Readers’ Digest Rewatch: Our Life As Spies

This is the first of our re-watch arcs that gets into season four.  No doubt the mood and feel of the show changes a lot here from season three.  Even compared to the back six episodes of season three, season four has a lighter, almost romantic-comedy feel to it.  I know some like to consider this a wholly new show.  But it doesn’t quite read that way to me, this seems more like the logical next step for the characters we’ve been following all along.  Sure there’s still plenty that’s dark and scary about the professional world the characters inhabit; but at least for Chuck and Sarah, a huge weight has been lifted.  Their personal lives are coming together faster than they can even imagine.  The four episodes we look at here are major steps as Chuck and Sarah decide to make their life together official.

Join me for “Our Life as Spies” after the jump.

To me this completely rings true, even in the far less dangerous world I live in, life became a far more happy and satisfying experience as I grew more stable in my own “primary relationship”.  So I find it happy and satisfying to see the same thing happen for Chuck and Sarah. Back when these episodes first ran, and again with our various re-watches, we’ve discussed the story and major issues of each of these episodes.  So I think what I’ll do is just look at overall impressions, and how those may have changed in the context of a series now complete.

Chuck vs The Fear of Death

When it first ran this was a very controversial episode.  Some viewers took exception to Agent Rye being a complete moron, or Chuck being in panic mode, or Sarah’s harsh words late in the episode.  While I would never call this a favorite, I think I was always less troubled by most of those issues than some.  I still find Rye to be quite funny.

And none of Chuck’s panic moments really bother me here; in fact, I think with time I like more than ever how Chuck is trying to be smart and be a good agent without the help of the Intersect.  He rises to every challenge (even when its a bit reckless, more on that later) and he actually studies up on gemology when it seems relevant to the case.  I like that!

Always be prepared…

Sarah’s line towards the end (“no you’re not!”) is still the most dramatic and shocking moment of the episode.  In time, she will become more confident in Chuck’s ability to be safe even without the Intersect, but here its clearly new territory for her and she doesn’t like it.  I love how she immediately knows she said something she shouldn’t have (was that a Homer moment?  “did I say that or think that?”).  This triggers the panic/guilt that will stay with her until Chuck opens his eyes in Thailand.  That is long time in television to regret three words, and we see in the immediate aftermath her drive to make things right, and fear that she won’t get the chance.  I guess I’m in a minority here for loving that moment.  I wish so much they used more of this sort of angst that is based on a mix of professional and personal issues instead of the purely romantic sort.  This strikes me as legitimate and interesting.  Sarah is worried for Chuck’s well being, and fails to treat him with the level of respect he needs as a result.

But of course Sarah’s fears are well based.  Chuck is taking reckless chances to try and prove himself, and regain control of the Intersect.  He’s letting a lunatic advise him instead of his partner and girlfriend.  And Sarah’s anxieties only make him more insecure which leads to further risk taking…

But at least Rye gives us among the best last lines in television history, “have I been shot?”

Chuck vs Phase Three

The hardest part about this episode will be keeping the write up brief.  This was my favorite S4 episode, only Wedding Planner even comes close.  So my first comment must be that I think it has held up very well.  The action and excitement hold up very well, and I think some of the drama here is the best of the series.  And of course that means Sarah.  Yvonne gives a nearly perfect performance in a couple key scenes;

Sarah the big fish

first in her bedroom with Morgan,  then in Castle with Casey, and finally in a unique dual performance as she tries to break Chuck from his dream-like state.  Wow!  That just never gets old.

Different without Chuck

 

 

One thing that jumps out at me though having just watched Fear of Death again.  Sarah carries a lot of guilt here that she doesn’t need to.  Chuck does know that he is more important to Sarah than being a spy or having the Intersect.  She really did tell him, a couple of times, in the previous episode that she loved him without the Intersect.  But those last ill-conceived words hang heavy, and Sarah blames herself for Chuck’s trouble.  And those words will provide the motive force for much of this episode.

Nothing but a spy

Its easy to forget this episode includes a fun b-plot as well.  This episode will remain a favorite for as long as I remember Chuck.

Chuck vs The Balcony

Out of all these episodes, I think time has been the kindest to Balcony.  I doubt I’ll ever like  Gobbler so much, but the end of Balcony that irked me so much on first run, does not seem such a big deal in the big picture.  Balcony can best be described as a fluff episode, apart from that very end; but its the sort of fun and sweet fluff that Chuck has always done so well.  We get a fitting Danny Kaye homage with “…the stork on the cork…” and a dizzy, drunken Sarah annihilating baddies in the first France mission.

The only possible screen cap for Balcony…

Then after a return home where Sarah takes over the “sub-mission”, we’re treated to, what really amounts to the “formal proposal scene” for this series.  From Morgan dealing with Sarah’s butterflies, to Casey saving the actual ring (!), to Chuck’s rambling but very sweet proposal this is pretty much a perfect moment.  Pity the CIA has no sense of timing.

At least it leads to a very good dramatic scene at the end; in case we needed reminding that Zach and Yvonne are capable dramatic actors too!

Chuck vs The Last Details

This episode is quite a jump in time later from the others.  And it will be discussed again in a later season arc.  But its included here mainly because of its significance in Chuck and Sarah’s growth. Specifically, we see a mature loving couple on the eve of their wedding.  So much has changed since early in the season when the mention of marriage and family will cause a little panic in Agent Walker. We are rewarded with some really nice scenes showing their maturity.  Funny they mainly involve first Sarah, then Chuck, standing up for each other to Mary.

Chuck choosing the right side

Not that Mary is really a villain…

But no doubt Mary’s acceptance of her soon to be daughter-in-law is a major pay-off of sorts as this season winds down.

And we get one the best and sweetest family and friends scenes ever for the ending; right up until the Cliffhanger…

I know not every fan was as enthused as I; but season four represents a sort of second golden age of Chuck for me.  As the show went from strong episode to strong episode much of the bad taste of the previous season left me.  I fell in love with these characters all over again.  This is appointment television!

~ Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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273 Responses to Readers’ Digest Rewatch: Our Life As Spies

  1. thinkling says:

    Great job, Dave. You know I agree with this entirely, not too shocking, I know. Watching Chuck and Sarah mature as a couple from moving in to engagement to marriage was amazing to watch, and they really pulled off the growth so well. S4 and S5 will always be my favorites, even though I also love S1 and S2. You’re right of course that growth in the primary relationship brings security and growth elsewhere. This is where the show really stood out. Sarah’s growth was just stunning in S4 (and continued in S5).

    Chuck’s insecurities in FOD, to my mind, came much more from the lack of Intersect than from anything to do with Sarah, per se, coupled with the fact that the woman who abandoned him at age 9 is the one who suppressed the Intersect and thus stole his spy mojo. I know I’m in a minority, but I came to really appreciate the Intersect-less arc. FOD has a couple of my all time favorite Sarah lines: “It looks like he’s hitting you.” And “But then there’s no safety net.” Sarah was clearly the only one who hadn’t taken leave of her senses.

    Phase 3. I can’t add to anything to what you said. It was just an all time favorite. It seems to be the beginning of Sarah’s bonding with Morgan in a favorite scene. Just perfect. And of course, the bonding continued in Balcony … a truly delightful episode, one I smiled all the way through, until the end. Then of course I felt like the rug was pulled out from under me. On rewatch, all is well, because I know what a fantastic arc we end up with.

    Last Details was a lot of fun. My favorite is Mary’s toast and all its hidden meaning. It caps off nicely the Sarah/Mary relationship that started at gun point so much earlier. I’ve really enjoyed the mothers of the show, meaning Mary and Emma, not so much Honey.

    As these episodes progress we see the pull of the two worlds against each other: the normal life and the spy life. in S4 Chuck and Sarah are top spies, who manage to carve out a little space for a normal life for themselves, which isn’t always easy, because the spy world keeps interfering at the most inopportune times. But that’s just part of being spies, and for now they’ve pulled it off. They think they can have it all, and they are happy being a spy couple.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for all of that Thinkling. I also enjoyed the Intersectless Arc. Good point about the significance of Mary’s involvement. It was great how funny Sarah’s sensible lines were; I really wanted “safety net” for my episode picture and caption, but sadly I couldn’t find a screen cap of that moment that included any good reactions, it was mostly done with tight individual shots and nothing showing the whole crew. It did make me laugh this time though how very clear Sarah was that she loved Chuck regardless, and yet that was still a big point of anxiety for her when Morgan brought it up.

      I do remember being quite annoyed with Balconey on initial viewing. And Chuck’s determination to make a big show of things still irks me a little (does he seriously think Sarah cares about a big showy proposal? I see Sarah as more private and understated than that, the show is for him and Morgan); but the ending that stung so much initially is no longer very troublesome, apart from the well acted drama of it. Knowing what it leads to (a proposal that seems more like Sarah anyway!) makes it all a lot easier to enjoy.

      Last Details is also a wonderful episode in so many ways. I love how Sarah basically proves herself to Mary. I avoided mentioning the actual mission part of the episode though, as I know we’ll be coming back to it for a later arc re-watch.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        Dave/Thinkling

        I love Balcony because I love Casey giving Chuck some of the best advice he ever received. I’ll paraphrase: “There is no such thing as the perfect moment or the perfect spot. Forget the Balcony. All you need is the girl.” It’s advice Chuck actually follows in Push Mix when he is moved to propose once again.

        Phase 3 is my favorite of the season and I will comment more later on that one. However, there’s Death Cab for Cutie’s song, “You are a Tourist”, in Last Details. There are some lyrics that resonate in me as the embodiment of Chuck and Sarah throughout their relationship even into the last few minutes of the show. This played during the rehearsal party which also has one of my all time favorite montage’s as prepared by Jeff, the ultimate Charah shipper. Plus, I just love the song. The lyrics are below:

        ‘Cause when you find yourself the villian,
        In the story you have written
        It’s plain to see,
        That sometimes the best intentions
        Are in need of redemption
        Would you agree
        If so, please show me

      • thinkling says:

        That was a great Casey scene. And I do love the montage in Last Details. I like watching everyone watch it.

      • atcDave says:

        WW1 you are completely right about it being a great Casey moment. Very sound advice.

      • I loved Balcony on the first viewing and couldn’t understand the backlash. But then I spent the entire episode thinking there was no way there would be a proposal before episode 13. The almost proposal didn’t surprise me one bit. I liked that it gave us a fancy almost-proposal before the intimate, private one. Chuck always tried to go big not because Sarah wanted it, but because he thought she deserved it. Sarah basically pre-accepted the proposal in Phase 3. Chuck wanted to go big, and Sarah was humoring him. The multiple proposals seemed like a typical thing for the show. Like the Woodcomb wedding–why have one wedding when you can have two?

  2. Verkan_Vall says:

    Thanks for the writeup, Dave. I don’t really have anything to add; these episodes and season 4 in general were just a pleasure to watch. I know many people had issues with this season and some of these episodes, and I can see some of that. But the performances given by such a great cast were just the escape I was looking for, so I enjoyed Season 4.

  3. OldDarth says:

    The beginning of the end for those of us that were into the mythology of the show and Chuck’s hero journey. Once the BuyMore came back, it was game over for spy stories that made any sense or carried any sense of danger or risk.

    If Season 3 was Sarah’s pod person. Then Season 4 was Chuck’s. The character aspects that I had come to like about him never came back.

    Too much whine and not enough empathy and smarts. To Chuck’s detriment and Morgan’s benefit.

    For those that liked the lighter tone and amped up romantic aspects, it was a dream come true….

    ….until the Finale.

    • atcDave says:

      ??? The finale works pretty well for ‘shippers. It wasn’t perfect by any means, not the finale I would have chosen, but at least all was well in the end and we had two wonderful seasons to finish the series with.

      • atcDave says:

        I guess I should clarify more and say the problems I had with the finale were mostly just about being too dark for too long, and I probably would have been fine with that with just a little more joy evident at the very end. Perhaps the mood at the end was a bit of a throw back to the bleak and joyless S3 main arc, but I sure do enjoy the journey up to it. Really an awesome ride from Honeymooners to the end.

      • OldDarth says:

        Understood.

        In turn, I will clarify my ‘dream’ finale statement as meaning a finale that ended the series in a satisfactory manner in step and tone with what had been established in those past two seasons that many, like you, enjoyed so much.

        An ending that compelled some fans to go outside what was shown on the screen and seek out answers from the TPTB or fan fiction or the internet etc does not qualify as a dream finale to me.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it was a jarring change up.

    • CaptMediocre says:

      I neverminded S4 very much. Storywise I found it suffered from same issues as S3, that is to say underwhelming payoff to the 1/2 arcs. The engagement was well done, but the wedding fake out didn’t do anything for me.

      Phase 3 remains my all time favorite episode. Surprise surprise.

      Dave something you said indirectly has been needling me all day. Could the biggest issue with S4 be the fact that a lot of the really good scenes are Sarah / Morgan scenes as opposed to Sarah / Chuck scenes?

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting thought. Certainly Morgan got more screen time than I would have preferred, but I do think Josh and Yvonne had an entertaining chemistry. Several Sarah/Morgan scenes were really outstanding, I always liked the feeling that Morgan was as completely intimidated as his stupidly fearless manner could allow for. And that Sarah had a sort of friendly, but doesn’t quite get why attitude towards him.
        Some Morgan scenes did strike me as superfluous, like the bathroom in First Fight or the laser dance in Push Mix. But I mostly liked the scenes with Sarah.
        Now I do think there’s a seperate issue of not enough heat sometimes between Chuck and Sarah. Perhaps if some of the too much Morgan had been replaced with some more flirty fun stuff for Charah it would have helped. But then I pretty much never got enough of Chuck and Sarah together.

      • Gord says:

        Phase 3 was definitely my all-time favourite episode of the season, but my favourite arc of the season was Balcony/Gobbler/Push Mix.
        Obviously a big part of that was the shipper stuff, but also the family stuff, and the taking down of Volkoff with very little use of the Intersect and how in the end even Stephen J had a big part to play in the take-down.

        When I look back at S4, the contributions Timothy Dalton and Linda Hamilton made was a big part of why I really liked this season.

        I know some fans were not to happy with Mama B, but I thought LH did a great job with that role.

        I think my biggest gripe about S4 would be the whole Greta concept for the most part all it did for me was waste valuable screen time that would have been better served by the regular cast. What they considered the payoff to the Greta story (A Team) for me was underwhelming. I don’t hate the episode but for me A Team and Muurder were two stories that didn’t need to be told.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually really did like A-Team, I thought it was one of the funnier episodes. But I do agree the Greta concept bombed pretty badly. I know it was improvised, they originally thought they had Olivia Munn for the season, but the she left for a bigger part on something else. So they thought the rotating Greta’s would be fun. It just never quite worked.

        I do love both Timothy Dalton and Linda Hamilton in their roles, lot’s of fun there. But I also think Mary was not adequately explained. I mean that I understand the story; but it leaves her looking unsympathetic and incompetent. Still, her first couple appearances were awesome.

      • I loved the Greta idea. I think it would have been even if we had a different Greta in every episode, even if it was for ten seconds. They didn’t have the time and/or money.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I only remember four different Gretas. As you say, it might have worked better if they’d really gotten to it every week, but that might have required more time at the Buy More than they wanted to give. I think it was often too subtle to even be noticed (did most viewers even notice that they were all Greta?), I don’t believe it was really commented on in dialogue until Summer Glau.

      • I had a fifth Greta in Chuck vs All of the Intersects.

        In Couch Lock, Casey could have called the Buy More asking for Greta, but Jeff still answers, looks a Greta, and then says the same thing they he is going for help. A Greta could have helped take Dr. Wheelwright away at the end of Aisle of Terror. A random Greta could have appeared in Chuck’s Phase 3 Buy More dream. Another Greta could have been knocked unconscious in Leftovers by Volkoff’s team. None of those four would have required speaking roles, just unknown models. It also would have been minimal screen time.

        Another funny idea would be to have Sarah fill in as Greta in an episode, wearing a wig for disguise. Morgan could catch Chuck and Sarah making out in the old Assistant Manager’s “office” before realizing it was Sarah.

        That would’ve made nine Greta, which I think would have helped the joke.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree Jeff, it’s the sort of joke that needed overkill to be more effective.

      • atcDave says:

        I just had a laugh about your Sarah as Greta idea. Lester whining “how’d she get to be Greta”

        Seemed funny in my head…

        I’ll shut up now.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Carina as Greta, insisting her name was Greta, not Carina. Pushing it, but potentially hilarious. Also any additional Firefly cast member, Matt Bomer (pushing it, probably too far, I know), or in a fabulous bit of AU, Anna Wu.

      • Dave, I was originally thinking they would be oblivious, but I love that line for Lester. Later in the episode, Lester and Jeff would find a discarded Greta name tag and would get into a fight over who gets to be Greta. Blondes always have more fun… and so do Gretas.

        Ernie, Carina as Greta in CAT Squad would’ve been funny. She could lay the “flirting with the boss” act really thick on Morgan.

      • Ernie, I just figured out how Anna Wu could work. Casey’s background check on Anna went through and Anna recently finished spy training. She shows up at the Buy More, reporting for duty as Greta Wu. Casey tells her to stay away from the bearded gnome because he’s taken, but doesn’t explain it’s because Morgan is dating his daughter. Lester and Jeff say she must be Anna’s uglier older sister (uglier because she doesn’t dress as slutty and is wearing a green shirt). Morgan takes one look at her, “No. No way. Not happening. You can’t work here. Tell the CIA to send another Greta. Bye now.” Anna would say something like, “You’re in charge? I’m on the first flight back to DC.” The whole sequence would’ve taken less than two minutes, not that Chuck episodes had time to fill.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yes, sadly it seems that being tied to 43 or 22 minutes has hurt many a show.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I thought you were going to suggest that Greta Wu was taken as Anna’s uglier sister because the whole blonde thing just didn’t work for her…

        We need a one-shot that would just be “The Greta Chronicles”, and you’ve already got a great start!

    • jam says:

      Heh, poor Yvonne, she’s been involved in both of the worst/most controversial endings of 2012, although she can’t be blamed for either. (and her role in Mass Effect 3 was much smaller than what it was in ME2)

  4. Gord says:

    I know this is a readers digest rewatch, but this grouping makes absolutely no sense to me.
    When I think of my favourite arcs in this season, I think of the settling down as a spy couple/back to the buy more of Anniversary thru to Coupe D’Etat.
    I think of Who is Volkoff / Mama B in Anniversary, Couch Lock, Aisle of Terror, First Fight, and Leftovers
    Then Chuck gains and loses his superpowers in First Fight, FOD, Phase 3 and Leftovers

    The saving of Mama B / take down of Volkoff / the proposal in Balcony, Gobbler and Push Mix and the “Sarah don’t freak out you’re getting married” episodes of Seduction 2, Cats, Bank of Evil, Wedding Planner, Agent X and Last Details.

    For me the weekest episodes of the season were FOD, A Team and Muurder with Muurder being my least favourite of the season.

    atcDave, you mention not caring for Gobbler. I would have to agree as a standalone episode, but when you put it together with balcony and push mix, I love it. It is the middle of the story and makes Push Mix even more satisfying. I never rewatch just gobbler – I make sure that I have time to rewatch all 3 episodes together.

    • atcDave says:

      I couldn’t tell the exact history on how these arcs were initially arrived at, but they are the ones that won our reader polls, so that is what we are discussing! I do know Last Details was in two different groups, and will come up again in a few weeks.

      I don’t hate Gobbler, it did have some good moments. But it’s never sat right with me the way Sarah defers to Mary throughout, especially at the end. I see Mary as bad/failed spy. She may deserve some measure of respect as Chuck’s mom and future mother-in-law, but very little professionally. So I don’t mean Sarah should treat her rudely, but she should be actively looking for ways to break the cycle Mary is in, not turn to her for “coping” advice’

      • Gord says:

        I know that they were arrived at by polling, I’m just surprised that this arc was so dispersed. Mind you, I have a hard time with the readers digest rewatch concept. Why would anyone want to skip episodes of Chuck (except maybe for Mask, Fake Name and the Morgansect.)
        We as fans need to take the time to savour every moment.

      • atcDave says:

        Wasn’t my idea…

        We did want to do something to keep busy until the S5 discs came out, but still be able to get to S5 pretty quickly after.
        I would expect, in a few months, we will start a slower paced (like one episode a week), complete series re-watch. At least that’s my vote.

      • I mentioned the idea of arcs for a poll, but I think they are mostly useful for discussion topics. Theoretically it was a way to avoid most of S3.0, but that can was opened with the Defeat of the Ring Arc. Oh well.

        Whether or not you skip episodes is up to you. I’m not.

        This arc is a little dispersed. Maybe Ernie can speak to its construction. FoD is Chuck on a mission without Sarah. P3 is Sarah on a mission without Chuck. Balcony is Sarah and Chuck on mission as a couple (with Morgan on the two submissions). Last Details is Sarah and Chuck arguing about the mission to save MamaB and pushing Morgan into a key mission role. So all of the missions had different compositions and styles, provided a good contrast. I guess you could say it was Chuck and Sarah figuring out how to work as a team if different challenging circumstances.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well, Jeff is close, but my original thought was that this arc (with Last Details sort of optional) pretty much encompasses their spy lives. We start with Chuck trying to be a spy, and wondering if he can ever be one, or if he’s doomed to the BuyMore, then we move to a frantic Sarah who doesn’t want Chuck to be a Hero, then we glimpse pre-Chuck Sarah as a spy, wondering if she can save that part of herself that isn’t a spy, then we get the two of them coming to peace with the fact that they are both spies, and can work both as a team and individuals in Balcony, but then we see the danger that they could lose it all due to the demands and dangers of the life they’ve chosen, foreshadowing their decision to leave and the finale.

        That’s the Reader’s Digest version.

        As for the abbreviated trip through Chuck, I think the full blown 91 episode re-watch was seen as a bit too ambitious to launch as the first post finale project. We all needed to decompress a bit first, take on a less ambitious look back before deciding, since a full series re-watch at one episode per week will take the better part of two years.

  5. Ernie Davis says:

    Excellent highlight reel Dave 😉 I believe this arc was one of my Frankenstein creations just to work in Fear of Death so Faith would know I haven’t given up. Joking… mostly. But you handled it well. As I recall I wanted to work in Leftovers too, since one of the things that comes out in these episodes is spy life intruding on Chuck and Sarah’s attempts to just be together doing normal things (one of the main reasons Last Details made the cut, sort of), but I figured Phase 3 could overcome FoD, but maybe not both FoD and Leftovers. For the record I thought Leftovers was awesome, but recall it was a bit underwhelming to a lot of people, mostly because of a hilarious bit in the beginning where Chuck’s mommy issues are front and center.

    But the big thing is that you see the changes in both of them and their professional and personal lives sort of reaching a balance, before the cliffhanger at the end of Last Details. I thought that worth a look, and you’ve captured that.

    • thinkling says:

      I really liked Leftovers, too. I liked the Sarah/Mary bonding from a distance. And I loved Volkoff’s Kids love me. I also thought the dinner had that perfect tension between what appeared to be such a happy normal time (to Ellie) and the spy stuff that held it all hostage. Oh well, I know this wasn’t about Leftovers, but you brought it up Ernie.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I do have a habit of doing that, don’t I?

    • atcDave says:

      I was okay with Leftovers. It wasn’t quite a favorite, but I have no beef with it either. I kept looking at this list expecting it to be there. But I was very happy to draw four episodes I like, one of which I seem to be in the minority on.

  6. joe says:

    Dave, at the time, you said early and often that S4 was “Genius”. Or was that Ernie? I forget!

    Regardless, I wasn’t quite sure at the time that the season rated that praise. On re-watch, I changed my mind. It does. Even episodes like Gobbler and FOD that (and I agree with you about this) were only so-so on their own, now are just wonderful to watch.

    What I see in Gobbler now is the fear in both Chuck&Sarah that they will end up just like Chuck’s parents – separated by Volkoff’s machinations permanently. Mary fears that too, as she says later. FOD becomes now a great lead-in to Phase-3 (and man, I have a hard time not naming that my all-time favorite episode). Oh yeah, Rye is a clown, but he’s a lovable one.

    Oddly, I found a single theme running through both, and it’s about the word we’ve used most often, trust. In FOD and Phase-3 I see Sarah finally come to trust Chuck and his abilities even without the Intersect. She starts by fighting the fear of putting her trust in him, then she accepts it. In Gobbler and the follow-on, The Push Mix, Chuck finally shows us he trust Sarah (and his mother) completely, even when the evidence of his own eyes (Casey’s fall, Sarah’s wig and Volkoff’s words) is telling him outright that she’s changing, just like his mother. When push comes to shove, he trusts his heart, not his eyes. In fact, I don’t think he ever wavers in those two episodes.

    Set against the backdrop of C&S moving from being together to being engaged, it’s just an amazing story. Add in incredible performances by Linda Hamilton and especially Timothy Dalton, and – yup – Season 4 is Genius.

    • atcDave says:

      I believe genius was Ernie’s word, but I eagerly adopted it!

      I agree with all of that Joe, except I still have a big problem with Gobbler. Although it has many good moments, and I don’t hate the episode by any means; but I felt at the time, and still do, that Sarah doesn’t show enough awareness of the risk of “becoming Mary”, and does nothing to prevent it from happening. In the end (Push Mix), she’s saved from that fate by Chuck and Mary. Now I do like, once Chuck sort of breaks the deadlock, that Sarah gets the big hero moment to rescue Mary. But again, she doesn’t arrive at that point on her own. I just wish she’d been more pro-active in the process.
      But that’s actually the closest I get to having a serious complaint all season long. My next “least favorite” episode would be Anniversary, just because the first half of it strikes me as very depressing. Apart from that, I have no complaints about S4. It may not have quite as many brilliant episodes as S2, but it doesn’t have as many complete duds either (Ex and Beefcake were both huge disappointments to me in S2); so S4 holds up very well for me.

      • garnet says:

        Sometimes I think that the show we want to watch is “Chuck and Sarah”, but what they are writing is “Chuck” and there lies the problem. The main focus still seems to be on Chuck and Sarah at times becomes quite secondary.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I liked Gobbler. Found it to be simultaneously hilarious and dramatic. While there wasn’t an episode I disliked in season 4 I recall finding Couch Lock and Family Volkoff underwhelming on first watch, despite some great moments in each. There has only been one episode of Chuck that ever disappointed me on the initial viewing, American Hero.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I have no doubt calling the show “Chuck and Sarah” from the start would have worked for me. I think in those first three seasons Sarah’s role was often quite small, Morgan in particular often had a bigger part than she did. Part of why I liked S4 and S5 so much was Sarah’s greatly expanded role. But as we were discussing on a previous thread, much of the show concept developed and changed with time. I think how important Sarah became is part of that. Even to the very end I think it was often a problem that we didn’t see enough from her perspective; part of that certainly being because she didn’t really have anyone to talk through things with, except for Chuck. So when Chuck and Sarah had problems we typically got lot’s of Chuck perspective on what was wrong, and not so much of Sarah’s. I don’t want to make too big a thing of it, but I think at the center of it all, many of us fans were far more interested in Sarah than the show runners were.

        Funny Ernie, I know you were always far more accepting of the story than I was; but we get a few exceptions! I really liked Couch Lock, funny and satisfying episode to me.

      • oldresorter says:

        I don’t think season 4 had real many unhappy endings, but Balcony, FOD, Gobbler, and Last Detail all did which makes me like them less. In particular, last detail and Balcony would have been remarkable episodes with water fountain type endings.

        The notion of the show Chuck and Sarah ‘intersects’ (no pun intended) with an idea I have been floating about my head, that Sarah is far more ‘layered’ than Chuck, hence she, since late in season two, has been the show’s most interesting character, such that the perception of the show, often rests with how her characters thinks, acts, and feels.

      • Rob says:

        Dave — I actually love the way that they dealt with Sarah early on, and I think that it fit into the overall theme of the show. The show was about Chuck. So, it is fitting that Sarah was more of a mystery. Effectively, we knew as much as Chuck knew. The only way that he heard what Sarah was feeling was from other people. For me, I think that it only enhanced my identification with the Chuck character.

        But, as the show went on, and C&S became a couple, it would make sense that we would know more about her thoughts and feelings.

        In retrospect, it is something that I think worked really well (although who knows whether it was intentional).

        Finally, think about how powerful those vlogs were at the end of the series and how they helped fill in the “missing feelings” from early in the show. Those vlogs wouldn’t have been nearly as powerful, if we already knew everything that Sarah was feeling during that time.

      • atcDave says:

        I think that’s valid Rob. No doubt Sarah was a pretty appealing mystery early on. I think it was really only a big problem in S3, Sarah was sort of pushed aside by the story they chose and in many ways became less likeable and sympathetic. That might have been helped if there was some vehicle for getting us inside her head better, certainly talking to Shaw was a bad device. But I do think it was occasionally a problem in the later seasons, especially when I think Chuck and Morgan often got too much screen time together and Chuck and Sarah not enough.

        But if we were to do the show over, I would have made the Sarah part bigger from the start. Maybe not so much in the first four episodes when her mystery was important. But some of those S1 episodes, like Sandworm and Undercover Lover, her part is just painfully small. Again, if we were starting this over again, I would like to see it handled a little more like Castle where the leads are together for half the screen time, almost every episode (which I would point out, is also only named for one of the lead characters, even though they both have nearly equal sized parts).
        But that all comes down to two issues for me, not only do I find Sarah the most appealing character on the show, but the Chuck/Sarah interactions are generally my favorite part of that.

      • Sandworm and Undercover Lover were spotlight episodes to focus on something else in the Chuck universe other than the Intersect and Charah. The first 4 seasons had one episode carved out for featuring bromance and Casey. The corresponding episodes in S2 were Best Friend and Sensei. (BF still managed great Charah moments, but it was more about Chuck and Morgan). In S3 they were Beard and Tic Tac. In S4 there was Couch Lock and the closest one for Morgan was maybe Masquerade.

        I don’t mind it when shows set aside a couple episodes to feature other parts of the universe. Some shows are more obvious about it. Stargate SG-1 had Teal’c Jaffa episodes (normally written by Christopher Judge) and Daniel episodes. Castle has had occasional episodes featuring Ryan, Esposito, or both. In the first couple seasons of Farscape it was very obvious when it was a Zhaan, D’argo, or Chiana episode. Usually those episodes aren’t my favorites, but I think they help the show as a whole by making the supporting characters stronger and more interesting. None of the Casey episodes are in my top third of episodes, but I like the Casey character a lot more because of those episodes.

        The downside of those episodes is with short seasons, they take away from what a lot of us really want to see (i.e. Chuck and Sarah). With long seasons it is less noticeable. For example, if S5 was a full 22 episodes, I would’ve liked a Casey/Gertrude flashback episode. 80-90% of the episode would be about the mission in which they met and Gertrude took his gun. Chuck and Sarah wouldn’t even have to appear much. It would just be a fun way to fill out that backstory. With a 13 episode season, I’m glad they didn’t waste one. But with 9 episodes more, I’d take one of Cabanski and even one focusing on Morgan and Alex getting pulled into CI business in some funny way when the big guns were not around (e.g. more of Alex outsmarting the bad guys like she did in Curse). In a sixth season, I’d even take one in which Jeff and Lester got the ‘A plot’.

        I’d never want a full clip episode, though. The montages at the beach and after the wedding were enough. (Yes, I know, I know. I’ve written a clip episode fanfic and a couple clip scenes.) ST:TNG’s was one of the worstl, and I only liked one of SG-1’s 5 clip episodes (Citizen Joe).

      • atcDave says:

        I think I agree with all of that Jeff. A Casey centered episode in the longer seasons (2,3,4) was usually appreciated, as were others exploring the larger world. But I would also say, Sarah was too much a secondary character in S1 and S3 in particular. I don’t want to make a huge of thing of this, I loved S1. And I actually liked all the Casey centered episodes except Sensei (dubious honor of being my least favorite episode for non-Charah reasons!). But I do think its often obvious Sarah was less important to the show runner, especially in those early seasons, than she was to me. That’s a long way from being a huge or serious complaint, its mostly just an observation. And I’ve seen many other shows where a favorite character of mine was not the main focus of the show; but on occasion, I did wish they’d constructed or prioritized things a little differently.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Some interesting perspectives on the characters and how they were handled. I’d have to say that in the original concept Sarah may have been a less important character since Chuck had another PLI in Kayla Hart, but I’d also say I think she pretty obviously became the second most important character pretty quickly. We were getting sort of Sarah-centric stories and back-story as soon as Wookie. Now granted it wasn’t as obvious as with episodes like Cougars and DeLorean in season 2 (and other Sarah-centric episodes in subsequent seasons), but she was clearly central to the main story and getting more screen time than any character other than Chuck in nearly every episode from early season one on. The few exceptions noted were when they did a Casey or a bromance episode and are, as Dave said notable for her lessened role. Even in those episodes Sarah had some key scenes that gave you information on Sarah.

        The thing is that Sarah and Chuck were handled fundamentally differently as characters. Whereas Chuck interacts in what I call the three realms of Chuck (family/friends, BuyMore and Spy Life) allowing his character development to proceed through direct exposition and interaction with a broad range of characters, initially nearly all of Sarah’s character development and growth is run through Chuck. How she treats him, how she reacts to his changes and his situation, even so far as interacting with his family and how she affects his relationship with them is seen through the lens of Chuck. When other characters start to take on more of Sarah’s definition and development it’s done subtly, likely to maintain the air of mystery about Sarah, but to give hints about her past and her private thoughts. We see it first with Carina as a hinted at wilder past that Sarah now seems content to leave behind. “I’m good here” can have several meanings for us to consider. Since Sarah is playing a role in the friends/family and BuyMore realms of Chuck’s world we can’t really see any “real” character developments or interactions there unless they are played, subtly, through the “real” Sarah we know from the spy world. So she remains a mystery in two of the three realms she’s seen in, but gets some limited definition from those realms replayed in the spy world. We start to see how Chuck’s friends and family and his “normal” life are affecting her not through direct interaction with them, but through subtle changes in her relationship with Chuck. So it seems that some things that are really about Sarah are about Charah or Chuck when they have more to do with how Sarah is changing or growing.

        Lou was as much about Sarah, and how lousy she was at relationships and speaking honestly about her feelings as it was about Chuck. Their first kiss was entirely about revealing something about Sarah. We knew Chuck was in love already. Think about what we really learned about Sarah in Marlin. She needed Chuck to have any chance at a somewhat “normal” life and any sense of an honest and real relationship. Without Chuck she’d be back in the spy life, taking on whatever role was required, but Chuck let her take on the role of a normal girl with a boyfriend, and he largely left it to her to decide what she wanted from life. Others in her life, her dad, Director Graham, Beckman, and even as late as Shaw, are essentially telling her who and what to be, where Chuck is letting her choose. Watching her work through that was fascinating, even if pretty subtle.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie some good and interesting observations about how Sarah’s growth was handled. I would buy all that, and i even think it was an interesting way of handling a major character. But I’d like to see an actual chart sometime for total screen time (note: I wouldn’t even consider spending my time on this…). My guess is that Morgan equals or slightly exceeds Sarah’s screen time in S1 and S3 (at least the front arc). Again, I’m not trying to be all anti-Morgan; I’m not, I actually like laughing at many of Morgan’s antics. But I do think things would have only been better with more Sarah. Especially in the Casey or Morgan episodes her part was often too reduced (even Marlin and Tom Sawyer her part was actually quite small). I guess it’s Chuck’s “normal life” I would have liked to see her interact with more, especially in the early seasons. More moments like in Sizzling Shrimp where she’s forced to deal with Chuck and Morgan both; those moments when she was sort of a baffled but good natured outsider.
        As I said, this is not a big deal, just musing on my part.

      • S1 might have had more Morgan because of Buy More scenes. It’s close. But S3 is more iffy. It depends on how you count screen time. Face time? In the scene? Talking on a mic to a Chuck or Casey, who is on the screen? Lines of dialogue? (Sarah sulked a lot in S3.0, whereas Morgan refuses to be quiet.) Importance in the scene?

        After Zoom and Bearded Bandit, a lot of people were saying Morgan got more screen time than Chuck. I rewatched with that it mind, and if I remember correctly Chuck was involved with every scene except the two scenes in Gertrude’s office–one with Sarah and a short one with Morgan at the end. Sarah probably had just as much or more screen time than Morgan during the “Morgansect” arc. Some of the scenes were more about Morgan, and Morgan talked more, so the perception was Morgan was in more than Sarah and even Chuck.

        Remember, Yvonne Strahovski was always 2nd billing on the show, despite no prior US credits. Josh Gomez was 3rd. Third billing may be more prevalent but is less prestigious than last billing which Sarah Lancaster and Adam Baldwin got. Second billing shows that the producers thought YS and the Sarah character were more important than JG and the Morgan character, despite the interviews about show conception in which CF and JS said Chuck always had a friend named Morgan (in the S1 DVD extras?)

      • Also, Morgan was not even in Angel de la Muerte, Fake Name, and Final Exam during S3.0. He also missed Family Volkoff. Chuck, Sarah, and Casey were the only characters that were in every episode.

      • jam says:

        I gotta credit Josh Gomez for making Morgan a tolerable, sometimes even likeable character. Most fanfic writers are content to ignore Morgan, his role in fanfiction is extremely small compared to the screen time the character got.

        My own views are pretty mixed, I think the writers failed whenever they tried to force the character on the viewers. I often felt Morgan’s antics robbed airtime from far more interesting moments, a good example of this is the lengthy scene of him dodging lasers in ‘Push Mix’. I would have preferred getting a Sarah/Casey hug, among other things.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Part of the problem with Morgan’s lengthy scenes as in First Fight and Push Mix was that he took on the role of comic relief in the spy world in season 4. Chuck could no longer be the reason things went wrong as he became a more competent spy, and thus Morgan took on some of what Chuck used to do. At least that was probably the thinking. I thought they could have concentrated more on the kind of Chuck & Sarah comic relief to screw things up by letting their personal life get in the way like in Seduction Impossible, but they were probably afraid of fan reaction to any unnecessary angst between the two.

      • Jam, there’s this moment it Push Mix when it looks like Sarah was moving in for or back from a hug. I was surprised it wasn’t in a deleted scene. It would have only taken 10 seconds. That amount of time could have been reclaimed by stealing a second or two from five different scenes without an impact. Personally, I think it was filmed but vetoed on set or in editing. (The same way that Sarah’s stuffed dog was named Bunny instead of Sam, blowing a perfectly good chance at an the Indiana Jones reference.) We didn’t even get a Casey/Sarah hug in Goodbye, when Casey had become a hugger. Oh well, another missed opportunity. Thinkling’s story makes up for that with a lot of hugs.

        On one hand, I agree about sometimes spending too much time on the wrong things, but on the other hand some jokes work better for some people when you run them into the ground. Personal preference comes into play as well. The more Gretas the merrier for me. But the stork on the cork thing went on too long for me. Keep the rhyming but lose the French guy. I liked the rest of Balcony, so that was just the point that could’ve been trimmed for maybe a better, longer fight scene.

        I can see it being hard to tell how much is too much when hours are spent on filming and editing a scene. Most things would not be funny at that point, so it’s hard to know when to stop.

      • atcDave says:

        I think I agree with Jam on this. I generally liked Morgan, but I did feel like, in the last two seasons, he wasn’t “gracefully fading into the background” as I had hoped. Again, not to make too a thing of it, but it did seem like he was often given more screen time than his importance, or at least his importance to me warented. But for all that, I truly loved the Morgansect arc. Ironically, because Morgan DID NOT hog those stories. He had a larger role as was fitting to the story they were telling, but I felt like Chuck and Sarah were the clear stars. I liked the balance of those episodes a lot.

        And I do know that YS was second billing for the series. But second billing and screen time or lines of dialogue are seperate issues. In the first two seasons, it often felt to me like, for a (fake) girlfriend, Sarah was really not around very often. Wasn’t the whole idea of the fake relationship to explain her constant presence in Chuck’s life? I think they erred on the side of keeping her appearences too rare. I would have preferred if she were a more constant presence at Chuck’s side when he wasn’t in the Buy More.

        It is funny how underutilized Morgan often is in fan fiction. But then, most fan fiction is far less comic than the show was. I’ve seen a few writers construct very effective Morgan scenes (Kate McK’s “Anniversaries, sexting and the Bearded Gnome” comes to mind), but many (most?) writer’s ignore him mostly or entirely.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I guess I don’t get the sense that Sarah lacked screen time, ever. But if that were the case I still wouldn’t agree that what must be marginal differences in lines of dialog or minutes of screen time in any way reflects a character’s importance to the story or the show runner. I think her obvious impact on the main character and the main story-lines and plots is a far more useful way to judge. In addition some of Yvonne’s best and most important work was when there was no dialog at all. That obviously worked better when she was still more mysterious than when we should have been getting more of her motivations in season 3, but as I said they treated her character very differently from the others right from the start. I think clearly, from the fact that she was the first character other than Chuck to get any kind of back-story they considered her more important than Morgan, who got basically none, other than a few tossed off lines throughout the series.

        Now is the issue that Yvonne should have been on screen more just because we like seeing her one of personal taste and not one of structure or storytelling? I’m with you on that one. On screen, skimpy outfits 43 minutes/episode. 😉 Just kidding, I know you and many others liked the Chuck/Sarah chemistry best, but I think it needs to be rationed a bit to be truly appreciated. Just my opinion.

        As an addenda I’d say the same about Morgan’s antics. I thought the scene in First Fight just about perfect, the lasers in Push Mix a bit too long. In First Fight he was funny and set up a great Tuddle entrance, in Push Mix it seemed there was no real purpose other than a long Morgan comedy scene leading to the tighty whities which could have been shorter without losing anything.

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I’m not at all disputing her status as second most important character to the story. I am purely talking about the quantity of screen time. Skimpy outfits are not even required!

      • Morgan is in 10 of my 13 Chuck stories (all but “Uniforms”, “Niece”, and “I Wish This Never Happened”), but he’s talked about in one more. He’ll be in my next one. Chuck and Sarah are in all 13, although Sarah in “Sarah’s Mom vs Sarah’s Family” and Chuck in that and Phantom Retcon are a bit of a stretch. Casey, another neglected fanfic character, is only in 8, but he’s mentioned in a couple more. Ellie and Devon are only in 6, and Jeff and Lester are only in 3. It takes some effort to work everyone in.

        I didn’t really want Morgan to fade into the background. I would have liked more Morgan/Alex scenes (as part of those 9 more episodes). Morgan was often my second favorite character behind Sarah. That said, I’ve been slightly mean to him in a couple of fanfics, because his best role is comic relief. He couldn’t provide that if he faded too far into the background.

        Giving Sarah more screen time at Casa Bartowski in early season would have been fun for me as a viewer, but I think it didn’t make sense from a story perspective. (Yeah, I know that’s not a priority on this show, but bear with me.) If Sarah was around all of the time, Ellie would have pushed even harder for them to get more serious. The cover was they were taking things slowly. That wouldn’t work if Sarah was around more. The cover was most useful as an excuse for Chuck to be away from the apartment at weird hours when he wasn’t scheduled to work. Sarah didn’t need to be at the apartment for that.

        Dave, most of Sarah’s normal outfits were either skimpy or form fitting. Her alluring appearance is implied regardless of apparel.

      • garnet says:

        I’m not sure what to make of the lack of a back-story for Morgan. I suspect it is more that there is no really compelling story beyond what we know…He is Chuck’s friend. We do get the scene of the young Morgan being protected by young Chuck, but I don’t know what more we could really learn about his past that would be good TV. Sarah and Casey on the other hand have very compelling stories.

      • thinkling says:

        I like that Morgan has no backstory, so to speak. He is just Chuck’s normal, well mostly, friend. As immature as Morgan was, he was a stabilizing factor in Chuck’s life, as Chuck was in his, but in a totally different way. Not everybody can have a weird backstory. Morgan represented normalcy, as totally odd as that sounds. What I liked so much about Sarah and Morgan’s developing friendship is that Sarah began to understand that and appreciate Morgan on that level, even though they are from such different planets.

        So, when Chuck lost his mom and then his dad, Morgan tethered him to normalcy (and of course Ellie, but a guy needs more than a sister). And then Morgan highlighted Sarah’s growth in the area of normalcy.

        I admit I found him annoying at times and overused at others (like the laser tunnel), but mostly I really appreciate and like his character.

      • oldresorter says:

        One problem I have had with the show is that the showrunner has been afraid to write drama other than for Sarah. I would have thoroughly enjoyed having Sarah intersect in the first couple of eps for laughs, then had Morgan lose his memory and try to kill Chuck in the final. I think that end would have been quite popular, would anyone care if Morgan remembered or not?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason. You have your answer right there. But I assume you are joking. Chuck and Sarah get the drama because they are the leads and people care. Do you really think that if the finale was about Chuck saving Morgan and the bro-mance and Chuck and Morgan’s history as friends was the central theme it would have been more popular? Would you be out there leading the charge about what a bold decision TPTB made to relieve Sarah of having to cary the drama of the show? I think we know the answer.

        If you were serious in some part I think your argument is self refuting. First TPTB clearly were willing to make Morgan the dramatic focus of the opening arc of season 5, so the idea that they don’t mess with characters other than Sarah dies right there, and second, as you said, people are far less invested in Morgan than Sarah, which is why they give the big dramatic moments to the show’s two leads rather than a supporting sidekick, because they want people to care. Third, and this isn’t a slap at Josh Gomez in particular or any of the rest of the cast in general, but can you see any other character or cast-member pulling off the level of performances Levi and Strahovski did in those final episodes?

        Here’s a quick recap of season 5’s “life and death” moments and most epic fights. Chuck and Sarah clearly take the lead, but I wouldn’t say Sarah is alone in getting beat-up, poisoned, drugged, or captured.

        Chuck Versus the Zoom; Morgan is knocked out, the team is captured, Chuck is captured freeing the team and has to jump out a window while running from gunfire.

        Chuck Versus the Bearded Bandit; Chuck faces down a shotgun wielding robber because of Morgan’s carelessness. Chuck and Morgan are captured.

        Chuck Versus the Frosted Tips; Morgan and Verbanski are trapped in a potentially explosive fire.

        Chuck Versus the Business Trip; Chuck is used as bait and nearly strangled. Sarah is sitting on a bomb. An assasin hunts Morgan in the Buy More.

        Chuck Versus the Hack Off; Chuck enters a hack-off to the death. Casey faces a beat down by an entire prison.

        Chuck Versus the Curse; Devon and Ellie are captured, Chuck walks into a trap to free them. Chuck, and then Devon are threatened with torture. Ellie is held at gunpoint. Chuck pisses off a trained assassin.

        Chuck Versus the Santa Suit; Sarah is beaten up, then captured by Shaw and left to die of exposure, Casey is shot and left to die, Chuck and Shaw have a re-match to the death sans intersects.

        Chuck Versus the Baby; Sarah is captured, tortured, enters a major beatdown with Ryker before killing him

        Chuck Versus the Kept Man; Chuck is captured and nearly gets his tongue cut out. The team is used as bait by Gertrude. Gertrude is captured and beaten up.

        Chuck Versus Bo; In flashback Morgan is drugged and captured. Chuck is knocked out and taken hostage.

        Chuck Versus the Bullet Train; Chuck is a hostage, Chuck fights Quinn, Sarah is tranq’ed, taken hostage and tortured, erasing her memory.

        Chuck Versus Sarah; Chuck is beaten up by Sarah in the white room, in the dream house, and takes a bullet in the vest from Quinn.

        Chuck Versus the Goodbye; Sarah gets knocked, out falling out of a jet. Beckman is sitting on a time-bomb that the team must defuse..

      • So Ernie, are you saying that 91 episodes boiled down to one dramatic moment of Beckman sitting on a bomb? I thought this show was supposed to be called “Chuck” not “Diane.” She got her moment thirty years ago in that little ditty with Jack. Why did she have to steal the show in the end? That might have ruined the whole finale for me.

        In all seriousness, I always have trouble buying into life-and-death drama about the leads. That was my problem with Last Details and Cliffhanger. I never questioned if Sarah would survive. I only questioned if the wedding would be delayed until season 5. There were spoilers about the church location, so I wasn’t concerned. Supporting characters are expendable, though, so the drama is more real. Finding stories that have believable life-and-death drama for the leads is difficult.

        In Alias, Sydney was effectively invincible. The only time she might die would be a series finale, but she didn’t. Vaughn appeared to be killed because the actor’s contract was not picked up. Even though he was the LI, he was still a supporting character, and oh yeah, he didn’t really die. Everyone else was even more expendable, and many of them died because of it. In Stargate SG-1, they killed off the second billed character, Daniel, for a contract dispute, but he came back too. The only real risk to a lead was O’Neill, because RDA’s knees were shot and they had to find a way to work him out of the show. In Farscape, everyone died at least once. Being sci-fi, only the deaths of four supporting characters were permanent. Crichton was teflon and he was beaten, tortured, and driven crazy more than anyone I’ve ever seen on TV. There was a SPCC (Society for Prevention of Cruelty to Crichton.) His cloned twin did not fare as well. It was the same problem with Beckett getting shot in the S3 finale of Castle. Of course she survived. Supporting character Capt Montgomery did not.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d add to all of that, Yvonne always seemed the best dramatic actor on the show, so some of the abuse she suffered struck me as only natural. Zach was also quite capable, so combining the talent and emotional investment its not surprising the drama would be focused on the main characters and their relationship.
        However, I do think there was a period (from Santa Suit to the end of series) when Sarah seemed to come into some particularly intense and unpleasant scenes. At least for me, I was drawn to the series because of my love of action and comedy. Not so much drama. So the back part of S5 just seemed less fun in many ways than the show (especially S4 and earlier S5) had previously been. And I’d always rather see Sarah inflicting pain than receiving it.
        To me, this isn’t a huge issue. I loved the show, and apart from most of S3 I was pretty happy with it. But by the end, I was feeling a little fatigued from a run of Sarah abuse. I probably would never even mention it if the end was more unambiguously joyful. I wanted another dose of very happy Chuck and Sarah in the end rather than a “phew, they made it.” But it is what it is; and what it is ain’t bad!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jeff, you sort of have me at a disadvantage when it comes to Alias. I only watched a few episodes before quitting, but that’s another story. Farscape I’m enjoying, but having a hard time getting past the muppets, so its slow going. Still in season 1.

        I agree, it is tough to put the main or a main character in those life and death situations with any regularity without making them eventually lose their impact. That the main character could die, the most implausible of outcomes, must seem plausible for it to be effective. Often they try to pay it off with serious consequences short of death, but even that can get old, because it gets harder and harder to top (think Die Hard franchise).

        Chuck had always done a pretty deft job of handling those situations on a regular basis. Most of the nick of time rescues probably shouldn’t count since the rescue was sort of the point. I’d point out three Chuck moments that did the Chuck could die moment right. The first was Tango, and not when La Ciudad nearly tossed him out the window, but when Yuri leveled his gun at Chuck before being taken out by a flying microwave. A perfect moment of tension broken by comic relief (the ding was priceless). The second was in First Date, when Colt actually DID drop Chuck off the side of the building, an amazing stunt, the implausible miracle paid off via The Rule of Cool and an awesome Sarah fight scene just after. The third was also in First Date, when Casey was about to execute Beckman and Graham’s order and (in an awesome musical montage) Chuck is saved by Sarah’s timely arrival simply through fate.

        What all of these have in common is that in each case we were well aware that Chuck could not control the outcome of those situations. (Also why they are in the first two seasons). The more capable your hero the harder to construct those scenarios becomes, without resorting to the stupid stick or straining the plot past the Rule of Cool payoff point. Think of how clumsy it seemed to so many fans to get Chuck dangling from a gondola in FoD or walking into a trap in Curse. Then think of one of my favorite life and death moments for Chuck. It happens at the end of Muuurder when Bentley shoots Damien even though Chuck has just explained that Damien’s bluff is transparent, they all know he won’t trigger the bomb willingly and that he will not be allowed to leave, leaving surrender his only option.

        Now it quickly got tossed away for a pseudo-hero moment for Bentley only to be partially saved by Chuck’s pocket protector, but that was a well set up moment where the team could die because of someone else’s terminal stupidity that they couldn’t control. Same in A-Team. Now do we know they won’t die? Of course, especially on Chuck, but there are ways to pay off the setup other than the miraculous shot, the miracle fight while wounded or the essentially indestructible hero. You can disarm a nuclear bomb with fruit juice and have pigs fly, especially on a show like Chuck.

        With Morgan in danger you can have Chuck run through fire to rescue him. With Sarah in danger you can have Chuck offer up his life to Vivian Volkoff in return for hers. With Chuck in danger you can have Sarah go all Kill Bill on Thailand, so these moments, even though we know the heroes won’t die, still have their function, and they function at their highest level when they involve Chuck or Sarah or as you noted, Dianne. 😉

      • Hang in there with Farscape. Yoda was a “muppet” too, and Rygel might be a funnier, more complex, and more interesting character than Yoda in the original trilogy. (The comparison isn’t fair after Yoda went CGI, because no one is a cool as him with a light saber.) A lot of the episodes in the first season of Farscape are hit or miss. (Jeremiah Crichton is pretty bad, but it has one of the funniest episode commentaries ever.) I think a lot of sci-fi shows take a while to hit their stride. Stargate SG-1, ST:TNG, and B5 all got better later (not BSG though). Farscape gets better about two-thirds the way through the first season. It gets really good in the last four when Scorpius is introduced (one of the best TV villains ever). It takes a turn for the great half way through season 2. Season 3 is full of “holy cow, did that just happen?” moments as the show hits epic status.

        Chuck did manage to pull off drama with the main characters. You provided several good examples. CvS was very intense. I think part of the reason people did not like the finale is the drama for Sarah was actually believable. What we’ll never know is if that drama would have been believable in the middle of a season. The stakes are always higher when backed up against the artificial construction of a TV show cancellation.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Sarah’s “believable” struggles would have worked just fine with just a little more obvious happy in the end, not so melancholy a feeling. And I think a small part of that was even the weather on the day they filmed. But even with that, with no dialogue changes at all, I think the whole experience would have been completely salvaged for me if say we’d seen a big smile from Sarah when she came up for air between kisses. I really think it was a very small issue of mood as the camera faded. Anything to lift it even a little would have made a lot of people happier. (or how about just airing the extended cut to start with! I’m pretty sure that would have eased my discomfort at the end)

      • thinkling says:

        Long thread!

        I think Chuck does the heroes in trouble thing well, also. The point isn’t really that we think they really will die, but how in the world are they going to get out of it. And, like Ernie pointed out, they varied the saves enough that it never lost entertainment value. Chuck used his smarts, and it worked with varying degrees of cool or suave; Sarah saved the day … always way cool; or fate; or Morgan (think Couch Lock and Santa Suit’s attempt). I do think that the threat of cancellation kept upping the stakes to the point it would have been hard to come up with something in the real finale to beat all the others And they did. I mean what is the ultimate way to steal Sarah from Chuck and Chuck from Sarah. And since it wasn’t actual death, Jeff is right … it was more plausible that things might end badly. Like Yvonne said when she read the script, she found herself feeling like an audience member, thinking, how are they going to get out of this one … not if, really, but HOW? Trouble is the subtlety of the end left some of the audience in doubt as to whether or not they got out of it and others wishing for a less subtle resolution, while others loved it. But they did manage to pull off the big dramatic moment, if that’s what they wanted.

      • One other thing about Farscape. Dave has said that Chuck bloopers have to be at least partially canon because that’s the only way we know the characters fart. Farscape is the show in which that is not an issue. Bodily functions are really big with Rygel. He has three stomachs, farts helium, and if he eats certain types of food his various excrements become explosive. With him on a show, bloopers aren’t necessary. Plus he’s a untrustworthy, grave-robbing, backstabbing muppet with legitimate ideas of grandeur that are not even delusional. What’s not to like? He’s like sensitive!Volkoff on prison furlough, except he eats more.

      • joe says:

        Jeff, I had fans telling me once that Farscape was the legitimate successor to Babylon 5, one of my all time favorite shows. After your description, this is the first time I’m not sorry I totally missed it! 😉

      • oldresorter says:

        It is fairly self evident to me that some find obvious comedy dramatic either due to lack of imagination or lack of mental agility. Personally, I watch Chuck for comedy, and get through the drama, wishing it had never been written. Kill Morgan I say, then we’ll talk real drama or at least take his memory away and have him try to kill Chuck. Ideal ambiguous ending, Morgan has a gun pointed at Chuck, Casey and Sarah a gun pointed at Morgan, we hear one shot fired, the end.

      • Joe, let me try a more positive, but still fair, spin of Farscape by comparing it with Chuck. No muppets this time. First a disclaimer: Chuck, Farscape, and B5 are my three favorite shows. I don’t bother to rank between them, because they are different styles of shows.

        Both B5 and Farscape can be darker than Chuck because both had wider scope with the fate of the galaxy is at stake. But otherwise Farscape and B5 are not really similar. Farscape was a successor in the “sci-fi show that started the year after B5 stopped” kind of way. Farscape is more like Chuck because of the mixture of comedy, romance, action, and drama. While B5 has multiple overlapping 5 year arcs and thousand year mysteries fitting together as an intricate puzzle, Farscape and Chuck are more strap in and hold on. At times, Farscape is a lot funnier than Chuck. Sometimes the humor is like Monty Python humor–funnier the second time around. Farscape is about one guy getting thrown into circumstances he can’t control and being forced against his will to save the galaxy. He wants to get home, like the Odyssey. Unlike Chuck, Farscape’s Crichton also wanted to be a hero from the start, because he’s 2nd generation astronaut, wanting to be a hero like his moon walking dad. He doesn’t follow the hero’s journey the same was Chuck does, but as his father says, he learns to be his own kind hero.

        An overarching theme of the first season and a half of Farscape is like Chuck vs the Helicopter, which is probably why I like that episode more than most people seem to. In Helicopter, Chuck doesn’t know if he can trust either Casey or Sarah. In Farscape, the ship is full of escaped prisoners, so Crichton knows he can’t trust anyone, but he has to rely on them anyway and convince them to trust him. The inter-character relationships all evolve in very interesting ways throughout the series. I think Farscape may have done this better than Chuck. Chuck focused on specific relationships (Charah, Casey/Morgan, Chuck/Morgan, Chuck/Ellie, Devon/Ellie, Jeff/Lester, etc.) and did well with those. But others were dropped or were not developed as much as fans wanted (Chuck with Casey, Big Mike or the Buy Morans in later seasons, Sarah with Ellie or Casey). In Farscape, it started with Crichton, because he was the Earthling that viewers related to, but you knew where everyone else stood with each other. Some of the relationship were very unique. Image if Volkoff was never Hartley. He escaped in Cliffhanger with Vivian, some portable EMPs, and a suitcase nuke, but not before saving Sarah. Now image Vivian and Alexei were in season 5, but were trying to keep their noses clean. Would Chuck and Sarah work with them? Trust them? What if they were needed to fight Decker and Shaw? (Fanfic anyone?)

        I’d put Crichton/Aeryn chemistry up with Charah. It was good enough that in Stargate SG-1 S9 and S10, they made a point of keeping the actors apart because one of them was supposed to be a PLI for someone else. However, the Crichton/Aeryn relationship is not in the forefront in as many episodes as Charah is, which is why there was time for other relationships.

        Farscape also had a few “Phase 3”-like rescue episodes. While Aeryn could fight her way through the jungles of Thailand, it’s a little hot for her cold blooded physiology, so she’d be more likely to carpet bomb the jungle from her Prowler attack ship. For the final ground assault, replace Sarah’s fists of fury with Aeryn holding a big pulse rifle that Casey would drool over. Crichton and Aeryn didn’t have a handcuffed fight scene, but they had plenty of coordinated two vs. the world assaults.

        Farscape’s midseason and season ending cliffhangers put all other shows to shame. It had several on the scale of B5’s Sheridan jumping into the pit on Z’ha’dum. I normally don’t like cliffhangers, but Farscape’s were so fantastic, I couldn’t help but like them.

        One last important thing about Farscape which I believe it had in common with Chuck. Watching it, you could tell everyone wanted to be there and had fun making the show.

      • joe says:

        Now that’s a great review, Jeff. Thanks.

      • olddarth says:

        Great FarScape summary Jeff!

        I would re-emphasize two important points about FarScape.

        It was very faithful to its continuity and they wrote the stories to serve the characters and not the other way around.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jeff, I get what you say about needing time to establish themselves, but sometimes for me, establishing themselves is the problem. I’m not a big fan of episodic TV. I can watch it, and enjoy it, but it doesn’t engage me. What engages me is how far TPTB are willing to move that premise they pitched the show with and evolve things. And here is the other story I mentioned with why I never watched Alias.

        Shows that pitch the central mystery as why you should be engaged will never reveal what that central mystery is, or if they do the truth it reveals will cheapen everything about the mystery you loved. Shows that set themselves up like X-files did after about 3 seasons to be about the smoking man or some grand conspiracy will never resolve those points until they have squeezed the life out of them and are facing cancellation, and will then toss the audience a shred of the horse they’ve beaten to death and wait for their thanks. And Chuck narrowly avoided that fate.

        Suffice to say I realized early on that “conspiracy” would be central to Alias, and that that conspiracy would be the catch-all plot device that would present itself as a shocking twist time after time, but would really be a way for them to re-invent their universe based on what they wanted to do to preserve the “conspiracy” as a big mysterious thing we should tune in for, with no real advance in the story. Now I’m not saying that is what happened, but that’s what I saw getting set up. At that point I’ll wait for the DVD or syndication. Same for Lost, but I never even started that one. I’ll catch it some day. Same with Fringe. I tried a few times to start that one, just can’t get through season 1.

        Now given that, I will admit this. I just marathoned season 1 of Community and am well into season 2, and now, I get a lot more of it. It was only after seeing some of what they were doing taken to the extreme that I was able to see those origins in what initially presented itself as a sort of Friends or Breakfast Club knockoff/tribute with a lot of meta-humor. But that tribute was not just about fun inside meta-jokes and TV nerd references, it was about playing with the whole structure of storytelling in an age where we’re so saturated with stories that we can’t help but see the strings and the bones. Chuck did that too. In a Rule of Cool kind of way. In seeing some of this, the way I initially caught on to it in Chuck, it amazes me how creative and talented some of these people are and how they’re trying to reinvent the way we see stories, and the way they are presented.

        That said, nothing sells like compelling characters we can relate to. Farscape did that one thing right, they gave me someone to see the new world through, but, and I suppose it’s part of the point, I don’t quite know how to relate to the others. With Chuck it was easier. I had a baseline by about Tango/Wookie.

      • Harvey was a big slave to the plot (I’m talking about Harvey, not Scorpius), and the expected behavior of Harvey 1 vs Harvey 2 was all over the place. Then again, he was a neural clone that was only in Crichton’s head. A few other characters would behave differently for the plot sometimes (Zhaan helping rip off one of Pilot’s arms comes to mind), but the characters were complex enough that it made sense when they did it for selfish reasons. With Chuck, I sometimes think people put Sarah and Chuck on so high of a pedestal, that any mistake was out-of-character or being a slave to the plot.

        Farscape’s continuity was better than Chuck’s, but not as good as B5’s. It had the first season out-of-order problem that a lot of sci-fi shows have due to special effects ramp-up (like Firefly and B5). It makes the characterizations seem uneven. Some of the continuity “issues” were because they lied about their pasts. D’Argo’s backstory made the least sense. Mostly the show got away with it by going not going into details. For example, it never answered why Prowler pilots turned into goo even though that was an important question for over a year. There’s a great S4 quote: “I’ve been around long enough to know how ignorant I am. I don’t assume the universe obeys my preconceptions. But I know a frelling fact when it hits me in the face!” That quote helps with Chuck and other shows. Accept what’s on screen, and don’t worry about inconsistencies with my preconceptions.

        Farscape and the bad guys in Stargate help in understanding that characters lie, sometimes to themselves. That’s why I immediately thought Sarah didn’t have a sister in Wookie and knew she felt it in CvS.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Pretty much a ditto on a lot of that Jeff (minus the parts I don’t understand yet)

        With Chuck, I sometimes think people put Sarah and Chuck on so high of a pedestal, that any mistake was out-of-character or being a slave to the plot.

        A problem with both, but that just scratches the surface of the Sarah rules people construct.

        Accept what’s on screen, and don’t worry about inconsistencies with my preconceptions.

        Except that I tend to view each perceived inconsistency as a chance for me to tear down and re-build the preconceptions I’ve constructed in my head, which I enjoy. As long as it doesn’t change the nature or the rules of that world.

      • Ernie, I know what you mean about unrevealed conspiracies. It can be fun, but only to a point. I’ll probably never watch Lost because of it. I didn’t like that part of Alias after a while because its Rambaldi continuity makes Chuck look like… B5. I liked Alias more for the action and suspense. Only a few of Chuck’s fights matched what Alias had every week.

        Not all Farscape characters are trustworthy, which can compelling but not relatable. But like Chuck, Morgan, Sarah, and Casey all got their character development journeys, many of the Farscape characters do as well. Casey and Morgan weren’t always relatable (Morgan still isn’t for some people), and Sarah was a complete mystery.

        Chuck and Crichton are alike in that they are the audience’s view into the show, they both end up with something in their brain that everyone wants, and they both are trying to reclaim control of their lives.

        I can think of very few shows which hit the ground running as well as Chuck did. It’s a tribute to a strong initial concept and a collection of good actors who didn’t need to feel around in the dark.

      • oldresorter says:

        I’m having trouble with reconciling knowing that characters lie on screen with just accept what is on screen …. seems somewhat convenient or inconvenient depending on one’s POV?

        Preconception is a two way street, writers play a major part is creating preconceptions, fans come into a show with none, and build them up over time.

        The secret in writing great stuff, is to use preconceptions to craft a blockbuster story by toying with those preconceptions and twisting them into an epic story, unless of course you want to use them to do something mean spirited, which is also quite possible.

        Chuck and Sarah on a pedestal, maybe, but yet again, they were put their by the story teller, he struggled to define the ‘flaws’ in the characters that they needed to overcome, which makes for interesting drama, repetitively using the Dudley Doright damsel in distress drama model for Sarah, and a vaudeville comic act for Morgan and Chuck.

      • BigKev67 says:

        Jason,
        Completely agree with you about preconceptions. Good writing actually creates preconceptions because well-written characters are so real to an audience that we believe we “know” them and how they might react in certain situations. That preconception is actually part of investing in characters and stories.
        But of course part of good storytelling is tweaking those expectations, changing them up to deliver something surprising – but still convincing. I know I love any scene that reveals something I didn’t know or expect about a character – but still makes me feel like it completely fits. I’m not one to just accept what’s on the screen – part of the fun is weighing it up against what’s gone before and what I expect – and the joy comes in being surprised, and finding that there’s another path even better than the one I had imagined.

      • aerox says:

        Jan, I don’t know how it goes for other writers, but I really struggle with Morgan. Not so much the writing of his character–after all, you put in a few goofs, an overabundance of grape soda and a penchant for video games, and you’ve pretty much got Morgan–but more where he fits in. He doesn’t fit in the meat of the story, because it’s set against a backdrop of spying and such. Fedak and such realized this as well. If they wanted to keep Morgan in the show, they would have to either drop him into the spy world, or relegate him to a massive B character. Option two would’ve cut his screen time to Jeff and Lester-esque proportions. And the problem with option one is the same question. Where does the goofball fit in?

        The main issue in fanfiction is that there’s an innate desire to grab your reader’s attention. And considering the fact that it’s hard to write solid funny material for him is made harder by the fact that there is no visual aid. Slapstick is hard to do in writing (at least, for me. I’ve seen some stories where the writer excels at this, for example ne71) and there’s only so much of the bumbling fool that’s not the main character that people can take before they lose interest. I think that’s the main reason that Morgan doesn’t feature heavily in stories. If Chuck needs a heart to heart that he can’t have with Sarah, he goes to Ellie. Devon is there for boosting his confidence with the ladies. Casey and Sarah are crucial to the team. Morgan is a gray zone really. I like how Jeff uses him (as a bumbling idiot who tries to give advice but fails miserably most of the time) but even that concept is limited.

      • Mel says:

        “It is funny how underutilized Morgan often is in fan fiction. But then, most fan fiction is far less comic than the show was.”

        Also, there were plenty of audio/visual elements to the show’s humor, some jokes that work on television just fall flat in written form.

        If Morgan is underutilized, Carina has featured in a relatively large number of fics, compared to the 4 tv episodes she appeared in. Not that it surprises me, I always hoped for more Carina visits because she offered some interesting insights into Sarah.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        It is sometimes tough to talk about preconceptions and expectations. I know we all will have expectations for the show and how the characters will behave in certain situations, and that sometimes what it delivers will fail to live up to our expectations. This is where I try to distinguish between expectations and preconceptions. The Merriam-Webster (I know, please bear with me) definition of preconception is “An opinion or conception formed in advance of adequate knowledge or experience, especially a prejudice or bias.” So when I use preconception I mean that specifically, taking things too far based on what we know. As an example, and no need to open a whole discussion on this, I think a lot of fans had a lot of preconceptions about exactly how honest and open a relationship Chuck and Sarah had established immediately after Barstow. I also think a lot of people had some preconceptions about how emotionally mature, or even self-aware Sarah was. Those preconceptions fueled expectations that weren’t met. I know that they came about for a reason, things seemed to be heading in a certain direction, but I think people will naturally over-read the things they like and tend to dismiss things they don’t. When it comes down to it we all react to stories more emotionally than rationally, it’s human nature. The problem comes about when our expectations based on preconceptions become so ingrained and unmovable that we refuse to allow TPTB to tell us we didn’t have the whole story, that there was something there we weren’t seeing. The new information, the twist or the revelation are most of the fun of the story, and when we lose our ability to see that we lose the ability to enjoy the story. Now we can certainly lose that because the story is poorly told, but our preconceptions will often be a contributing factor, or even the reason we aren’t entertained by a story anymore.

        It is the storytellers job to tell the story well, but the audience, if they choose to be part of the audience, has an obligation to let them tell their story the way they see fit and to at least listen to them tell it. It is a matter of personal taste, how far and wide you will let the storyteller go, so nobody is under any obligation to remain with the story, and when you lose a story you’ve become invested in because the teller has gone outside your boundaries it can feel personal, but it isn’t. It’s just that you and the teller have gone your separate ways when it comes to the story. If you aren’t willing to accept, at some level, the premise the storyteller presents you with, it is likely your preconceptions at work. What to do about it is up to each individual. I find it helpful to back up and re-adjust those preconceptions based on what new bit of information the storyteller gave me. To me unraveling that story is half the fun, and that’s what I often try to do here. Dave chose to deal with that situation in season 3 by bearing up as best he could on the hope that TPTB would eventually get to a place where he could once again invest in and enjoy the story. Others left. There isn’t any obligation to stick with the story or to see what I see as I see it, or to like what I like, or what TPTB like, but as Thinkling mentioned on another thread you are welcome to disagree and post about what you find fulfilling or disappointing. We all just hope that you can do it without feeling the need to tear down others personally for not sharing your tastes, and that includes in my opinion TPTB and the whole Chuck family.

      • olddarth says:

        @BigKeb76

        ‘Good writing actually creates preconceptions because well-written characters are so real to an audience that we believe we “know” them and how they might react in certain situations. That preconception is actually part of investing in characters and stories.
        But of course part of good storytelling is tweaking those expectations, changing them up to deliver something surprising – but still convincing.’

        Yep. Something FarScape does wonderfully.

      • oldresorter says:

        Ernie, the problem is, the show has many passionate critics who still love some elements of the show, in some cases, this love is passionate enough to keep them watching / blogging while the discontent is passionate enough that they can’t stop beiung angry. Something is wrong, to ignore the disconnect is very ‘pollyanna-like’ (u can google it if you need to LOL). It is a fairly cogent conclusion to either blame the writers for fan’s passionate discontent, or the fans. I and a few others choose the former, you seem to choose the latter, although you seem to not realize it and act like you are above it all. I have no problem with any poster’s POV, unless they act smug or condescending, then I speak up. In many ways, that is what I dislike most about Fedak, he has acted that way, when he has written his comedy in a dark direction and celebrated the uproar he created.

      • CaptMediocre says:

        “It is the storytellers job to tell the story well, but the audience, if they choose to be part of the audience, has an obligation to let them tell their story the way they see fit and to at least listen to them tell it.”

        But Ernie,

        Shouldn’t the storytellers tell their story SO well that the audience prefers it (or at least most of it) over their preconceptions and expectatioins. And so that all the audience gets the same story.

        Sure, tell your story but make me like it more than what I think I want.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Capt Mediocre I think those obligations flow both ways. And I always prefer expectations to preconceptions, the latter has way too much negative connotation. But everything the writer does influences future expectations, from the mood of the show to the way characters, plots and continuity are handled. The viewer has an obligation to watch in good faith, that is, to give the writer the chance to tell their story (well, once the basic selection as to if this is a show one even wishes to watch is made). But the professional writer has a huge obligation to actually entertain their audience! And a big part of that is knowing what will satisfy the particular audience they’re dealing with. When they start alienating, disappointing, or boring large segments of their existing audience; they have screwed up. And I always think the first/highest responsibility lies with those writers.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        But Ernie,

        Shouldn’t the storytellers tell their story SO well that the audience prefers it (or at least most of it) over their preconceptions and expectatioins. And so that all the audience gets the same story.

        Sure, tell your story but make me like it more than what I think I want.

        Absolutely, in a perfect world, but this is TV, where the writing is often rushed and the production has to move forward at a specific pace. They can’t always get everything perfect. There is also the danger of over-explaining and seeming to hit the audience over the head versus giving enough information to bring the audience along, and then surprise them. It’s a tough balance to strike and in fact what strikes one viewer as being hit in the face with things might be right in the comfort zone for another.

        The audience isn’t necessarily a monolith with largely similar tastes. With any show there is a spectrum of both viewers and fans, and depending on the show different parts of the viewership or fanbase watch for different reasons. A casual viewer of Chuck for instance might turn in for the action and comedy and not worry to much about deciphering the state of Charah or Sarah’s past, figuring they’d see it when they saw it. Either a casual viewer or a fan on the other hand might be more concerned about the romance than what either Chuck or Sarah is going through as individuals, or any of the missions or comedy. I think that it is specifically a problem on Chuck because it crosses genres so regularly.

        While on the topic of TV and storytelling, there is an interesting thing to see if you look at Chuck seasons, episodes and writers. Take season 2 as the baseline. In the first 14 episodes of season 2 only one episode has more than one writer, and that is the Schwartz and Fedak collaboration on the season premier, so I’m not going to count that. In the back 8 there are only 4 episodes that used only one writer. In season 2, 17 of the 22 episodes are the work of a single writer (18 if you don’t count the Schwartz & Fedak premier). In addition in season 2 there is a core group of 5 writers, Ali Adler, Chris Fedak, Phil Klemmer, Matt Miller and Scott Rosenbaum, who are either wholly or partially responsible for 18 of the 22 episodes.

        Now look to season 3. While that core group remains, they are teaming up on episodes from the very beginning and two new writers have taken on roles as extensive as that group. Only about half, 11 of 19 episodes are the work of one author (I count Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc as one because they only work together as a writing team) with some of the core writers from season 2 unable to take on sole responsibility for more than a single episode. This may speak to a more hectic schedule among other things, but it doesn’t appear to be a smoothly running writers room, especially when you see in season 3 for the first and only time that one writer is credited with the story and others with the teleplay. To me that speaks of either script doctoring or no time to finish. The first of those is Chuck Versus the American Hero, what I consider one of the worst written episodes in Chuck history. So I think season 3 looks like it had its challenges for TPTB as well as for the fans.

        Now look at season 4. For the front 13 we are back to the nice even one writer per episode with the back 11 showing the writers pairing up again in all but 4 cases in what I’m guessing is the scramble to fill the backorder. Of the 24 episodes 17 were the work of a single writer. The core group is now Chris Fedak, Craig DiGregorio, Rafe Judkins & Lauren LeFranc, Henry Alonso Myers, Kristin Newman and Nicholas Wootton, with Phil Klemmer still contributing to 2 episodes (my threshold is 3 or more for the core group based on season 2). The core group is wholly or partially responsible for 22 of the 24 episodes. Season 4 doesn’t quite approach season 2 for most, but it certainly was seen as most by an improvement. However note that the ONLY writer from season 2’s core group in season 4’s core group is Chris Fedak.

        Now there are likely competing factors, but from what I see in season 2 they had the luxury of time and budget to keep the show largely written by 5 main writers working mostly alone. In season 3 it looks as if they needed adjustments that by season 4 they had figured out. Season 3s problems can maybe be seen as at least partially a too many cooks, partially a too little time situation. Season 4, while back on track to a lot of fans seemed like a very different show because it was a very different group of writers.

        Would it be nice if Chris Fedak could sit down and write his unfiltered vision and have it translated to the screen so we could judge the story that way? Certainly, and some of us would like it while others didn’t. But a TV show has a lot more cooks stirring the pot and you have to allow a bit wider latitude for variations in the tone or the storytelling. I think overall based on all 5 seasons it was generally a good story told well. Others may not agree. But now that it’s over there’s no changing what it was, so I choose to celebrate, remember and cherish it for what it was, not tear it down for what it could have been or failed to achieve.

        This is a fan site after all.

      • atcDave says:

        Fascinating break-down on the writers situation. Although I still tend to believe S3 was fatally flawed at conception (re Dave’s taste) its not hard to imagine that a less chaotic situation in the writers’ room might have resulted in handling the main characters in a more consistent (or at at least consistent in regards to the discontinuity I always felt between S3 and the rest of the series) and respectful way. So although I don’t believe I likely would have ever liked the S3 main arc, its possible I wouldn’t have loathed it. That may sound like a small issue, but seriously I can re-watch episodes like Sensei and Curse even though I broadly say I don’t like them. But I will never sit still for Fake Name or Final Exam again.

      • jam says:

        That makes me think fondly of B5 where JMS wrote all but one episode of the last 3 seasons… and the one episode he didn’t write was written by this British guy who is pretty good at this writing thing too.

        That said, I’m inclined to think we got lucky Fedak didn’t write more than he did.

        (I can only hope this reply goes to the right thread)

      • Speaking of Morgan fanfic, a good, short one-shot was posted today morning morgan talks by Write Love Letters.

      • atcDave says:

        And I’d say it’s a very funny one Jeff. I liked how well Sarah made her point, and Morgan completely failed to get it. Fitting and fun.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I wanna say it might also have been either Faith or Thinkling that started it, or maybe just re-enforced it. In any case it was our fun over-the-top-geek-out-catch-all for how awesome we felt season 4 was and we all used it with great gusto.

      * I just checked for fun, and the earliest GENIUS! reference I can find for season 4 is indeed from me, but it took off quickly with Faith and Thinkling and Dave quickly piling on.

      • joe says:

        Oh gee. And here I thought I had wasted the day by putting in and reformatting a second hard-drive on my Linux box! [channeling Revenge of the Nerds‘s Bluto] NEEEERRRRRDDDDDD!!!!!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Joe did you put that in as a RAID 1 backup? Because if you used software RAID 1 you should know at least as late as Red Hat EL5 it won’t clone the boot sector if it wasn’t installed as a RAID 1 pair.

        DOH!!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        PS Joe, don’t worry, with WordPress we have a pretty good suite of search tools and with a knowledge of regular expressions and a general idea of the timeframe Genius! entered our lexicon I was able to minimize the search window, then by using a binary …

        DOH!!!

      • joe says:

        Naw. I’m not gonna mess with [channel bug spray commercial] RAAAIIIIDDDD!!!! for my little system. I just made a partition and a back-up directory for my mp3 files and home photos that I’ll someday get to photoshopping…

        Next years project.

        PS Ernie, yes, you’re still as big a nerd as I. 😉

  7. atcDave says:

    So unrelated comment to anything above. But just today, I finished my S5 watch (with the extended finale) with a co-worker who had not previously seen it. I was mainly interested in how the extended cut would play with a first time viewer. He immediately liked the ending; although he did mention that the whole two part finale was kind of dark for Chuck.
    He asked me what all was different about the extended cut, I believe I was fairly neutral in my description. But when I mentioned some of the dialogue at the Mexican restaraunt he got very interested. He did mention that that’s a big part of what made Sarah’s “tell me our story” so powerful at the beach. Now obviously there’s no way I can be sure I didn’t telegraph something or lead the question too aggressively. But I’m pretty sure the extended cut made a difference to him immediately.

    • Rob says:

      Dave — I don’t know whether this is a response to your S5-rewatch, or eveyone’s prior comments about whether most ‘shippers disliked (or at least were unsatisfied) with the finale. But, having re-watched “Beard” last night, I have a general observation to add.

      I realized last night (contrary to my prior self-evaluation) that I’m not a ‘shipper at all. In the end, I’m simply just pulling for Chuck to be happy. For me, Beard was just as satisfying as other episodes that involved positive Charah moments, because Chuck was really happy about his ability to confide in his long-time best friend. Conversely, I realized that I hated “Mask” and “Fake Name” not so much because Shaw and Sarah were together, but because it tore Chuck apart inside.

      It also gets me thinking that even though the focus of the show was Charah centric in the last 1. 5 seasons, the show was really mostly about Chuck. Everyone else is really along for the ride. At its core, the show is his story, and those moments that make him happy or in some cases sad.

      Since all roads lead to the finale, my new realization is that the finale seems so incomplete to me not because of what Quinn did to Sarah, but because Chuck was in so much pain throughout the last two episodes (having in many ways lost the love of his life). It was tough to watch the ending, not because I thought the two would be apart, but because of the effort it would take them to get back to where they were….the very core of what made Chuck happy. In the end, it is probably my empathy with the Chuck character that drives my enjoyment of the show. So, anything that leaves Chuck in any way pained leaves me with a sour taste.

      • atcDave says:

        Well Rob I think Chuck would be pretty darn happy in the aftermath of the finale! Especially after watching the extended cut I don’t believe there’s any way Sarah wasn’t going back home with Chuck that night. Sure they would still have some challenges ahead, but I believe the hardest part is already past and the future holds more joy than pain for Chuck and Sarah both.

        But I SURE do wish they’d shown us some of that!

  8. Sandra says:

    I don’t think that Zachary Levi gets the credit he is due on this blog. The way that some people go on about Yvonne Strahovski you would think she was the only attractive blonde actress in Hollywood. I think a major factor for this is that most of the posters here seem to be middle aged men with somewhat disturbing degrees of infatuation with her. As a purely straight female i can view her objectively.
    She is a talented actress without doubt but some people here go way over the top about her ability in my opinion. Would they praise her as much if she was plain looking. I think not. The actress Jennifer Lawrence is only 21 years old and has already done outstanding performances in films such as Winter’s Bone and the Hunger Games. There is no way Yvonne Strahovski would have been capable of doing those roles at age 21. Maybe now at almost 30 years old she might but certainly not at 21. In season 1 of Chuck you can actually tell she is still quite raw as an actress in some scenes.
    So i think Zac would have received far more praise and support if there were more female posters on this blog. It should also be remembered that Zac can also direct and sing to a professional level which i don’t think Yvonne can unless i am mistaken.

    • atcDave says:

      Sandra you always seem to have a real problem with us here. Why do you continue to subject yourself to us if we just annoy you so? Surely you can find other fan sites more aligned with your taste or interests.
      As far as some of your specific comments go; Thinkling is a woman and she is among the major YS fans here. I would say I think she’s really special in terms of what she can bring to an action/adventure sort of role. Growing up in era when Charlie’s Angels and Wonder Woman counted as tough chicks on TV, so I really appreciate an actress who can play tough, sweet, a whole range of emotions in between, and be convincing physically all at the same time (unlike what I grew up seeing). I freely admit to being a little smitten with Sarah Walker; but of course Sarah Walker is a fictional character. Apart from a dynamite performance, I’m quite certain YS isn’t really my type (I tend to prefer shapely brunettes like my wife…).
      And I believe we do give credit to the other performers. Zach absolutely has musical skills Yvonne lacks, and he will likely go far in pure comedy if he so desires. Chuck himself was the character I first related to, and initially liked most. Although I was more disappointed in his S3 behavior. And I think in terms of character growth, the later seasons were more interesting for Sarah than Chuck.

      But evaluating and discussing performances like this will always involve a lot of pure opinion. You are never required to share an opinion with anyone here, and in fact, lively discussion keeps this site alive (see the above Farscape discussion…). But seriously, if we’re just going to annoy you, go find a place with more like minded participants.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I think Zach has certainly shown his abilities, and I’ve praised them plenty. Certainly the proof is in the pudding that he was capable of carrying a show when this all started. With Yvonne, she has clearly shown her talent, as has Zach, but Yvonne is more often given the dramatic parts, and Zach sometimes suffers from the comedy bias. I think the final episodes clearly show Zach’s capabilities as a dramatic actor.

    • oldresorter says:

      Sandra, for all it is worth, I think Chuck and Sarah are more the age of many of the poster’s children rather than any crushing type interest that you might see. Sarah is written as an object of desire in the show, but there is very little of the crude crass comments made here that was quite common on other sites.

      It will be interesting about Levi’s career. I thought his best dramatic season was season 3, and thought the outrage over the story somewhat ruined his due, in particular, I thought he was really good in Mask and Fake Name for example, as well as Other Guy.

      Since then, he has not gotten the best writing in terms of consistency and / or drama, great comedy, but his dramatic parts sort of have sucked, not his fault by the way. The way the show is written AND casted, I think by definition, he needs to be written that way, but sometimes it really hurts his performance or his character credibility.

      I think Yvonne grew into the role, just as you saw. Baldwin said as much near the end of season 5. That growth is one of the reasons I cheer for her, it was fun to see her grow into the role, and grow the character.

      All opinion of course. For the record, I am very, very, very thankful my wife is very much Ellie, not Sarah, but her sister on the other hand …… Oh Boy!

    • joe says:

      Yeah! All that, Sandra! 😉

      And I’m gonna put in a good word for Adam Baldwin too. He’s a smart guy, if too political for some on-line, and very personable. I do believe he was in severe danger of being typecast as a military guy (you can still see him in the roll of Drill Sgt. on a particular episode of NCIS), but he’s clearly got great comedic talents too.

      And of all the cast (who are known for their graciousness), he’s gotta be #1 in his willingness to interact with the fans. Him, I would ask to dinner and actually believe he would consider it.

      Now if I could only find Bonita Friedericy on-line, I’d set up Ernie.

    • aerox says:

      I’m a twenty year old male, and I don’t think Yvonne is that great of an actress. Some of her lines of delivery were cringeworthy in my opinion. But it still beats Zachary’s facial expressions (he has two, neutral and constipated). I think on an acting level, they’re about even. But, considering my sexual preference, of course I’m going to gravitate to Yvonne more. It’s only natural. And I agree. Jennifer Lawrence blows Yvonne out of the water. Doesn’t mean that I think Yvonne did a bad job on Chuck though. And given the fact that the blog is titled ChuckThis rather than FemaleActorsRankedOnAScaleOfOneToTen I’m willing to bet that this is the case for more people here.

      And what’s wrong with having a celebrity crush? It’s not like people are going to stalk the crap out of her. I think you’ve gotten your point across, but your point is actually rather futile to make. Your opinion, while appreciated, probably won’t be taken into account very much. And I think the fact that you needed to address the fact that you are a “purely straight female” to get your point across says a whole lot more about how you’re approaching this subject than you really want to.

      Besides, I know a few “purely straight females” who are in committed relationships with men, who said they had their own version of a celebrity crush on Yvonne. What’s the big deal? I really don’t get it.

  9. Sandra says:

    Adam Baldwin said that Zachary Levi has carried this show on his shoulders for 91 episodes. Chris Fedak said that he is genuine leading man material. Those are both comments i strongly agree with. Yvonne Strahovski really only carried one episode of Chuck out of 91 mostly on her own and that was Phase 3. And on the basis of that one episode obsessed fans were demanding an Emmy award for her. Absolutely ridiculous. She is a talented actress but nowhere near a great one. Certainly not at this stage of her career.
    @atcDave From your response it sounds like i hit a raw nerve there. I assume you are a proponent of free speech in a democratic society? All i did was express my valid opinion which i stand by that Yvonne Strahovski is getting too much praise and Zachary Levi too little praise on this blog .

    • jam says:

      Why are you so hostile? I haven’t seen people dismissing ZL’s importance to the show here.

      I never paid attention to any Emmy campaigns as stuff like that doesn’t interest me, but Yvonne has been brilliant in many, many episode, not just the ones that have centered on her character.

      Instead of attacking people who like YS, why don’t you focus on the positive and say what you like about ZL as Chuck, I’m sure people here would agree with you.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt Jam, there is plenty of opportunity here for just singing Zach’s praises when talking about Chuck. And we have had many regular commenters here who want to talk about Zach first and foremost. I can’t imagine anyone here ever having a problem with that!

    • aerox says:

      Sandra, humor me for a moment, and explain why your opinion is valid? And also include an explanation of why Zachary should get more praise on a blog. Because, the way I see it, this blog is about the show, rather than the character. Yvonne was a big part of that–all 91 episodes–so if people choose to discuss her, rather than Zachary, they are well within the bounds of the blog and its subject. If you disagree with that, then so be it, but that doesn’t mean that your opinion automatically becomes valid. For example, resident poster Jeff often starts talking about Farscape. Farscape has nothing to do with Chuck. You’d be well within your rights to criticize him about that, but you don’t. Because at the end of the day, who cares?

      If people want to discuss Yvonne, then who are you to say they can’t, and that they have to post more about ZL? It’s a given that he’s the lead man, and good for him. He did a fine job–regardless of how well his character was written, which was plain cringe-worthy at the best of times–but maybe that just didn’t resonate with the people about this blog. At the moment, all you’re doing is making yourself look like a child who gets upset because she doesn’t get to play with other toys and demand equality for that grievous wrongdoing.

      This blog isn’t indicative of the general fandom, and much less of anyone’s talents. All these posts are, are people’s personal views on performances and their preferences. If you’re going to spend so much time hung up on such trivial matters, it won’t do you much good.

      Note: This comes from an outsider. I am in no way affiliated with anyone posting here, except for maybe BigKev as I talk to him more often. I’ve posted my thoughts here a couple of times, but never fully integrated into the community. Take this post however you want,

      • Sorry about the Farscape tangent yesterday. 😉 I was having too much fun with the Chuck/Farscape contrasts and got carried away.

        Freedom of speech works all ways, but it isn’t universal. The Internet has more freedom of speech than just about anywhere. However there’s also common courtesy. I wouldn’t go to someone else’s home with the intention of attacking or offending them. I also try to refrain from attacking people who aren’t there. That’s why I try to and prefer talk about what I didn’t like in a show rather than the skill level or personal attributes of the writer, director, or actor. Personal blogs are for howling at the moon. Other people’s blogs aren’t. I appreciate the relatively high civility level that the principals maintain on their blog which they have been kind enough to share.

        Emmy campaigns always seem a little silly to me. YS was never going to get a drama nomination for a show that was not dramatic enough, just like Stana Katic was not going to a get a nomination for a procedural crime drama and like science fiction nominations are extremely rare. I believe the nominations are submitted for one episode, so “Phase 3” and SK’s “Kill Shot” were good candidates, but realistically, they look at the whole season and the performance/parts were not the type to win awards. They were the type of performances and parts to entertain an audience. The Emmys also stick with their favorites. One good thing about those campaigns is it brings publicity to shows in a little more original way than “please don’t cancel our show.”

        Most lines are delivered poorly on TV because they do fewer takes than movies. TV shows also use dubbing and ADR a lot. I wouldn’t be surprised if they used it for YS a lot because of her accent, but I’ve heard of shows that use it almost 100% of the time for all actors because of sound stage background noise. The editing for Chuck often showed the reaction to people who were talking, as opposed to the person talking. Sometimes I liked seeing that reaction, but it happened enough that I’ve wondered if it was covering for ADR.

      • aerox says:

        Oh, I don’t mind, I’m just saying, if you’re going to complain, why not complain about something that actually doesn’t have a whole lot to do with Chuck, as opposed to something that has.

      • oldresorter says:

        Jeff – I really like when you go on tangents about other shows, first, it gives me other shows to consider watching, and second, comparison, is a great way to put Chuck into perspective. I watched the first couple minutes of Farscape’s first ep, and turned it off, I might try again someday, but did not like it at all on first glance. I have watched all of B5, it is not an all time fav, but I found it Ok, middle of the road, loved Star Trek, until the last series, which I thought was woefully casted, Scotty B was washed up and burnt out, they needed a young stud in the captain’s chair. Come to think of it, I think Enterprise was too serious, plus, I think my over fifty basketball team would kick the crap out of their crew, without even getting seriously angry, I mean pin them down and telling them to settle down, no punches thrown. That show NEEDED Brandon Routh, maybe as the stoic Vulcan (LOL), and five or six clones of him to work, maybe Duane ‘the rock’ Johnson as the captain?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I certainly have no problem with people who want to discuss other shows, especially when they are making comparisons or highlighting similar aspects with Chuck. I would however hope that it doesn’t just become another way to bludgeon Chuck and it’s creators, cast or crew for failing to rise to the standard of show X, Y or Z.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree entirely Ernie. Compare and contrast is often an interesting and useful tool for discussing shows. But this is a Chuck site, we are Chuck fans, so I think it’s reasonable to expect such discussions to tie back to the awesomeness of Chuck!

      • olddarth says:

        Another interesting comparison between FarScape and Chuck is the ending for both. While FarScape was operating under the principle that there would be a 5th Season they took a heckuva of a risk with the finale for Season 4.

        If they would have never gotten the mini-series then the series ending would have been terrible as it was a deliberate cliff hanger.

        The Chuck ending may not have been to all tastes but there was certainly better closure there.

    • thinkling says:

      Hmm. it’s a little hard to know how to reply to such a random spray of criticism. If you’re crusading against Yvonne (and some parts of your comment definitely came across that way), you won’t get many followers here, and your remarks will probably be viewed as offensive to people who like her. If you’re campaigning for Zac, you won’t get any argument. We all like / respect / admire him very much and say so regularly. Mostly, it just seems like you want to tell us how wrong we are for our opinions and moderate the commentary on our blog to conform more to your own opionion. That never really goes over very well.

      I took Adam Baldwin’s remarks to be about far more than acting. I think Zac gave the show its energy off and on screen. He seemed to be its spark plug and the glue that held it all together. Yvonne said as much when she was talking about his directing Hack Off. She said he knows the show better than anybody. He did a great job, and he was the leading man of Chuck. The finale, in particular, really showcased his abilities and let him show more range than most episodes. But a leading man can’t carry a show, acting wise, by himself through 5 seasons. Chuck, to me, achieved a bit of magic: outstanding cast (a really deep bench), appealing characters (all of them, but especially the central relationship), great blend of genre, great chemistry between the leads. Most of us, the authors for sure, think Chuck is unique in its magic.

      I, personally, find Sarah a more intriguing character. That doesn’t mean I don’t like Chuck. I do, but I write more about Sarah, because she is more layered. Many of us, on this blog (whether accurately or not — it really doesn’t matter!) credit Yvonne for developing the layered, nuanced character that we fell in love with along the way. Yvonne’s dramatic range, which no doubt grew over time, broadened the horizons for the writers and gave the show a wider range of possibilities, as well.

      Now, when I say fell in love with, I’m talking about the character, Sarah Walker Bartowski, and I mean in a purely non-crush way. Chuck and Sarah are about the age of my son, so, like Old Resorter said. crush just isn’t in the picture. Your citing Yvonne’s attractiveness and our ratio of male to female posters as the reason for your perceived emphasis on Sarah’s character seems way out of left field, to me anyway. Old Resorter is also correct that the comments on this blog just are not hormone driven. On this blog, you won’t find the adolescent drivel and crude remarks that you find other places. Our articles and discussions center around the characters and their relationships; the story, the mythology, the themes and intangibles that draw us to Chuck.

      Maybe we talk more about Sarah than Chuck. (I haven’t done the math.) I talk about her more, because she’s a more fascinating character to me. (It’s my understanding that in most fan polls, Sarah is the favorite character. Some of us figure Yvonne had a lot to do with that, and physical attribtes alone wouldn’t put her in that spot, at least not on this blog) I like Chuck, too … a lot. I love their relationship. I certainly find much to admire about Zac. That said, the opinions expressed here are what they are. It’s really not a valid criticism to say that the weight of positive comments for one person over another is wrong. It’s a blog. People express their opinions, and we certainly aren’t going to moderate the Chuck-to-Sarah ratio of positive comments.

      If you want to change the ratio, then feel free to offer your positive comments about Chuck and Zac, relative to the post. That would be fantastic … as long as they are not couched in insults directed at Sarah or Yvonne or those of us who like her/them.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny thing about the attractiveness of a performer. I think it’s pretty clear, entertainers tend to be attractive people. Unless a performer specializes in quirky/odd characters, attractiveness is a very common trait and asset for those in the business. Especially for a major starring role, being attractive for males and females is pretty essential. But to single Yvonne out strikes me as odd; I remember well after watching the Pilot saying to my wife “funny they cast the prettier girl as the sister”. But I think it quickly became obvious why the actresses got the roles they did; Yvonne owned Sarah Walker, and Sarah Lancaster was perfect for Ellie. If this was truly just about looks the fan enthusiasm might be all about Ellie (?). Or what about Hannah? From a pure looks perspective I think she was the prettiest of Chuck’s girls. So I guess I should have been all over the Channah pairing and endlessly gushing over how awesome Hannah was…

        For that matter, I’m sure we all agree Brandon Ruth is better looking than Zach.

  10. Sandra says:

    I still think that a lot of Yvonne’s support amongst male fans comes from her looks and not her acting ability. Not only on this blog but on the internet in general. I think she is the most attractive female on Chuck regardless of permanent cast or guest stars.
    It seems no coincidence that the originators and drivers of the Emmy4Yvonne campaign were males on twitter. Where was the Emmy4Zac campaign? Now once again it is males behind the campaign to get her cast as a Marvel character. Where is the campaign to get Zac cast in a big film? I am not campaigning against Yvonne at all only saying that male fans besotted with her looks are excessive in praising her and pushing her cause while ignoring Zac who is just as talented as Yvonne if not more so given his ability to direct and sing. If Yvonne had won an Emmy last year and Zac had not it i feel it would have been a travesty of justice and exceptionally unfair to Zac. I think TPTB would see it the same way.

    • Mel says:

      Zac’s ability to direct and sing don’t count when it comes to getting an acting Emmy. Why there wasn’t an Emmy4Zac campaign, I guess his biggest fans didn’t start one?

      Personally I like both, but if we’re talking about pure acting talent I think Yvonne was by far the best of the entire main cast, and that has nothing to do with her looks.

    • atcDave says:

      I think you’re 100% wrong Sandra. Yes Yvonne is pretty. So what? Do you honestly think us guys are so clueless we can’t see the difference between good actors and bad based on looks? Every prime time TV show has a pretty girl (or two… or three). It’s how the business works. And I’ve watched and enjoyed many, many shows over the years. And yet, strangely, I think some of those pretty girls just can’t act. I’ve also seen shows in which I didn’t even like any of the female characters. Believe it or not, I will say exactly the same thing about guys on shows I watch; I’ve seen some who I thought were much better actors than others, and some shows where I like and root for a male character, and some where I just don’t like the guys (although if I don’t find any character, male or female, to like and root for I won’t watch the show!). And just for the record, I’ll form my own opinion about who I think is a good actor, I’m seriously unimpressed with all the awards shows. But I seriously doubt anyone with the show would have begrudged Yvonne such an honor. By all counts, Zach is a profoundly decent guy who will root for his co-stars.

      But by my own standard of evaluating actors; Zach as Chuck, delivered a few real cringe-worthy moments. It never struck me as a huge problem, and Zach delivered far more excellent performances than weak ones. Especially in some of those epic/shattering situations like the two-part finale.
      But apart from a couple of botched lines, I never had a problem with Yvonne’s Sarah. And she delivered stellar performances regularly. For me, she’s the biggest part in why the show became so special to me.
      Castle is my favorite show still in production. And no offense to Stana Katic, but Nathan Fillian makes that show. Is that because I find Nathan more attractive than Stana?
      I like Burn Notice quite a lot too. Bruce Campbell is my favorite performer on that show (just as he steals almost everything he’s in!)
      White Collar is really all about Matt Bomer.
      And of course Psych really belongs to James Roday.
      But heaven forbid I find a show where I think the female lead is the real star…

      By the way, none of us here were involved in the Emmy4Yvonne campaign. Although we did enthusiastically support it. Just as we did several save the show campaigns. We started a thank the advertisers campaign here.

      • aerox says:

        Heh, I watch Castle solely for Nathan Fillion. His cracks and stuff are hilarious. Stana is a beautiful woman, but if she wasn’t in an episode, I wouldn’t give a damn. No offense to her or her character. Also, I don’t care at all about the relationship. If they put Nathan as someone who went solo, I’d still tune in.

      • atcDave says:

        Not sure I’d go that far Aerox! I do like the character of Kate Beckett, and I really enjoy the relationship and banter she and Castle share. But Nathan is sort of the dynamic spark that drives the show.

      • Gord says:

        Well said Dave,
        I thought Yvonne was extremely talented and versatile in Chuck, but it takes more than a pretty face to be a good actor. Over the many years of watching TV I have seen a lot of beautiful woman, but very few that had the skill and versatility that Yvonne has.

        That being said, I do have to say that I thought that Zac, Alec and Sarah Lancaster also were exceptional in this show. Although the other characters were well acted, they didn’t really show the range of emotion that we saw from Yvonne, Zac, Alec and Sarah (at least for me). Maybe they just weren’t given the opportunities by the show runners to do that, and they did play their characters well, but just not as well as those 4.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      We love all our stars equally, though at times we may seem to have favorites. 😉 We are not in any way responsible for any outside campaigns, their support, their composition, or their outcomes. We are also not responsible for the fact that nerd-boys and girls will crush on attractive actors and actresses. I think it is reasonable that we acknowledge reality, yet insist we remain immune to charges that it is our fault.

    • mxpw says:

      Awwww, your trollish faux outrage is so cute! There, there.

      By the way, you’d think for somebody who claims to be a big Zac Levi fan, you would know that he’s very strongly rumored to soon be offered a role in Thor 2. Which, you know, would make him a Marvel character.

      • Sandra says:

        So you resort to calling someone a troll when you can’t respond to their legitimate comments. What does that say about you i wonder?
        Of course i knew about Thor. I didn’t mention it because it was irrelevant to my argument.

    • dkd says:

      I respect that different people have alternate opinions of the talent and value of different actors. That’s a given. If any site, in anyone’s opinion, gravitates more to one actor than another, so what. People tend to spend the most time in places and with people who share their opinion and worldview. It happens.

      As for harping about the Emmy4Yvonne campaign, again, who cares. Such campaigns are silly and useless no matter who the actor is. Unless you actually know Emmy voters, tweeting something like that constantly isn’t going to get their attention. So, the existence of such a campaign says more about the naivete of the people who organized it than anything else.

      There’s no shortage of online support for Zac and his career. Zacharylevifan.com, for instance, is highly active on Twitter and pushes voting for him in the various polls and real contests. The female who runs it was frankly too sensible to do an Emmy4Zac campaign.

    • thinkling says:

      Well said, Dave. Thanks for clarifying that it’s possible for men to recognize that many pretty women can’t act, many less actractive women can act, and occasionally a pretty woman can act. I like to think you’re the rule, rather than the exception. It’s interesting that I watch all the same shows you mentioned (except Psych — never got into it), and I agree about the actors down the line. I might add that I really like Susan Sullivan on Castle. I also like Mozzie on White Collar (and the dog). No crushes on any of them. Weird, huh?

      Between Zach and Yvonne, I think Yvonne is the better actor. I think that’s partially because Chuck wasn’t given the range that Sarah was. But from all we saw in 5 years, Yvonne has more depth and range as an actor, IMO. I think the beauty of Zach’s acting, and the highest compliment to it, is that it was transparent. They both did a great job, but I agree with Mel that Yvonne is the best actor on Chuck. That’s not in any way a slam to the others. As I said before, Chuck’s bench is very deep: all the actors were fantastic in their roles. And, like I said earlier, it was Sarah Walker Bartowski that captured my interest most, as a character. Obviously Yvonne’s acting brought her to life in such a way that the character was captivating to many people, men and women alike, wholly apart from her looks.

      Sandra, you should have mentioned that Zach was up for a part in Thor. That would have actually been relevant to the blog. Your argument is not only irrelevant to our blog (both in subject matter and assumption), but also insulting, as Dave implied, to the men on the blog, implying that they are cavemen, driven by hormones and incapable of forming intelligent opinions about actors and actresses, apart from their looks. We have expressed to you, with clear logic and anecdotal evidence, that your assumptions are not generally true of the authors or the male posters on the blog. A thorough read of the articles and comments back up what we say. It’s true you will find more looks/hormone-driven comments elsewhere, but not here. Perhaps you’re railing against the wrong blog.

      If you want to drop the whole Dr. Phil thing and present your opinion about Zach and Yvonne as actors, that’s fine … and relevant. But it’s become clear that your argument is about the fans rather than the actors themselves. Your analysis of our authors and posters is irrelevant to the purpose of the blog, and your insistence that people on our blog base their opinions about acting skills on the attractiveness of the actors/actresses is not only inaccurate (according to the authors and posters themselves) but insulting.

      Sandra, you’ve stated that between Zach and Yvonne, you think Zach is the better actor. Based on your own arguments, which you cling to tenaciously, I must conclude that you only think that because Zach is handsome. I mean I think that Yvonne is clearly the better actor of the two, so what other conclusion can I draw, except that your opinion must be based on Zach’s good looks. There’s really no other explanation. — You can’t have it both ways. You can’t claim special enlightenment and unique immunity to the plight that hinders all the rest of us from making informed judgments.

      We all can see and acknowledge that Yvonne is attractive, but we can also distinguish between good looks and acting ability and recognize that the two are independent.

      • olddarth says:

        Yvonne certainly got to do more in the latter seasons. Zac, from my perspective, carried the show for the first 3 seasons and was given less to do in the latter seasons.

        Whether it was the writing or fatigue by Season 4, to me, it was more the material that Zac was given in the latter seasons than his acting ability. Plus his character was diminished with many of his better traits parceled out to Morgan etc. I remember people listing Sarah, Casey, and Morgan as the characters that impressed them the most in the latter seasons.

        Not a good sign when the lead character is rarely mentioned.

      • Sandra says:

        I said that i think Zac and Yvonne are roughly the same in terms of acting ability but Zac has more strings to his bow because he can sing and direct to a professional level. I note that a number of respected commentators have posted that they think Zac is an outstanding actor as well so i am not alone on this. Obviously Yvonne would appear better at dramatic work to some people because she was given far more than Zac to do in the same way that Zac got much more comedic material to deal with. I still maintain that if Yvonne had the same acting ability but looked plain she would have far less fans.
        You are entitled to think Yvonne is the best actor on the show but that is only your opinion which is no more valid than someone else’s in a democracy. My opinion about Zac has nothing to do with his looks as you claim and in fact i think Ryan Mcpartlin is better looking. I agree with you that this blog is free from lewd comments about Yvonne but i would remind you that Yvonne Strahovski herself did a skit for College Humor which was very crude and which had lyrics that i would never even consider posting on this blog.

      • garnet says:

        And unfortunately it is things like that which make me question where she is trying to position herself. Personally her College Skit did nothing to raise my opinion of her and in fact I shook my head, but that’s her choice, and it was a bit outside the box as far as her previous acting.

        As far as Zach goes, the Chipmunks movie was not a high point either.

        I wish them both the best of luck, and hope that they can make good choices from here on!

      • Both roles increased visibility and demonstrated a little range, but didn’t present a positive image. Sometimes the visibility is more important.

      • ArmySFC says:

        Jeff while i agree visibility is good for an actor it can work against them. YS has been in several films, by most peoples standards and the reviewers as well, they were duds. while the verdict is still out on her latest, i’m sure no actor wants to keep being associated with bad products no mater how much exposure they get. she needs to catch a break and get in a good movie or show, one that regular folks go to, not ones only the industry praises. maybe dexter will be her turning point? at some point it becomes a stigma, like being type cast in certain roles.

      • garnet says:

        The old “there is no such thing as bad publicity” only goes so far (at least as far as I’m concerned). I will admit that I did chuckle a bit at Yvonne’s Australian Paper Commercial, and that was a bit suggestive.

      • garnet says:

        Just think of Summer Glau and how the talk is that any show she is in is “cursed” …or at least cancelled.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sandra, much as I hate to say it you have a point. If Yvonne were not so attractive it’s pretty unlikely she’d have gotten the role of the super-sexy super-spy Sarah Walker on Chuck, though I’d contend it wasn’t her looks alone that got her the part. If that were the case and she never got the role then you’re probably right, she wouldn’t have nearly as many fans.

        The part that put her on the map was for an almost unattainably beautiful and strong woman. That role doesn’t go to Kathy Bates, no matter how great an actress she is.

        I kinda doubt Rachel Bilson would have been Lou, or Jordana Brewster would have been Jill, or Kristin Kreuk Hannah, or for that matter Jonathan Cake Cole, or Brandon Routh Superman were they not extremely attractive to the opposite sex. Yes, beauty opens doors in Hollywood, but there are plenty of beautiful people competing for every role.

        Then again there is Paul Giamatti to consider… 😉

      • His dad was Major League Baseball’s commissioner. He probably had contacts.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And president of Yale University… It’s probably those secret societies.

      • ArmySFC says:

        garnet, true but people leave out certain facts, like she was on TBBT and that one is doing fine, well better than fine.

      • On TBBT, she played herself. It is a bad rap, though. I think it’s the result of fans wanting to see more of what she’s in and bad feelings about Firefly’s cancellation. I saw her in The Cape before I saw Firefly, so I didn’t see understand her “curse” when The Cape was cancelled. To me, was the curse of being on NBC. The Sarah Connor Chronicles did have a season and a half. Also, she was playing younger than her age (21 playing 16 in Firefly), and many actors have trouble finding parts with the transition.

      • atcDave says:

        Actors do tend to be beautiful and charismatic. Most of the main characters on Chuck, or any other show, are very good looking. It makes me a little cranky that someone makes accusations against us recognizing opposite sex talent. This is really an outrageous sort of sexism and a double standard; suddenly guys aren’t supposed to recognize a talented performer of the opposite sex.

        It is funny though Sandra that you made EXACTLY the same argument about Zach I previously made about Yvonne; that is, I actually think Sarah Lancaster is objectively prettier. But Yvonne is the better actress. Certainly she was the best actress for her part, and I believe she has the stronger screen presence (which kind of ties back into the charisma thing…).
        So you said the same thing about Zach vs. Ryan; you believe Ryan to be objectively better looking but Zach is the better actor. Well, I can give you the benefit of the doubt on that one because I happen to agree. And I would add, I believe Zach is more charismatic and has the stronger screen presence.
        Yet when we make the slight shift and suggest Yvonne is a better actor than Zach we get accused of all sorts of improper things. I find that offensive and ridiculous. I would also point out Sandra, if you’ve been reading along here at all these last few days, several guys have weighed in with the contrary opinion that they think Zach is the better actor. Well perhaps, since they share your opinion, they are the only ones who aren’t mesmerized by Yvonne’s bewitching looks.
        Of course I think it means most of us can form an opinion and evaluate data separately from our baser instincts.

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Hi, Sandra, how’ve you been.

        For my part, after finally being able to view episodes 5.2 to 5.13, I think that the cast of Chuck was simply great. Putting together a cast that turns out like that is a practical example of the phrase “lightning in a bottle”: you just don’t have any idea of how it is going to turn out until you get them working with one another. So I find that I can’t really pick out one as being a better actor than another, I just think that this group of actors working together during this time were wonderful. I realize in hindsight that the reason why I’ve watched Chuck since Shaw was returned from the dead at the end of S3 was not the writing (uneven) or the plotting (poor), but the performances of this marvelous cast.

        They’ve earned enough good will with me that I’ll be willing to watch almost anything in the future if it has at least one member of this cast in it, even another effort from Schwartz or Fedak (although that is the only reason I’ll watch one of their productions). I say “almost” because I really don’t know if I can stand watching Ms. Strahovski portray someone who turns into a killer and/or victim ala Dexter.

        I find myself shying away from darkness and blood these days; give me light and laughter, please.

      • joe says:

        There’s one part of actors’ “attractiveness” that I haven’t understood. Chemistry. I agree that Sarah L. matches my idea of a beautiful woman even more than Yvonne (and yes, I’ve always admitted having a “thing” for brunettes). And likewise, Goya was right about Ryan. Classic Grecian youth. Made of marble.

        With all respect to him and the ladies who love him, Zac is not classically handsome. That Bartowski-doof look we see on his Buy-More badge picture is as real as Charles Carmichael in a tux. Otherwise Zac will always look boyish.

        But put Zac and Yvonne together and the chemistry comes out. You want to root for that couple. You want to follow them. That’s where the actor’s magic came in strongest.

        I just realized I’ve seen that chemistry somewhere else. I see it in my parents, married 60 years this August.

      • thinkling says:

        Congrats to your parents, Joe. And you are so right about their chemistry. Some TV couples have it and some don’t. Ellie and Devon had chemistry, but not quite like Chuck and Sarah. I think from the pilot on, Chuck and Sarah both made me want to root for them … as individuals and as a couple. The couple part got stronger later on, but in the pilot, the ballerina moment (and more subtly the dinner) pretty much let us know that Chuck had what it took to fill the hole in Sarah’s life. And, in a host of way, she made him step up.

        I think it takes two to make that kind of magic.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah no doubt the Zach/Yvonne chemistry was a big part of why Chuck worked like it did. SarahL and Ryan were quite believable as well, which goes back to my earlier comment about just how well cast Chuck was. Even the smaller parts (General Beckman, Big Mike) found the perfect character actors to bring the right feel and energy to their parts. I don’t believe there was a single misstep in the casting of the core characters.

      • Delwin says:

        I am slightly biased here as I find Yvonne Strahovski extremely attractive because of the ancestry 😉 but it is not her look which is/was so important but ability to create extremely likeable character. And this does not come from the look.

    • aerox says:

      Sandra, I’ve got to be honest, this is reminding me of /b/, except with a really REALLY poor troll. Also, there is no Bel Air, spaghetti or walking the dinosaur to be found, so there’s nothing to do here, really.

    • oldresorter says:

      Sandra – surely you must see the possibility that the point you make is true of all TV, all movies, and heck, life in general. If the pretty girl kept the talented male from getting his just due, no actor would ever get recognized, think Bond movies or even Mission Impossible with Tom Cruise, those male leads are surrounded by charming women, yet the male star is the super star – Vicky Vale herself was one such character on Batman.

      Something else set Chuck apart, that made Sarah a fan favorite, and Chuck, somewhat less. I’m just not sure branding the entire male race’s libido as responsible for the male actor’s lack of praise is absolutely the only answer.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, thanks to Sandra for providing an entertaining discussion for a couple days!

  11. joe says:

    Well, apropos to the discussion of the various actor’s talents, there’s some Yvonne news from Michael Ausiello.

    Talk about killer casting: Chuck alum Yvonne Strahovski is joining Dexter for a multi-episode arc.

    She will play the role of Hannah McKay, a strong, independent woman with a past that she’s struggled to put behind her.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny she’s playing a Hannah…

      I don’t think I like this news. Chances are, she’ll end up being both a killer and ending up dead. I don’t care to see either.

      • It seems like TV shows reuse a small pool of names a lot.

        The one episode I’ve seen of Dexter turned me off. It might be funny to see Sarah take down Harry Tang a notch, but it’s not like Sarah or Harry is going to be in it.

      • Mel says:

        I like Yvonne, but I don’t follow tv shows based on their cast, and Dexter has never interested me.

        Predictably, some people are already exited about the possibilty of her doing nude scenes, since that’s pretty common on the show.

      • aerox says:

        Someone actually had to bring that to my attention, Mel. That’s not to say that now I’m not looking forward to that. Hey, what can I say? Testosterone and all.

        But then again, I’ve followed Dexter almost religiously for all of its seasons, so even if Yvonne hadn’t signed on, I would’ve still watched it.

      • Mel says:

        I hope she won’t get too much grief from certain “fans” of her because of the role. Some really prude people got upset about her pretty tame bodypaint photoshoot, even stopped following her on Twitter and nonsense like that.

      • atcDave says:

        Count me among the prudes. If only I had twitter…

      • thinkling says:

        Me, too, Dave. It’s pretty understandable, Mel. Considering that her fans are mostly fans of Chuck, a prime time show, there is bound to be a healthy slice of her fandom who wouldn’t be enthused about the body paint project, nor want to see her (or Zach or anybody else) go the nude scene route. Count me in that bunch of folks. I still like her very much, but like Garnet said, I hope to see less, or at least not more, of her in her upcoming roles.

    • olddarth says:

      Oooo! Great news! Dexter is still one of the shows I watch even though the show is not as strong as it used to be.

      • aerox says:

        I disliked seasons 3 and 5, but I thought the other four were exceptionally well done. 4 and 1 still my favorite.

      • olddarth says:

        S1 and 2 were the strongest for me. I liked the other seasons but did find the last season the weakest.

      • aerox says:

        I actually thought 6 was infinitely better than five, despite calling the plot twist from episode 4. Liked the villain more, plus loved the religious overtones and the change it brought in him as opposed to him being without. Thought his criticism of it all was very well done.

    • joe says:

      I’ve never seen Dexter, but I’m sorta looking forward to giving it a shot.

      I saw Zac just yesterday in Chipmunks, the Squeakquel. Totally different character from Chuck – think Bartowski at age 16 (and a 28 year old arrested at that stage). There was a short he was in (and directed, IIRC)… all I recall was the motorcycle chase through most of the clip. That was a totally different character, too. Zac may not be a world’s greatest actor, but he has his chops.

      To add fuel to the mix, I have a strong suspicion that by the end of his career, he’ll be better known for his directing. It’s happened before – Ron Howard is the case in point right now.

      On Harry Tang, I was really surprised to see him in a couple of episodes of The Sopranos. Didn’t recognize him until about my 4th time through the DVDs!

      • aerox says:

        Here’s what you can expect.

        – Body parts flying about willy-nilly.
        – Gratuitous nudity, just not as much as Game of Thrones
        – A lot of innuendo
        – Blood
        – Gore
        – One of the most awesome male lead ever.
        – A seriously messed up back story.

        I even co-wrote a fic about Chuck and Dexter mixed up. http://www.fanfiction.net/s/7451427/1/Born_Under_a_Bad_Sign

      • atcDave says:

        Well Joe given my oft repeated dislike of dark themes and stories you can guess how likely I am to actually watch Dexter, no matter who’s in it.

        But that said, you know I’ve mentioned a few times my high school and college involvement with speech and drama. As such, I completely get the desire some actors have to play a wide variety of characters and roles. It’s fun to do something outrageous and different. And I know the people who really took their acting seriously had a vastly greater desire to do different things than I ever did.
        But even so, understanding why Yvonne might want to do a much different role, I have no desire to see it.

      • olddarth says:

        Yes it will be interesting to see how many Yvonne – Chuck fans will brave the journey to watch Dexter. I can’t imagine two shows with less crossover between than these two.

      • jam says:

        I almost never follow actors from show to show, no matter how much I might like them. Castle initially got my interest because Nathan Fillion was in it, but that was a brand new show starting, not something that has already aired for 6 years.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m the same Jam. I might be more likely to take a second look at something if I know and like an actor in it; but I’m pretty well aware of my likes and dislikes, I won’t watch something that completely turns me off thematically because I know or like someone in it. Sometimes it can even work against an actor I know and like; I have no desire to see Harison Ford, or James Garner, or Tom Hanks play a slime ball (err, any more than James Garner’s typical lovable rogues!) or villain. I get why they might want to play a different role, but I don’t need to see it. The same will work against Yvonne somewhat, I won’t watch her as a villain, a victim, or anything trashy. This may, at some level be “unfair”; but I watch television and movies to be entertained. And from a business perspective that is exactly how I support it, my time and money go to those projects I am interested in. I do not watch or spend out of any sort of “duty”.

      • joe says:

        I get that, Dave. You know that idiotic 1-10 scale men are supposed to rate women on? I suspect Sarah Walker rates higher than Yvonne S. Perhaps that not so strange since Sarah can beat Casey in a fight and pick locks.

      • garnet says:

        I understand that you go where the work is, but I had hoped that we would see less of Yvinne in her followup projects rather than more. 😉 I can’t claim to be a Dexter fan, and doubt our family (aged 10-18) will ever gather round to watch, even with Yvonne in it. But I wish her well in this and other projects. Now, a role on Castle, Community, even Burn Notice would be great.

      • JC says:

        Speaking of Game of Thrones, Yvonne better be in the running for Val. I doubt they’ll cast the character next season but S4 for sure.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I would love to see Yvonne get her own USA show. That or a regular role in any of the sorts of shows that I watch and enjoy. Obviously, a successful and well received recurring role on a popular cable show could facilitate that. I just hope she doesn’t come to prefer the sorts of shows I don’t watch! But obviously I hope she is professionally successful regardless.

      • thinkling says:

        I echo those sentiments Dave and garnet. Dexter doesn’t sound like my cup of tea at all (and brave has nothing to do with it, OD). I would like to see Yvonne headline her own show, too, Dave and USA would be a good network since they seem to have the types of shows I enjoy, or at least shows I can watch. I know actors want variety, but I like what I like, and what I like is a subset of what I can approve of. I hate to see actors I like cross that second line.

        I might watch something a little outside of my taste (as long as it’s something I don’t object to) in order to see an actor I like, but I won’t watch the things I object to to see anybody or any reason.

      • jam says:

        “Sometimes it can even work against an actor I know and like”

        I know the feeling. I’ve avoided Californication because I don’t want to see David Duchovny as anything but Fox Mulder (or Gillian Anderson as Scully). The X-Files was the first tv show I obsessed about, it was also the first time I read fanfiction and discovered weird terms like “shipper”.

      • garnet says:

        There are many reasons I haven’t watched Californication…..:0) And I was a bit of an X-files fan until they went off the rails in the last season or so.

      • olddarth says:

        I meant ‘brave’ as in going outside one’s preferred taste range, Thinkling. No slight intended.

        For Yvonne this is an ideal choice from an acting point of view as Dexter will allow her to show her acting range because it is at the other end of the dramatic spectrum. A great opportunity for her.

      • thinkling says:

        I can certainly see the advantage to her, in terms of exercising her dramatic chops, and I can go beyond my comfort range, but only so far.

      • jam says:

        Heh, during the last two seasons my love for the show first turned into dislike, then into indifference. I watched the finale, but it failed to evoke any emotions, and I still haven’t seen the second X-Files movie that was released in 2008.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m not really opposed to seeing actors I like in strange roles Jam. I actually want them to work and succeed. But I’m not willing to compromise my standards or taste for the sake of an actor. I can honestly say I’ve never avoided a show just because I didn’t want to see an actor in something new. Although admittedly, some actors are a lot tougher to see move on than others. Zach and Yvonne will be brutal in some ways. But I will seriously be excited if either of them latch onto a project I can get excited about.

        But this is kind of a worst case scenario for me; Dexter (like Californication!) is one of those shows you just couldn’t pay me to watch.

      • oldresorter says:

        Both Yvonne and Levi seem to be really nice people, it was time for them to move on, before they became too typecast. I wish them the best, I probably will give Dexter a shot, if I don’t like it, I won’t watch. I have watched bits a pieces of other things Yvonne has done, and I can’t recall liking any of it, Levi either really, but, I’ll give it a shot.

        I have really enjoyed Emily Van Camp in Revenge, it took about two or three eps to get over Everwood, but I did get over it.

        Schwartz has so many things going on, would not be surprised to see some of the Chuck cast show up with him as a guest.

        Best case, several of the chuck cast will become more loved by all of us for a new role somewhere down the line, they gotta start somewhere, it can’t be easy?

      • olddarth says:

        Empathize with you Thinkling. On the flip side – if Yvonne or Zac would get a multi-arc episode on something like Glee or a Reality show – that would not interest me in the least.

        But for me, Yvonne getting on Dexter is a major bonus. Can’t wait to see her display her acting range..

      • jam says:

        Yeah, I understand Dave.

        I don’t usually have problems with actors doing different stuff either, it’s pretty much just the example I mentioned.

      • thinkling says:

        I’m totally with you on Glee and Reality, OD. ewww.

      • olddarth says:

        The silver lining for those that have no interest in watching Dexter is that this is a guest turn only. It will only tie Yvonne up for a couple of months instead of years and then she will be free again to do something else with more mass market appeal.

      • atcDave says:

        You are completely right about that OD! I do hope it increases her stock by enough to land her a more prominent role in something I might enjoy.

      • dkd says:

        I’m surprised at the number of people who aren’t enthused about this.

        I’ve watched most of Dexter’s seasons, but I fell off last season. Despite that, I’m really looking forward to Yvonne doing it. The show has tended to give actors a lot of opportunity to shine. John Lithgow won an Emmy for a guest stint on the show. Julia Stiles and Jimmy Smits were nominated for a guest star Emmy. Michael C. Hall has been nominated many times. The show has been nominated for Best Drama four times.

        So, I see a lot of potential, despite it not being as hot a show as it used to be.

        As for Zac on Glee, it’s also not as hot a show anymore, but it would give him the opportunity to sing. I’m less excited by the Thor 2 prospect because the role had little screentime in the first movie AND movies take so damn long to come out.

      • atcDave says:

        Why would this surprise you DKD? We all have different taste, and honestly I have zero interest in who won awards for what. I don’t really like dark themes or dark characters, so a show that celebrates both is unlikely to ever be of any interest to me. As I said elsewhere, if its good for her career then that is good news for her. But I don’t follow any actor because of their talent, I make all entertainment decisions based on the merits of the individual show. I will happily watch Yvonne the next time she does something that interests me; and until then I wish her the best.

      • jam says:

        It’s possible to be excited for Yvonne, without actually planning to watch the show. I might give it a shot if it was a new show, but I don’t feel like watching through six seasons of Dexter.

      • dkd says:

        Dexter is NOT the kind of show that you have to watch every episode to get. Each season’s arc is largely self-contained as Dexter faces a different “big bad”–kinda like 24 was–with just a few significant character events to keep track of.

        Honestly, I only watched three episodes last season–the first, a middle one, and the season finale–and I don’t feel any need to watch any more of it to get caught up.

        Anyone jumping in certainly doesn’t need to watch all 72 episodes that have come before in order to understand what is going on. There’s lots of exposition for that.

        Dave–my main point about the awards discussion is that a role on this show can get noticed in a way that a role on Chuck never did. You may not care about that kind of thing, but actors and their agents do.

      • Gord says:

        I’ve never watched Dexter, but I will definitely check it out with Yvonne being in the cast.
        As for Zac maybe not the greatest actor, but definitely a very good one.

      • atcDave says:

        DKD I believe we all acknowledged that this could be a good move career wise. The only dispute was if we would watch it or not. Its not my kind of thing, I’ll pass. I hope it leads to better things for her.

      • garnet says:

        Here’s hoping this gets to somewhere near the right portion of this thread! Gord, I think that Zach has a good shot at some major roles, and I think he may be a better actor than we have seen on Chuck (and BTW I think he did a great job overall). In the best of all possible worlds he would become this generation’s Jimmy Stewart, and before anyone calls me out on that, Jimmy had an incredible career and was at one point the highest paid Hollywood actor of his day.

      • thinkling says:

        Agreed Garnet. So far, though, his role showed off his Dick Van Dyke / Danny Kaye side.

      • atcDave says:

        Dick van Dyke is exactly who I usually think Zack being like. Although Jimmy Stewart would be a fine pattern also. I sort of suspect Zach himself wants to be most like Ron Howard.

      • thinkling says:

        Maybe, but I’d rather he keep acting. We never see the directors and producers.

      • ww1posterfan says:

        I have always thought of Zach as a young Tom Hanks. I’ll never forget watching Tom on “Bosom Buddies” and then next really noticing him in “Big.” Not classicly handsome, good comedic timing, etc. etc. and Tom definitely went on to prove his dramatic capabilities, as well. Zach, at least to me, can pull it all off, too. However, Zach following more of the Ron Howard path wouldn’t surprise me at all either.

      • Ron Howard might be shooting a little high. At ZL’s age, Howard had several movies under his belt, including Splash (with Tom Hanks) and Cocoon. I didn’t see anything in Leftovers of Hack Off that made me think “future Oscar winner” or “big budget box office smash” director.

        Jonathan Frakes might be a better initial comparison. He’s directed episodes of Castle, V, Burn Notice, Leverage, NCIS: LA and others. Or maybe Robert Duncan McNeill, who started directing his own show, Voyager. Later he directed a variety of shows including teen angst WB shows, flashy Las Vegas, and of course Chuck.

        It’ll be interesting to see if Schwartz hires ZL to direct in his other shows. It would show he could direct outside of the comfort zone of the show he acted in, like Frakes and McNeill. It would also show an interest in developing a directorial resume separate from his acting resume.

      • dkd says:

        Clint Eastwood didn’t direct his first movie until he was 41. It’s hard to compare different career arcs.

        At this stage of his career, Zac could abandon acting and pursue directing. That’s what Ron Howard did. Or he can continue to see how far the acting thing will take him. It’s hard to go full-throttle on both.

        Frankly, the TV world is full of examples of actors given the opportunity to direct on their own series. Only a fraction take it beyond that to dropping their acting careers and doing directing full time.

      • oldresorter says:

        I could see Levi, Fillion, Moore, and friends creating a ‘Rat Pack’ type of grouping, while redefining entertainment on some sort of internet, pay per view, original content, that uses comedy, singing, action, and nerdiness in equal doses, light on drama – i.e. just fooling around same as Martin, Sinatra, and Sammy Davis Jr back in the day. Another prediction, Levi becomes the actor’s guild president at some point. I don’t see the acting chops to be mentioned with Hanks or Eastwood or even Dick Van Dycke, but I do see leadership, friendship, and drive in big doses. I think Levi will become famous and rich, but I am predicting this will come more on his own terms, in some sort of unique, yet to be defined manner.

      • olddarth says:

        I find the comments questioning Levi’s acting chops puzzling. The dude carried the show for the first three seasons. I chalk up the last two seasons to fatigue and the show’s Robin Hood writing.

      • atcDave says:

        I think “carried the show” is grossly overstating the situation. The talent on Chuck was very deep, all the main characters were superbly well cast. And I’ll always maintain Yvonne was the better dramatic actor. Zach was an excellent ordinary nerd; a very good actor and more than capable as Chuck. I expect he’ll have a long and successful career, but I wouldn’t guess HOW successful. There’s way to many variables involving luck, opportunities, and even career choices.

      • jam says:

        I agree with olddarth on this one, Zac/Chuck was the driving force behind the show for the first two seasons.

        Unlike od, I don’t think the character was any less likeable in seasons 4 and 5, but the scripts we got did not make as good use of the strengths of either ZL or Chuck.

      • oldresorter says:

        Kind of an odd thing taking my post questioning if Levi is Tom Hanks and jumping to questioning if he has any acting talent at all, I would think many would concede there is a fair amount of real estate in-betwixt – eh?

        I didn’t think Levi was any worse in s4 or s5, than s1 thru s3. There were times he was better, times he was not quite as good all five seasons. The hard part in judging him is how ‘quirky’ the show itself was written, as the lead actor, he had to roll with those punches, which I thought he did a very good job of, very consistent with the way the top guest stars interpreted the show, i.e. Bakula, Chase, Dalton.

        But that quirky nature made it difficult to judge exactly what kind of dramatic lead he might be, as well as what kind of serious action / adventure hero. I am pretty sure he proved he could handle a lead in a comedy as well as most anyone, still, maybe not quite as well as Tom Hanks in his prime however, who could? In many ways, this quirky writing style becomes my indictment of the show’s attempts to go dark, the characters (other than Sarah) weren’t dark characters, the writing seemed forced when going dark too, again, in my own opinion. I think this confused the fan base in general, which led to the many, many, posts regarding such forays into Chuck drama, evidently to this day?

      • oldresorter says:

        I meant to add earlier when I posted about Levi, that I hope Yvonne at least ends up with a Jeri Ryan type career, which would put her on TV a fair amount over the next fifteen years in a wide variety of TV, after she could have been type cast (in my own mind’s eye) as Seven of Nine, borg extraordinaire. Certainly, some of those roles for Yvonne would not be as palatable as others, but I am always pleasantly surprised when Ryan shows up on tv, I think the same will be true of Yvonne! So Dexter, what the heck, why not?

      • atcDave says:

        I mostly agree Jason. I do think Zach is a very good actor. Not quite outstanding, I think he too often falls into the manic/over-reacting/rubbery faced sort of comedy (like in Sensei) that doesn’t really work for me. But in other aspects, especially relating to ordinary guy charm and one-on-one interactions he’s as good as I’ve ever seen (again, this is a way he reminds me of Dick van Dyke). If he wants to do sit-coms I think he could eventually be very big in that genre. But I don’t believe he’ll ever be a leading man in a true drama or be an action star.
        I contrast that with Yvonne only because I see no such limitations for her, she may find success at whatever she wants to do. And I really thought she was the dramatic force in Chuck as early as Truth.

        As always, for any actor, luck and opportunity play a huge role in future success. We know Zach was working on a sit-com for FOX that wasn’t picked up, officially they said there was no space on the schedule (which would tend to suggest a bad timing/bad luck failure). But given no one else has packed the show up, it’s also possible it just wasn’t very good. Which I mean as no reflection on anyone involved, just to reinforce the idea that luck and opportunity are huge unknowns in entertainment.

      • Rob says:

        I agree Dave. Unlike other shows, Chuck is a show where the cast seems to be very solid from top to bottom, and also seems to genuinely like to work together. I tend to forgive specific (and isolated) instances of “bad acting” because it is hard to identify whether the “bad acting” was a result of acting or directing. The scene where Yvonne reacts to Shaw being alive (and tearing up) — “O my God, Daniel” — is one such example. I thought that it was an entirely inconsistent and improper reaction to the circumstances. You could argue that was bad acting, but I place as much blame on TPTB, because they should have reshot the scene.

        Anyway, I think that you have to look at the series as a whole, and the acting was really fantastic (and natural — which is the key for me). If TPTB did anything right, they assembled the perfect cast for the characters written.

        I actually thought that the weakest actor in the entire series was Linda Hamlton. Her lines often seemed forced and rigid. The fact that (at least IMO) she was the weak link, speaks to the quality of the rest.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah it’s funny Rob, I really didn’t see many problems. Linda Hamilton is occasionally a little stiff, but she always has been, I guess I just see that as being herself. Ditto for Brandon Routh, much as I disliked the role he played on the show, I never felt his performance was a significant part of the problem (not to say he was great, perhaps I was too distracted by my dislike of the writing to notice the performance…)
        With regards to the specific Sarah line you mention, I never saw any tearing up involved; just shock, which seemed fitting to the situation. Perhaps if she had said “Shaw” instead of “Daniel” it would have worked better for everyone.

      • Harku says:

        There was no tearing up in that scene, just shock, which is appropriate…i think only beacuse she used Daniel, it rubs some ppl wrong way.

      • Rob says:

        I don’t know. I just re-watched the last 2 episodes of S3 last night, and either Yvonne was having a bad allergy day, or she was tearing up a bit. No tears, but water in the eyes for sure.

      • atcDave says:

        Actually I read it as horrified.

      • garnet says:

        Jam, you mean there was an X-files movie?

      • Verkan_Vall says:

        Rob:

        I agree with you, that scene where Sarah reacts to seeing Shaw in the security rewind is completely inconsistent and inappropriate considering the circumstances. I don’t blame YS or even the director, I blame the writing (A. Adler and P. Klemmer) and the plotting (Schwedak).

        Does anyone remember what happened in episode 3.13? Shaw goes to Paris with Sarah and:

        – Lures her into a death trap
        – Has her drugged to the point of helplessness (women just LOVE that)
        – Betrays our country (and every man and woman who has ever served along side him or under his command)
        – Betrays the Intersect, which she has been guarding day and night for 3 years, to the enemy
        – Which enemy? The Ring, the people who killed Bryce Larkin. Remember Bryce?
        – Shaw sits Sarah down and tells her to her face how he is going to kill her: not a quick bullet like his wife died, but he’s going to throw her into the Seine and watch while she drowns helplessly.
        – Why? Not just for revenge, but so he can destroy the CIA, which she has spent her adult life.

        And after all of this, when Shaw drags her up onto the bridge to murder her, but gets shot by Chuck, what is Shaw’s last conscious act? He clamps his hand on her wrist in a vise-like grip so he can drag her into the river with him.

        Folks, all of this together counts as a “Dealbreaker” for every single sane woman that I know (and 90% of the crazy ones) on my planet. You know, Earth.

        When Sarah sees Shaw (remember that they are both super agents) again in the security reel, why isn’t her reaction:

        – There’s the traitor who went over to the Ring! or
        – There’s the raving maniac who tried to kill us! and
        – HE HAS JUST DELIBERATELY REVEALED HIMSELF TO US

        No, her reaction is: “Oh my God….Daniel!!!”
        (how many times do we hear Sarah call Shaw by his first name in S3?)

        That isn’t shock, that is the showrunners’ addiction to WT/WT polluting the script again. Rob, you’re right, they should have reshot the scene or never shot it that way in the first place. A wordless shot of Sarah and Casey cocking their guns would have been enough.

        In any case, nothing in that scene is YS’s fault, it’s the plotting and the writing.

    • Gord says:

      Thinking more about this casting – I just hope they don’t end her arc with her being chopped up into little pieces. I don’t think I could handle watching that.

      Also the past she”s struggled to put behind her – I already know what that is – she was a CIA agent who was married to a nerd in Burbank, but then lost her memory and decided she didn’t love him any more.

      Sorry I guess Casey would say I’m putting gas on the fire. Mu ha ha.

      • atcDave says:

        Not funny Gord.

      • No, she did still love him, but she got lost the next day on the way to the grocery store. (She didn’t remember the neighborhood, or the code to unlock her iPhone to pull up a map program.) In a fit of frustration trying to find her way home to the man she loved, she killed a bystander, forcing her to change her identity and go into hiding.

        That fits with Dexter’s murderous themes, but still maintains that the beach was a happy ending.

      • Gord says:

        You folks were discussing Yvonne tearing up in the S3 finale – possibly allergies. I do remember reading at the time that she had bronchitis when she filmed the finale for S3.

  12. garnet says:

    Totally off the topic of the thread, but I was just wondering: Would the reaction to the season 5 finale have been any different if it had not been titled “the Goodbye”? I know we have learned to take these titles as being misleading, but also related to the episode. We all watched a show called the Goodbye and perhaps that made it harder to see that our favourite couple were actually not saying goodbye, but welcome back.

    • thinkling says:

      That is an interesting question Garnet. Goodbye is just a sad title, and for people who had doubts about the resolution for CS, it might have made that ending tilt the wrong direction.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny thought. It might have felt very different if it was called “reunion”! I don’t think the title had much bearing for me, the show was over and the episode was a send off (and Ellie/Devon and Casey did move on); but it might be interesting if we could just ask our alternate reality selves in which the only change of the universe was the title of Chuck 5.13 how they felt about the ending…
      Although I’m even more interested in that alternate universe where the finale was 15.24…

      • thinkling says:

        15.24 … love it!!!

      • Gord says:

        15.24, would have been great. I would have really been looking forward to episode 15. In S3 we had the Hart to Hart opening, in S4 we had the Charlies Angels opening, I’m thinking for S5 we might have gotten a Leave it to Beaver opening, with Sarah’s dream home in the background. Of course Morgan would be the Beav. LOL

    • garnet says:

      I had just been thinking about the furor over the title “the Cliffhanger” for season 4’s finale and thought to myself that perhaps the title is more important to the episode than we might ordinarily think.

      • garnet says:

        Suppose it had been, “Chuck vs. the Beginning”, might you have felt a little differently about the ending?

      • thinkling says:

        I definitely think that’s what it was for them … maybe Chuck Versus New Beginnings, because everybody was headed off for new beginnings. Of course that doesn’t have the dramatic ring to it. I think Fedak liked the bittersweet idea of goodbye. I like new beginnings myself.

      • garnet says:

        It would have fit with his penchant for somewhat cryptic titles as “the Begining” , as they did end basically where they started (and I know the pilot didn’t exactly end on the beach, but their relationship did start there). I know I would have preferred this!

        BTW Thinkling…anxiously awaiting your next chapter, and although it is supposed to be the last, don’t feel you have to end it. 🙂 I for one would be happy to read chapter 24!

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks Garnet. Working on it as we speak. I think this story will end, but we will have a nice little galaxy for future (much shorter) stories.

  13. Speaking of Emmy nominations, Chuck’s submissions for 2012 Emmy nominee candidates are:

    In 2012 they are:
    – Outstanding Single-Camera Picture Editing For A Comedy Series – Chuck vs. the Goodbye, Kevin Mock
    – Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series – Zachary Levi (49 submissions)
    – Outstanding Comedy Series
    – Outstanding Sound Mixing For A Comedy Or Drama Series (One Hour) – Chuck vs. the Goodbye
    – Outstanding Stunt Coordination – Chuck vs. Sarah

    The nominee candidates in 2011 are listed here: http://chucktv.net/2011/06/07/emmy-watch-chuck-on-the-nomination-ballot/ None the submissions received nominations in 2011. In previous seasons, the show has two wins for stunts, a nominations for stunts, and a nominations for title sequence.

    A few interesting things: First, 2011 had 13 submissions. 2012 had 5. Fewer submissions likely due to fewer episodes in S5, less support from NBC for cancelled show, and/or negativity from lack of success in anything but the stunt category. Second, the show is submitted as a comedy. YS would have only a small chance of a nomination for drama, but she’d have no chance of being nominated against sitcom actresses, even as a supporting actress (where there are 112 submission). Even ZL would have a hard time at a nomination because the role isn’t strict comedy. A lot of the comedic roles were given to supporting cast and guest stars.

    • atcDave says:

      I think Chuck’s multi-genre nature has always worked against it at award time.

      • oldresorter says:

        I love how quickly opinion becomes fact.

        In most games, four strikes and your out, it might even be three but in light of the exaggerated claims let’s say it’s four. But either way,Chuck was granted more than its fair share of swings. I think this sort of delusional obsessing might indeed be a reason NBC’s guy finally said enough, I can’t spend my entire life on a show that brings in a 1.1 demo. I might be wrong, but isn’t the new Monday NBC line up sort of kicking butt?

        Anyhow, the course of the ACTUAL events and decisions regarding Chuck vs NBC is somewhat unknown to me and I would guess to most of you also, but piping off about unfair treatment and bias vs Chuck, it seems a little odd, well, actually alot odd – to me at least.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the problems of dramedy and lighter entertainment at award time are well documented Jason. But even they weren’t, I see nothing in my comment that should cause offense. I think the non-official nature of any and all discussions here should be obvious… It’s even in our masthead!

        And geez, why is this such a hot button issue? We spent A LOT of time at this site on ratings and show saving schemes. Now we can’t talk about our efforts or legacy without hostility? Bizarre.
        We all get that ratings in S5 were abysmal. The how and why of that is complex and interesting. Or are we only allowed to discuss the writing failings? But I still see no defense for a rude stuffed suit. Although it is amusing to think if he’d only chosen his words more carefully he might have had a loyal and appreciative fanbase for all NBC’s efforts. Instead, he garunteed we will mostly remember the bad.

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave – I agree with nearly everything you said, for example, I think the multigenre issue ruined not only the ability to win awards, but also the show in general.

        Another thing, I have no qualms about talking (or writing in this case) away … as you correctly pointed out, we do it from all angles. In that spirit, I often can’t resist tossing my hat in the ring presenting a minority opinion when I see the writing of opinion under the cover of facts, kind of like saying the sky is blue so all democrats are stupid, the former which is true, but which does not support the latter. If I presented my case for the minority opinion too fervently I’m sorry.

        Still, we should remember, that NBC was not out to get Chuck by manufacturing reasons to cancel, Chuck really did have low ratings and most media I read had Chuck on the bubble all these years. At the time season 5 was extended to Chuck, nearly every report I read mentioned that NBC was doing a nice thing.

        So, now that Chuck is over, I do not hold NBC in contempt over Chuck, nearly the opposite as a matter of fact as Chuck got its fair share of chances. And I liked the ‘stuffed suit’s’ comment, or at least I understood it, as I think Chuck fans needed a cold slap of reality at that point, and the guy delivered it. Once he delivered the blow, Chuck fans quit even thinking about renewal, and began the process of moving on, which has been a choppy road to say the least.

    • garnet says:

      At this point an Emmy win would be a bit of slap in the face to NBC…..Go CHUCK!

      • atcDave says:

        Wouldn’t it be sweet! Seriously though, major longshot.

      • dkd says:

        Don’t understand the “slap in the face” part. I think NBC would be happy for any Emmy wins for any series they aired–canceled or not.

        NBC gave Chuck so many chances.

      • Winning Emmys is something that shows like to brag about in advertising. However unless they win a lot, they can’t brag about the number. “NBC: winner of 2 Emmys” doesn’t sound impressive. So they would brag about the shows that won Emmys. It’s hard to brag about shows that have been cancelled unless it’s being used to launch a spinoff (Cheers->Frasier, The Closer->Major Crimes). Then again, did NBC ever call Chuck a two-time Emmy winner?

        I say it is more embarrassing than a slap in the face… except when the President of NBC makes a point of effectively saying a show is worthless.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        A lot of us have a love/hate relationship with NBC as Jeff alluded to. While NBC did give Chuck a lot of chances it was largely because NBC didn’t have many other viable options, but that didn’t stop NBC from extracting a cost anyway. Chuck had its budget cut in season 3 and had to scramble to extend the series with back-orders in seasons 3 and 4 when, according to Chris Fedak, they were repeatedly told there would be no back-order. A lot of fans feel this affected the quality of the show as the writing and production never seemed to return to what it was in season 2. Some of this was mitigated for some fans by more popular story-lines and a change in tone and direction of the show.

        For the record, as much as a long shot as it is, there would be a certain schadenfreude in having the show that NBC canceled and it’s president called worthless while deriding its fans for their lack of support get the Emmy for the best comedy of the year.

        For me the love/hate with NBC goes back a ways. They seem to have a talent for finding innovative and well made shows with compelling stories and engaging characters and cast, and then killing them.

      • atcDave says:

        Well put Jeff and Ernie. Love/hate is exactly the way to describe the relationship with NBC. We know the show always had its supporters with the network too, and that certainly helped us on occasion. But I’d add to the previously mentioned criticisms about budget and back orders how painfully little promotion the show received. A co-worker who recently watched S5 with me commented that he had never seen an ad for it after S3. Of course that may say as much about how few viewers NBC now has as anything, but the show was clearly not promoted on football or other events that actually drew an audience either.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jeff, since the Emmys were for stunt work it’s unlikely. However just one Emmy for Best Comedy would pretty definitely have been used for promotion.

      • dkd says:

        What do people expect NBC to have done? Keep the budget the same and lose money on it? Do fans not have any experience in running a business or even managing one?

        It wasn’t NBC who lowered the budget, it was WB who did so to keep the show on air. They could have kept the budget the same and lowered NBC’s license fee to do so. But, then WB would have been losing more money on the show. Again, anyone with business experience would know that’s just stupid.

        If you would run a business by paying more for products than you sell them for, you wouldn’t be in business very long.

        As for promotion, I actually have access to a database that can tell me exactly how many promos ran. There was always SOME promotion going on for the show. It did vary.

        There was actually quite an increase in promotion going into Season 5–with Greenblatt in charge–compared to Season 4. It didn’t help ratings at all. If your friends didn’t see it, it says more about their viewing habits than about the actual amount of promotion.

      • dkd says:

        For anyone wondering, Chuck got 79 individual national promos leading into Season 5 and an additional 60 that were dual promos with Grimm. 139 in total.

      • atcDave says:

        The thing is DKD this is a Chuck fan site, not a business site. I think we’re all allowed to despise the business realities that led to small budgets and limited promotions (pure numbers aside, the number of promotional spots on Sunday football can be counted on less than one hand. Also reduced budgets have a way of becoming self fulfilling proficies, and I doubt WB reduced the budget because they wanted to.
        Ultimately NBC becomes the villain of the story for canceling the show regardless. Even if I were the only viewer I will at least partly blame the network. Just as I can blame Ford for no longer offering my car in purple or Tim Horton’s for discontinuing my favorite donut, it’s ultimately a decision I don’t appreciate, good business aside. Now I’m not stupid, I do get how these things work, but that understanding will never lead to liking; and the bottom line is, NBC cancelled my show.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        DKD, I don’t have the figures, but it seems you could maybe answer this question. At the end of season 2 Chuck was a middle of the pack show that under normal circumstances would probably have pretty good chances of being renewed, but NBC was getting rid of 5 hours of prime time in favor of Leno. At that point their business model was to make money with cheaper shows rather than more viewers, so was Chuck’s budget (which surely is based in part on the fee the network is willing to pay for the show, even if they aren’t the same thing) a victim of that philosophy, or was Chuck actually losing money for NBC at the end of season 2?

        For the record, I thought NBC under new ownership and Greenblat was pretty classy to give Chuck a final season. I thought him less so when he trashed the show and fans for it’s low ratings after moving it to the Friday night death slot. Like I said, love/hate.

      • joe says:

        dkd, there was a lot that NBC could have done that they didn’t.

        Even in terms of promotions (which was problematic because, really, who was watching NBC?) not once did I see any of the cast members on SNL or Leno (perhaps I missed the one or two appearances because late-nite TV is not in my schedule of habits). I did see Yvonne on a day-time talk show (no longer on the air – Bonnie Hunt) and perhaps once on Ellen DeGeneres, but those were seen by working-folk only on YouTube for the most part.

        NBC could have put any of the cast on the Today Show to great effect, but did not. For all those, the one with the greatest impact, I think, would have been SNL, especially considering Chuck‘s target audience.

        That was an amateur’s attempt at promotion beyond the occasional promo during a Sunday football game before the start of the season (and I’m sure the creative pros could have come up with far more clever ideas). Not that I wasn’t appreciative for that much…

        Added: I was just reminded by other’s comments that the bru-ha-ha on the boards (at the time) for a scheduling change was not minor. I was not part of that bandwagon – I rather like Chuck on Mondays at 8:00. But the time slot was very tough. It was within NBCs power to do something about that, of course.

      • Ernie, I agree they probably didn’t mention “Emmy winning” because it was a technical award. However when promoting movies, I’ve seen Academy Award Winners Ben Affleck and Matt Damon (screenwriting) and Mel Gibson (producing and directing) even though they were just acting in the movie. I’m waiting for shameless promotion of Golden Globe Nominee Miley Cyrus (songwriting).

        Best stunts is one of the most interesting awards for viewers after 4 show/miniseries awards and 12-20 lead/supporting/guest actor awards. Awards like directing and editing are less interesting for TV. Winning stunts means the show has good action, which might have brought in viewers who thought it was just a nerd show. It also shows some pride in the show. Stunts would be easy to promote pregame on Sunday Night Football. Make Adam Baldwin a stand in for a pass rusher when they are doing those silly three man play simulations. Have Zac and Josh playing Madden going to commercial break.

        The 2008 Emmy was awarded in September. A few weeks later, Oct. 12 – New England Patriots at San Diego Chargers. Easy to reach from LA without breaking up the shooting schedule. The Today show would’ve been great too, but NY can be hard during shooting in LA.

      • atcDave says:

        Wow, some really excellent points there Jeff. I know I often mentioned the stunt Emmys when trying to recruit new viewers (guys), but you’re exactly right how it could have been used more effectively!

      • oldresorter says:

        I’m with dkd on this one, I feel no ill will toward NBC, in most walks in life, four strikes and you are out … the odds caught up with the inconsistently written show, which has hidden its poor writing behind the multi-genre ‘mask’ excuse and finally in season five the show felt the consequences!

      • dkd says:

        Everyone’s marketing ideas for Chuck assume that if you were the head of marketing for NBC, you would have only one priority–Chuck.

        If that were the case, you wouldn’t have the job very long. In any given season, the number one priority is the new shows. The next priority are returning second season shows. I respect your intelligence enough to not have to tell you the hierarchy after that. You are all smart enough.

        Search YouTube and you will find plenty of examples of NBC promoting Chuck over the years. When it was a season 1 priority, they not only had Zac on Leno, but they filmed material ahead of time that is pretty funny about him going house to house getting people to watch the premiere. Hell, they even did that last season with Zac working at the Chick-Fil-A.

        I saw Josh Gomez on the Today show previous to Season 4.

        Zac was on multiple NBC things. Every morning and late night talk show except Carson Daly. He hosted the Xmas tree lighting in NYC. He hosted a NFL opening week thing they did. He was put on the Golden Globes as a presenter.

        As for SNL, NBC has little influence on who can host that show. If they did, it would entirely be NBC stars. Lorne Michaels calls the shots there and he’s going to book people he thinks gets HIS show ratings. NBC can’t snap their fingers and force him to put on anyone they want to push.

        Prior to Season 2, Chuck got a prominent rotation of promos in the 2008 Summer Olympics. The pre-season 3 promotion started around Thanksgiving and kept going strong until the premiere to the point that the show got some of its highest ratings ever. We know what happened after that.

        As for anything after that, no network marketing director who knows what he’s doing is going to expend a lot of his limited resources on a show that’s been given all those opportunities only to decline anyway. The ROI for promotion drops the longer a show’s been on air because people have already made their decision about it.

        If you are mad at them for that, I don’t know what more to say.

      • I’m not mad at NBC. I just see it as a disfunctional network. (CW is a teen niche network, Fox is a Idol/sports network, CBS is successful, and ABC is more balanced). Leno was a creative, but bad idea. Kings, Southland, and The Cape were heavily promoted but did not do well. Maybe NBC will get out of their funk someday, but they are a long way from their heyday of Must See Thursdays, when CBS was a network only senior citizens watched. They are not promoting any of their shows in a way that works, but some of their problem is a content problem.

        Of course it is a self perpetuating problem. I no longer watch any shows on NBC. Since Frasier and Friends went off the air in 2004, I think I’ve only watched the last few seasons of ER,which should have ended sooner, and The Cape, which I watched to fill the time between Chuck and Castle on Mondays. When The Cape was cancelled, I just went back to rewatching Chuck. If I’m not watching anything on NBC, I’ll never see any promos for NBC. However… I watch a lot of shows on USA. USA’s self-promotion ads are almost annoying. If NBC and USA worked together and 20% of USA’s ads were replaced with NBC ads I’d know what shows are on NBC. Now I think it is about 1% for NBC and SyFy.

        My ideas were Chuck focused because were talking about Chuck. Other shows could be promoted the same way. Football, stunts emmys, and football video games just seemed like good synergy. ESPN does it all the time, bringing in musicians and actors for sports debate. Maybe NBC Sports doesn’t like the idea. Maybe the problem was NBC Entertainment or WB‘s marketing department. Maybe all they needed to do was contact NBC Sports to suggest the idea. Maybe the idea was out there, but no one on Chuck was comfortable going on a football show because they didn’t follow football. Ryan McPartlin played football in college, but he wasn’t high profile enough on the show.

        I introduced my parents to the show around the end of season 2. They didn’t know anything about the show except I liked it. They watched more NBC shows than I did, so the marketing wasn’t prevalent enough to catch their notice. My mom has told me she was surprised no one from Chuck was on morning shows. They might have been, but she didn’t see them. Then again, my parents aren’t in the preferred Nielsen demographic.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think one of the things that upsets a lot of Chuck fans is that it seems to get singled out for different treatment. Now this could be a good thing, but more often than not it seemed detrimental to the fans or the show. The first thing I noticed was that there seems to be a meme that Chuck uniquely underperformed and that continuing to air it was some sort of favor to the fans. We’ve charted the ratings in seasons 3 and 4, and it’s pretty clear just about every other scripted show on NBC shared Chuck’s “under-performance” pretty quickly. You can see it on our ratings page or here.

        In addition there was a time in season 4 when NBC was preventing Chuck from being available on iTunes. It took the sale of NBC to Comcast to force NBC to make some of their content more available to finally break Chuck free. The same was true in season 5, but we aren’t sure it was an NBC issue in season 5. I’ve checked repeatedly in both season 4 and 5 and from everything I could see just about every other NBC and WB show was available on iTunes the day after it aired, except Chuck.

        For fans who feel they’ve already gone the extra mile to help the show by patronizing and communicating with the sponsors and advertisers being told you aren’t doing enough doesn’t play well.

      • BigKev67 says:

        I don’t think there’s any blame to go around myself. Chuck is/was a niche show. My guess is that it wouldn’t have got that many more viewers on other networks as a proportion of their viewership. And I’m good with that, because frankly, the shows that “most people” like to watch bore me rigid. Give me quirky and different and niche any day.
        I think NBC did the best they could. DKD makes compelling sense to me. I think Chuck would have been gone after 2 seasons on any other network. We should be grateful for what we got and the network we got it on.

      • atcDave says:

        Mad might be overstating it, but still a little miffed? Oh yeah. DKD your arguments are doomed, you’re trying too hard to be rational about a topic that is fundamentally emotional. You might as well try to convince me not to love my wife or become a Packers fan. Chuck was my show. We got too little support the last couple seasons (again, I know too many people who either thought the show was off the air long before it was; or worse, had never even heard of Chuck), we got moved from one lousy slot to a worse slot, and finally were insulted by the head of programming.
        So although I’m not mad enough to quit watching everything on NBC (Sunday Night Football and Grimm are the only things I still watch on NBC anyway) I don’t have any particularly kind thoughts for them either.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        What Dave said, it is an emotional reaction, but in addition I think it is clear that NBC has made a lot of poor business decisions that have adversely affected a lot of their shows, as evidenced by the across the board drop in their audience and their place as the last-place network. We’re just more focused on how those decisions hurt Chuck as opposed to Heroes, Southland, The Cape, Friday Night Lights, etc. etc.

      • Terri Miller (@TerriEdda), producer and writer for Castle and wife of Castle show runner Andrew Marlowe, has been going on a twitter rant about Castle not being submitted by ABC for Emmys. I think Castle is like Chuck; they are better entertainment than the type of shows that win Emmys. I liked both shows, but don’t consider them Emmy-worthy. (I don’t like a large percentage of Oscar Best Picture nominees either.) However she does make two interesting points. First, Castle won the People’s Choice for Crime Drama, but wasn’t even submitted for an Emmy. Second, “I said this last year and the year before… straight drama and comedy are considered… but dramedy usually falls btwn the cracks.”

        Chuck was a romance action dramedy. It never had a chance.

      • dkd says:

        “The first thing I noticed was that there seems to be a meme that Chuck uniquely underperformed and that continuing to air it was some sort of favor to the fans.”

        This is PR 101. Whether it is Jericho or Chuck, if the fans of a series had a “save our show” campaign, the network will make the fans believe they had more to do with the renewal than was the reality.

        Why do they do it? Because fans fall for it hook, line, and sinker. The one time Greenblatt was honest with the fans is the time most of you seemed pissed about.

        Fans want to be lied to. When the network is candid with them–like Greenblatt was–is when everyone gets upset.

      • atcDave says:

        DKD people always want to be treated with courtesy and respect. Candor is a lousy excuse for being rude and ungrateful. So yeah, he totally ticked me off with his comments. And THAT, will be my lasting memory of Chuck’s association with NBC. I don’t patronize businesses that insult me, and I’m sure not going to have any kind thoughts for a programming chief who does so. Seems to me he failed PR 101.

        Jeff thanks for those interesting comments. I also have a tendency to not like award winning movies and television. In fact, it’s sort of test we use at home, the more “serious” awards a show wins, the less likely it is to be of any interest to us (so things like stunts, effects, and music are okay!).
        But that’s a great observation about “dramedy”. And Castle is one of the more fun shows on television, so naturally it won’t ever win much. And I’m mostly fine with that, it just verifies the contempt I have for such things anyway. But it is too bad from a publicity angle, it always means lots of free publicity when award show highlights something (although I really don’t know anyone who watches such things, so maybe not so much!).

      • DKD, you are completely right about some things:
        – “the network will make the fans believe they had more to do with the renewal than was the reality.” — I don’t think NBC was that impressed. TPTB for the show were. I think Subway was more impressed than NBC was. But with their ad budget, Chuck’s Subway campaign was still just a drop in the bucket. The fact it took them half a season to negotiate more integration ideas means that was not all smooth sailing either.
        – “fans fall for it hook, line, and sinker” — I’d say it a little less strongly, but this is true.
        – “Greenblatt was honest with the fans” — Sure.

        However, this is not PR 101. In PR 101, telling the truth can be important, but it’s more important to not insult or be rude the the public (or a reporter relaying information to the public). Greenblatt’s message wasn’t the problem. It’s the way he said it.

        I don’t want to be lied to. Too many entertainment and especially sports executives do that all of the time. I would like honest answers to not be rude.

        The reporter shouldn’t have asked the question. However, the reporter isn’t responsible for NBC’s PR. The President of NBC fielding questions from reporters is. Reporters sometimes ask inappropriate questions because they are clueless of the truth and are looking for the answer. Also, reporters sometimes ask inappropriate questions to generate controversial answers. Sometimes they ask questions from an emotional place. Regardless of the reason for the reporter’s question, Greenblatt failed on the PR front. Greenblatt was honest with the fans, and showed he has a very flippant attitude towards them as well.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually what Greenblatt said was rude to the fans. Honest and rude don’t have to be the same. Yes, Chuck’s numbers were down, and the show was pretty much done. But to blame the fans for insufficient support when the move to Friday clearly had an impact on the ratings is just dumb. Whatever goodwill he’d earned from the fans by giving Chuck a final season to wrap up pretty much evaporated with his comments. That is poor business, and goes along with many other poor business decisions NBC has made that have hurt a lot of shows, Chuck included. For the record, Greenblatt’s comments:

        “Have you seen the ratings of CHUCK?. Unfortunately that rabid fan base that was going crazy on the net, didn’t come to the show. Maybe it didn’t come to the show because it was Friday, but you think they would find the show. It’s doing a 1 rating. I think CHUCK’s time has come. CHUCK is over. Let’s alert the masses.”

      • atcDave says:

        Great point Ernie about goodwill. NBC very nearly could have had a lot of goodwill, but for a few missteps that last season (Greenblatt’s comments being by far the biggest, but I think the Friday slot and bizarre withholding of Chuck from Hulu and iTunes hurt too). So in the end that goodwill was destroyed or even turned into a negative.

      • garnet says:

        Interesting, I thought only our family avoided Oscar nominated movies like the plague. I agree with the sentiment that you don’t insult your customers, and that is what NBC did to CHUCK fans.

        Whether or not the SOS campaigns really made a difference, I watched the “Thank you to the fans,” and it appears that Zachary Levi thinks we made a difference for season 3 and that is good enough for me. It was a new way of campaigning and I suggest that it was something that got NBC to sit up and take notice. Even Season 5 was not that bad in the ratings compared to the other shows on NBC (not that that is exactly a good thing). If the decision had not been “final” I think we would have been on the bubble-again.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Garnet, even if our campaign actually accomplished nothing real, it sure established a great relationship with the cast! That was fun and satisfying all by itself.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        DKD I think you misunderstood my point about Chuck being singled out. If you look realistically at Chuck’s ratings from the end of season 2 on, while they continued to drop, so did all of NBC. If you follow the ratings on one of our favorite sites, TVByTheNumbers you can see that as the seasons progress Chuck usually maintains low but generally steady numbers while other shows (especially the new ones) start strong but soon fall below Chuck’s ratings. Chuck was a solid middle of the pack show, and where it not for NBC dumping 5 hours of prime-time programming for Leno, it’s renewal chances at the end of season 2 would be 50/50 according to the numbers at TVByTheNumbers. Renewing Chuck was a business decision and we all know it. All we’ve tried to do or claimed to do is move the needle however slightly we could to make renewing Chuck seem like a better decision than canceling Chuck. If Chuck can give NBC a better fee by bringing in product integration, then we’ll prove to those sponsors that it is worth it to do product integration with Chuck. And the people at both Chuck and Subway have been clear that the fans made a real difference there. I also believe that there is someone on record at NBC saying something to the effect of when the president of one of your advertisers like Subway calls you up to talk about a show it makes a difference. So what we are talking about is that fans made a very concerted effort to support the show and NBC, and made their gratitude tangible. We in some small measure made renewing Chuck a better business decision than canceling it. And we knew it was always about the bottom line for NBC. And for three seasons we kept it up, making Chuck renewal a good decision in any small way we could while the network that aired it launched disastrous pilot after disastrous pilot, and plummeted in viewership and ratings making keeping Chuck, a relatively stable performer, a good decision in lieu of their alternatives.

        So here’s a summary of what we can say about Chuck:

        At the end of season 2, Chuck was a solid mid-pack show for NBC. Their response was to pick it up as a post-Olympics replacement if WB was willing to cut the fee roughly in half. It is made clear to the Chuck crew that there will not be anymore seasons or episodes ordered. Business decision.

        Early in the 2009-2010 fall season, with the Leno experiment failing badly, NBC orders 6 more episodes of Chuck to fill their shredded schedule. Business decision.

        As season 3 airs Chuck writers are faced with the prospect of the show ending, as they were told it would by NBC when season 3 was picked up. Many start to look for their next job. Business decision

        In the spring of 2010, NBC has hours of prime-time to fill for the following fall and only 19 pilots to choose from. Suddenly another season of Chuck makes business sense, so they choose to renew for 13 episodes, assuming one of their new shows will be Chuck’s replacement eventually, but keeping Chuck around to help fill the schedule while they establish which of the new shows will catch on. They have great hopes for Undercovers, The Cape, and The Event. NBC has picked up 12 new shows, but that only fills the schedule. Keeping Chuck made sense, but it will clearly be replaceable in the next pilot season if even a few of the 12 new shows catch on.

        Fall of 2010. Every new show on the NBC schedule quickly plummets in ratings to at or below Chuck with the exception of Harry’s law. NBC orders 11 more episodes of Chuck because it makes good business sense.

        Spring of 2011, NBC is under new management, but the previous NBC team’s good business sense has resulted in another fall schedule comprised of new and untested shows, which, based on their last crop of pilots, will mostly fail. Keeping Chuck around for one more season, especially at it’s low cost, makes good business sense. It has held it’s own on a killer night and dropped as the network has dropped, and it’s time is near, but Chuck has come through for the network when they needed programming again and again, so it also seems a good PR move to give the fans one last season to wrap it up.

        From the spring of 2009 through fall of 2012 Chuck fans have promoted the show, supported the show, promoted and supported NBC and it’s other shows, especially The Event, The Cape, and Grimm, all of which followed Chuck. They have supported Chuck sponsors and NBC advertisers with both patronage and publicity. They have publicized Chuck at every opportunity through online efforts that range from websites, podcasts, polls, and fan campaigns to live tweeting and conducting re-watches to bring in new viewers. While obviously many were not Nielsen families they tried to make their voice heard through RewardsTV (a Nielsen website for collecting information on viewership and product integration) and through the #NotANielsenFamily campaign on twitter.

        They are then told by the new head of NBC that their show’s ratings have dropped on it’s new night (inevitable) and that it is over (which they knew) but the clear implication is that it is because they didn’t sufficiently support the show.

        NBC made the bottom line the deciding factor in Chuck’s fate at every step of the way, and many of those decisions, while good for NBC, were not good for Chuck. In the end the fans did all they could to help the show, the network and that bottom line. In the end they were told Chuck was canceled because they fell short of NBC’s expectations. If your going to be honest with us don’t act as if we owed you something for decisions already made with the bottom line as the prime determining factor. It is the very opposite of telling the fans that they saved the show, and it is not honest.

  14. garnet says:

    Longshots happen….That’s why people go to the track. You just won’t find me betting on an Emmy for CHUCK at this point as much as I’d love to see it….. Come on Beatle Juice (darn it I can’t remember how that was spelt in the routine).

    • garnet says:

      And a thank you to all those who resisted the urge to point out that Spelt is a grain!

      • thinkling says:

        Actually my dictionary has it as both a hard wheat grown in Europe to feed live stock and also an alternated spelling for the past tense of spell.

      • garnet says:

        Ouch! My teaching was that that it should be spelled, “spelled”, but then around here we spell colour, honour, etc. with a u so we may be a little off the wall to begin with. Hey, I grew up with kids saying ,”Ain’t ain’t a word cause ain’t anin’t in the dictionary.”…well, wrong again!

      • atcDave says:

        Isn’t ain’t a pretty unique circumstance. I mean, it actually is in the dictionary with a real definition and everything, it is not an obscenity, and yet it’s considered low class to use it!

      • garnet says:

        Not really Dave. I guess my comment was mainly about how things change. When I was growing up ain’t wasn’t in any dictionary I ever saw. Now it is (even if it is mentioned as slang). I suspect that spelt comes under that type of change as well. The formally correct past tense should be spelled spelled, but people have used spelt to the point it needs recognition. As Andrew Clements pointed out in “Frindle” a dictionary is not a static thing it is a living, changing organism. How we speak and write determines what goes in (and comes out). We could likely have the same conversation regarding dive/dove, hang/hung etc.

      • atcDave says:

        Garnet I think “ain’t” is unique compared to any other word, I really meant that as a rhetorical question. In fact, my guess is “spelt” is actually archaic which gives it increased prestige in some circles. As a hard core history nerd I have quite a lot of experience with the changes in language; vocabulary, spelling and structure. It often gives me fits when writing, I just can’t bring myself to care about rules that I know have changed several times, especially those that have changed in my lifetime. And given the large number of British histories I’ve read I’m pretty insensitive to shifts between American and British usage too (insensitive in the sense I don’t care or consider either right or wrong. I usually do notice; the variations can tell a great deal about the time and context of authorship). I tend to consider the words and structure that communicate most clearly or accurately to be the most correct, what Webster or OED say about it is secondary.

      • joe says:

        Heh! It’s spelt Betelgeuse, Garnet. It’s also the name of the bright star in Orion. 😉

      • garnet says:

        Thanks for that Joe, I remembered the name, but I don’t think I every saw it written down.

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