Dave’s Musings

Warning: S3 Talk Below!

Eventually, this will turn into another fan fiction piece. As we approach the season finale, I’m more excited than ever about all things Chuck; so I thought another round of recommendations was fitting here. But for starters, we’ve had another round of S3 discussions these last couple days that really got me thinking about what I would have actually wanted to see from that season. I think that means I want to talk more from a positive position than a negative one, although of course, criticism of the actual S3 content will be involved; after the jump!

I know I am one of the worst perpetraitors of continuing S3 criticism. But I don’t mean for this to be another round of piling on. Partly because of discussion here, and partly because of fan fiction, I’ve given a lot of thought to what I actually wish we’d seen. I’m not doing a scene by scene analysis here, but rather a few thoughts about direction and tone.
Comedy is so central to the Chuck experience for me. Yet S3 kicked off with an episode that didn’t have a single chuckle for me. They never quite did that again, but we still saw more dark issues (burning assets, Red Tests) than in the entirety of the rest of the series.
But of course the main issue I wish had been handled differently was the central relationship. I can think of a couple ways that would have played better. The most obvious to me is the so called “secret relationship”. This could have involved Chuck and Sarah deciding it was important that they be together, in spite of rules and security that would make it difficult. I can imagine them resuming the “cover relationship”, but now the cover is real; and they’re play acting when they try to convince Casey, Beckman, and Shaw that nothing is going on. We could have Chuck and Sarah trying to steal time together away from surveillance, perhaps at Sarah’s apartment; and having close calls with getting caught (this might have been an even funnier use of Chuck on the ledge in a towel… and loosing it…) Or imagine the gathering with friends where Chuck and Sarah are trying to convince Ellie that they are still together, but Casey that they are not. Then of course, Shaw tries to get involved with Sarah, because he knows she’s really “available”; while Sarah struggles to come up with excuses to keep him at bay.
The other permutation of this situation is Chuck and Sarah’s cover is “just friends”, while its really far more. So we could have Hannah stalking Chuck, while Sarah fantasizes about filleting her. While Chuck tries to remain professional with both women, while trying to get rid of one and encourage the other. Other characters reactions could be very fun. I always imagine Casey not being fooled at all, maybe Beckman is mostly fooled but has her suspicions, while Shaw is clueless and in hot pursuit. Perhaps Ellie is trying to fix Chuck up with Doctors again; or worse, trying to get Chuck and Sarah back together. So she orchestrates elaborate romantic scenarios that Chuck and Sarah are trapped in; that they want so much to just enjoy (and maybe sometimes do!), but they constantly have to protest are “really bad ideas.”
So much of the warm and sweet tone of Chuck that was temporarily lost for much of S3 could have been restored by Sarah as the advisor and comforter as Chuck gets deeper into the scary spy world.
I’m not looking to start another round of frustrating S3 debates here. And I’m sure not looking to get into more of “what went wrong” or “why atcDave’s an idiot for not loving every second of the show”; I was just thinking about what I would have liked to see. If anyone has any other fun alternatives I’d love to hear them; or if anyone has any favorite fan fictions that deal with the subject I’d love to hear about them! Some of this has been touched on in various fan fictions, many of which I’ve recommended here before.

Which is the perfect segue to a bit of fan fiction news. I’ve recommended “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves” by NinjaVanish almost every time I’ve done a fan fiction piece. Its been on going for my entire adult life, which is course older than both the actual show and the author himself (okay, the previous statement may not strictly speaking be “true”).
But the huge news here is that the story is finally done! After over a year (really this time!), 39 chapters and 220000 + words; this story ties back into “Chuck and Sarah vs The Bunker”, the sequel that was published first.
“Themselves” is an epic S3 AU. It starts in the immediate aftermath of Chuck downloading the Intersect 2.0 and retells S3, including Shaw, Hannah, a secret relationship, and huge amounts of gunplay and knife-fights. The author is particularly good with his action sequences and writes several of the best I’ve ever seen in fan fiction. He’s really no slouch in any other department either; including several very funny scenes involving Chuck and the fountain, Jeff’s new girlfriend, and a Comic Con wedding. Given that “The Bunker” was written first, I’m not giving anything away by saying it ends with Chuck and Sarah married, pregnant, and living off the grid.
This is a well written and conceived story. The only warning would be that it is “R” rated; both for explicit action violence and the actions of a married couple. It might not quite be safe for network TV, but if you’re an adult and like action adventure nothing here should be too shocking to you.

Next up I want to mention a story I only recently found myself. This is “Chuck vs Family Matters” by Lucky47. Honestly, the synopsis had kind of put me off for a while, and I just assumed this was not “my kind of story.” But its come up a couple times here in discussion so I finally decided to check it out.
And what a great find! This pointedly is NOT an action adventure story, in fact it starts with TeamB being placed in a sort of operational reserve. It is a S2 AU that breaks from canon at Broken Heart (some events from that episode are referred to in the past tense, some occur during the tale. Everything else prior has happened). Casey’s niece is dying of cancer and is coming to town for a last ditch experimental treatment, so Casey is given family medical leave while Chuck and Sarah are ordered to move in together so Sarah can provide 24/7 protection.
This is a relationship story plain and simple. But not just a Charah story. In fact, this piece is quite long (so far, and it isn’t even done yet!) and explores nearly ever permutation of every relationship in quite a bit of detail. Charah is indeed beautifully written here; but so is Chuck and Beckman, Sarah and Ellie, and… well you get the point. If you’re at all interested in the various characters and how they might relate to each other in different circumstances you WILL love this story. There are several OCs involved, but they never detract or dominate in inappropriate ways. They are important when they ought to be, and are written to compliment and strengthen characters we already know and love.
I guess this story would be rated PG-13, mainly because of when Chuck and Sarah do finally get affectionate. There’s also some fairly unpleasant medical/sickness situations. It is long. 32 chapters and over 240000 words; I spent four days on it and I’m a fast reader.

My one-shot recommendation this time around will be a bit of a cheat. Its really a two-shot. “Ellie Versus the Bridesmaids” by hollywooddramaqueen is a short story about Ellie’s shocking introduction to Sarah’s other bridesmaids. This is written all in fun, and has many laugh out loud moments. Carina and Zondra may not be the best vehicle for getting Ellie up to speed on her soon to be sister-in-law’s professional life! But that’s pure benefit for us readers.
This story would be rated PG for some explicit language and can be read in 15 minutes.

Don’t forget the on going stories I’ve been recommending. Billatwork’s “Long Road Back” is still updating twice a week. And the controversy about it we brought up here was clearly reflected in the reviews Bill got too! The action looks to be heating up in other ways though, and I would guess a jail break is coming soon.
“The Revenge of the Bartowski” by Nervert is now 11 chapters in and remains an outstanding story!

As always, my recommendations can be found by following the atcDave/favorites link under the fan fiction header at right.

 – Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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56 Responses to Dave’s Musings

  1. Verkan_Vall says:

    A season 3 discussion???!!! Oh, goody.

    Let me get my jackhammer…What? Oh.

    All right, well, while I am not anywhere near being done hammering Season 3 for the catastrophic disaster that it was (and in my opinion, the damage to the show’s viewerbase is ongoing and has yet to run its course), I’d happily watch any one or all of the story lines that you came up with. And if they had explored the possibilities of Chuck as Orion’s Heir a little as well, that would have been great too.

    A word of warning for those of you who have yet to encounter NinjaVanish, Nervert or Frea O’Scanlon (all of whom I have read on tips from AtcDave):

    Their work might as well be printed crack for all my ability to put them down once I started reading them. You have been warned.

    Now, I’m off to read the long awaited chapter 39 of “Chuck and Sarah vs Themselves”.

    Thanks again, Dave.

    • atcDave says:

      Great thought about Chuck as Orion’s heir. We’ve really seen very little of Chuck as the computer genius, it would still be fun to see him developing technologies based on his father’s work. Although now its looking more like that will be Ellie’s role!

      I concur with the crack comment. I remember well I first saw “Chuck and Sarah vs the Bunker” at like one in the morning; and it grabbed me so completely I couldn’t go to bed until I finished.

  2. JC says:

    Chuck vs The Duplicity

    Its got angst but I applaud the author for going the route they did. Shaw is still a LI but he’s an actual threatening villain in this story. And in my biased opinion handles the Chuck and Sarah situation in a way the show should have.

    • Anonymous says:

      There’s alos a sequel that’s still in Progress called Chuck vs the Cure.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        Also me. I really need to pay attention to whether or not the lines are filled in when I comment.

  3. patty says:

    I think they should have played Shaw/Sarah as developing a close friendship instead of a romance. The (first) death of Bryce could have made her more sympathetic to his pain over his wife’s death and could have been a way to draw them closer. In turn she could have expressed her concerns over the way Chuck was changing to him.

    Unfortunately most people have trouble with the idea of a close friendship between a man and a woman that doesn’t lead to a romantic one! (Actually given the amount of Chuck/Casey slash on fanfiction they don’t believe in close friendships between men either)

    This could have left intact the feeling of betrayal when he realized that Sarah killed his wife and he could have continued down his self destructive path to the bridge where Chuck shoots him. It also would have clarified that the reason Sarah was willing to work with him after he found out was because she had been able to work with Casey after he “killed” Bryce. A connection that has been left up to the viewers to make on their own.

    I think they also intended for us to feel a little sorry for Shaw, who was cast as a tragic hero (one inherent flaw, his need for revenge, that brought about his downfall). However, we all were so busy hating him for moving on Chuck’s girl that we had little room for sympathy! Too bad, he would have made a good recurring villain, since he knows all about Team B’s weaknesses!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of that Patty. The idea of a friend/mentor/partner turned villain could have worked quite nicely. But adding the romantic angle to it simply POed too many fans (like me!) and ruined not only the character but the entire arc.

      • Anonymous says:

        If they’d actually had the characters be what they stated they would be it would have helped too. For instance Shaw was touted as a mentor yet he seemed more interesting in undermining things and the first chance he got after Chuck stopped flashing he tried to blow him up over discs that we never saw being worth something.

        He was also suppossed to be a superagent but with all his training and experience he screwed up worse than Chuck or Morgan did with no training.

        Sarah was suppossed to be a teacher to Chuck but all we saw was one sparring scene and a lot of her being Shaw’s puppet.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        Darn it that was me. I uncookied again.

      • atcDave says:

        Agree with all of that, although I was trying not to complain so much this time around!

      • atcDave says:

        I was wondering Tamara! I hate when that happens…

      • Anonymous says:

        You know why Shaw didn’t work as a mentor? It was because Chuck already had one. As long as Casey was around, the idea of implenting Shaw as a mentor that went in against what Chuck’s real mentor Casey said would never work. Because of him already having a mentor it just seemed like Shaw was out to undermine operation Bartowski.

      • patty says:

        Casey is so much better than Shaw at everything anyway!

        I think Shaw got himself assigned to Team B because he wanted to use the Intersect on missions that would further his goals against the Ring. In order to do that he wanted to get rid of the same set of “problems” Bently listed in Muuurder.

        The thing is that it is when Chuck goes against the “spyworld” rules that he is most effective. When he follows “orders” is when things go south. This is an over-arching theme of the entire series.

        Look at what happened with Vivian Volkoff. Treating her like an “asset” to be used and then discarded led to her becoming Chucks “Nemesis”.

      • atcDave says:

        I could see that as being among the reasons anonymous, although really in the first two seasons I would have said Sarah was far more of a mentor than Casey ever was. I would agree Casey filled that function better than anyone in S3, but it was a new role for him, and I think Shaw could easily have been written to fill that function. I actually think that would have worked quite well; have Sarah as the personal support and body guard, Casey as partner and mission leader, and Shaw as trainer and professional mentor. Then the mentor role would have made his eventual betrayal painful and something we cared about as an issue of loss and regret for Chuck. As it was, we felt zero affection for Shaw and were simply glad when he was gone.

      • Tamara Burks says:

        Compare the difference between the objects sought out in First Class and in Agent X. In Agent X we saw the reason that the spy will was so important. It played into previous actions and we had people wanting to make use of the information and others explaining why using the info would endanger thier life all in the same episode.

        With the discs from First Class , they didn’t reappear until Beard. They never explained why they were so important , why the info wouldn’t be outdated (we’ve seen that Chuck has gotten at least one update onscreen and presumably more offscreen so that info is up to date) , why the bad guys wanted to upload the info when presumably it was thier info in the first place, where it had been since Eve’s death. Yet with all these questions and no answers it was used as the excuse to commit multiple murders since any air strike that completely took out Castle would also take out the Buy More which was full of employees.

        Wouldn’t it make more sense to jam the transmissions from the Orange orange ? With the gizmos we were shown that should have been one of them.

        Even if you completely ignore the OLI’s in early season 3 . Stuff like this makes you wonder what they were thinking. Instead of a a story about a plot mover (like the spy will in Agent X) all we got were loose threads and Sarah once again failing to protect Chuck from Shaw (which was probably still part of her job description) .

      • Tamara Burks says:

        Oh an one other thin. Why were the discs still hanging out in Castle after that many episodes. We saw in the Ring (part 1) that the intersect was removed from Castle and being sent to a secure location by the time Chuck showed up . The Orion computer was in Castle but it was being utilized.

        The discs weren’t sent to another location nor were there any sign they were being utilized.

        We had enough plot holes with the characters behavior , it would haqve been nice for them to fill in the other plot holes.

  4. joe says:

    Verken, you’re absolutely right about the crack-crack, and Dave & Frea are my pushers. JUST SAY NO! 😉

    No, wait! I’m just being cute. I have to admit, though, that my FF reading habits are like that. Once I start it’s awfully hard to stop. Major time sink (so I force myself to resist).

    That’s a great idea, Patty, about things going awry when Chuck tries to follow the CIA rules. That’s a great basis for a story. But you have me thinking about the end of S3 (in the Orion Cave) and what we just saw at the end of Agent-X.

    Are we back to the place where Chuck is about to go rogue? I think Sarah going rogue with him is a pretty good assumption, but I could easily see Casey and Morgan joining the effort.

    It’s off-topic (because I’m talking speculation about the canon here), but my head is swimming (again) with the notion that TeamB could be working against the CIA for a large part of S5.

    I think I’d enjoy that!

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Joe I’d love TeamB going rogue as a major story arc. We’ve seen enough of the dark side of the CIA in the Chuckiverse it’s easy to see them as a possible villain. There’s even been some suggestion this season of machinations going on above Beckman’s head, so it could be interesting to see that come to a boil. At any rate, it will at least feature prominently in the next couple episodes.

    • patty says:

      A large part of the problem is that the CIA never seems to connect the way they do things with the bad results. They say that Vivian is after Chuck because he put her dad in jail. Ignoring the fact that she is after Chuck because she feels that he used her.

      One of the reasons Shaw lost it was because the CIA lied to him, and used his hatred of the ring to their own benefit and the whole house of cards fell down around them when he found out the truth.

      The ring almost turned Casey by threatening Kathlene, which would have been harder to do if Kathleine was in the loop about Casey and his job.

      The same thing when Justin manipulated Ellie, if she had been in the loop she would never have fallen for the tale Justin wove.

      Time and again on Chuck they have highlighted this idea that the rules of “spyworld” can often be detrimental to the actual mission but the spies still remain slavishly devoted to them.

      • joe says:

        Good stuff, Patty.

        It brings out the point, for me, that Chuck’s saving grace (the thing I keep coming back to about his character) is that he always tries to do the right thing. He’s the one who’ll be the first to NOT remain slavishly devoted to the CIA’s dictates.

        Sarah will be right behind him.

      • atcDave says:

        You ever get the feeling Fedak doesn’t like the CIA much? Apart from Sarah they really aren’t portrayed in a positive light very often. The agency seems to be rife with rigid self defeating rules.

      • Nervert says:

        Yeah, Dave, the CIA does seem to be portrayed as rigid and even a little incompetent in Chuck. This is a trope that has been used in a lot of TV shows and movies. Basically it is the attempt of the protagonists to negotiate an overbearing, inflexible institution and it always involves breaking the rules which are seen to be unfair and counterproductive.

        I think it just plays off the fact that the majority of viewers have worked in schools, businesses or institutions where, at the individual level, there are a lot of regulations that don’t make sense or which make life difficult or where upper management has little understanding of their workers daily lives.

      • joe says:

        I’ve been back and forth on the way he’s treated the military, too. But mostly, he’s pretty respectful, I think. Casey’s military background isn’t so much of a joke as the CIA/NSA.

        What surprised me most was statements we heard a couple of times by Fulcrum agents. They were patriots, out to – what? save us from ourselves? It was a reasonable perversion of a good thing ™ to make it evil but not so overstated as to make it frivolous.

      • armysfc says:

        dave…i don’t know if it’s that he doesn’t like them or just over plays their short comings. if they portrayed them as being able to have families, friends and such it would make the story telling less interesting. adding things like red tests and making it seem like all female agents sleep with marks is another good example of how they up the bad image of the CIA. it gives them more to work with. we just saw what it takes to ok an assassination, yet they make it seem like it happens on a regular basis. so i am inclined to believe they use the CIA as the bad good guy. well i hope anyway.

        as for the military they do treat him better but if they would have gotten his promotion right it would have been better. it’s major to LTC then COL. they skipped the LTC rank, but hey that’s a small bit.

      • atcDave says:

        Army it isn’t just the rank screw up; his branch of service seems to have changed. Way back Helicopter Casey claimed to have flown a stealth fighter, which of course is Air Force only. Even in First Date Chuck was under the impression Casey was a pilot. Then, starting in Best Friend, he started morphing into a Marine, specifically a sniper. Now I realize of course anyone with a long service record may have had multiple specialties, but they really push the limits of believability.

        I’d also add, as federal employee, there are often rigid self defeating rules that employees have to struggle with. There’s nothing quite like having to work with rules that were clearly written by people who have neither done nor really understand the job. Perhaps I should change the topic before I get myself in too much trouble…

        Nervert I would add to your comments that they often push things so far on Chuck I suspect there’s a little anti-government bias there. But it is a little fun to have the ordinary guy protagonist doing battle with both friends and foes at times. And I particularly liked the idea from the first two seasons that Sarah was the buffer between Chuck and a government that clearly did not have his best interests at heart.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Dave i agree. the other thing about casey is when he did become an officer? he wears the republic of viet nam campaign medal. it was last awarded in 72. in one episode they say he was a lieutenant in 80. so he had to spend some time as enlisted. officers generally make 03 in about 5 years depending on branch of service. a lot of folks do change branch of service in their career, can’t see going from pilot to sniper. that’s a big change, lol.

      • patty says:

        I think they just messed up the medals Army. No way Casey is supposed to be almost 60. He is obviously somewhere in his 40’s.

      • ArmySFC says:

        patty, i agree but how many times do we see people defend a statement by saying…in this episode they said this or showed this. i learned a while ago to accept that fact. the rest of his medals also fit the time line as well. he also wears three other viet nam medals, so if they did mess up they messed up on more than one.

      • ArmySFC says:

        patty sorry, also this is based on a freeze frame of his awards rack so i may have messed up due to the quality of the image, but i’m pretty sure i got it right.

      • atcDave says:

        My guess on his medals is that it actually has more to do with Adam Baldwin. He is aggressively involved in veterans causes, including POW/MIA, so Casey’s medals may reflect specific people and events Adam has been involved with. Just like Adam is who started all of the Reagan stuff (he really is a big fan); and I believe he’s 47 or 48, so clearly not old enough for Nam.

      • joe says:

        I can vouch for that, Dave. I’m 10 years older, and despite the fact that my “random draft number” was 003 (out of a possible 366 – based on your birthday and drawn at random), I did not go because draftees were no longer being called up. Missed it by weeks! Adam would have been about 8 or 9 years old that year.

        I’m sure he was a big kid, but not *that* big. 😉

      • armysfc says:

        dave and joe, ok here is something else they said. in one episode they said he was a lieutenant (i don’t remember if it’s first or second) in 1980. to be a lieutenant you need 4 years of college so if he graduated in 80 he would have been 21-22 Based on his getting commissioned right after graduating. add 31 years to that and he is at least 52-53. again taken from what they told us. unless i remember it wrong then i am way off track and will admit it. i think adam’s age is confusing the age of casey.

      • atcDave says:

        I remember them saying he was a Lieutenant in the flash back scenes of Tic Tac, but I thought that was ’86 or so. Perhaps they broadly said “in the ’80s” at some point but I don’t remember anything else more specific than that. At any rate, I was assuming the character and actor were roughly the same age, unless we’ve heard something I’ve totally forgotten (blanked out much of S3 ya know!).

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Honestly, I always figured the whole Marine and Vietnam thing was an easter egg about Adam’s role in Full Medal Jacket. Coming from me this may sound weird (and I agree the stealth fighter/Marine thing is odd, but hey, didn’t you see Executive Decision?) but I think it is possible overanalyze some of these details.

        But if you’re determined: John Casey Wiki

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I agree we are mostly over-analyzing. Apart from us nerds most folks are clueless on the details anyway. And of course, people do change branches of service and specialties on occasion.

        Yeah I had failed to mention the Full Metal Jacket thing, I’m sure that’s part of it.
        And I’m not sure if the “Remora” can rightfully be called a stealth fighter as heavily modified as it was…

        By the way Ernie, I sort of figured when you saw me bringing up S3 again that you’d run screaming from the post, never expected you to pitch in!

      • armysfc says:

        well at least i got the medals right i thought i saw, lol. and it does support my theory that casey is portrayed by a much youger actor than his age. thanks ernie!

  5. Robert H says:

    Season 3 again? OK I’ll play along.

    How about this scenario? There is no Shaw or Hannah in season 3. There was never any need to introduce these characters in the first place. That’s where it all went wrong to begin with. The budget cuts did the rest. The rest is history, a very bad history.

    Season 3 could have begun with Sarah badly negatively affected by Bryce’s death. If it was going to go dark then it could have had Sarah going dark, pulling away from Chuck to regain the emotional “security” she had prior to meeting Chuck. “don’t get too close, don’t get emotional, and above never fall in love”. Her job was to protect Chuck’s physical safety, that’s all nothing more, nothing less. In doing this she would have been in danger of losing her soul. It would have been Chuck’s job to “save” her spiritually and emotionally from going over the brink, falling into the dark void permanently. He could have kept his original role, not becoming a “spy” with Casey providing the balance between the two of them. There would have been no need for Shaw or Hannah and the show could have gone on from there with the continuity the viewers were expecting but did not get. I think the audience would have accepted this maybe even welcoming it and the couple could have finally come together in episode 13. If this had been done or something roughly along those lines much of the viewer base could have been retained, even with the budget cuts. Of course now we’ll never know but since you brought this up, I thought I would just throw this out for whatever.

    Your thoughts? Thanks.

    • joe says:

      Robert, I sorta like it. In the right hands (and with the caveat that the scenario not be permitted to go on too long) this could be a great way to add tons of depth to the Sarah character. S3 becomes the story Chuck fighting Bryce’s ghost instead of Shaw.

      I’d love to see a fan-fic done on the theme (Nudge for you, Robert. Go for it!).

      Makes me think of something I hadn’t thought of before. Canon has Chuck trying (and mostly failing) to pull away from Sarah at that point (which is more upsetting than Sarah pulling away from Chuck IMHO). This scenario undoes that idea.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Robert S3 again. I thought maybe having a thread of its own for a little it might keep it off the other pages!

      Your suggestion certainly would have been less offensively bad than the recycled OLI theme we got; and it would have accomplished much of what we did see while preserving more dignity for the main characters.
      My only complaint with it would be that it is (as you acknowledged) still pretty dark. I’ll always prefer the more upbeat possibilities. I think Colonel was simply the end of my tolerance for Chuck and Sarah being kept apart for internal reasons. If they were truly determined to give the audience no satisfaction it might have worked with purely external forces keeping them apart. Some combination of being given separate missions, keeping Chuck under constant surveillance while Sarah is banned from close contact with him (something like that). Maybe Beckman becomes convinced Sarah is the cause of Chuck’s Intersect problems and tries to keep them apart; but of course Beckman would be wrong, maybe Chuck and Sarah had a big fight that caused the Interset to shut down. And several episodes are spent proving that Chuck has better control when Sarah is calming him down and building his confidence.
      That way they could have continued a sort of wt/wt for another season even though neither character wanted it. That would have been a lot more fun to me!

  6. uplink2 says:

    Oooh a Season 3 and FF discussion! How did I miss that one yesterday? Maybe because I was reading too much FF and didn’t visit the sites.

    S3 first as that is how Dave started this. There are probably hundreds or even thousands of different stories that I would have preferred to see than what we got. All of what you mentioned and many many I have read in FF would have been much better. The story of Themselves would have been amazing to watch and IMO the fanbase would have been growing and very enthusiastic if they had gone that route. A clandestine relationship would have opened up so many areas that the show does incredibly well. It could also still have led to Chuck’s hero moment that Frea mused on so well in her Season 3 diatribe last August.

    For me one of the biggest issues that haunt me about all of this is the basic premise that Chuck would turn away from the love of his life after 3 weeks in training when it took him five years to get over Jill. Even though not together yet he knew he loved Sarah more than he ever loved Jill. Plus Chuck always put others first and the Chuck we knew would have explained the reasons why he felt that he couldn’t run a lot better than the mean, insensitive and hurtful way he did it in Pink Slip. He had to know what a huge jump this was for Sarah to do, much of FF discusses this quite clearly, and to not show any concern for her feelings was so OOC for the Chuck we knew. Deciding to be a spy was perfectly in character but crushing Sarah in the process without an explanation was not. When we did see the explanation in Three Words not only was it too late but then TPTB decided to completely ignore it going forward as perish the thought they actually allowed them to communicate.
    By going the route they did they also took away the best part of the show for most of the fanbase or at least a huge part of it, those special Chuck/Sarah moments. In order for their chosen story to have any chance of working they had to keep them apart both relationship wise but more importantly screen time wise. Chuck and Sarah simply were not allowed to talk without Sh** there for fear they might actually look at each other and show us that marvelous and special chemistry again, the chemistry that we the fans invested in. Even the 2 steps back m0ments from season 1 and 2 were special and would have been much better than no moments at all. But their story would not allow for those moments to ever be shown.

    But not having them in a real relationship ultimately was not the worst part of it. There are a million scenarios where keeping them apart romantically could have worked but the worst was that they were no longer friends in anything close to what we had come to know and love about the show. They chose to take away that bond of trust and friendship that was the foundation for the romance and as Joseph points out many times that is what makes DYLM not as satisfying and it should have been. They never show that friendship and foundation of all things Chuck and Sarah being rebuilt except in Tic Tac and then they toss that away when they have Pod Sarah not trust Chuck at maybe the most important moment for her to trust him, the Red test and his explanation at the beginning of Hero. Even the stake date was based on showing the romance but the underlying bond of trust and friendship that made their romance special was never shown being rebuilt enough. We needed another ballerina or a Tom Sawyer type moment to help rebuild why that bond was so special and yes I’ll say it, epic.

    I won’t go into plywood man as that would take 30000 words at least to talk about the mistakes made there and how it could have been better. But I will mention the recurring character that was the most absolutely pointless and unnecessary of the entire series, Hannah, as she didn’t move the story forward one bit or teach Chuck anything he didn’t already know quite clearly before she arrived. She was 3 things and 3 things only, eye candy, stunt casting and the fourth corner of their beloved trapezoid. A failed attempt to try and make the absurd Sarah/Sh** relationship plausible.

    In the end there are many many stories I would have wanted to see and I believe would have been received so much better and possibly grown the show but they didn’t choose to tell them. We got a poorly crafted, poorly executed, poorly cast story whose bad moments unfortunately detract so much from the show that the good moments from that period are just not as satisfying . I simply can’t overlook the bad and enjoy the good most of the time.

    On to some FF. I highly recommend Family Matters. It is a great emotional story about friendship, family and the bonds between the characters that are what I love most in this show.

    On the subject of Duplicity, while I did enjoy the writing and thought it was an interesting concept in the review I wrote for it I said I found her response to the rash of bad reviews about her first chapter to be a bit disingenuous. Hey starting off a FF with Sarah accepting a marriage proposal from Sh** is bound to create a lot of negative feedback especially if you don’t warn the readers what you are trying to do. Now I didn’t read those earlier reviews as I tend not to read other folks reviews but I’m sure many many were over the top. Even so I found the way she began that story with no warning was like pouring gasoline on a smoldering log and being shocked when you get burned. It was meant to shock and upset readers and she got exactly what I would have expected from many crazy fans. However once you get past that it is a good story with lots of drama, some well written angst, and a resolution that I think fit the story. The sequel then expands that and gets us to a much better or more enjoyable resolution. All in all I would recommend it even for someone like me that is an avid shipper but it does not start well for us at all lol.

    One I would highly recommend that I was turned on to by Bdaddydl is Chuck VS The Coma. Great story. Highly engaging and I really really liked it a lot. Probably top 10 for me right now.

    If we don’t get a renewal I am really looking forward to what will be written with the Cliffhanger ending for this season. It is going to be some great stuff.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, we sure found a hot button for you Uplink!

      I’d agree entirely with your S3 comments. My motto has long been “fatally flawed at conception” and you hit on some of the reasons why; like Chuck ditching Sarah after 3 weeks of training, and with little explanation. It was disingenuous and rubbed me wrong from the very start. To me, Three Words actually made things worse; if it had been the start of rebuilding their trust, I might have been willing to overlook one dog of an episode. But it was actually a false hope, and after Operation Awesome things got much worse. The first two seasons of the show it was very much the Chuck/Sarah scenes and the building friendship and trust between two such different characters was really THE THING that made Chuck special and different. I love action/adventure, but a lot of shows do it and do it well. I love character based comedy and absurd situations, but again, many other shows deliver the goods on that. Now the combination of those things was enough to make Chuck a good show, but Charah was always what made it special. And they basically stripped that part away for almost the entire season.
      Mere words cannot describe how much I loath most of S3.

      Duplicity is one I couldn’t read; I was leary of the synopsis, and intensely disliked chapter one, so that was the end for me. I wasn’t willing to play along with the set-up; much like Pink Slip…
      Coma has some nice moments. It may be time I reread that one…

      • uplink2 says:

        You’re right Dave this is a hot button for me. I guess I’ve made that quite clear in my time here. Just that I’ve been away reading FF alot lately and haven’t been posting much.

        Here is the thing about those special Chuck/Sarah or Charah moments that makes their story idea look so much worse. If they had allowed us to see those moments, even the 2 step back moments, during the absurd LI arcs for both characters but especially Sarah/Sh**, it would have simply highlighted how much that story wasn’t working. I never saw any attraction from Sarah for Sh**, there was absolutely no chemistry between the actors, and if they showed Charah moments it might have been so bad I would have broke out laughing instead of believing this story was working. With Cole I saw it in about 5 minutes, with Sh** it was never there in 9 episodes.
        For me at least Season 3 was a forced, contrived reset to go to the PLI/WTWT well one more time and create a heroes moment for Chuck. In doing so they had to diminish my favorite character on the show, Sarah Walker, and stuffed way too much unnecessary crap into 13 episodes that the good stuff that was there was simply overshadowed by the bad. Plot holes, useless characters, angst for angst sake, very little comedy, and eliminate what made the show fun to watch. They ran the main story through an underdeveloped, unlikable, and uninteresting character played by a very limited actor instead of the characters I wanted to see and had invested in. I could accept them not being together romantically but I could never and will never accept them not being together as friends and trusting each other. But most egregious of all, Chuck never considering Sarah’s feelings when he made a decision that could change her life possibly forever. That simply was not the Chuck of the ballerina, Break up, Best Friend, or any episode of the first 2 seasons.

      • atcDave says:

        You know we’re always on the same page on this Uplink. Although I’ve always said I thought they needed to be together post Colonel, they might have pulled it out by at least following the Castle model; where even with the leads involved in other relationships the show remains about the Castle/Beckett friendship. Okay, seriously, I don’t think I would have liked that much on Chuck either; but it least is less obviously a total fubar.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      Yes, yes, yes. Agreed. Ditto. Roger that. Oh, bugger it.

      Uplink2 and atcDave: you have just said everything I wanted to say, and said it better. One thing that Uplink mentioned that bothered me right from the beginning of S3, but which I always forget to bring up is the character of Chuck himself.

      I’ve mentioned a number of times that I think that there are at least 3 different Sarah Walkers in season 3. What Uplink points out is that the character of Chuck in S3 is NOT the same character who enlivened seasons 1 and 2. He’s someone else, someone who does something outright despicable to a person that he (and we) love, and then his character proceeds to go downhill from there.

      What the heck were TPTB thinking? They took what was probably the single most likeable male lead on TV and turned him into a shallow jerk and habitual liar, and for WHAT? ARRRGHGHHHHHHHHHHHH!.

      Reading Chuck vs Family Matters. Feel better now.

      • atcDave says:

        “Feel better now” is exactly what got me started on fan fiction!

        As far as what they were thinking, I doubt we’ll ever really know; but I do think they have a tendency to not invest in their characters on a scene by scene level quite like we do. That is, they’re willing to creat a scene or scenario for shock value without really thinking if it fits the character the fans have identified with.
        I also think they never really expected us to care for the characters quite like we do. I think they saw the show mainly as action/adventure and comedy, and didn’t realize fans were so drawn to the characters themselves.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Dave:

        That sounds right to me; what is puzzling is how different the tone and characters of season 3 are from 1 and 2. The first two seasons showed an unerring ability to hit the emotional notes just right; that is why so many fans invested so much in the show. Those scripts and those characters from S1 and 2 forged a series of emotional connections with many viewers; that is why so many people responded to the effort to bring Chuck back from cancellation.

        Then in S3, TPTB seemed to deliberately take a blow torch to each of those connections. I lost track of how many times I heard the following from my friends while we watched the first 8 episodes of S3:

        “He wouldn’t say that!”
        “She wouldn’t do that!”
        “That wouldn’t happen!”
        “That wouldn’t work!”

        It was a different show entirely. It makes me wonder who left the show between S2 and S3.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah VV, I almost wonder if there was a disconnect between the writers and the show runners. Basically, the show and characters as written in the first two seasons simply didn’t allow for the story that was delivered in S3.

        My wife and I both muttered “[Chuck/Sarah] wouldn’t do that” several times during S3. Now it is entirely possible TPTB had some sort of master outline that required exactly what we saw in S3; but if they did, then the first two seasons were presented completely wrong. But given that the characters of S4 seem more consistent with S1 & S2, I think S3 has to be considered an anomaly or mistake. And they do seem to have learned their lessons, mostly.
        But we do need to allow for S4 being a dramatic change in its own regard. Although we mostly all fell in love with the first two seasons of the show, there really was a level of tension and angst there that is now absent. Its like they decided S3 would amp up the angst and reduce the warm and fuzzy moments; and then discovered they’d POed a significant number of fans, so the angst was dialed back and replaced with romantic comedy.
        I like the current show an awful lot, but we have seen a number of comments indicating not everyone feels that way. I would like to think if they tightened up the spy plots and quit making Chuck out to be a buffoon so often they could make every one [mostly] happy without adding any more angst back in.

      • ArmySFC says:

        dave i agree 100%. have chuck and sarah work together on most missions and keep them mostly equal and dial the fluff back just a schooch and i’m back in force, if not this will be it for me.

      • Big Kev says:

        @Dave,
        That’s pretty much nailed my feelings – certainly about the front 13. I have no desire to go back to a will they/won’t they angst fest, but I didn’t sign up for a plot-free romcom with a neurotic and irritating hero either. In amongst that, there were some great moments, but dialing back the fluff and the neuroses and actually telling a story were urgent requirements for me around the time of Balcony.
        They’ve done exactly that in the back half though and for me the episodes have been much, much stronger as a result. The last 2, in combination, are pretty much exactly what I want the show to be doing.

  7. Crumby says:

    I don’t know if some of you already heard of it but the 3rd Annual Awesome Awards have begun. If there are a stories/authors you want to see be rewarded, you can nominate and vote for them.

    Explanations about it can be found here: http://bit.ly/kUNXG6

    Discussion and questions can be found/asked here: http://bit.ly/iH5vZz

    And you can find the threads for the nominations here: http://bit.ly/aA8CJz

  8. herder says:

    I’m going to try to comment on season three, I’m not going to try and guess what other’s perspectives are, I’m only going by my own reactions are. To illustrate I often go to http://www.stahotski.com , one of the things that I like is that they have pictures of Yvonne, at the bottom they have changing photos, some of her photo shoots, some of runway pictures, some of screen caps of Chuck. When ever one of the pictures dealing with the Shaw scenes comes up my upper lip curls, sort of like a dog bareing it’s teeth, this always happens. It doesn’t happen for screen caps of Pink Slip or Three Words despite the fact that I’m not overly fond of them either but for the Shaw arc I have a visceral reaction of dislike.

    Perhaps shockingly I don’t think that the ideas behind season three were all that bad, the idea of the cost and the moral compromises that you have to make as a spy are interesting ones and handled better they could have been quite interesting. Similarly the notion that Chuck might want to have a non-spy relationship or that Sarah might retreat to a spy relationship are valid ones that handled properly could have been worth watching. Even Chuck’s lying and the toll that takes on him and those around him was worth looking at. To my mind the problem was a failure of writing and execution.

    Personally I thought that Pink Slip and Three Words were unessesarily harsh, but I let it slide, TPTB had a huge resevoir of good will and if they felt that this was necessary for the story that they wanted to tell I was willing to go along with it. I believed the end of Three Words that they would work on fixing the mess that they had made, but that turned out to be a lie, they never worked on it, this was the first failure. The only bit that we saw, as opposed to being told, was Sarah hugging Chuck when Awesome was taken at the end of Angel del Muerte.

    I liked both Angel del Muerte and Operation Awesome. I also liked both First Class and Natcho Sampler, with the exception of the end, both had disturbing bits such as Chuck being overly pleased at Hannah arriving at the Buy More and Sarah leaving Chuck drinking alone after burning Manoush, I thought that they were supposed to be working on things and ultimately at the bottom of things they were supposed to be best friends. Second failure, the baseline of the friendship was sacreficed for angst.

    Personally I thought that Mask was a meh episode until the last ten minutes when it became WTF. In other words they didn’t lay the foundation for a sudden and major change in both leads behaviour. By the end of Fake Name I was wishing for Cole to come back and take Sarah away from both of these jerks, not a good sign when you think both the protagonist and the antagonist are jerks.

    A bit of an aside about the triangles, TPTB were determined to have them, they were pushing them from interviews at the end of season two when they got the renewals. Chuck and Hannah was reasonably well written, you could understand what he saw in her, why he might want a relationship outside of the spy life and why her came to realize that it wouldn’t work. The problem was that this exact story had already been told with Lou, the only difference being with Lou, the spy life had been thrust upon him, with Hannah he had chosen the spy life. I firmly believe that the only reason for the Hannah story was to allow the Sarah/Shaw story, more precisely, to allow for the shot of Sarah seeing Hannah at the dinner table in her place and then turning to Shaw.

    Sarah and Shaw was very poorly written and poorly executed, above I mentioned the reasons why Chuck and Hannah was well done, ask the same questions of Sarah and Shaw: what did she see in him, why would she be interested in a spy relationship and why did she decide that it was not right for her to be with him. We weren’t shown any of those things and the only clue we were given is that she works with him and she falls for the guys she works with. As far as I can see the only reason for the romance was for the effect that it had on Chuck. To my opinion these writers are better than that, I could see why Casey would be interested in Forrest despite her being an unappealing character, surely they could have explained Sarah’s attraction to Shaw.

    The other problem with the Sarah/Shaw romance is that it went on too damn long, almost half the season then no real reason for her deciding to go with Chuck rather than Shaw, no payoff. It became sort of like biting on tinfoil and spoiled otherwise good episodes like Beard and Tic Tac.

    Final Exam had a false choice at it’s center that was never explained, become a spy and I’ll leave you as I can’t be with you as a spy but I can be with your boss who is a spy and not as good a one. And the ending where she is so upset about the red test that Chuck undergoes as it reminds her of her own red test that she turns to the one who manipulated her into manipulating Chuck, fey!

    American Hero was simply one step too far of all the previous complaints. Other Guy, while a decent episode simply limped across the finish line, I don’t rewatch it.

    If they had kept the friendship, explained and shortened the Shaw romance and kept away from so many downer endings the season would have been more understandable and more accepted, maybe not as loved as seasons one and two but not a reviled as it is. To my mind the story itself, in it’s bare bones is acceptable, it is the writing and execution that is at fault.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with many of your points herder. Although my final judgement is even less charitable on Shaw. Not the character but the concept. Just as Hannah was a repeat of Lou; Shaw was, in concept, a rerun of Bryce/Cole. Hannah and Shaw are both fatally flawed at conception.
      Now it is funny to me how much I agree with your individual recaps. I never would have liked Pink Slip (too dark), but I could have overlooked it if Three Words had delivered on its apparent promise. But Three Words didn’t, so I no longer like that episode either. I was very happy with Angel of Death and Operation Awesome at the time; and I’d even say if the season had delivered on some of what was going on with Chuck and Sarah rebuilding friendship and trust I might still love those episodes. But we dropped into the abyss afterwards, so they are wasted. I never liked Chuck’s flirting with Hannah in First Class, but I likely could have dismissed it as just being friendly except for the end. And Nacho Sampler is when the bottom really falls out. While Beard and Tic Tac are better episodes; I wasn’t completely satisfied with the show again until Shaw was gone. What a bitter memory.

      In the end, I think had they kept more attention on Chuck and Sarah’s friendship throughout S3 I might not despise it like I do now. But there was no way I would ever have any real fondness for any story that put romantic interests between them.

  9. jason says:

    dave – as you know – I am not a fan fic guy. But I am going to throw a little fan fic / spec here – thought you would not mind – here goes:

    1 – sarah is pregnant
    2 – orion’s unborn grandson’s dna fights off the ‘Norseman’ until the antedote arrive, in a sense, baby ‘Stephen’ followed in his grandfather & grandmother’s, father’s and mother’s footsteps, before he ever was born
    3 – the oh boy is sarah telling chuck she is pregnant, the twist setting up season 5
    4 – season 5 skips about 5 years ahead, a little sister has joined stephen, chuck, and sarah’s family
    5 – at the end of season 5, yvonne and zach ink new contracts, and go on to be mega-stars on screen or in new tv series
    6 – but … fedak launches a new series, called ‘Orion’, which chronicles the teen years of stephen, clara, and stephen’s always in trouble blond tomboy sister, as well as morgan’s family of 6 boys (think ron’s family from harry potter & remember they have ‘casey’ dna in them too!)
    7 – the cast of ‘Orion’ includes morgan & casey (if they want to be involved), alex, beckman, big mike, jeff, and lester, with chuck, sarah, ellie and awesome making guest appearances off and on, more off than on

    fan fic I know, but since I am pretty sure by distant nephew Chris reads this blog, I thought I would throw it out there to stimulate his cerebral cortex, it’s the only way I know how to reach him, he has stopped taking my calls ever since the Mask aired – LOL

    • atcDave says:

      Well, I like your first three points!

      Bummer about your nephew. S3 was trying time for all of us…

    • joe says:

      Oh gee, Jason. You have it all mapped out!

      I really like the idea that Chuck’s “Oh boy” is about Sarah’s “condition”, at least, in the sense that it fits everything we’ve seen exactly. 😉 I’m a bit mixed about the idea that S5 is five years in the future (but I admit you make it seem like an attractive idea).

      The problem for me is that Desperate Housewives did that 5 year time-jump in exactly that same way. It turned out to be rather meh. It’s like nothing really interesting happened to the characters in those 5 years, so it became only a convenient way to replace a few babies and children in the cast with children and young actors, respectively. (The Julie and Zac characters were then allowed to be the actor’s age!) The principals were essentially unchanged, and Chuck has sorta taught me to appreciate growth and evolution in the characters.

      But if we’re gonna have growth and evolution, I’d like to see it!

      • jason says:

        joe / dave – I’m kind of foolin around with this more than serious, but a few things:

        1 – it sounded like chuck was going to get canceled this week, until WB made a deal NBC could not refuse, not sure if a horse’s head was involved or not (for those old enough to remember the Godfather scene of that sort of deal)

        2 – if I were NBC, I would tell WB, Fedak, and chuck fans, this is it, say your goodbyes, but more importantly you all have been so wonderful, we want you to know how much we love you as fans, we hope these extra 13 eps will be taken as a token of our appreciation

        3 – once in that mindset (13 and done), a leap forward solves the sarah pregnant ruining any eps, and does open a comedy gold mind as casey, chuck, morgan, and esp sarah are going to be really funny with children around.

        If there is a chance the show gets season 5 of 22 eps, and 6 and 7 and 8 and beyond, then my idea is awful, and should be tabled until the last season. But realistically, chuck is below the bubble line, and likely will not get any more chances, unless moved to friday nights and if it could get somewhere between 1.6 and 2.0M demo on friday’s – ok – I’ve sold myself, we’re good for 3 or 4 more seasons.

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