Rate the Episodes, The Seasons 1-4 Edition

Really? Only 4 Stars For Our "First Date"?

With production on Chuck quickly coming to an end (I know… I know…) there may be the temptation to get a bit nostalgic about all the things Chuck and its wonderful cast and crew have given us over the years.  To be fair, there have been a few hair pulling Subway throwing moments for many of us also, but we remain fans.  Well here’s your chance to weigh in on all of those moments, both good and bad (and nicely please) and my chance to finally use a poll I made a while ago that got shelved for some reason.  Join me to rate the episodes and re-live the highs and lows, after the jump.

I love stats.  It’s an occupational hazard I’m sure, but I love stats.  Even the unscientific ones we get from our polls are a fun window into the mood of the fandom, or at least our blog’s portion of it.  Fortunately for me in addition to the PollDaddy fun WordPress also collects stats on everything from the number of blog hits (well over a million now) to the number of comments (recently passed 50,000).  I could spend minutes a day devouring the stats on the blog, but there is one that I have to admit I find sort of disturbing.


One of the stats compiled by WordPress is what search engine terms bring people to our blog.  Not surprisingly the most common are various combinations of Chuck This Blog and WordPress.  That is true whether you look for the day, week, month, or year.  But there is one other that is always near the top.  You guessed it.  Shemale and the various permutations, rarely including giant, but often blonde.  I find this a bit disturbing, because I really hate for our blog to be a disappointment to so many people.  Still, I hope they stay and learn about Chuck anyway, even if it is generally outside their interests.

Anyway, non-sequitur aside it’s time for another poll.  This time you get to rate the episodes individually as opposed to in competition with each other.  That’s right, you don’t have to decide between Tom Sawyer and Cougars, you can give them both 4 stars, or 5, as the mood strikes you.  Which brings up the “how to rate Chuck” issue.  To try to establish some common ground and hopefully a more uniform system for rating, I’d ask that you rate the episodes not based on any other TV show or any outside standard, but in comparison to other Chuck episodes.  That way if you think Chuck is the greatest show there ever will be and all episodes should get 5 stars compared to any other show, you don’t have to feel bad about giving Mask, Fake Name, FOD or Leftovers a 1 star if you feel they lack something compared to other episodes.  Also if you think Chuck is a fun show that doesn’t measure up to Game of Thrones or Fringe or Community, you can still give Colonel, Phase 3 and Honeymooners 5 stars without worrying about it.

To take the survey, click on the red button on the bottom of your screen when it pops up. Or click this link.

As always feel free to expound on your ratings in the comments.


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.
This entry was posted in polls, Ratings, Season 1, Season 2, Season 3, Season 4. Bookmark the permalink.

47 Responses to Rate the Episodes, The Seasons 1-4 Edition

  1. atcDave says:

    Thanks for this Ernie. It was fun to look at things this way; it affirmed for me some perceptions of mine. Like how very strong I think S4 was; really S4 and S2 are almost neck and neck for the number of outstanding or very good episodes. And of course how much I dislike S3; Honeymooners really stands out among all those other low ratings!

  2. thinkling says:

    This may take me a while, but I think it will be fun and interesting. So, does your poll average the ratings, give high and low, or median. All of those would be interesting, oh CT statistics guru. 😉

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Well I have to figure out how to use a spreadsheet for that. I usually just write a program since I’m not interested in pretty tables for the most part. I was just going to give a most likely rating.

  3. BigKev67 says:

    What stands out for me is the incredible consistency of S1 and S2 in my eyes. Nothing lower than a 3, and mostly a run of 4’s and 5’s. S3 and even S4 have their share of great episodes, but too many 3’s, 2’s and even some 1’s. I’d find myself really getting into an arc or a story and then it would all come to a screaming halt, with great episodes followed by weak ones – Nacho Sampler followed by Mask/Fake Name, First Fight by Fear of Death and Phase Three by Leftovers thru Gobbler. S1 and S2 (to me anyway) just didn’t have those momentum killers, with the possible exception of 3rd Dimension.

    • atcDave says:

      Hmmmmm, I think I have a similar attitude about some different episodes. In the first two seasons the real screeching halt for me came at The Ex and Beefcake. Those are the only two episodes in the first two seasons I would give a one or two to. So those two really stand out as anomalies.
      I give six ones in S3, but no ones or twos in S4 or S5. Although I would agree with calling Leftovers and Gobbler weaker episodes; in the S4 context that only means they didn’t excite me much, there was nothing that POed since the end of the misery arc (well, maybe a couple of scenes here and there, but no complete episodes).

      • BigKev67 says:

        Even Ex and Beefcake got 3’s from me – and I loved Gravitron. I only gave two 1’s (Mask and Muurder) but S4 had a lot of 2’s. That would be the lesson for me if I was a showrunner/writer – try and avoid the “meh” episodes. Even if a season isn’t quite touching previous heights, if you’re scoring consistent 3’s and 4’s that’s still a damn good season. It’s the runs of 2’s and 3’s (in whatever season you think they come) that kill you.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        The interesting thing I see, and I’ll post stats when we have a few more replies, is that there are VERY few episodes that rate “meh” or below statistically.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Ernie, Kev; while I slammed S3, its unique with me. Only 2 threes in S4 and that was the low (and it wasn’t the ones you mentioned Kev!). To me, S4 kept a high level of excitement from beginning to end, just like S2.
        BTW, I also loved Gravitron; good episode, great ending.

      • joe says:

        I’ll be interested in that too, Ernie.
        And Kev, I sorta liked Muuurder, but for one specific reason. It was their (only?) attempt at a classic “whodunit” episode. For that, it was sorta cute!

        Wouldn’t want a steady diet of “whodunits” from Chuck, though.

      • mxpw says:

        Man, Beefcake is the only episode in the first two seasons that I think I gave a 1. Worst episode of the first two seasons, I think, and a strong contender for worst of the series. Fortunately for it, Season 3 happened.

        Ex and 3D both got 2s. I can’t remember if I gave anything else in Seasons 1 or 2 scores that low. Maybe Helicopter.

      • atcDave says:

        Gee at the start I thought we’d agree about all of that mxpw…

        But I really like Helicopter.

        I gave Beefcake and Ex 1s; Crown Vic a 2. Otherwise the first two seasons were 3 or up. S3 had six ones; what a record! I know there are those who claim S3 as their favorite, I figure they’re mainly trying to annoy the rest of us.

        It will be interesting to see some data on this.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Wow! Season 4 made me think I was being too harsh a judge when it aired. Turns out I’m a lot more generous than some of you 🙂 Six 1’s for S3 Dave? I only had two 1’s for the entire series – and I think five 2’s. I feel much better now!

      • JC says:

        The only two episodes of the series I would rate as 1’s are Final Exam and Am Hero. And that’s being generous as I think Am Hero is the worst hour of TV I ever watched,

        I’ve noticed that if I rate an episode as a standalone without any regard to previous seasons or episodes my ratings rise. While I loathed S3 Tic Tac and Beard by themselves are fantastic. The same with Push Mix and Cat Squad in S4.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Kev I really didn’t like S3, starting with Pink Slip.

        Funny JC, American Hero wasn’t even one of my 1s; I think it managed a 3!

        To spell it out (sorry Kev, I know one of your favorites is on this list) my 1s are; Pink Slip, First Class, Nacho Sampler, Mask, Fake Name, and Final Exam. Anything that left me feeling sour or bitter at the end of the hour gets a one.

  4. joe says:

    Great job, Ernie. That was fun.

    Found myself thinking and scoring in terms of the sweep of the entire season, or maybe of an arc. You know. I seemed to give the highest scores to the high points of the season/arc, where “high point” is synonymous with “excitement” or perhaps “conclusion”. That was almost automatic.

    Still, have to admit that a surprising number of 5s to episodes that weren’t part of arcs, like Tom Sawyer, Delorean and Angel de la Muerta. I just find them enjoyable each time I re-watch.

    My secret vice is that I really liked Beefcake more than most. What can I say? I’ve been enjoying Jonathan Cake on Desperate Housewives this season too. 😉

  5. joe says:

    Oooohhh – Getting the hits on “GBS” is weird, but where else will Google send anyone looking for the phrase? Hum? 😉

    Statistically, it’s probably meaningless. Well, I hope it’s meaningless.

    Also, I understand they can cure your fascination with stats now, Ernie. But I hear it takes a head-ectomy… (double 😉 )

  6. Faith says:


    This is like the equivalent of choosing between the plethora of choices at Starbucks. Half caf, tall, 2% milk, toffee, mocha latte with no whip? I kept on wanting a “best thing since slice bread” choice. In the end things, that are to me, not of the same level ended up being equal. Of course Chuck is an embarrassment or riches, what are you going to do?

  7. BigKev67 says:

    Well, just to prove that I really don’t get out enough, I thought I’d figure out my average mark per writer – giving full marks to anyone for any jointly written episodes. And somewhat to my surprise, the winner was – Scott Rosenbaum! In a virtual dead heat with Matt Miller and Ali Adler.
    Somewhat less surprisingly, Wootton and DiGregorio bring up the rear with room to spare. Kristin Newman would have been a top 3 contender had she not penned the execrable Muurder – hopefully she’ll redeem herself in S5.

    Results were:-

    Rosenbaum 4.2
    Miller 4.1
    Adler 4.1
    LeJudkins 3.8
    Fedak 3.7
    Newman 3.6
    Klemmer 3.4
    Myers 3.2
    DiGregorio 2.7
    Wootton 2.6

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Interesting Kev, I hadn’t thought of including writers or directors information in the results. I may have to take a look at that. Of course since the tendancy with so many differing tastes if for everything to sort of wash out there may not be much “there” there. After all Ali Adler was responsible for one of the highest and one of the lowest.

      • atcDave says:

        And I’ll guess most of us don’t know right off who wrote most episodes. I’d have to do some research to figure out the specifics. But even with what Kev noted above I’d say the range is fairly narrow; that is, both good and bad writers have good and bad episodes. So writer alone is probably not the most Important criteria. I think the overall arc and story matter more.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’d guess the directors also have a lot to do with it, probably second only to writers.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I’m not so sure I agree with that. If you’re only marking out of 5, a difference between a 4.1 and a 2.6 is sizeable. And it indicates something consistent – and that is that regardless of where they fall in arc or season, there’s just something about Wootton’s or DiGrigorio’s (or whoever’s) stuff that I don’t like as much. I think there’s enough evidence to suggest a specific correlation, at least for me. Maybe it just means I pay more attention to specific things about writing than others. I’m prepared to bet that had Wootton written First Fight, for example, instead of LeJudkins, I wouldn’t have given it a 5.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Kev, there’s no accounting for tastes, but I will say one thing in Dave’s defense. There is a large segment of the fanbase who feel that even though Ali Adler was one of the best at writing Sarah there was nobody who could make Fake Name work. So I’ll note this about Wootton, he tends to get the mid-arc and bottle episodes where the characters are usually at their worst point in the arc. Think Fear of Death or Cat Squad, or Family Volkoff or to an extent Cubic Z. He seems to be the guy that gets to explore the emotional problems or character flaws just before either Kristin Newman or LeFranc and Judkins get to resolve them in Coup d’ Etat or Phase 3 or Masquerade or Wedding Planner.

      • BigKev67 says:

        That’s a very fair point, Ernie. I think I said in comments about FoD last year that he’d copped a pretty thin set up episode again, after Cubic Z. He certainly has market dominance in “whiny Chuck” episodes, and those are never going to score well with me.
        The counter arguments are that I’ve generally given transition episodes by other writers higher marks, and the finale that he co-wrote is the only one of the finales (season or mid-season) that didn’t get at least a 4. I think a fair conclusion for me would be to acknowledge that he has a tough job – but to maintain that it’s proved well beyond him.

      • atcDave says:

        Adler is certainly one of the example I was thinking of; with both some of the best, and one of the absolute worst episodes under her belt.

      • dkd says:

        The writers “break” the season together. So, the overall plot of the episode is determined either by Fedak or the Fedak with the group and fits into the overall plot of the season. Then, it’s kind of the luck of the draw who gets to write each episode.

        I think fans respond a lot more to what happens in the episode rather than whether what happens was well-written. If fans don’t like what happens, e.g. Chuck and Sarah breaking up, it often doesn’t matter how well written that break up may have been.

        Conversely, if fans do like what happens, they may forgive poor writing of the actual events. Fans seemed to have liked “Business Trip” because it gave them lots of the moments they want to see even though I don’t think it was a particularly well-written episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Although I won’t agree about any poor writing on Business Trip, I do agree with your major point that the arc and major events are actually more important to most of us than the finer details of the writing. Perhaps it makes non-arc episodes better indicators of such things; so liking Delorean and disliking Sensei say more about the episode writer. While liking Push Mix and disliking Gobbler actually says more about their role in the overall arc. And for the record, there a few arcs that I mostly liked from beginning to end (Orion easily comes to mind).

      • ArmySFC says:

        maybe i’m just reading the numbers wrong then again maybe not. from the numbers listed in this thread, i see chuck as just an average show. whether it’s 3.6 out of 5 or 72 out of 100 the numbers suggest that for all season’s of chuck the overall rating is average, grading out to a mid 70’s average. i myself feel that seasons 1 and 2 are much better than that. maybe its the restricted numbers you get from the 1-5 scale?

      • atcDave says:

        Army I think you have to keep that in the context of judging Chuck episodes against each other. So while I may rate Sizzling Shrimp only as a good episode; that’s judging it against the heights Chuck can achieve. I’d still rate it as more fun than almost anything else on TV. Those ten episodes I gave 5s to are about the best things I’ve EVER seen on television; even a four was probably the best thing I saw THE WEEK IT AIRED. And a three was still a great time. Only the ones are something I’d rather not have watched, and Chuck has only done that twice ever out side of the S3 misery arc.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Army, you’re reading the numbers wrong.

        To try to establish some common ground and hopefully a more uniform system for rating, I’d ask that you rate the episodes not based on any other TV show or any outside standard, but in comparison to other Chuck episodes. That way if you think Chuck is the greatest show there ever will be and all episodes should get 5 stars compared to any other show, you don’t have to feel bad about giving Mask, Fake Name, FOD or Leftovers a 1 star if you feel they lack something compared to other episodes. Also if you think Chuck is a fun show that doesn’t measure up to Game of Thrones or Fringe or Community, you can still give Colonel, Phase 3 and Honeymooners 5 stars without worrying about it.

  8. lappers84 says:

    Ok didn’t take me very long. Hardly any episodes were rated below three (apart from of course one in season 3) a couple in season 1 I wasn’t too keen on. All in all I don’t think I’ve had to complain much on any of the Chuck episodes over the last few years. (I guess I’m easily entertained). 🙂

  9. olddarth says:

    s1 / s2 / s3 mostly threes and fours with a couple of 5s, s4 mostly twos and threes with a couple of 1s: except for the last 2 as I stopped watching after the horrible Agent X Retcon and Ellie Evisceration.

  10. Shepperd of Lost Sheep says:

    This is kind of a fun exercise. Season average scores.

    S1 – 3.6
    S2 – 3.8
    S3 – 2.1
    S4 – 3.4
    S5 – 3.5 (to date)

    It’s surprising how close the numbers are. Also I’m a hard scorer.
    5 is “walking on water” territory – I have 13 .
    1 is … well let’s just say “not good” … territory – I have 8

    I sometimes wonder if TPTB could shout, “DO OVER!!”, what would they do? If anything.

  11. Henry says:

    Ok, I voted: and in case you wonder, no, it was no mistake, I gave 1 to Fake name (just because 0 is not an option) instead of Mask, I think that I am the only one…
    In general I gave mostly 4 or 5, especially for the first 2 1/2 seasons, probably, just like Lappers, I am easily entertained 🙂
    And I gave generally lower notes to S4, especially the second part: different than many here, I think that S2 and S3 were a total rollercoaster, either emotionally or for the quality, with very good and very bad moments. S4 was more leveled, but for me it was a low level, especially in the second part.
    But hey, if there were more shows like Chuck around, I would watch much more TV than I actually do… 😉

  12. Ernie Davis says:

    Well first I want to say thanks to all for participating. There are some interesting results. I’ll publish a full table when I get home and can prettify it on my Mac. But since I know you’re all waiting on the edge of your seats, here are a few results.

    First, there are no bad episodes of Chuck. It’s true. The lowest rated episode, Chuck Versus The Mask, squeaks into “meh” territory with a 2.1. Only 2 episodes had no 5 star ratings. Yep, Chuck Versus The Mask and Chuck Versus The Fake Name. Only one episode, Chuck Versus The Colonel, had no ratings below 4 stars and no episode rated all 5 stars.

    The best and the worst of Chuck:

    Your top 10 rated episodes:

    Chuck Versus The Colonel 4.88
    Chuck Versus The Honeymooners 4.81
    Chuck Versus Phase Three 4.64
    Chuck Versus The Ring 4.62
    Chuck Versus The Intersect 4.61
    Chuck Versus The First Date 4.60
    Chuck Versus The Seduction 4.50
    Chuck Versus The Cougars 4.45
    Chuck Versus The Push Mix and Chuck Versus The Other Guy tie at 4.43
    Chuck Versus The DeLorean 4.40

    Chuck Versus The Wedding Planner with a 4.39 just missed the top 10.

    Your bottom 10 episodes:

    Chuck Versus The Mask 2.07
    Chuck Versus The Fake Name 2.37
    Chuck Versus The Pink Slip 2.64
    Chuck Versus The Third Dimension 2.69
    Chuck Versus First Class and Chuck Versus The Beefcake tie at 2.71
    Chuck Versus The Fear of Death 2.85
    Chuck Versus The Muuurder 2.88
    Chuck Versus The Sensei 2.98
    Chuck Versus The Masquerade 3.00
    Chuck Versus The Nacho Sampler 3.05

    Chuck Versus The Three Words avoids a dubious honor with a 3.07

  13. Ernie Davis says:

    A few more tidbits I couldn’t resist.

    Average rating by season:

    Season 1 3.85
    Season 2 3.83
    Season 3 3.39 (Obligitory Chuckwin’s Law Disclaimer)
    season 4 3.67

    Longest “winning” streak, from Chuck Versus The Marlin through Chuck Versus Tom Sawyer every episode rated 4 or above. Second longest “winning” streak, from Chuck Versus the Predator to Chuck Versus The Ring, no episode rated lower than a 3.8. If you want you can add Chuck Versus The Lethal Weapon to the beginning of that streak with a 3.6. Longest “losing” streak where no episode broke out of “meh” territory… Yep, Chuck Versus The Mask and Chuck Versus The Fake Name. Hardest fall, From Chuck Versus The Ring at 4.6 to Chuck Versus The Pink Slip at 2.6.

    • atcDave says:

      Interesting that S1 beat S2! Perhaps it was just because there were no real dogs in S1 like Ex and Beefcake?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually it’s 3 episodes, Sensei, Third Dimension, and Beefcake that pull down season 2. These may not be the final numbers however. Voting is still going on!

  14. kg says:

    What one would come to expect from Ernie in a survey. No exclusions. ALL the episodes and five choices.

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