All Those Worries!
I have a deep suspicion that many you have already seen Chuck vs. The Anniversary several times. It’s been once a day since Monday for me, thanks to NBC, Hulu and the magic of Al Gore’s Internet. Since many of the comments echo my own thoughts, I’ll refrain from merely repeating what we said one more time (and point out that you can hear an insta-review here).
Let me just say that the first episode of the season was a blast. Anniversary left me with a very good feeling, one that hasn’t changed after watching the episode several times.
Did you have fears, even quiet ones, that the episode wouldn’t be so effective? Yeah, me too. My biggest was the worry that the Sarah Walker character would not be able to carry the load of being “the girlfriend” and still be the strong female character (read, kick-butt spy) that we and Chuck fell in love with. I was concerned that it had to be one or the other. Well, steady now. It didn’t take long. Before the theme song was played Sarah already had said “I love you” to Chuck and made him say it back before she left on a “business trip”, punched out Dolph Lundgren, got Casey to sing “Thankweu!” and parachuted off a building. Fears all gone!
And that was just the start. Worried about Chuck’s keeping lies and secrets? Many fans were. After the new rule was established, that should be forgotten too.
Concerned about the idea of Chuck and Casey going on missions together while Chuck and Morgan, uh, go on missions together? Charles and Michael, the Carmichael brothers, were great as partners (and Sarah and Casey still are), although I do hope we find out more about what happened in Tangiers. Regardless, by the end of the episode we should see that Team B is now best thought of as Athos, Porthos, Aramis and Morgan!
[Shout it out! All for one, and one for all!]
When season 3 ended we should have been concerned about this season’s big story – the introduction of Mary Elizabeth Bartowski. It’s a major character and it’s not an exaggeration to say the success of the season hinges on her. Well, any worries were 99.44% laid to rest at the San Diego ComicCon when Linda Hamilton was introduced. The remaining 0.56% disappeared nearly as soon as we saw her face on Monday. Any stubborn doubters left? They got blown away along with Marco at the end. After that, the 2 second teaser we all saw with MamaB and Sarah holding guns on each other was breathtakingly awesome. We won’t see Mary Elizabeth for several more episodes, but I can’t wait. Soon we’ll get to see the return of Heather Chandler, and I’m stoked for that, too, so be steady, my beating heart. Chuck has to be the fastest 60 minutes on TV, and the longest 6 days 23 hours between episodes too.
[Ah, there’s a pattern here. Chuck is rock steady and has no fears of Fulcrum or The Ring or Volkoff Industries or any baddy any more. I know why. After facing Ellie, General Beckman, Sarah and now Mary Elizabeth, the bad guys are easy by comparison!]
This was premier week for many shows. I tried to watch and record them, and in fact, I was sort of looking forward to quite a few. But oddly, it turns out I could barely watch. I saw my regulars, NCIS, The Big Bang Theory, Bones. I tried Hawaii 5-O, (bleep) My Father Says (ooohhh -NB, that show co-stars Jonathan Sadowski, who played Lazslo Mahnovski in the Sandworm episode), and I’ll still give The Event a look (I recorded it). But as good as they are, none of them (even TBBT and NCIS) seemed to hit the mark this week. Only Chuck did. I can make no claims to objectivity, but it tells me something.
Maybe this was it. There was a little thing that you may have missed in this first episode. When Sarah first hears that those two “master spies” Marco has been chasing unsuccessfully have managed to penetrate Volkoff Industries, her reaction is to say softly “Oh, Chuck.” It’s an echo of what Mary Elizabeth had said earlier, easily overlooked, and relatively unimportant to the story. But it’s those kinds of little things that have been making a difference for me, week in and week out.
Don’t get me wrong now. Chuck has surprised me constantly with it’s take on big, important ideas – truth, honesty, loyalty, the importance of being true to your principles, the value of friends and family, and the meaning of sacrifice. Very big ideas, indeed. Really, it’s not the show’s take that surprises me so much; It’s the show’s steady persistence in having those themes upfront when other shows either shied away or floundered miserably, like they had touched third rails or something.
Yet it’s Sarah’s simple “Oh, Chuck” that makes me come back to watch the episode yet again. I want to find more of those kinds of gems. Like Sarah-smiles (and Sarah-tears now, too), I can’t get enough of them.
As of today, Jeff Zucker is no longer in charge at NBC-U. That will mean something to Chuck eventually. But it means nothing for a while yet, and it may even be a positive thing. One can’t say yet. The show is on a very good course, and from what I can see, it’s going to stay that way.