Summertime Top Ten: Chuck Versus The Seduction.

The Best Spies Know How To Make An Entrance.

Continuing with our Summertime Top Ten stop at the season 2 opening we also continue with the summer rewatch theme, and guest star.  This is seduction the first time around and our introduction to one of our favorite spies in the Chuck-verse, Roan Montgomery.   The legendary old-school James Bond style spy.  This episode also gives us so many wonderful moments, and a few to cringe at, but overall it takes the new improved Chuck we met in First Date and adds a new and improved Sarah whose job is getting a bit tougher and more complicated.  Add a dash of Charah, a seduction mission with a black-widow, and a charming boozy love-doctor, shake it up, and you’ve got a delightful Chuck cocktail.  After the jump.

In the Chuck-verse Chuck Versus The Seduction is often thought of as a shipper episode.  Given that they share their second real kiss, initiated by Chuck no less, plus a cover kiss that seems to blur the lines for both of them, I’m not surprised.  But there are some real moments where you see Sarah’s season-long struggle start to emerge.  Sarah has to handle a new and improved Chuck, and she’s compromised herself by allowing that second first date to happen, and some of the real girl to show through to Chuck.  In essence it is in First Date through Breakup, that initial arc, that we get the love story so many love, of the star crossed lovers, with an entire government coming between them, though oddly, keeping them together.  They can never be quite what they hope to be, that seductive future they start to imagine where they are really together, yet they never stray too far, thanks to their unique situation.  Real or fake, they have no options other than make the best of it and make it work.  Somehow.

We’re playing for keeps here, Chuck

Poor Chuck, he was so close, only to have it all snatched away.  The intersect destroyed, and Graham along with it means Chuck will be keeping his cover/real job at the Buy More a bit longer.  Just to add a bit of salt and lemon to the wound, Chuck passed on that New Ass Man job, seeing greener fields than a sea of Buy More sales associates in his future.  And now he has Lester to deal with.  As his boss.

“Do you remember a time when I had potential?”  The potential is still there, as we’ll see, but for now Chuck, on Morgan’s advice, is going to have to take solace from what he can, like his super-hot fake-real girlfriend.  Chuck has a way of letting solace run away with his imagination, so give him (and us) a second to recover from the greatest of the BuyMore wind machine entrances of all time.

Is that a real kiss or a cover kiss? Because I’m confused right now.

Way to sell the cover, Sarah.

Confused?  (Sigh.)  As are we all Chuck.  Your situation, and Sarah’s just got a lot more complicated.  Real and cover are a bit of a blur after that real date with Sarah turned into a mission and the mission is back in your life.  Still the only intersect, and Sarah has to be your protector again, making the girlfriend angle a bit tough.  We start to see her plight immediately.  Chuck wants things to pick right up where they were when they both thought she’d be on the other side of the world in a week, and suddenly that is a bit too familiar and close for Sarah, given what she has to do.

A part of protecting Chuck is protecting him from the CIA and the NSA deciding he’s better off in a bunker.  That means they have to see the benefit of having him out in the world and working.  If he doesn’t work, he’s not worth the risk, so when Chuck decides to opt out, Sarah has to handle the situation.

Sarah: Chuck, wait. Chuck, wait.
Chuck: Sarah. You’re right, okay? I’m not a real spy. I’m not cut out for this adrenaline pumping chase the bad guy risk life and limb daily existence.
Sarah: Okay look. The sooner we get the cipher back, the sooner you can have the intersect removed and the sooner you can be free to have whatever life you choose, with whom ever you choose.
Chuck: What are you saying?
Sarah: I’m saying that you can have everything you’ve always wanted.

There is a bit of ambiguity in that scene as to how much who is playing whom and how they feel about it.  Sarah knows she’s playing the honey trap, and she suspects Chuck may know from the tone of her voice.  And she isn’t crazy about playing Chuck like that, from the look in her eye.  But this is her new reality.  Having a real connection with a guy she needs to handle.  You can start to see why a “real” relationship might be both frowned on, and more than a bit difficult for the real girl part of Sarah.  So it’s off to Palm Springs to find Roan Montgomery.    

But first I want to take a side trip into something Chuck likes to do, and can be a bit dangerous.  Chuck will give us a feeling for how some things, even some important ones, happen off screen.  We don’t always need all the details, so as in First Fight you get Mary Bartowski telling Ellie (and Sarah) a story about her life.  You suspect, based on the slight tremor in her hand as she sips lemonade to compose herself, that the story will be true, but not the truth.  But we aren’t privy to that story.  Yet.  Sometimes these things are slipped in retroactively, and are incredibly subtle, like this little easter egg.  The clothes they are wearing are what they have on as they arrive in Palm Springs at Roan’s house.  We first see this in Chuck Versus the Cougars, and again in Chuck Versus the Fat Lady.  Suddenly it sheds some new light on where Chuck and Sarah may have been, emotionally, before the fake breakup of the real relationship in Breakup.  Somewhere on the trip to Palm Springs someone decided that they needed some couple stuff for cover.  A new couple picture of them having a road trip.  My money is on Sarah, and that is telling.  More telling is that they both keep copies of that picture, Sarah in particular.  Sarah’s hotel room is apparently not cover.  Only Chuck is ever there from what we see.  Why the “cover” picture?  Complicated.  We’re given a sense of how important Chuck became to Sarah that this picture always stayed with her.  For now though, back to the Seduction.  

Enter Roan Montgomery (Hello Dianne).  Awake and upright, having used his own restorative process.  The mission is set.  Sasha Banachek must be seduced by the last person anybody would ever think is a spy.  Enter Charles Carmichael (aka Chuck) to provide services in a romantic capacity.  Things are about to get complicated again.  This is the other part of new Sarah’s new job.  She has to build Chuck’s confidence.  In season 1 we rarely saw this so overtly.  She would encourage him as at the end of Tango or apologize as at the end of Crown Vic, or even let the facade slip as in Hard Salami and Marlin, but throughout it all, as late as First Date, you get the feeling that Sarah thinks of her presence in Chuck’s life as a temporary arrangement.  One that will come and go like the other missions, and while she’ll be sad to see it go, for a while at least, you get the feeling she would.  I peg this as the episode when we start to see that change in her mind, that she wants to give Chuck something lasting, even if only memories, and she wants to remember this mission, with Chuck, as something special.

The problem with other spies is that they see things and say things that can complicate matters.  And Roan wants to talk about all this interpersonal stuff on missions.  How unprofessional can you get?  I’ve never felt quite so sorry for Chuck.  Having to come through on a mission while hearing his status discussed in the third person.  And Sarah, she doth protest too much we know.  Maybe she can still say things like Chuck is just an asset to others and to herself, but it really doesn’t help Chuck’s confidence.  In an odd way though it does.  Sarah’s goal to protect Chuck and build his confidence came into conflict with the need for a mission.  It puts Sarah in the middle where she seems to live between Chuck’s interests and the CIA.  The mission risks getting Chuck hurt or killed, or at the very least failure would be a blow to his confidence.  No missions makes Chuck more of a risk that is worth taking and it’s bunker time.  Another handler wouldn’t care, but Sarah Walker has been compromised for a long time.  Sarah’s attempts to split the difference ends up blowing up in her face, but it also makes Chuck determined to prove himself.  To her, as much as to himself. 

And it turns out that Chuck can handle himself after all.  Better in fact than the “real” spies who always seem to manage to get captured in their rescue attempts.  (Or the one who turns tail at the first sign of trouble.)  But Chuck has a problem.  His handlers, well they handle everything.  Chuck has no way to contact Beckman, or the CIA or anyone who knows who he is or will take him seriously.  So he’s left with one ally.  Roan Montgomery.

Roan: You know, she’s going to kill them.
Chuck: Well, I’m just going to have to take my chances then. But I can’t save him alone, I need your help Roan.
Roan: They knew what they were getting into. That’s the game we play. If you show up there will be three dead agents instead of just two.
Chuck: What, so that’s it? What happened to being the world’s greatest spy?
Roan: That was a long time ago. Roan Montgomery is not the man you see before you. My life may be boring and cowardly but I’m alive. That’s more than most in my line of work can claim.
Chuck: But, you’re a legend Roan! Don’t you understand that? So how can you just sit there and watch them die?
Roan: Because I’m not in love with one of the agents.
Chuck: I’m not. I care about them. I care about both of them. Besides, we heard what she said okay. To her I’m just an asset.
Roan: No, you’re not. Trust me. The lady doth protest too much. You know Charles, just ask yourself, is she worth dying for?
Chuck: Yes.
Roan: Poor boy. Lesson number one in being a spy, never fall in love.
Chuck: Well then I guess I’m not much of a spy. And you’re not much of a legend.

Initial hesitancy aside, they do manage to come up with a plan that doesn’t get everyone killed.  In the end.  And Chuck has his moment of heroism to go along with the revelation.  You are in love, and she’s worth dying for.  The peaceful, quiet, albeit degrading life isn’t for him while Sarah Walker is in his life, and he’ll never stay in the car again.

But before the love doctor leaves town there are a few issues.  The CIA needs to pull it’s weight, and Chuck, that remarkable guy, calls in a favor not for himself, but for his sister.  He gives her the dream date her fiance would plan if he had the time.  Roan however has something for Chuck, advice.  Don’t let it stop you, the silly rules and barriers they put up about professionalism and distance.  If you want her, pursue her.  That’s the advice, even though The Montgomery may be the method.  As for Roan, he’s apparently back on the horse and off to DC to see Dianne, a gift he can thank Chuck for, in a few years.

As for that magnificent bastard Bryce, Oh how I miss loving hating you.  Though season 3 might have gone ill even for Bryce Larkin.

In the end there is a whole lot of seduction going on.  Chuck has fallen for Sarah big time, and we think Sarah for Chuck, as much as she’ll allow.  I think one thing that struck me about the opening arc of season 2 is that this new Sarah seems determined to be a part of Chuck’s life and to help him.  Even if her presence may not be permanent, you can see that she wants him to remember her as he sees her, supportive, and heroic, and a woman he’ll love the rest of his life, even if they could never be together.  In a way she’s entrusting that real girl to Chuck, so that she can live on in Chuck’s memory no matter what becomes of Sarah Walker.  It’s the beginning of a wonderful season long metamorphosis as the two of them change each other.  You see Chuck is a bit of a slacker, and a doormat.  He needs some encouragement, and the occasional push to build his confidence and make something of that potential he’s bursting with.  Sarah needs to forgive herself for who she was, and thinks she is, and learn that she does make a positive difference, she does have more to offer than deceit and death.

One of the best of Chuck at it’s best.

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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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120 Responses to Summertime Top Ten: Chuck Versus The Seduction.

  1. atcDave says:

    Another of the really dynamite S2 episodes that make this show irresistible. It is often amusing to watch these episodes now and see how far everyone has come. Chuck gets to show his courage even when he has no particular skills; and Sarah has really fallen hard, that alone is fun to see!

    It is funny that the snapshot we now see so often was taken during the filming of this episode. I think the set for it was actually the house where they found Roan (standing on a diving board! which we wouldn’t even know until a different shot emerged after Last Details); but of course, that really makes no sense. We have to imagine Sarah insisted on this during their drive to find Roan (?); and Casey was likely the photographer. And somehow Chuck still managed to put on a convincing happy smile! (we know Sarah can fake it anytime).
    Perhaps its better to say we’re overthinking this, and the picture was taken some other time when they were wearing those same clothes. I think that works better if we assume it was some fake date they had that just turned out to be a good time for both of them; and the smiles are genuine. Perhaps Ellie or Devon was the photographer. Because one thing we do know, this photo stayed important to both of them long after they became a “real” item.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Yes, there is the danger of over-thinking, but like you said, a lot of us can practically write the scene in our heads. And there was the additional info in Last Details that the shots were taken at Roan’s house and there were more than a few. Still, it is fun to see these things that clearly hold so much meaning for both of them even though they were only “fake” dating.

    • thinkling says:

      Since the picture shows up in Cougars, I think this is most likely field trip that produced the picture.

      They had to do something while Roan was getting ready, so they went outside and took some pictures … not too far fetched. I like to think the smiles were real. After all Chuck was plenty happy with Sarah (it was just the mission he didn’t like). That morning she came in and planted the old it’s-a-national-emergency-and-I-need-to-speak-to-you-privately kiss on him. Um-hmm, right. He felt something alright, because there was something there to feel. Enough that he asked her to go on vacation. The mission and Sarah’s handling him interrupted that somewhat, but I imagine it was pretty easy for Chuck to get back in touch with that national-emergency feeling again. 😉

      Great post, Ernie. S2 has some real classics.

  2. joe says:

    Oh, wow. Great catch on that picture, Ernie. I’ve missed that for years now. You know, there comes a scene where you notice the picture and say to yourself “Self? That pictures familiar. You’ve seen it around.” That was about it for me.

    So I do recall seeing it on both Chuck’s bed stand and Sarah’s, but thanks for pointing out the first time it appears, and the wardrobe. Now I’ll have to make note of it.

    Sarah: I’m saying that you can have everything you’ve always wanted.

    So many great lines from this one episode, and this one has haunted me for like, forever. I can’t say that I interpreted it the same way, Ernie, that Sarah was setting a bit of a honey-trap. I always thought that she got caught up in encouraging him and in the actual fact of his success. For me, Sarah really thought that he could have anything he wanted, and for the briefest of instants meant to include herself, too.

    And that’s why the line explodes like a shower of sparks every time I re-watch. Sarah has to back pedal because she does realize what she’s just said. But she she doesn’t want to take it back either, and does so in only the most gentle and subtle of ways – with her smile.

    Oh, to be Chuck at that moment.

    The scene comes back to me when Sarah later compares her assignment to Chuck with Mary’s assignment to Volkoff. “I got lucky. I got you.”

    • thinkling says:

      I agree with you on that line, Joe. She did mean it in the moment.

      This is the season of declarations and retractions … 2 steps forward, 1 step back.

      Oh, and the picture is the one she ruined with her wicked pencil toss. So, she had to have it replaced. Yup, the picture meant a lot.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny you guys. Prior to S3 I would have said the “you can have everything you’ve always wanted” line was the meanest thing Sarah ever did to Chuck. Not that she didn’t mean it on some level; but she was using their mutual attraction as a shortcut to accomplish her mission objective with minimal fuss. It worked, but they both knew she’d just played Chuck.

      • Amrit says:

        I think it has to be remembered that in the deleted scene from first date (when Sarah gives Casey a bag of frozen yoghurt to put on the part of his face that Mr Colt hit) she knows that the CIA/NSA could possibly have Chuck killed if he is not the intersect anymore. So you have to put that into the equation that she is under a lot of pressure to keep him alive by keeping him motivated…Also she has to be careful of the cameras (that we did not know of then) and so it is very tough for to balance everything. In a way the fact that she kept both of those specific things from Chuck (that he could be killed and they are constantly being watched so he should not speak) it shows that she is not totally playing him or not playing him in a way to be mean, she is trying very hard to ultimately save his life. If that is not altruism then I do not know what is?

      • Amrit says:

        Oh and that is also true love as well. See! part of the serialised process! LOL

      • thinkling says:

        I agree. Sarah had to walk a very fine line. Now, she would do whatever it took to keep him alive and out of the bunker, including treason (Colonel) or terminating the enemy (Santa Claus). But it was just better to keep him protected and succeeding at his job as the Intersect.

      • atcDave says:

        I get that she was walking a fine line; I shouldn’t have to remind anyone I’m a pretty big Sarah Walker fan. Her basic conflict of interest between keeping Chuck doing missions, physically safe, protecting the security of the Intersect; all while respecting his value as a human being and secretly hoping for the best for him personally in spite of agency interests is a huge part of what makes her one of the most appealing and heroic characters in all of television.
        But that one line always rubbed me wrong. She knew she was hitting his hot buttons as an expedient to getting this mission rolling. To her credit, I thought she was noticeably uncomfortable and self conscience about doing it. And in the end, they both knew, Chuck knew, he’d been played.
        I do think, she really did mean it too; or at least she meant it as much as she could considering she was still expecting to leave Chuck when this mission was over (she meant it in the way she thought Chuck would move on with someone else someday while suggesting it might be her).

        I big part of what plays wrong with scene to me is that Sarah herself seems confused about what it may mean.

    • herder says:

      On the blurring of cover and reality, the line in the Orange Orange always struck me as being more on the manipulative side of the scales, the thing that pulls it back is the discussion at Casey’s apartment as he is getting ready to go out on the mission.

      Chuck says that they may not have the steamiest relationship in Los Angeles but they do have the strangest, Sarah demures pointing out that Morgan is still dating, they agree that they are a couple, just a different kind of one. Then comes the kicker, Chuck says something like Chuck Bartowski won’t be winning over anybody and Sarah says “why not, it worked on me”. This I felt was honest and reflected what she really felt and added heft to what she had said earlier in Orange Orange. I felt she was willing to give a shot to some sort of real relationship within the fake one, subject to certain restrictions.

      It was the impossibility of maintaining that relationship within the cover that Chuck rejected in Break up because, as Ellie said you are either all in or you’re not. Sarah was willing to settle for a half loaf, Chuck was all or nothing ( which later also proved to be untrue). To my mind this was the set up for the season long arc, how can they be real despite the cover (as Chuck wants) rather than real but constrained by the cover as Sarah seems willing to accept. Or do they wait until the intersect is out of his head with him thinking that they will be together and he knowing that she will have to move on.

      Easily one of the best of the series.

      • Amrit says:

        The problem is that at this point she has knowledge that chuck does not. First as I mentioned above Sarah knows they can kill chuck at any point if he is not effective and also she knows that they are watching her and his every move to make sure that is happening. So she has to make sure that sure that he is effective to save his life, she has to “appear” professional in front of the cameras to make sure she does not get replaced and they find out that chuck is an idiot, lol. Albeit an idiot she loves. So under the circumstances she has to keep it at a cover level, what is noticeable is that in the season when they are not being watched she shows her true intentions in a lovely way.

      • Amrit says:

        Oh and I forgot at this point her and casey are not best buds yet so Sarah has to watch out for him too and other agents they work with just in case. I really feel for Sarah, she has this wonderful person enter her life and this is probably the first person to treat her right and she cannot be with that person instead she has to spin all these plates all at once. No wonder in Prague she decided to run, she must have been so tired…..Just the two of them ad she said something simple…..

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Amrit; I think it’s a very appealing aspect of Sarah how she is watching out for Chuck from every direction, even the ones Chuck knows nothing about. I really wish they’d left in the deleted scene where Sarah is questioning Casey about a possible kill order. It shows both her awareness of what all is going on and her intentions; great scene.

      • Amrit says:

        I think something that People forget including myself is that these characters exist off screen and so we may have only seen 35 hours of those until the end of season 2 but these characters had 2 years 24/7 of this! Probably 1000’s of cover dates, stakeouts, shootouts, etcouts….lol. So so so so stressful!

      • thinkling says:

        OK. I just now saw the deleted Sarah/Casey scene. Wow. Agreed Dave. That should have stayed in. We needed to see that. What a great scene. (In other words, you’d better warn me so I can run with him.)

        As an aside I think that’s the context and the main reason (even more than wanting to be with him) that Sarah asked Chuck to run after the upload of 2.0. First, she knew what the Intersect project runners wanted (lone-assassin, Chuck-on-laudenol type agent). Two choices: a) he becomes that person, belongs to the CIA, disappears undercover for … ever, doesn’t need her or his family or anyone else (horrible thought); or b) he fails to become that person, which would be fine … except then they would kill him (worse horrible thought).

      • Amrit says:

        @Thinkling

        They also left out a scene where Sarah said there is nothing going on between her and Bryce. They should have really kept that in.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree about that too Amrit. Are you thinking of the pizza dinner scene? It looked like an alternate opening than the one they actually ran; so it would have been an either/or thing. But again, I liked it better than the one that ran.

      • Amrit says:

        But I suppose as a creator they have to drag it out and do not want to put the audiences minds at ease….they need the angst! But to be honest we never saw Bryce again until th end and by that time we knew Sarah would stay so they could have left it in.

      • thinkling says:

        I agree. I had seen that one and wished they had left it in. Somehow I totally missed the OO scene.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah they sure were intent on dragging the angst out to (past) the breaking point. I like the episode anyway, and we know fairly quickly that Bryce isn’t really a threat; but I really liked the feeling of friendship and warmth in the deleted dinner scene, I think it would have made the “break-up” a little more meaningful. But its all in the past now.

  3. jason says:

    ernie – your writing is starting to be like joe or thinkling’s postings, when I read you guys, it jogs all kinds of ?’s – I will limit myself to one for now:

    Even though I think Sarah is important, it is hard to imagine that TPTB cared about Sarah’s hero’s journey until maybe s4 – it is about chuck, the show’s namesake. Yet, the major premise of chuck’s romantic journey might be “I’m not james bond standing here & I wish I was”. Isn’t it frustrating that the real journey in chuck’s romance is sarah’s, realizing that james bond et er byrce, cole, shaw, is not the man for her (cause lets face it, she has always been a little short of breathe when that type of man is around) & convincing chuck of said fact. Chuck’s journey seems to have been more about acquiring the skills of cole / bryce / shaw / james bond than it has been about becoming self aware that being chuck is better than being james bond – which I would think should be the point of the show – rambled too much here – but I hope you find a sense of a ? in there – LOL!

  4. Gord says:

    This episode will remain one of my all-time favourites. I’m a little surprised that you would do the review of this episode after your review of Seduction Impossible. I like to watch these two episodes in order.

    • atcDave says:

      That happened because we’re working off of two different lists; we’re doing the back part of the season in one set of reviews, and the top ten episodes from a poll we ran a while ago as another series. It is pure coincidence that Seduction and Seduction Impossible came up back-to back backwards (but it is sort of funny…)

  5. jason says:

    I am not sure I would have made it thru season 3 if bryce had been cast as shaw, I took a certain amount of schadenfruede in shaw’s epic failure as a character. However, I do see how mask, fake name, and the notion of sarah moving to washington to become bryce’s partner all making perfect sense with bryce in shaw’s role. I wonder if shaw was still going to be there in 3×4, 3×5, and 3×11 / 12 / 13 & bryce was more going to be 3×7,8,9 and then kind of gone to washington waiting for sarah to join him? 11 & 12 almost would have made more sense if shaw was not sarah’s LI, with modest changes to the script, heck, the dinner scene almost makes more sense if they were friends on a date than lovers who were planning on moving in together?

    • luckygirl says:

      Was it stated that they were moving in together? I always just assumed they were going to be parnered once they left, I never assumed they would live together.

      • thinkling says:

        No. It that was never stated. When Chuck asked Sarah in Final Exam if it was serious with Shaw, if they were going to move in together, she said she didn’t know … that it was different … than with him (Chuck). Something like that. I’m going from memory so …

      • luckygirl says:

        Thanks, Thinkling. It’s been like a year since I’ve watched any non-season 4 stuff, so I’m pretty fuzzy about the details of some of the episodes.

      • Amrit says:

        I think the point was that Sarah was at a crossroads in her life, she either continued to live the life she had…one that was superficial and meant she would have a shallow and meaningless relationship with a traditional spy and concentrated solely on her career…or…she went for something more deeper and more meaningful. The same with Chuck, he either have a relationship with Hannah, one where he knows will work because she is good for him or he goes for true love. The truth is whereas Hannah was a true sacrifice, Shaw was not, but lets forget about that, lol. I think what is so awesome in the end of cliffhanger is that it does not even bother Sarah one bit that she has been fired by the CIA, I mean the same goes with Casey. How far these guys have come! there is something beautiful in that, considering how career orientated they were.

      • atcDave says:

        geez Amrit, we’ve been in total agreement this week. I loved how being fired wasn’t even a big thing anymore, they’re all ready for something else, together.

      • jason says:

        I agree with most of what was written too, my comment was as result of ernie writing about Bryce somewhat in his writing, such that s3 makes more sense to me if some of the story was already written for bryce and not changed when bonner was not available, which given the low budget and the pace that the show is on …., well, anyhow, I was trying to comment on the article, but I agree, s4 was far better and I have hopes for s5 ….

      • Amrit says:

        Jason I think bryce would have been better, as I said Sarah giving up bryce would have been a true sacrifice. I have to wonder why no one apportions any blame on Yvonne when the shaw and Sarah relationship looked crap. It was not all brandons fault, zach made it work with kristen in half the episodes. Just a thought.

      • JC says:

        Most people don’t blame Yvonne because in the episodes you could see she was trying, Routh had zero spark with everyone on the show. Look at the interactions between Bryce and Cole with Chuck or Casey compared to S3, Its night and day.

        Its unfair to place all the blame on Routh, the writing and editing of episodes were a major factor but we’ve seen other guest stars on the show shine in similar situations.

      • Amrit says:

        But that was over a 2 episode arc or in bryce’s case 4 episodes (not including flashbacks) spread over 2 years. If shaw was only in 4.04 and 4.05 and then left he would have been viewed as someone who was awesome. I feel for routh. He had to be a mentor then someone who fad to avnge his wife then boyfriend then back to his wife then back to mentoring chuck then back to avenging his wifes death and then…..there was no teachable path for his character it was ridiculous at least with volkoff he was an insane villain and that was it……

      • Harku says:

        You also have to take into account, what story they have been telling…watching from Sarah perspective it was obvious Sarah still loves Chuck and is not that much into Shaw, but since she was lossing the Chuck she loved, she was turning to the guy that in theory is perfect for her. So we weren’t suppose to think Sarah loves Shaw, but i think we were suppose to think that Sarah is being stupid for turning Shaw down (at least initially), who appears to be the “perfect guy” for her.

        Again, not commenting on the execution of this story, lack of focus on Sarah to sell her journey, Shaw being lame, stiff and charmless character, the whole Chuck is changing not really developing in a believable way and some other illogical points in the story.

      • Amrit says:

        I meant no trackable path, ridiculous. First 2 episodes his wife is mentioned then we went 6 episodes (over 2 months) without hearing about her and then she is important again? That is what you call making it up as you go along….lol

      • Harku says:

        If you watch Mask (i know it’s bad episode) and you watch the final scene between Chuck and Sarah…watch Sarah face in that one and it’ll tell you, she’s still totally into him, but when Chuck appears to not be into her anymore and he seemed to move on with Hannah, she then kinda force her issue with Shaw.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve never really blamed Routh for any of what went wrong with S3. Its true Shaw was presented as wooden, and maybe a bit smug; but that’s a legitimate portrayal. He still could have been a likable or sympathetic character even with that performance. I level blame purely at the writing for presenting the miserable and cliched story. I can safely say I wouldn’t have appreciated Bryce/Bomer in that role either; BUT that at least wouldn’t have trashed Sarah’s character quite so thoroughly and could have presented her with a believable conflict of interest (someone she had an established history with as opposed to an unlikable new guy).
        But I think Yvonne likely did as well as she could with the material given her. We had two seasons worth of established character and relationship, and much of S3 was simply contrary to what was already established. Even the most brilliant performance would be hard to accept as it didn’t ring true to what we had already seen. I would also say most of us give Yvonne a pass because her work both before and after has been outstanding. You can’t blame the craftsman for a failure to produce a silk purse if they’re given a sow’s ear!

    • Rav says:

      Yeah but maybe the woodenness was on purpose, he was supposed to be dead inside like a spy. He is supposed to be opposite of chuck, where chuck was emotional and had plenty of ups and downs and struggled with with the spy skills shaw was more level in his emotions and confident in the beginning. I really think that is what TPTB told rough to do for only 4 episodes. The after his first 2 episodes they tell rough that he suddenly has to start wooing Sarah and they abandoned his wives story and ..he became a character that was there to serve the plot. His character became very uneven and this is Josh and chris’s fault. I have a feeling they were lying through their teeth when they told sepinwall this was all planned, no way. Also they tried to protect themselvesvat wonder con saying they warned rough, the poor guy probably did not even know. If I were him at the time I would have refused the extra episodes and said this is really unprofessional and bad writing for my character because I do not even understand what this characters motives are…..etc

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah the stiff portrayal was only a problem when they tried to make him a romantic figure; it didn’t work well for his back-story OR Sarah’s. Routh has voiced his frustration about not knowing the direction for his character until he saw scripts. Although they did hint at the coming direction as early as Comic Con in July 2009; I think they were already committed to the inter-connecting love triangles at that point (at least committed in their own minds, I’m not sure at what point things actually were set in motion).

      • Rav says:

        It looked like they were making it up as they went along! It looked like they had chuck’s story figured out in a way and they used routh’s character to move the plot where it needed to go…I mean 3 episodes in a row of chuck or someone telling chuck that He loved Sarah! They were stalling! The characters had to wait for the spy story to catch up and that as mo Ryan says is a problem with plot, pacing and plausibility. Sarah should have a realisation the same time as chuck not 4 episodes later. Rouh should not have to wait 6 episodes for his characters arc that he signed on for to conclude. The story disconnected. Maybe they are just not smart enough.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Rav things seemed to wallow late in the arc. I think although the basic direction was set, they made a bad thing worse by drawing some parts of it out longer than originally intended. That sort of led to the feeling of a depressing story wallowing in the mud, the worst possible combination of serielized and episodic story elements.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      @atcDave
      @Rav

      Agreed. The problems with season 3 have nothing to do with the acting of the show’s regular cast (who I think are great), or even with Routh’s acting; the problems were the result of TPTB decisions. I get the distinct impression that Brandon Routh was, for the most part, dragged along by the showrunners. I think that you came very close to what happened, Rav, although I doubt we’ll ever know for sure.

      • Harku says:

        There is all true, about the story being badly paced and not particulary well constructed, but i still blame actor a lot, since you don’t have to be a robot, to show you are unemotional and he was a robot. Bryce wasn’t emotional, but he was still charismatic and charming. Routh couldn’t pull charisma and charm at all and he needed to be both at least around Sarah, no matter if he was playing her or not. So even if his story wasn’t all that good, he also sank many individual scenes and when i watch scenes between him and Yvonne i can see how a better and more charismatic actor could pull them off even with little change in dialog. So i can see how for some of you the whole story was shit, but for me it wasn’t, it was just the execution of the story and bad miscast of Routh caused all the problem.

      • Rav says:

        Yeah but harku, when routh signed on he probably was told he would not need to romance Sarah, that all he had to be was the opposite of chuck. Secondly Bryce and chuck were friends, bryce’s backstory was one of a guy being a true friend when he needed to be. His character was supposed to be nice ultimately. Thirdly shaw was supposed to be cold or wooden, he lost his wife! Like chuck losing Sarah. Shaw was there to push chuck into being the best spy he could be, the deleted scenes in 3.05 show that, you can blame rough for sure, that is your right. But when you are josh Schwartz or chris fedak and you tell an actor to be one thing one week and then he opposite the next then that is just crazy and very unprofessional. If my boss told me that I have to do a task a certain way then leave the job and customers half way to do another..you bet the customers are not going to be happy.

      • Harku says:

        And how do you know what he was told, he may not know general direction for the character, but the scripts are always detailed about how a person should act in given scene…there is no proof for anything you say. And where did you hear that he was suppose to be wooden, he was suppose to be unemotional, but one does not equal other.

      • Rav says:

        The proof is in the deleted scenes in 3.05, in the fact he was only supposed to be in 4 episodes, in that dave just said routh was confused where his character was going because he had to wait for scripts, in the fact that his 4 episode ac he signed on for were split into 2 episodes 3.04/3.05 and another 2 episodes 3.12/3.13. I mean think about it, if you put Rhodes 4 episodes together as one arc (take out the Sarah romance in 3.12) and that is what he signed up for and that is a good arc. 3.04/5/12/13 was a good arc that would have been fine and made total sense to the story. The fact that another 4 episode arc was crammed in the middle was poor execution by chris and Josh.

      • Harku says:

        Actors always get the scripts few days before shooting, so nothing unusal about that, i saw deleted scenes in episode 5, they only prove that Sarah was starting to believe Shaw was not a bad guy/threat…but it does not change the fact he was poor in most of his scenes and what you are saying does not make even lick of sense..since you don’t have to know where the character is going to know how to act in given scene, because scripts are very detailed about those kind of stuff….and they shoot scenes completly out of order so it’s impossible for an actor to keep track of stuff anyway, so you have to act the way it’s written.

      • atcDave says:

        I do believe Shaw romancing Sarah was a part of the plan from the start. How far it went and how drawn out it was is what changed with the back order. But remember, we were told about the overlapping love triangles in July of 2009; before Routh had even been cast. That’s why I say fatally flawed at the start, Routh added no more than a new dimension to the fubar, it did not start with him. But I do believe if Shaw had been nothing more than a mentor/spy/friend who turned traitor in the end; Routh’s dry performance might have worked fine. It was only when we were asked to believe he’d established a romantic connection with Sarah that it fell utterly flat. We already saw Sarah as sensitive, passionate, and even fun; but able to compartmentalize and put on an agent mask when needed to get the job done. Not only that, we knew in the past she’d been drawn to characters like Bryce (fun, outgoing, professional when needed) and Chuck (open, honest and heroic in spite of himself); so Shaw (cold, formal, unimaginative) seemed so against type for her it wasn’t even credible.

        I wish I could be more specific on the quote about Routh not knowing the direction for his character. I recall it was an interview that ran while the misery arc was in full swing; maybe March of 2010.

      • Rav says:

        Er….what? The deleted scenes only show Sarah did not think shaw was a bad guy! How about the scene where shaw overruled Sarah and casey’s objections and dismissed them both. How about casey telling Sarah to seduce shaw and her laughing it off, or where shaw says I believe in you chuck, you can do this, etc, etc, etc. That is what shaw was supposed to be, a person who has 2 jobs, one to train/mentor chuck and secondly to avenge his wives death by taking down the ring. Man did you even watch the scenes?

      • Rav says:

        If that is the case dave…..then TPTB really screwed up royally…..how did they do that? It must have been a mistake.

      • atcDave says:

        Okay, I’m not sure what we’re talking about here. Shaw could have worked if he had been a mentor/spy/traitor character. He also could have worked a traitor from the start who’s whole agenda was to destroy teamB. Or he could have worked as a jerk who was just a disruptive influence. It was the romantic angle that was never going to work. I’m speaking purely in writing terms; by the time things were actually filmed it was too late to make it work (well mostly, they could have just cut the romantic angle with little damage done. But it wouldn’t have made any more sense of the character).

      • Rav says:

        Agreed! Take him out of 3.07/3.08/3.09 and the rest of his arc is just what you said then it would have been a good arc.

      • JC says:

        @Dave

        I remember that interview, in it Routh basically says he would play an episode one way and then he’d get the script for the following episode and his character was taken in completely opposite direction from what he was told.

        One point I do think we’re missing is how major guest stars are cast. The show really doesn’t do a good job building backstory at all ,so when they bring someone in they expect us to buy the actor or actress because of previous roles. Hamilton as Sarah Connor, Dalton as James Bond, Bakula as Sam Beckett and Routh as Superman. Most of these actors with maybe the exception of Dalton’s Bond were beloved characters. Then you had Routh’s Superman which wasn’t that well received and the alot of the same issues people had with the character of Shaw were the same as Superman,.

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks JC, that has to be the same interview I was thinking of.

        But yeah, one of the problems with stunt casting is they end up relying heavily on the charisma and persona the actor brings to the role. I think usually they’ve done a good job with that on Chuck. But Routh was not a very good fit for what they wanted, and add to that my usual assertion; I don’t believe anyone could have done what they were trying with that character. It was almost a perfect storm of everything being wrong.

      • Rav says:

        There you go! Thanks jc, I will say this….compared to zachary Levi, brandon routh has no charm, charisma, funnyness, etc. He may have been a total failure and that is fine if people feel that, but how on earth can a guy get script where there character is going one way and then has to go another on a dime? I know actors have to be flexible no doubt, but I think what he was saying is that he did not sign up for such a terrible arc….thanks Josh and chris.

      • jason says:

        Interestingly, I seem to recall at the end of s4, fedak or mcneil was interviewed and said the morgan as the intersect idea just popped into someone’s head as season 4 shooting was winding down (don’t be surprised shaw as sarah’s lover was thought of the same way) …..

        We hear all this stuff about a 5 or 6 year plan – I think the plan is very big picture at best – I wonder if the feedback gotten about morgan the intersect will change s5’s plan and scale back the morgansect concept – since it was thought of in 5 minutes, it could also be despatched as quickly.

        I suppose something has to be the topic of dissent for s5, my ideal topic for dissent would be fans complaining about too much chuck and sarah alone on missions, alone in bed, too hot of passion, too sexy, too cute, too funny, too fun, etc – I dare TPTB to try to ruin the show by doing that – I don’t think it is possible.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I have similar hopes for S5. Although I’ll still re-iterate, this is not nearly as big a deal as what they did with S3. But the situation is similar with a generally unpopular twist leading into the new season. I think the lying and secrets at the end of S3 may have been similar also, and that was written away at the end of 4.01. So hopefully the Morgansect will be resolved quickly as well.
        I think you’re right about the vagueness of their original outline; and I’m pretty sure that’s just how television works. Actors come and go for a variety of reasons, stories unfold a little differently than outlined, and audiences respond to and embrace unexpected aspects of the show. So outlines generally remain pretty flexible.
        But I think you’re wrong about Shaw. I’m pretty sure that’s a case of something that WAS in the original outline (not the Shaw character specifically, but the idea of Chuck loosing Sarah to a romantic rival [Bryce in the master outline, I’m certain]) but the TPTB should have altered the outline and failed to do so. I think it was a case of what we saw on screen was different than anticipated, AND the relationship was possibly sped up a bit at the end of S2. At any rate, TPTB failed to recognize, in spite of adequate feedback, that the audience already tired of the wt/wt.

        I like your suggestion for S5, it would be nice if TPTB would take up your challenge.

      • joe says:

        I think that’s absolutely right, Dave.

        And Jason, that’s totally in alignment with your notion, too. Historically, the fans have made a pretty big deal out of somethings that got blown away five minutes later in the story line, perhaps before the credits at the beginning of the following episode.

        What was the line? “Six times out of 10, it turns out to be nothing. Maybe seven.”

      • jason says:

        dave – my spec now is shaw was always a character in the plan, for 3×4 and 3×5, then for 3×11,12,13 and bryce was planned for 3×7,8,9 – otherwise, who was eve shaw, eve larkin? also, the lines from 10,11,12 nearly perfectly fit shaw and sarah not already being lovers, and the pacing of mask and fake name fit bryce perfectly, would not have seemed OOC for sarah, in any way shape or form. My quip is, when bonner was not available, someone on the staff said, lets just have routh do both, after some discussion, that’s what they did, having no idea how much people would dislike it, but saving a bunch of time and money. It is just a spec, but seems to fit some of the pseudo facts as we know them – again – the story and even the lines seem to work much better that way – even the gaps with no guest stars fits the spec – but then again, isn’t this the 1000th way to try to jusstify / rationalize the misery season?

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I think that’s far more specific than a master outline ever was. I think they knew from the start they wanted Chuck to loose/win back Sarah in S3. But I doubt any “Eve Shaw” character was conceived of until pretty late in the process, like maybe not until they were writing 3.04. Even the “Red Test” may not have been in the master plan. I think when they prepare a treatment for a TV show it is mainly details like “in season three Chuck becomes a real spy, he struggles with moral and professional issues, looses Sarah to his nemesis for a while, and is betrayed by a friend/mentor; but finally prevails and completes his training, defeats the traitor, and wins back Sarah.”
        There may be a few more details than that, but not much. Keep in mind when these things a first prepared even getting to S3 would have been a long-shot; so they surely wouldn’t have spent too much developing it. Chances are, the original outline is now almost unrecognizable to the show we have.

        And I am guessing on this, but given how many details they talk about as inspired at the last minute or changed as they went; I don’t think they have a very detailed plan at all.

      • Rav says:

        I think in season 3 they were scared that they would only get 13 episodes and that they could get cancelled before the 13 ended. They did not know that Leno would bring NBC to it’s knees when making the episodes. Basically they did not have faith that fans would stay tuned in once chuck and Sarah got together, that is why they had chuck say in 3 episodes straight that he loved Sarah 3.08/3.09/3.10). The characters had to wait for the spy story ( the only story chris and Josh cared about) to catch up. That is why there isa huge disconnect from the whole season. But a lot of fans on this site would rather watch chuck and Sarah, chris and Josh would rather see the spy story…ce la vie.

      • Rav says:

        Thinking about it, for chris and Josh in season 3.0 Sarah did not matter.

      • atcDave says:

        Ya know Rav, in one sense I agree entirely. I think Schwedak have just never been very interested in Sarah or her story, and she often ends up being set dressing or the prize. Certainly she wasn’t well used in S3, and often was pushed aside as the show was about everyone but her.
        But in another sense I don’t think that’s true at all. Even if Sarah was underutilized, the whole structure was centered around Chuck and Sarah’s story. Almost every episode ended with a distinct anti-Charah moment. So even if ill-conceived, I think it was important and deliberate.
        So even if they decided to tell the spy story first for most of the season; they knew perfectly well that Charah was the emotional core of the show, and was THE major determining factor on if an episode would be seen as “up” or “down”(I mean they were using the relationship to set the emotional tone of the series, I don’t think they realized how many of us would equate up or down with good or bad!).
        And I think S4 took full advantage of that awareness and exploited every week both the emotional weight of Charah, and the specific importance of Sarah Walker.

      • Rav says:

        Dave they were dangling the audience along long enough to tell their story. No thought was put into her character at all. She spent the whole season sidelined watching chuck do all the work. Sad I know, but just so obvious. I mean she got beat up by syney price (to set up chuck coul not shoot someone again), Sapper had her about to be shot (chuck saves the day with a plate….wow…lol) rafe grubber took her out…. I mean was she supposed to be a spy? I do not know…..

      • atcDave says:

        I can’t argue with that! They certainly neglected, overlooked, and abused Sarah’s character all season long.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @Jason

        I think Dave is right when he says that Chuck losing/reuniting with Sarah was part of the initial plan for S3. I remember reading a statement from a member of the cast (from around the time of the season 3 premiere) that it would be a while before Chuck & Sarah got back together again. Also, Josh Schwarz has said on at least 1 occasion (the Sepinwall interview from this past fall) that the relationship between Sarah and Shaw was written to be ambiguous right from the start. Aside from indicating that Mr. Schwarz doesn’t watch his own show, that statement strongly suggests that Sarah/Someone else was part of the original plot for the season. That said, I hope TPTB take up your challenge.

        @atcDave
        Boy, I hope you’re right when you say that the showrunners realize the importance of Sarah Walker. Their comments about how surprised they were at the positive reactions to Stage Three weren’t very reassuring, but that could have just been chaff.

      • atcDave says:

        I still have concerns VV. I think we’ve seen that Sarah is really the most popular character on the show. Many of us are fine with experiencing this world through Chuck’s eyes, but we want to be focused on Sarah (ummm, a bit of a double meaning there, but I’m fine with it!). That is clearly different from how TPTB see their creation, and I don’t think THEY quite get the sort of show we want, even yet.
        S4 came pretty close to realizing that situation for me, Sarah was clearly more important than ever in most episodes. I just HOPE that trend continues for S5. I think if TPTB write their dream show we will see a lot of the bromance; but clearly that isn’t what most viewers want. I’m really hoping they will deliver more the show their viewers want.

      • herder says:

        I always have thought that one of the failings of season three was the way that Sarah was written, she was a plot device: how would Chuck react if she asked him to run away with her, how would he react if she did a seduction, how would he react if she started a relationship with someone else, how would he react if he had to kill to continue a relationship with her, how would he react if she rejected him if she thought he had killed/become a spy like her, you get the idea.

        Little thought was given as to how she came to be in the situation where she did those things, just bam! she is there and how does Chuck react to it. No joint or parallel journeys, just one journey and plot devices to put her in the situations. Season four was more nuanced in the sense that where there was conflict, they explained why she felt the way that she did ie unpacking, marriage, his going on missions without the intersect, wanting an elopmentand the like. Season three was Chuck’s journey, season four was their journey, a joint one.

      • jason says:

        @dave – I agree about the master outline existing and being vague jsut as you stated, I am talking about some intermediate documents / story boards which might include shaw in eps 4/5 then 11-13, bryce in 7-9, short of a completed script but with more detail than just ‘chuck is a hero & gets the girl’ sort of master outline stuff. I did google routh and he said in an August interview that he was on for only 4 eps, although who really knows which ones those could be – I think that is b4 shooting even began – I also saw something in July about Bryce being a candidate to come back – so that appears to be the timeframe those decisions would have been made – not sure when the first shaw extension came – but it is not our of the ? it came once bomer was not available – maybe – in a court of law – am I getting close to reasonable doubt – LOL???

        @herder – yea – one thing I often wrote last season, near every show has a season that is less popular than the rest, often in the middle season – last season was chucks – but certainly s4 sarah was given a seat at the table. Based on the comic con cover for tv guide & 4×24’s end, looks like the big 3 has become the big 4, and s5 going to be about morgan getting his seat at the table. Which really is fine, as long as chuck sets the table and does the dishes later on and sarah says grace, cuts the meat & yells at chuck and morgan if they start playing with their food.

      • Amrit says:

        This is not an excuse of season 3, but I just re-read Dan Harmons interview with the AV Club and I have to ask how much of what happened was the network and studios vision? I mean by the sounds of things they can be so frustrating that they can make a grown man weep and think about quitting his own show! I mean writing a season is so much more then just the writers writing and the EP’s putting in their 2 cents. Does anyone ever apportion any blame to NBC or the WB?

      • herder says:

        Amrit, I think that has been Ernie’s point for a while, we can’t put all the blame on JS or CF or whomever as the network may have made the continuation of the wt /wt a condition of the renewal after the end of season two. As a result I and others have tended to blame the more generic TPTB (the powers that be) rather than JS or CF personally for what happened in season three. That said, it is perfectly legitimate to blame them for the execution of that story as opposed to the decision to tell that story.

      • Amrit says:

        Yeah but Herder the network (nbc) and the studio have a say in both the decision to take a story down a certain path and also the execution of every episode. Dan Harmon says that he has to get approval from the network and studio for every episode, he has to get the concept, the idea, the first draft script, the final script, all the edits, the final edit and etc. So basically the network and studio can veto them at every single stage of the process. So in all honesty we will never know if in say 3.05 fedaks final cut included shaw telling chuck that he has faith in him and sarah distrusts shaw and the network and studio cut it out and made the decision to go another way….interesting! LOL!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think Herder has it about right, with a minor quibble on my part. When it comes to the scripts and the execution, for the most part Schwedak et. al. are the responsible parties, and reasonable criticism is fair game with the caveat that possibly telling a story you don’t believe in or didn’t intend to can be tough. Especially on a drastically reduced budget and a much tighter schedule.

      • joe says:

        Hooo boy. Another monster S3 thread!

        I don’t think they realized how many of us would equate up or down with good or bad!

        Man – I just slapped my forehead. Well put, Dave. You made me understand, and I agree with the sentiment completely.

        I have to add that there was a clear minority of us who didn’t make that equation, though. Regardless, I have a feeling that my shock of understanding is pretty indicative of the fandom. For some reason it’s been difficult for both sides to speak the other’s language.

        Wait. I know why. It’s because we’ve been talking about emotional reactions here. People aren’t particularly good at finding the right words to describe emotional content, men in particular. Me specifically.

        I’m still okay with people trying, though.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        @Jason, back to the earlier topic.

        I think I’ll stick with my theory that any LI for Chuck or Sarah (Bryce included) was an extra burden that the story of the first 13 couldn’t bear, and doomed to fail because of the first 6.

        In fact, IMO, introducing Bryce could only serve to harm his character, especially knowing what he knew about Chuck and Sarah and their feelings for each other. The only  thing Bryce brought to the rectangle was some history. But by episode 7, people wanted some beginnings of resolution, or some light at the end of the tunnel, not another obstacle. 

        BTW, any way you slice it, Shaw was a failure of epic proportions. The fact that Sarah’s only “raison d’etre” in the middle arc is so that Shaw can be there, is a bomb sized clue that TPTB had no clue what to do with him.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        @CaptMediocre:
        @Herder

        Agreed.

        @Ernie

        Different posts have mentioned TPTB’s responsibility for the S3 disaster (I for one think that marketing for S3 and S4 is such a mess that it almost has to be the work of a committee), but the fact is that Schwarz and Fedak are being blamed for S3 and a big reason why is their behavior before, during and after S3 was televised. They came across as arrogant, dismissive of the fan’s concerns and (this made it personal) contemptuous of anyone else’s opinions. They both came across as thinking S3 was just fine; if I remember correctly, Josh Schwarz was on Twitter the night before Fake Name was broadcast telling everyone to be sure to watch it because it was great television.

        Chuck vs The Fake Name = Great Television? Huh?

        I enjoyed S4 because I desperately needed an escape, and Chuck gave it to me. I’ll watch S5 no matter what they do, but Schwarz & Fedak have shown such a complete disconnect in the past between their vision and what the audience wants that I can only hope they don’t screw up.

        Please?

      • atcDave says:

        Some more great discussion here guys, I hate that Fridays are my early bedtime night!

        About apportioning blame, I do try to use the more generic TPTB on many points; but Schwedak have claimed/accepted responsiblity for so much of S3 (even bragged about it at times as VV pointed out) I don’t have much hesitation about crediting/blaming them for those things that seem to fit with their claims. More specifically, they were bragging about the triangles arc and dragging out the wt/wt; so I don’t hesitate to blame them for that decision. It certainly is possible the network or studio was putting some pressure on them to tell the story a certain way (I could easily see the network saying “keep them apart for another season”) but the fine details were likely left up to the writers (triangles, Sarah’s name reveal, Red Test) and that is what most of us found most objectionable.

        CaptMediocre I think you are completely right that no outside love interest would have been appreciated by fans. It was sort of the huge disconnect of S3 between TPTB and fans. If “keeping Chuck and Sarah apart” had indeed been mandated by the network the story still could have worked if say Chuck and Sarah were shown to be fighting to be/wanting to be together but circumstances were conspiring against them. Like maybe because of Chuck’s new status he was kept under even more rigid observation than before, and Beckman and her “experts” had decided Chuck’s emotions could only be held in check by keeping him away from Agent Walker. So then make the season long struggle to be Chuck and Sarah trying to prove Chuck is better with her; like say when they are happy together he has better control of the Intersect, and of course NO ONE can watch Chuck’s back better than Agent Walker.
        I think when we talk about Bryce being a better choice than Shaw it isn’t that any of us would have wanted to see Bryce win Sarah’s affection any more than we wanted to see Shaw do it. But because of Bryce’s history with Sarah it would have damaged her character less than falling for the creepy new guy did. If Bryce had been the interloper in S3 I likely still would have disliked the whole season; but it might not present me with a problem I need brain bleach to get over.

      • Dale says:

        Dave fedak and Schwartz as the face of chuck have or are obliged to accept the blame. But no one knows any othe factors involved…I mean for example (not that this is true in any sense) what if the actors in season 3 and only season 3 were not getting along? How would you feel as a show runner if the thing you have built for 2 years just failed because of the actors are having a disagreement? I mean you see how worried fedak was! We may never, ever, ever know.

      • atcDave says:

        Dale you are right we may never know exactly what all went wrong or exactly how the decision making process went. But it’s not just a matter of Schwedak accepting blame; I mainly am blaming them for the things they were bragging about beforehand. The S3 malfunction is overwhelmingly a story telling failure, and that naturally falls at the feet of the writers anyway. I’d say, when a story is poorly conceived and executed the writers can safely be assumed guilty and the burden of proof is on them to show otherwise.
        I’d even agree from watching the finished product that there may have been a serious problem within the cast (like possibly Brandon and Yvonne didn’t like each other? That is a “what if” by the way, I know nothing!); but almost everything about the story from concept to execution was fatally flawed, so a possible problem in the cast dynamic would simply be the last in a long series of problems.

        If it some day comes out that network or studio heads did micro-manage every detail of the season; well it means I’m wrong. Wouldn’t be the first time. But I say the things I say because I think I’m right, and I’d honestly be quite surprised if information to the contrary ever comes out.

  6. Jess says:

    This episode reminds me on how much I miss Sarah playing with Chucks tie or running her hands through his hair. Season 5 Chuck should have longer hair and wear ties all the time and sarah should just play with them all the time!

    • joe says:

      Heh! I sort of always vote for more Sarah in belly dancing outfits, myself.

      Just so we’re clear, at no time during this mission will I be dressing in a belly-dancing costume.

      Um, not even for me, Sarah? 😦

    • Faith says:

      You and me both Jess! Sigh.

  7. jason says:

    I have coached lots kids who have gone on to play college basketball, superstars in their own minds when I get them, often start as frosh for their high school team, etc …. my advice for brandon routh would be the same I give these young kids, if you are going to be arrogant, you’d better be really, really good – any nobody is THAT good (see lebron james for advice on that one). In short order, the actor interviewed extraordinarily arrogant coming into the season, so when the role bombed, he paid the price. Yvonne on the other hand, appears to be about as sweet in real life as the ‘sweetness’ standard she holds chuck to on screen, plus time and time again she has exceeded expectations on screen. Hence, fair or not, that is the reason why Yvonne was apportioned little blame for routh’s and shaw’s failures – but in fairness armit, more and more as dave posted, I think the blame is on the story teller(s) and writers.

    You said chuck / hannah did it in half the time, that might have been some of failure mode for shaw, if sarah had dumped him when he tried to murder chuck in the bunker at the end of 3×9 or when he beat defenseless chuck in her lovers hotel room in 3×8, it would have been a bad footnote, but more just that …. but when they went on and on and on – that seemed to even exasperate the professionals who finally bailed on TPTB’s sham creation around red test / hero – about the only ones left were the fan boys and girls who probably would try to justify chuck getting killed every episode and coming back to life, and sarah having a new lover every episode and telling chuck at the start of the next that he is the only one for her, that she has loved him since the day she was born, when she had a vision of him.

    Thank goodness that nonsense is over.

    • Amrit says:

      I think the inevitable conclusion is that TPTB cannot create a seasonal arc and therefore should not try. That is probably why most critics lie Steve heisler (av club), mo Ryan, jade lacob, etc have bailed on the series. The creative team just cannot fit all the pieces together well enough. So I see why fans want only episodes that give the best of everything and no creative drama. It is sad but as much as I love chuck I see why it never wins emmy’s for it’s actors and why shows like breaking bad, community, parks and rec, mad men, etc are so much better. These shows know how to build on their characters and deliver when they need to in finale’s.

  8. Faith says:

    Seduction

    SQUEE!

    • joe says:

      Heh! When you guys re-watch Chuck vs. The CAT Squad (um, Ernie and I will be reviewing it for late tomorrow or early Saturday, I think), I’d like you all to pay attention to the beginning when Chuck decides to text Carina about Sarah’s engagement party, and especially when Carina calls Amy.

      I do believe that they used a “voice-stunt-double” for Amy at that moment, and TPTB used Faith’s SQUEE! to do the job. 😉

  9. jason says:

    did not find any chuck spoilers doing a quick google this am, did read two interesting things – Friday Night Lights is pondering a movie, after being cancelled after being allowed to do a farwell 5th season – has a nice ring to it eh?

    SEcond, and more interesting, Men of a Certain Age was cancelled, which could allow for Scotty B to come back – maybe as the benevolent big baddie – how good would a 3d chess match between hartley (good guy), mary (good girl), scotty b (great guy who maybe is looking bad), and volkov (still lurking around in hartley’s head) – along with chuck, sarah, and ellie – wow!

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      @Jason

      Okay, that last paragraph just broke something. My head hurts now, please don’t do that again.

  10. jason says:

    we talked some about season 3 and TPTB / showrunners – here is a portion of the final interview from the showrunner from friday night lights – he talks about the season his fans ‘whole-heartedly rejected’ his story, in the second ?, he makes an observation about fans from his POV – interesting in that what he describes about his fans seems consistent with chuck showrunners issue in s3 – i.e. the audience ‘investment’ in the characters ‘exceeds you think it is’.

    TVLINE | I’m going to put you on the spot and ask you what your biggest regret was over the five seasons.
    Well… this isn’t my personal regret as a storyteller, but from an audience response it’s fairly obvious that it’s the murder storyline, which was whole-heartedly rejected my most people. [Fans] felt it went against everything the show was.

    TVLINE | OK, then what’s your personal regret?
    [Hesitates] You know… I… I guess it would be that storyline, because I think what I learned from that experience is that the investment that an audience has in these characters and in the reality of this world sometimes exceeds what you think it is. And you have to be careful with those things. So I do regret that storyline. I guess I was trying to find a way to say it without actually having to say I regret it. [Laughs]

    http://www.tvline.com/2011/07/friday-night-lights-series-finale-post-mortem/

    • atcDave says:

      It is really awesome to see that kind of honesty, that is attitude I have a lot of respect for. It will be interesting to see if we ever get similar comments from the Chuck show runners.

      • Dale says:

        I doubt they will, but then why should they? They owe no one anything.

      • atcDave says:

        You know we’ve discussed this a million times, but I disagree strongly. They are in the entertainment business, it is their JOB to entertain us. It is utterly a professional failure when they do not. There was a sizable, possibly even majority portion of the audience that was angry and disappointed with the S3 story. While in one sense, their “actions speak louder than words” and the vastly better S4 story can be seen as an apology in its own right; I know many of us would think very highly of them if they admitted regrets, mistakes, and/or failings related to the S3 story. Just look at every time this comes up the number of regular commenters here who are still upset with that season’s story (yes, this means me). Add to that, EVERY SINGLE casual viewer I know was unhappy with that season, I think the disappointment was actually deeper and MORE bitter than internet traffic would indicate.
        So it seems to me, its pure gain for them to admit its failure. Especially since S4 does indicate they learned their lessons. Their silence actually makes them look weak or fragile. If they would admit they screwed up, talk about what the failings were, and why they were able to fix things the following season; it makes me far more likely to give them a chance with their future projects.

  11. Dale says:

    Firstly it is a free world they are not bound to any legal contract to do anything they do not want to do. Secondly they have already stated to sepinwall that they regret nothing and would not change a thing. Thirdly they are not a zoo act that has to panda to irate fans that tweet them and writers like Ali Adler hateful and spiteful comments that disgrace well behaved and respectful fans. Fourthly it is their show and if they feel the story was fine since these are their characters then that should be fine with all fans. Fifthly season 4 is not an apology to the fans, it is the continuation of a story. Sixthly this better fourth season has been lambasted by critics like jace lacob, the av club, various other critics, etc as poorly plotted, paced and a total lack of payoff to story lines conceived. So why fans on this site may be happy with it does that mean the and and critics not happy deserve an apology? These guys created an awesome series an owe no one anything, you want better…go and write a better series…..

  12. ArmySFC says:

    Dave, you said this, “They are in the entertainment business, it is their JOB to entertain us. It is utterly a professional failure when they do not.” do you want an answer for ever bad movie, tv show that fails, book you don’t like and group that puts out a bad CD? i understand you love Chuck, but it is not reasonable to expect an answer or reason for each failure in the entertainment business. some make it and some don’t. Chuck just stands out to you because of how you hold it and how you feel about it. if you want an answer for season three, do i and the other 40% of fans that stopped tuning in during season four deserve one as well?

    i know season three caused a lot of problems for it’s fans, and caused many to leave the show. season 4 lost a lot also. the big point here is was your choice to keep watching season three. nobody made you. i had enough of chuck after 21 episodes this year and pulled the plug, just like you could have last year. if this sounds harsh then maybe it is i don’t know. as a fan it’s your choice to stay with a show or leave a show, just as it’s TPTB ( of any show ect. ) right to put out a show they FEEL will appeal to the most viewers. its just happens that sometimes it just doesn’t turn out that way.

    • Harku says:

      The season started with 5,8 m and it ended with 4,5 million, it’s not a 40% drop no matter how you cut it (more like 20%). While season 3 started with 7.4 m and ended with 5.1, which puts it at about 30% drop.

      And frankly you left Chuck after episode 21, which was A Wedding Planner, weird episode to say goodbye to Chuck, considering how good it was.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Harku, sorry was basing it on the last ratings i saw which showed a drop from 2.0 to 1.2. of course that was before adjustments a couple months ago. as for why i left after the wedding planner, simple, you liked it i didn’t. it just added another to the list of episodes i didn’t like. there were a few i absolutely loved, many i liked but to many i didn’t. so for me the choice was easy, leave and find something that appeals to me more.

        Dave, i admire your perseverance with the show. i’m just not that heavily invested in any show to keep watching when it no longer appeals to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Army I wouldn’t have stuck it out if I believed the change in tone and situation was permanent. Generally, the first season of a show is when I’m most likely to quit. The longer I go the more likely I am to ride it out through a rough patch. In fact, I can only think of maybe three shows I ever quit watching at a later point.

      • ArmySFC says:

        also consider this, the season 3 split. the first 13 saw a drop from 7.4 as you say to 5.8 or 1.6 mil loss. from the time S/C got together it went from 5.8 to 4.5 (granted it was the much hyped wedding ep and was up .4 mil over the previous 2 eps which came in at 4.1) or 1.3 mil. so which was really worse in terms of viewer loss, the misery arc or the C/S together arc? i’d call it a push due to variables.

        i’m not trying to say that either arc was bad or good. i’m just pointing out that the arc that was hated by many here caused only a slightly higher viewer drop than when C/S got together arc which is loved by many here.

      • Harku says:

        You compare 13 vs 24 episodes. But if you do direct 13 vs 13 of both seasons, then you have 7.4 to 5.8 and 5.8 to 5.6. And you must seriously not liked season 2, because Wedding Planner was like a classic season 2 episode with lots of fun and tons of heart.

      • armysfc says:

        harku. i’m not comparing 13 to 13. i’m pointing out a simple fact that for some reason gets ignored. since C/S got together almost as many fans bailed on the show. i’m not saying why they did, just that it happened. i agree it was over a longer period of time, but it still happened. putting them together did not cause ratings to rise, it merely quieted the more outspoken part of the fan base. ratings continued to fall. yes there are a lot of reasons why and we will never know them all. dave brought up change in viewing habits could be the reason. in fairness what you use as a reason for loss in one case you must use in the other case as well. if you want to say people didn’t like the direction of season 3 you have to say they didn’t like the direction of season 4, no matter how you felt about either season. if you want to say its because of DVR’s in season 4 then you must say it was because of DVR’s in season 3 as well.

        i did enjoy season 2, much more than season 4. that doesn’t mean i liked every episode in
        season 2. you may be misunderstanding what i am saying. chuck was gradually losing it’s appeal to me over the course of the season. ep 21 was just the last one i cared to watch. i
        have no problem with how you or anybody feels about this show. so i ask you why do you say i didn’t like season 2?

        ALL: i hope you have a great rest of the summer (or winter if your below the equator).

    • atcDave says:

      Army I actually wouldn’t argue with much of what you said. I don’t require an explanation for every failed TV show or movie; but I bet studios and networks do a post-mortem! And of course, I am only interested in Chuck’s case because I am interested in Chuck. Nearly every TV show ever made generates a body of articles and interviews, I really only read those about the handful of shows I watch; and yes I also have some thoughts about a minor story telling fail on Burn Notice last season, but I have yet to blog about it.

      And I stuck it out in S3 for two reasons; first I was very heavily invested which made me more determined to ride it out. Second I always believed the story would change more to my liking. Of course it changed even better than I ever expected!

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I’d also add to that about the disaffection of some viewers; the casual viewers I know who watched both S3 and S4 were FAR happier with S4. As I’ve said before, I can’t explain all of the drop in numbers; but I don’t know a single casual viewer, not one, who enjoyed S3. While I only know one single casual viewer who was less than thrilled with S4 (and she expressed only mild disappointment, she never considered quitting the show). I suspect (can’t prove this at all) that much of the “lost” viewership was scheduling/DVR related; and a majority of those continued to watch the show but on a later delay than they had previously used. At least that answer is consistent with my own anecdotal research.

    • Verkan_Vall says:

      @ArmySFC

      A number of the people I’ve talked to that stopped watching during S4 said that it was because of a combination of things from both S3 and 4 that built up to the point where they didn’t feel like watching anymore. So the effect was cumulative; not S3 OR S4, but both.

      All the others were younger guys who just thought the show was boring.

      • armysfc says:

        VV i completely agree with that being a possibility for season 4’s loss. it does make sense. the second part about younger guys makes even more sense. my college age son and his friends, about 8 or so kids, were avid watcher’s until mid season or so. then they bailed. this also fits nicely into my point i tried to make above. some folks want an explanation for season 3’s misery arc (first 13). i was pointing out that even after that arc finished the show kept losing viewers despite C/S getting together. they greased the wheel that squeaked the loudest, those opposed to the OLI’s and character assassinations. they didn’t address other issues that may have cost viewers. as you pointed out some younger guys who thought it was boring or my sons group that had several issues, one that chuck was always being rescued and without the intersect he was a wuss. if an answer is given for the shows failed story lines, shouldn’t both seasons be explained?

        as you said both seasons had an affect. and the affect was bad. if chuck had the same number of viewers or close to it they had at the end of season 2, 6.2 mil and a rating over 3, would you only be getting 13 this year and it being slated as the last year? i’d bet my house they would have gotten a full 22 and sixth season would still be possible if not probable considering the state of NBC.

        would have gotten a full 22 and still be open for a season 6.

      • Harku says:

        Chuck at the end of season 2 had yes 6.2 million and 2.4 rating, not close to 3 (please check your facts before you post it)…and it was actually in season 2 that Chuck got closest to cancelation, because depite overall stronger ratings it was the weakest link of the night. In season 3 it got huge promotional push and still dropped badly. In season 4 there was no promotion for Chuck at all, yet it still was able to keep it’s numbers for half the season.
        Yes it ended low, but it still was the best performing show of the night for NBC. And all shows dropped badly this year, just look at Community, started the season in low 2, ended with 1.4/1.5.
        Even the shows competting with Chuck at the same hour had quite a drop during the season, on par % wise of those in Chuck.
        So did some viewers left because of the story? Sure, but i doubt it was a mayor factor in drops.

      • atcDave says:

        I never get complaints about Chuck being weak. I mean didn’t these people watch the first two seasons? The whole hook of the show was an ordinary slacker nerd drawn into a dangerous world way outside of his competence. Even without the Intersect Chuck was way more capable in S4 than he was in S2. And he’s never shown a lack of courage. To me the ordinary guy I can relate is one of my favorite aspects. I love how even now he hasn’t turned into another Michael Weston; he saved Sarah in Cliffhanger with intelligence and moral courage, no physical violence at all. Chuck is a beautiful and special show with a unique hero. I suppose it was inevitable from the start this sort of hero would appeal to a more mature audience; but even so, I know plenty of 20 something’s who are enthusiastic fans.

  13. atcDave says:

    I am not a writer and I never claimed to be. I also never claimed there was any legal responsibility on the part of writers to deliver anything (except possibly to the studio that employs them). It is ultimately their product and they need to be satisfied with it. But the whole point of what they do is to entertain us. It isn’t even about professional critics or any particular blogger. It is about making an audience happy. And I’m certain, apart from a few tortured artist types, that professional show runners are well aware of their responsibility to entertain (professional responsibility, NOT a legal one). In fact, I doubt very many show runners would ever consider a show successful that irritated more fans than it entertained (I admit, this is based only on my own anecdotal evidence, I have no proof).
    And it really is great if you are completely satisfied with the S3 product and see a simple continuation of the story into S4. I see changes in tone and sub-plots that line up pretty well with many complaints that were brought here and at other sites (items changed involve fewer dark themes, downbeat endings and lies from Chuck). These changes suggest the same sort of situation from the Jason Katims interview our friend Jason linked above. There the show runner is acknowledging he failed his audience and wishes he had handled certain details differently. I applaud the attitude and honesty of the man for making such comments. My whole point was I would love to see such similar candor from Chuck’s show runners. If they never make such comments, it’s not a huge issue since their writing is proof enough to me that lessons were learned.
    I do understand that not everyone is pleased with the changes in tone we saw this season on Chuck. After all, it is very popular and trendy these days to celebrate darker and more cynical themes. When a show chooses to show characters of integrity and decency it will naturally be criticized by those champions of style who hold such things to be “unrealistic” or unsophisticated. The specific criticism that spy plots were sloppy et al strikes me as amusing; I don’t believe there has been any qualitative change in the show since the beginning (apart from a few issues clearly related to budget cuts). But as Chuck himself has become happier, and the show has substituted more romantic comedy for past season’s angst, some viewers have been disaffected. If a way could be found that would be satisfying to more viewers I would be all for it. But I suspect much of the complaining is from those who are unhappy purely because some of us are now very happy; and to be fair, there are some who just honestly prefer the darker themes.

  14. Dale says:

    All of this still does not mean that the show runners should explain anything….and a lot of fans were entertained in season 3 ( check sepinwalls blog ) so it is what it is…

    • jason says:

      @dale – haven’t seen u posting b4, you new to the fandom? Sepinwall’s blog has had its share of fans who did not like season 3 – causing the blogsphere to explode last season after the mask, maybe pushing that dislike of s3 into a passion that made many fans uncomfortable.

      My comment about katkims interview was this, ‘interesting in that what he describes about his fans seems consistent with chuck showrunners issue in s3 – i.e. the audience ‘investment’ in the characters ‘exceeds you think it is’. Seems pretty cocksure accurate to the shippers investment in chuck and sarah going into s3.

      I could be wrong, but I honestly think, once the show ends, someone is going to come out and give their side of s3. I have read a couple of the FNL’s interviews, everyone asks katkims about s2, you gotta think fedak will get quized pretty rigorouosly – plus, unlike schwartz, fedak does not seem all that cryptic, I think he probably will just shoot straight from the hip once the show ends – I don’t think it will be all that controversial, more logical and sensible, and simply will explain the rationales, POV’s and such.

      You are a fan of sepinwall it sounds like, didn’t fedak already admit in his post mortem interview at the end of s3, that he would have done s3 differently in hindsight – i’d have to google it up to be sure, but I seem to recall someone blogging at the time last season – that will be the closest we get to an apology, might have even been @dave blogging – LOL!

      • atcDave says:

        Funny Jason citing me at the end! I don’t remember exactly, but I do seem to recall Fedak saying something along those lines.

        I do think you’re exactly right about Fedak likely being a good source for any further info we get too.
        I also think you hit on one other thing that has been true in this fandom; many of us ‘shippers responded with such hysteria to S3 that it has led to a certain back lash among other fans who were less invested in the romance. It has also made it harder to have these discussion ever since, passions inflame quickly. But I have no qualms about finding S3 substandard. I don’t mean for my criticism of it to be personal. But criticism does often mean saying that somebody screwed up. I guess working in the field I do, I’m used to everything I do being recorded and subject to later criticism and analysis. Like anyone, I don’t like being told I made a stupid mistake; but it is often important to hear if one is going to learn from their mistakes. And that is exactly the professional spirit in which my criticism has always been intended. I don’t wish to insult anyone personally; but professional criticism sometimes does feel pretty personal.

      • Dale says:

        I think Fedak said he would maybe have sped up the story if they had 19 episodes off the bat, but that is not true either. Also he only said he might have done it faster when Sepinwall pushed him into it. He did not say he would have changed the narrative. To be fair to him and schwartz they have a responsibility to their cast and crew to do whatever is needed in order to keep them employed. The only reason they did that post mask interview is because they owed it to their crew to try keep viewership up after the olympic break. I can guarantee that if nbc was not in free fall and chuck had no chance of a season 4 they would have kept quiet. The choices they made were of a show runner who thought the show was ending when they were making it. I now see where the anger comes from, I find it hard to believe any fan on this site would be angry with the story if someone told them at the time that that batch of episodes was the half way point of the series, I think someone has mentioned it here many times before, people were just angry because they thought it was near the end and we would only get 5 minutes of chuck and sarah together and they saw red. They saw red when she told stuff to shaw, they saw red when sarah told shaw her name, they saw red when she spent more time in that arc with shaw then chuck, they just saw red. In hindsight she has showed more emotion and love to chuck then she ever showed shaw and she has opened up far more. A stable show may have made the arc more understandable, but the fact is they had a right to tell their story and they did.

        Also they are human, they fell into the same line of thinking that every show runner falls into, they believe that if they put their leads together then fans would just stop watching, that fans will not want to watch the rest of the journey and then it goes unfinished. So they use chuck and sarah to keep fans going until the end, it means they have not faith in the fans, the show and more heartbreakingly themselves, disappointing I know but since moonlighting that has been a recurring nightmare for showrunners and fans alike. But in a way they paid the price, they do not have to admit any regrets because having your show pulled through the ringer by sharks in the news does not help it damages your brand and credibility, having fans tweet you and your writing stuff hateful and derogatory words hurts as well. This whole blog is a testement to how much hate can hurt your show when they critise non stop one part of the show that they are invested in. Fedak and Schwartz have paid the price, I say after the show is done, leave them alone…..leave them be in peace….

      • jason says:

        @dale – you write very well, seems like you are very well informed too, aren’t you busy this time of the year writing scripts? got any good spoilers for us? just kidding, I see your POV, I am not positive you get mine – but what the heck, who cares, for my POV, honeymooners, role models, and all of s4 was great – seems like s5 might tie up all the spy plot into a nice little package and give us more fun, romance, and warmth from chuck, sarah and team, that is all I have left to hope for – and I do!

      • atcDave says:

        Actually Dale this whole thread started because another show runner DID admit to mistakes in his story telling, and if anything it looks to me like it will enhance his credibility and brand, not diminish it.

        I’d also say the Moonlighting rule is a VERY poor excuse. First of all, as Ernie has written here before, Moonlighting did not show a risk in putting leads together. It showed the risk in separating them after they were together, and running too many reruns without enough new episodes. Not only that, many of us loved Chuck because it showed imagination and daring in how it dealt with many TV conventions; so when they stepped into the bane of 30 years of television story telling the disappointment was very strong.
        I will grant a shred of truth in saying the fear time was running out for Chuck increased anxiety about them wasting time on an unpopular story arc; but I think that story arc would be unpopular regardless. I know I would not have liked that arc in any scenario, because it did lasting damage to the characters. Look how it still gets our blood up. It isn’t something that will ever go away, even if the show runs another five seasons. It is a permanent black mark against the characters and the show.

        This is obviously a real hot button with you too. You feel compelled to defend people you presumably do not even know. But again, this is not personal; nobody here is personally insulting Schwartz, Fedak, or anyone else. We were just very disappointed in their work, and would love to hear what they learned from it. If they want to say they learned nothing, that’s fine; but I will be just as wary of their future endeavors as I would be of one of my own co-workers who refused to learn from their mistakes.

  15. Amron says:

    I must have known… every time I see a post with more of 100 reviews, it’s because, no matter what episode, someone started a S3 discussion, hehe!

  16. Verkan_Vall says:

    @Dale

    Sorry, but I disagree with most of what you say. If you read the rest of this post, keep one thing in mind: I’m one of those people who answered Josh Schwarz’s pleas to get more people to watch Chuck. Between June of 2010 and May of 2011, I was able to get 10 households to watch Chuck; 7 new ones (they basically never heard of the show) and 3 more of fans that had been driven away from the show by the disaster of Season 3. In the big picture, this means nothing: none of them were Neilson households. But I have spoken to quite a few people about Chuck, including some fans of S1 & S2 who refuse to watch the show anymore. I have a background in sales and customer relations that goes back almost 40 years and I’m a writer.

    Firstly: “This whole blog is a testement to how much hate can hurt your show when they critise non stop one part of the show that they are invested in.”

    This blog is one of the most consistently supportive Chuck blogs on the Net. Every single one of the authors here has come out and said, over and over again, how much they love this show. It is only 2 or 3 extremist oddballs (me, for example) who write the negative posts, and if you think what we write is “hate”, then you should probably avoid reading any other Chuck blog besides ChuckTV.net.

    Secondly: “I find it hard to believe any fan on this site would be angry with the story if someone told them at the time that that batch of episodes was the half way point of the series, I think someone has mentioned it here many times before, people were just angry because they thought it was near the end and we would only get 5 minutes of chuck and sarah together”

    I have spoken to any number of viewers who kept watching past the point where we knew the show had gotten its extention, but who gave up because the showrunners had gone too far and done too much damage. They watched for MONTHS while the show that they loved was beaten to death episode after episode, until they couldn’t bear it any more. These fans didn’t leave because they thought they were only going to get 5 minutes of Chuck & Sarah (I know 2 who stuck it out until episode 3.17, after the show was renewed for S4), they left because the damage done by S3 had made any future for Chuck and Sarah unbelievable for them.

    Thirdly: “All of this still does not mean that the show runners should explain anything”

    You say this more than once, and I think you’re wrong. The audience cannot read the minds of the showrunners. They only know what they see and hear, and ideally, the showrunners should explain enough for them to understand what is going on during the show (this is part of what storytelling is).

    If the showrunners don’t do this, they have to be prepared to explain what they did to the viewers later on; otherwise, what is the point of trying to send a message and/or entertain if the audience has no idea what you are trying to say?

    Fourthly: You and a number of other people, both on this thread and other recent postings, have touched on the idea of the showrunners’ vision, or truth or what they wanted to say, and this deals with the concept of artistic integrity. I’m a writer (not a good one) and there is one aspect of artistic integrity that a lot of people either forget or don’t want to deal with:

    At some point, the artist has to stand up next to their creation and take the heat along with the glow, the criticism along with the applause. And yes, they should be prepared to explain what they did.

    Because if they can’t or won’t, then any claim to Artistic Intergrity is a dodge, an attempt to avoid responsibility for their actions. And that has nothing to do with Truth.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, thanks VV. Very well written and thought out comment. Did I mention I agree? (my turn in the amen corner!)

  17. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Seduction (2.02) | Chuck This

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