Chuck vs The Tango (1.03)

We’re up to Chuck’s first mission.  And incidentally one of my all time favorite episodes.  Tango will be the first time we see our new team in action.  And we’ll see Chuck deal with the very difficult task of deceiving Ellie, all while pursuing his Buy More “career”.

So let’s jump right in…

I know I’m not alone in considering Tango one of my very favorites.  I’d even call it first or second best of S1 depending on my mood (it competes only with the Pilot).  I know this is a minority opinion, and many find this episode fairly unremarkable.  But why does it excite some of us so much?  Like all things Chuck, that is a very complex question.  For me, the balance of the action adventure and comedy is just perfect.  I also love the version of Chuck we get here, even though he’s wayoutside of his comfort zone, he deals with challenges with courage and intelligence.  Devon teaching Chuck to Tango is a brilliantly funny scene, and then Chuck uses his new skill.

Chuck learns a very useful spy skill

But unlike a million ordinary sit-coms I’ve seen before, Chuck is no mere buffoon.  He quickly realizes what was wrong with his “training”, fesses up (no standard sit-com sort of stupid denials), and adapts.  I love that moment, not only was it satisfying in the context of this episode, but it tells me great things about Chuck.

But that is only one example.  I love the discussion about Chuck’s future, especially contrasted with the real discussion about his future taking place next door; and of course I love the significant detail that Sarah is the one looking out for Chuck when he isn’t there to speak for himself (we will see this many more times!).

It’s Carmichael…errr…. Bartowski

I love the Chuck/Sarah pre-mission briefing.  She is showing a professional level of concern and compassion for her asset, and maybe just a little something more…

I love the ride to the auction in the limousine and Chuck learning about “spy humor”. Everything about Chuck’s encounter with La Ciudad is fun, although I will have to admit the small bias of finding her the most beautiful woman ever on this show.  But I particularly like Casey and Sarah charging to the rescue; great shoot out and wonderful rescue.

Season one and two in a nutshell…

Then I also really like Chuck’s return to a prying Ellie, and Chuck running off to rescue Morgan and do something he’s actually good at.  The next morning at Buy More is also a favorite sequence.  From Chuck’s heroic use of a counter and PA system, to the long set-up involving the cage gag (very well laid out over the course the entire episode), to Casey finding innovative uses for freezers and micro-waves, to Sarah’s awesome take down of the deadly foe.

And finally, a pretty much perfect last scene for Chuck and Sarah; Sarah is at her encouraging best again, with just the right amount of flirting.  This may be the moment when I first thought Chuck would be the show to break from television tradition on how wt/wt was handled (although I didn’t know the wt/wt term or acronym yet!).  Funny how you can be both right and wrong about something.  I even said to a friend that they would be married in season four.  But I certainly never imagined how painful the process of getting there would be at times.  So fun and not fun all at once.

So I guess my final answer on why I love this episode so much is actually simple, they did almost everything perfectly to my taste.  I even skipped over many scenes and moments that I enjoyed.  What bearing does Tango have in the big picture of the whole series?  To me, the answer is it’s a sort of prototypical Chuck.  The introductions are over, this is the start of how its going to be.  And really, with only small incremental changes, this is the form of the show through season two.  This will always be a very special episode to me.

~ Dave

Ernie Takes a Turn

Like Dave I consider Chuck Versus The Tango one of Chuck’s best.  If the last two episodes were the co-creators revving the creative engine of the show and building their worlds, Chuck Versus The Tango is that engine dropping smoothly into gear for our first Sunday drive through their world.  A lot of the signature elements of Chuck, while we’ve seen them before, are stylistically introduced into the show’s DNA.  The Tango is not just the title or the dance Chuck has to learn, but a theme.  The interplay between partners, the seamless transitions and the montages, the interplay between worlds, or rivals, is all played as a dance.  The visual style too is solidified in this episode, even as it reflects the dance metaphor.

It may be a stretch, but to me the dance metaphor is established right off the bat.  We see the painting moving through that dark underworld, and the same steps are repeated by everyone in the exact same way.  And that leads me to a major digression.  There is an Australian movie I love as a guilty pleasure called Strictly Ballroom.  It is, like Chuck, a fun romp through a world we don’t recognize, and one that doesn’t take itself too seriously, even though the character’s pain and growth does connect, but it ultimately reflects some larger truth of our own world.

I’ll try to be brief, but the premise, in a nutshell, is that a promising young professional dancer has an epiphany during a competition.  The limits, the staid conformity, and the confining rules placed upon him finally become too much, and he “goes rogue”.  The rest of the movie is those around him trying to pull him back into the fold, for his own good, while he explores what it really means to dance with a new partner, and with the guidance of her family.  Her father is a masterful dancer (as is his we eventually learn), and there is a key scene where the protagonist and his new partner demonstrate their technical proficiency to him and his friends, and are laughed at by those who understand the dance they are mimicking at a level they don’t even dream of.

It reminds me of Chuck for several reasons, most aren’t important, others (cough- hero’s journey-cough) I won’t go into, but the initial introduction to the two protagonists shares a lot.  Sarah may be the most proficient of spies, but it’s all technique, and no heart till she finds the right partner.  The greater good is an abstraction, follow orders, another mission, another kill.  But she can tell herself she’s serving a larger cause, doing the right thing for once in her life, until she finds herself kidnapping a baby for the fortune she’s worth to someone else.  Suddenly Sarah knows just doing someone else’s routine, repeating their steps and following their orders just isn’t working.  She’s had her epiphany by the time she meets Chuck, she just hasn’t found the right partner to teach her it’s not an abstraction, the greater good is about protecting the people you love.  I like to think Chuck Versus The Tango is the start of that process.

Back to our dance.

You know I love a good montage, and Chuck Versus The Tango has one of the best.  And funniest.  I like the metaphor too.  The two spies know their steps and they prepare for the mission with an ease and grace born of years of practice.  Chuck however is awkwardly trying to learn how to dance.  On a side note, watch Ellie’s reactions in the background during this scene if you never have.  It was one of the first clues I got to how important the visual presentation is to this show’s humor and its storytelling.

Chuck’s first dance in the spy world doesn’t go without its problems, and that applies to both the literal and figurative dance.  But we do see that despite some rookie mistakes as a spy (telling Morgan where he’d be, associating himself with the painting, which is a known target for the bad-guy) he’s a natural, with a few minor adjustments.  He manages to stall La Ciudad and her henchmen, all the while giving nothing away about who he is or what the authorities know.  When the rest of Team B arrives in the nick of time we see the new team starting to fall into step.  Chuck is the wildcard who makes the team improvise some new moves that ultimately will put them at the top of everyone’s dance-card.

Chuck however still has his doubts, about a lot of things.  His new life has him feeling a bit isolated from Ellie, there’s too much he can’t tell her and he’s feeling a bit overwhelmed.  A night doing something he’s good at seems to at least restore some confidence.  As does an atta-boy from Casey, which was nice to see.  But this dance isn’t over yet.

La Ciudad and her henchmen are the first in the spy-world to make the mistake of entering the Burbank Buy More (spies go in but they don’t come out).  Once again Chuck’s quick thinking and improvisation give Casey the chance to ad-lib and take out both the baddies, while moving some merchandise no less.

And what can you say about Yvonne that hasn’t been said.  While her acting depth would eventually outshine her ability to do her own fight choreography and stunts I remember being far more impressed with her ability to carry the action scenes and do the fights at this point.  This was a killer combination I’d never seen anywhere else, and that goes for both Yvonne and the rest of the cast, and the show in general.

While that just about wraps up Team B’s tango with La Ciudad there is one more dance about to start.  The fountain scene, which would become a staple of their journey to find a way to the life they both dream of launches the question that would occupy Chuck for the next two years.  Is this real?  At this point even we don’t know, I read the look on Sarah’s face as either upset she slipped and gave away too much, or upset she had to manipulate such a nice guy.  At this point I’d venture even she doesn’t really know, but she’s doing her best to convince herself it’s the latter.  The resolution of that question is for next week’s episode.

This is the point where I consider the show to have fully found its stride and it’s strengths.  And while it would occasionally have its rough patches, it was a remarkably strong and quick start for an amazing show.

Chuck Firsts in Chuck Versus The Tango.

Just for fun here are a few things we noticed that became regular features of Chuck’s world. This early on almost everything is new or just introduced, but here are a few that are notable.

First appearance of Charles Carmichael.

First actual mission.

The Watch is introduced, both Chuck’s GPS tracker version and the Dick Tracy version Casey and Sarah wear.

First “it’s complicated”

First “Fountain Scene”

First major shootout

First Casey use of both a major and minor appliance as an offensive weapon.  OK, it wasn’t really a regular feature, but it was just too cool not to mention.

First reference to Team Bartowski. Actually there’s the Buymore TeamB, Ellie and Devon and Morgan as TeamB, and the burgeoning spy TeamB.


About atcDave

I'm 54 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 31 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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127 Responses to Chuck vs The Tango (1.03)

  1. resaw says:

    Great review, gentlemen. As I rewatched the show, I was drawn to signs that Sarah’s behaviour toward Chuck was more than just that of handler to asset. As suggested above, it could very well be that this was just her technique for keeping Chuck cooperative, but I am more of the opinion that she has feelings for Chuck that are causing her some concern. The scene you selected where Sarah leans over Chuck still tied to the chair is a great example. I also noticed their pre-mission conversation in front of the Wienerlicious where Sarah puts her hand on Chuck’s. Again, it could very well have been for cover purposes, but I’m going with Sarah’s confession in season 3 that she was already falling for Chuck this early in their “relationship.”

    On a totally different matter, and this may have been discussed on this forum earlier, but at this stage in our knowledge of Lester, he is apparently going through an adult conversion to Judaism rather than being a lifelong member of some bizarre sect of “Hin-Jews” (not sure of the “official” spelling) from Saskatchewan.

    This has also probably been said before but I just noticed that one of La Ciudad’s bodyguards is Yuri the Gobbler, one of Volkoff’s henchmen.

    Quotable quotes. Big Mike: “First rule of management. Always take credit.”

    Nice little interaction beween Chuck and Ellie, with the former not wanting to portray “a false sense of excitement for a relationship that seems doomed. … Because she’s not into me,” with Ellie responding “Trust me, I have seen the way that girl looks at you, and she’s into you,” followed by a smile from Chuck.

    I like the metaphor of the dance, Ernie. Very fitting.

    This was the show where I discovered The National. As Sarah and Chuck tentatively flirt with each other in the court we hear the song, “Slow Show.” The song (even the title of the song!) seemed to say more than they were willing to admit at that moment, but it seems prophetic of what is to come (even if neither of our characters is 29 years old at this stage):

    I wanna hurry home to you
    put on a slow, dumb show for you
    and crack you up
    You know I dreamed about you for 29 years before I saw you

    The National does the sad romantic thing so well, and that seems to describe Chuck and Sarah so very well, too.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      First thanks resaw. Both Dave and I are on record as big fans of this episode, so it was a fun review to do, especially since it is the first stand-alone review of this episode on this blog. Though I do fear I strained that dance metaphor at times. 😉

      Also a big fan of The National and Slow Show was the perfect song for that transition, and to setup the long awkward dance Chuck and Sarah were about to begin. As for real versus manipulation, I think Wookie gives us some insight so I’ll defer till that episode’s review and just say that I think at this point both Chuck and the audience are supposed to be unsure, which starts Chuck looking for clues, and getting to know the real Sarah.

      On a totally different matter, and this may have been discussed on this forum earlier, but at this stage in our knowledge of Lester, he is apparently going through an adult conversion to Judaism rather than being a lifelong member of some bizarre sect of “Hin-Jews” (not sure of the “official” spelling) from Saskatchewan.

      Ah yes, a bit of retcon, but aren’t we making the assumption that the Hin-Jews of Saskatchewan adhere to the traditional form of Judiasm? Perhaps their bar-mitzvah takes place at 26 as opposed to 13. We know from Balcony that their dietary laws aren’t exactly kosher. Poutine (featured prominently in Lester’s lair in Balcony) is about as kosher as a bacon cheesburger.*

      In all seriousness, this one is clearly a genuine retcon. Lester obviously was undergoing conversion as an adult based on his behavior right up through Santa Claus in season 2. In fact I think as late as Chuck Versus First Class, when Casey brainwashes Lester in his footie pajamas, all indications are that Lester lives at home with his mother. I don’t remember when Lester became Canadian now that I think of it.

      *Addenda: Come to think of it, kosher poutine shouldn’t be too hard, just use a mushroom gravy as opposed to beef and it should be fine. I don’t know how poutine purists would react to that though so I won’t opine on whether kosher poutine would in fact be poutine.

      • I always thought the Hin-Jew idea was a scam that Lester was using to get special treatment. The Canadian part I bought because he’d have a green card. Maybe his parents immigrated when he was five or something. I never thought there was a conversion. When then actually made him part of the “cult”, I was more surprised he had actual Jewish family members.

        One of my favorite parts was when Casey’s Tango gag is revealed. All-serious Sarah smiles at Chuck because she thinks his naivete is cute.

        Another first: Fighting bad guys at the Buy More. Casey used his hit-the-fist-with-his-forehead move a once or twice early, including this episode. I wish he continued using it.

        This episode also introduced Uri the non-gobbler, not to be confused with Yuri the Gobbler. They’re like Zathras is Babylon 5. Slight differences in how you pronounce.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        In this episode when the Nerd Herders are leaving each of Jeff, Lester and Anna gives an excuse why they can’t stay and finish the computer repairs. Lester’s is his Bar-Mitzvah lesson, which would imply that he is converting to Judiasm since those born Jewish have their Bar/Bat-Mitzvah at 13. Lester clearly uses his religion as a scam at times, like shooting dradle for cash in the beginning of Crown Vic. At other times his use of Yiddish or his repeated insistence that it is a Buy More “holiday” party seems to indicate he likes it because he thinks it makes him unique or stand out in the crowd. In any case the Hin-Jew cult seems to be just another example of how we shouldn’t look too closely across multiple seasons for plot continuity, especially when it comes to Jeffster.

      • I know Lester said he was going to a lesson. I tend to think TV characters lie a lot, especially on a show with a lot of secrets, covers and lies. So I figured that was an excuse Lester used to get out of activities he didn’t want be part of. No one would question the religious excuse. At lease that’s what I thought initially. The mounting evidence over time made me think maybe it was semi-legit.

        If I wanted to justify the continuity, I could argue that Lester’s folks brought him to America before the age of 13. He didn’t like moving at the time, so refused to have his Bar Mitzvah in protest. Sometime when he was older, he came home drunk, causing his parents to threatened to throw him out of the house. He agreed to have his Bar Mitzvah as a compromise. But you know what? That level of continuity really isn’t that important in Chuck.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well at this point the extent of Lester’s duplicitous nature hasn’t really been fleshed out, though his nature to brag and overcompensate is pretty much established with two scenes, the one where he suggests “The Lesters” as a non-gender-specific alternative to “guys” and the scene where the Herders discuss Sarah (she’s really hot, even by his standards). I can see going 50/50 on that statement.

        I liked Sarah’s amusement with Chuck’s naivete too, and her amusement at his clumsiness.

        As for the fight in the Buy More I think I mentioned it in the text of my post, but forgot to add it to firsts, nice catch Jeff.

    • atcDave says:

      Resaw I always assume Sarah liked Chuck almost from the very start (ballerina at least). But of course that doesn’t mean she wasn’t willing to lie or manipulate to get him to do his part on missions. But I think its to her credit that she mostly kept that to a minimum and worked hard from the start to look out for him. Even much of that could be professional (I know I often see myself as an advocate for my trainees at work; and like a handler, I still need to stay objective enough to recognize when something isn’t working out), but I think we often catch glimpses of Sarah’s real feelings coming out, and Chuck occasionally breaking through her barriers. Of course most of the time there is no conflict of interest; she is supposed to protect him while keeping him functional on missions. But we do see the nature of being a compromised agent rear up when Sarah goes against orders or protocols on Chuck’s behalf (late in Crown Victoria comes to mind).
      I think the show is very well constructed in that we can be more sure of Sarah’s real feelings more quickly than Chuck can be. Chuck must ask questions until Other Guy (I will not start ranting about Colonel and S3 for now…) when he is finally sure where they stand with each other.

      As far as Lester goes, I always figured his “jewishness” was a scam. I believe Balcony was when they added Canadian to the mix. Perhaps Lester figured Indian/Canadian didn’t give him enough of an edge. Or perhaps its more deeply ingrained and the entire “Hinjew” culture is an economic ploy (I was briefly concerned about causing offense with that, but when I looked up”Hinjew” at Wikipedia it came up with Vik Sahay!).
      We also could consider that Lester was TEACHING the class. I don’t know of Jews ever use lay leaders for this sort of work, but I guarantee there is no definitive answer about Hinjews on the subject.

    • joe says:

      Resaw, I absolutely agree with you about Slow Show and The National. Excellent music, and that song with always be associated with Chuck in my mind.

      Good catch with Uri/Yuri (Matthew Willig), Jeff. I can’t believe I missed that one!

      • atcDave says:

        I caught that the actor was the same, but missed that his character name was almost the same too! Very funny.
        Although in Tango he is billed as “Matthew J. Willig”. Maybe he’s actually an evil alternate reality version of himself…
        I guess they need former NFLers on occasion to make Casey look small.

      • joe says:

        Former NFL’ers and former pro-wrestlers too. 😉

      • For those that don’t get the Zathras Bab5 reference:

        The takeaway: Yuri and Uri might have 8 other brothers very tall brothers. Chuck and Sarah should watch out!

      • joe says:

        Jeff, Zathas (et al) was one (several???) of my favorite characters on Bab5. And I had completely forgotten him until your mention.

        I’ll blame it on that dreaded disease, AGE!

      • “Zathras warned Zathras, but Zathras never listened to Zathras” used to be one of my program crashing sounds. Win95 and Win98 programs crashed enough, I’ll never forget Zathras. My sound switcher randomly switched been “Purple” and “Green” for the generic beep sound. I stopped customizing sounds with WinXP. Hmmm, I wonder what Chuck sound clips would be good.

      • joe says:

        Well, for certain errors, Casey called Chuck “numb-nutz” works.

        Maybe for opening files of a certain type, Ellie telling Morgan “I loath you” works too.

      • Startup sound: “Hi, I’m Chuck! Here’s a few things you might need to know or maybe just forgot.” or just the first riff of the opening theme.

        Shutdown sound: “He’s free. He’s got nothing but time on his hands.”

        Empty Recycle Bin: something from Jeff. The only thing I can think of right now is the “What if you were the unwitting target of a ninja vendetta and he returns tonight to strangle you with his nunchucks?” but there’s got to be something better.

        Crash sound: “Awesome.” or Lester’s hyperventilation which sounds like a donkey

  2. joe says:

    I’m so glad to see the list of “firsts” started in style. I think I have one to add…

    I think this is the first view we have of Sarah’s sense of humor, and it’s not until we hear her sing-song “Thank you!” to Casey way in S3’s Nacho Sampler that we get to see it again, I think. It’s when she wryly smiles at a handcuffed Casey and snaps an incriminating picture. That, and her smile when Casey pulls his “spy joke” on Chuck in the limo tell us quite a bit about Sarah’s inner comedian.

    • atcDave says:

      I think you’re getting ahead Joe! That’s funny because I mentioned that exact moment in my Wookie write up (for next week), but then edited it out later. She did say “hang here” after cuffing La Ciudad, which may have been an attempt at giving her some sort of Hero quips. But they must have decided the moment didn’t work, because they did make Sarah more business-like until Honeymooners. I think we could find some other funny moments for Sarah if we dug for them, but mostly she was the show’s emotional heavy for 2 1/2 seasons. Really a shame since Yvonne/Sarah is so much fun to watch when she’s being funny.

    • joe says:

      Oops. I *am* getting ahead of myself. Sorry ’bout that, chief!

  3. thinkling says:

    Fantastic review, guys.

    Dave, you mentioned the parallel scenes with Ellie and Devon and Morgan planning Chuck’s life (his next five years) and Sarah and Casey planning his first mission. At this point Chuck is ambivalent to all of it. Five people are planning his life and he goes to bed. I’ve always love the whole discussion of the near death experience of white water rafting juxtaposed with the very real near death experience at the art auction, which Chuck can’t tell anyone about. I can’t help comparing S1 Chuck with S5 Chuck in, say, The Zoom, when he outran the bullets and jumped through a plate glass window, falling several stories to land on the top of a moving van. He’s the same quick planner, but somewhere along the way developed the overt bravery and skills he lacked in S1. You and I talked a little BTS about how watching S1 makes us want to watch S5 along side.

    Ernie, great catch about the dance and the whole episode being a dance. And it is. I think Tango wins the prize for the most montaged episode of Chuck of all time. Almost all of it is montaged with parallel scenes, some more choreographed than others. There’s also Chuck’s tango with Malayna intercut with Sarah and Casey’s tango with MI6.

    One other thing about Chuck and his tango that is symbolic of the show is the gender reversal. Chuck learned the girls part to the dance and has to let Malayna lead. In the spy world he finds himself in a similar role reversal, as Sarah leads the spy dance and protects him. Later, in the early stages of the relationship, and another role reversal, he will take the lead and protect her (personally, emotionally), in the dance of love and normal life. Then finally in S5, they are both comfortable with all the parts to both dances (the spy and the normal). They dance both dances, seamlessly alternating leading and following, according to the situation and each others needs.

    As I watched the art auction, it occurred to me that Malayna (the brunette — first brunette — in the blue dress) was a sort of the anti-Sarah (the blonde in the red dress). Both sexy, beautiful, dangerous women … trained in over 200 ways to kill you … but complete opposites in character.

    And the fountain scene: I think it’s a little of both. Sarah was doing her job encouraging Chuck, but I almost always saw a layer of sincerity bonded to the layer of handler. I think her encouragement was heart-felt and her admiration started out genuine and grew over time. And in this scene I think some real feelings bubbled up and took her by surprise.

    • atcDave says:

      I’m glad you mentioned the role reversal…
      It is something that I think was fun in Chuck from the very beginning. They occasionally played it for laughs (like in Coup de Etat when Chuck has to take all the initiative in intimate conversations) but mostly, it was just an organic part of the show. But never in a really “strange” way; Sarah remains clearly feminine, Chuck remains all masculine. But their roles reverse in multiple layered ways.
      I do agree about Sarah’s layered feelings too. In these early episodes, she is still pretty much in control, and maybe adds just a little extra passion to her duty because of her feelings. But it is so much fun as the story develops and more conflicts will occur between duty and love. Sarah will have to gradually sort out what really matters to her. All while leaving Chuck perpetually confused.

      • “Chuck remains all masculine” – Except for his girlish screams, which several people, including Chuck himself, attest to. But other than that, I agree it’s not a strange role reversal.

      • atcDave says:

        I’d call the “girlish screams” one of the played for laughs things. But I had forgotten about that!

      • thinkling says:

        Right. Thanks for clarifying. I didn’t mean in a strange way. But the role reversal was always part of the intrigue of the show … even more so, because Sarah remained clearly feminine and Chuck all masculine. And kudos to the actors for pulling it off so well, especially Yvonne.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks Thinkling, absolutely right on the additional “dances” but like I said, I thought I was straining that metaphor to it’s limits already.

      The gender reversal is an interesting point, how easily he adapted to allowing the woman to lead. Perhaps something to consider later as we re-watch, because when you allow someone to lead, it kind of puts them on the spot for where you are going. Something I think we see explored a bit in the next few episodes.

      • thinkling says:

        It’s really interesting. In the beginning in the spy world Chuck couldn’t lead, and he was fortunate to have Sarah to follow. It was the same for her in the normal world. She needed to follow him. But we see both of them take the reins a little more after they adjust and learn. Chuck begins to take back his life in S2. In S5 we see Sarah taking the lead more and more in the normal world. In some ways it’s an apt metaphor for the entire series. … After the Hero’s Journey, course. 😉

  4. Bill says:

    Just wanted to thank you for keeping the chucktalk going. I only found this site in the last month or so (at garnet’s urging), and wow, it has been a treasure trove of insightful commentary for me. Thank you.

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for the good words Bill and welcome to our site! We still have a blast going through this again and look forward to your input.

    • garnet says:

      Glad you made it here Bill.
      I am just going to add that I am impressed by the number of times Saskatchewan has been mentioned (and spelled correctly).
      As for Lester, I think Lester was on an ongoing spiritual journey throughout the series. Also a little inside joke perhaps, as he was, to the best of my knowledge, the only Canadian regular in the series

      • resaw says:

        I agree that Vik was the only Canadian regular. Among guest stars, however, I can quickly think of Tricia Helfer, aka Alex Forest in Chuck vs the Broken Heart. And, if one were to stretch the term “guest star” a little, in Chuck vs. Tom Sawyer, the song Tom Sawyer was by the Canadian band Rush.

      • Carrie-Anne Moss and Kristin Kreuk were both born in Vancouver.

      • atcDave says:

        And of course Josh Schwartz is Jewish…

  5. anthropocene says:

    Had to share this. This morning in the local newspaper, a candidate for public office was profiled as follows:

    Age: 39.
    Education: Bachelor’s in political science and master’s in public and international affairs..
    Family: Husband and four children.
    Work experience: Homemaker, former clandestine-operations officer at the Central Intelligence Agency.

    • atcDave says:

      So just don’t ask him to divulge his real name or family ties!

      • anthropocene says:

        You mean her real name, right?

      • anthropocene says:

        I was envisioning a real-life Sarah.

      • Based on her graduation year (not the prop mistake in Bearded Bandit) Sarah is supposed to be 31-32. Popping out four kids and running for office in 7 years is really ambitious. Then again, Zac and Yvonne said Chuck and Sarah would have 10 kids, so they need to get going. Oh wait. You said real life.

      • atcDave says:

        Doh! I read it too fast. Yes her of course, is her name Sarah?

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I think Chuck and Sarah can do it with litters of two or three…

      • They specifically said lots of sexy times. If that’s part of the goal, they don’t need to make it more efficient with twins and triplets.

      • anthropocene says:

        Dave: No, her name isn’t Sarah…but maybe it was….

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well 10 kids in 10 years with no twins or triplets means Sarah spends virtually the whole 10 years pregnant. Not sure how that’d impact #sexytimes. I’ll defer to those with kids, like Adam Baldwin: “Spoken like two people with no kids.”

        Just another meaningless statistical FYI, this is the 60,001st comment on this blog. Curse you anthropocene, I’ve been lurking to get that 60,000th comment all morning! 😉

      • I’ve heard things about that 2nd trimester.

        Maybe we could get 10,000 more comments today if we really work at it. (10 pregnancies in 10 years for fictitious characters seems more likely.)

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jeff, not saying a sex-drive necessarily goes away, just that it may not be the determining factor on #sexytimes. I’m thinking of the mere logistics.

        Year 1, pregnant
        Year 2, pregnant, 1 newborn
        year 3, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1-yr-old
        year 4, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old
        year 5, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old, 1 3-yr-old
        year 6, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old, 1 3-yr-old, 1 4-yr-old
        year 7, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old, 1 3-yr-old, 1 4-yr-old, 1 5-yr-old
        year 8, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old, 1 3-yr-old, 1 4-yr-old, 1 5-yr-old, 1 6-yr-old
        year 9, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old, 1 3-yr-old, 1 4-yr-old, 1 5-yr-old, 1 6-yr-old, 1 7-yr-old
        year 10, pregnant, 1 newborn, 1 1yr-old, 1 2-yr-old, 1 3-yr-old, 1 4-yr-old, 1 5-yr-old, 1 6-yr-old, 1 7-yr-old, 1 8-yr-old

        From about year 4 on they always have 1-2 nursing and 2-3 in diapers. Granted it is Chuck and Sarah, but at some point sheer numbers will overcome ingenuity and endurance. In batch-mode there is at least the chance to get one group out of diapers and nursing for a year-or-so (and to not be pregnant) before the next batch comes along.

      • Ok, Ernie. I’ll give you that. Also, you forgot that around year three or four is when knife throwing training might start for the oldest. While Carmichael Industries might be doing well enough that they can hire people to help with child rearing, once the kids are wielding knives, the home care staff would probably quit. Even Morgan might balk at the idea of watching a Disney movie with a kid twirling a knife. Chuck and Sarah would be on their own.

      • atcDave says:

        And it gets even better after year 10 when firearms training starts…

      • joe says:

        And the babysitter would be…???

        Casey? MORGAN???
        Don’t be too quick with saying “the Grandmothers!” 😉

        Clearly, C&S will need Alex’s help from the get-go with that.

    • atcDave says:

      Well since our all time busiest day was somewhat under 6000 hits, and that was back during the misery arc, and our recent traffic is more like 400-500 hits a day, and comments are just a small fraction of hits….

      10000 comments in a day might be reaching a bit!

    • thinkling says:

      ROTFL No wonder I had 40 something emails when I got home from work. Sheesh.

      With all those kids, it’s a good thing uncle Alexei left them a fortune.

  6. anthropocene says:

    To quote a certain nameless villain: “Bwah hah hah.”

  7. FSL says:

    Love the “first” list. Hostiles walking into the Buy More – big mistake. I’d like to add that this is the first episode with the opening titles. =)

  8. Jerry Kane says:

    Since Thinkling brought up the bit about the contrast between the first and the final season, here’ one of the contrasts I like. From “Tango”:

    Chuck: I’ve been a spy for all of five seconds, and I already have soy sauce on my shirt.
    Sarah: Well, go and wash it off. And Chuck, stop saying that you’re a spy.
    Chuck: Right, of course.

    which I like to contrast with Sarah’s confident words from “Zoom”:

    Sarah: Do anything to us, and you’ll never have access to those accounts ever again. You see, we work with somebody. A master spy, who always has a plan.

    They came a long way in those five years.

    • thinkling says:

      Hey Jerry. I thought of that very line recently. What a great contrast. Chuck’s skills and Sarah’s confidence in him. Rewatching all of these early episodes against the backdrop of future growth is just so satisfying … much more so than in a status quo kind of show.

      • resaw says:

        This was certainly true for me. I don’t think Chuck would have survived as a series if it had just been an episodic TV series. There were arcs throughout the series, but even more important were the character development arcs for almost all of the main characters (save Lester and Big Mike, perhaps) from beginning to end.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know I disagree, at least in part Resaw. Although I agree character growth is a great thing, and a huge part of what made Chuck so much fun. But I think there were too many longer arcs. I almost always disliked middle episodes, and I think the timing of key or climactic episodes was too predictable. I would prefer if more stories were completed on a weekly or bi-weekly basis with fewer cliffhangers. I think it’s only the shows I’m most interested in that I will ever remember all the key details of an on-going story. It basically forces the viewer to be a committed viewer, which generally means I just watch fewer shows. It strikes me as presumptuous that writers think I’m going to watch so closely every week, and I’m never more likely to just delete a series than I am right after a big cliffhanger. I think it’s their job to give me a story (really, that’s their job, just like its mine to keep airplanes from running into each other), and a cliffhanger is a sign of failure (like, “I’ll give you the rest of that clearence when I get back from lunch…”).

        Now all that said, I think they mostly did a good job with Chuck. They ended most stories in one or two episodes, and resolved major plot points before longer breaks. But many of the episodes I like least are from the middle of arcs that ran three or more episodes. I do appreciate that some things take more time to develop in depth, but I rarely like the three act structure. Get to the point already…
        Actually I just made myself laugh with that. I’m a huge fan of longer cuts, it’s the time off that kills a story for me.

    • atcDave says:

      I did take some of that confidence to be bravado, or even part of a bluff. But no doubt there is a profound change in how everyone sees Chuck. I love Sarah’s confidence in him when she gives her pep talk in the end, Chuck is their leader.

  9. resaw says:

    Excuse me if this reply shows up out of sequence, Dave (unlike Chuck, the character, I am less adept with computers, or blogs, apparently, not seeing a “Reply” directly beneath your post). Anyway, in response, certainly the episodes are important. When I think about this some more, I suspect my answer is only suitable in retrospect, since I now know the path of the overall arc. I suppose it would have been difficult to stick with the series if each episode wasn’t interesting in its own right, but I think I felt somewhat frustrated when I watched “stand alone” shows that didn’t drive the story forward. An example that comes immediately to mind for me is Chuck vs. the Third Dimension, which I understand a lot of people liked. It was not really my cup of tea, as it were, because I don’t think it really added much to the story. Season 3.0, in contrast, a controversial part of the series, to say the least, for me was one of my favourites because (again, in my view), it felt like there was some real development going on in Chuck’s life, even if the relationship with Sarah was set back for a while. The relationships between Chuck and Hannah and Sarah and Daniel, respectively, were inherently unstable. There was a tension in the relationships that demanded a search for a resolution. (Again, easier to interpret in retrospect.) I guess I’m comparing Chuck favourably to a lot of formulaic sitcoms that were “reliable” but never really allowed the characters and relationships to develop.

    The striking thing for me is that here I am discussing this series in a forum with a bunch of other folks who have been absolutely captivated by it. No other show has drawn this level of interest from me before, and I think that one of the reasons was because of the compelling character arcs of the protagonists over the entirety of the series. Maybe Chuck would have survived as a series for the same length of time, but I wonder if it would have held my attention without that big arc from beginning to end (forgive me for even bringing to mind such thoughts of unfaithfulness!).

    • atcDave says:

      The replies only go two deep, so after a reply to a reply you need to go to the previous post to continue in that “thread.” Its not terribly elegant, but we use this site more like a forum than was ever intended.

      Anyway, I’m not completely disagreeing. I’m mainly contrasting with the exact opposite phenomena you are. I really dislike that we’re hit with so many very serialized shows like “Lost” or “Battlestar Galactica” that go on forever and build more questions than answers on a weekly basis. I always prefer closure, at least for the major plot points, on a weekly basis. I fear the more episodic shows I prefer are a dying form; which will only lead to me watching even less television. More serialized shows are always easier to digest after the fact when the entire show can be viewed in complete context.
      But as I said above, I think Chuck usually got it about right, with several longer arcs like “Orion” at the end of S2 being particularly well done. But of course I would completely disagree with your specific example of S3. That was too dark for too long, I object to it on two major, and several lesser levels, and is a very good bad example for me. I avoid shows like Chuck S3 like the plague. I am most thankful it is a uniquely bad situation for this series; but it is a VERY LONG bad situation…

      • In general, serialized shows probably do better in DVD sales, which is an important revenue stream for some shows. I read when Smallville moved to Fridays, it wasn’t a death slot move like it is for many shows because the DVD sales funded a significant portion of the production budget.

        The one big group of programs that still do episodic shows is procedurals. They require really good and interesting characters or they seem repetitious. Sometimes it works and sometimes it doesn’t. I assume episodic/procedural shows do better in syndication.

        I prefer it when shows have multiple arcs. Some fade into the background or are put on a shelf for a while, but they come back. They don’t seem to overwhelm the show that way. Stargate SG-1 was like this. SG-1 inserted a lot of stand alone episodes, too. Since the arcs weren’t always the focus and didn’t have strict timelines, the stand alone episodes didn’t seem out of place. However single plot arcs are only tolerable for a small number of episodes. Another option is to have multiple complex, sometimes non-linear, arcs like Babylon 5, but most shows can’t do that well.

        One thing I wish Chuck did was have more bad guys escape and return later, even two seasons later. Also, I would have liked it if there was more than one “big bad” at a time. Stargate was good at this (multiple Ghoa’ulds and replicators, Ba’al and the Ori). If Chuck did it well, it wouldn’t have seemed like Volkoff and Quinn came out of nowhere. They also could have introduced a power struggle between Fulcrum and the Ring earlier in S2. Volkoff operatives could have been introduced in S3 (instead of inserting Heather Chandler’s contractee). If TeamB wasn’t going after the same bad guy as much, one-shot episodes wouldn’t have felt out of place, so Beckman wouldn’t have had to reveal the shocking truth that not all bad guys work for Volkoff.

      • atcDave says:

        Some great points Jeff. SG-1 was extraordinarily good at introducing new challenges that flowed right along with the old; as well as stand alone episodes that were often as much fun as anything I’ve ever seen (Jack O’Neal’s “Groundhog Day” episode; or the 200th episode loaded with flashbacks of things that never actually happened; brilliant television).
        I agree 100% about how Chuck would have been better for over-lapping the villains in a more sophisticated way like SG-1 did. But this goes even more to the point I mentioned last week; Chuck was never really about those villains. Even less than SG-1. Chuck was comedy, action, adventure, and a love story. The spy stories were WAY down the list of what mattered.

      • Good point, Dave. I do think that the bad guys would have mattered more if the show did them better. (Insert comment about the season 5 conspiracy here.) However, if we had the bad guys like SG-1, we might have been stuck with the romantic development of SG-1 (Nooooo!) There’s a reason there are possibly as many SG-1 post-Threads fics for SG-1 as there all of Chuck fics. I’m happier with the balance of priorities in Chuck.

        FYI, “Windows of Opportunity” was part of the ever important Jack/Sam arc that lasted for far too many seasons and was never resolved because Stargate: Revolution was never produced. I consider it part two of the seemingly unrelated “Divide and Conquer” (that ep’s air date is celebrated with Stargate “Ship Day”), because it was the only D&C payoff for the next 4+ seasons. (For the unfamiliar, think of Chuck’s Down River speech in Am Hero and Sarah’s “Yes” from Other Guy, under threat of lobotomy, with no follow-up kiss or relationship.)

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff I remember just assuming things had happened off screen; because it completely made no sense to me that things weren’t happening! SG-1 was truly not about romance.

      • Dave, I agree and disagree with your spy stories point. On the one hand, Chuck is totally a story about character and relationships. On the other hand, those spy stories were the vehicle through which the stories always fleshed themselves out – and they always places a spotlight on how different Chuck’s hero story is from any other I’ve seen (namely, how completely separate his superpower is from what makes him a competent spy and person). And stylistically, I do think they’re the most important part of the show. The key really is that you can’t look at them as pure action scenes so much as parts of a whole.

      • I think everyone assumed either there was something off screen, or there was an understand to wait. That’s part of why Stargate’s Pete Shanahan was hated at least as much as Daniel Shaw. It shot a hole in that theory. The idea came back in S9, which one of the producers unofficially confirmed. It was never official because, like you said, the show wasn’t a romance. In the commentaries, they joke about the intentional UST that they never really intended to do anything about.

        Shaw was initialing just manipulative and a bad spy. But he became a traitor, earning the hatred the character already had. Pete made a couple early mistakes, owned up to them, and was forgiven. He then proved to be a happy-go-lucky guy and a good cop. He was practically left at the alter on the show, and the fans still eviscerate him in fanfics. I’ve seen a few people (very few) feel sorry for Brandon Routh for being brought into a situation where he would be hated by fans. The funny thing about Pete (played by David DeLuise) was he picked for the part (i.e set up to be hated) by his brother, one of the producers.

        Oops, Chuckwin Law disclaimer.

      • atcDave says:

        Jeff the comparison is amusing. I think I’m among those with some sympathy for Brandon Routh; I make no pretense of trying to judge his performance because I loathe the entire story concept. (it’s like; I’m no judge of how well prepared the sushi is because I hate sushi!). I have so much scorn and dislike for the writing Routh escapes nearly unscathed. I’m happy to participate in Shaw bashing, Routh bashing not so much (although the wooden jokes sometimes make me laugh!).
        My feelings for Pete on SG-1 are similar but less intense. The character actually came across as a decent, even likable sort of guy. But few television characters seem more like a pointless waste of time to me (errrr, well except Shaw!). Pete’s screen time was an entertainment vacuum. At least Shaw served a purpose when Chuck got to shoot him.

      • I knew about the dislike for Shaw immediately, but I was kind of like you about Pete, initially. Then I started reading SG-1 fanfic and saw the hate. Later I listened to an episode commentary when they talked about Amanda Tapping was initially just happy her character was getting a boyfriend that didn’t die. They were shocked when the hate mail about the “stalker” started coming in. It made it really sink in about the production bubble and delay between production and broadcast make TPTB unavoidably out of touch with the initial reaction of fans. By the time complaints come in, they’ve produced several, if not a dozen, episodes they are proud of and have several more in the works. If that time was shorter, Sam and Peter might not have gotten engaged. If that time was shorter, Shaw might have been made evil a lot sooner.

      • atcDave says:

        We’re sinking deeper into “Chuckwin’s Law” here, but I would say often there’s no excuse for the production bubble. I can see with SG-1, maybe they didn’t even realize there was a passionate Jack/Sam ‘shipper mood for a lot of the audience. I mean the show never really was a romance, and I suspect the audience was overwhelming young and male (pure guess). So they may have expected a more indifferent response to the “D” plot.

        But I KNOW the same cannot be said for Chuck and Shaw. From the end of S2 excitement was huge after Colonel; and the disappointment was loud and angry at Comic Con 2009, which was before a single scene of S3 had been shot. Now admittedly, it was JUST before filming started for S3, so we were probably stuck with Pink Slip no matter what. But there was still plenty of time before they got to First Class when things really started to come off the rails to start “fixing” the story. And actually, we’ve heard that rewriting was being done at this time, to lengthen Shaw’s role. I will just always regard this as a dreadfully ill-conceived story. Actually, my real thoughts would involve the sort of language I won’t write.

    • joe says:

      Like usual, I’m right down the middle with the “Serialized vs. Episodic” debate. I recall being disenchanted with Deep Space Nine because it was the most serialized show I had seen up to that point, much more than ST:TNG, for instance. I didn’t like it. Then right afterwards I got completely blown away by Babylon 5, one of the most serialized things I’ve ever seen.

      And maybe Bab-5 shows a lot about the pitfalls too. After three successful seasons, the network completely twisted Straczynski’s concept into knots. “The best laid plans…” you know.

      One think that surprised my about Chuck, though, was how much differently I enjoy the stand-alone episodes during re-watches, when I can see three, four or more episodes in a week. At that rate, the stand-alones (like 3-D) really serve to break the tension in a nice way. They also tend to let the characters show us something we hadn’t seen before in a more relaxed way.

      There’s no way I’ll ever say that those incredible end-of-season episodes (especially the end of season 2 and season 4) should be interrupted with a stand-alone, though. They were tremendously exciting. But episodes like Party Planner and Tom Sawyer are to me, some of the most enjoyable character development vehicles I could imagine, even if they add little to the story line.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with almost all of that Joe, including comments on ST:DS-9 vs Babylon 5. B5 was probably the first serialized show I ever really liked. So I really don’t mean to suggest the form is a complete bust for me.
        But regardless of the merits, at this point its the stand alones that I most often re-watch. I feel like I can get a snap-shot of the Chuck universe at a point in time, and not worry about what comes next.

      • Thanks for the DS9 example, Joe. I was trying to think of a focused, single arc show that didn’t work as well because of it. DS9 is one. Yeah, it had multiple arcs. But those were completely forgotten for long single arc series that lasted up to half a season near the end. I liked DS9 better in the stand alone episodes. Enterprise is another show that went wrong with the S3 Xindi arc.

        B5’s serialization was more woven and layered. While the show should be watched in order, it atypical serialization. Even during the height of the Shadow War, the telepaths were plotting, Narn was rebelling, and the Grey Council was falling apart. Those were signifcant arcs that lasted 3-5 seasons each.

        Doctor Who does what appears to be episodic shows with an unknown arc running for the entire season. One of the cool things is the foreshadowing hints dropped throughout the season. However, my favorite Doctor Who episode was the Hugo award winning “Blink”. It is completely disconnected from all other arcs. It works because it is a good story. I think that’s what helps stand alone episodes. The show gets a chance to break free from the arc for an hour and simply tell a good story. It’s easier for characters to be the focus instead of plot, which is why Tom Sawyer and the Jack Burton episodes showcased character development.

      • FSL says:

        I believe a blend of both could have worked very well. Chuck is foremost a comedy. Rather like Lois and Clark, it wasn’t really about Superman (or in Chuck’s case, the actual spy missions). I think if the arc stories were more mixed between the stand alone episodes, it would feel less like a disjoint, which can sometimes be the case with Chuck. I still think season 2 had the best mix. With the Orion bits dropped here and there, and only picked up significantly in the last few episodes (with Stephen revealing his identity).

        It is quite tiring marathon rewatching season 3 (from beginning to hotel room), and seaosn 4 (the whole Sarah undercover arc).

      • thinkling says:

        Heh. I’m sort of in the middle too. I prefer a blend. Among procedurals that I like, my favorites usually have some background or long term story developing that gives the show some cohesion. Although I also like to have resolution along the way or at least progress. Character development is the key, though, for me to stick around.

        I like Chuck’s mini arcs, because they are resolved in three episodes. I agree that S2 did this very well. One of S3’s failings was how long they dragged out the misery arc. If it had been a 3 episode arc, like most other Chuck dramatic arcs, it probably would have been tolerated a little better.

        I generally like Chuck’s arcs, but I watched the first 3 seasons all at once, not having to wait a week between each episode. That makes a big difference. However, I also love Chuck’s stand alone episodes. They are often among my favorite … probably because there is a lot of character development or insight in them. I love Cougars, DeLorean, and Tom Sawyer; not to mention Honeymooners, Seduction Impossible, Cat Squad, and Wedding Planner. But then, one might argue that they are key episodes in what Resaw calls the big (s1-s5) arc, which I see as Chuck and Sarah’s journey, which I absolutely love, because it is story/character driven rather than plot driven. I generally don’t like long plot driven arcs, but I love character development and stories that move characters forward. Of course, Ernie would refer to that big arc as the Hero’s Journey.

        And where are you going to find a show that has this kind of balance and blend, not only of genres, but of episodic/serial and character development/romance/personal journey that is also a hero’s journey. I love that balance and blend.

      • atcDave says:

        I suppose the blend of the two is what I like best too. I think I react very negatively to terms like “long arc” because I feel so fatigued with unending serials that never seem to go anywhere. Again, it is something Chuck generally did very well, except for the misery arc. A few other arcs bogged down at some point (Gobbler, and the first 2/3s of Crown Vic) but for such a prolonged period.

      • Gotta say, while the misery arc did in fact make me miserable, I like it much better now. It makes the mid-season finally unbelievably satisfying – much more so than the season two finale, and my second-favorite episode of the show (the season 5 finale, of course, is peerless). The “misery” makes the tension release so much better, and a lot of those episodes were actually very good.

      • atcDave says:

        Hmmm, I don’t know about “very good”; I think the Awesome arc is the only real relief I felt from the misery, and that was more of a calm before the storm. I would only call the misery arc satisfying in the banging your head against the wall sense of the term (it feels so good when you stop…)
        Several episodes, specifically Beard and Tic Tac were very good in places and the major themes were well done; but I always find the background context to be so overwhelmingly sad I have no desire to re-watch. Especially not when there are so many other episodes I do find completely satisfying.

  10. resaw says:

    Well, having myself a fan of the big arc, especially the big arc that began at 1.01 and ended at 5.13, I found season 4, especially the “finding Chuck’s mom” arc to be somewhat tedious. Yes, we had the pleasure of Timothy Dalton along the way, and we got to see the engagement scene in the hospital hallway (one of the best done scenes in the season, in my view) as well as the wedding after Sarah’s life was dramatically saved, of course … and how could I forget Phase 3 … but this was the season where my commitment to the big arc kept me watching because I found the main arc of season 4 not very exciting over all. This is my personal opinion, not one I necessarily believe is shared with others, and unfortunately off the topic of vs. the Tango (I promised myself that I would be disciplined by not “wandering off” and discussing other shows out of sequence … oh well), but so be it.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny, I loved S4 all the way through, vastly more than S3. The only exception being Gobbler, which suffers from what I consider middle arc syndrome. S3 doesn’t work for me from Pink Slip through American Hero; fataly flawed at conception.

    • I didn’t much like Hamilton as the Mom either (thought she lacked enough personal quirks to pull it all together, but I thought the overall arc of Chuck continuing to come into his own was really strong. Season four’s two halves both started fairly weakly, but by Chuck vs The Push Mix, we got to see him, for the first time, leading his own operation and pulling it all off with his own wit. They set up the theme of him being strong without the intersect before Phase 3, and in the end, they brought the divergent themes of family (him using the Orion virus, his marriage proposal, and his mother being reunited with Ellie) and his competence as a spy (in addition to his intersect powers). This is a real change from even The Ring Part 2, where Chuck’s focus is essentially playing defense and completing his mastery of the Intersect.

      When it comes together in the Push Mix, it’s the first time we really get to see chuck as a complete leader – with his family and in the CIA. What’s always astonished me about Chuck as a show is how well it handles its character growth, and the Season four arc shows him becoming a stronger, better person than he at even the end of season three.

  11. resaw says:

    … arghh.. Should be “Well, having *declared* myself a fan of the big arc….

  12. garnet says:

    Getting back to the episode at hand :), I’d just like to comment on the action scene with Sarah. Sarah really gave us a glimpse at the lengths she would go to to protect Chuck, and we saw her as the Ninja-Protector for the first time. We now know just how good an agent Sarah can be. Yvonne may have grown as an actor over the series, but she had a lot to give right from the start!

    • atcDave says:

      I think the performance was dynamite from the start. I’m not sure why we’re seeing so many comments at how she “improved” over the course of the series recently. Certainly Yvonne got to show more emotion and passion as the character became more free with them, but I never felt there was any deficiency in the performance.

      But I agree entirely about seeing Sarah in lioness protector mode. It was very fun to see in Tango, perhaps we should have listed that as another first.

      • garnet says:

        There are two parts to this, First I think that as time went by Yvonne was given alot more to sink her teeth into. The early episodes gave us a bit of the super spy and eventually the love-struck spy longing for what she thinks she can’t have. Second, I do think she gave more solid performances as time went by (and when I say this I mean no disrespect to her portrayal of Sarah at any point), possibly because she had more information on which to base her portrayal. Maybe she could have done Mrs Charles or Phase Three from the top, but I have some doubts. My feeling is that,as time went by, there were also fewer “ADR moments” that sounded a bit off .

        Yvonne did a great job from day one, and, like a fine wine, she got better as time went by and the writers/TPTB realised just what a versatile actor they had on their hands.

      • joe says:

        Very true, garnet.

        I’ve always heard that actors love to do the stage because of the immediate feedback. I’m sure that something like a Broadway production is great stuff for their personality type. On TV, of course, they don’t get much feedback for weeks or months.

        Hey, maybe the kind of feedback the fans gave Chuck cast members (especially via twitter) was actually rewarding for them, and they sincerely meant what they said in interviews and at things like ComicCon.

        Not that I didn’t believe them before… 😉

    • ChuckFanForever says:

      Yes, the fight on the rooftop with La Cuidad was spectacular! I liked how Sarah finished her off with handcuff knuckled super punch! Also in agreement with Dave about Malayna being the most beautiful of the Chuck villains ever.

      We also see Chuck’s brilliance at learning new skills as he’s able to do a decent tango after only a few hour(s) of instruction from Devon.

  13. Listing to my Chuck playlist yesterday, I realized another first. “Santa Maria” by Gotan Project was the first Latin music featured on the show. I have a lot of salsa and tango music on that playlist from when Chuck and Sarah were infiltrating parties. Don’t those bands at formal engagements know how to play anything else? (Mariachi is music like chihuahuas are dogs, which they aren’t. *I’m kidding* Mariachi wouldn’t be played at those parties anyway.)

    It’s also the first of two times we get “Duettino – Sull’Aria” from Mozart’s The Marriage of Figaro, also known as the song Andy Dufresne played on the record player in Shawshank Redemption. It was used when Morgan was imprisoned in the cage and later in 3D when Butterman was trying to pick out a soda.

    • atcDave says:

      “Santa Maria” was the first song from Chuck that I purchased. Of course some weeks after I bought it, my wife heard it on my iPod and asked when I’d borrowed her CD. (doh!) At least the mistake only cost 1.29…

    • joe says:

      I’m impressed, Jeff! I didn’t think that too many people made Chuck playlists like I did! 😉

      For those who may need a reminder, Santa Maria is the tune to which Chuck learned to dance the girl’s part to the tango. Quite memorable! Here ya go!

      • “Santa Maria” was also replayed during the tango with La Ciudad. I liked it when a song was reused a couple times during an episode like that one was. They did that a lot. It gave the episode a a more contiguous soundtrack.

        My playlist has 296 songs. I has some stretch songs, like some from ComicCon panels and the Honda commercials with Morgan, Ellie, and Devon. It even includes “1-2-3 Goodbye” from the end of the bloopers/tribute video, “Never Seen Nothing Like You” from The Story of Chuck and Sarah alternate final scene posted on NBC, and “Better Together” from Thinkling’s fic. I also have a more manageable “Best of” playlist with 40 songs.

        I put up a poll at the NBC boards during season 3 about Chuck playlist length. Quite a few people had lists and several had over 100 songs. I’d provide a link, but one of the moderators removed it for some reason. (I stopped posting there when they removed my screencaps from a promo because of size even though they totaled about 700K, and they had 10MB animated sigs. All hail the friendly and accommodating owners of this blog. )

      • atcDave says:

        This blog is here today because of a former tyrant at the NBC boards. Faith knows who we mean!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Hmmm. my Chuck playlist is only 107 songs. I may need to check that.

    • anthropocene says:

      Listening to a Chuck playlist puts me in the zone for writing, and I’ve had some fun thinking about other music that could be used in an imaginary season 6 (or a movie, maybe).

      • joe says:

        Me too, Anthro. For quite some time I’ve had a post in the back of my mind that would essentially propose alternate music for the more memorable scenes (and I’ve lost count of the number of times I wanted to hear The Beatles’ We Can Work It Out in some particularly chosen fountain scenes).

        Consider this: Bob Dylan’s Father of Night when Ellie confronts Stephen the first time about pancakes.

        Okay – I’ll stop now. But that’s a game I could play for hours!

  14. Check out today’s Google Doodle. Bob Ross is 70. La Ciudad will finally get the reference, from her supervised Internet access in prison.

  15. First Impression says:

    I would call Chuck’s first mission an absolute success. I learned about Chuck’s comfort zone which only “… extends to the end of the couch”, his dreams of life as Charles Carmichael (crushed by the Stanford incident), his willingness to get prepared for a mission, and his current view of Sarah – beautiful, agile and exhausting.

    And although learning the tango was later identified as ‘spy humor’, it did keep Chuck occupied and not stressing about his first mission. It also gave me two of the funniest tangos I’ve ever seen. I enjoyed the quirky stuff too: Chuck continuing to make comments to Sarah and Casey during the mission briefing with their bosses; Casey removing Morgan with another hand to the face; ‘stay in the bar’ instead of ‘stay in the car’; and Casey using appliances (and his head) to stop the bad guys.

    The montages in this episode were perfect. The prep for the mission, the tango, the rescue and the fight scenes were all fabulous. How did they pack so much into a span of 45 minutes? I honestly don’t see how this episode could have been any better.

    • atcDave says:

      I love Tango! And its one of those funny, quirky things, Ernie does too (we tend to disagree on most things).

      On our master poll, done shortly after the series ended, it comes out about middle of the pack, go figure. But I put it in my top three of S1 (Pilot, Tango, Marlin), and its held up extremely well. Even in the context of the whole series it remains one of my favorites. Although be warned when I say that, there are thirty episodes on my top ten list.

      I’m not sure if Chuck’s assessment of Sarah will ever completely change, but it may be felt with less exasperation later. Chuck learning to Tango is a wonderful funny scene (gotta love Devon!), and the way he applies his flawed lessons is perfect.
      Packed episodes are a regular feature of this show. I long ago gave up trying to mention everything I enjoyed. Even an average episode of Chuck is better than most of what I’ve ever seen.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Absolutely one of my favorites, and the episode that really established the show’s signature style. But then I gushed over and said all that above, so I’ll just say ditto to Dave’s comments.

      • atcDave says:

        That is a problem with being totally happy with an episode, it typically means less to say.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Yes, but any episode that leaves both Dave and I happy should be treasured for the golden silence that ensues. 😉

      • First Impression says:

        It’s so much fun watching this with you guys! Thanks so much riding along again. 🙂

    • anthropocene says:

      Ditto ditto, and I absolutely loved Lorena Bernal as La Ciudad. I really wish they had brought her back to tang(o)le with Chuck later in the series.

      • atcDave says:

        I wish she did more work in the states, I’ve never seen her anywhere else (and I looked at IMDb, apparently she mostly works in Spain and Argentina).

      • atcDave says:

        Funny thing, right after I posted that last comment Gaelic Storm’s “Spanish Lady” came up on my iPod.

    • Chris Byrnes says:

      Tango is a funny and entertaining episode. Usually I like to go in order, but since I rank Helicopter near the bottom of my 91 episode ranks Tango really is my second episode. of season 1. Devon and Chuck dancing the tango is classic only Chuck kissing Casey is better.

      The first thing that stands out in this episode is the first dose of physical contact between Sarah and Chuck First, she puts her hand in his and the second time was at the end when she runs her hand through his hair during the rescue. Simple and flirtatious.

      Than we get to the end. When we get the first slip by Sarah,

      Chuck: You know if we were really dating…this would be the part where I would be forced to kiss you goodnight..
      Sarah: Forced? would that be so bad?
      Chuck: I am sure I can suffer through it.
      Sarah: Me too…

      She stares into his eyes a few seconds hoping he does, but realizes Casey is watching, so she walks away to keep the “cover” if there was a best of for tv shows
      this episode would be one of them

  16. oldresorter says:

    This episode felt to me like the show as I knew it for the first two seasons hitting full stride. Casey and Sarah no longer are at odds, and are working together. Sarah many roles are coming to the surface, ass kicking spy, handler, fake girl friend, and whatever you want to call her real feelings for Chuck. And finally, the Buymore place of business and the Ellie Bartowski home serve as grounded places to transition from one scene of saving the world to the next.

    #10 – Chuck vs The Opening Scenes – I really liked the opening scene in Tango with showing the painting and flashing the tehran, iran (small letters) on the screen. In a few quick scenes and maybe one or two minutes of screen time, the spy plot back story got told. I also liked the quick scene with Chuck helping the little kid.

    #9 – Chuck vs Ellie – Ellie might not have owned the show with her role in this episode like she did the last, but I still loved her relationship with Chuck. Ellie was the voice of the fans when toward the end she said to a down and out Chuck, “Trust me, I’ve seen how that girl looks at you and she’s into you. Do u like her?” I think the wt/wt worked best when we got evidence that things were moving along, even when the two love birds couldn’t see it.

    #8 – Sarah and Casey vs The Assassin’s – Casey takes out the two guys in the Buymore, while Sarah takes down La Ciudad on the roof. Sorry Casey, if put to a contest, Sarah’s scene was much better, although Casey got in a great line, “Now that’s what I call moving merchandise.”

    #7 – Sarah and Casey vs MI6 – The two MI6 agents thought the hot blond would be an easy target to interrogate on the roof. Little did they know she had backup, in Colonel John Casey. Plus, I doubt Agent Walker even needed Casey’s help, but it was nice to see the two of them working as partners.

    #6 – Chuck vs the Morons – Jeff, Lester, Anna and Big Mike came into their own. Anna claimed she was with a girl intimately, Jeff told of his plans to get wasted, Big Mike had two lines, ‘first rule of management, always take credit’, the second ‘nothing wrong with a man wetting his whistle once in a while’, and Lester incredibly described Sarah as, ‘the girl is super hot, even for me.’ The group fixed computers, made fun of Morgan, what could be better?

    #5 – Chuck vs Devon – Awesome taught Chuck to tango. So far, is this the most awesome Awesome sequence? OK, maybe a little weird too, but still, awesome.

    #4 – Chuck vs Casey – “Mom dad, can we get on with it, I have hard drives to fix.” Casey setting up Chuck with spy humor. Casey morphed into Chuck’s Casey this ep. The first two eps he was still getting debugged. Sarah smiling as she realized Casey tricked Chuck was classic. The big three had a great episode.

    #3 – Chuck vs His Handler – As Sarah gave Chuck a gift, a watch with a gps tracking system, she said, “that way you can’t run away from me.” Sarah gets to know Charles Carmichael, if you watch her listen to Chuck’s story about Stanford, Bryce, Carmichael, if look at her face, she’s crazy about the guy. If you don’t believe me, ask Ellie.

    #2 – Chuck vs La Ciudad – the scenes the episode was titled for, as Chuck danced with the sexy, yet deadly spy, and managed to tell her, “Apparently I learned the girl parts, could you lead?” I thought this scene was underrated, and so was the work by the actress who played La Ciudad. She and Chuck had tremendous chemistry. For me, Chuck being in close quarters with members of the opposite sex who were spies and seduction experts, was always really funny. Levi had a knack for those scenes. When Chuck’s backup finally showed up, YS and AB nailed the scene acting like BF/GF to get close. But come on Casey, I know Agent Walker took you in a fight, but really, you make her charge into the room first?

    And the best thing:

    #1 – Chuck vs The Water Fountain or Chuck vs His Fake Real Girl Friend – Ellie, Morgan and Lester all took notice of how hot Chuck’s new girlfriend was. I think Chuck did too. Chuck and Sarah shared a couple of scenes in this episode that started to frame the tug of war going on with each of their hearts and minds, kind of a 4D tug of war if you will. They shared a water fountain moment at the end, first time I think. Chuck asked, “what’s the good of being a hero if nobody knows.” Sarah answered, “You know. And so do I.” Chuck then continued, “If we were a real couple, I suppose I’d be forced to kiss you now.” Sarah, ever so on top of her game, “Forced? Would it be so bad?” Chuck, trying his hardest to maintain his composure, “I’m sure I could suffer thru it.” Sarah replies, “Me too.” as she walks away. WT/WT game on. Was there any doubt?

    I liked this the third most of the three eps, but it still was great. 10 out of 10 again. Better than I expected. Writing down only things I like makes me appreciate the greatness of the show more. My goal was to find ten things I like and put them in order. So far, I write down twenty or more, then either combine or whittle them down. I wonder if this will work for season 3? Hope to get that far to find out.

    What did I miss?

    • atcDave says:

      Well I agree wth pretty much all of that OR. Especially saying I think this episode is under-rated. It’s sort of prototypical Chuck. The team is in place, the dynamic is set for the first two seasons. And I think it’s rarely more than this. One of my very favorites from beginning to end.

    • thinkling says:

      Thanks for this OR. I may not put things in the same order, but these are such great moments. I love what you’re doing with your rewatch … focusing on your favorite 10 things. It’s a good practice. (Apropos of nothing, when I was little, at the end of every day, my father always asked me, “What was the nicest thing that happened today?”) It’s always good to remember those things.

      There are a few (cough-s3-cough) episodes where those 10 things are more obscure, but I bet we can find them.

    • anthropocene says:

      La Ciudad was one of my favorite early-series villains, and I wish they had brought her back at some point.

      • atcDave says:

        As far as I know the actress has never done anything else in the states either; it would be a hoot to see her pop up somewhere else.

  17. Wilf says:

    I really like this episode – actually more than episode 1 or 2. Your #1 moment does it for me, too … so good; I always think of those lines when I play that song.

    • duckman says:

      I’ve always thought the use of music and the dance scenes were two things this show almost universally excelled at. Both on display in this ep. I bought the Gotan project cd because of this ep. It’s a unique sound and worth a listen.

  18. aalleess says:

    I am really interested if you will be able to find 10 things you like in each episode.

  19. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Tango (1.03) | Chuck This

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