with Colonel.

        I don’t have time right now to reply fully (I’ll do it tonight) but I will point out that she did say in Colonel: “one mission at a time Chuck.” I think you can imply that her saying it’s real, and all that jazz…that was supposed to make us believe that there will be no more backtracking on what they feel for one another. But it doesn’t necessarily imply that everything else is settled because like I said I don’t think it occurred to her exactly what it is she’s going to do, much less what she wants outside of just being with Chuck and being in love with him.

      • Stef62 says:

        The ‘ring’ was a large slice of ‘ neat bitism’. What i mean by that is they probably thought the show was gone when they wrote it. So they decided to out with a bang, and thought what ‘neat bits’ can we put in this show…step forward suspect number one, the 2.0

        All the other domino’s start falling after that, and to my eyes still are.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah Stef, I’m sure they wanted to write an episode that was ambiguous enough to be an ending if it really was that, but set up a lot of opportunities if they got the chance.

    • atcdave says:

      I think the writers are bound and determined to withhold an “I Love You” from Sarah until we no longer care. My main objection to the Ring at the time, and it still holds true, is it felt so carefully stage managed; Chuck is doomed to never know what Sarah is really thinking or feeling about anything until some epic moment. I had thought, as had many others, that moment was Colonel; so I think Ring struck many of us wrong. Right from the start of S3 its been obvious, Colonel was the glitch; and Ring returned us to SOP. I’m currently thinking that epic moment may be 3.13; I’m not sure what I’ll do if I’m wrong, I guess it depends on how hopeful the situation seems at the time. If the show is still so dark, and Chuck is filled with uncertainties; it might be time for my own reset/delete.

      • lizjames says:

        This isn’t new, of course. Cheers went a zillion years and the key phrase there was “I do!” I think they literally brought Sam and Dinah to the altar three times and, even when they finally DID say it, it didn’t work out.

        As for Chuck and Sarah, well, I think TPTB have telegraphed where they are headed after the “happy ending”: The Honeymooners. They are going to be the Kramdens, bickering but in love.

        As for how they do it, well, let’s give them the benefit of the doubt. If only because we have no choice. The question isn’t how to write for Chuck; he’s easy because he talks. The question is how they handle Sarah.

        They won’t want to lose her Spock-like exterior, I don’t think, but I, for one, want Sarah to give it all up emotionally to Chuck. (Of course, we want to SEE it, too.) Besides, I want to see Strahovski play it as the Sarah Walker character. As an actress, she deserves a chance to play it as much as we should be given the chance to see it.

        But, I fear, we’re going to get a Vulcan-style love, if you know what I mean…

      • atcdave says:

        Cheers though was a pure comedy, I think that let them get away with a little more stupidity than a show that wants us to take its characters more seriously.

        I hope their relationship doesn’t become the bickering sit-com sort; they’ve really only done that a couple times.
        You are right about having no choice about buying in, its either that or give it up.
        I think they’ve always done well Sarah’s complex emotions. We’ve seen her mission face, and what’s brewing underneath; I hope they keep that up, except as time passes, Chuck should be more a part of when she lets her defenses down. There was an interview with Yvonne (linked from the ChuckMeOut! website I believe) where she talks about getting to show a lot more emotion this season, hopefully that will continue as the emotions go from worried and unhappy to more positive ones.

      • joe says:

        Dave, about TPTB withholding that “I love you” moment, it’s almost hard to believe that we haven’t really had it yet.

        We all heard it in our own minds in The Colonel, and most us heard it far earlier, in Best Friends or even on the rooftop in Marlin. Yet even in The Three Words only Chuck has said it. That’s wears-his-heart-on-his-sleeve, always-running-off-at-the-mouth, Sarah-interrupting Chuck. AND THAT WAS THE FIRST TIME!!! Stunning.

        There’ll come a time when nobody cares. Friends found that point, I think, and Bones did for me. (And unlike most, I never saw House and Cutty as a couple. No chemistry there at all). But really, for most that time hasn’t come yet. We’re the ones really invested, so yeah, we’re the most anxious for it – and the most dissatisfied when it’s delayed.

      • atcdave says:

        I agree Joe, I think that’s why the reset hit so hard for me; in my mind it was a done deal at Colonel, and they’ve shown their love for each other going back well before. The words themselves almost don’t matter; at least to this viewer, its a fait accompli. Every episode that ignores it since Colonel earns a rubber brick. I’m sure the writers don’t quite see it that way; its almost like they’re playing slimy lawyer games (“ah, but she never actually said….”). Give me a break, I’m just not buying it.

  19. BDP says:

    For the sake of angst…

    It’s making things easier for the viewer to relate to Chuck…

    Sarah has always been a bit sparodic when it comes to Chuck… or romance altogether.

    and why does everyone think episode 13 is going to be this mythological episode where Chuck and Sarah finally grab that metaphorical sexual tension from the air and suffocate it… between the sheets (Oh Yeah!!!!!)

    • atcdave says:

      I’m more interested in some emotional honesty between them; preferably in an unambiguous and indisputable manner. Between the sheets could be just another manipulation.

    • JLR says:

      Others have articulated it, but it bears repeating: I’m actually dreading the reconciliation as much as the break-ups (in terms of how it’s done, that is). Is it gonna be believable (& by that I mean, more than just a big sigh of relief from all Chuck fans, shippers & apathetic –like me– alike)? Will it be some flurry? And are fans gonna be satisfied w/ it happening over 10 minute span of televised time? My guess is most will just be happy C/S are “together.” The more critical fans, like those here, are still gonna cry foul.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, I think we’re all holding our breath.

      • Big Kev says:

        Presumably the back six are going to be a blessing in that regard. If the “reconciliation” occurs in 3.13, then at least we will get the back six to see the couple strengthen and grow. Hopefully. A reconciliation occuring right at the end of the season would leave a sour taste in many mouths, given what we’ve had to endure to get there.

      • Stef62 says:

        Maybe and looking at this from a glass half full point of view, but it looks to me that JS/CF are saying to us, okay we’ll give you them as a couple, but it’ll be a couple that you won’t like, or care about.

        The impression is yeh they’ll get together, but it’ll be because they’ve, (C/S), have ran out of options, and other relationships. Leaving them clinging together surveying the wreckage surrounding them, not that they particularly want to, its just all they’ve got left

      • herder says:

        I think the quote from JS was that they wanted to give the fans what they wanted but in an unexpected way. This is the basis for my concern about the rabbit out of a hat resolution. I’m a bit fearful of some sort of suprise: they got married after Ellie’s wedding!; Sarah’s an intersect too, so they have to be together!; they have been working together since Chuck was alone drinking Johnny Walker!; Sarah has been Beckman’s mole and part of the deal was she could be together with Chuck at the end! You can fill in your own unlikely suprise twist, but I think it would detract from the story.

      • atcdave says:

        I don’t think all of those twists would detract, but it is a tricky thing. There have been so few clues, too much re-writing the past will ring false. But we’ve seen enough out of character behavior (a little for Chuck, a lot for Sarah), something is needed to make sense of it all.

  20. Ernie Davis says:

    Regarding my objections to the Ring and the “proposal” scene. My objection was never really over the concept of Sarah pulling back after feeling she got too close, or about those emotions being a bit stronger since there was no professional barrier for her to hide behind (other than I’m leaving in the morning with Bryce). My main objection was the execution of the scene and how it regressed the characters in a way that I didn’t think was necessary, and it didn’t really add anything to the story in general since the flashback to Castle in Pink Slip shows they were right back to the “it is real” state. My guess is that as someone mentioned they were trying to allow for all possibilities in a cliffhanger so they tried to show a breakup and a reconciliation both in the same episode leaving it ambiguous as to which way things would go.

  21. SWnerd says:

    So I’m reading this fantastic book about screenwriting called “Story” by Robert McKee. Although it’s obviously about film and this quote I want to share actually uses the word film, I think it very much applies to most entertainment mediums.

    “No film can be made to work without an understanding of the reaction and anticipations of the audience. You must shape your story in a way that both expresses your vision and satisfies the audience’s desires. The audience is a force as determining of story design as any other element. For without it, the creative act is pointless.”

    It seemed really relevant to the situation.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      SWnerd, this is a REALLY interesting point I’ve written about before and was thinking about touching on again. To strain my my science metaphor even more it was going to be about inertia (Physics 101 I Call dibs on the title!), how characters and arcs build up a certain mass in the audiences mind, and once they acquire that mass changing their direction or accelerating them quickly requires a LOT of energy. I think a lot of what we are seeing, even in the S2/S3 transition is the audience having a hard time accepting these two or three on a dime turns per episode in the characters. At least that is my new take on it.

    • joe says:

      I’ll say. I do know that’s it’s not a universally accepted axiom, SWnerd.

      For the sake of discussion (and not because I think I know THE answer either way), I recall a movie about Michelangelo painting the Sistine Chapel. There was a (probably fictional) discussion between him and Raphael, wherein Raphael stated flatly that the artist paints at the behest of his patron, and should always strive to satisfy his benefactor. Michelangelo was just as adamant to say that the artist should be true to his art first.

      I would love to have a chance to present this as a question for Mr. Schwartz and Mr. Fedak (and Ms. Adler, Mr. Klemmer, Mr. Borow, Mr. Miller and Mr. Rosenbaum).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        The Agony and the Ecstasy. Excellent flick, I have it on DVD. Can’t go wrong with Charlton Heston and Rex Harrison.

      • joe says:

        Ernie, I’ve spent decades not knowing the title of that movie, and I think you’re absolutely right!

        The things I’ve learned here! 😉

        Thanks!

      • atcdave says:

        I it does seem to reveal something about the “for their own good, whether they know it or not” attitude we’ve been seeing. Its about treating your audience with respect or contempt.

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