Summertime is Poll Time

Where we rank and review the season that was.

I said "poll" Morgan. We need to take a "poll".

So another season comes to an end, and as has become a sort of tradition in long breaks from Chuck we rank, rate, rewatch and review till new Chuck comes along.

Join us for some heavy lifting where you actually have to choose your favorite episodes of Chuck, after the jump.

We’ll keep this simple for now, four polls, one for each season.  Starting with season 4 and working back.  Depending on the length of the season you get between 4 and 6 picks.

Season 4, pick your top 6.

Season 3, Five picks this time.

Season 2, back to 6 picks.

Season 1, pick only 4.  Sorry.

Feel free to talk amongst yourselves.

About Ernie Davis

I was born in 1998, the illegitimate brain child and pen name of a surly and reclusive misanthrope with a penchant for anonymity. My offline alter ego is a convicted bibliophile and causes rampant pognophobia whenever he goes out in public. He wants to be James Lileks when he grows up or Dave Barry if he doesn’t.  His hobbies are mopery, curling and watching and writing about Chuck.  Obsessively.  Really, the dude needs serious help.
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92 Responses to Summertime is Poll Time

  1. thinkling says:

    Fun, Ernie. Thanks.

  2. Big Kev says:

    Always fun, Ernie. Would love to see some sort of a ranked Series Top 10 poll. I bet there would be at least one surprise in the top 10!

    • Ernie Davis says:

      It is on its way Kev, but first we’re breaking it down by season as requested. Might be a good idea for a series re-watch?

      • Big Kev says:

        My TV watching schedule will probably break if I try a full series rewatch before September on top of Fringe, Mad Men and Season 2 of West Wing – but gonna adopt the ChuckTV idea of a rewatch of 4 from each season! And no doubt a fuller rewatch once S5 is done. Call me obsessed (Me? Never….) but I really hope the blog sticks around and we get into some S1 and S2 discussions once the show wraps.

  3. atcDave says:

    Interesting. I think some of my responses have shifted. But in every case the top 2 or 3 seem constant, but after that… I know I’ve given different answers in some of these.

    • thinkling says:

      Same here, Dave. Of course now we have some new episodes to consider.

      But my mood always finds its way into the mix after the top few.

    • joe says:

      Yeah, me too. My first couple of choices for each season seemed to be fixed in concrete. After that, it gets much harder to choose between several.

      Thanks for the pole, Dave!

    • jason says:

      I only voted for 2 in season 3 – honeymooners and role models.

      • lappers84 says:

        I think Beard was a little underrated, I really enjoyed that one. It’s a shame really some great Chuck episodes usually followed bad ones (Like Beard and Push Mix)

      • atcDave says:

        I’d say the S3 curse is that a couple of good episodes were destroyed by sour endings. Of course several other episodes are completely beyond salvage.

      • thinkling says:

        Sad, but true, Dave. Plus the overall mood and tone of the season dampened what would have been very good episodes, otherwise.

  4. kg says:

    Yes. Thanks again Ernie.

    You know, I don’t really know how this show ranks historically, how good it actually may be. It’s certainly the best I’ve been associated with, easily the most emotionally I’ve been invested in. And a lot of very good people who follow the show with me. Without a doubt, continually proven, the most committed, articulate, loyal and passionate fan base ever.

    Anyway, my choices:

    Season 4: Anniversary, Suitcase, Phase Three, Balcony, Push Mix and Cliffhanger.

    Season 3: Beard, American Hero, Other Guy, Honeymooners and Subway/Ring II.

    Season 2: Seduction, Gravitron, Suburbs, Dream Job, Colonel and Ring.

    Season 1: Alma Mater, Truth, Hard Salami and Marlin.

    A few honorable mentions mainly for superb and memorable individual scenes – Cat Squad, Three Words, Best Friends and Santa Claus.

  5. lappers84 says:

    LMAO. Who voted for Fake Name

    • atcDave says:

      It does prove there is still a broad range of taste within the fandom. Well, that or someone is just messing with us…

      • Big Kev says:

        I agree. I thought the season was well and truly back on track by 3.06 after the WTF moments of Pink Slip – which is why Mask and Fake Name and the descent into soap opera cliche and accompanying hysteria were so awfully disappointing.
        Funnily enough though, I loved Final Exam. It made very little sense, from a story or character perspective, but I love it anyway, even though I know I probably shouldn’t 🙂

        Yeah, that Sarah moment in Beard is really jarring. It’s of a piece with the whole “broken Sarah” of those episodes though, so at least it vaguely makes sense. The earrings scene in (I think) Living Dead though?? Don’t get me started on that one.

      • Big Kev says:

        Sorry. That last post belongs further down. I’ve been doing that a lot lately. As my old school reports used to say “Needs to pay attention in class!”

      • atcDave says:

        Hey we can keep these threads interesting one way or another, I love the “random reply” option!

        The interrogation in Living Dead is what finalized my dislike for most of the season. I know its probably “childish” or some sort of obsessive, but seriously if they’d left a little more room for plausible deniability it would have made many things easier to accept.
        Not only that, I bet Schwedak regret it now too. Look how hard they’ve worked to “make amends” with much of the fanbase after the misery arc. If they’d known when they were shooting Living Dead how poorly most of the season would be received I’d bet a wheelbarrow of Costa Gravan Pesos they never would have written the scene that way.

      • Big Kev says:

        You have to scroll through a lot of posts and threads to find the correct place to “reply” to, and that’s not always easy on the IPhone. The old mobile site was much better but that seems to have disappeared? That’s my excuse anyway….. 🙂
        The earrings scene is possibly my least favourite of the series. I was long past denying or caring that Sarah slept with Shaw, but having her keep a gift from someone who tried to kill her? That’s someone who needs serious professional help. I get that they wrote the scene for comic relief, but a laugh that does that much damage to a main character is probably a laugh you can do without. A rare misstep for LaFranc and Judkins.

      • jason says:

        This is an easier spot to find – couple of things – ernie is going oh no I am sure

        1 – all that stuff about 3×6 being this or that are fine guesses and make a bunch of sense, but little of it has ever been revealed ON SCREEN, mostly due to the fact sarah never talked to anyone other than shaw for the entire shaw arc
        2 – as far as sarah’s motivations in 6 thru 13 – as far as we know from on screen, she is moving on, chuck has Hannah, is changing in her eyes as he is becoming a spy & said no in Prague, Shaw is interested in her, she took her shot
        3 – I liked the first half of the mask too, until chuck and sarah said a heartfelt goodbye in the castle with the glass between them, and within about 2 minutes of tv time, sarah had fallen in love with shaw, end of debate, she stayed in love with shaw until he passed her back to chuck in final exam (in the near identical setting / location) like he would a coed at a beer party
        4 – the last few minutes of nacho set up the theme for the rest of the arc, eps that ended depressingly bad for the shipper couple fans, other than that, nacho really wasn’t that bad, it was more looking back, it signaled the beginning of the heavy misery in the misery season
        5 – for a series that likely was going to be cancelled, TPTB exercised poor judgement in how they ended episodes during the shaw misery season – although I am pretty sure that eps 9 -13 would have been different if the season had not been extended, I think 9 was the first ep that changed, might have even been 8

    • thinkling says:

      I didn’t vote for it, but I don’t hate it as much as some people do. It’s not my least favorite. That infamous honor goes to Nacho Sampler.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve got six vying for that dishonor, and they’re all from the misery arc!

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, like I say, least favorite of s3.0 is a photo finish among several … sad.

        On the up-side, there’s a huge pack of contenders for medalling in the favorite episode events.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh yeah, lot’s to choose from for favorites. Honeymooners remains one of the top contenders, ironic with its S3 status.

        Looking at S4 re-enforces to me what a strong season it was, there wasn’t a single episode I actually disliked, and only 3 or 4 that I can quickly eliminate as not getting one of my “top 6” votes.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, S4 can easily have half of my favorites. I’m sure it will get the heaviest rewatch as a season overall. I’m just totally happy with it, and my happiness continued to grow from the first half to the second.

      • jason says:

        my season 4 was difficult to pick, I went with phase 3, balcony, push mix, wedding planner, detail, and cliffhanger, but anniversary, suitcase, first fight, seduction impossible, bank of evil or even coup de jour probably could have made the list. I only did not care for gobbler and rob riggle’s ep & even those were OK, since there were no PLI’s or LI’s, more central relationship miscommunication issues. I wonder if season 5 will continue to be so friendly to my POV.

        One comment on glide drexler from 4×24 and maybe season 5, 100% bad people don’t work well on chuck …. really they don’t work that well with drama on tv, the great villains are conflicted, have spurts of good mixed in with the bad, they are or at times can be friends with the hero, think lex luthor on smallville or Arvin Sloane on Alias. In particular that chuck uses so much humor and parody, that 100% evil thing falls flat, need it to be more balanced. The Volkov devil lawyer guy was underused for the same reason, his best work was when he was trying to mentor vivian, showing some depth and humanness.

      • Big Kev says:

        Ouch! Nacho Sampler made my “good” list for S3. Least favourite is still the Mask for me, closely followed by Muurder.

      • thinkling says:

        Big Kev, NS has some very funny stuff, but the premise is so off to me. Like equating Chuck and Minoosh, just because they’re both nerds. Sheesh, they’re not a thing alike. Sarah’s angst over Chuck burning someone that deserved to be burned. She should’ve been cheering.

        The laser pen is one of the funniest scenes of S3. But they just didn’t sell me on the premise.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d agree with Thinkling on Nacho Sampler, that episode just made me angry. I could sort of get Sarah hating to see Chuck learn how to handle and burn an asset like that; but Manoosh was so unlike Chuck the parallels fell flat; and Sarah not going to Chuck in the end was one of those criminally out of character moments to me, right up there with letting Shaw blow him up in Beard.

        I guess I’ll be more specific here and say my best list for S4 was Suitcase, Phase 3, Balconey, Seduction Impossible, Wedding Planner, and Cliffhanger.
        No bad episodes, but the ones I would clearly not call favorites are limited to Anniversary, Gobbler, and Muuurder.
        EVERY other episode is in consideration for an all time favorite list (depending how many we want to list!)

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, Dave. It was a clumsy parallel at best. Sarah would have burned Manoosh in a heartbeat, and she would never have been able to burn Chuck. That much was obvious time and again. And Chuck wouldn’t have been able to burn someone like himself, either. Terrible premise that made the story ring too false.

        I think Cliff Hanger, Wedding Planner, and Phase 3 will always make my favorites list. After that there are a lot of choices. I’m not sure which I picked any more, but Balcony, Suitcase, FBoE, First Fight, Coup, A-Team, and Last Details are all contenders. Ask me tomorrow, and I may think of a few more.

        Muurder is the one I would rewatch the least (I like the last couple of minutes). I think I liked Gobbler better than most people. Anniversary is a good episode, but in S4 it’s one of the weaker ones. Remember how much we liked it right after we saw it?

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I remember. The thing is, it ends really well. The last 15 minutes or so is really dynamite, which in many cases is all an episode really needs to be great. It falls short for me for two reasons; much as I love the end, the first 20 minutes or so I don’t care for so much; and the competition in S4 is just so strong. Had Anniversary been a late S3 episode it likely would have made my favorites list for that season; but in S4 it was never in the running.

      • thinkling says:

        Oh yeah, it could have made my S3 favorites. I didn’t care for Chuck keeping secrets from Sarah (but that was quickly resolved), and I really didn’t care for the Repo man. Otherwise it was a good episode. Still a great intro for LH, too.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well I liked Nacho Sampler quite a bit, and I’ll give you my spin on it. Sarah’s problem was not seeing Chuck burn a guy who deserved it, it was seeing him both become aware of, and take on certain aspects of the spy she was. It was the fact that it seemed he accepted what her role in his life had been, his handler and nothing more, and then when necessary took care of the dirty work himself. In short, he didn’t need her anymore and he was closing himself off the same way she had.

      • thinkling says:

        Hmm, I never thought of it that way. That would certainly exacerbate everything that was bothering her … Chuck becoming “nothing but a spy” … and one who wouldn’t need her.

        That makes it make better sense (heartbreaking sense), but I’m not sure it makes me like it any better. 😉

      • joe says:

        Wow – It may be getting obnoxious that I keep patting you guys on the back, but that was a really great bit of analysis, Ernie.

        …his handler and nothing more, and then when necessary took care of the dirty work himself. In short, he didn’t need her anymore and he was closing himself off the same way she had.

        I missed that too, and it really rings true.

      • herder says:

        I’ll second Ernie’s comments about Natcho Sampler, not only did he accept the role of handler and it’s attendant risk of burning the asset, but he accepted her role of seductrice in getting Manoosh at the restaurant without freaking out as he did with Cole Barker. The ending was hard, but Chuck was accepting the hard nature of the job, Sarah responded by respecting his decision and letting him deal with the consequences of his decision, this was the wrong choice on her part. Had she talked to him about the difficulties of these hard choices as she did with Shaw after the red test things might have been different, but that was the point of season 3, the harsh realities of the spy business and the changes it forces on those who accept it.

        She accepted Shaw as an equal and could discuss these things with him but didn’t accept Chuck as an equal and so let the opportunity slip. How she felt about Chuck paralyzed her and the moment was lost and they drifted further apart. She didn’t explain her concerns about what this was doing to him and he didn’t get the chance to explain the differences between him and Manoosh and him and Sarah as asset and handler.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, well put, but I think there was one other aspect to it, other than losing the moment. She couldn’t do it, and knew she couldn’t do it, without getting into their feelings for each other and what was and wasn’t real again. And it wasn’t just that it was picking at still fresh scabs, it was also that Sarah has REALLY poor interpersonal communication skills, as we’ve seen. They showed us how things started to go wrong when Chuck started asking Sarah about himself as an assignment, and I don’t think Sarah was unaware of how easily that conversation could go sideways any number of ways. It wasn’t just a missed moment, it was fear, and absolutely in character for Sarah IMHO.

        As far as Manoosh, the parallels were there for a reason, and not the ones most people think. It wasn’t that we were supposed to see Manoosh as Chuck, an innocent pawn, we were supposed to see Manoosh as someone who Chuck would have a natural affinity and affection for. When Chuck had to burn someone he genuinely liked, but had been playing from the start, he starts to realize why Sarah kept him at arms length so often. Suddenly the reasons spies close off their emotions and don’t fall in love start to hit home, and Chuck starts to see the consequences of his decision.

      • herder says:

        Ernie, I think we are saying the same thing about Sarah, I say how she felt about him paralyzed her, you say in more words and with greater accuracy that the fear of where that conversation would lead prevented her from talking.

        I don’t necessarily agree about Manoush, besides the cosmetic similarities between him and Chuck, the differences were greater. Manoush was doing something for the wrong reasons, personal gain and an indifference about who benefited from what he had to offer, Chuck has always acted from the right reasons and being on the side of the good guys has been a requirement for him. This would have been part of the conversation had they talked, but they didn’t.

        I will say that of the first thirteen of season 3, Natcho Sampler is among the top three or four, I sort of liked it, I tend to place it in the category of a pretty good episode with a sucky ending, but an ending that seems earned rather than tacked on for the purposes of angst.

      • atcDave says:

        If I remember correctly, even at the time I acknowledged Nacho Sampler was an IMPORTANT episode. But important and entertaining are not the same thing. And while I’m an avid student of history and often examine the minutia of tragic situations, that is NOT what I watch television for.
        I will not refute that some sense can be made of many S3 episodes if we pick at them long enough, and I also realize many viewers do prefer this type of programming. But I’m not going to watch a series like that. I’m glad they turned away from the heavy handed angst, and I can honestly say I would far happier with the show if they had never gone there at all.

      • Big Kev says:

        Couldn’t agree more Herder and Ernie.
        I loved Nacho because it was one episode where they managed to tell a legitimate and substantial story (the costs of being a spy, and how Chuck would deal with that) and they tied it into Chuck and Sarah in a very real way – but without turning the whole thing into a soap opera. It was a balance they didn’t often get right in the front 13, but when they did (also Angel de la Muerte and Beard) it made for great episodes!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Herder, I agree Manoosh’s similarities were superficial. He was emotionally the anti-Chuck. He let his gifts, and people’s lack of appreciation of them, turn him bitter and self centered. Chuck however gets what it’s like to feel rejected and alienated, and as their interests all lie in similar areas and Manoosh seemed to be so grateful for a real friend who appreciated him for who he was, he could still be a very sympathetic character to Chuck. The fact that he didn’t really understand what he’d gotten himself into and just wanted out was also likely to resonate with Chuck.

        As for season 3’s front 13, I think (my personal taste and opinion) they didn’t really go off the tracks till Fake Name. OK, Pink Slip was a dirge and TPTB seemed almost impatient to have to deal with breaking Chuck and Sarah up, but from Three Words through (yes through) Mask I thought they were telling a decent story for the most part. I actually liked Mask outside the TV trope laden setup of Sham and the lack of chemistry, hence plausibility. But it didn’t ruin the episode for me. And I could have liked Fake name absent the fact that they set up the Chuck and Sarah conflict (and hence resolution and growth) and then made Chuck a spectator, putting Shaw in his place, hence removing the possibility of resolution, I assume for the purpose of extending Sham. Till Final Exam the story tread water, and that was where I started to lose patience.

      • atcDave says:

        Kev I do agree Angel of Death was an excellent episode. I sort of liked Beard at the time, but Sarah’s wimp out when Shaw tries to kill Chuck actually bothers me more now than it did at the time; so Beard is one of the few episodes that’s gone down in my esteem instead of up.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I totally get that Dave, this is not a conversation you’ll enjoy. I didn’t, and don’t for the most part mind seeing Chuck and Sarah dealing with the fallout of hasty decisions, their own fears and problems, and the consequences of the choices they made, when done well. “Well” being a matter of personal taste in many cases.

      • thinkling says:

        You guys have helped me see NS in a better light, in terms of how it fits in with the story of S3, which I get. Understanding something is always a good thing to me.

        That said it’s still just painful to watch, even though I get it.

      • atcDave says:

        ditto that Thinkling. Of course, Ernie has long known exactly where I stand on this…

      • joe says:

        Amazing conversation, everyone, especially on the nuances of Nacho Sampler. Clearly there’s more there in that ending than I ever realized.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Nacho Sampler was the first Chuck episode that I remember where I couldn’t suspend my sense of disbelief. It wasn’t Wepcon, or the laser pen, and I got the call back to Wookie and all; it was the booze.

        If the Intersect is an immense collated database that is stored in Charles Bartowski’s brain, then there is no way his handlers would allow, let alone encourage him to jack up his alcohol consumption. What does alcohol do to brain cells?

        This episode was such an ordeal to watch, that the issue of the booze just stopped me in my tracks. That, and the misery aspects of the plot make this episode one that I just can’t rewatch (except to fast forward to Yvonne’s scenes). I realize that a lot of people are interested in dissecting Season 3 to see what TPTB were trying to say, but it cost the show 1/3 of its audience.

        It failed as entertainment, and Nacho Sampler is an example of why.

      • Big Kev says:

        I respect that you didn’t like the episode or the arc, but you shouldn’t be using audience figures as proof that it “failed as entertainment” – because S4 also lost a third of it’s audience.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Big Kev:

        I enjoyed S4, but I can’t say it was a success. But if we don’t use audience size, then what DO we use as a measure of success or failure? Abs0lute numbers as opposed to a percentage?
        S3 lost more than 2.5 million viewers according to TVBTN.

        I’m not saying that S4 was a success, I’m saying that S3 was a disaster.

        Now, I loved S4, but I’m well aware that many viewers didn’t feel the same way. The show lost part of its audience for a number of reasons; the complaints I’ve seen most often are:
        not enough action
        too much rom/com
        inconsistent writing
        bad plotting
        no support from NBC
        the ham-handed promotion efforts of the showrunners
        and the lingering effects of the Misery Arc, which burned out some people and reduced their patience with the show’s flaws.

        I’ve put a fair amount of time and effort into getting people to watch the show; I’ve gotten 10 households (7 new, 3 who left during S3) to watch S4 Chuck. I can sell seasons 1 & 2, and despite all of the problems I listed above, I can sell season 4 Chuck, but I can’t sell season 3.

        I’ve been selling things for more than 30 years, and with the exception of episodes 3.14-16, & the finale (and Angel of Death for the Adam Baldwin fans), I have no idea how to sell season 3. Everything I’ve tried fails.

        So, if anyone who reads this post thinks that S3 wasn’t a disaster, that it WAS entertaining TV, tell me how I would pitch that to somone. I realize that it makes no difference now, but I’d like to hear your ideas. I got nothin.

      • Big Kev says:

        That’s a great reply. It makes me think.
        The answer to your question is that it depends what you’re trying to measure. Audience ratings can measure commercial success or popularity, of course. And in that regard, every season except S2 has been a failure, because every season has lost around 25% or more of it’s audience, from premiere to finale.
        So if you’re arguing that S3 failed as entertainment for those who stopped watching, then you’re right. And as long as you’re prepared to make the same arguments for s1 and s4 then I concede your point. Not many people are though. The collapse in ratings argument is usually only brought out in relation to S3, and conveniently ignored for Seasons 1 and 4.
        But I think your “failed as entertainment” was a more
        subjective observation, and that can’t be measured by ratings.
        Ratings don’t and can’t measure quality – and I guess that’s my point.
        Your personal opinion of the quality of a season shouldn’t be related to how many other people agree with you.
        As for how you’d sell S3, who knows? There were parts of it I really didn’t like, but I honestly prefer it to S4, that’s all I can tell you. You can’t sell S3 to a shipper – but then I’d argue that you can’t sell S4 to anyone interested in a coherent story. You pays your money and you takes your choice 🙂

      • Ernie Davis says:

        VV, it’s obvious to me that like Dave you really didn’t enjoy the front 13 of 3 and having failed to entertain you, for you, it is a failure. I for one wouldn’t ask you to try and sell a product you didn’t believe in.

        As for using the numbers and audience loss to judge the success of a show, in one sense it is the only metric we have, but in another it is impossible to connect the artistic with the commercial aspects of entertainment. You can say that if it entertained it would succeed and the numbers would reflect that, and there is truth to that as far as it goes. But Chuck doesn’t exist in a bubble. All network TV’s numbers are declining and/or not recovering from the writer’s strike. It is worse at NBC for several reasons, the Leno experiment and some management issues among them. If you go to our ratings page or a post I did on the renewal chances you see that this season while Chuck’s numbers fell EVERYTHING on NBC fell either with it or faster. Even the shows that NBC is keeping had falling numbers and lost audiences in the 2+ million range. In the most basic sense you need to admit that NBC is failing as a network when no show can seem to hold an audience before you go blaming individual shows for failing to hold an audience. Most viewers aren’t anything like us, and if there is never anything on channel 4 they get out of the habit of tuning in.

      • atcDave says:

        There’s no doubt VV and I see this in the same way; and Big Kev hit on a key truth, you just can’t sell S3 to a ‘shipper. I’d say it’s even a step worse than that, the couple of friends I have who aren’t particularly ‘shippers were just as outraged by the dramatically darker tone of 3.01. And as much as I’ve railed against the relationship destruction of the misery arc, I’ve got one friend who constantly goes on about “how was Emmitt’s death funny?”
        As I’ve mentioned before, the viewers I know have mostly been very happy with S4, but as others observed, entertainment is ultimately subjective, and all any of us can really do is argue our own opinions.

      • armysfc says:

        Kev, i agree with your assessment on applying ratings. i have said since i have been here the direction of season 4 has had as much affect on ratings as season’s 3 direction did. i don’t know if you follow SWFgirls or not. check out their latest podcast. it’s a different atmosphere than here.

        ernie and kev…your point about quality vs popularity is good. many shows that have been hailed as technically sound and well plotted out, never make it big, while shows that get panned do. one of those mysteries of life when trying to figure out what people like to view.

        ernie, one small correction about NBC. SVU remained constant through out the season. it DID end down 700k from 9.6 to 8.9 mil from the first to last episode, BUT the range was huge. it had highs at 10.6 mil and lows at 7.2 mil. it mostly stayed in the 8-8.9 mil range all season. so not everything as you said went down.

      • Big Kev says:

        I do listen to the SWFG’s – always entertaining. There are certainly different views out there. Castle Inanity, the Google Group and the Stable of Hos are all more “critical” of the season.
        I think the split is pretty easy to explain. If you watch primarily for Chuck and Sarah, and a light tone, then this season is what you want. If you’re more story/plot/mythology driven, and you like some more variety in the tone of the show, then you’re going to have some serious issues. It frustrates me sometimes that the show has become such an either/or proposition – but it is what it is, and I don’t see it changing in S5. I’m sure I’ll enjoy S5 but I’ll probably have to change what I look for in the show a little to do it.

      • armysfc says:

        Kev. i agree about the split and it is a shame it’s there. they did bring it on themselves however. they do the characters great, its everything else they fall short on. my thoughts are they go to extremes. last year went to heavy one way, causing those that like light and airy c/s to be left out. this year they went to light and airy c/s heavy and left out the mythology folks. i think the ratings clearly reflect that.

        one thing i hear that confuses me is, they never know how many episodes they are going to get. take this year, they knew going in they had 13. why not just write a tight arc like its going to be the last of the season, leaving the 13th like they left the 24th, as a lead in to the next season or if you get more make what you have planned for the next season the back 11, 9 or what ever number they get? what hurt the second half was they changed gears on what happened at the end of the first 13. so the they don’t know bit falls short for me.

      • Verkan_Vall says:


        “In the most basic sense you need to admit that NBC is failing as a network when no show can seem to hold an audience before you go blaming individual shows for failing to hold an audience.”

        That is YOUR need, Ernie, not mine. NBC should be held accountable for not supporting Chuck lately, but that in no way absolves Schwarz and Fedak for their decisions. Since June of 2010, I’ve spoken to at least 50 past or present Chuck fans at work, conventions or other gatherings, and every single one of them slammed TPTB for Chuck’s problems (some blamed the writers too).

        The viewers who left don’t blame NBC, Ernie. They blame Schwarz and Fedak, who should be concerned about this, because some of those ex-fans are holding a grudge.

        And I agree with Dave, it isn’t just the shippers who left during S3; I’ve spoken to half a dozen or so people who say they stopped watching because they didn’t like where things were going, or because it wasn’t the same show anymore. These people had stopped watching by episodes 5 or 6, because none of them mentioned Mask or Fake Name.

        NBC actually gave Chuck a fair amount of advertising time for the S3 premiere (No more mister nice Spy), which was combined with talk show appearances by the cast and background buzz for returning from cancellation for a pretty favorable environment. Which the showrunners threw away.

        So, if you’re telling me that NBC contributed to the problems of S4 by not promoting the show, I wholeheartedly agree. But if you’re telling me that NBC is the primary cause of Chuck’s problems overall, um…no. That certainly isn’t what the ex-viewers I have spoken to say, and they seemed to know their own minds.

        @Big Kev: your statement that you prefer S3 to S4 is, believe it or not, a selling point. Different people have different tastes, but they know what they like. In your case, a coherent story that extends past two or three episodes appears to be one of them. Does anyone else have any selling points for S3?

        I do realize that the number of viewers is not a perfect metric, but it’s the only one in use that I know of. In fact, up until very recently, most people (including Josh Schwarz) were quite concerned with getting the viewer numbers up or at least holding them steady. So the number of viewers seems to be an important if not the determining factor in getting a show renewed.

        And, Ernie? Don’t waste your time telling me what I NEED to do. I was a lost cause a long time ago.

      • ArmySFC says:

        VV i agree with everything you just said. right now across the net folks are upset about the cliff hanger, well morgan getting the intersect. that decision was not made by NBC it was made by fedak/schwartz. i doubt NBC had anything to do with how last season or this one were scripted out. they may not have promoted it enough to get new or lost viewers, but i really doubt a person that has watched a show for 3+ years suddenly forgets chuck is monday nights at 8/7 the week after they watched it. after a break…maybe, but only for the first week.

        i posted an article below that shows NBC down 14%. but they had great ratings from the olympics last year. so the actual drop is probably lower. chuck was down over 30%, which is over double the NBC average.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I’ve spoken to a few viewers who thought Chuck had been off the air for a season or more; I THINK that is attributable to NBC’s habit of not showing reruns. people loose track of shows over longer breaks.

        Although the Morgan with the Intersect bit only bothers me a little (again, I’m jealous of Chuck/Sarah screen time and don’t want our little bearded comic relief eating up too much of it); I can easily see where fans of a more serious spy themed adventure may see that as a last straw. It’s like Schwedak have pitched their last season as a pure comedy, and those who don’t want that are simply out of luck. It works for me, I expect to laugh hard and have a good time. But I expect our audience will likely be smaller again and many long time fans will call it quits.

        It is an interesting thing that the first two seasons of the show appealed so strongly to viewers with such divergent taste. Of course the fractures started in S3 when show runners seemed to choose a direction, and then worsened when they swung the other way for S4. S5 may have steadier numbers (for better or worse!) simply by virtue of being more similar the S4 product.

      • ArmySFC says:

        dave…i agree to a point, hence why i qualified it with this, “they may not have promoted it enough to get new or lost viewers, but i really doubt a person that has watched a show for 3+ years suddenly forgets chuck is monday nights at 8/7 the week after they watched it. after a break…maybe, but only for the first week.” so we agree.

        the major topic was the decline in ratings during the season. your point is valid that some people didn’t know it was still on. i bet they didn’t watch it any more or why would they not know?

        i agree that they are ramping up on the comedy, and using morgan will cost many viewers, because lets be honest, most folks can only take him in small doses and him with the intersect has to get him more time. ratings don’t matter any more so let them go all out give give the remaining fans the best product they can.

  6. BillAtWork says:

    Seduction is still my favorite episode. When Roan asks Chuck if she is worth dying for, he pauses for a beat and says yes.

    That might be my favorite single scene in all of television.

    Off to watch it again, lol.

    • atcDave says:

      Looks like that was a popular choice. For S2 Colonel seems to be the clear favorite, but Seduction is among the second tier of most popular episodes. Funny not much love for Third Dimension…

      • joe says:

        It is sort of weird about 3-D. Overall, it’s probably my least favorite too.

        And it’s not that I hate it. I don’t! But it’s just sort of “there”, not doing much compared to the others.

        I’d prefer even those episodes with moments known to cause the fans to take up their torches and pitchforks (yeah, me too). I’d prefer a reaction – any reaction – to none at all. But that’s just me.

      • thinkling says:

        3D wasn’t bad. I liked the couple in the elevator, and there was some great comedy. I liked that Chuck couldn’t stay away from missions. I liked the tension, knowing the cause and Sarah niggling about the something more that was bothering Chuck. I liked her telling him he didn’t have to keep secrets from her. But when he turned that around on her, I thought her answer was weak. If she had given a better answer, or if they had resolved the fall out from Santa Claus more satisfacorily, 3D would have been much stronger … a real contender possibly.

        Of course I thought Chuck’s reaction in SC was a little too strong. I think it’s the underlying issue, at least for me, that makes 3D less than it could have been.

      • joe says:

        Well put, Thinkling. Perhaps that’s why 3-D seems so “meh” to me. It’s easy to imagine it being more satisfying!

        That couple in the elevator – I can’t resist pointing out that the same couple did the same bit in The Seduction! That has to be a bit of an inside joke on set. 😉

      • thinkling says:

        Exactly, Joe, that’s why they were so funny. I wouldn’t mind them showing up again.

        Personally I would have had Sarah say, “Chuck, you saw an unarmed man. I saw a man with a gun to your head … and Ellie’s head, and Morgan’s. If I didn’t shoot him, one day he would pull the trigger, and you would be dead because I failed to protect you. I could never let that happen.”

      • atcDave says:

        After a couple years now, I’d say the only S2 episode I DISLIKE is Beefcake (Ex and Sensei will never make a favorites list either!)
        But I love Thinkling’s analysis on 3-D. It had some great moments, and I’ve watched it a few times, but it doesn’t really excite me. To me, part of the issue is, as Thinkling observed, Chuck’s reaction in Santa Claus was soooo overplayed, it sort of led to wanting an overplayed “fix”; that we just didn’t get.

      • thinkling says:

        The other thing in 3D that I really liked was Chuck in the handler role. He was great with Tyler. It was a pretty good hero episode for Chuck. And Tyler was kind of a hoot.

      • joe says:

        Dave, I’m surprised you dislike Beefcake more than a few episodes (which shall remain nameless, but were shown) in S3.

        If it wasn’t for Lethal Weapon, I’d agree with you hands down. And actually, if it wasn’t for that last scene at the fountain (where Blitzen Trapper’s Signs is used), I’d still might agree with you.

        But for me, I can’t help but think that the whole two episode arc was played so that we were mislead by the difficulty Sarah has always had in expressing herself about relationships. It works both ways. Despite the kiss, Cole meant less to her and Chuck more, than we were led to believe by seeing things through Chuck’s eyes; both of them and the audience were slow to catch on.

        Even more, I sort of think of it as the turning point where clueless, ineffective, whiny and depressed Chuck starts to fade away. I see it as the point where he last thinks about his own failures and desires for Sarah more than he thinks about others who need him, especially his father.

        Well, that’s LW, anyway.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Joe I love Lethal Weapon. I agree with every point you brought up, but every single positive element was from Lethal Weapon. Beecake played wrong for me in every way; from Jeffster being WAY past funny (I think this was the first time I found them profoundly creepy), to Chuck being ignored by his whole team when they SHOULD have known he could hack the chip (or at least known to give him a chance), to Sarah being “smitten” by Cole. I disliked that episode from beginning to end and have never changed my opinion even a little.
        Lethal Weapon is so different. Jeffster are back to being funny, Morgan and Anna work well, Cole supports Chuck and helps become an adult in the spy world, and Sarah finally makes herself understood (at least to Cole).

        Another episode you might think I wouldn’t but actually do like would be Break Up (I completely love that episode, makes me laugh HARD; and the break up itself was an interesting statement but didn’t actually break up anything).
        I’m not a big fan of The Ex, but I don’t hate it like I do Beefcake.

      • thinkling says:

        I like breakup, too. I didn’t the first time I watched it, but now it’s one of my favorites. It is laugh out loud funny. Sarah makes it totally clear that Bryce loses to Chuck.

        The breakup itself is a fake breakup of a real relationship, unlike Truth which was a real breakup of a fake relationship.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling it was the complete opposite of Truth. If I remember, I didn’t realize when it ran it was setting up the return of Jill (and we wouldn’t know for a few weeks yet); but it really struck me as making clear exactly what Chuck and Sarah did think of each other more than anything. It also presented things in a way that did no damage to the character of the characters! If anything it ennobled them just a little more.

    • thinkling says:

      favorite lines … sounds like a good summer survey 😀

    • kg says:

      Completely agree Bill. We knew Chuck had strong feelings for Sarah, but weren’t sure of the depth of those feelings.

      Montgomery’s character was so provocative and insightful because he got right to the point. With all or our heroes. Casey, “I failed you because”; Sarah, “How long have you and Charles been cavorting?”; Chuck, “No she doesn’t,” directly refuting Chuck’s belief that Sarah thinks of him as just an analyst/asset. “The lady doth protest.”

      Montgomery knew Sasha well and figured Sarah and Casey would be eliminated. From the kiss, he knew it wasn’t their first time and they had real feelings for each other. He knew Chuck was green as an agent and that his feelings and emotions would make it worse. So he asked a logical, but tough question.

      Similar to the courage he had displayed in Salami, when he refused to leave Sarah alone to die with what they believed was a bomb, Chuck forgot about his tendencies for girlish screams and answered in the affirmative. YES SHE WAS WORTH DYING FOR.

      Like you Bill, that single statement had a profound effect on me. I knew then Chuck someday would be more than a hero because of his charm, for saving ballerinas and diffusing bombs with internet porn. Eventually, he would channel his natural ability to lead and also become a hero of action. And now we knew exactly how Chuck felt about Sarah. She was the one. This wasn’t just them working together; a flirtatious puppy love, a mere infatuation. Chuck Bartowski was willing to die in order to protect and save Sarah Walker.

      Sarah and Roan’s exchange in the apartment and van were also powerful. She didn’t like that he correctly read her true and strong feelings for Chuck and made them public on a mission, and her anger and frustration surfaced, but she also defended Chuck before their kiss and again in the van. She correctly predicted that Chuck could charm this woman/any woman by being himself and not a copy of Montgomery. And then as Sasha was kissing Chuck in the elevator, the look of fear and jealousy on Sarah’s face was priceless. And the funny thing was Chuck saw it because his eyes were open.

      The ending was a superb close to a great episode. Sasha is fed up with the whole team. Unless she is handed her cipher Sarah will die. Soon. With most every cell in his brain telling him not to, with every muscle and tendon in his body instinctively trying to freeze him, Chuck backs up his word, leaps off the Buy More, takes out Sasha and saves Sarah’s life.

      Sarah fell in love with the charming, caring, always-do-the-right-thing hero Chuck was. For the first time she witnessed his ability as an action hero.

  7. Ernie Davis says:

    For those playing along with the ChuckThisBlog home version here are the current standings:

    Season 4
    1) Chuck Versus Phase Three
    2) Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger & Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner tied
    3) Chuck Versus the Push Mix
    4) Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible
    5) Chuck Versus the Balcony
    6) Chuck Versus the Last Details

    Season 3
    1) Chuck Versus the Honeymooners in a shocking twist
    2) Chuck Versus the Subway/Chuck Versus the Ring Part II
    3) Chuck Versus the Other Guy
    4) Chuck Versus the Beard
    5) Chuck Versus the Tic Tac

    Season 2
    1) Chuck Versus the Colonel
    2) Chuck Versus the First Date
    3) Chuck Versus the Seduction
    4) Chuck Versus the Ring
    5) Chuck Versus the DeLorean
    6) Chuck Versus the Best Friend

    Chuck Versus the Cougars trails by one

    Season 1
    1) Chuck Versus the Intersect
    2) Chuck Versus the Marlin
    3) Chuck Versus the Truth
    4) Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami

    Chuck Versus the Wookiee is making it a race

  8. thinkling says:

    OK, I’m putting this here just to avoid the scrolling, sorry.

    Ernie, about the ratings. We know Chuck fell along with all of NBC, and it didn’t fall as bad as some. Is this a trend among other networks as well, or is NBC uniquely cursed?

    I know we’ve talked about this before, but I think the whole rating system is a dinosaur threatened with extinction, if not already past it. The advertisement paid model that I grew up on, when there were really only 3 big networks and no way to record anything (right, Joe, I’m dating myself), doesn’t fit today’s reality. People have DVR’s and 120 or more channels to choose from. The expectation of holding live viewers week after week or assuming that they are watching all the ads is like kissing frogs … or installing a Studabaker speedometer on a space shuttle and expecting accurate data.

    Maybe the criteria is beginning to shift, and maybe that’s why we’re still kicking … Chuck that is.

    • ArmySFC says:

      thinkling…ask and ye shall receive. excuse the length, lol.

      For the 2010-11 broadcast primetime season to date vs. last season at the same week:

      * ABC is DOWN 8.5% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.
      * CBS is DOWN 8.2% vs. last season’s 18-49 average. Remember that CBS had the Super Bowl last season.
      * CW is DOWN 5.2% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.
      * Fox is DOWN 5.3% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average. Remember that Fox had the Super Bowl this season.
      * NBC is DOWN 14.4% vs. of its adults 18-49 average compared to last season at this point. Don’t forget though that NBC had 2+ weeks of Winter Olympics last season.
      * Univision is UP 8.6% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.

      * Univision is UP 8.6% vs. last season’s adults 18-49 average.

      By my calculation (using Nielsen data) the overall average adults 18-49 ratings season to date for the 5 English broadcast networks are down 9.0% vs. the season to date ratings average through the same week of the 2009-10 season. Last year’s Winter Olympics makes that comparison somewhat more negative than it otherwise would be.

      That overall ratings decline is pretty close to the ~5% ratings decline typical for broadcast primetime over the long term. And no, those viewers aren’t surfing the net or reading books, they’re watching ad supported cable networks.

      here is a link to the entire article…

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks, Army 🙂

        So, all the majors are trending down, but NBC is ahead in the race to the bottom.

      • ArmySFC says:

        yes, but in the article the Olympics were last year and boosted their season ratings. so it’s probably be less of a drop for NBC during a regular year.

  9. Faith says:

    So you like to torture people that’s what it is right? 😉

    I desperately need a season 4 rewatch, I can’t even remember which episodes I was gung ho over! Well you know apart from Suitcase, and Phase three which made it to my top 15(?) so they’re fresh in my mind.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well we did a front 10 re-watch, so maybe a back 14 is in order. Still, as long as I don’t have to argue over FOD or season 3 with you (or Dave) I’m cool with whatever.

      Oh, PS, you really liked Balcony, were meh on Gobbler, and your Push Mix squee was deafening.

      • Faith says:

        Ah now I remember. *leftover squee* 😛 good times!

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I liked FOD. (not to stir the pot…)

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yep, it was season 3 I wanted to avoid with both you and Faith Dave. FOD is FOF, Fear of Faith. Despite sexytimes with the massage and caged lioness Sarah and Chuck choosing loving Sarah over life itself… Just still can’t grok that one.

      • atcDave says:

        And you forgot the lioness ready to go after her Chuck…

      • Faith says:

        “Fear of Faith”

        That’s right, “stay away from me or (my words) will cut you” 😛 LOL, JK.

  10. Ernie Davis says:

    Well since the voting and page hits have dropped off I’m calling this one for the books. Final tally:

    Season 1
1) Chuck Versus the Intersect

    2) Chuck Versus the Marlin
3) Chuck Versus the Imported Hard Salami
    4) Chuck Versus the Truth

    Season 2

    1) Chuck Versus the Colonel

    2) Chuck Versus the First Date
3) Chuck Versus the Seduction

    4) Chuck Versus the Ring & Chuck Versus the DeLorean
    5) Chuck Versus the Cougars 

    6) Chuck Versus the Suburbs

    Season 3

    1) Chuck Versus the Honeymooners
2) Chuck Versus the Subway/Chuck Versus the Ring Part II

    3) Chuck Versus the Other Guy
4) Chuck Versus the Beard

    5) Chuck Versus the Tic Tac

    Season 4

    1) Chuck Versus Phase Three

    2) Chuck Versus the Wedding Planner
    3) Chuck Versus the Push Mix

    4) Chuck Versus the Cliffhanger
    5) Chuck Versus the Seduction Impossible
6) Chuck Versus the Last Details

    • Big Kev says:

      That’s funny. I’ve felt like I’ve been watching a different show to most of you this season – but looking at that, it turns out I haven’t. My top 3’s are almost identical for each season. I would have had TicTac ahead of Other Guy and First Fight ahead of Push Mix. Other than that – identical, except fhe occasional difference in order.
      Great to see so much love for First Date, which is (depending on mood) often my all time favourite episode.
      I feel better now. I’m not as wierd as I thought I was 🙂

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Kev, one of the things that I find interesting on these polls is how uniform a lot of the fandom is on what constitutes the best of the best, but it makes sense. We all are drawn to Chuck’s rather unique cross-genre formula so the episodes that pull it off best are going to be popular with all the fans.

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