Inside Comic-Con

Yes, We Have A Reporter On The Inside!

I’m very happy that some of our readers got to attend the San Diego Comic-Con 2010, which is more than I can say about me! Our friend and frequent commenter Jan was gracious enough to give us an insider’s report.

– joe

Since the videos of the panel are readily available on YouTube, it seems silly to discuss the topics in this recap. Perhaps addressing some of the issues would be more relevant.

Comic-Con 2010 - Victory is Mine!

The introduction of Linda Hamilton as Mama B, as well as the search of her as a Season 4 theme, broadens the range of opportunities. Sarah Lancaster has already said that finding Ellie’s mother may not be a positive thing for Ellie. Chuck seems to be dealing with it as much as a Mission from his Dad as a need to reconnect with his mother. Fedak and Schwartz also mentioned how it will affect the Chuck/Sarah relationship. Obviously, there are more questions than answers. But the selection of Linda Hamilton, with her reputation as a kick-ass heroine, certainly changes the dynamic. Whether she is good or bad, or interested in being found by her children will shade the movement through Season 4.


The one constant that was discussed and joked about is Chuck and Sarah being together as a couple. When the moderator asked both Zac and Yvonne how the on screen relationship might affect their off screen working relationship, it was Josh Gomez, who was positioned between Zac and Yvonne, who set the mood. Before either could reply, he joked that the one certainty from Season 3 is to not to get in the middle of “you two” Chuck and Sarah…then he ducked out of the way so as not to be hit. Comic relief, yes. Reality for most fans, also yes. Fedak emphasized that Chuck and Sarah are together and will continue together as a couple. Schwartz muddied up the idea by adding that they may not always be happy, but we will always be happy they are together. Every couple has issues. Chuck and Sarah are bound to have issues as well. It seemed as if Fedak’s comment was genuine…and Schwartz’s was designed to keep angst alive.

Sarah, Adam & Yvonne - SDCC

The interaction between Zac and Yvonne during the same question was fun. How their relationship has evolved. He brought up the first date, in the Mexican restaurant, “The love’s always been there.” “I was such a Nerd.” “I don’t think it’s changed that much, do you?” Yvonne answered in her memorable Australian “Nooo.” Lots of smiles.

The moderator commented that Sarah got to smile more in the last few episodes than in the previous three seasons. “I was finally excited to be apart of the happy stuff and some of the comic moments of the show. I loved it. Hopefully there’s going to be more of that this season, I hope. Please.” Fedak answered, “there’s no problem with that.”

Perhaps the most distressing part of the presentation was the complete lack of questions from the audience. Time expired. Zac said it best: “you’ve got to be kidding.”

Josh fears to get between Chuck & Sarah - SDCC

The audience was clearly upset. After the season we just lived through, I’m sure many of the fans wanted answers from the producers. That didn’t happen.

It was great to see Zac and Josh, as well as Schwartz and Fedak, talking the show up at every opportunity. Publicity for the show has been horrible. Without effective publicity, this show will not make it. Since the original buzz for the show started at Comic Con in 2007, it would seem a logical spot to start winning back lost viewers. To that end, the stars and producers did their part to rebuild their fan base…certainly to help repair the damage that caused the ratings drop-off.

Of course, Comic Con is also safe territory for Chuck. The real test will be in September. One strong positive was a comment made by “Capt. Awesome” about the tone of the show. He said they recognized that Season 3 was dark and that the outlook for Season 4 was a return to the fun. Certainly, more of a balance between comedy and drama would be nice.

Yvonne, Josh & Zac - SDCC

As an aside, Comic Con is an amazing experience. The shear size of the event is significant. The dedication of these attendees is astounding. Waiting in lines for three hours or more to see the panels, or to get the autographs is the norm. As someone well older than twenty, it’s also very draining.

One fun experience for me happened Friday morning, when my daughter and I were standing in line to see the Stargate Universe panel. As we were being let into the event, I read the badge of another person in this long line: Daniel Feinberg of HitFix.com. I introduced myself and told him that I was one of his readers. He thanked me for my support. As we moved forward in the line, I saw him again and commented that it was odd for an editor to be waiting in line for two hours to get into a panel. He said that standing in line was part of the Comic Con experience. He could have gotten a press pass to bypass the line, but he wanted to experience what the fans experience.

We attended a Chuck event on Friday night. It was a great chance to meet Chuck fans from all over the world. I spoke with a lady from France and another from New Zealand. I met a lady from the nbc boards. Zac, Josh Gomez, Ryan, Sarah Lancaster, Big Mike and Jeffster attended, briefly. It was fun to be a part of such a Chuck-centric event. The stars were gracious. Zac thanked the fans for their continued support. My daughter got an autograph from him personalized for me, which was pretty kewl.

While my major focus was Chuck, there were many other interesting aspects of Comic Con. That Helen Miren attended the event for the upcoming movie, Red, was pretty cool. Walking in the Gas Light district and running into members of the Psych and White Collar cast on the street was fun.

Comic Con was an amazing experience. It was great meeting most of the Chuck cast. It was wonderful seeing the dedication of fans to all the movies, TV shows, comics & graphic novels. Young and old, in street clothes and costumes, the fans are incredible…and being a part of the experience was truly memorable.

– Jan

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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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165 Responses to Inside Comic-Con

  1. atcdave says:

    Sure seems like the mood is better than a year ago. Hopefully this will lead to rebuilding some fan enthusiasm and getting the ratings up!

    If I had to bet though; I’d say the lack of Q & A time was probably not accidental. I’m thinking they decided this was not the time to get dragged into a bunch of S3 questions that would be real buzz-kills. And speaking as someone who would be a wet mop if given the opportunity, they’re probably right.

    • joe says:

      I hope not, Dave! I’m looking at the mega-watt smiles from Yvonne, Josh and Zac in that last picture, and saying to myself “Self, these guys are happy!” Well, yes, they teach happy in acting classes too, but they do seem comfortable with the way things are going.

      From what I heard on the video clips, the crowd did seem to be on their side, to put it mildly. No one could kill that buzz, right? 🙂

      Tell you what I think, though. The news of Linda Hamilton’s role as MEB *was* timed for Comic-Con.

      • atcdave says:

        Oh no doubt about the Linda Hamilton news! Sorry if I wasn’t clear above, I’m not saying they aren’t happy; I do believe everyone is pleased with the situation and what lies ahead. I think its a look back that would have been damaging; and I think they (well, someone did!) planned on avoiding questions for that reason. They controlled the situation to control the message. That’s fine, its probably smart. If I was responsible for either the show or the event that’s how I would have run it, keep things fun!

      • Merve says:

        I really doubt that they didn’t save time for audience Q&A on purpose. They seemed genuinely surprised that they were cut off. Plus people don’t go to conventions to ask rude questions.

    • Mel says:

      If I can jump in here: there was no conspiracy on the part of the producers or anyone else up on that stage – moderators included – regarding the Q&A. They were genuinely shocked when the Ballroom 20 mod cut them off. Panels were shorter this year (45 minutes instead of 60), and I suspect no one informed them of this or maybe they didn’t think it would be so strictly enforced. Even later, in the press room, they were lamenting the shortness of the panel.

      Jan, sorry we didn’t get to meet up. Next year!

      • joe says:

        Mel – Please always feel free to jump in here!

        I *thought* it was 60 minute panels last year. Couldn’t quite trust my memory, though. I realize that ComicCon has grown tremendously over the past few years, but it was precisely the interaction with the stars that made it happen. It’s a shame that they feel limiting that interaction is necessary now.

      • amyabn says:

        Mel, I wanted to echo Joe’s sentiment. Thanks for popping over!

        Hopefully TPTB will keep this in mind for next year and maybe shorten the videos/intros to get to the meat of it all! Glad you and Liz had fun!

    • Crumby says:

      At least the moderators asked about Shaw. I apreciated that.

  2. aardvark7734 says:

    Thanks for the firsthand account, Jan!

    It sounds like quite the experience and there’s nothing quite like seeing the cast first hand.

  3. Casey's girl says:

    Thanks Joe, I’m sorry too that Q & A time was no dice. There could have been some juicy stuff to chew on. So question, are we calling Mrs. Bartowski Mama B, or because she has a name now MEB?

    • joe says:

      Jan did all the work, Casey’s Girl.

      We’ll settle on something for Chuck’s mom, though. I tend to favor MEB at the moment, Mama B. is sort of fun to type. I think that we’re reserving Mrs. Bartowski for the future. You know – the future perfect tense. 🙂

    • Casey's girl says:

      Sorry I saw the J and automaticly thought Joe. my bad. :/

  4. BDaddyDL says:

    I saw this morning that the Sarah Walker Fangirls also posted some thoughts on the sdcc. They also took a lot tour, well here is the link so you can see for yourself.

    http://swfg.posterous.com/wb-lot-tour-and-comic-con-musings

  5. Merve says:

    The more I hear about Comic-Con and the interviews that happened around that time, the less excited I get.

    Chuck is going to be hiding his spy life from Ellie. Again. We’ve seen this for 3 seasons straight. The last 4 episodes of season 3 showed us why it was no longer a good idea. The show is going to have to provide a good reason for the lies to continue. To be fair, if Ellie knew what was going on, she’d have to be the constant nag, given what happened in the season finale. But I hope that things play out a little differently than they have for the past 3 seasons. Speaking of Ellie, the writers shouldn’t repeat the same mistake that they made in season 1 and in the first halves of seasons 2 and 3. She needs a journey of her own this season. Luckily, the baby storyline might provide that.

    There have not been many details divulged about what Sarah is going to be doing this season. Prior to Comic-Con, I believed that the writers would find something for her to do this season other than pining for Chuck. The optimist in me says that they’re keeping a big Sarah story under wraps. The realist in me says that they don’t have anything planned, and Sarah’s journey will be ignored. (For the record, I completely disagree with the notion that Sarah’s journey was ignored this season. It played out depressingly and I didn’t like where her character was taken during the middle third of the season. That’s still a journey, and care was taken to explain why she was reacting how she was reacting.)

    I’ve heard that the back 6 were supposed to be a preview for season 4. If that means more episodes like “Honeymooners” and the season finale, then bring it on. But if that means that the show is going to be like it was from “Role Models” to “Living Dead,” then I can’t say that I’m thrilled. It seems as if the latter will be the case because the show can’t do a lighthearted international caper every week, and if every episode were like the season finale, then the show would burn through the story in 5 episodes. “Role Models” was one of the weakest episodes of the series. “Living Dead” was as aggravating as it was entertaining. The entire underlying arc of those episodes relied on keeping the characters operating in their own independent spheres. The construction of that arc was tenuous, and it can’t be believably repeated.

    The comments about the feel and tone of the show next season worry me the most. They’re saying that they want to show to be lighter and more fun. (Sorry if I’m not quoting that verbatim.) That points to something I really don’t like: letting tone dictate story. With few exceptions (i.e. season premieres) and within reasonable bounds, it should be the other way around. It also points to a desire to “play it safe.” If the show isn’t going to aim big and take risks, then it’s never going to reach the heights of early season 2, late season 2, or early season 3 (season premiere aside). Most alarmingly, it could be indicative of catering to the desires of the most vocal segment of the fanbase. Writing with the fans in mind is a good idea. Writing for the fans is a slippery slope. Letting the fans dictate the direction of the show is just stupid because the only fans that are heard are the most vocal ones. Right now, the show is in danger of slipping on that slope. Already, we’ve seen hints of it. There have been heavy-handed, unnecessary callbacks, like the bracelet in “Three Words” or the sizzling shrimp in “Fake Name” and “Final Exam.” (There has even been an incorrect callback, i.e. the eczema cream in “Honeymooners.” Chuck was faking having eczema in “Best Friend.” I suppose that one could fanwank that he developed eczema since then, but I’m pretty sure that the cream was intended to be a callback.)

    The good news is that my expectations for next season are so low that I’ll almost certainly be pleasantly surprised come September 20th. But I’m not holding my breath. TV shows tend to peak and decline; they rarely recover. I hope that Chuck can be an exception. If not, I’ll be content with the memory of how great this show was from “Best Friend” to “Nacho Sampler.”

    • Casey's girl says:

      Good point Merve, some of the spoilers for this season souns so cryptic I can hardly twist my mind around them. But the best thing I can understand
      this season is the lighter, funnier, and exciting kind back to the show’s roots if you will? So I’m gonna sit back, try to relax , hope for the best, and enjoy the ride.

    • atcdave says:

      I agree with many of your concerns Merve, but not your final verdict. Surprisingly, I agree entirely about the best and worst of the back six; Honeymooners was light, fun, adventure-comedy, I could watch a lot of that sort of episode. And Subway/Ring 2 had a fun story and lots of action, that also made for a very good time. 3.15-3.17 were weaker (not bad, just weaker than the others). And I HOPE S4 isn’t going to look like some of the weaker plots from that period; I understand that a spy story will involve in lying and deception, but its no fun and doesn’t reflect well on the characters if there is constant lying between friends and allies (not to mention its as old as love triangles were at the start of S3). That is probably my single biggest concern for the season ahead. I do agree it was ironic how the lying to Ellie lead directly to the whole Justin scenario; and yet Team Bartowski doesn’t seem to get that? I have some concerns about what the team structure will be; we’re hearing a lot about the Chuck/Morgan pairing which is simply not what I want to see.

      Yet at the end of the day I think they get all that. Except maybe the lying to Ellie which may play out too long; I suspect our other concerns will right themselves quickly. And wasn’t it clearly stated the tone would be more fun this year? Assuming they know what we find fun, I think that’s good. After all, the show only really tanked when they clearly intended to go dark. Recapturing what they did in S2 may be difficult, but I have seen shows go through good and bad periods before (Simpsons has clearly had strong and weak seasons; of course Chuck will probably not have THAT much time to work with… ). I’ve heard many fans say a weak episode of Chuck is better than most of what’s on TV; while there have been a few real stinkers I don’t feel that way about, I think its unlikely I’ll actually be unhappy with S4. It just remains to be seen if the show will be great, or only good.

      • Merve says:

        The tonal thing is one of my main concerns. I don’t think that intentionally going for a more “fun” tone will work. Maybe they should go for a more “fun” story. But if trying to write to a specific tone is getting in the way of the story they want to tell, then that’s a very, very bad thing. It hasn’t been an issue thus far, but the fact that the issue of “fun” came up both on the panel and in cast interviews leads me to believe that they might engage in a bit of overcorrective steering.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Standing on the outside of the creative team and guessing which wound will prove fatal might be good fodder for us here on forums, but it’s likely to be as accurate as winning an inside bet in roulette. Actually worrying about the bleeding out period of said wound with those odds in place seems unnecessarily phobic.

        But I guess we’re all guilty of it to one extent or another.

        In the vein of the comments preceding this one, and in the interests of pluralism, I’d like to restate that not everyone wants the show to become a bastion of deep drama with weighty, serious dilemmas. Sure, we’d like emotionally resonant and meaningful moments, but using an argument Merve is so fond of, those types of moments happened in every season of Chuck.

        It’s not about those moments, it’s really about the tone.

        And as Merve correctly points out, what’s more vital to the show than “setting the tone” is deciding what kind of story they’re going to tell. Stories with certain elements will tend to drag the tone lighter or darker. It would be hard, for example, to do lighthearted comedy amidst a character’s losing battle against Alzheimer’s.

        Some people might love that kind of story, because they want to see these characters and actors stretched through their full dynamic range – having seen their light halves they’d like to see them pulled toward the dark and its heart-wrenching agony. And I’d even agree that these are good things in shows where they’re done well.

        But just not on Chuck. For me, Chuck is escapist entertainment. A fantasy. There are plenty of alternate shows to watch if you’re after that other stuff.

        What I want desperately is for TPTB to stop focusing on gimmicks and recommit themselves to telling great stories about the characters and their interrelationships. It’s what hooked me on the show in the first place and what succeeds on it regardless of what season we’re talking about. And it is their sacrifice of that priority in the service of plot that’s the source of their most distressing failures.

        I’m convinced that reestablishing a focus on fun, engaging character stories at the expense of the hero’s journey and spy mythos (they’ve always been haphazardly effective anyway) stands the best chance of recapturing the magic that set this show apart in 2007 and 2008. Plot twists, 80’s throwback actors and Gravitron fights won’t do it.

        But making us delight in just knowing these characters again just might.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        aardvark – Exactly. Well put.

        Once the relationships are “functioning”, we will believe the story and ignore (at least somewhat) the plotholes. The whole show just becomes more fun and fun to watch.

      • Merve says:

        Aardvark, there’s a reason I said that the story should dictate the tone, within reasonable bounds. Obviously, there are some stories that won’t work on Chuck. I don’t want to see Ellie cheating on her husband or Big Mike suffering from terminal cancer. That sort of stuff just wouldn’t fit. I also don’t want to give the impression that a certain story sets a strict tone, and I’m sorry for being unclear in my previous comment. There’s some wiggle room to tweak the tone once the story has been established, but that sort of tweaking should be secondary to the story itself.

        My fear is that the show won’t provide the engaging character stories that you mentioned. I’m afraid that in trying too hard to maintain a lighter feel, the writers will neglect to lend the proper emotional weight to the story when required. Next season, Chuck is going to be searching for the woman who abandoned him and his sister. It should be an emotional experience for Chuck and Ellie. Treating it frivolously probably won’t work. Hey, if Chuck’s gotta cry, then Chuck’s gotta cry; Merlin doesn’t need to interrupt.

        I don’t agree that Chuck should sacrifice the spy mythos or the hero’s journey to tell more engaging character stories. Why does there need to be a sacrifice? Why can’t the show do both? The show has done it before in the back half of season 2, which had both an engaging plot and an interesting emotional journey for Chuck. Replicating the exact same journey in season 4 would be inappropriate, but the idea of a spy plot with a strong emotional undercurrent holds promise.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Merve,

        No need to apologize for not communicating what you meant exactly. I suspect it’s happening to all of us, regardless of how hard we’re trying.

        For instance, in the previous post, when I said “at the expense of the hero’s journey and spy mythos” I never meant they should strive to sacrifice these elements. I simply meant that I wanted them to prioritize the importance of consistent and engaging character development OVER the hero’s journey and spy mythos. That’s all.

        The creative team did do both in S2, but until they do it again we don’t know if they’re a one-trick pony. There’s not a lot of “Chuck” left to us fans before the show’s gone, and I’d prefer they apply their best efforts focused on what would yield, IMO, the biggest payoffs, rather than spraying them around too widely and risking failure everywhere. It’s Sun Tzu, you know?

        As to your worry that TPTB are going to mandate a lighter feel and not give sufficient emotional heft where it’s needed, I have to admit that this worry seems overly and narrowly polarized towards one specific kind of failure. There are numerous other vectors for failure that could kill the season just as soundly as the one you describe, including setting sail on yet another joyless and depressing season-long arc.

        But to address your worry, I think that in doing everything except actually saying they were sorry at SDCC, it’s clear in retrospect that post-Mask TPTB recognized what they’d done, certainly early enough to have lightened the tone of 3.18 and 3.19 if they thought that was the problem – and yet they didn’t.

        In light of this I have no fear that S4 is going to become one endless low-gravity ride. Instead, my biggest fear is much more primal – that Fedak is tone deaf to his own show and doesn’t know what the right mix is anymore. That he’ll spend the whole season flailing around for the right balance and never quite finding it.

        I hope I’m wrong and he surprises the hell out of me, delivering gratifying character interplay within impactful and resonant stories. I promise, I’ll take back nearly every doubt I ever expressed about him if he could pull that off.

        It’d be worth it.

      • Merve says:

        The way I see it, there were 3 take-home messages from Comic-Con:
        1. Chuck and Sarah are going to be together.
        2. Linda Hamilton is Mama Bartowski.
        3. The show is going to be “lighter” next season.

        I reacted like this:
        1. I could have guessed that.
        2. I’ve never seen Terminator. I have no clue what she’s like. The last two multi-episode guest actors, Brandon Routh and Scott Holroyd, weren’t great. I hope that TPTB did better this time.
        3. If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it.

        Sure, there was some good news – Old Spice guy and a Woodcomb baby – but my initial reactions to the important items weren’t exactly enthusiastic. It struck me that the notion of a “lighter” show was mentioned on both the panel and subsequent interviews. Now, that might be a marketing ploy to pique viewers’ interest based on the perception that the “darkness” was unpopular. In that case, I commend TPTB on trying to reach out to viewers, and I’ll gladly eat my words once the season starts. But if it’s being used a barometer for the dialogue and directing, it could cause problems.

        As for your concern that the show might flail around trying to find the right balance, it’s certainly a valid concern. I can imagine a scenario in which the writers try to meld all the different vibes from past seasons into a messy hodgepodge. New writers may try to emulate the past instead of writing their own future. On the other hand, it might be easier to channel the new writers’ energies into a single focus. Plus, for me, part of the appeal of Chuck is that it’s constantly shifting and evolving. Just for kicks, try watching the Pilot and “Ring: Part II” back-to-back. It’s amazing how much things have changed.

        And that’s how it should be. The show should continue to evolve. It should look forward. Perhaps I had the wrong idea earlier. The show shouldn’t try to emulate past success. Season 4 shouldn’t be like season 1, season 2, or season 3. Season 4 should be like season 4 – something unique, something different, something surprising.

        And like that, I’m feeling a bit more optimistic again. Thanks, Aardvark: in replying to your comment, I’ve managed to psych myself up once more. I’m still not pleased with a lot of what I heard coming out of Comic-Con, and my excitement remains guarded, but I’m sure that a fresh crop of spoilers will cheer me up.

      • JC says:

        I think what we can take from this is that Merve needs to Netflix or rent T1 and T2 immediately. You can skip the third and Salvation.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        JC, Yeah, but T1 is only needed for origin story – I’m pretty sure it’s the T2 Sarah Connor that TPTB have in mind. Probably best if he just goes straight to T2.

        Merve, you’re welcome. 🙂 Try to keep yourself in the optimism zone for as long as you can, it makes the interminable delay a lot easier to bear.

        I’m sure a “Chuck” season could be produced that both of us would be raving about. But can Fedak find it with both hands? That’s the $26M question.

      • JC says:

        Fedak reminds me of George Lucas in some ways. He comes up with great ideas and characters. But his grasp on human emotion and interaction is questionable especially when it comes to women.

        He really needs to watch Buffy and Angel on how to write an ensemble show. Fully developed secondary characters and strong female leads.

      • jason says:

        I really don’t get it, most detective / spy shows have a male / female lead who start the investigation / mystery together, solve it the entire way together, then have some sort of cute ending scene. Chuck and Sarah would ‘rule’ this type of popular theme (with casey and morgan as their two bumbling partners), as CS have way more chemistry than the competition, yet sarah was shaw’s lapdog in season 3, now it appears morgan will be chuck’s lapdog in season 4, I don’t get it – fans do not really want to see chuck and morgan search for chuck’s mom while sarah is off somewhere else with casey, I am pretty sure the majority want chuck and sarah to be the lead actors in the spy drama – TPTB can give morgan all the great lines they want, but he still is a comic relief B actor at his best, and much like routh, does not have the depth to carry a whole season or arc (Morgan already is going to get extra screen time with the alex story line and the casey bro-mance / partnership, if he also is Orion’s lead partner all season long – can anyone justify that?)

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Nope, Jason, can’t justify it. All I can say is that this seems to be an idea that Fedak seems to really like and he’s not going to get any resistance from Zac or Josh about it. Zac always goes out of his way to promote Josh at PR events, much like he used to with Yvonne in S1.

        If they were to stick to the paradigm you mentioned, with Chuck and Sarah as a crime-fighting pair and Casey/Morgan as their supporting partners, you’d probably have a setup not unlike half a dozen or more shows spread across network and cable television. Off the top of my head, “Bones”, “Burn Notice”, “Lie to Me”, “Fringe” and “Castle” come to mind, not to mention the upcoming “Undercovers”.

        In not all of these shows do the leads have the same, amazing chemistry. But what they do have, in most of the cases, is capable writing staffs and strong show runners.

      • jason says:

        aard – funny, I like those shows you mention, but the romantic leads are all ok, I can take them or leave them, if one got hit by a bus or ‘shaw’d away’ for a season, I could care less, but sarah and chuck are ‘different’ – for all the words written, noone has really explained why, but I don’t think I am the only one who feels that way, what sucks is the writers won’t let CS appear on the screen together – I am sure someone will suggest that is why I / we love them more than the rest, I don’t think that is true, as eps like delorean, the pilot, honeymooners, and even role models are my fav’s.

    • JC says:

      Honestly I’ve never believed it was the darker nature of S3 that bothered people. It was the darkness felt forced. The situations felt out of place on the show and relied on extreme character stupidity to drive it home. Tic Tac is a perfect example of how to do dark on this show, well except for the last five minutes. Chuck was closer to killing someone in cold blood in that episode but it felt like the Chuckverse.

      • Merve says:

        I wasn’t at all bothered by the darker tone of the show. In fact, I’d even go as far as to say that “Mask” should have been darker. TPTB have indicated that they want to do a lighter show next season. That’s fine, but only if they’re actually telling a lighter story.

      • atcdave says:

        Well you know, I don’t think “dark” was the primary problem. S1 often had darker themes. The angst and triangles that many of us couldn’t buy into was the start of the FUBAR. Some of the darker episodes could have even been satisfying if the central relationship hadn’t been all messed up; like the only refuge from a scary world, instead of being the major distraction that it was.

      • JC says:

        I agree with you guys. I think the darker tone was a scapegoat by critics and some fans on why S3 wasn’t as well received as the previous ones. The show has done dark before but it was always within the world they created and it didn’t rely on me turning off my brain completely.

      • Joseph (can't be Joe) says:

        The issue here is I think a lot of people confuse or combine “dark” with “depressing”.

        Dark is good, Subway was essentially a dark episode, that most people rave about.

        The darkness of the infamous 13 never bothered me, but the depressing tone or feeling was quickly tiresome.

    • Faith says:

      I don’t agree. At all.

    • Crumby says:

      About the lying to Ellie. Ryan said in an interview (I can’t recall which one) that Ellie and Awesome were trying to come back to normal, and move on. That’s what would explain that Chuck doesn’t want to drag her into the search of mom.

      Also considering that Ellie knows about Casey, Sarah and Morgan’s involvment with the NSA/CIA, it won’t be exactly the same.

      I guess it all depends on how the CIA stories and the search for mom will be lead.

      I’m not worried about Ellie though with the baby storyline and mom, she should have stuff to do. I way more worried about Sarah…

      • Casey's girl says:

        Ah but there’s a difference, as we all know once a character from the outside world learns/gets in to the spy world, there’s pretty much almost no way of getting out. Even if they succeeded into regaining a normal life I doubt it would last long, knowing the enemies Team B has. They would always be targeted now that the cat’s out of the proverbial bag.

    • Eli says:

      Forgive me if I’m wrong, but wasn’t Ryan McPartlin the only one who directly stated that they had learned from fans’ complains and this season was going to be “lighter”? I only remember him saying that.

      Ryan is an actor who possibly only knows what happens in episode 1 and maybe 2. He’s not one of the writers and doesn’t know what’s the complete story or the direction. He can only guess it (just like us 🙂 ).

      But of course, if Schwartz & Fedak had stated something similar I (mostly) agree with your fears, Merve.

      PS: This is the first fandom where I’m active so I have to ask it (because I don’t have any other experience): Are the other fandoms so passive-agressive? Because it’s like we (and I include myself) are always fearful of writers screwing it up, think that the writers already screwed the show up, we have no good expectations for the show, we’re always saying “they changed it, now it’s ruined,” we seldom seem to like what the writers propose, we seem to idolize past seasons, arcs or episodes even if we dished them when we whatched them for the first time and we are never happy!

      How the fans of other shows (that I consider worse) survive? Do they resort to “Prozac”?

      • Crumby says:

        Yeah I also only heard Ryan talking about “lighter” tone.

      • atcdave says:

        I would guess Ryan got the idea from somewhere though. Of course that makes it second hand info, but I would bet it is something they all discussed.
        I think the warry optimism you see here Eli is a function of S3. I was very active at the NBC forums during and after S2, and I would say except during the unpopular Jill and Cole arcs in S2, the mood there was fun and upbeat until Comic-Con 2009. Then things turned ugly and have never come back all the way. Many of us feel burned and are less likely to fully trust TPTB to deliver the show we want to see now. A good S4 would restore a lot of optimism.

      • JC says:

        If you compare Chuck to other fandoms we’re pretty tame and forgiving. Just check out some comments about Lost or Supernatural.

        I think Dave is right, fans are hesitant because of S3. Whether you loved, hated or were somewhere in between the show lost something last season. The back six recaptured some of it but it hasn’t hit the highs of S2.

        TPTB are saying all the right things but until we see how its executed its all talk.

      • Eli says:

        Oh, so is completely normal and I didn’t join a sect or have serious mental issues? Glad to know. Thanks, JC 🙂

        And how do (or did) those fans survive? Because I can imagine that the writers of Lost seldom did something the fans wanted. Being a devoted fan had to be exhausting sometimes.

      • Merve says:

        Eli, that’s the nature of fandom. Fanbases are fickle. Fanbases complain. The different factions of a fanbase rarely agree on anything. Heck, if I had disliked S3 as much as some of the commenters here, I would have quit watching. I admire their perseverance (and their masochism).

        But Chuck‘s fanbase is enthusiastic and active. How many shows do you know that have twice been saved by fan campaigns? Look at how active the show’s official message boards are compared to other NBC shows’. It’s the gift and curse of crafting a cult show: a small number of super-devoted fans and a large number of clueless outsiders.

      • Eli says:

        OK, so it’s perfectly normal the kind of bipolar syndrome I suffer sometimes, going from very excited to wary in 10.5 seconds. I thought I had to go to the doctor 🙂

        I’m kind of calm with these spoilers, though. I wasn’t so composed in the middle of season 3. Because I must make a confession: I didn’t trust the writers. No, I thought they were going to do what every other show with a lead couple with tons of UST (X-Files, Bones, Castle, House for FIVE years…) has done/do/will do, stretch the “will they/won’t they” to unreasonable proportions. But in the end the writers did what I wanted them to do, so I’m optimistic.

        Most of the time. But there are some moments where I panic. A little.

        As I see this is normal, so I’m calm.

  6. Faith says:

    Jan, thank you so much for the writeup.

    It really brings it home…in a way only a fan can 🙂

    I’ve never been but in a lot of ways I think Comic-Con is more about the electric atmosphere than spoilers or whatever talks that come up. So I’m glad you were able to take that in.

    I have some thoughts as to the panel itself (sorry I haven’t had time to post here as much, I’m trying!)…

    – Linda Hamilton? Bad ass.
    – I gathered from the snippets and the interviews that Schewdak got as close to apologizing about the things that went wrong in S3…as much as they could and still remain confident. At the end of the day that’s all we can hope for so I’ll take it. We are after all a country of forgiving people.
    – Lies abound. I’ve gone all I could into the lies and I’m sure I will pile on in the future but really at this point I’m a wait and see. It sounds like apart from the lying (really if it’s rationalized I probably wouldn’t bitch as much as I did last season) it’s going to be an adult Chuck with adult issues. That’s always a welcome occurrence.
    – Everyone has their own opinions on this but to me S2 was the quintessential Chuck and if they bring back just a little bit of that I think we’re in for a ride of our lives. Ratings and viewers aside, in the end it’s about being entertained and a large percentage of S3 wasn’t so much entertaining as it was about being loyal to a show I’ve fallen for. So a return to entertainment would be welcome, in any form.
    – Last thought: as a shipper I think most people assume that my biggest beef is Chuck and Sarah not being together. It is but it isn’t. In the end I just want them in a good place. What worked so well in S2 that didn’t in S3 is exactly that. When you root for people you always want just that snippet of hope, that optimistic sense. Without that you can’t root as much because honestly again for a large percentage of S3 they just weren’t characters I wanted to root for. Who they were or who they’ve become was so far removed from the ones I fell for it was a struggle. But I’m really getting off tangent. I guess my point is, break them up, keep them together…we all know conflict has to come into play (otherwise where’s the story) but without that measure of hope or that feel good factor it’s just not the same, it’s not as entertaining (for me, again personal preference). I think that good place is vital, especially for a relationship driven show like Chuck.

    • atcdave says:

      Some good points Faith, I certainly agree S2 defines Chuck. And S3 was just a trial until 3.13. I’ll always say after S2, Chuck/Sarah together is the only way that part of the story could play out without loosing viewers; but of course its about more than together, it needs to be a happy place.

      The “almost” apology is actually pretty satisfying, it does help me feel better about the future of the show.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      Faith, that was perfect.

      A thread of hope was what could have made the difference in my acceptance of S3’s predominant arc. But that was systematically destroyed by the story and characterizations that were put in front of us. I no longer hoped for these characters because they’d lost hope for each other.

      We needed them to be in a good place sometimes, and that just never seemed to happen until the back six.

      You say S2 was the quintessential season for you, and I suspect many would concur. It was a great blend of tones for the fans, mixing the lighter mood of Seduction and Cougars with the tense pall of Predator and Dream Job. It’s a season that every fan got a little bit of what they wanted.

      If we’re lucky, what Schwedak “got” from last season is that they need to be more attentive to this blend if they want to keep their *entire* fan base. And that while we are interested in watching our heroes cope with conflict and adversity, we want to see them win some of their battles – not just be whipping dogs all the way until the end.

  7. amyabn says:

    My take on all of the reporting has been mostly positive. I agree with all who comment on Sarah and Ellie’s need for their own journey. I think the writers will inter relate them as Ellie’s pregnancy progresses.
    I didn’t feel really positive about the Chuck/Morgan teaming and the implied that Chuck would be keeping his rogue search for MamaB a secret from Sarah. i can see him telling her (hopefully quickly-ep 4.1 or 4.2). I still recall her hurt in Predator when Chuck kept his search for Orion from her.

    I have no problem with them having relationship problems-Sarah has to do another Cole-type seduction mission and Chuck gets upset, Chuck get’s hit on by the newest brunette agent at the BuyMore and Chuck, being Chuck, is oblivious and Sarah is jealous. Those kinds of things are normal and expected. I just don’t want the lying to be the norm. After all, Chuck is our Eagle Scout!

    • Casey's girl says:

      I wouldn’t worry too much about that amyabn, I don’t think they can go on long without Chuck telling those he trusts and is more close too in the field eventually. I think he is going to tell them just not right away.

    • herder says:

      I have been thinking of a twist on the whole seduction thing, I think it would be funny if you had Chuck complaining/insecure about Sarah having a seduction mission and it turns out that the guy is in fact interested in Chuck. That or the other way, Sarah telling Chuck that he has to man it up and do a seduction mission because it is part of the job and then it turns out that the girl is interested in her and she is the one who has to step in.

      Don’t see it happening but it could be very funny if done right.

      • amyabn says:

        @herder, I think it would be even funnier if it is Casey who the guy is interested in. Picture it: Chuck is unhappy about Sarah’s assignment, Casey gets snarky, then the tables are turned! laugh riot!

  8. Crumby says:

    Thanks Jan for this post. As a French who learned what was Comic-Con only a few years ago (and I’m sure I still only have a vague idea of it), it is really interesting.

  9. Robert H says:

    I agree with most of what atcdave had to say in his
    comments, especially the Q@A cutoff at Comic-Con. Mel stated there was no “conspiracy” on the cutoff. I’m inclined to think otherwise but I don’t really care at this point. Season 3 has been critiqued to death by everybody (well almost everybody, including me) and now it’s time to lay it
    to rest. and move on. If TPTB haven’t gotten the message (I think they have), then they never will.
    It would seem from the comments made in general they
    have but we’ll have to wait and see.

    Insofar as some the comments made above by one of the people posting saying the show shouldn’t cater
    to the fan base, needs to be “darker”, and be willing to take big risks I couldn’t disagree more
    with that analysis. All of that was done last year
    in Season 3, turned out to be a disaster, and the
    writer above wants more of the same? The show was
    nearly cancelled because that, in fact, was the path
    that was followed and the ratings dropped dramatically. The show was very lucky simply to get
    renewed. There was a huge debate on chucktv.net prior and during the first 7 epidodes centering on
    showrunners’ decision powers vs viewer wants especially after episode 7 when Chuck/Sarah were
    separated and all hell broke loose with the viewers.
    It was so bad the producers had to do an emergency
    interview for damage control. The show’s ratings
    never did recover after that. That settled the debate brutally. Yes it is the producers’ show and
    they have the right to make it anyway they want to but
    the audience is the final arbiter as to whether or
    not it’s accepted. TPTB ignored that basic rule of
    marketing which is vital in any business ” satisfy
    customer wants and needs” and nearly lost their show
    as a result of it.

    Should the viewers dictate the specifics of scripts,
    storylines, and producing a show? Of course not,but
    at the same time TPTB must take viewer wants and needs as a vital input into their decision making
    process before going ahead with production. Last year TPTB knew very well what fan feeling was about
    any Chuck/Sarah separation well before shooting began(they stated they had been reading the blogs).
    The negative reaction towards the announcements at
    last years Comic-Con was another red flag warning
    and it was blatantly and arrogantly ignored-after
    the fans had SAVED the show from cancellation with
    a tremendous grass roots campaign that took a great
    deal of time and effort on the part of ordinary people across the country. The writer above, who seems so contemptuous of viewer “rights” conveniently ignores this. Did the campaign to save the show give the viewers input that the producers
    should have listened to before making final decisions? You bet it did and when fan general desires were ignored a feeling of betrayal set in
    that culminated in the explosion of viewer rage after episode 7 that resulted in the ratings swoon
    that followed.

    If TPTB want to save their show and have any chance
    at all of a 5th season they need to regain the large
    portion of the fan base that was lost last year when
    the “advice” offered by the writer above on ignoring
    fan wishes in principle, taking chances, and going
    dark were followed by the subsequent ratings disaster-they need to restore the show’s charm. If
    that means playing it “safe” and making the show
    “lighter” so be it. If they had not messed around with and ruined a winning formula, the show would
    not be in such a ratings mess now. In short “if it’s not broken don’t fix it”.

    From the comments made so far by the producers on
    Season 4 it looks like they’ve learned the lesson.
    Whether or not it’s true we’ll have to wait and see
    when Season 4 starts in the fall.

    Sorry for the long response here but the post made
    above patronizing the show’s fans in a patrician,
    condescending way was just the attitude of the
    producers prior to and during most of Season 3
    until the fan explosion of frustation and anger
    after episode 7 lost the viewers’ trust in what
    the producers were doing with the show. It seems
    some people still have that attitude and it struck
    a raw nerve with me, thanks.

    • atcdave says:

      Robert, I appreciate so many of your remarks; but I think (was it Merve who upset you?) you’re over-reacting a little. Merve is always open to fair debate, and I always value his well expressed opinions that vary quite a bit from mine at times.

      It is always funny when we talk about how fan opinion was ignored last season; my wife, who I actually talk very little Chuck with (she likes the show but thinks I’m a bit of a nut), just recently made the comment (we were discussing a different show at the time) how the writers of Chuck had betrayed viewers and she took it very personally. I guess I know why she remained tepid even after things improved! But I was suprised how strongly she felt, and that she would use the exact words I’ve used here several times. I know she may have picked up some of the mood from me; but I wonder how many more casual viewers reacted that way.

    • Merve says:

      Robert, fan input and feedback are good. You won’t hear me say otherwise. But it’s dangerous to let fans dictate the direction of the show. TPTB can only hear the most vocal fans – the ones who blog and post on message boards. Assuming that what they want is what everyone wants is presumptuous.

      I didn’t say that I wanted the show to take a darker direction overall. The show should tell a story, and the tone should come from there. Coming up with the tone before the story is like deciding on the icing before deciding on the cake. My fear isn’t the promise of a lighter tone. My fear is that the lighter tone won’t suit the story that the show is trying to tell. Next season, Chuck is going to be on the search for his mother, a woman who abandoned him and his sister when they were young. Not lending that story the proper emotional weight by focusing too much on “lightness” and “fun” will ruin it. In the past, the show has succeeded in giving the proper emotional weight when required; the Papa Bartowski episodes are great examples. I see no reason why the show shouldn’t do that again.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m going to agree with Merve on this one. There was a lot of talk before season 3 about how they’d decided to be “more dramatic” and “raise the stakes” going into the season. I’d contend that what they probably designed, or tried to design as dramatic stakes raising scenes and events were probably those that fell flattest with fans. The name reveal turned out to be a non-event, Sham a slog through manufactured angst, they all struck a lot of fans as wedged in and artificial devices largely to amp up the angst and draw out the story absent any real storytelling reason outside drawing out the story and providing manufactured angst.

      • jason says:

        I keep going back to the cast, you cannot film a dramatic, deep, dark show with 2 or 3 men who are no more serious acting or looking than pee wee herman – and even zach, who unlike the cast of buymorian buffoons, zach CAN really act, but he is not an overtly dramatic ‘looking’ guy and would be considered a physical comedic actor, and his other job is as a voice of the chipmunks, not exactly a dark guy by any means.

      • atcdave says:

        Merve, there is of course danger in trying to accommodate all fan demands, pandering quickly becomes boring and satisfies no one. But it is a fine line to tread. They do have to pay attention to what their fans want, and in any sort of public opinion gathering it will be only a portion who bother to express themselves. Assumptions will always have to be made about how typical the more vocal consumers are, and generally those with complaints are more likely to speak up. Obviously if I were here whining away about what I didn’t like this season yet ratings went up, my belly-aching would be dismissed. But when ratings (or sales or whatever) are dropping, the writers (or manufacturers or whatever) need to look at what complaints are out there. Its just the nature of things that its easier to spot unhappy customers than it is happy ones.
        In the case of last season, it seems pretty clear to me there was one fundamental misstep that alienated a large number of viewers. This isn’t a case of “we wanted a secret hidden relationship that they didn’t deliver” or “we wanted Chuck and Sarah on the run for half the season together” so we’re not watching anymore. Seriously, look at fan forums from a year and a half ago; those were hugely popular themes that many of us wanted to see. But no one ever said “do that or I’ll quit watching.” Those were fun fan ideas, that have been well explored in the realm of fan fiction, but no one told TPTB that THEIR story needed to unfold that way. But the love triangle and relationship reset things were very unpopular with a large percentage of fans. Not only that, those things generated A LOT of anger and heat from Comic-Con 2009 all the way to now. I know I’ve mentioned before, of the four viewers (actually whole households of multiple viewers in each case) I know who quit watching last year, ALL FOUR mentioned the central relationship problems as THE major source of their discontent. I know that is anecdotal, I don’t have a meaningful sample set, but I am pretty comfortable with what I know saying the fans should have been listened to on that.

        After the fact we have been heard. That is how it should be. I just hope its not too late, and we can get viewership built back up. At this point its too early to know if the show will be deserving of our devotion next season. I think most of us are more pleased with what we’re hearing this year. But its still fair game to voice concerns, maybe someday we’ll have an influence before a mistake is made. And yes I know, its also possible to ruin something BY speaking up. As I said at the start, its a fine line to tread.

    • Mel says:

      Just FYI, questions at these things are vetted in advance. The odds of a question being asked that would be so distasteful that Schwartz and Fedak would conspire to run the panel out of time is miniscule. Sepinwall and Feinberg were in a better position, and much more likely, to ask the tough questions.

      • jason says:

        mel, I did not know that about the audience ?’s, I thought for sure JS set it up to end (but did not tell anyone else, as they all looked surprised), my guess is JS knew the ‘shaw arc’ ? was coming and told the cast to let him field that one, and his hope was the story out of comic con would be linda hamilton with any season 3 stuff buried in the background – I thought it went over pretty well for the showrunners – did you????

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      Whoa, gauntlet thrown! Look at the passion!

      I may not fully agree with it…but I totally appreciate the verve and passion you’ve expressed. Keep up the good work!

  10. Judy says:

    I’ve seen the panel comments on youtube. Is the presentation preceding the panel online(season 3 highlights and Jeffster). How can I find it? Thanks.

  11. Robert H says:

    Well as usual really appreciate your comments atcdave, especially your 2nd comment after my post.
    It is a fine line to tread and I did say the fans
    should NOT be allowed to dictate the specifics of
    the show’s production. By the same token TPTB have to
    take fan opinion as a vital input BEFORE making final production decisions. The two approaches can and should balance each other and don’t necessarily
    have to be in conflict.

    With all due respect to Merve’s opinions ( and he usually is on target) I have to respectfully disagree with his idea that fan blogging was not
    necessarily representative of overall fan feeling
    prior to and during Season 3. I had a chance to look
    at many blogs from numerous forums at that time and
    majority opinion on the whole was very much against
    the announcements made at the 2009 Comic-Con and
    continued throughout Season 3 until the back six
    episodes were shown. By then it was too little, too
    late. The damage had been done. This was brutally
    reflected in the huge ratings drop continued even
    through the final six episodes and the season finale
    which drew a 1.9 rating if my memory is correct.
    Did this reflect a “minority” of fan opinion? I think not. If that were true the show’s ratings would not have gone down so dramatically. The show’s
    fans were in fact betrayed. They retaliated by not
    watching the show. Look again at the ratings at that
    time period. The numbers do not lie. The damage has
    to be repaired or no 5th season. It’s as simple as that, period.

    Merve does make a fair point regarding consistency
    in telling a story and I respect that. In fact I agree with it wholeheartedly. However TPTB did not
    follow that concept themselves regarding Season 3 as
    related to Seasons 1 and 2. They went off on a completely different tangent without bringing the
    fans along or communicating the changes effectively
    or doing it gradually. Instead the fans got a show
    they were not used to seeing ( as compared to Seasons 1 and 2 ), and had made clear prior to
    production they did not want. By the time the show
    aired in January most of the first 13 episodes had
    already been shot and it was too late to make adjustments or changes. NBC deserves to take some
    heat on this too. They approved the episodes which
    they had seen prior to airtime and apparently did
    not know or care about their audience either. Then
    they were shocked when the ratings plummeted. Why?
    They even had set up their own website for Chuck, and had to be aware of fan feeling as reflected in
    the blogs at that time. It was just another case of
    NBC and the producers ignoring fan feeling and then
    paying the price. The truth was hiding in plain sight and was just arrogantly disregarded. The producers more less just exhibited an attitude without saying it openly, “Thanks for saving our show. Now shutup and watch it”. The results were
    quite predictable. The ratings dived,crashed, and
    burned. It’s on the record. Need I say more?

    Like Merve I am also skeptical about Season 4 but for different reasons. I just don’t trust these guys
    any more and will not take ANYTHING they say on faith although what they are saying sounds good so
    far. But as it’s said “talk is cheap”. I’ll wait
    until I see the episodes in September before making
    up my mind. Until then anything I hear or read about
    the show will be taken with a grain of salt. The
    producers need to get their credibility back and it’s up to them to do that. The fans, at this stage,
    owe them NOTHING.

    Thanks to all for your patience with the length of
    my reply. If possible will try to make them shorter
    in the future depending on subject matter at the time.

    • atcdave says:

      Don’t ever worry about shorter Robert, this site specializes in long windedness! We appreciate taking the time to explain and develop ones thoughts. I certainly agree with your historical comments. I’m a little more optimistic about the future, but I do agree your concerns are valid.

    • Merve says:

      Robert, the ratings drop happened after the show was produced. You can’t seriously expect TPTB to take that into account. Everything prior to that was anecdotal evidence.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      I find that the misery of last season’s ratings decline is best visualized here:

      https://spreadsheets.google.com/ccc?key=0AleydUWnGcZhdF80dGFnWHFUWlpVYW9MMjI5V3NEX3c&hl=en#gid=0

      It’s not complete, and I don’t know if the author just gave up due to depression 😉 or not. But it’s enough.

      While the ratings decline varies in degree over the season due to a number of correlating factors such as competition, weather, holidays, etc, the trend is fairly clear.

      In recent years the total number of people watching broadcast television is decreasing relative to those watching cable or other sources (VOD, Netflix, YouTube). So gains are rare and almost always at the expense of other broadcast shows. It’s gotten to the point where you rate shows based on how well they’ve resisted the effects of viewer erosion rather than on how many new viewers they’ve gained.

      So Robert, I think Merve is right here – Chuck wrapped production in March, if I recall correctly. Which means they were shooting the final episodes around the time Beard and Tic-Tac aired, after which the ratings really plummeted. Prior to this, the ratings were not much different than the same period in S2.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        Ah, I saw that. I believe it’s created by Snickrz who used to post on the NBC boards and is now one of the Sarah Walker Fan Girls if I’m not mistaken. The only guy in the fan girls lol.

        Here’s another great chart (I just love charts):
        http://boards.nbc.com/nbc/index.php?showtopic=823810&view=findpost&p=4433093

        I would link the pics instead but akismet (the spam filter of wordpress) hates having more than 1 link.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks, Faith!

        Those charts are good summaries. The only thing they lack are the air dates, which can be useful to track correlations like the proximity of holiday weekends or stunt casting on competing shows or boosts from hiatus promos.

        Also, I think some range normalization would help on the demo axis. Sure, it’s good to have perspective on the whole range, but shows live or die in those tenth marks – it’d be nice to see them given a little bit more real estate. 🙂

      • aardvark7734 says:

        GAH! I hate it when WordPress auto logs me out. That’s me, above. Sigh.

      • atcdave says:

        It is true the plummet in the ratings happened after it was too late to make major changes. But I still think a few minor changes could have been made, last minute edits do happen and can make sense. I’m thinking specifically of things like the last scene of Tic Tac and Final Exam (just delete them and add an extra commercial!). That alone would have reduced outrage for many of us.

        Of course the even bigger issue is that this never should have happened. At one point more than 50% of posters (yes, that is a scientifically made up statistic) were clearly opposed to the direction the show runners were telling us they would go. What happened after Mask and Fake Name should have been easily predicted months before the episodes ever ran or were even written. When a survey asked in September of 2009 if viewers would quit watching Chuck if certain things happened, 16% said they would. This was 5 months after the S2 finale, and 3 months before the S3 premier. The ONLY people participating in Chuck polls at that time were US, the overly dedicated few. The least likely to quit watching under any circumstances. I didn’t even say I would quit watching if things didn’t go my way. But 16% of the hardcore base did.

        Red flags, alarm bells, robots yelling “danger, danger” should have all been going off long before it was too late. S3 was a FUBAR not because many of us didn’t like it. It was a FUBAR because the results were SO predictable and SO easily avoidable.

      • JC says:

        I think its more than that. Fans loved the show so they went with what worked before.

        It was the same basic story in regards to LIs as the previous two seasons. But they underestimated the impact Colonel and the fans tolerance for super spies & petite brunettes. Throw in very weak storylines and a miscast guest star and it was a recipe for failure.

        I honestly believe they were shocked by fan reaction. They had been given nothing but praise by critics and fans. Then the tide turned on them. Even people like Sepinwall were calling them out in the end. But by the time it aired it was too late.

      • atcdave says:

        JC, I do agree they just repeated the previous formula, with a few extra unpleasant modifications. But even going back to S2 it was clear the triangle arcs were actually the least popular aspect of the show. And that’s not even a tough call. Look at how happy excited fans were with DeLorean, Best Friend, or everything from Lethal Weapon on. Then compare to the complaints and discontent over the Jill and Cole arcs (especially the lead up to Cole, Wow were fans grumpy!). I wasn’t even one of the outspoken ones back then; but the dread and frustration of fans was clear until it broke with the end of those stories.
        Add to that, TPTB gave several interviews late in S2 where they mentioned how much fans “loved” the wt/wt story lines. These comments were met with every sort of ridicule and dismissal by fans, who were giddy excited over Colonel and wanted more of that!
        Obviously, TPTB were convinced that wt/wt was the way to go; and they ignored fan comments to the contrary. I believe the combination of their professional training and strong self confidence (yes, I have other words for it, but I’ll be nice today) provided an obstacle that prevented them from recognizing the real situation. But the warning signs were all clearly there, if only they had paid attention.

      • JC says:

        Oh OK I wasn’t around the online fandom until S3. Were the reactions to the Jill and Cole arcs really that bad?

        And don’t get me wrong I’m not defending their decisions but I understand them. It does come off as stubbornness and I get why it rubs people the wrong way.

      • atcdave says:

        The Jill arc was mainly a reaction of “let’s get this over with.” I think everyone knew all the way from the Pilot it was a story they would eventually tell. While I never liked “The Ex” the rest of the arc was pretty strong so we got over it pretty quickly.
        We started hearing about the Cole thing right after “Santa Claus” aired; and that really got an angry reaction. I think all the way from the end of 2.11 which many of us felt overplayed the angst (shocking ain’t it) until Beefcake finally aired (with Best Friend being kind of a breath of fresh air in the middle) there was a growing unease at least in the ‘shipper end of fandom (that’s always been a large chunk of Chuckdom). Very few of us liked Beefcake at the time, but all things considered it wasn’t a big deal. And since Lethal Weapon was not only a strong episode but represented the start of an outstanding run to the finale; most of us got over Beefcake quickly too.

        The biggest thing about the end of S2 was that so many of us read it as something really special for Chuck and Sarah. So almost as soon as we started hearing about their plans for S3 it felt like a betrayal. I know that’s strong language and many feel its an over-reaction; but there was so much excitement with the end of S2 (I mean Colonel, of course), and we really thought it meant something at the time….

    • joe says:

      I do love your passion, Robert! And Dave is quite right – no one here is going to complain about long-windedness 🙂

      Skepticism about S4 (and TPTB!) is always warranted. But I wouldn’t put things in the same absolute terms you do. Ratings are ratings (and @Aardvark, remember the words of Mark Twain, who said that there are lies, damn lies and statistics! 🙂 ). Even a 1.9 from Neilsen doesn’t mean failure these days, not when we have 125 stations to choose from and 3 or 4 different ways to view shows on our own schedules. If Chuck gets a 5th season, then I believe it joins the ranks of shows generally called “long-running” and “successful”.

      Of course, that only means something if you enjoy the show (not me or Ernie or Merve or any of us – you!). It’s their job to worry about the mass audience. For me, I stop worrying about them and concentrate on how I feel about the show. You know how I come down on that!

      Regardless, the discussion about how much the artist owns to the art and how much to the patron (uh, that would be us!) is a very deep one, with many subtleties on both sides of the argument. It’s a good one, well worth having.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        “Of course, that only means something if you enjoy the show (not me or Ernie or Merve or any of us – you!). It’s their job to worry about the mass audience.”

        Holy disambiguated pronouns, Batman!

        “They” who? The blog posters? I’m thinking you mean TPTB, right? 🙂

        Hehe, sorry, just having fun with you, I do that all the time and it drives me nuts. And, you know, misery loves company.

        As to statistics, I could make a whole post over how they’re misused, but it would probably just be preaching to the choir around here. Suffice to say, yeah, they’re not absolutes. Final decisions usually stem from money and politics, with ego size and risk aversion being big factors on which predominates. 😉

      • joe says:

        “Holy disambiguated pronouns, Batman!”

        And almost intentionally so, Robin! 🙂

        Yes, the “they” are TPTB, but they’re also the “they who say” and various and assorted other boogieman who control our lives to make sure we never, ever enjoy ourselves. Like the guys who do the Neilsons…

        Think of it as my obtuse way of saying that when all is said and done, we all decide for ourselves if we liked what we saw. All Schwartz and Fedak are doing is trying to make us jump up and say “Holy cow! That was intense!” I don’t think they believe they can make everyone enjoy the ride.

        You’re absolutely right about the final decision process, Aardvark. They (TPTB and Neilsen and all the network execs) are probably miserable too. So we’re all in fine company. 🙂

  12. Robert H says:

    One more quick comment I forgot to put in regarding
    NBC’s role in the Season 3 debacle. The budget cuts
    (which were mandated by NBC) really hurt the show
    in Season 3. In fairness to the producers, that was
    beyond their control and they should not be held
    responsible for that. On the other hand, the resources available could have been used more efficiently. Apparently from what I have read so far, the budget cuts are still in effect for Season 4 even though the overall business climate has much
    improved from last year. I guess with the sale of
    NBC to Comcast this was to be expected but you might
    think NBC would be willing to invest a few extra dollars to improve or restore show quality to the
    level of Seasons 1 and 2. It’s a shame this apparently is not going to happen. We can only hope
    the dollars in the show’s budget will be used more
    effectively this year as compared to last year, thanks.

    • ChuckNewbie8 says:

      It is my understanding that every show from Chuck to Bones are experiencing their share of budget woes. Such is the consequences of being in recession. Everyone really takes a hit.

      There are even talks of statewide government wide furloughs for government workers…that’s not directly related to Chuck per say, but it speaks to the financials of the matter.

  13. Robert H says:

    Thanks for your reply ChuckNewbie8. That corresponds
    to what I thought but didn’t write. I simply thought
    that with the business recovery this last year advertising budgets would loosen up somewhat which in turn would have a positive effect on the show’s
    budget. Things are tough all over and effiency is the order of the day. Appreciate your reply.

  14. Robert H says:

    Merve while respecting your opinions regarding my posts I simply cannot accept them. The subsequent posts by JC and atcdave speak for themselves. The
    warning signs were out there. The producers and to a
    lesser extent NBC simply ignored them and now have to deal with a severely fractured fan base. It doesn’t matter when exactly the episodes were shot. What matters is Season 3, on the whole, was rejected by the
    majority of viewers because the content of most the first
    13 episodes was not accepted, period. The last 6 episodes could not cover the negative impact of the first 13. As atcdave noted this could have been and
    should have been avoided. It wasn’t and now its history. It can’t be changed. Hopefully the producers have learned from their errors. Maybe they
    have and maybe they haven’t. We’ll find out in the fall. What atcdave was too polite to mention I will
    mention here since I’ve already said it in previous
    posts. ARROGANCE played a huge role in the debacle
    of Season 3 on the part of the producers. If that
    attitude doen’t change they will lose their show.
    What’s left of the fan base will disintegrate and that will be the end of it. Regarding ratings they
    still matter in the sense networks use them as vital
    input in renewing or cancelling their shows. Actually if NBC had not been in such bad shape the
    show probably would have been cancelled. Chuck was
    renewed in part relative to other NBC shows because its ratings were better than most of the shows aired on the NBC fall-winter schedule last year.
    NBC has to build on something. They couldn’t have cancelled everything. Against other network competition the show did poorly. The excuses of the
    Olympics, daylight savings time, other hiatus issues
    simply don’t hold water. People just stopped watching the show because they rejected the show’s content. They simply did not like what they were
    seeing and chose other options.

    Didn’t mean to put words in your mouth atcdave. If
    I am wrong guessing on what you were too polite to
    mention please let me know. You have my apology in
    advance if my assumption is incorrect.

    As for me hopefully this is my last post on Season 3
    unless I need to reply if this continues to be an
    ongoing discussion. If it is fine, if not I think
    I’m played out on the subject. I’ve had my say and
    that’s that. I’ve also enjoyed reading the other
    posts if only to read about the ideas of others.
    It’s an opportunity to learn and I’ve always liked that.

    Joe, good to hear from you again.

    Take care all, thanks.

    • Merve says:

      Robert, if the showrunners were to assume that they knew their fanbase so well that they could hinge the entire direction of the show on what they perceived the fanbase wanted, then that would be equally arrogant.

      I also never made any claims about the reasons behind the ratings drop. But since you brought it up, if anyone can show me proof that the so-called “excuses” played no role in the ratings drop, then I’ll believe it. For now, I’m just as willing to believe that a bunch of Nielsen viewers’ kids have Little League games on Mondays.

      • atcdave says:

        Merve you know there’s no proof of anything. But you really had to see it to believe how strong and consistent the outrage was after Comic-Con last year. If any other provider of any good or service ignored the consistent complaint of over 50% of their customers they would be out of business in a hurry. I think Robert is right that only on NBC could a show have survived the dramatic viewer loss. I would largely dismiss the issues you site only because other shows didn’t suffer such dramatic losses (all those issues you list caused smaller losses for other shows). As I’ve said, I know four viewers who quit and ALL of them mention the same issue for why they stopped watching. I would bet money a large survey of disaffected Chuck viewers would generate consistent results. Whether viewers switched channels in anger, or simply decided it wasn’t worth making time for anymore (the four I know who quit are exactly 50/50 on that) the underlying reasons for them tuning out are the same as what hard core fans were vocally complaining about since July of 2009. And there really was only one thing people were angry about all that time. Even if some wished the Buy More would go away or thought Intersect 2.0 was a stupid idea; only the Chuck/Sarah reset and ensuing love triangles made people angry.

        Merve I do understand the Chuck/Sarah relationship was not that important to you; obviously that made it easier for you to enjoy S3 than it was for me. That really is good. But almost half (key demo, total viewer loss was somewhat less) the viewership left the show during S3, at the same time in S2 our numbers were trending slowly up. The best we can say is that once the story became more upbeat the ratings stabilized. Remember too a lot of viewers who stuck it out feel like I do; those who left were often very disgruntled.

      • Merve says:

        I don’t like anecdotal evidence and probably never will. Here’s why: out of the nine people I know who watch Chuck (myself included), only two were slightly less than satisfied about how things unfolded. (One of those people was myself.) None of them ever considered dropping the show. Obviously, that doesn’t indicate a massive ratings drop. Maybe I just hang out with crazy people. Or maybe something larger is at play. Who knows?

        And to make myself perfectly clear, I never denied that viewers stopped watching because they were dissatisfied. (I also didn’t bring up the Chuck/Sarah issue as the explanation for the dissatisfaction; there’s a reason that I’m speaking in generalities here.) I also never denied that other factors could have played a role in Chuck‘s ratings. If I were to hazard a guess, it would be that the combination of everything was killing Chuck. But then again, anecdotes and statistical evidence simply aren’t enough to draw meaningful conclusions.

      • atcdave says:

        I know you’ve said that about your friends before Merve, and that really is great. That’s why we got a S4. If everyone felt like me (or worse) we wouldn’t have; not because I didn’t want to see S4 happen, but because casual viewers who share my attitude about things already quit.

        And I know anecdotal evidence is a poor basis for a conclusion. But between viewers I’ve spoken with and forum/blog comments going back over a year now, I’m comfortable drawing a few general conclusions anyway. (Just because I don’t have a thermometer doesn’t mean I can’t tell if its hot or cold out!). Listening to interview and Comic-Con comments this year, I’d say TPTB have drawn the same conclusions I did.

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        If it walks like a duck, talks like a duck…it’s probably a duck.

        Check out the Ausiello FIles interview that crumby just posted. Anecdotal evidence on display.

      • jason says:

        I like comparing other wt/wt’s to chuck, if you get a chance, check out castle’s nathan f’s Ausiello interview regarding the castle wt/wt – I am glad I don’t care about beckett and castle’s wt/wt, sounds like they are in for a rough S3 (and beyond) – for all the BS chuck went thru, CS are together, looks like we will get a minimum of 19 episodes that way, I suspect that is far more than most wt/wt shows get

      • Merve says:

        CN8, if that was directed at me, then you’re taking my comments way out of context. I saw the interview. It’s 3 minutes long. It focuses on the “what,” not the “why” or the “how.” Actors can’t say more than that in a three-minute interview. I’d like to reiterate: I’m not making any claims about the Chuck/Sarah or the Sarah/Shaw relationship beyond the notion that the “why” and the “how” were a problem, not the “what.”

        That being said, this entire debate was triggered because of comments I made regarding what was said about season 4. It had nothing to do with Shaw, last year’s Comic-Con, fan reaction to season 3, or ratings. How this got turned around into others assuming that I’m convinced that fans weren’t as disappointed as they were is beyond me.

        I’m disappointed in what I heard out of Comic-Con this year. I probably would have been equally disappointed last year if I had been heavily involved in the Chuck fandom at that time. But I’d really like to drive this point home, because I feel that people are drawing a lot of assumptions: my feelings on how 3.01 to 3.13 handled the Chuck/Sarah relationship have absolutely no bearing on how I feel about Comic-Con this year.

        Yes, I know that this is coming across as somewhat annoyed, but I’d really like to put an end to the string of comments that are drawing unfounded implications from what I’m saying.

      • atcdave says:

        Jason, funny about the Castle thing. I saw an interview with Stana Katic a month or so ago where she was saying how she thought the wt/wt on Castle was already worn out and they needed to get on with it. I agree with her and I’m not pleased if Castle’s S3 will be ugly like Chuck’s; but as you said, I don’t have 1/10th the emotional investment there I do with Chuck, so it might be easier to ride out. Or easier to just walk away if I really don’t like it.

        Merve, I think we kind of got going comparing reactions to Comic-Con this year and last. Sorry. I agree there’s things to be concerned from this years Comic-Con; I’m not as concerned as last year, but I do still see some possible issues.

      • Merve says:

        It’s okay, Dave. I’m sorry if I got a bit out of hand, and I certainly don’t want to put a damper on the ratings debate. TV ratings are full of mysteries: the inexplicable uptick after “Final Exam,” the loss of a million viewers in the back 6, the fact that Chuck keeps getting treated like NBC’s little fat kid. If I ever get a Ph.D. in statistics and social media, I promise I’ll make sense of it all. 🙂

      • ChuckNewbie8 says:

        @Merve, actually it was…I apologize for the pointedness of my reply. I guess frustration’s boiling up 🙂

  15. OldDarth says:

    Merve, I agree with your concerns. The reset button is being hit big time. Most troubling is Chuck lying. Again.

    Also the TPTB did NOT learn the proper lesson from what I saw in the videos from SDCC and on. Fans being upset that TPTB brought someone between Chuck and Sarah is the sympton.

    The source is muddied writing.

    They did not sell the Sarah and Shaw relationship. In fact, they skated around it while it was happening and only dared to address it after the fact. Terrible, terrible story execution.

    Which goes back to the first real fumble – the nonhandling of the Mauser incident. And is now being promulgated again with the reveal that Chuck is continuing the lying schtick with Ellie in S4.

    Come up with a plausible and inventive take please!

    Need an example? How many hostage situations has all us seen in the course of our TV viewing careers? How predictable is the arc of such a story? Want to see a fresh and unique and clever way of handling a hostage story? Watch episode 8 of Justified.

    Is it easy to take a new and fresh path? Of course not but the lying schtick has got to end. Also really concerned that the show is going to put Ellie on the sidelines again. Instead of a nagging nellie she is likely to become a psycho preggo.

    Lame! 😦

    • joe says:

      Hum… Lou, you make me reconsider my statements about them “getting it.”

      Are we seeing JS and CF reacting like someone who touched a hot stove? Perhaps we are. Not so sure about the cast, though. That’s who we heard, and it’s pretty clear to me that if they have any say in how the story develops there won’t be anything like another Lou or Cole.

      Daniel Shaw may be another thing, though. Not the DS we saw as an LI for Sarah (they get that), but the guest star that came for dinner and just seemed to NEVER GO AWAY!!! (Sorry – I mean that the story-line overloaded the character and made him come between the two charismatic leads for too many episodes…)

      Yes, we’ll call it muddled writing.

      I’m still willing to allow that the network machinations had much to do with that, so I’m still kindly disposed to the show’s PsTB. I can only trust that the network politics has gotten better, not worse, since last season started.

      But about the Mauser incident, I had a thought that it was a bit deeper than I suspected. It’s strictly my opinion, of course, but one of my major beefs with standard network TV is that 92.38% of the stories are wrapped up in 60 min. by force of habit. 4.42% are wrapped up in the next two episodes, which leaves only 3.20% of all shows with enough of a story to be interesting beyond 3 weeks. It’s hard to find any show besides Chuck capable of executing what I think of as long term ideas. And of course we all have our opinions about the times Chuck fails to execute them well.

      All that was to say that I would not be surprised if the show does return to the Mauser incident. It strikes me as unfinished, and perfectly situated for something great. The developments were almost perfectly in keeping with both Sarah’s character (especially her initially being a cold blooded assassin) and Chuck’s character, which would not allow him to make the hard choice when it was required. Both have come a long way since then. It could be very interesting to see them face that same situation again with what they’ve learned in the interim.

      But then again, I’m a dreamer!

    • Merve says:

      I’m not sure that I see the link between the lying to Ellie and the Mauser incident as far as storytelling quality goes, but I agree that the problem with Sarah/Shaw relationship wasn’t in its existence, but in its setup. (Seriously, if TPTB wanted to show a serious relationship, it probably wasn’t a good idea to write Shaw as an incompetent creep for two episodes, contrary to his previously established character, only to revert to that original character once the relationship had been set up.) I’d also agree again that the problem with the Mauser incident was in how it was presented, specifically, in how it was resolved and promptly swept under the rug. Hopefully, next season, TPTB realize that clarity and commitment to the storyline are crucial. Half-hearted attempts at storylines aren’t a major annoyance for me, as they occur more frequently on most other shows, but I want Chuck to be as good as it can be, and it can do better than that.

      I don’t think that storylines about lying to Ellie are the product of muddied storytelling. I’ve always felt as if TPTB have made it very clear what Ellie knows and doesn’t know, and they’ve been careful to show the practical and emotional costs of the lies. I am, however, ready to move on from those types of storylines. To a certain extent, I’m willing to reserve judgment until I see how this situation is presented. If a fresh spin is put on keeping Ellie in the dark, then I’ll likely accept it. Furthermore, it’s almost certain that Ellie and Mary will interact at some point this season. If the secrets don’t come out by then, I’ll be shocked.

    • JC says:

      Chuck lying seems like a way for the TPTB to have Sarah or Ellie wag there finger at him. Very rarely do other characters get called out for their lies but Chuck always does.

      Its a weird dynamic, he lives in a world built on lies. Sarah and Casey are liars. They’ve both lied straight to his face on numerous occasions and continue to do so. Yet Chuck is expected to be completely honest and open. If they have him keep lying, I hope they use it and have Chuck call people out on the double standard.

      • Crumby says:

        The difference is that Chuck is expected to be honest because that was his character. He plays that card himself.

      • JC says:

        Its a wonderful notion that Chuck doesn’t lie at all but its not realistic.

        Everyone lies whether by omission, white or blatant ones. Chuck doesn’t like to lie but he’s a spy and its a necessary evil. The problem is that the lies in the back six were dragged out or just plain stupid.

        If he lies to Ellie this season he better have a good reason. Her not knowing puts her in danger. The fact she’s pregnant even more so.

        The lying to Sarah well it all depends on what its about. I have theory it’s being done for a certain reason but we’ll see.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I could easily see a dynamic where Chuck basically tells Sarah he can’t tell her everything he knows because as a CIA officer it would put her in a position between him and the CIA. I could see Sarah not liking it one bit. I could also see Chuck keeping the lair and everything in it a secret from Sarah for the same reason. And yes, he would be doing it to protect her.

        What I’m interested to see is Beckman’s attitude toward the team and Chuck (and not in the Duck shipper sense). If Chuck did indeed quit and the Intersect project was shut down, complete with shredding of files as we saw Beckman dragged away, where does that leave Chuck? More to the point why is the CIA taking over the Buy More and building a major operation around a guy who, we think, doesn’t work for the CIA anymore?

        The questions get more interesting. Where does Sarah fit into this? Is she still CIA, and if so, what does she possibly know that she might be keeping from Chuck?

      • Crumby says:

        Yeah I agree that Chuck being a spy will have to lie eventually. It never bothered me that he was lying to Ellie from the beginning. I could understand it.

        The problem comes from how they handled the lies in S3, like you said. All the “you know me, I wouldn’t lie” and stuff. It’s not just the Back 6 though. Awesome pointed to Chuck in Nacho Sampler that he may become a little to good at lying and then Hannah called him out on it as well. But it didn’t really change anything.

        The thing is, with what he does he’ll always find good reasons to lie. Will he find good reasons not to? He’s supposed to be a different spy after all.

        We’ve already seen Chuck lie to Ellie to protect her and we’ve already seen Chuck lie to Sarah about Orion. Is this gonna be the same things all over again?

        But to be fair, we don’t know if he’s gonna lie to Sarah, and we don’t know for how long he’s gonna lie to Ellie.

      • Crumby says:

        @Ernie I think I heard that the CIA is taking over the Buy More because Operation Bartowski was such a success. So they decide to use it as a front for operations.

        Also I heard that the Greta character might be some kind of trainer or something.

      • Crumby says:

        Also, are we even sure Chuck we’ll be working at the BM (at the beginning anyway)? Morgan will be because he’s being train, but Chuck might just be hanging around, giving tips to Morgan, and Morgan giving him help on MEB’s search.

        Anad like you said: where is Sarah in all of this?

      • jason says:

        2 random thoughts sort of related to the topic with no information to back them up, spitballin or hopes more than anything –

        first – I hope sarah is in charge of the burbank show – that would solve 2 things without a whole lot of writing help, first chuck would not want to jeapordize sarah’s job by having her know about a rogue spy (of course this still is silly, but so is a 5’5″ guy who can’t even sell a tv or with no apparent education training to be a world class spy) & second it would give sarah something important to do while chuck is off lying to everyone with his elf sidekick by his side

        second – the original linda hamilton casting was for someone who was old enough to be scotty b’s wife anbd ellie’s mom, but could kick butt, obviously sarah conner / linda h can, I just wonder …….. maybe mama b was the ‘first’ and ‘best’ intersect?????

      • JC says:

        @Crumby

        The problem was the lies in the first thirteen were no different than the ones he told in S1 and S2. Its just like everything in those thirteen people jumped to the worst possible conclusion. It was an easy and cheap way to create pointless conflict. Nothing changed because Chuck was right.

        When it comes to him lying to Sarah I’m leaning towards it being something similar to the Jack Burton situation. Chuck finds out MEB might be bad and hides it from everyone because its his mother.

      • Crumby says:

        We know he will at least tell Morgan about Mom.

        But anyway, I think the point is they need to be very careful with the lying this year. I personnaly have no problem with some lies if they’re justified and not badly handled like they were in S3.

      • aardvark7734 says:


        …maybe mama b was the ‘first’ and ‘best’ intersect????

        Holy crap, Jason.

        I can’t convey how much your question resonated with that snippet of phone dialog at the end of 3.19, “We’re going to have to move you.”

        I’m not saying it’s the best story they could come up with, or even that it’s what I’d want to happen, but it’s so like something they’d do.

        It establishes the foundation for Stephen’s almost ritualistic following of the “you must run to save your loved ones” tactic – this is what Intersected individuals are supposed to do, in his mind, apparently.

        Not only did Stephen run, but he did so following the example of his wife. Maybe because he realized eventually that her running wasn’t enough, and his presence was still putting Chuck and Ellie in danger.

        It also makes possible a different situation regarding S4’s big bad – MamaB might not be the “big bad” – she could be an Intersect exploited by the baddie in return for immunity for her family.

        I see this as of the same flavor as the “Chuck’s dad is Orion” twist, where they were probably gleefully “mu ha ha”-ing at how big a surprise this would be when truthfully, we all saw it coming from 10 miles away.

        But still, great spec!

  16. OldDarth says:

    The following is my personal opinion. It is just how I feel.

    Chuck started out as a character that hated lying. By the third season he supposedly learned how much harm his lying was doing when Hannah called him on it. He was no longer a nice guy. Lesson learned, right?

    Apparently not.

    His dad shows up and the lying continues. Painfully so.

    Now Chuck has been given a legacy by his father. A legacy that Ellie has just as much right to be involved in, if not more. Chuck has nebulous unresolved feelings and issues about his mother leaving. Ellie being older should have more clearly defined issues. The knowledge that there was much more going on behind the scenes is something Ellie deserves to know.

    And Ellie wanting to know about her parents was clearly established in the third season.

    Having Ellie actively involved in the MamaB quest with her own impending motherhood on the horizon would be a far more dramatic and engaging story. That would be fresh.

    Instead Ellie’s pregnancy is going to be used as the flimsy foundation for Chuck telling another lie. The pregnancy is being used to put Ellie on the sidelines again. I shudder with dread for the inevitably cliched morning sickness and hormones out of control scenes coming up in Season 4.

    It diminishes both characters and takes the well traveled path of lazy story telling. Very stale.

    I referred to it as muddied writing. It is really a matter of honest writing. What they are setting up with Chuck lying to Ellie again does not feel right. It feels cheap,lazy and more importantly – dishonest.

    The litmus test question is this – is what TPTB are doing with Chuck and Ellie feel honest? For me the answer is an emphatic NO!

    In a world that Chuck takes place where lies are a matter of course, the show should be showing that with family trust trumps lies. Otherwise the need for the characters to want to be part of a family so badly itself becomes merely another lie.

    • Eli says:

      As it seems, for what Sarah Lancaster said in an interview, Elli doesn’t care about her mother. She wanted to know about their father, but not about their mother (she always asked about father in S2 and S3, never about mother): their mother left, without being apparently crazy.

      I somehow understand her resentment: without her mother, Ellie had to turn into a mother by default. She could never be “just a kid” or “just a big sister”, she was the mother, and once a woman is in that position it’s very difficult that she leaves it so happily.

      Chuck didn’t like to lie to Ellie because he thought that honesty was very important and that lying would hurt her. But what if telling her the truth hurts her? What if she doesn’t want to know anything about their mother or any mission to protect her?

      I’m interested in knowing how the writers will address this isue in S4. Chuck and Ellie’s relationship has never been among equals (Chuck isn’t the little brother, he’s the son) and finding their mother could help Ellie to be free of the burden of taking care of his brother and be a “normal” person who can focus on her own family (Awesome and baby Awesome.)

      But as always, we’ll have to wait to know how S4 is developed.

      • amyabn says:

        I think it may more likely be Sarah asserting herself in the relationship that allows Ellie to revert to sister mode. Ellie thinks she still needs to protect Chuck, but it will likely need to be made clear that she can’t protect him-not from the big bad world they find themselves in. Chuck can do that for himself and he also has Sarah (for emotional support as well as physical protection). Ellie needs to see them as a team, both personally and professionally.
        Ellie’s interest may pique about her mother if the spy handler/asset relationship is paralleled with Sarah/Chuck. I also agree with OD above that I don’t want Ellie to get all crazed and hormonal (total stereotypes). I think she should have an “awesome” pregnancy. I don’t want her turning into the nag again.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yes, the hormonal pregnant woman getting maternal is old stuff, and it wouldn’t work for Ellie. Ellie is going to become maternal and emotional? Because she’s dealing with becoming a mother? That’s a no sale for me. There isn’t any room for her to get any more emotional or maternal.

        Now Sarah on the other hand… That could be funny. Maternal Sarah is usually a bit scary and often involves weapons. Seeing how she managed to reconcile that particular contradiction could be fun.

    • jason says:

      OD – I know you and I do not always see eye to eye, but I always read your stuff on the other site and enjoy what you have to say both there and here, and always think about it … in this case, I agree with what you are saying, I thought for sure the lesson in papa b’s death (which could be attributed to Chuck, sarah, awesome not telling ellie about what is going on, hence ellie led the ring to papa b) was going to be no more inner circle lying.

      But nothing really was mentioned about a reaction to papa b’s death, except ellie prompting chuck to set up future lies – such a missed opportunity to form a team B against the world mentality.

      Instead, 3.19 ends with chuck turning his back on everyone? my only hope is fedak is writing 4.1 to fix a bunch of stuff and get this season off to a great start, unlike 3.1 where the episode broke so much stuff that the season struggled right out of the gate.

    • atcdave says:

      I’m hoping the Orion legacy isn’t going to be another season long arc that features an unlikeable Chuck until the last episode.

      I actually agree with most of what OD says, I’m not as sure about the cause and effect of things; but I do think the Reset/Triangles arc was a huge distraction that overshadowed a few other deficiencies, that may grow into large problems this season. Most obvious is the lying. If Chuck lies to “protect” Ellie and Sarah in S4 the show and character will loose its charm quickly. We don’t know that this will be the case but indicators are worrisome.
      I would add poor pairings to my concerns too. If they decide Chuck and Sarah are a couple, so now Chuck and Morgan can run off on spy missions together; I think it will be almost as big a mistake as they made with S3. I’m pretty sure most viewers want to see Chuck and Sarah as a couple AND as a team. So far, what we’re hearing about S4 doesn’t sound promising for that; but I suspect this will work out fine, we just aren’t hearing details because of the usual super-secrecy TPTB are hung up on.
      My other concern is similar to OD’s; we have long seen sloppy continuity on this show. Some of that is endemic to a large writing staff. But I really think continuity on Chuck has been very poor. S3 was the first time it became very troublesome, but as we’ve often observed here, we’re more likely to nitpick when we’re unhappy with the overall direction than when we aren’t. But the show’s mythology keeps getting deeper. It will become more important than ever to show consistancy on history/story lines/motives/characters. They will really need to tighten up their writing to make a season that will delve deeply into Chuck (and Ellie’s) past work in a believable way.

    • Joseph (can`t be Joe) says:

      HI OD,

      I`m in agreement with what your saying. Really, I think Ellie being pregnant is going TPTB`s way of resetting the Awesome to late S1 / early S2 as far as their interaction with Chuck and the gang.

      You`re line stating – ‘is what TPTB are doing with Chuck and Ellie feel honest? For me the answer is an emphatic NO!’ – caught my attention because if you replace ‘Ellie’ with ‘Sarah’, this is where I was in prior to or shortly into S3.

      TPTB have stated that they have learned not to put anybody between Chuck & Sarah, and god I hope so. The issue is, have they learned anything else.
      – Chuck`s lieing in the back 6 was quickly tiresome, yet it would appear that here we go again.
      – Chuck & Sarah (or Team B, if you will) working together is important, yet it would appear that here we go again.

      Like you all we can do is watch and hope, or hope and watch.

    • aardvark7734 says:

      OD, we disagree fundamentally on a lot of issues re:Chuck, but this is not one of them. While I’m uncomfortable using absolutes when it comes to something as subjective as fiction (cheap, lazy, dishonest) I think I agree with the gist of what you’re saying here.

      I’d characterize the entire direction you fear as unsatisfying, or disappointing. Maybe unambitious. Certainly uninspiring.

      Chuck needs to have learned from the painful consequences of his lying. Otherwise all of the air time used to convey that lesson went to waste.

      Ellie’s impending motherhood needs desperately to be tied to the search for their mother, the children being both the salvation and the bane of those embroiled in the spy life.

      The premise of Chuck is that he is able to bridge the gap between the spy world and the normal world. That he can be a spy, but act humanely and ethically. That it is his feelings, not just his training or the Intersect, that makes him great. It’s like what Sarah once said:

      “Sometimes it helps to know you’ve got something to lose.”

      And in this pull towards showing that family unity is the most powerful force in Chuck’s universe, having saved TB convincingly in the finale, it is crucial that Chuck invest trust in his own family. Doing so will act as a force to heal any lingering resentments over the cover deception, and lead each of them to realize that ultimately, their self-preservation depends on cohesion.

      Hey, when you’re right, you’re right. 🙂

    • kg says:

      Yes sir Lou. I agree unequivically. Clearly articulated.

  17. Crumby says:

    I wonder why we know basically nothing about S4 Sarah so far?

    To be fair I haven’t heard anyone from the show being asked about it, apart from “CS will be together this year” stuff.

    But what will be Sarah doing this year? I read somewhere that she’s still CIA, but did she consider quitting as well? How does she fit with the Buy More stuff? What about her interactions with other characters than Chuck or lack thereof? Is there some big thing about Sarah they are not telling us about?

    • atcdave says:

      I don’t think we’ve normally heard much about Sarah at this point in past seasons. Her “journey” or mission is normally directly related to Chuck’s. They did say we would learn more about her background this season, but haven’t offered specifics or even the promise of a “Sarah centered” epeisode as far as I know.

      Its no secret I always hope for more involvement by Sarah in every episode, but I’m not panicking yet. A lot of what we heard (or didn’t hear) at Comic-Con can be explained by a couple of things: First, Yvonne is fairly quiet and tends not to jump into the free wheeling panel type discussions much. We mainly see Zach and Josh teasing each other and having fun, which is amusing, but it tends to sideline the rest of the cast. Second, Yvonne had a charity commitment the night after the panel when many interviews were done; so with her not around the interviews tended to focus on the actors who were there. Hopefully, Sarah will be more involved in the show and major story-lines than what we’re currently hearing.

    • Crumby says:

      OD and Dave: Thanks for your answers. I wasn’t around the “Internet community” before S3 because, well, S3 really made me want to share about my frustrations… and then I got addicted! Who could blame me, right?!

      Anyway, I was curious about Sarah’s journey in S4. The thing is I’m not really reassured to know we didn’t know more about Sarah at this point last year, considering what they did to the character… I might be mistaken but I think last year TPTB told us we’d learn more about Sarah’s backstory as well… and we know how it turned out.

      Anyhow as I said I haven’t heard anyone from the show being asked about “Sarah’s journey this year” and like you said Dave, Yvonne had other engagements with other stuff that kept her from some promotions.

      I was just curious about one thing. When you look at the panel from SDCC, when TPTB talked about the bad but good but bad spy team that Chuck and Morgan will be, it came from nowhere. No questions were asked about that particular point. They chose to talk about that. I was just curious about why they did not choose to talk about Sarah that much, but wanted to talked about the Chuck and Morgan pairing.

      I have no “historical” information, so your answers are really interesting.

      Maybe TPTB simply considered that saying Chuck and Sarah will be together was enough. I also think that part of the good thing that came up about S3 was how Morgan was hilarious and that’s why they chose to emphasize this.

      I hope there are reasons for this silence, like Sarah’s involvement with Mama B, like you said OD, but in the mean time I’d really like to see something non-Chuck related. Like the red test wasn’t Chuck related but in the end they made it all about Chuck. I wish Sarah could have her own story…

      But it’s really soon to be really concerned, at this point they really tell us only what they want, and thank god we don’t know everything!!!

      • atcdave says:

        Crumby, I do share many of your concerns, I’m just trying not to get too worked up over what I don’t know (does that make sense?) I do wish they would say more about what Sarah would be doing, my fear is she’ll be relegated to “B” plot spy missions with Casey while the “A” plot is all Chuck and Morgan. But seriously, they can’t be that stupid, right? Of course most of the “comfort” I was allowing myself at this time last year was with the “they can’t be that stupid” thought; yet for S3 they were that stupid. So the track record isn’t that good.

        I do agree with OD that some of the silence has to do with not wanting to discuss Sarah’s role. The thing to really watch for is when previews start showing up next month. Hopefully we’ll see many Chuck and Sarah scenes outside of the bedroom.

      • Crumby says:

        I share your “not to get too worked up over what I don’t know” comment!

        It’s just really hard not to think they lost Sarah’s character after S2 and will just do whatever Chuck’s character need with her… I really hope I’m wrong, but the not knowing is hard. I don’t want to be pessimistic though. If I’m being honest everything I’ve heard has great potential and make me want to see what they’ve done with S4.

      • OldDarth says:

        Crumby – have to disagree on your point on the red test being all about Chuck. It was equally about Sarah and Chuck in my opinion.

        You are quite correct in believing that TPTB believe that telling the audience that Chuck and Sarah are a couple is sufficient at this point saying they get it and have learned their lesson.

        As I posted elsewhere, I do not believe TPTB have gotten it at all as the lying gambit is being used once again in S4.

      • Crumby says:

        I thought they made her red test “all about Chuck in the end” because they never really addressed it. It was the worst day of her life and we never heard her talk about it again. They only used it so that Shaw would try to kill Sarah, and Chuck could save her, completing his journey.

      • OldDarth says:

        “I thought they made her red test “all about Chuck in the end” because they never really addressed it. It was the worst day of her life and we never heard her talk about it again. They only used it so that Shaw would try to kill Sarah, and Chuck could save her, completing his journey.”

        Sadly another dangling story thread left by the show. Mauser anyone? Sarah’s issues with the Red Test are a big part of what drove her ‘hands off’ approach to Chuck. It was part and parcel of her dismay and guilt in steering Chuck towards a moment that would change him forever. Like it changed her forever.

        Sarah’s experience with her Red Test – without revealing whom her target was – is something that I would have done much sooner in the season. It would have make her behaviour towards Chuck as he underwent his spy training much more understandable.

        I do still feel it was about both of them.

      • Kisku says:

        It was adressed again in the beginning of Other Guy when Sarah found out about who she killed. I suspect the weren’t dwelling on it too much later on, because it would be a bit of a mood killer for Chuck/Sarah scenes.

        And there is still chance they will return to this story in season 4, like what’s up with CIA and why they ordered killing Eve.

      • OldDarth says:

        Further to what Dave said here:

        “my fear is she’ll be relegated to “B” plot spy missions with Casey while the “A” plot is all Chuck and Morgan. But seriously, they can’t be that stupid, right? Of course most of the “comfort” I was allowing myself at this time last year was with the “they can’t be that stupid” thought; yet for S3 they were that stupid. So the track record isn’t that good.”

        extrapolating from:

        – Yvonne and Adam’s shooting schedule ie they worked together the Friday night of the SDCC
        – the spoilers about Chuck and Morgan working together as a team
        – Nicole Ritchie’s return just as Chuck and Sarah hit a bump in their relationship

        and Dave’s concerns appear well grounded for the first several episodes.

        These facts lead to the following deductions:

        1) starting S4, Chuck and Morgan will indeed be on the ‘A’ storyline
        2) Casey and Sarah will be the ‘B’ storyline: maybe the show will be resourceful enough to have this to turn out to be part of the ‘A’ storyline
        3) Chuck will be keeping the OC(OrionCave) from not just Ellie but also Sarah until just before Nicole Ritchie’s return
        4) Sarah’s discovery of the OC – third or fourth episode is the cause of the relationship bump
        5) it will be at the conclusion of the Ritchie episode that TeamB will be merged together

        In the realm of conjecture – tension will exist between Casey/Sarah and Chuck because the Intel will point to MamaB being bad which Chuck will vehemently refute.

        Chuck and Sarah interactions in the first handful of episodes will be strictly in the home setting. Which may be enough to placate some fans.

      • jason says:

        you guys are probably right that they will come back to dark issues, and I know several of you love the dark stuff, but you gotta know by my posting trend here, I feel the reason they leave Mauser / red tests / sham dangling is this stuff just doesn’t work on the show for a pretty substantial part of the fan base (fedak’s pushing ‘past’ the limits comment about season 3 I think he knows he lost the ‘softie’ component of his fan base with his dark story), who watch the show for comedy and warmth.

        I know you dark siders love the show every bit as much as fans like myself, but it seems to me you guys are much more able to enjoy all of the aspects of the show, including the humor and warmth. For people like me, I cannot stand things like mauser, the red test episode, or sham (or anything shaw) – if none of those issues are ever addressed again, I would be far happier with the show.

        Of course, I would be quite content if chuck and sarah went robert wagner and stephanie powers on me, with Casey in the trusted butler max role & morgan, jeff, lester, and mike get one 5 minute scene of comic relief per episode & ellie and awesome one dinner table scene, but that ain’t happening (I had some hope for that, but ….) so I am adapting.

        I guess that adapting issue is true for most chuck fans, as it seems the story leaves most of us wanting something different, yet we seem to love something in the characters far more than we do in other shows.

      • jason says:

        darth – your spec seems consistent with what I think and have been told – leaves fans like me in an interesting spot,

        1-I don’t like morgan in the A plot, he seems to be overwritten, same as shaw was
        2-I want the show to succeed,
        3-I am pretty sure that fan outrage over shaw hurt the show,
        4-I am pretty sure that fan complaining over morgan-centric episodes will hurt the show too
        5-, yet if fans don’t complain, fedak will say fans loved morgan centric episodes, which quite honestly, most will not IMO, IMO most want chuck and sarah to be the A plot

        How could fedak take the info from season 3 and relegate sarah to the bench???????

        At some point, fans are just going to conclude the showrunners don’t know what they are doing????

      • OldDarth says:

        Jason, take heart, it is highly unlikely that the dark issues will be anything near what was explored in Season 3.

      • Kisku says:

        Probably you are right OD, but i certainly wouldn’t mind another episode in mold of Santa Clause, which was great, great, great (and i also like Final Exam a lot). I like dark stuff and i like fun and light stuff. And i want them to balance both sides of the story better, as they didn’t always did it too well in season 3, although frankly the story they were telling could actually use more darkness to be truly sold, because this compromise aproach particulary with Chuck character hurt the story overall.

        What i don’t particulary like is a cheesy and some overly silly stuff, that is why most Buy More plots usually get a bit meh reaction from me.

      • JC says:

        I don’t know about that Jason. Maybe Morgan of the previous seasons but his character really came into his own. I would even go as far to say that for a lot of fans who disliked S3 he was the bright spot for them.

        I doubt we’ll hear anything about Sarah or Red Tests in general again. It opens a can of worms I doubt they want to explore.

      • jason says:

        JC – I liked morgan season 3 a little bit too, how could one not, he was given many of the heroic lines and actions, reducing casey to a dolt on missions – sort of stupid. Awesome, casey, chuck give the show enough testosterone, what the show needs is a lead person with estrogen, I think Yvonne fits that role quite nicely, seriously, chuck, casey, and morgan or chuck, casey and Yvonne – which would you pick?

        By the way, I am sort of being upstart about this issue on purpose, I still think the season is largely going to be about chuck and sarah as leads on missions, not chuck and morgan – it just strikes me as confusing, why a show on the bubble that has admitted sarah and chuck were not on screen together enough last season would not publicize the couple to the max in the offseason, appearances, interviews, clips, spoilers, you name it?

      • Merve says:

        I’m trying to see this in a positive light. (Shocking, I know, after my initial reactions to most of what was said at Comic-Con.) TPTB’s comments about the Chuck/Morgan spy partnership might have been made to quell fears that now that Chuck and Sarah are a couple, they wouldn’t interact with the other characters as much. To be honest, the show pushed the Casey/Morgan stuff a little too hard in the back six, so if they’re trying to restore the balance in the character interactions, then I’m all for it, as long it arises naturally from the story instead of forcing the story to fit around the desired character interactions.

        Chuck and Sarah doing stuff together pretty much goes without saying. In fact, I’m interested to see Sarah spend time with people other than Chuck and Casey.

      • OldDarth says:

        Me too Merve. Sarah and anybody but Chuck and Casey scenes are way overdue.

        Mayhap I should do a little damage control since it could be construed that I am stating the keeping Chuck and Sarah apart – and Casey – as a team at the beginning of Season 4 is a bad idea. The reforming of the team under their new configuration taking some time is fine and a natural process of story building.

        In the interim it is a great opportunity to explore the home side of things for all the characters and especially for Sarah as a fish out of water scenario. These early episodes could really be used to deepen the bonds between Sarah and the rest of Chuck’s friends which in turn can only strengthen the Chuck and Sarah bond.

        At the same time the show should be exploring the Casey/Alex/Morgan dynamic as well.

        Ideally when the team does come together there will some cross purpose forces at play ie is MamaB bad or not?

      • atcdave says:

        Seems strange to be so much in agreement with OD. Funny how “alliances” can shift as the current reality on the show shifts. I am hopeful that even if Morgan is Chuck’s “go to” partner at the start of the season that will change within a couple episodes as Sarah finds out more about what Chuck is up to. Its almost like TPTB don’t like Yvonne much as they keep pushing her aside (like in most of S3) for less popular characters.

        JC, I would agree Morgan (and Casey) were the best parts of the front part of S3. But those characters can’t carry the show. Saying Morgan was the best part of Chuck is saying I wasn’t very happy with the show. I don’t mean to be trashing Josh Gomez, I seriously like Morgan as comic relief, but I DO NOT want him in the A plot. Sigh.

      • atcdave says:

        And just to be trouble; I would love to ask the question of TPTB, “Since every survey I’ve seen indicates Sarah is the most popular character on the show, and most fans seem to agree Yvonne is the best actor in the cast, what did Yvonne do to piss you guys off so much that she keeps getting relegated to the “B” plot?”

      • BDaddyDL says:

        Well said Dave. I just dont understand it either. Even on th4e covers for the dvd’s Chuck and Sarah are on the cover. I am so sick and tired of it.
        I will watch season 4, tptb said we will be happy. Yet we havent heard diddly squat about Sarah or Casey yet.

      • JC says:

        @Dave

        I don’t know about that. Morgan and Casey carried two of the best episodes of the season.

        As for Sarah my concern is they don’t know how to write a consistently strong and balanced woman. She was perfect in Honeymooners but after that she served a role in each episode. Its the same worry with Ellie, look how strong she was in the finale and now she’s being shoved back into the kitchen.

      • OldDarth says:

        Ideally the top 5 characters would all be part of the A story but that will never happen.

        Have no fear Dave, we will always have Season 3 to disagree about! 😉

      • OldDarth says:

        Sorry I meant the top 6 characters.

        I am totally on board with Morgan being part of the ‘A’ story BTW.

      • atcdave says:

        JC, as I said, I do agree Morgan and Casey were strong in S3. But that really only highlights my discontent. I got hooked on a show about an ordinary guy I could relate to and a kick-butt blond goddess. The front part of S3 completely failed to deliver the goods for me; if the show remained with Casey and Morgan as the “good part” of the show, I would eventually get bored and play a computer game or build a model (hobbies I’ve sadly neglected the last couple years!).

        I do agree with OD again, I loved the tone of 3.18/3.19 where the whole gang was tangled up in the “A” plot together. That was fun and satisfying in the way I always hope the show will be. But even with the band back together; I WANT to see Chuck and Sarah as the featured pairing. Casey and Morgan are comic gold together, and should stay that way.
        I even agree I’d like to see more of Sarah interacting with other parts of the cast, especially Ellie and Morgan. But again, Chuck and Sarah should always be THE featured team!

      • jason says:

        dave – exactly – it does not even make sense to have the 2 physical comedy guys (chuck and morgan) together, each of them works better with a straight man to play off of, Yvonne and Casey (and ellie / awesome) are WONDERFUL straight men & women, this stuff is not hard, it is almost cookie cutter, all the pieces for a great show are present, I am pretty sure we are not the only ones who see that the guy putting the puzzle together is struggling – he is running out of time to get it right, I hope he figures it out

      • aardvark7734 says:

        @Dave: As to “alliances” shifting, ideally this is just a natural artifact of our independent expression of ideas. It’s a tribute to this board, I think, that so many of those with radically different viewpoints put the issues ahead of politics and voice agreement. In my experience this is not the norm.

        As to Sarah’s character getting short shrift, I wouldn’t be the first person who suggested that the writer’s room was a “boy’s club” of sorts. Fedak’s tuned to the Chuck character intrinsically and that can’t help but affect how the other characters are portrayed.

        But there are counteracting forces at work as well. While some people have suggested that the other writers are just interchangeable clones in strict service to their headmaster, I call BS. Each writer puts the dialogue in the characters mouths, and what those characters say plays a large part in establishing who they are. A writer who has an impression of Sarah as strong and independent is going to write her as such. One who sees her as nothing more than Chuck’s romantic accessory will write from perspective.

        I would even theorize that the diminishment and unevenness in Sarah’s character we’ve seen this season came about due, at least in part, to shifts of dynamic within the writers room. Anyone who’s participated in group creation knows how a team inevitably fragments into factions and how good political championing of a faction can effect the final product.

        Who stood up for Sarah’s character when the group’s collective plot ran over her and made her behave in ways many of us found irreconcilable? All we can surmise is that if someone did, they didn’t have the political clout to change the outcome.

        What I’m really hoping for is that in the re-population of their writing team, some estrogen gets added and more effective spokespersons for strong female characters emerge. Right now, the balance is way too tilted towards a view of women held primarily by teen boys.

      • JC says:

        I couldn’t agree more Aardvark. I admit all strong female characters are held up to the Buffy standard in my eyes. I get annoyed because I can see Sarah being that type but way too often she’s used to serve the story instead of her character.

        @Dave

        Oh OK, I think I just misunderstood you at first.

      • atcdave says:

        I don’t know Aardvark, speaking as a 40-something who still may be a bit adolescent (isn’t that one definition of “male?”); I think I would have been excited by a strong take charge sort of female lead at any point in my life!

        Seriously though, I think you’re refering to me over the whole “interchangeable writers” thing.
        but I never meant to say different writers don’t bring different things to the table; and I strongly feel the staff writer situation lead directly to much of the unevenness and continuity problem of S3. But I did mean something like you were saying, the head writer(s) determine the direction the story is going. So no matter how good or bad a particular writer is, they typically are not to blame (or credit) for issues related to the over-arching direction of the show. The individual writers do breath life into the characters each week, and some writers clearly write some characters better than others.
        S3 problems primarily came from the brain trust, not the inividual writers. If the issues we’ve been discussing do indeed turn out to be a problem, that sounds like a problem at the top again (!).

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Well, Dave, if your clarification summarizes out as a plea to not blame any individual writer (or writers) for the systemic malfunctions in the last season, then we have no argument. The responsibility always lies in the show runners – it’s their job to establish the value system under which the writers operate.

        In Chuck’s organization, it’s hard to imagine, based on everything that’s been presented through interviews, that the responsibility for what has transpired doesn’t fall predominantly on one man.

        I don’t mean to be cruel. It just is what it is.

      • atcdave says:

        I mostly agree Aardvark. Except I think Fedak has some roll to play in the malfunction too. And I think Fedak has more influence this season than before (just a perception, I really don’t know the reality of it).
        I guess I also must plead guilty to not celebrating one particular staff writer as much as some others do, but that is actually a pretty minor issue in my perception of things.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Ooops, I should’ve been more specific I guess. The one man I was referring to was Fedak.

      • atcdave says:

        Too funny! I just don’t know how to measure the relative input of Schwartz and Fedak. I tend to think anything I don’t like with the relationships is Schwartz; but seriously I don’t know.

      • OldDarth says:

        Well with the casting announcement of Stacy Keibler – http://tinyurl.com/2cupsjm – as the next Greta we also get confirmation that Nicole Ritchie and Steve Austin appear with her in the third episode.

        So that nails down the third episode when Sarah and Chuck will hit their bump. Expect Team B will regroup at the end of that episode at the earliest but definitely by episode 4.

      • aardvark7734 says:

        Good to know, OD.

    • joe says:

      Kisku: I like dark stuff and i like fun and light stuff. And i want them to balance both sides of the story better…

      Marvelous discussion! I didn’t want to see K’s statement lost, though. The idea of seeing the right balance between all the elements is extremely powerful. We’ve seen that said in terms of balancing the humor with the action and spy stories, but not that I recall in terms of balancing the emotional content.

      If S3 was dark, it’s because the emotions were dark. Upping the number of Buy More scenes with Jeff and Lester doesn’t change that. Emotionally, the show shifted from Chuck & Sarah joyously discovering each other in S1 to the frantic desperation of them fighting the world to be together in S2. Fun stuff! S3 was hard to take because the desperate fight was over and they still weren’t together. What replaced that seemed pointless and even stupid at times.

      It wasn’t long in real-life terms, but it seemed like forever in the story before the characters got through their own immaturity.

      So I too would like to see an emotional balance – not always dark and hopeless, and not always “Max and 99” or “Hart to Hart” light, either. I don’t mind agonizing over them once in a while so long as I can cheer for them too.

      • atcdave says:

        Wow Joe, its not often since S3 started that I agree with you so completely! I probably do lean more towards wanting to see the “Hart to Hart” sort of stuff; but there does need to be harder hitting material on occasion. I just don’t ever want to see another long bleak stretch like 3.05 – 3.12. that’s way too much dispair for my taste!

      • jason says:

        joe – what is so frustrating from my POV is most of the shows out there in this genre (burn notice, fringe, warehouse 13, castle, now undercovers, etc) have a male / female lead who are on screen in on the action 90-95% of the time, none of them have near the chemistry of chuck & sarah, yet I have to watch morgan or shaw or casey be the co-star of chuck while sarah sits on the sidelines ….. I don’t want balance, I want chuck and sarah 90-95% of the time – it is not that unreasonable & in my estimation is why chuck is near failing, with a mostly man audience, men really don’t want to watch a man-man spy couple very often, esp when a smoking hot blond is sitting on the sidelines literally begging the show runner to be included – I don’t get it??????

      • Kisku says:

        This is actually funny that you mention those shows, because i think you haven’t been watching most of them. Prime example is Burn Notice, where Fiona character is pretty much prop, doesn’t get much screen time (maybe half of what Sarah gets), most her scenes are where she only does some quips or some fighting/shooting scene and that’s it. You almost never get her to play any truly dramatic, emotional or romantic scene. Actually one of my fears of this incoming season is that i don’t want Sarah to become Chuck version of Fiona.

        Olivia from Fringe also hardly gets 90% of sreentime. Particulary in second season i felt her character was heavily underused, in favor of Walter and there were maybe 5 episodes this season where i thought her character plays truly main role, so hardly good example as well.

        I dont watch Warehosue 13, so no idea there and Castle is completly different animal, full procedural and both characters there, were from the beginning established as a main heroes of the story, while Sarah even in Pilot episode played secondary role to Chuck.

        So while i certainly want Sarah to play big role in every episode, the only thing that i truly want her character to do more, is for her to be more fun/funny/assertive, you know kinda take charge of situation person.

      • jason says:

        kisku – it is pretty hard for you to KNOW what I watch or don’t watch, you can disagree with my interpretation of what I watch, I would be shocked if many didn’t

        in the shows you mention that you said you watch, I guess I notice and focus on sarah walker, fiona and olivia, you might enjoy other things – that is up to you

      • Kisku says:

        Someone does not understand my answer since i wasn’t talking about my preferences at all and because i was responding to your comparision about how in those shows female characters are most of the time on screen and like it’s not the case in Chuck.

        And it’s just not the case, particulary with Burn Notice and Fringe where Olivia and Fiona are ofter more underused and sidelined than Sarah sometimes is.

      • atcdave says:

        I’ve got to split the difference here between Jason and Kisku.
        Jason, I love Burn Notice, easily my second favorite show on television; but I would say I think Fiona doesn’t get as much screen time as you’re thinking. In fact, this season they’ve been pairing her off with Sam (a very fun pairing) or Jesse (a waste of Shaw-like proportions) a lot.
        But I disagree with Kisku on her use in the show. Fiona is a total blast (often literally). Anwar plays comic and tough with remarkable skill and is well used in the show. I don’t believe she’s really capable of heavy drama, certainly not to the degree Yvonne is, and attempt to put Fiona in more hard hitting scenes have generally been painful to watch.

        I would say Fiona is mostly well used in Burn Notice and is an enjoyable part of the show; but Sarah, thanks in part to a more capable and versatile actor, is comparatively under-utilized.

  18. OldDarth says:

    I think Sarah’s main arc is unclear for S4 because it is probably tied into finding MamaB and hence will be under wraps.

    If they play it for full impact, Sarah and MamaB should have crossed paths before, Sarah should find MamaB first – hello bracelet scene!! ;), and the tension between Chuck and Sarah could be based on Sarah having a separate mission to find MamaB driven by the intelligence community’s belief that MamaB is a baddie – which, of course, Chuck does not believe.

    And neither do I. MamaB should be the feint for the Big Bad for S4 with the real one somewhere else in the shadows.

    There would be lots of good tension and drama in some variations of these approaches.

    My take – no idea how the show will play it.

    • Crumby says:

      OD, about Mama B being a baddie or not, what do you think she should be? I know we don’t really know about her yet but how do you think they should do it?

      This question goes for everyone in here as well, Joe, Dave, Ernie, Amy, Merve, Jason, Herder and Faith others…

      This last few days (I will probably change my mind several times before September 20, and several times after that) I’ve been thinking maybe it would be a good lesson to Chuck if Mama B was a baddie. I don’t exactly know how, but Orion was a good guy, yet his way to handle things wasn’t always the way we would hope he had chosen. What if he was wrong? What if he ruined his life looking to save someone that didn’t deserved to be saved? Wouldn’t that be interesting?

      • atcdave says:

        That would be an interesting twist Crumby, but I bet they don’t go that dark. At least not in the end, she may be a badly damaged character in need of redemption; but in the end she will be one of the good guys. (just a guess)

      • JC says:

        Its a little too Alias in regards to MEB.
        The story will probably go back and forth with each appearance whether she’s good or bad. My guess she ends up being somewhere in the middle.

        I’m on the MEB knew Sarah before bandwagon. My spec for now, she was the director of the Omaha Project and handpicked Sarah to be her son’s partner until Orion and Bryce ruined it. I wouldn’t be surprised if MEB is well known throughout the spy world under a different name.

        She’ll probably have Ellie’s personality and Sarah’s skill set. A scary woman indeed.

      • OldDarth says:

        Crumby as others have pointed out MamaB being the bad would be too dark for the show and too Aliasy.

        There is also the consideration that Orion would not have been protecting her all these years if she was a baddie. I doubt that if she was a baddie that she could have fooled him for all those years.

  19. Robert H says:

    Merve, what sort of “evidence” will satisy you? I’m
    just curious. atcdave’s reply to you hit the nail
    right on the head. I’m not going to review this again. I’ve said enough on the subject.

    Regarding the lying and Ellie issues I’m just going
    to make one general comment and then see what others think. I hope Season 4 does not turn into
    another dragged out soap opera as what occurred on
    th old “Moonlightig” and “Remington Steele” series.
    In both cases the shows lost their charm because in
    part they became entangled in peripheral issues not
    really relevant to what drew viewers to them in the
    first place.

    I hope the same doe not happen to Chuck. The show
    needs to restore the qualities which made it popular originally. It doesn’t need to be a melodramatic soap opera. People watched it in part
    because it was entertaining,escapist, and fun. The
    budget cuts hurt this because the balance between the fun and light melodrama was destroyed in the process. Once again I don’t necessarily blame the
    producers here to be fair. The cuts were mandated by NBC and are apparently going to continue in Season 4.

    I just hope the producers can find a way around it and restore the balance that helped to build the
    original show base, thanks.

    • Merve says:

      Robert, I don’t claim to know anything about how TV ratings work, but I don’t accept that viewer dissatisfaction with the handling of the Chuck/Sarah relationship was the sole cause for the ratings decline. That theory doesn’t hold in the light of several things:
      – The biggest ratings drop occurred after “Beard,” which was well-received by fans. (I wasn’t fond of that episode, but on the whole, it was well-received.)

      – There was an increase in the ratings after “Final Exam,” an episode which skewered the Chuck/Sarah relationship.

      – The show lost a million viewers in the back 6, after Chuck and Sarah had gotten together. That is about the same rate of viewer loss per episode than in the front 13. I don’t believe that viewer dissatisfaction magically abated and that “other factors” kicked in. In fact, if the “other factors” were at work for the entire season, then they would explain the entire ratings decline.

      Yes, I know that what I outlined is an egregious misuse of statistics. So is picking a single factor and blaming it for the entire ratings loss. No, I don’t have the statistical tools necessary to prove anything about ratings. No one does. But I do believe in facts. Unfortunately, explanations for ratings declines aren’t facts. At best, they’re educated guesses.

      • atcdave says:

        Merve, I do agree there were likely other issues for some people, but I do believe the central relationship issues were the biggest facter. I think the problem with Beard wasn’t the episode itself, as you mention, it was generally well received. But it didn’t FIX what was wrong with the relationship. I’ve mentioned before two of the families I know who quit, never had an angry “we’re never watching this again” moment. They just got less enthused every week. Many of us here knew better things lay ahead, and Beard was seen as a mostly fun episode. But for those who didn’t know where or when there might be light at the end of the tunnel, that may have been where the Sham was finally wearing them down (and of course, there was NO Chuck/Sarah time in that episode). Obviously, just a guess.

        I have no explanation for why things might have dropped off in the back six. Except the observation that, if I remember correctly, the key demo actually held steady. So later losses would be considered less significant. Basically, that’s when the bleeding stopped.

  20. Robert H says:

    Merve I guess we’ll have to agree to disagree and leave it go at that.

    As atcdave has pointed out (with more than reasonable verification,logic, and common sense) in
    earlier posts, along with other contributors who felt somewhat the same way dissatisafaction began in
    earnest as early as Comin-Con 2009 with plenty of posts on various sites to back it up. The ratings
    began their slide literally after the first hour on
    the Season 3 premiere ( very slowly of course ), gained steam to episode 7 and then imploded. They
    then went into a slow accelerated decline with miniscule upticks from time to time but never really
    recovered. The warnings were out there. The producers ignored them and went ahead with what they
    were going to do regardless of the red flags in front of them PRIOR to and DURING production. NBC
    approved the episodes while also ignoring the same warnings even though they had their own Chuck website and should have known better. It’s one of many reasons why the network is in major trouble and
    was sold to Comcast. Both the producers and NBC heard but did not LISTEN to their customers. In any
    business that’s a prescription for disaster and the
    entertainment business is no different. The results
    were predictable, if only based on basic business
    not to mention common sense as atcdave pointed out
    in earlier posts.

    It doesn’t matter when the episodes were shot related to ratings at airtime. What matters is,
    regardless of all the reasons, the majority of viewers rejected, on the whole, most of the content
    of Season 3, period. By the time the last 6 episodes
    were aired, the damage was done, viewing declined
    even more, and that was that. People just gave up
    and turned to other options. I don’t understand why
    you can’t or won’t see that, especially in the light
    of posts other than mine who don’t agree with you on
    this.

    Be that as it may you are certainly entitled to your
    opinion and I respect that. It appears we are not
    going to agree on this and that’s ok with me. However it’s time (at least for me) to move on.
    Season 3 is history and hopefully the producers and
    NBC have learned from it.

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