What It Means to be A Fan

A challenge recently posed to us was to tackle the question of what it means to be a fan. That’s an interesting question just now, when its obvious the four of us here have very different feelings on the state of the show. So in the post that follows we’ll each offer some thoughts on what it means to be a fan

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Dave’s Thoughts

I’m sure its no secret I’m probably the most disgruntled of the four of us right now. I do understand being a fan of something does mean not always being happy with it. I’ve mentioned in other posts being a big Chicago Bears fan. I grew up in the west suburbs, and even though I’ve been gone for 20 years now (dang, that amazes me!); I still have strong opinions about pizza, Italian beef, and Bear’s football. Sadly, the Bears have been a pretty bad team since their super bowl season of 2006. But I still get NFL Sunday ticket, so I will never miss a Bears game (um, except living in the Detroit market there is one game a year I have no control over!); and I yell and scream, and have a great time or terrible time based on the score. Why do I subject myself to this ritual? Because I’m a fan. I love the Bears with a deep emotional attachment. No matter how badly they do I will always watch, and yell, and offer my obviously brilliant advise. I have never threatened to quit watching, although sometimes, my attention does wander during an ugly game.

Chuck is different in several ways. There is no friendly opposition who is trying to ruin the show every week (OK, maybe a rival network). Basically, if the show gets better, everyone wins. I’ve previously offered my views on the importance of feedback (you all know I mean complaining, right?) so I’ll leave that alone here. The first thing being a fan means is just that I really like the show and look forward to it every week. The first two seasons that wasn’t tested so much; I was mostly very happy with the show. This year has been an ordeal; as I’ve mostly not been happy. But as a fan, I continue to expect, and hope for the best every week. The biggest challenge to that has been, not liking most of what TPTB have had to say about the show since Comic-Con in July of 2009. I guess it would be like the Bears hiring a coach or player I really don’t like. But with the Bears, I know there’s always next season. With Chuck, I’ve felt a sort of panic a few times I never have with a game. Will this new direction kill the show? Will it ever get back to the things I like best? I’m willing to assume the happy ending, but I want more; I want to see the good stuff on screen. I want to see Chuck and Sarah kicking butt and saving the world and each other. I want to laugh with the characters I came to love in the first two seasons, and not yell “idiot” quite so often. I guess, as a committed fan, I do intend to stick it out; at least for a while. At some point, if the show doesn’t offer more of what I like I will move on. But for now it has me hooked enough I’m willing to give them some time to work things through. I guess that’s the real measure of me being a fan.

Ernie’s Addition

What is a fan? The somewhat snarky answer is that a fan is someone who cares way more than they should. But come to think of it, that’s not a bad answer. First of all a fan cares. This doesn’t mean blindly endorses anything that the object of their fandom does. I’m a big Pittsburgh Steelers fan, but I’ve spent many a Sunday in a local Steelers bar screaming “What are you THINKING!!?!?” along with dozens of other rabid fans when Bill Cowher decided to sit on that 6 point lead early in the third quarter. For those of you not versed in American Football that is a move about as stupid as not giving Zach and Yvonne any screen time together for half a season. A fan cares, and that can come out in a lot of different ways, that is the way too much part. Because the thing that makes a fan a fan is that they invest. Time, energy, emotions, whatever, a fan puts a lot of themselves into the object of their fandom. Whether its re-watching episodes a dozen times or memorizing box scores or getting a $200 satellite TV package just so you can follow your team, a fan makes an investment, and becomes invested in the outcome. Which brings us to the final point. Because of that investment a fan interacts, either with other fans, or the object of their fandom. That can take a lot of different forms, both good and bad. We’ll be generous and call some of it, which I am clearly often guilty of, constructive criticism. It’s less so when it takes the form of hurling beer cans at a stadium, but you get the point. If a fan thinks the object of their fandom takes them for granted, things can get ugly. Even that comes out of the sense of investment. But the investment also takes the form of buying footlong subs for the family every Monday night or season tickets to a franchise that’s been losing since Jimmy Carter was president. That interaction serves to deepen the investment and the sense of connection the fan feels which leads to higher highs and, unfortunately, lower lows, but hey, a fan cares, it comes with the territory.

Joe’s Contribution

One of the most obnoxious things I can think of is the person who’ll walk up to a celebrity and shout something like “Mr. X, Ms. X, I’m such a big fan!!!” with audible exclamation marks. What does that mean? Too often the person saying that doesn’t know the first thing about their target’s body of work. What they’re responding to is celebrity. I feel sorry for Lindsey Vonn and Joannie Rochette these next few weeks, and for Shawn White and Apolo Ohno too. They’ve been there before, but fans will be just as obnoxious this time. Still, they are dealing with people who call themselves fans.

Yeah, I understand being star struck. Guaranteed, if Ms. Yvonne Strahovski walks into my house today, I’m reduced to being a stammering idiot too. But a fan is not always someone who is interested merely in celebrity. Some are willing to delve a little deeper than that, deep enough so that they’ve gained a working knowledge of the subject (if we’re speaking of a show), or a decent respect for the person (if we’re speaking of a person). You don’t have to go so far as to study up. That sounds like work! But there are people interested enough to look beyond the surface, though. That’s a better kind of fan, isn’t it? We enjoy – or to put it euphemistically, we are in love with – the subject.

Once a person crosses that threshold, interesting things start to happen. You can get to the point where you can ask some interesting questions, like, “Is this better than that, and if so, can I say exactly why?” and “If I liked this, does it mean someone else will? Does it mean someone else should?” You can see that fan-dom, if it’s to be more than extremely superficial, gets away from the idea that a fan is someone who “likes” something. Perhaps the word “appreciates” is more accurate. What’s undeniably true is that even if you call yourself a fan, it’s not necessary to like every little thing about the subject. You’re permitted to critique, and that’s a different animal.

Critiquing carries with it a pretty large responsibility. You gotta play fair, you better believe in what you say and you better be prepared to be challenged on your opinion, even to the point of changing it. But hey, fans are not critics; they are generally people who just want to say that they like what they saw, and may not feel the need to justify that opinion. They’re still entitled to it. Not everyone’s gonna buy it, however. It can become a contest at times, but this is where some fans are.

Maybe you’ve seen the line I just drew. I tried to draw it from the ground up, the way my mother taught it to me as a child. “Some people talk about other people. Better people talk about things. The best people talk about ideas.” We are fans who may even have starting watching Chuck because of this blonde we saw. I’m guessing that lasted less than five minutes. Pretty quickly, we became fans who knew we liked what we saw, knew that we were laughing at the jokes, getting thrilled by the chases, even heartwarmed by the smiles and hand holding. We got informed, got the inside jokes, and started to worry about what was coming next. Would the next joke be as funny? Would the next chase be as thrilling? And would hand holding be enough? OF COURSE NOT! And what about those inconsistencies I keep seeing? Can I live with that and still like the show? Many of us started asking those questions.

And we started to think. This is personal. “They” are telling a story that, so far, has been true and good. But am I being manipulated? Where is the story going, and is it still true for me? We’re deep into the realm of ideas, my friends, and not everyone is interested in going this far down the path of fan-dom. Some who have come this far may even have answered “No, this is not the way I see things. There is nothing for me here except what is superficial.” And that’s hard. Fans who have come this far have made an investment and it’s a sad thing to see them willing to leave it behind. But just like the fan who merely wants to say “Hey, I liked it. That is all!”, they’re entitled. Moreso, because they see the price they are paying.

It gets worse. There comes a point where, if the story is good and true enough, and if you are honest enough, you have to ask yourself, “Self? Am I wrong here? Am I not up to the task of understanding the truth being told in this story, or can I learn something? Do I have to grow into this?”

Okay, that was pretentious. That’s not usually the realm of television and entertainment for the masses; it’s the realm of great art. It’s art partly because it changes you. As much as I enjoy Chuck I’m not going to make the claim that it’s at that level. In fact, even if it was, it’s way too early to make that claim, and far to soon to have that effect. But I want you to know that questions like those, stimulated by what you are seeing, are not about self-doubt. They are a good sign. They indicate you want to dialog with the artist.

I know what prompted the original question; “What does it mean to be a fan?” All last summer many of us participated in a conversation about Chuck, starting with talking about what we liked and disliked. It quickly got into discussions about the show’s direction, and what was happening next, and “What exactly did Josh Schwartz say about trapezoids?” and PLIs and spoilers and “YOU’RE BANNED!” and “HEY! You have to listen to me!” and “No I don’t!!!” and… What a summer. Much fun. Lots of talking, a little less listening, I thought.

But um, last week, I heard actors on television use the very words we were relying on to communicate. They, TPTB, were listening in, and, story or no story, they were talking back. In English, that’s a dialog. Maybe I’m just new to the 21st century with this newfangled internet and everything, but I’ve never seen that before, that I remember. The fans, all of them, starting from the uninformed accoster of stars to the most thoughtful of readers were just told by the creators of a television show that their words were read and their voices heard.

Okay, maybe the message was “… and ignored.” Or not. It doesn’t matter, because a message received is a message considered, and the impact is already measurable directly in seconds of air-time. How that translates into the direction the story takes from now on, I don’t know. But I do know that it cannot have zero effect and those fans who spoke up just became a tiny little bit responsible for the results. We got a tiny little bit of ownership. Beyond even helping the financial and ratings success of the show, the fans of Chuck have somehow been granted some tiny say, and therefore some responsibilities, over the direction that the show takes.

No, Ms. Adler. I’m not saying we want to write lines for you to incorporate into the next script. I’m saying that I understand you hear us, and are considering what we have to say, and we’re actually appreciative. For our part, we try to be honest and say what is truly heartfelt, and we sometimes even try to be intelligent about it. We will always be grateful and thank you for treating us fans like adults with legitimate feelings. When all is said and done, that’s who we are.

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About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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68 Responses to What It Means to be A Fan

  1. JLR says:

    Dang!! When I suggested you guys do this, I didn’t think it’d be so fast! I would love to see others’ thoughts on this….

  2. Faith says:

    Amy?

    I find it interesting that two out of the three of you likened fandom to that of sports. It’s certainly a similar but far more complicated dynamic isn’t it?

    • joe says:

      Amy is in Germany for a bit. We miss her!

    • atcdave says:

      I would have to say though, since Ernie is a Steelers fan I really don’t think he’s qualified to understand a lousy franchise. Not only have I suffered through plenty of lousy Bears teams, but I currently live in the Detroit market. I guess most of you wouldn’t realize the locals think there’s an NFL team here; its really sad to see.

      Sorry, being a Chuck fan is far more complex. With a sports team all you can really do is yell, and say “maybe next year” if the yelling doesn’t work out. With a show, the ratings and merchandising are so critical; not to mention the frustratingly vague idea of feedback maybe making a difference. (I mean what’s a coach going to say, “gee, you wanted us to score on that play?”). There’s also the idea Liz James recently brought home, at some point its better for the industry at large, if we stop supporting inferior products. I really don’t even want to think about that one.

  3. Faith says:

    Are supposed to answer or just opine on the powers that be’s perspective on this? Let’s face it that’s important because who runs a company says a lot about said company…not that this is a company 😉 coz in that case, I’m late on my dues lol.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Please answer or opine away. Wait, are we TPTB? OK you’re moderated!! 😉 Just kidding. And we can append Amy’s when she returns from a business trip.

  4. JLR says:

    My motivation for asking Joe, et al to address this topic is based on the dynamic I’ve noticed on certain fan boards. In short, I’ve seen a backlash against the outrage subsequent to the Mask. “Negative” posts are being deleted, or moved to other threads w/ less traffic; long-time board members supposedly “in the know” are taking an even more condescending tone towards negative posts, no matter the merit of the complaint; new posters have popped-up, chastising negative posters, etc., etc., etc. It called to mind a heated debate in which I took part on a Chicago Cubs fan forum last year, same topic. Basically, it starts w/ people complaining, then a reaction to those complaints by others. The it turns nasty, w/ one side calling the other “bad fans” because they complain….

    • Faith says:

      I just like that this place doesn’t go for…

      You’re a maroon!

      No you’re a maroon!

      You’re both maroons!

      🙂

      • JLR says:

        Heh, at the Cubs forum I mention, there’s strict enforcement of a rule banning members for “attacking” another member. So there, instead of seeing, “you’re a maroon” or “you’re an idiot”, you’d see “that POST is a moronic idiot.”

      • Waverly says:

        I like all kinds of macaroons.

  5. OldDarth says:

    I guess I am glad I don’t follow football. 😉

    Sounds painful! 😀

    • JLR says:

      Yeah, kinda like this season of Chuck for many of us! 🙂 Though I do understand & respect that you’re not amongst us.

      • OldDarth says:

        Quite true. Easily my favourite season to date.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Wow, that’s surprising. Easily your favorite?

      • OldDarth says:

        Hmmm – let my post this again:

        “Quite true. Easily my favourite season to date.”

        Yep – same as the first time. 😉

        I like evolution. I don’t want retreads.

        Plus when it gets back to the lighter or funner tone – it will feel earned.

      • herder says:

        It’s funny you should mention retreads, that is one of my biggest complaints, the continued reintroduction of PLI’s. Different stroles for different folks I guess.

        And for those who say that these PLI’s are different, I have an amp that is special for you, it goes to 11.

      • atcdave says:

        To me this season is like they cut out all the parts I like in the show, and replayed the parts I don’t like.

      • OldDarth says:

        “It’s funny you should mention retreads, that is one of my biggest complaints, the continued reintroduction of PLI’s. Different stroles for different folks I guess.

        And for those who say that these PLI’s are different, I have an amp that is special for you, it goes to 11.”

        I disagree with people that make those points on 3 counts:

        1) Chuck and Sarah are the not same people they were in Season 1 & 2 and their relationship has changed to peers in Season 3 so therefore the PLIs have different impacts on them.

        2) The nature of their jobs and work environment are very restrictive with no room for error. Any errors will be fatal.

        3) PLIs are the quickest way to affect change in both of them.

        I have 2 amps that may only go to 10 each but collectively add up to 20 but synergistically put out 20+ . Which is where Chuck and Sarah will be by 3.13.

      • JC says:

        OD a couple questions

        Do you think the writers rushed the PLI stories?

        Do you think the writers went far enough in showing a darker Chuck?

      • weaselone says:

        1) Except that unlike Chuck, Sarah, Casey and Shaw aren’t under the threat of being demoted simply because she can’t flash in a given week. I think the ease at which Chuck can be sidelined illustrates that while the intersect is a peer, Chuck is still isn’t considered a real spy by his companions. He’s an asset with an Intersect that lets him do cool spy tricks.

        2) Shaw’s already made several errors and I’d argue that his feelings for Sarah have already made him slip up on mission and while doing spy work. I’ll provide a short list. He tries to call of the mask mission because he doesn’t want Sarah partnering with Chuck. He gets exposed to the Ring in the museum because he feels the need to cuddle with Sarah. He beats on a prisoner because his manhood visa vie Sarah is questioned. He almost chokes Chuck to death.

        3) When you say quick, I think easy and lazy. Besides, what change has Hannah honestly catalyzed in Chuck? Chuck’s wake up was triggered by Sarah, and his first act of reconciliation and penance was with his sister. Hannah was basically reduced to reinforcing Chuck’s lesson, but that certainly could have been handled by other characters.

      • OldDarth says:

        “OD a couple questions

        1)Do you think the writers rushed the PLI stories?

        2) Do you think the writers went far enough in showing a darker Chuck?”

        1) Rushed? Clumsily implemented on the Sarah/Shaw side is my take.

        You can read my review of 3.07 and my analysis of the PLIs here – http://tinyurl.com/yaz6rxr

        2) Yes. Hannah’s last words to Chuck coupled with what Chuck overheard at the hotel was a slap of cold, hard reality for him.

        We still have to see how the whole using a gun/killing issue has to play out so there is more darkness yet left to explore.

      • OldDarth says:

        “3) When you say quick, I think easy and lazy. Besides, what change has Hannah honestly catalyzed in Chuck? Chuck’s wake up was triggered by Sarah, and his first act of reconciliation and penance was with his sister. Hannah was basically reduced to reinforcing Chuck’s lesson, but that certainly could have been handled by other characters.”

        And I say if those issues were handled other ways the things you want to see happen down the road would take a lot longer to materialize.

        Hearing things from a relative newcomer have a bigger impact. Ellie does not know the whole picture of Chuck’s situation so that talk could only go so far. Hannah not only reinforced but expanded and visibly demonstrated to Chuck the pain and hurt he has caused others.

        Ellie talked to the Chuck she thinks she knows. Hannah talked to Chuck he had turned into.

        Also the impact Hannah had was not restricted to Chuck. Look at what it has done to Sarah. The scene in the Castle with Sarah watching the dinner scene in 3.08 is one example.

      • weaselone says:

        Just to clarify, I am one of the viewers that enjoyed the last episode. Personally, I always thought Hannah’s value was in being a discardable character. She could afford to be harsh on Chuck in that final scene where Sarah, or Ellie probably could not. But that along with you reasoning still leaves a lot of marionette strings showing when it comes to the Hannah character.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m kind of surprised. Just based on production values and scripts this season has been disappointing for me. More disappointing is that to me it seems this season is all about re-treads. I haven’t really seen much character development that hasn’t been done before, even if more subtly. I guess I can understand some of it, they are reinforcing some of the things so they are more obvious, but to me it is playing like a soap opera.

        Plus when it gets back to the lighter or funner tone – it will feel earned.

        I don’t feel the need to earn the show’s tone or my entertainment. That to me is stupid and counterproductive on the part of TPTB.

        1) Chuck and Sarah are the not same people they were in Season 1 & 2 and their relationship has changed to peers in Season 3 so therefore the PLIs have different impacts on them.

        By that logic every bit of character development requires a new round of PLIs, or to take it further every bit of character development requires the character face each situation they’ve already faced again so we can see how the new character handles it differently. I’m sure there are people who feel this is necessary, but it makes for a lot of retread plots and gets tedious.

        2) The nature of their jobs and work environment are very restrictive with no room for error. Any errors will be fatal.

        Except that they covered that to one degree or another in Hellicopter, Wookie, Sandworm, Truth, Hard Salami, Nemisis, Crown Vic, Undercover Lover, Marlin, First Date, Seduction, Breakup, Ex, Fat Lady, Gravitron, DeLorean, Santa Claus, Third Dimension, Suburbs, Beefcake, Lethal Weapon, Predator, Broken Heart, Dream Job, First Kill, Colonel and Ring, so I’d say that has been established.

        3) PLIs are the quickest way to affect change in both of them.

        That may be true if done poorly. It took 4 episodes to establish Hannah as a PLI to pull off one episode of character development. Check that, not even development, Hannah was there to highlight the change, not to make the change in Chuck (and to give them an excuse to push Sarah into a relationship). I consider that a poor return. They are trying to get two or three episodes of character development for Sarah out of Shaw without spending any time establishing him as a PLI, and it is falling flat on its face at this point. I think it’s a poor use of limited resources this season.

        But hey, to each his own. I just don’t see anything this season that they haven’t done better before, or that they couldn’t have done with established characters or the villain of the week.

        I know you like the PLI’s OD, I was just surprised that you like this season better than season 2. I think you are the first person I’ve heard express that sentiment at all, let alone say it’s no contest, this is easily your favorite season.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        She could afford to be harsh on Chuck in that final scene where Sarah, or Ellie probably could not.

        I liked the last episode too, but I felt oddly detached from it emotionally. It was like I’d reached saturation point on caring about the characters, all those emotional scenes just fell flat for me. I don’t know if it was because they were with the PLI’s or I’ve just seen too many melodramatic moments. I think it would have had far more impact on me if these emotional moments were played out between established characters. If it was Ellie or Sarah, or even Morgan telling Chuck he was turning into a d-bag it would have been a kick in the gut. If it was Sarah telling Chuck to his face he was losing himself and killing her in the process THAT would have been a game changer for the ages.

        But oh, I forgot, Chuck and Sarah can’t talk to each other, because that is a really clever plot point that hasn’t been beaten to death.

      • Mi8tt8 says:

        I agree with your last point Ernie, but to have those things happening by established characters would have take way more time.

        Without Shaw, Chuck wouldn’t have rushed into being this type of spy, he wouldn’t have had in first solo mission etc

        And without using PLIs to put them apart Chuck and Sarah would have taken forever to come back to each other. We would have seen them being friends. I don’t know if it’s better than seeing them try to move on and realising they can’t.

      • JC says:

        I’ve noticed over the last couple of days the “Chuck and Sarah can’t talk to each other” issue has been bothering people more.

        I wondering if it’s because of its particular use in the Fake Name. Or just an overall buildup over the last 2.5 seasons.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Without Shaw, Chuck wouldn’t have rushed into being this type of spy, he wouldn’t have had in first solo mission etc

        I disagree. Shaw’s part in that could easily have been done by Beckman. Notice we haven’t seen her much since Shaw arrived?

        And without using PLIs to put them apart Chuck and Sarah would have taken forever to come back to each other. We would have seen them being friends. I don’t know if it’s better than seeing them try to move on and realising they can’t.

        Chuck and Sarah have been apart for 8 episodes so far and probably will be for another 4-5. I don’t really see PLIs speeding that up.

        I’ve noticed over the last couple of days the “Chuck and Sarah can’t talk to each other” issue has been bothering people more.

        I wondering if it’s because of its particular use in the Fake Name. Or just an overall buildup over the last 2.5 seasons.

        I can’t speak for others, but for me it is a bit of both. As mentioned above I think this was a time when it could have been THE moment for both Chuck and Sarah to bottom out and turn around, and it would have been far more satisfying for a lot of fans that way. In addition there seems to be some theory among some fans and possibly TPTB that they have to save this up for one big use, like they can’t have more than one big game changing conversation. I think that is silly, as I’m guessing a lot of fans do. Part of that is what I read (perhaps wrongly) into OD’s comment about “earning” the good moments. Me, I feel more like “What are you saving it for, season 8?” I think that it is also so overused as a plot device that it is becoming distracting, silly, and turning these characters into caricatures.

      • atcdave says:

        I really liked Ernie’s last point (looks like we’re back to agreeing about most things).
        Many of us have said everything about this season would have played better with Chuck and Sarah as an actual couple; I’m sure you all know that’s how I feel. If Chuck and Sarah were already committed to each other and Sarah delivers the judgement in Nacho Sampler or Fake Name “I really don’t like the person you’re turning into” that would have been a dynamite scene. It certainly would have had a powerful impact on Chuck, especially if its echoed by Morgan, Ellie, and Devon. It would have led to the same soul searching for Chuck; and it would have avoided alienated 20+% (yes, that’s a made up statistic) who have no patience with the LI story arcs.

      • Mi8tt8 says:

        I realised that what I was saying wasn’t clear. Indeed I am really looking forward to see CS actually getting together, and work on their relationship, maturing together etc. I think it’s time, and it was time at the beginning of the season.

        But the TPTB took an other direction. My comment about Shaw and PLIs was about the situation we were given during Pink Slip (CS not together).

      • Chris says:

        Yeah, I would have to agree with Ernie and Dave. I think it would have been a better story if Chuck and Sarah had been finding their own way together this season, and actually talked to each other. It would have made the story more emotionally powerful and satisfying to me.

        If Chuck and Sarah actually talked to each other then that would make them more “real” to me. They don’t need psychological breakdowns/OOC moments to make them more real in my opinion.

        I really did not see the need for PLI for any of what has happened this season. I don’t buy the argument that we need them for “fast” character growth. I have been pretty upset that all the screen time/budget for the PLI has taken away time for the other characters I love. That has made their disappearance and reappearance of these characters seem even more uneven and all the more noticeable this season to me.

        For me, because there are PLI, I was too irritated by that to really “feel” anything about what happened in “fake name,” other than disgust and boredom that we are still seeing PLI retreads. Especially since TPTB did not sell me at all on Sarah/Sam and Shaw together (Sham). There were just too many things that did not add up in my mind that they could be an item.

        In my opinion, Chuck and Sarah going through these dark times together, with the rest of the regular cast to shine more with screen time, would have been a more powerful and enjoyable story. I have not seen anything that the PLI added that could not have been done better with the regular cast.

      • herder says:

        I guess I’m getting tired of a bunch of things at once, and despite all indications of good things coming I’m worried that I have been pushed too far.

        I’m tired of the whole PLI thing, not only that but tired of a bunch of it’s components. There is the “they don’t talk” part that others have pointed out. Another part of them is the “they miss the moment” usually by interuption. Sarah’s about to tell him she’s staying but she’s interupted by Papa B, Chuck explains Zurich but she’s not on the other side of the door. Sarah wants to be with Chuck, but he’s going to see Hannah so she moves on with Shaw. I’m sure we will see a bunch more missed moments and misinterpretation over the next few episodes as they feel out what the other is thinking and doing.

        The other thing is Ali Adler’s putting the WTWT words into other character’s mouths. At first it didn’t bother me, I thought it was funny, but as time goes by I wonder, if you know it bothers people so much why do you make it such a big part of everything that you do. I can see why Liz James took such offense to it. It is one thing to do something that you know people don’t like because you beleive it pushes the story forward in the way you want, it is another thing to intentionally goad some people about it.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Chris, Sham is brilliant! I love that!

        Mi8tt8, I understand. I’ve made the same argument that while I don’t agree I understand where TPTB are going and what they hope to accomplish.

      • Mi8tt8 says:

        Yes Ernie. Now with the good things we’re hearing about the coming episodes and Shaw gone after 3.13, we still can hope seeing what we wanted during the second half of the season.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Another part of them is the “they miss the moment” usually by interuption.

        Herder, I’m right there with you on that one. I think this is all part of the frustration with the PLI thing. They have so consistently used the same unoriginal plot points to keep Chuck and Sarah apart that it not only feels unconvincing in a dead horse sense, it starts to feel practically insulting that they expect us to keep buying into this lame writing. It is at the point now where it detracts from the show.

        The other thing is Ali Adler’s putting the WTWT words into other character’s mouths. At first it didn’t bother me, I thought it was funny, but as time goes by I wonder, if you know it bothers people so much why do you make it such a big part of everything that you do. I can see why Liz James took such offense to it. It is one thing to do something that you know people don’t like because you beleive it pushes the story forward in the way you want, it is another thing to intentionally goad some people about it.

        Speaking of insulting writing, I didn’t find it insulting, but I see why Liz did. I thought it Ali tweaking herself and the other writers by saying we get it fans, we’ve gone to this well one too many times. The problem in execution was who she used as a stand in for the shippers. The mobsters and the stupidest most clueless characters on the show. If Ali didn’t realize it could come off as her portraying shippers as idiots she should have. I saw it and I don’t write for a living.

      • atcdave says:

        One more thought on the “need” of PLIs this season. Some of you may have seen my post on fan fiction a couple weeks ago; While I do need to emphasize it is amatuer writing, and often wouldn’t translate well on screen; I find it fascinating the dozens of different ways fans have come up with imagining Chuck and Sarah sorting through their issues. Most of the best fan writers acknowledge the difficulties in their situation and characters, and sort through much of the same stuff we’ve seen the actual show address; yet RARELY, do fan writers use the LI approach. We see professional/personal/situational barriers, and triumph against the odds; but seldom an outside love interest.

        This tells me a couple things; first, few fans are really interested in seeing a PLI situation; and second, with a little creativity it is certainly possible to address any problem without resorting to the dreaded cheap trick.

      • OldDarth says:

        “She could afford to be harsh on Chuck in that final scene where Sarah, or Ellie probably could not. But that along with you reasoning still leaves a lot of marionette strings showing when it comes to the Hannah character.”

        There are strings for all the characters and storylines. So the PLI ones never bother me or stand out from the rest.

      • Faith says:

        I think OD meant, “earn” not so much in the terms that we had to work for it but just that light is all the more effervescent when placed next to the darkest of the dark.

        Ernie you were the one that said this was a hero’s journey. Well in a sense this journey had to get dragged to the mud before he can really, really take ownership of his heroism.

        Now I’m not saying I agree with the PLIs but I think if you were to sit in a chair as writers you’d feel that this is probably the most painful and most “dark” the characters could go. I mean to be honest I NOW hate the characters. You’ve all read my posts, you know I can take a lot of things but hating them, making me dislike them is where I draw the line. Now I’m not quitting or anything (but I totally understand it when Liz says they’re cartoon characters) but only because I didn’t realize they would rationalize this transformation for me in a way that I can kind of, sort of understand it. It doesn’t get any darker or real-er than “hate” for me. So mission accomplished.

        But now it’s up to them to facilitate the turn around. Just like when you drop from grace, you have to shoot for the sky. You have to remake yourself and repent in a sense for all the darkness you have undertaken. These are no longer Chuck and Sarah, these are Charles and Sam. And these same two characters have to return and take ownership of the fall from grace and make us fall back in love to who they are now becoming. They need to find that healthy balance and only through this challenge can they do that. I’m very excited to see that if for nothing else because it’s a challenge.

      • Faith says:

        At the same time though I have to admit I think there’s a little bit of, “ok we’re gonna give you what you want, but we’re gonna make it as convoluted and as painful as possible” going on here.

      • herder says:

        A while ago I read an article about promoting the Peter Weir film “Dead Poets Society”. The point was that it was promoted as a vehicule for zany Robin Williams stuff when in fact it was a gentle film about friendships at a boy’s school and a very sad suicide at the end. The promotion brought people in, the quality of the story kept them happy despite not really getting what they were sold.

        I sort of feel that way about season 3 so far, it was promoted as a spy/comedy/romance but it has delivered something darker and heavier. For those who love this season so far, I’m happy for you, for myself, I’m left feeling that I haven’t quite got what I was sold – yet.

        I hope the next five episodes balance the dark beginning and that the next six are lighter and happier than the first eight have been. I’m not saying that I won’t love this season like I did season one and two ( and like I did Dead Poets Society) it’s just that I’m not there yet and what I’m getting compared to what I was expecting going in hasn’t measured up – yet.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Faith, I totally understood. My feeling is it is silly to make episodes that people will not enjoy or that risk alienating fans. They never had to resort to it before and still managed to tell a pretty compelling story.

    • John says:

      It’s only painful if your team is awful. Watching season 3 of Chuck is just as painful as watching my Niners struggle with mediocrity for the past decade.

      • Lucian says:

        No one knows the true meaning of angst like a life-long Detroit Lions fan. No one. 🙂

      • Faith says:

        cubs?

        I’m not a sports fan per say myself, but as I understand it there are no “tougher” fan than that of the Cubs 🙂

      • JLR says:

        I can’t argue the point too much, b/c the Lions have been pathetic for pretty much the entirety of my recollection (a few nice years w/ Barry Sanders though)… BUT, I still rue the day my grandfather decided it was time for me to watch Harry Caray call a Cubs game on WGN, thus ensuring me a life of suffering.

      • JC says:

        I’m Bills fan, four straight Super Bowl losses. My pain knows no bounds.

      • JLR says:

        At least you’ve gotten to the “show”; nothing but June swoons & a couple playoff appearances for my Cubs since the 80’s.

      • joe says:

        JC? A Bills fan? My bro. lives in Elma, down the road from Orchard Park. I was born in Cheektowaga, myself.

        Okay, the rest of you, stop laughing!!!

        Bills fans cried for years when they heard “Wide right!”

      • JC says:

        I still shudder if I hear the words Music City and Miracle.

      • atcdave says:

        At least as a Bears fan I can still say they won the big one in my lifetime. But with that being 25 years ago now, it sometimes feels pathetic. It really only seems to work on my friends and co-workers, who are largely Lions fans. Actually, living in Ann Arbor they’re mostly U of M fans, but I never really understood the appeal of kids football.

  6. kg says:

    I certainly have little to whine about the forutnes of my teams in the first decade of the new century.

    Four Super Bowl appearances (Patriots), two World Series (Red Sox) and a spot in the NBA Finals (Celtics). Six championships from seven opportunities.

    JLR is right. None of us have suffered like the Lions’ fan. I’ll say this, I don’t believe the Thanksgiving game should be yanked from Detroit and the surrounding Townships.

    That’s your tradition JLR no matter how pathetic the organization is. Traditions are dying left and right. It would be a crime to pilfer that game from you folks.

    TPTB can rotate in other teams annually via the night game on NFL Network.

    • atcdave says:

      Dang KG, with your pedigree you really have no experience rooting for the looser; how’d you ever come to like Chuck in first place? Do you have what it takes to last out a loosing season? This may be a tougher test for you than your teams have prepared you for!

      • kg says:

        Dave

        My dad and I had season tickets for the Patriots back in the day when they would win one or two games a year.

        Prior to 2004, the last Red Sox World Series title was 1918 before they sold Babe Ruth to New York.

        Only this decade have we seen so much success at once.

        Same as you buddy. Yvonne was hot and I like Spy dramas and the nerd was cool and resourceful and it once appeared he was going to get the hot girl.

      • atcdave says:

        Yeah, I know about the Red Sox, I was just having some fun. I also remember the Super Bowl the Bears won; one of the headlines I saw called it “The Bear that ate New England.” There I go, living in the past again!

    • Faith says:

      We sir are mortal enemies!

      Go Lakers! Go Angels! and well…Go whatever hockey team there is here around LA!

      • Chaaaucckk says:

        KINGSSSSS and DUCKSs!!!big ass hockey fan here. god damn hockey no one cares about it. i guess thats why i like Chuck i like rooting for the underdog the guy thats not the most popular or amazing… of course unless your name is Kobe. Last name Bryant.

      • Faith says:

        Chaaaucckk, welcome. Kindred spirit!

      • Waverly says:

        And whatever professional football team there is around LA, like USC.

  7. Jason says:

    seems to me 3.8 really split the fan base into thirds, the veteran tv show watchers were fairly positive, watching almost from a S1/S2 POV & really appreciating the writing & realizing the direction it all is headed, the hardcore shipper crowd were really disgusted about the CS PLI story lines, and the remaining viewers sort of liked it all & would have no problem with the entire show remaining as is. I think it is a mistake to think anymore or anyless of fans who fall into any of those three camps –

    If pressed for a definition, I’d say real fans watch the show each week with emotion.

    • joe says:

      Pretty astute observation, Jason. I think I agree.

      You caught something I missed. The “veteran” viewers seem to come in two flavors – greater and lesser ‘shippers. I had been thinking that this was a continuum, but now it seems like The Mask and The Fake Name has divided them pretty cleanly.

      Read a book once about left-brain, right-brain differences. The right brain is emotional, the left, analytical. We sure do watch emotionally, like you said. But boy, we love to analyse too.

    • atcdave says:

      Jason, I’m pretty sure I cross lines in your definition. The episode was mostly well written and acted, we see a way out; so I can take heart in knowing the LI story arc is winding down. But I will always resent the route they took us. This show should have been so much better, so much more fun. Even with an awesome ending, the middle part of this season failed for me.

    • Faith says:

      nothing is ever that simple 😉

  8. kg says:

    Dave

    That 85 Bears team one of the best of all time. I knew we weren’t going to beat you guys, I was just hoping for a more competitive game.

    We talk a lot about journeys and for me that final result to the Bears (44-10) CAN NEVER obscure the fun ride along the way.

    We beat three of our biggest rivals – Jets, Raiders and Dolphins, all on the road, to reach that Super Bowl XX.

    I’ve got LPs, books, VHS and DVDs to remind me of all those special seasons.

    In relation to Chuck, Season 3 hasn’t been what we’d hoped. But it’s still our show and we must see how it plays out even if we don’t like it. Like we said, suffering through losing seasons.

    And if we need a good Chuck fix, we can always watch our season one and two DVDs.

    • kg says:

      Not so much just suffering, but you know, more like enduring and surviving. Come Monday, there’s always another episode. You hope it was better than the last.

      Much like we hope the game was better than the previous one.

      • atcdave says:

        Well put.

      • Matt says:

        I really want to see the show head back towards the light. When I say light, I mean more light-hearted, more upbeat, back to the team as it was. If we have to stay away from the Chuck and Sarah relationship for awhile, that would be fine by me. Let the show creep back towards “normalcy”.

        Wanting the next one to better than the last one is something I hope all Chuck fans are rooting for. Even though the characters acted differently in “Fake Name”, I was still happy at how tightly constructed the episode was. Everything seemed to mesh from beginning to end.

        Having Chuck sit on the sidelines because he can’t flash is not how they are going to fix him. Chuck has been shown time and time again to flash when someone on his team or someone he loves is in danger. It has been said that Sarah is his kryptonite as well as his spinach, but Chuck’s flashed before when Devon was in trouble as well as when Casey was in trouble.

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