Chuck vs The Aisle of Terror (4.06)

So time for a big episode.  We’ve had a string of very fun, more light hearted episodes, now we get to the meat of the season.  We will meet Mary Bartowski this week, and sort of launch the main arc for the front half of the season.

After the jump, we’ll discuss Aisle of Terror!

I have to say I love this episode.  Our polls make this a more middle of the road sort, but this works on almost every level for me.  Robert Englund plays a sufficiently creepy Dr. Wainwright, and Linda Hamilton has a her first substantial appearance as Mary/Frost.  When we get to Gobbler and Push Mix I will have some real complaints about Mary, but I love how her story gets going.  She is not clearly a good guy or villain, indicators point both directions.  She tries to appeal to Chuck’s loyalties to gain co-operation, although Chuck points out she has little claim on his loyalty.  She seems to be tracking “Carmichael” professionally, although it seems an odd oversight that she doesn’t know Walker is Carmichael’s partner (literally for his entire existence).  She provides helpful intel to the CIA, then shoots Chuck at a public meeting.

What a great dramatic scene.  In hindsight, its obvious she was checking his vest before she shot him, but what a great shocking moment.  This is the sort of drama and adventure that Chuck always does best.  Its outrageous, fun, and explained pretty quickly.  And now we know, whatever side Frost is really on, she makes Carina look like a predictable team player.  And when she shows up to explain herself she seems just a little unhinged at first.

The Charah aspect of this episode is perfect until the very end.  There’s no question that Chuck will have Sarah backing him up at the playground, they are working as a very effective team at this point.  Sarah provides a nice mix of support, encouragement and comfort at appropriate times throughout.

Casey is wisely very suspicious of Frost and who owns her allegiance. Which leads to the final sequence of events.  Sarah had earlier promised Chuck she would help with his blind spot where Mom is concerned.  We should never doubt her!  I think this is the best conflict, and conflict of interest, we’ll see between Chuck and Sarah in the entire series.  Sarah does what she believes is right, even knowing it will cause Chuck grief. Making peace with each other will come next week, and we’re left with a tense and awkward ending.

All of which leaves Dr. Wainwright a secondary consideration.  Nominally, he’s the main villain here.  But all the emotional energy of the episode is in the Frost story.  Fortunately, Wainwright is an amusing character in his own right.  And we get another fun collision with the Buy More story line.  I would say the Buy More story is more odd than funny in the early part of the episode; Jeff’s definition of scary is good for an uncomfortable laugh, but mostly feels like a bombed joke.  Until Dr. Wainwright finds the Aisle of Terror.  This is one of those long building, very funny pay offs for me.  The Doctor recognizes his rival’s work, but is unhinged by it nonetheless.  Apparently it really is terrifying to the unstable mind.  Just perfect.  Finish off Dr. Wainwright as another of Sarah’s one-shot take downs, and its off to better things…

I think Aisle of Terror works very well for several reasons.  It maintains a lot of the very funny humor that has been used well so far in Season Four.  It sets a very satisfying tone for the Chuck and Sarah relationship.  They are clearly in love, and effective as a team (that just never gets old!).  The drama is sky high with the appearance of Mary, her signals are profoundly mixed.  And we get a cliffhanger ending that provides plenty of tension and angst; without resorting to any cheap teen soap opera gimmicks.  This drama is drawn wholly from the spy story.

I like it.  And I’m ready for First Fight!

~ Dave

Hello, Chuck. It’s – Your Mother.

Hey! It’s the annual Halloween special.

Not Freddy Kruger.

Not Freddy Kruger.

Dave apparently spent the week reading my mind about Chuck vs. The Aisle of Terror. Once again, I went into the re-watch expecting a standard episode of Chuck (read much better than any other show) and came away amazed at how much I enjoyed it. It’s marvelous, first for all the reasons Dave lists, Robert Englund as Dr. Wainwright, and Linda Hamilton as Mary/Frost, and for the clever integration of the Buy More into the adventure. But for me, it’s also in the way that Zac and Yvonne finally convinced me to stop worrying. They are a couple (and whew)! [Joe wipes his forehead and finally shakes away all the WT/WT angst built up from S1 and S2]

You can see it in her eyes

You can see it in her eyes

Now I gotta ask – Did you see what I just saw? Huh? Huh? Chuck has grown up. Better, he’s good at what he does – the best. Chuck is everything we all knew he could be and – something I find incredibly reassuring – we see that reflected in Sarah’s eyes.

Sarah: Hey. Ellie’s putting out dessert. If you don’t come in soon, I’m gonna eat yours and blame it on Morgan.

Mom meets the future daughter-in-law

Mom meets the future daughter-in-law

Sarah herself is no longer a comic-book heroine with amazing knife-throwing superpowers and the ability to swat away unwanted suitors with a single glance. She used to be such a hard-boiled cynic.

Chuck: Oh, I’m such an idiot, Sarah. After everything I knew about my mom, everything I learned about my mom, I still trusted her anyway. That’s really great spy work.
Sarah: You know, Chuck, even in the spy world, where everything is run by deceit, you still manage to somehow genuinely trust people. You know what? That’s what I love about you.

No, she’s a real heroine now with real feelings and concerns and doubts, but one who is not frozen by them. She still acts on her instincts, but now she acts for the right reasons. Sadly, in the adult world, it’s just not always clear what that might mean.

Good or Bad?

Good or Bad?

I absolutely agree about Linda Hamilton’s Mary/Frost. I know that the character is more flawed than paragon, and I’m sure we’ll be discussing the validity of her motivations. But here Mary’s strengths, and Ms. Hamilton’s too, come through in a way that leaves us perfectly on a knife-edge about her motives and objectives. Is she good? Is she bad? It’s unclear right up until the very moment she finds out she’s going to be a grandmother, and even after half a dozen viewings, it’s fun to watch all the technical details that go into building that ambiguity.

Sarah: I know that you’ve been looking for answers about your mom for a long time. And we’re gonna find some, okay? We just have to be very cautious.

There’s emotional impact there. Just when we realize Mary has been trapped for 20 years doing something she’s come to regret, just when Mary has made some decision about coming “in from the cold” (at least partially), her ability to make that decision is ripped away by the character with the best motives – Sarah.

I can say it, but you won’t you believe me.
You say you do, but you don’t deceive me.
It’s hard to know they’re out there,
It’s hard to know that you still care.

The Blind Spot

The Blind Spot

Oh, Sarah. For the best of reasons, to protect Chuck and his blind spot, she is going to hurt the man she loves and respects. And Chuck, who’s been looking for his mother for months, finally succeeds only to have her shoot him in the heart, both figuratively and literally.

This is the same episode that starts with them being the perfect couple I wanted them to be and continues with Jeff and Lester doing their crazy best decorating the Buy More in a way that drives Freddy himself insane with fear. Oh, gee. There’s even an exchange that, once again, shows the fans that TPTB were actually listening, even if they did turn it cockeyed for our amusement.

Morgan: So sorry I’m late.
Casey: You weren’t here already?
Morgan: Ha, ha. Nice. I love our little give-and-take. Classic Ross and Rachel.

What a trip!

That’s the right word. For me, the episode was once again an emotional trip that few shows are capable of executing consistently. It’s one of the biggest reasons this show has kept me engaged much longer and more deeply than any other.

– joe

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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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299 Responses to Chuck vs The Aisle of Terror (4.06)

  1. uplink2 says:

    Rewatched this one tonight and I must say I enjoyed it when it aired but now in retrospect there are some things that really I enjoyed even more this time. They are truly the spy couple we always wanted them to be. Having each other’s backs even at the cost of going behind their backs. The scene with Casey and Sarah where they meet was great. Neither trusts Mary and they shouldn’t. But we will discuss the fallout next week, but Sarah did the right thing for both Chuck and the mission at the end.

    This is also a good example where the BuyMore story dovetailed into the main story worked. About my only criticism was I thought wimpy, frightened Chuck was a little over the top but that’s minor.

    I think this episode has the Mary character working quite well and I especially loved the scene in the store with Honey and Ellie as a backdrop for Mary’s true feelings. Overall this may be one of Linda Hamilton’s best episodes as well. The scene where she shoots Chuck was shocking and fantastic. I remember a lot of debate when it aired about her knowing about the vest but it is quite clear she was checking for it.

    All in all we are headed into a very strong part of the season,FOD may be the weakest part of it but to the best episode of the season.

    Great write up guys and a very strong episode.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with all of that Uplink. Chuck is a little over the top when he’s exposed to the toxin, but I love the “that’s why I limit myself to PG-13 movies…” line. Too funny. I totally relate to Chuck again!

    • andereandre says:

      “her knowing about the vest but it is quite clear she was checking for it”.
      Thanks for that, I always found it ridiculous that she could take that risk on just an assumption.
      I re-watched the scene because of your comment, and now I feel stupid.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But here is my problem. What possible reason did she have for shooting Chuck anyway? The original plan was working. It was clearly only to put in our mind the doubt that Mary was bad and double crossing Chuck. And that’s my core problem with Mary’s rehabilitation. They never explained how all of those things that made us doubt her… shooting Chuck, leading Volkoff to Orion’s lab, taking the Intersect from Chuck, etc… were necessary and consistent with her being an undercover good guy.

        They spend so much energy making us doubt her, and then simply asked us to accept her back at face value… when we have been conditioned to not accept anything about her at face value. That seems like poor storytelling to me.
        .

      • andereandre says:

        Bill, Mary explains the shooting because now Volkoff will think Carmichael is dead and won’t search for him.
        But I agree with you that the Mary saga is poor storytelling. However I enjoy the episodes so much that it doesn’t bother me (well, most of the time).

      • BillAtWork says:

        Except that doesn’t make sense when you realize that she must have planned with him in the every next episode to get him to lead them to Orion’s lab. Volkoff must know that he is alive.

        That’s exactly why Chuck doesn’t rewatch very well. The episodes are entertaining when you’re watching them the first time. But when you try and think about the overall story they are telling, it makes your head hurt.

        IMO, it’s a big part of why they haven’t been able to sign any sort of syndication deal. The story simply doesn’t rewatch well. Oh, and the finale basically invalidated all of the growth moments anyway.

      • oldresorter says:

        Bill – I think the syndication struggles because after season 2, other than a few eps here or there, Chuck almost never acts heroic or smart. I don’t think anyone wants to watch the show Chuck to watch a guy act like an idiot. S3 was all the worse, as the guy was an idiot the misery arc, while his G/F was banging her perverted boss. To make for syndication, nearly each ep has to have some fun resolution, and make you love the lead character(s). All it takes is to look at what eps fans want to rewatch here on this site to see that.

        What the show needed, is the TEAM of Chuck and Sarah to act heroic, smart and in sync nearly all the time, and let being stupid, hurt, memory lost, scared, whiney, etc fall to the villains, the government, Morgan, and even Casey.

      • atcDave says:

        Serialized shows often struggle to find a syndicated audience, I don’t believe Chuck’s problems are special or unique.

        But to this case, Mary did explain why she shot Chuck, it just doesn’t hold up so well the moment Tuttle/Volkoff appears. Because THAT would have required some planning ahead.
        But by now we all know the score. Chuck is a fun show, and First Fight is a great episode, but there are some continuity issue. Oh well.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree that serialized shows are harder to syndicate. But WB certainly thought they would be able to. If what we hear is accurate, they basically gave S5 to NBC at a loss to get enough episodes to syndicate. I think that the finale didn’t help that.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, that also gets into a strange area in that we will discuss more next week but if she ws in fact trying to take down Volkoff’s network and not just the man, why would she allow him to destroy her husband’s life’s work and take the Intersect away from the only man who could actually use it and help her take him down?

        I really am looking forward to our discussions next week as I loved that episode even more but the PSP is the biggest WTF of this entire early season arc. Everything about it is an enormous plot hole to me and if it’s only purpose is to set up the Intersectless arc, that is really really lame.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, I agree completely. What actually concerns me more is Netflix. They announced almost a year ago it would become available for streaming and still nothing. Show that were far less successful are streaming including WB shows so I really don’t understand the holdup.

      • Jason says:

        Levi has said a couple of times the holdup with a movie, or should I say ‘a’ holdup with the movie is that the show has not even aired once in some foreign markets. I wonder if that is some of the holdup with getting on Netflix or syndication of some sort.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Jason. It’s hard to tell. But I’m pretty sure that Netflix is U.S. only. And any syndication network could be licensed for U.S. only.

        I don’t know what the Netflix issue is. But I’m thinking that the horrible ratings of the last season and the finale scares some away.

        I still firmly believe that had they handled S3 better, the show would still be on the air. It was a total miscalculation of their audience and what they wanted.

      • uplink2 says:

        Posssibly but you you can limit streaming to just the US or countries where it has already aired. They could start with just season 1 or 1 and 2 and then add later as well. I’m not sure that is the holdup. I think part of it is demand and part of it is some issue with the WB folks. But it does concern me.

      • dkd says:

        In regards to syndication, Dave is absolutely correct that serialized shows have trouble getting buyers at the networks to pay a lot for them after some high profile shows like Lost failed to generate any ratings when they were syndicated. I think people are over-analyzing when they think it has to do with any particular plot turn.

        That being said, there are so many cable networks out there, I would think they could find some small network willing to show reruns of Chuck if WB was willing to sell the rights to them.

        Maybe the reason for the delay even in the Netflix deal is a WB desire to let a little time pass before they start it up. Maybe they are even waiting for January, which would be the second anniversary after the show went off air.

        I doubt international distribution has anything to do with it.

      • BillAtWork says:

        DKD, Maybe.

        It probably is overreaching to think that a particular plot point makes much difference. But the low ratings are another matter. Chuck had a small but loyal audience. Those people have already seen all of the episodes.

        As far as WB wanting to wait, why? Strike while the iron is hot, right? Lot’s of shows are currently in syndication while they are still in first run. Bing Bang, Bones, HIMYM, Two and a Half Men, probably lots more that I don’t know about.

        I think that WB simply miscalculated the show’s value… and lost their shirt. That is going to make a movie that much harder. Asking WB to invest any more into a property that they have already lost tons would be a tough sell.

      • joe says:

        I missed it the first time too, Andre. But not the second, after fans pointed it out on the NBC boards. Sometimes TPTB seem too subtle and sometimes they throw clue-bricks at us that just miss. Other times the fans can be stubborn mules that need to be whacked with a 2-by before they get the message. 😉

        Oh well. You know what they say. “Nobody’s human.”

      • joe says:

        @uplink

        “…why would she allow him to destroy her husband’s life’s work and take the Intersect away from the only man who could actually use it and help her take him down?”

        You’re gonna hate this, Uplink. But this always seems like a clue to me. It leads me to believe that Mary and Stephen were in contact. He *told* her destroy his life’s work and yes, he’s not dead and gone. It’s the same kind of ambiguity that is used transparently when we’re trying to peg Mary down – Is she good or bad?

        Of course, we’ve already discussed the fact that they didn’t resolve this little ambiguity about Papa B. But they certainly played that card again later.

      • uplink2 says:

        Bill, there is no way to tell certainly but I agree with that. You can’t keep slicing apart your audience and expect to stay on the air or have high syndication deals. No matter your POV, I think everyone will admit that Season 3 fractured the fanbase severely and the finale did it again but probably to a lesser degree. That is why for me ay least if I were a programmer I’d shy away from Fedak’s work in particular. Schwartz has at least somewhat of a proven track record of success but when Fedak really took over as primary Showrunner in season 3, that’s when the fracturing really took shape. Losing 2 million viewers who never come back doesn’t happen just because of daylight savings time.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Uplink, I actually blame Schwartz more for the miscalculation in S3.

        Certainly, I don’t think that Chris Fedak is very good at what he does (big understatement). I’d be amazed if he ever got another chance to be a show runner.

        But I think it was Schwartz who miscalculated. It was an honest mistake. He treated Chuck like he did his other shows that were aimed at teenage girls (nothing against teenage girls 🙂 ). In those shows angst and ust is that main draw.

        The Chuck audience was different than what he was used to. It was older, more male, and identified with the Chuck character. We were rooting for him to beat the odds and get the girl. Seeing the girl with someone else was painful. And the Chuck audience (unlike the teenage girls) don’t like to watch painful.

      • uplink2 says:

        See Joe I want to believe that. To me having them be in contact makes for a far better story and makes much more sense of why she stayed for 20 years. If she had no contact with the outside world then in effect her mission was a complete failure. So she becomes an incompetent spy along with a rotten mother. Plus we were shown that Orion could do almost anything yet he couldn’t contact his wife when he knew she was sent to go undercover with Volkoff to protect Hartley?

        Now in this episode it makes you wonder why this device was more dangerous than Volkoff selling nukes to Costa Gravis? Why she came out of hiding to contact the CIA yet never let them know about the nukes.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, here is my problem. It’s hard to take clues and interpret them in ways that are opposite of the things they have explicitly told us.

        Orion sent Chuck on a mission to find his mother. If he knew where she was and why, why wouldn’t he tell him that?

        They told us explicity several times that Orion and Frost didn’t have contact for 20 years, he didn’t know where she was, and he died in Ring.

        Yes, your way is a much better story. I agree with that. But it is not the story they told us.

      • Jason says:

        DKD the international wait was simply an idea that Levi said about the movie, why would you doubt it has any more merit than anything you guess? Levi is probably as smart about Chuck or TV in general as you isn’t he, thereby at least meriting a suggestion of a possibility??????

      • joe says:

        Bill, I’m chuckling. This is the one show where we’re told stuff outright that’s revealed to be wrong later. Think Bryce’s death and Shaw’s death. Spies are all about lies, after all, and not believing what you see is really part of the fun, right?

        Fact is, I was steadfastly believing the most important lie in the whole story. For all of S1 and S2 and for most of S3, I believed that Sarah was more than resisting falling in love with Chuck. I believed she was succeeding. That was wrong, but I didn’t know that until The Other Guy and even then, it’s only until about this episode that I could make myself believe otherwise.

        We can always say they made the clues too subtle or cheated by using the subtlety as a way out of a storytelling bind, but I’m convinced that kind of stuff, especially the stuff concerning Stephen, was deliberate.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But Joe. In all of those other instances, they told us what we might have assumed wasn’t true, and more importantly, why. They have never given us any indication that Orion is alive or that he and Mary had any contact. You are making that up, reaching for obscure clues, because the alternative is a huge plot hole that reflects badly upon the storytellers.

        Sorry, I’m still going for the huge plot hole that reflects badly upon the storytellers. I wish it wasn’t that way, but I have no choice. It’s the only thimg that makes sense.

      • thinkling says:

        I think the only advance planning required for Tuttle/Volkoff to show up would have been a general contingency plan, in case the plan went awry and Mary got captured. Oops Carmichael had a vest and Mary got captured. After all Carmichael has been driving Volkoff crazy, and later we see 1) to what lengths he’ll go to rescue her, and 2) how he takes disappointment. We see exactly why she doesn’t want him to know about her family.

        I think the one thing that might have salvaged/explained some of the inconsistencies would have been the development of the CIA Puppet Master plot that they flushed down the Shaw hole. If all of the manipulation and pain to their family had been caused by a PM (someone who sabotaged the original intersect to intentionally create Volkoff) and centered around the intersect … If Mary and her family had been threatened from both ends, she might have had very good reason to de-intersect Chuck and destroy the Intersect research. She might have truly been a hostage all those years. Unfortunately, they never gave us that.

        As for why she asks who Sarah is: she’s still playing dumb, even about Chuck/Carmichael. Then I think she spends the rest of the next episode trying to figure out if Sarah is really more than his partner. (She figures it out when she gets to talk to Ellie.)

      • BillAtWork says:

        Huh?

        First Fight is rather silly once you know the reveal. Volkoff and Mary had to have planned all of that in advance. That alone invalidates the idea that Mary shot Chuck to make Volkoff believe he was dead.

        Not only did they have to plan, they had to guess things would happen that they had no possible way to assume.

        For Volkoff to pretend to be shot and have Frost lead him to the lab assumes that they knew that Mary would be in that bank. That assumes that she would be captured and that Sarah would bring her there, and allow her to go to the lab. And why would Volkoff go through all of the drama? Getting ambushed in an airplane? Jumping out of the plane? The ride with sheep? The attack on the bank? None of that was necessary. All he would have had to do was show Chuck the disks and he would have taken him freely to the lab.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah DKD I would think one of the minor cable channels would be willing to run Chuck, the delay is frustrating.
        As far as movie goes, I still think the VM movie is a huge issue. I think WB wants to see that works out before committing to another. The “not done in foreign markets” argument sounds fishy. Sun spots are more likely…

        For Orion and Mary, I’m with Joe on this, I think they just had to be in touch. And yeah, that presents some problems too, and I dislike going so contrary to what was said at the end of Ring II, but I just can’t make sense of it otherwise. I think since Orion didn’t actually expect to die when he did, Chuck got an incomplete or obsolete briefing. Its clumsy, but its the best answer for me,

      • uplink2 says:

        And here we get into the debate you mentioned last time Bill. When is it appropriate to interpret things and when not. Is it only when it makes the told story work but never when it points out the problems with the story? If the interpretation shows their genius it’s ok but if it shows their failure we are reading too much into it.

        But here you add a twist, what makes the story work better but is in direct conflict to what we are being told at other points in the series. The PSP, Dream Job. The end of Baby and countless other points. Hey I still say Hannah being an innocent was a pointless and weak story. It would have made much better sense if she was somehow integrated into the spy world as a Ring operative, a Shaw plant or a Beckman plant. Same with Orion in contact with Mary. It enhances their character and makes for a cleaner story. Now it may be more predictable but the problem is that often times the unpredictable doesn’t work or the payoff doesn’t work and doesn’t justify the unpredictable, case in point with that was Sarah killing Eve. Did anyone care at all about that when it was revealed? I certainly didn’t. It added nothing to the story other than one more delay.

      • joe says:

        [Joe slaps his forehead] Of course she’s playing dumb! I had the most vague feeling that this might be the case, but I just couldn’t put my finger on it. Ack! That’s one of the first signs!

        I *knew* I like the way you express yourself, Thinkling!

      • atcDave says:

        Good explanation Thinkling, that does mostly make sense. I still think there’s a lot of holes in the story, but that at least covers one of them pretty well.

        Even more than those holes, I sure wish they’d spent more time here on the Mary/Sarah relationship. At least we got Last Details later, that did it very well.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I 100% agree about the Schwartz influence there.

        Is it just me, or are we having three different conversations in one thread? That may be some sort of record…

      • Jason says:

        Dave – still don’t see why Levi is less reputable than sun spots, although that is a pretty funny statement in its own right? Seems like opinion and guesswork by DKD and now you. I have no idea, nor do I profess to, but I’m also not dismissing on anyone elses?

        The Orion / Mary / etc controversy is why its so important for Chuck to be told from a happy Chuck / Sarah POV, because the spy story has been more or less disorienting from the start. At first Orion worked really well from that POV, but as more and more history got established, the whole thing got harder and harder to reconcile with past events. I’m guessing the writing staff turnover hurt in this regard, and some (much) of the turnover netted less Sci Fi type talent if my memory serves me.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink to some extent its true that reading into things is more fair when you can come up with a positive spin. That’s called giving someone the benefit of the doubt. And I think its always fair to say if sense CAN be made of a story then that’s the way we should interpret it. Not drawing inferences to muddy the picture; that is not showing good faith towards the story teller.
        Now I don’t mean that to say a story teller deserves equal leeway in every situation, or that they can’t expend the last of their goodwill. We all know that happens. But as long as I can make sense of something and feel like I’m honoring the creators intent I think that’s a pretty safe way to go.

        By the way, making sense of the story never means we have to like it. That’s a completely different issue. And to me, its the far bigger issue.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave.

        I’m all for giving them the benefit of the doubt. If a positive spin can be found, I’m willing to accept it. But in this case the spin causes as many continuity problems as it solves.

        Fedak was asked about this several times. He point blank always said that Orion was dead. He also always said that Mary was a tragic figure and got trapped in a bad situation.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason its just that something doesn’t ring true about the foreign markets argument to me. Shows and movies hitting different markets at different times has been around since the dawn of the mediums, this shouldn’t be a big issue.

        I do not mean to disparage Zac with that comment. He was likely paraphrasing something he had just been told by the studio, or there may have been some specific issue related to timing we aren’t fully aware of, but by itself the argument seems incomplete or off base.
        The Sun Spots thing actually comes up in my job all the time, they truly do interfere with many of our communications and electronics. But we jokingly use the excuse for almost anything when we don’t really know what’s going on.

      • joe says:

        @Bill

        For Volkoff to pretend to be shot and have Frost lead him to the lab assumes that they knew that Mary would be in that bank. That assumes … and also that.. which implies…

        Sorry, Bill! I couldn’t resist embellishing your words a bit. But you’re absofreainlutely right that we’re supposed to think that. In addition, it’s established a bit later that Volkoff (if not Heartley) is a master chess player, one who always always always is thinking of all the possibilities that far ahead. That is, in fact, the character, especially as he is enhanced by an Intersect.

        See? It all fits together. (Just not tightly and not under severe scrutiny, but that’s not the game we should be playing either…)

      • uplink2 says:

        See I’m willing to give them the benefit of the doubt if it makes the story better when you interpret things but many times it doesn’t even when the interpretation is completely logical or much more logical. In fact it becomes quite contrary. Prague, the name reveal, and the finale all become less logical if you chose to interpret things in a logical sense. In those times the justification seems to be simpler and just wrong on so many levels.

      • Jason says:

        I watch Chuck from a simple POV. If Chuck and Sarah are OK, I’m OK. If Chuck and Sarah are great, I’m smitten with the show. Once I’m at least OK, then I more or less hope that everyone else gets a story they like so the show is as popular as possible. So the misery arc was hard for me to watch, as was even parts of the liar arc, but s4 and the first 11 of s5 (except the XMAS Shaw beatdown of Sarahg ep) was easy. The final two eps of s5 were extremely difficult for me, and the final scene was just so so (vs all the final happy scenes that could have been).

        But s4, I tried to spin the plot as positive as I could cause I was mostly liking and occasionally loving Chuck and Sarah all season long. I hoped then and wish now the show had been written better, more tightly, with a spy story the wowed me, but I learned by Push Mix, that wasn’t ever again going to be our show.

      • uplink2 says:

        Jason, see I think that they did do that in season 1 and 2. It was for the most part, though not always, a well balanced tightly written spy/romance/dramedy that worked better than most shows I have ever seen. Plus you had two incredible actors that screamed chemistry on screen and it created something really special. An epic, for the ages romance integrated into a different kind of show about the spy world with lots of comedy, drama and touched on pop culture that we all grew up with and loved.

        But they broke that in season 3 and in many ways it never fully recovered. A disastrous OLI story that virtually destroyed the spy story with it. They over-reacted to the incredible negative response to season 3 with a season that was light on drama, consequences and tension. I love season 4 because of the romance story but the spy story was lacking because they became risk adverse, well until the finale. But still it was far better than most everything else on TV and still is IMO. I just wish they hadn’t made the profound mistakes they made in season 3 and it may have benefited what followed as well.

      • atcDave says:

        I pretty much agree with both Jason and Uplink on this. Although I strongly suspect there are two major issues that helped with the tightness of the S2 story. The first is just budget. The extra money meant both more people, and more TIME to go over scripts and stories to make sure everything was consistent, logical and tracking right. The second is more of a legacy issue; this is one we see on many shows, its very common. As time passes, the story gets more involved and has more history to it. It gets easier to violate the show’s history and continuity simply because there’s more history to worry about!
        I think Chuck’s situation was made tougher by a few issues; the biggest may be all the possible series finales they had. Think of something like Ring II, when they wrote it they thought it was likely the end. But then when they got another season they had to start thinking about how to tell the story the story they teased at the end of Ring II. Undoubtedly, as they explored it, they came up with ideas and twists that were never even in the picture when they started.
        There was also a big screen time issue. Much as some of us would have preferred Chuck and Sarah’s story being number one all the time, they were actually trying to work in an “A” plot, with a “B”, “C” and sometimes “D”, that often meant the “meat” of the story had to be told in 20 minutes or less.
        Sure I WISH it had all tracked better. But I get some of the reasons why missteps happened. Like Jason, I can live with most of them as long as the Charah story is satisfying (and, I’d add, the show is fun overall). I loved the show, warts and all. errr, except one long arc…

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave. I pretty much agree with all of that. But it also points out the lack of an overall story plan. Certainly Chuck’s mom and dad leaving was known in the pilot. Don’t you think they should have an idea of why and where they were?

        I agree that the search for mom was a last minute addition caused by the renewal. But if they had known generally the Frost/Orion story, they could have written to it and eliminated the glaring holes.

        I never write a story unless I know how it is going to end. Indeed, the ending is sometimes the part I write first. And while I may go on tangents that I hadn’t planned on, I’m careful to not add anything that would alter my ending.

        That’s what I expect from the professionals. I don’t mind a tangent (like Baby) but I expect the core story to be well thought out.

      • dkd says:

        Bill–

        Writing a TV series isn’t like writing a short story or even a book. It’s NOT customary for all the details to be worked out at the beginning. I’ve read and seen a lot of interviews with TV writers and they usually don’t work that way. I even read the “24” writers didn’t even know how they were going to work out their first season. When writers are writing the pilot, that is all they focus on. Most don’t like to have a detailed “bible” because it locks them into a certain way of thinking and blinds them to opportunities that can arise like characters who take off more than you expect them to or new ideas that come up in the writer’s room.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But you’re mischaractizing what I said. I never expected for all the details to be planned. But this story revolves around the Intersect and the family who dealt with it. I don’t think it’s unreasonable to expect them to have planned out generally how in came into being and what the family’s roles were.

        I get that circumstances often cause the plan to change. Fonzie was a minor character originally in Happy Days. He became the focus of the show. It also happened here in Chuck. The relationship was more popular than they expected, so they emphasized it more in S2. No problem. But the history of the Intersect should have been known so that they could write to it.

      • dkd says:

        “As far as WB wanting to wait, why? Strike while the iron is hot, right? Lot’s of shows are currently in syndication while they are still in first run. Bing Bang, Bones, HIMYM, Two and a Half Men, probably lots more that I don’t know about.”

        Yeah, it’s common to start syndicating sitcoms and other shows when they get past the five season mark. All the shows you mention work very well as “standalones”. The Law & Order franchise is another fine example.

        I’m just speculating, mind you, about them wanting to wait. In my speculation, it could be an experiment to see if a serialized story does better if you wait. I don’t think syndication will be hardcore fans like us. I own all the episodes on iTunes AND DVD. It would be more for the casual viewer like some of my co-workers who watched the show, but weren’t fanatical about it. It would also be for non-viewers.

        “I think that WB simply miscalculated the show’s value… and lost their shirt. ”

        Possible. I don’t know if they lost their shirt, though. The way they kept lowering the budget of the show certainly seemed like it had the purpose of avoiding that.

        “That is going to make a movie that much harder. Asking WB to invest any more into a property that they have already lost tons would be a tough sell.”

        That is a concern of mine. As far as a movie goes, I’m very high on the “skeptical” range. But, that’s how I approach all such things. I respect Zachary Levi’s optimism and faith, but that’s not me. I’ve always felt that IF anything would happen, it would take at least five years and that was even before Zac mentioned the international distribution thing.

      • dkd says:

        Billl–

        …and all I’m saying is a lot of the things I might, as a non-TV writer, have expected TV writers to have worked out, are not common for them to have done so.

        It may sound wrong to us, but it’s not to them.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well as I have never written a TV show I can see how many outside pressures can affect things and that the “outline” for the show and many elements can evolve with time. But to it seems like the basic core of the show should be as evolved as possible. This isn’t Seinfeld’s show “about nothing”. There is a central core element, The Intersect, that should be flushed out pretty well. Plus there is a basic story for the main characters, Chuck, his family and his new partners along with the protagonist of the series, Bryce Larkin. To me anything else beyond that is ok to screw with as things evolve but those basic elements should have been thought about a great deal and that relates to Stephen and Mary Bartowski,

        Now we know that circumstances can change things, letting Matt Bomer slip through their fingers when they had based the original story ideas for season 3 on him being a key player being one of them. I won’t go into who is to blame there but it is clear to me they seriously misread their audience and broke the central core of romance, dramedy and spylife that was the heart of the series and what got the audience so passionate about it. Money, time both played a part in all this but I still say it’s biggest misstep was misreading its audience about WTWT fatigue and accepting one more round of OLI’s. Then to top it off it was done so poorly that the spy story was seriously damaged because of it. And in another misread the became risk adverse and lost much of the tension that drove the non-shipper fans.

        I really would love to read a book on the “inside baseball” part of this show as I’m sure it would be incredibly fascinating.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Agreed. And if you’re not going to have that core plan, at a minimum, you should be careful to not write things that contradict the things you have told before. That seems like a base storytelling responsibility.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill do you remember all of the background and character information from the NBC website back at the start of the series? They had things like the spy dossiers and backstory. I think that’s the only source of the “Sarah was recruited from Harvard” thing we all “know”. It also said Chuck and Ellie’s parents were killed in a traffic accident when they were young. Where did this information come from originally? Was it just some site designer making stuff up? Was it even run by anyone attached to the show? Did it maybe come from WB? Or an intern in JS’ office?

        I don’t know. But I would be surprised if it was made up without being run by the show runners at least.
        Yet no one writing the show seemed to pay it any regard at all. We’ve all managed to fan wank how Sarah is a con artist’s daughter recruited into the CIA at 17 AND managed to get sent to Harvard. I bet the show writers would be amused, if they even knew.
        But the Bartowski parents simply can’t be reconciled. This back story was never used in the show. As early as Sizzling Shrimp we heard that Mom was “gone”, with no further explanation. In Sensei we learned that Chuck thought he could seek out his Dad.
        So somehow, we were fed totally bogus information at the start of the show. I strongly suspect no one on staff knew or cared what the answers to those questions were when they got started.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Dave.

        But that is why they have such huge plot holes and often look so sloppy. We have people here who are very willing to give them every possible benefit of the doubt, fanwank their collective buttocks off, and still can’t tie everything together.

        Isn’t that the way any business works? If you don’t plan well, you usually don’t execute well.

      • dkd says:

        There’s a general rule that if it doesn’t make the screen it’s not canon unless the writers say it. For example, the Joss Whedon comics for Buffy are canon, but any Star Trek novel–and there are hundreds of them–is not.

        I don’t care if writers have a carefully laid out plan ahead of time or if they write it the day they shoot it, I just judge if it holds together. I’ve been reading a lot about the Breaking Bad writing process lately. They didn’t have it all figured out in advance, but what they do put on screen–regardless of when and how they came up with it–works 95% of the time and holds together.

        I noticed long ago that little of the Intersect backstory or its technology made any sense in Chuck. Most of Sarah’s backstory didn’t make any sense. I just don’t dwell on it because I just loved the show regardless. It’s more of a show to be enjoyed for its characters and their interaction than for its mythology because the mythology just isn’t very tight.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I’d say I don’t think they gave a second thought to the Bartowski parents when they started. And I don’t believe they considered anything related to the Intersect beyond what we saw in S1. Okay, maybe they were thinking about things like Chuck gaining more control over it, the 2.0, and Bryce as the intended Intersect recipient.
        But I don’t believe anything related to Dad/Orion or Mom/Frost was was even considered prior to the long writer’s strike. I think that longer break is when everything we learned during S2 was conceived. Some story details were likely simmering in their little minds from the start (Jill, Mauser, 2.0), but not how they would get from A to B.
        By the time we get S3 even fewer original ideas were left to be explored. Add in the departure of Bomer and the decision to take the show “darker” and I think the S3 story likely had VERY little to do with any original concept.
        When we get to S4, I think they were getting into territory they never even had an inkling of at the start. I’d bet money (let’s say 2 cents; I’m cheap and not really very sure…) the end of S3 was the first time ever considered doing anything with Mom. And “Frost” and Volkoff were made up between S3 and S4.

      • thinkling says:

        Sorry to jump in on this again, but I just had a random thought on the plot hole of the week. Of course we never got any kind of explanation of any such things. I agree with Dave in that I suspect it was much more important to us than to casual viewers or to the show runners. I bet they just wanted to give us a fun ride with Mary and Tuttle and Volkoff. And they certainly accomplished that.

        Here’s my random thought: What if plan B was really plan A, and Mary improvised the fake Chuck kill to avoid bringing Chuck and Volkoff face to face. Once Mary was captured, she manipulated things back to Volkoff’s original plan: luring Carmichael to Orion’s base and getting rid of Orion’s life work and Carmichael at the same time. The whole ruse to get Carmichael to Orion’s base would have been great fun to Volkoff. Seems like more his plan than Mary’s.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny I keep siding with DKD today, that doesn’t happen often!

        But Bill I do agree the sloppiness becomes a burden sometimes to we who want to take the show more seriously. Which brings me back to where we started this, I just try not to take it all too seriously. It doesn’t always hold together real well. Yet everyone of us here got seriously hooked on this show regardless. I think the things the show did well, it did extraordinarily well. I’m mostly willing to let pass the stuff they didn’t do as well on.

        And it sure makes it easier to enjoy a lot of fan fiction that DOES explore these things in more detail.
        You know, we could have a lot of fun with this next week on the “Alternatives” post. Trying to make it all work, or deciding what to change to MAKE it work. Could be a very interesting challenge.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave,

        The sloppiness doesn’t really bother me that much. But I also think it’s fair to point it out and wish they had done better.

        What bothers me is when they change a character for purposes of a scene. And in S3 alone, they did that a lot.

        Is Chuck the guy to told the bad guy in Anneversary “If you touch a single hair on Sarah’s head…”?

        Or is he the guy that stood there like a dork while Volkoff was getting ready to shoot her?

        That is the kind of thing that bothers me.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok I’d say the reality is somewhere in between. For example, and again this is entirely speculation on my part, I’d like to think that the idea for the Tron poster actually came from somethign very similar they had in the writer’s room. Especially in light of bringing in new writers at times I think you need a Tron poster to hand them that explains where they are and where they are planning to go. But maybe not.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But even the Tron poster had things on it that couldn’t have been. It had Lisa as Sarah’s middle name. No way that Chuck heard that. We know it’s true. But Chuck couldn’t have possibly. That was the point, right?

      • atcDave says:

        That’s all fun Thinkling, I like it!

        Don’t apologize for jumping in! Geez, that’s how we have fun around here…

      • uplink2 says:

        I always questioned that but to me that makes him hearing it canon. I think the point is that it showed he was much more spylike and much more involved with his situation very early on. I’d like to believe that they were saying you, the audience didn’t know a lot more than we were leading on. He heard it but didn’t react because he wanted to let her come to him of her own accord. It helped lead to the question in truth about their future.

      • atcDave says:

        The most obvious thing to say is that whoever made the Tron poster screwed up. But I agree with Uplink, once its out there its canon, so I guess against all expectation Chuck DID manage to hear that.

        Great hearing…

      • uplink2 says:

        See what I did there? I took something overly seriously and created a scenario where TPTB look smarter and better so it has to be true, right? Right? RIGHT?

      • thinkling says:

        @BillAtWork: Agree about tweaking characters for a scene or to grow one character at another’s expense. I’m sure we could make a pretty long list, but you named a good example. I suppose everybody has stupid-stick moments, but the stupid-stick should be employed more judiciously, rather than liberally.

  2. BillAtWork says:

    My favorite part is Sarah and Mary meeting for the first time. It’s very subtle, but Sarah gives a flip of her head when Chuck introduces her as his girlfriend. It was like ‘take that”, lol.

    It would have been even better if he could have introduced her as his fiance.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah great moment. Or even wife would have been better yet!

    • uplink2 says:

      I really liked the hair flip too. I will go oen further, It was like “Take THAT, bitch”.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yup. It was exactly that. It would have been an even stronger statement as finance… or as Dave suggests wife, lol.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        It sort of previews the later issues between Sarah and Mary re: who gets to be the main woman in Chuck’s life. Comes to a head in 4.23 and Chuck clearly comes down on Sarah’s side which is safer for Chuck.

    • Dave says:

      Bill

      The other thread was too long, so here it is…

      In all fairness, when Chuck said “if you touch one hair on Sarah’s head” he was fully Intersect capable. When Volkoff drew down on Sarah, he was not Intersect capable and may have been a little frozen.

      Just sayin’…

      • atcDave says:

        I guess we’ll pick up the thread from here then!

        I would have preferred if Chuck had done, or said, something helpful at that moment. But it is true without the Intersect he wasn’t exactly at his most capable.
        But I think those kind of moments are why Leftovers is not such a well loved episode.

      • Dave says:

        atcDave

        Leftovers was OK, for me, until Chuck, Sarah and Mary left Castle and Volkoff invited himself to dinner. Then the ending was very good as Chuck re-intersected. Another good episode with some not so good stuff included. Something that recurred a lot in S4 and S5, at least for me.

      • atcDave says:

        Dave I would say I mostly liked the episode. But it does have a few clunker moments that keep it from being a favorite.

        Although I did love the most evil man on the planet playing charades.

      • thinkling says:

        It’s true that he was de-intersected, but in the first attack, he at least tries something.

        I’m probably a little different here, but I really liked Leftovers, on many different levels. The only scene I basically can’t stand is the first one with Morgan and Chuck “training” as pole dancers. How can I unsee that???

      • BillAtWork says:

        i get that he might not have been able to stop him. But I don’t have an Intersect and if someone was about to shoot my wife, I don’t think I would just stand there and let it happen.

      • Jason says:

        The letting Volkov kill Sarah is more proof of the lack of sensativity that the writing team had toward the fan love for Sarah. For them, Sarah is simply a device to move Chuck in a direction. For many fans, Sarah is a co-lead, with each and every plot, action and line involving Sarah mattering to the point the strength of the Sarah meter often determined the success of the episode / arc, often trumping the Chuck meter.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I don’t disagree that to many fans (myself included) Sarah is every bit as important as Chuck. But it didn’t start out that way (at least not for me). I identified with Chuck. It wasn’t until maybe Marlin when I started to have empathy for Sarah.

        But the scene in Leftovers reflects badly on Chuck. That’s why to me it is so offensive. The hero I’m rooting for is going to stand there and do nothing while the woman he loves gets shot? All for the plot point of allowing Mary to step up. Sorry, I can’t root for that guy.

      • uplink2 says:

        Jason, I agree with much of that. We have had plenty of discussions about how it seems quite clear that Sarah was just a plot device for Chuck and that TPTB took the name of the show to a greater heart than a huge portion of the fanbase. To me and many others Sarah was the much more interesting character and the reason for my obsession. But many times it seems Sarah was simply the prize for Chuck to fight for and win. “Do the right thing and you get the hot babe”.

      • Jason says:

        Bill I explained my point poorly, the point is since Sarah is not important to the writers, Chuck (i.e. the writers) don’t see the need to step up. In this case, Sarah was the tool for the Mary plot, Sarah’s importance to Chuck (and us) was irrelevant.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Jason. I don’t disagree. My only point is that it is an examply of the writers not understanding their audience. If I’m in that writer’s room, the relationship is sacred. Any plot device that makes Chuck or Sarah not put the other at the very top of their thinking would quickly get veto’ed.

      • atcDave says:

        I do think Jason’s last point is exactly correct. The scene is staged a certain way to create a situation. It’s all about Mary at that point, not Chuck or Sarah. Don’t get me wrong, it was a lazy and sloppy way to construct the scene, and I don’t like it much either; but I’m sure it is that way because the writers (and Zac? The director) were just thinking all about Mary’s reaction at that point.
        Problem is, as a viewer, Mary is like the fourth most interesting character in the scene to me. I’d much rather see someone else, do something else…

        I agree exactly with Bill’s last comment.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Much as I hate to step into a thread where we’re bashing the writers and TPTB for clueless-ness I’ll just point out that Sarah had an identical moment of inaction when Volkoff was about to shoot Chuck and Mary had to step in to stop him. As mentioned this episode was about Mary and her “cover” unraveling, not primarily Chuck or Sarah.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Ernie. We get why they did it. But to me it just points out that they don’t understand their audience. There were other ways to get Mary to stand up to Volkoff. The one they chose made Chuck look bad. I’m just saying they should have found another way to get to that same point.

        It’s like Sarah standing there in a coma while Shaw is getting ready to blow up castle with Chuck inside. I get why. It was just sloppy and reflected poorly on the Sarah character that I’m supposed to be rooting for.

        Why do that?

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Because the plot requires that it be Mary who takes action and there are only so many ways to do that. All of them require that neither Chuck nor Sarah take action first or that their actions are useless and fail to protect the other. But having Mary act first does not preclude the possibility that Chuck or Sarah were about to take action when Mary beat them to it.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I disagree. There were plenty of ways to have Mary take that action without making C/S look bad. They could have had a conversation where Volkoff tells Mary that he is going to teach Chuck a lesson by shooting Sarah.

        Here is my point. To the writers making a plot point trumps making me root for Chuck (in this case). They clearly don’t care that I find Chuck weak and can’t root for him. The plot point is worth that to them. And I think that’s a mistake.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I don’t think it has anything to do with understanding the audience. It’s just about telling Mary’s story. Ideally, they would have found a better way of doing it. I’m like you in that I cringe every time our protagonists are made to look bad or impotent. But it’s just television story telling. Going way back to 50s westerns even, we often see the great hero caught flat footed, left with no choice but to listen to the threats of the black hat. Such scenes are never favorites of mine, but they’re commonly done to advance the story-line or another character. I’ll complain about this a little more when we get to Push Mix. But its really not a huge issue, more of a little gnat.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Oh, I disgree Dave. I think that for many, identifing with Chuck and/or Sarah is the core reason to watch. So when they mess with that, they are messing with a basic tenant of their audience.

        It’s why 2 million people stopped watching mid S3, IMO. They could no longer identify with C/S and it stopped being fun to watch.

        I get that there may be valid plot points that are designed to make the character look weak in order to lead to a growth moment. What I object to is the unintentional things that make them look ooc when there are easy ways around it. I think this is an example of not taking the time to come up with a way to have Mary step up to Volkoff without making Chuck look like a wuss.

        Again, if I’m in that writer’s room, The C/S characters are sacred. I want my audience to be able to identify with them. So any plot point that needlessly makes them look bad would be a candidate to be re-looked at.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        There were plenty of ways to have Mary take that action without making C/S look bad. They could have had a conversation where Volkoff tells Mary that he is going to teach Chuck a lesson by shooting Sarah.

        I have to disagree. Chuck or Sarah has to be in imminent danger for Mary to blow her cover and act and that means either she acts first or Chuck and Sarah’s actions are ineffective, I don’t see a way around that that makes sense, and I don’t see how it diminishes either character that she acted first in both situations. As Dave said it’s been a part of dramatic writing forever. Does it diminish our ability to root for Romeo that in an effort to avoid a fight with Tybalt it is Mercutio who acts first and pays the price? No, it is setting up the coming conflict, creating a debt that the hero must re-pay, thus justifying the hero’s subsequent actions. It feeds into why Sarah is willing to go undercover to bring back Mary, she’s saved both her and Chuck’s life in one night, and why Chuck ultimately learns that his mother is worth saving.

      • BillAtWork says:

        We’ll have to agree to disagree. I think an alternative is easy.

        Volkoff tells Mary that he is going to shoot Sarah to teach Chuck a lesson.

        Mary sees Volkoff reaching for his gun. It happens to quickly for C/S to react. They don’t know his intent anyway.

        Mary steps in and tells Volkoff thet you’re not shooting Sarah and basically the rest of her speech.

        That accomplished everything that the plot required, yet didn’t make Chuck look like a wuss.

      • Jason says:

        Something like Chuck shielding Sarah, and Sarah saying a little more to the left, I’ll be able to pull the gun in my garter. But b4 she does that, Mary steps in … and fixes things. Everyone looks the hero or lets say Chuck is brave, Sarah is not finished until the ned, and the scene still allows Mary to prove her worth.

      • Jason says:

        And to be clear there are an infinite number of ways to do anything in a tv scene.

      • atcDave says:

        I am solidly in between you two guys on this. I completely agree with Bill in saying the Chuck/Sarah relationship is THE reason for watching the show for many of us, and ideally every scene should be constructed in such a way to honor that.
        But its television, and things aren’t always ideal. There’s practical limitations, like time available for crafting and perfecting every scene. There’s differences in focus or emphasis, like the story teller wanting to tell a different story than I’m intertested in. And I just don’t think this all needs to be such a big deal. Sure, I would have constructed the scene differently. And episodes like Leftovers and Gobbler never will quite rise to the level of “favorites”, even if they contain a lot of good stuff, because they also contain some scenes that just sit wrong with me. Its funny this is coming up about Leftovers though, this really is small stuff to me. Two scenes where I don’t really care for the staging, in an otherwise very good and interesting story. Okay, more than two scenes, I agree with Thinkling about not liking the first Chuck/Morgan bit either. But really this is in the realm of things that could have used just a little tweaking, not a complete bust.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave.

        This is just an example. The first one that popped into my head. It didn’t ruin the episode for me. It was simply an example of a larger point. That the writers often sacrificed my being able to identify with C/S for a plot point. There are examples that did bother me (without talking about S3, lol).

        I was furious in Baby when Sarah was about to go off to Hungrary (and maybe not come back) without telling Chuck what was going on. It was all for the plot point of Shaw being able to torment Sarah and have us question what she was keeping from Chuck. There was no reason for Sarah to have kept that from her husband. And in fairness, it did lead to a growth moment and they fixed it.

        Worse was Curse when Chuck went off on his own. It was stupid and the character had grown past that. There were other ways to release the virus without making Chuck look so horrible. But at least, they did address it.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason and Bill, I do like those ideas!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Sudden movements tend to make bad-guys pull triggers. How can you get Chuck or Sarah to react without Volkoff reacting to that? And then how does Mary react to Chuck or Sarah’s imminent action that may or may not remove the immediate threat? I suppose they could have made some sort of feint or hinted somehow at imminent action but I think it needlessly complicates a scene for at best a marginal and unnecessary change. The vast majority of fans aren’t going to have a problem with it, IMO and the writers write for the vast majority of fans.

        It’s been regularly shown that Chuck and Sarah can be each other’s kryptonite, a weakness in the field to be used against them. Sarah not being able to take the shot in Break Up, or frozen in horror as Colt drops Chuck off the roof in First Date, Chuck not being able to flash in Fake Name or Other Guy, more than once we’ve seen our heroes frozen in fear when the other is in danger. Yes they come through for each other in the end, but this isn’t the end, it’s the part where Mary saves the day at the cost of her cover. It is as Dave said making a huge issue out of a minor TV trope.

        And to be clear there are an infinite number of ways to do anything in a tv scene.

        I disagree. Once you’ve created a world the writers are limited by that world. Each choice restricts future choices even as it opens up other possibilities. Chuck’s mom can’t un-leave her family, but she can return. Also, while there may be many more possibilities in how one can write a scene, there are far fewer on what one can produce on the screen. Budget, time, and what is possible physically, technologically and practically all come in to what can be shown on the screen.

        I suppose it comes down to taste, but frankly those scenes don’t bother me in the least. And I’ll leave it at that.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Well, I’m afraid that we have to disagree again. Those examples from S1 and S2 showed the immaturity of the characters and their relationship. They spent 4 years of growth. So I might expect S1 Chuck to stand there and do nothing. But they’ve sold me on the character’s growth. So that when S4 Chuck reverst back to S1 Chuck, all for a plot point that easily could have been done another way, I say WTH.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I completely agree with both examples of the characters making poor decisions in Baby and Curse. But I gather we weren’t really supposed to like either decision. And Sarah, was quickly talked into modifying her plan, and ultimately it led to a good character growth moment.
        I’m much less tolerant of Curse. I think Chuck was made to look like too much of a moron for too big a part of the episode. Although Chuck’s stupidity led to some awesome Sarah moments, I have to consider that episode sort of a bust. Really, my least favorite of the whole last two seasons.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave, here is why both of those things bothered me probably more than you.

        In Baby, yes they addressed it. But I expected that the Sarah character had already grown past that point. They shouldn’t have had to address it. In my mind it was a lazy plot point to generate some false angst and make Sarah look very bad. We would expect S2 Sarah to behave like that. But not S5 Sarah.

        In Curse the same is true of Chuck. We would expect S1 Chuck to behave that way. It’s almost a mirror of what happened in Wookie. But after selling us on 5 years of growth, that was incredibly OOC IMO. It was a lazy way to get him captured and release the virus. But the character should have been well past that point of weakness.

      • Jason says:

        This ep, this scene, I really don’t care about it at all, this falls in the broad spectrum of Chuck and Sarah being OK, and I only wish the ep was better received. To my eye, the fixes required in most of these eps are trivial for slightly better response, but the story conception is so weak the last three seasons, nothing can help any of them become great, other than a bottle ep here or there (Honeymooners, Role Models, early s4 / 5, Phase 3, Baby really the only epic eps in the last two season. Still, my only real clunkers from the last two seasons, the mean bashing given in Shaw’s XMAS Ep and the invalidation of five seasons of epicness in Sarah / Goodbye.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I completely agree S5 Sarah should have been past that stuff. But you’re right, it doesn’t bother me too much because it was addressed quite quickly and I found the resolution beautiful.
        The Curse story bothers me far more. Part of the difference may just be that in Baby Sarah was reverting to an earlier “lone wolf” version of herself, that I still found admirable in a way, just not appropriate to the later, more mature, and happily married Sarah.
        But Chuck’s reversion was really to a very ugly, immature and stupid version of himself. I was seriously not impressed.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I was pretty much done, but I’ll just add this. It isn’t always possible to fine-tune these scenes to each viewers sensibilities the way we wish they would, and I think many of us lose sight of that. I was re-watching First Fight with the commentary turned on, and in one of the scenes in the bank Zach talks about how the scene was invented right there, seat of the pants by the director, because they were running out of time on the location and had to get as much as they could “in the can”. Sometimes they only have one take or one chance or have to make it up on the spot due to the nature of how TV is made, and I think they deserve some slack when they don’t perfectly hit our personal sweet spot all the time (and they’ll never hit everyone’s sweet spot at the same time). It is letting perfect be the enemy of good enough, and these aren’t even bad scenes by TV standards if you ask me.

        So yeah, I understand the impulse or the wish that certain characters would never suffer for the overall show or plot, but the reality is they have to at times, just because of the practicalities and the limitations of the medium. And frankly to me what some people wish for would turn some of the characters into Mary Sue to borrow a fanfiction term, but then others would disagree I’m sure.

        So yeah, I cut them more slack than many, but when you see the love and effort they put into this show and their obvious love and commitment to their fans and read about the 18 hour days and working through a flu epidemic on-set it bothers me to read people saying “not good enough, I want more and better”, or worse to characterize their efforts as clueless or out of touch, or worse nasty and malignant. When you see Chris Fedak choking up over the scene where Sarah brings Mary to talk to Ellie, it’s hard to hear “he doesn’t care about …” when the depth of his caring and commitment and his passion for the show and the characters is so evident. Sometimes I can’t help but react since I don’t think they deserve half of what is directed at them, so sorry if I offended and I’ll leave it at that.

      • Jason says:

        Ernie a question for you buried in a bit of my own editorializing. You and I react near 180 deg different to most things Chuck. And I think on a personnal note, we get on each others nerves when blogging, even when we try to be nice, to which I’m sorry for my own role in that, I’m working on it! I asked earlier this week to the entire blog, now I’ll ask you, “Why did the show hook you so strongly?”

        For me, I watched about five minutes of some ep on the Sy Fi channel right b4 s3 started, and was hooked that quick. I think I made it thru both seasons b4 s3 started live, and loved it, and eagerly awaited the start of s3. Since those few days, my relationship would be more love – hate with the show as I despised the first ep of s3 and all of the first 13 eps until the apartment scene, bitterly so. But the emotional connection I feel has run deep ever since! I think it is Chuck and Sarah that hooked me, but I’d gladly listen to alternatives.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Jason, for me it wasn’t really Chuck and Sarah. At least not at first. Anyone who was on the NBC boards at the time knew that at first, I didn’t like Sarah. Not even a little bit. In fact at the end of Seduction, I downright disliked her. To me, the appeal of the show was it was an underdog story. It was the story of this average guy dirfting through life. I could identify with that guy. I liked him. Then he got thrown into this high octane spy life that he didn’t even have a clue existed. And he made mistakes, lots of mistakes. But the funny thing is that he thrived more because he didn’t think like a spy. He pointed out to the spies where their thinking was wrong. He used the feelings that the spies tried to bury as assets (no pun intended). And part of that was he quickly fell for the hot blonde. Everyone knew that he had no shot with her. He certainly knew it. But we could see things that he couldn’t. She was falling for him just as quickly as he was… she just had to hide it. And we got the feeling that if he would just hang in there, he might actually haver a shot.

        Later it became pure love story for me. I actually started rooting for Sarah harder than Chuck. In many ways she became more of the underdog than he did. That’s why I still maintain S3 was a serious miscalculation (sorry Ernie). They didn’t take into account people like me who watched to see them get together. They didn’t realize that watching her with some other guy (especially one so ill suited) was painful. And who watches TV to be depressed?

        I almost joined the 2 million who left. The main reason I didn’t was the spoilers that told me they were going to quickly have a romantic ending.

      • dkd says:

        Thanks for that reminder, Ernie, of the production limitations.

        I also give a lot more slack to the latter seasons vs. the early ones because I know the show reduced the number of shooting days per episode to save money. We’re not talking about a blockbuster movie that was in production for five months.

        I’ve often noticed scenes that lacked coverage (shots from various angles), but I’ve usually assumed it was because of time constraints and not incompetence on the director’s part.

        The stunts weren’t always very good in the final season, but I know they had little time to practice them.

        I recently read or saw an interview with Zac Levi about his role in Thor 2 and he spent weeks training and practicing for the swordwork and horse riding he had to do in the movie. I know they never had that luxury on Chuck.

      • uplink2 says:

        I’m not going to go into too much discussion about all that has happened in this thread but I do want to bring up a point I’ve made before. This isn’t children’s soccer where everyone gets a trophy just for showing up. This is business. You don’t get a pass on shoddy workmanship just because you love your job.

        I’ve used that comment many times when discussing Routh and his performance as Shaw. Everyone I’ve ever heard say anything about him says he’s a great guy, but that doesn’t excuse his weak, limited and often times horrible performances in the role. He’s a great guy who simply can’t act, or at least can’t act in the role he was given to play. Same thing with Fedak and the rest of TPTB. Just because they love their show and may have expressed emotion at certain moments that worked well doesn’t excuse the ones that didn’t. Not everyone is perfect and I can give someone a pass if they simply failed at something they tried hard at. But many times it seems more like it’s simply laziness rather than anything else. The First Fight scene mentioned doesn’t apply here. This scene was on their own soundstage in a limited environment where the Director was actually the talent that was made to look bad. The decision in Baby had nothing to do with budgeting and production limitations. It was a simple lazy decision to create some angst. Curse is even worse.

      • atcDave says:

        Well Ernie, you do have to know its the nature of fan commentary that we’re going to fuss and complain over trivial details. If you spend any time at other show’s fan sites it quickly becomes apparent what a well mannered and appreciative group we all are!

        But I do agree with “perfect is the enemy of good” sentiment. We do tend to agonize over small stuff sometimes, and it isn’t always to our credit. Ideally, I’d like to focus on what was done right, and why we all loved this show so much. Criticism is part of the process, but its always a struggle to keep it in perspective.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave, Ernie, et al.

        I don’t think there is a single person who posts on this board almost 2 years after the show has been off the air who doesn’t love it at some level.

        But isn’t part of loving something wanting it to be its very best? I love my kids to death. But I’l also not shy about pointing out where they could have tried harder or done better at something.

        And yes, some of the things that we point out are more trivial than others. I don’t think that S3 was trivial. I seriously think that it was a serious miscalculation that caused the show to start on the downword path that eventually lead to its cancelation. I’m still convinced had they told a better S3 story that the show I love would still be on the air. So that does make me a bit angry.

        But I don’t think that Chris Fedak is a bad person. I just don’t think he was very good at what he did. I wouldn’t be either. And that lack of experience showed sometimes. A more seasoned crew might not have made the mistakes that ultimately cost the show its life.

        And this has nothing to do with production values or budget. I don’t care about the special effects. In fact I think that Fedak liked them a bit too much. I didn’t watch to see him blow things up. All of the mistakes I’m talking about are pure writing. Fake Name wasn’t awful because of any bidget reasons. It was awful because it was written poorly. It makes us dislike the characters that we were supposed to be rooting for.

      • joe says:

        Wow. The monster thread that ate Chuck.

        “Why did the show hook you so strongly?”

        Jason, I’m sorry I missed this when you asked. Or at least, I don’t remember answering. Since it’s one of those questions that continually buzz in my head, may I respond too?

        I’m gonna anyway.

        I think the reasons were extremely personal for me, and then I realized I wasn’t alone. It went like this: I was overweight, out of shape, in not-great health and floundering a bit on my job. Just before Chuck started I happened to get a new job (I’ve been an IT contractor, so changing jobs frequently was par for the course), joined weight watchers and successfully lost 38 lbs (mostly by exercising), got addicted to biking and running while listening to my brand-new iPod complete with playlists that were quickly becoming dominated by music I heard on the show, and also one more thing.

        That was, I got a bit of a new attitude. [Hang on now; this is actually relevant to the question.] For many reasons, I never considered myself particularly socially adept, and being a (very) short, dumpy guy didn’t help. Even after getting married (how the heck did *I* do that???), I couldn’t shake a bit on an inferiority complex.

        But losing the weight and getting in shape helped, a lot. So did the music. You know me – I find it more than inspiring. But when I was walking, running or just going from office to office I made a point of making eye contact with people and, if I got any indication that they realized I was a human being, shared a greeting. The effect was just this side of amazing – apparently a lot of people go around without acknowledging others exist and seldom getting that acknowledgment in return. It’s a shame, really.

        So yeah, in large part I was Chuck too, just like Bill. Except being older than he, Chuck felt more like a son and I cared like a father. The cause celeb, then, was an intense desire to see him happy and if possible, happy with Sarah.

        Oh, I got sidetracked a bit. Those people I met – some were interesting. One time I had a brief, standard conversation with an acquaintance who muttered something about hating Mondays, to which I retorted “Not me. It’s become my favorite day of the week.” Her eyebrow went up, Spock-like, and I could see the wheels turning. I continued by telling her that my favorite show was on Monday nights and her eyes lit up. Of course, she too was “one of us” and it really felt like a secret cabal. Much fun. That was not the only time I met people who enjoyed the show IRL.

        From there, I got hooked on the NBC boards with other members of this secret society, and the rest is a bit of history that you can read on the very first post we ever put up.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, i wouldn’t assume that you are older than I am. 🙂 I have a daughter who is about C/S’s age. But I still identify with Chuck. He is (or was) the everyman.

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I agree 100% about S3. That WAS a big deal, and that almost killed the show for me. And I don’t object to criticizing other story decisions we dislike, I do it all the time. I just try to keep the importance of such things in mind, and why some of these issues are not just about poor story-telling.
        And specifically to the case at hand, the budget plays into all of this, or at least it could. They had fewer writers in the writers’ room, they had fewer days on every script, they had fewer days to plan and prep each episode, and they had fewer days to shoot. So that means a lot of things were just done quickly. Things may have been done the quickest way possible. On something like the threat at the end of Leftovers, its entirely possible they recognized it was clumsy, but if no one had an immediate quick fix in mind, it likely had to just go as it was.

        A couple years ago, the movie “Cedar Rapids” was shot at Ann Arbor airport while I was working. Not really my sort of thing, but I was fascinated to watch them spending four hours on a scene where Sigourney Weaver drove a car to the front of terminal, got out and spoke to someone (Ed Helms? I don’t remember now) for about three minutes. They must have shot the scene 15 times. I have no idea what all the variations were they were looking at. But the director obviously was taking his time to stage the scene exactly as he wanted. Movies can do this. We so often hear of actors just going from TV to movies being amazed at how much slower the process is.
        But Chuck was not a movie. They had a few days to shoot a 43 minute episode. And that includes sets, costumes, make up, a read through and run through, and any set details for that particular scene/episode. Its a ton of work. And the big budget cuts after S2 made everything worse, not just the special effects.

      • BillAtWork says:

        S3 almost killed the show for everyone. 🙂 At the start of S3, Chuck was going to save NBC’s season from total disaster. Pink Slip got a 3.1 demo. I think it was the highest rated scripted show on the NBC schedule. Mid S3, 2 million fans that had been watching Chuck were watching Dancing with the Stars (or doing something else) and the show was back firmly on the bubble. Those 2 million people never came back and the show never recovered.

        You can blame that on budget cuts, or production values, or the difference between television and movies, or bad acting, or bad directing, or Daylight Savings Time… or sunspots, lol. But to me it was a poorly written story. One that people didn’t want to watch. And that lies firmly on one person (well, maybe 2).

        Did they drive those 2 million people away on purpose? Of course not. It was just a miscalculation on what their audience wanted. And like any business, if you don’t produce what your audience wants, you fail. That’s as it should be.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree that season 3 was a huge deal. It still is. I also think that it had a much larger impact than just dissatisfaction with the direction and execution chosen. They also lost the trust of a great deal of the fans who adored their show they had been watching the first 2 seasons. I think that loss of trust is also part of why certain things bother us more after season 3. I really think we wouldn’t have been bothered as much by some of the things we have discussed in this thread if we hadn’t felt betrayed in season 3. I mean there are some issues with season 2 but no one seems to be as bothered by them. I have always said it played a part in the reaction to the finale. I also think that we may have still seen these issues but maybe we would give them more of a pass. Unfortunately however they lost a whole lot of passes as soon as Pink Slip aired and many more were lost later on.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I would never blame S3 on anything other than terrible story telling. Budget issues made everything worse, but S3 was fatally flawed at conception. There is NOTHING they could have done to make me enjoy the fractured main relationship and OLIs. Not when those were EXACTLY the things I did NOT want to see.
        But for the rest of the series, it gets a lot more complicated. And when we start complaining about the staging of a particular scene, I think its entirely possible budget DID play into what’s wrong with it.

        And yeah ditto all Uplink. Exactly.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, since you asked I’ll answer, but briefly if you don’t mind. I’m not sure how to explain what hooked me in Tango, but it wasn’t a specific character or pairing, it was more the unique interplay of all the elements of the world they were building. It was seeing how each of these characters was responding to a new world for them and seeing those worlds interplay through each of the characters. It was seeing Chuck, an open honest guy, get pulled deeper and deeper into a world of lies, and going from a comic Tango lesson and Tango that was hilarious to a “dance” between the good guys and bad guys in the Buy More that could be both funny and dramatic and thrilling at the same time. That’s what hooked me.

        As for the characters, I suppose I invested in Chuck’s character first and the Chuck/Ellie relationship long before Chuck/Sarah (Chuck/Morgan even pre-dates Chuck/Sarah, Sarah didn’t have me sold till about Truth, and she nearly lost me in Crown Vic). While I liked the Casey character almost immediately I wasn’t really invested in him as one of the good guys till the second season, though he had his moments prior to that.

        Chuck and Sarah were a highlight for me, but them being “together” when they were clearly together in many very important ways already wasn’t a concern of mine. I sort of saw Colonel as the beginning of the WT/WT, not the culmination. There had always been the understanding between them that they couldn’t be together the way they wanted until their current situation changed. In Colonel we saw (to me) that the crazy kids just couldn’t help themselves and were gonna try anyways.

        I will also add this, by the end of season one Chuck had cemented itself as my new favorite show in the traditional sense like Heroes or Battlestar Galactica. I planned to watch every episode until it started to suck. By early season 2 it was an obsession and I was in till the end.

  3. andereandre says:

    I remember that when I first watched this episode, I started to cringe at the “tell no one, come alone” line. I would have hated it so much if the writers had gone there. But he immediately told Sarah. Related to that: they deceive Beckman and admit this immediately to Casey who hardly hesitates to go along. Go team!

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I like all that Ander. It made me a little nervous at first too thinking Chuck would lie to Sarah about the meeting, but he doesn’t, so all is good.

    • joe says:

      Oh yeah; that’s a great observation, Andre. It’s one of the subtleties in the episode, along with Sarah’s hair-flip noted by Bill above, that never registers with me until someone mentions it. Then I recognize it as one of the things that makes the episode extra enjoyable.

  4. atcDave says:

    I’m not trying to restrict any of this fun discussion, but just for planning purposes, for everyone, I am planning on an “Alternatives” post next Tuesday (9/17).
    So starting thinking now about how YOU would have altered the start of S4 and the early part of the Frost/Volkoff story!

  5. Dave says:

    I really loved this episode…except for the Jeff and Lester part (eg the Halloween display was, to me, ridiculous) and Chuck spazzing out..

    Loved the beginning up to where Sarah and Casey rescue Chuck and he says “My Mom dropped me off.” The ending was also very good.

    While Jeff and Lester underwhelmed me again the rest of the episode was great, some very good television here.

    I see all of the arguments above and agree with most, but I just don’t let that stuff interfere with my enjoyment. I do wish TPTB had done a better job with all of the preparation and story boarding.

    • atcDave says:

      I think the ridiculousness of Jeff and Lester’s story is why I said in the post it seemed like just a bombed joke to me; until Dr. Wainwright entered the Aisle of Terror. So apparently he and Jeff are in the same class as psychopaths. And the whole idea that even a total nut job could find otters terrifying (although the snail costume/Anne Geddes thing I actually DO find terrifying. I think you have to be a psychopath to LIKE that stuff…) I just thought that was so funny.

  6. Justin says:

    atcDave, when are you going to do another alternate post on Season 4?

  7. atcDave says:

    Let me start a new thread for the question Jason brought up, why did we all fall in love with this show?

    For me it was sort of a perfect storm. I love action/adventure and comedy. I don’t care specifically about the spy theme, it’s just one of several I broadly put under action/adventure. Funny action adventure always particularly draws me in, from Raiders of the Lost Ark to Romancing the Stone, this is the stuff I love most.
    I guess it’s fair to say I love a good romance too. I’m one of those rare guys who used to go to a romantic comedy, even back when I didn’t always have a date!
    I also love good family stories, yes that often means Hallmark Channel kind of stuff. It always makes me smile.
    So broadly speaking, Chuck just had all the elements I like best. And then I loved the characters. Right from the start I related to Chuck. And by Tango I was thinking Sarah was one of the best heroic characters I had seen on television in many years. So I really loved both main characters. And laughed along with the secondary characters quite happily too. But buying into the main characters like I did made me a ‘shipper pretty quickly. I was rooting hard for them in S1, and totally invested by S2. I guess that guaranties S3 as a non-starter. Going dark and ugly with the characters was the antithesis of what I was tuning in for. But we got back to the show I was waiting for. So I easily love four seasons of Chuck.

    • Dave says:

      atcDave, Jason

      I guess I got hooked after I bought S1 DVDs on sale in the fall of 2009. My first episode viewed as it was broadcast was 3.01. I gritted my teeth and hung in there and absolutely loved what came after the misery.

      I suppose Mrs Dave and I identified with the characters. When we were younger we could see ourselves as Chuck and Sarah.

      Did I mention when we met I was a 185 pound, 6’2″, brown haired paratrooper and since I have become a Systems Engineer and a bit of a Nerd.

      Mrs Dave is a blonde haired, blue eyed woman of Eastern European heritage with the hint of a dimple in her chin (see my new gravatar for Mrs Dave when we met). Her heritage was Slovak/Lithuanian and she’s only about 5’6″, but you get the picture.

      We like adventure and light hearted shows and we could easily identify with the main characters. Have always loved the show from the moment I discovered it. Mrs dave likes it as well.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt the fact my wife liked the show too made to a lot easier to get hooked! Although she sort of considers me a nut about it, it still helps that she can at least play along.

      • Jason says:

        I asked the ? looking for a defining feature making us all a ‘bit’ of a ‘nut’ about Chuck. Not having much luck trying to define the genius. Maybe it is the characters getting us to care, in my case Chuck and Sarah, in Ernie’s case seemingly everyone but Chuck and Sarah, but in all cases we seemed to mention caring about characters? Is that maybe a characteristic of Schwartz shows?

        From my little experience with HOD and OC, as well as Chuck, Schwartz shows seem to struggle when trying to introduce drama / consequences in his fun little stories (I think OC ran into many of the same issues as Chuck s3 in the middle seasons, Wade is HOD’s Sarah Walker, most love him so much that any deviation in his character is scrutnized). Every fan wants some drama, even in a comedy, but how the drama is done seperates the men from the boys in television. For me, Chuck was a success in spite of the drama, in most tv, I enjoy the show because of the drama.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Maybe it is the characters getting us to care, in my case Chuck and Sarah, in Ernie’s case seemingly everyone but Chuck and Sarah, but in all cases we seemed to mention caring about characters?

        First of all if this board has taught me anything it’s that we all buy into the show for our own different reasons and trying to define the “defining feature” is a fool’s errand. Though I will admit it is fun to share with others what drew us in.

        Second I’d say that is a very poor characterization of what I wrote. I most definitely cared about Chuck and Sarah and the other characters, as any fan of any show usually does, but it wasn’t what hooked me into the show.

      • Jason says:

        I’m a fool.

        I did not try to characterize you unfairly, I shouldn’t have said anything about you at all. I’m sorry,

        Why call me a fool?

        My logic is something special exists about Chuck vs most other tv. It is unlikely it is a dozen special things. Logically IMO it is something, one thing because Chuck appears to affect people differently than most tv. For that, you call me a fool.

        Even if I am, why would you do that?

        Of course, Joe will stick up for you and I’ll get blamed for being wrong, that is how it ALWAYS works with you and I.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        No, Jason that wasn’t personal. A fool’s errand is just slang for an impossible task, and that’s all I meant by it.

        I’ll just add that it is almost always a bad idea to try to summarize or characterize someone else’s feelings or thoughts.

      • atcDave says:

        C’mon you guys, we’re just having fun here.

        I do think there’s a couple of different things that led to people with very different taste getting hooked. First and foremost it was a fun show. In a day when most television pointedly is NOT fun, Chuck was. I think the blend of fun adventure, likable characters, and lot’s of funny comedy worked for a lot of people. Not everyone liked every element equally, that SURE is obvious from reading opinions about the show. But most viewers liked that combination of things to some degree or another.
        I think the charisma and chemistry of the two leads was huge (hugest?). I honestly believe Zac and Yvonne could do a totally different sort of show with different writers and they would still work together well on screen. Add to that Chuck and Sarah were written as very appealing characters from the very start, and it was easy to root for them. Looking at comments over the years, I would say it was the chemistry of the actors and characters that was THE major issue in turning so many of us into fanatics for the show. That’s what I think drove save the show campaigns and constant internet discussions. Obviously not every Chuck fanatic was primarily hooked on Charah, but I think enough of us were that it really became the defining feature of the show.

      • Jason says:

        ernie, I’m not a twelve year old kid, I know what a fools errand is. You have to be careful when throwing your intellect around on the internet, you might not be the smartest kid in the class and talkiing down to your students here.

        I get that you’re a pretty smart dude, please at least submit to the possibility that anyone here you might reply to might be your equal, treat them as such please! Nothing personal, the thing is you have the full weight of the board behind you, the rest of us are just winging it. And yes, it is frustrating when you start something, and Joe finishes it for you – sorry Joe, just calling it like I see it, has happened quite often.

        I already apologized for summarizing your words, I almost didn’t use your POV, but I thought your POV was important, because for you it didn’t appear to be chuck or chuck and Sarah, it was more which I think is a good addition to the conversation, a geat one even. My point was the word ‘character(s)’ seemed to arise in several of our comments, I now hesitate to say ‘all’. I think your use of Chuck and Sarah came begrundingly late in your description of your journey, hence my summary, as I was kind of looking for the first thing, the big thing, correct me if I’m wrong, but Chuck and Sarah was not the big thing for you, maybe nothing was, that’s OK too. For the third time, I shouldn’t have mentioned you.

        My small, and maybe ‘foolish’ conclusion, was that Schwartz is sort of a ‘character’ guru, and maybe the lovable characters in Chuck was the special thing, that not only made fans of us, but made us ‘nutty’ fans, to use Actdave’s wife’s words, if that is OK Dave?

      • atcDave says:

        Hey I’m happy to be a nut. I say it with pride!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Jason, all I’m saying is that I wasn’t calling you a fool, just noting that you’d set yourself a hopeless task as we all are drawn to different aspects of the show. Sorry if I offended.

        I admit I was a bit miffed at your summary after I’d gone to the effort of writing out my thoughts, because you asked, but I get that you were trying to be funny, it just struck me wrong.

      • thinkling says:

        Obviously not every Chuck fanatic was primarily hooked on Charah, but I think enough of us were that it really became the defining feature of the show.

        I agree with that, Dave. I think even Fedak finally admitted as such when he said something like, “Soon it became apparent that [Chuck] was also a love story.” And in the finale that’s pretty much what it was about: The plot was a device to show the love story, IMO.

        Even earlier they said various times that Chuck and Sarah were the heart of the show. They did realize it. I’m just not sure they expected it to overshadow some other things they had probably considered primary in the beginning.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling, I think they recognized Chuck and Sarah were great together almost immediately. Even the pre-S1 advertising campaign was pretty much all about the two of them. And of course S2 was powerfully romantic both at the start, and in the end. But it wasn’t until S4 when I think they finally decided to make that the major focus of the show (presumably how badly the misery arc was received, and how well Honeymooners went over had a lot to do with that). I still think CF himself remained more interested in Chuck’s journey, which led to a sometimes odd rhythm of things, like Sarah having a comparatively smaller part in the engagement and wedding episodes, but all in all they did figure out what worked best.

      • thinkling says:

        … And for the record (and for newer folks who don’t really know me b/c I haven’t been around much lately) CS were primary to my enjoyment of the show. I did enjoy the mish mash of genre, the show’s ability to give us action, drama, romance, humor, and heart … many times all in one episode. The show could turn on a dime. It didn’t take itself too seriously, and yet somehow we did [take it seriously]. Often the situation was absolutely ridiculous and totally unbelievable, but Zac and Yvonne sold us the relationship in the midst of it, and we believed the unbelievable. Add to that the relationships with the rest of the incredible cast, and the show was just all win.

        It was also appealing that both Chuck and Sarah had been robbed of their futures by the actions of others. They were damaged souls who found each other, and in relationship with each other, they were restored. Each gave the other what they needed to grow and become whole again. And it was a give/give, not a take/take relationship. All in all how could we not root for them?

        I’ll also add another thing that is huge for me in any show, and that’s character growth. I love that the show runners let the show evolve and the characters grow. All characters went through phenomenal growth (except for Big Mike and Lester). I loved that. And of course Sarah was my favorite character, not just because she was noble and heroic, but specifically because of her growth and Yvonne’s unsurpassed ability to show it in nuance and expressions and layers.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        If we’re talking about the defining features of what the show became as opposed to finding a defining feature that drew us in and got us hooked (which is how I interpreted Jason’s original question) I’ll agree that Charah was certainly a big one, but I’d dispute that it was the only one. Yes, Chris Fedak agreed that Chuck became a love story, but he also placed a great deal of emphasis on Chuck and Sarah’s journeys; Chuck’s to manhood and maturity, noting that on the beech we finally see Chuck has learned to love selflessly and Sarah at her core has become someone capable of love and trust, completing her journey to “real girl”.

        If you look at the ChuckTV fan surveys taken in the fall of 2009, June 2010, June 2011 and January 2012, only once does Charah not take the top spot in the question of what is the most important reason they watched (post season 3 it lost to Team B), but in ranking the elements of the show on a scale of 1-10 in terms of favorite elements a number of things were ranked as equal to Charah, including the humor, the Team B dynamics, etc. So while clearly the romance became central to a majority of viewers, or at least a majority here and who took the ChuckTV survey, to me it only worked as a part of a whole that had so many great elements for the romance to both feed and draw from.

        To me the most compelling part of the romance is what it did for the characters as individuals, so I’d have to conclude that the character’s journeys were more central to me than the romance per se, but certainly the romance was central to both of their stories, Sarah’s more-so than Chuck’s. If I could summarize what to me is the central theme of the show I’d have to say the people who we love change us. That certainly includes the romance, but I’d contend that it goes well beyond just Chuck and Sarah.

      • joe says:

        Yeah, Jason. I have a habit of sticking up for my friends. That’s pretty easy when I think they’re right about something.

        Okay – I’ll be dispassionate and rational this time. The phrase “a fool’s errand” refers to a construct (an errand, a mission), not to a person. There is no reference being made to a foolish person, but a person making such a connection is to be inferring one. That is, he’s reading something into the phrase that’s not there. </dispassion>

        I just told you that you were WRONG! Better? I didn’t think so.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well if you look at our re-watch poll it certainly seems the romance rules and I’ve been over-ruled. Chuck Versus The Honeymooners is well in the lead over Chuck Versus Phase Three and the pilot (who keep trading places for second and third place).

      • Jason says:

        Honestly I am more than capable of standing up for myself Joe, if you want to get in a battle of wits that is, which you apparently do. My ability to comprehend goes pretty far past the understanding of ‘fools errand.’ And if you read Ernie’s reply, rather than foolishly jumping into this, you’d see even he admits he got ‘miffed’ when he misinterpreted what I wrote (which I apologized for three times):

        “I admit I was a bit miffed at your summary after I’d gone to the effort of writing out my thoughts, because you asked, but I get that you were trying to be funny, it just struck me wrong.”

        Tthe ‘fools errand’ was his returning salvo, which is fine, I called him on it and we had it out, like a pair of adults, more or less.

        But when you jump in on and use the ‘bully pulpit’ to do battle, that is wrong, which you do quite often. In this case, Ernie and I more than settled our differences, but fools do rush in where angels fear to tread. Shame on you!

        Touche.

        Is that enough cliches for the day – LOL!

      • atcDave says:

        Ernie I do think there’s two different issues, that are closely related. Those being “what drew you in” and “what got you hooked”. Or let’s say “what was the bait?” vs “what set the hook?”. Those are hard questions to answer. Not only was the show a complex mash up of different elements; but most of us have a lot different things we like in different situations. I’ve mentioned a few times all the different things that really first drew me to the show, and it’s fair to mention, as you and Thinkling both did that character growth was a huge factor in the continuing appeal of the show.
        But for me, Charah was the barbed hook. That’s why it won’t let me go.

      • atcDave says:

        HEY! Jason, Ernie, Joe. Knock it off! Some of us are trying to talk here…

      • mr2686 says:

        What really hooked me on the show was the variety of things that this show did well, the way that they could hook both the spy story and the Buy More story together in each episode, and the way that ANY two characters could interact in either a funny way or a sweet/poignant way. The Chuck/Sarah story was a very big part obviously, but for me, all episodes that are making it to the top of my favorites list are ones that are very well rounded.

      • joe says:

        [Grumble-grumble] But Mommmmmeeeeeeee! He started it!!! [shutting up now]

      • atcDave says:

        Don’t make me stop this car!

      • Jason says:

        Back to business! Dave, I started this mess, I’d like to think the discussion has fine tuned the point that was poorly defined in my mind when I asked. You said:

        ” I do think there’s two different issues, that are closely related. Those being “what drew you in” and “what got you hooked”. Or let’s say “what was the bait?” vs “what set the hook?”

        I agree with that distinction, but buried in all of this discourse, I have a third issue, which is more ‘what drove you ‘nuts’ about the show?’ The distinction, HOD drew me in cause of Schwartz, but I quickly lost interest. Burned Notice drew me in and set the hook easily, so did Castle, but neither made me ‘nuts’.

        I thought if some of the more diverse POV’s were able to have a discussion about why this third issue occurred and if any common ground emerged, that we might be on to something. I guess I was wrong to think such a conversation was possible?

      • mr2686 says:

        Jason, although I really like Burn Notice, that show never really hooked me like Chuck did. Maybe it’s because they seemed to repeat the same story line over and over from season to season. I think they lost their way a bit, but I actually find this last season quite enjoyable (looking forward to a great finale). Castle is a different story all together. That show hooked me much like Chuck did (Chuck is my all time favorite show and Castle is number 4). Both shows are similar in that the cast for both shows are very strong, all characters seem to be able to interact with each other and you believe they all care for each other, and they both combined a serious story with comedy (although Castle never really goes to that zany comedy place…and if they do it’s not for a prolonged period).
        Probably the main difference is that it’s easier to put yourself in Chuck’s place…maybe someone that has not lived up to his potential, still looking for a meaning to your life and a woman to share that life with. I will say that it’s fun to put yourself in Castle’s shoes, and Nathan really plays it up to the max, but Chuck’s story is just a tick better in my eyes.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the discussion is possible. I think was just defining things a little differently. I sort of ignore the initial just sniffing around phase. Premier season is coming up, and I will certainly watch a couple Pilots that won’t do much for me. I don’t really count those as anything. Maybe I should, they interested me enough to check out. But if I give up quickly after (or during!) the Pilot I quickly forget it.
        So I tend to just think in terms of those that interest me enough to watch, vs those that really draw me in. Burn Notice and Castle both drew me in a little more than normal, although Burn Notice long ago squandered that enthusiasm. Castle has mostly just grown better, although last season ended in an uninteresting place.
        But for Chuck the hook was mostly about Charah. All the other elements may impact, or amplify what I already like. Things done well just make it easier for me to like the show. But Charah (and Sarah) is the source of the most enthusiasm.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Dave, I think that some miss the point. It wasn’t Charah… not at first anyway. There was no Charah. He had no shot with her. He knew it better than anyone.

        It was more that we identified with Chuck. And yes, absolutely wanting him to win the girl was a huge part of that. And when it started to happen, it became all Charah, all the time, lol.

        But I couldn’t stand Sarah at first. I didn’t understand why Chuck even wanted her, other than the obvious babelicious good looks (which is really kind of shallow when you think about it).

        It wasn’t until we learned that Sarah was just as flawed as he was, when I started rooting for her.

        BTW, Ernie. I don’t believe ChuckTVs polls (I don’t believe yours either). That’s not a criticism. Your sample audience is flawed. And (at least the ChuckTV ones) often had an agenda that was baked into the poll.

      • atcDave says:

        MR I agree with most of that, especially Chuck vs Castle.

        I loved Burn Notice right at the start. When it premiered it was the bets thing I’d seen in years. Chuck starting eight weeks later made for a very strong few months in the second half of 2007!
        But I never really cared for the Burn Notice over arc. I thought the show would be best if Michael gave up his dream of getting back to the agency, and found meaning in what he was doing with his friends in Miami. That could have been an awesome show about redefine dreams, hopes and goals. As it stands, I think the show just grew progressively darker and more depressing the last three seasons or so. I do look forward to the finale, but it really isn’t a show I consider myself very hooked on anymore. It’s more like just habit.

      • uplink2 says:

        Hi guys, just thought I’d drop in for a sec.

        Here is my Chuck story. In early season 2 a friend on another forum posted in one of his many “hot women” posts the pic of Sarah on top of the counter in the Weinerlicious outfit. I know I am admitting to some of my more baser male instincts but after seeing that pic I decided to give it a try as “monday’s were not pretty much a waste land” at that time. I watched TBBT at 8 and Two and a half men. So I DVR’d Chuck vs the Ex as I also liked Jordanna Brewster from the F&F movies. Well I liked the show and it immediately became a season pass for me. In fact once 24 started in January I had a whole night of TBBT, Chuck, then 2 &1/2 men followed by 24 and I was pretty much done by 10:30 with a great night of TV enjoyment. But with those first few episodes, I liked the show but it didn’t become an obsession until DeLorean and it was clearly the romance that got me hooked. Besides how much I like Gary Cole it was clear that Sarah’s backstory and the undeniable chemistry between Zach and Yvonne that took that romance to a level I had never seen before in television. I can’t name a single romance from any other show that grabbed me so completely as Chuck and Sarah did. I hate to use this term but it was beyond epic. It was the stuff of legend and I give 95% of the credit for that to the actors as we have seen other pairings with difficult backstories come together but never on this level, at least not for me. So after DeLorean I was hooked, and hooked bad.

        Then came season 3. After waiting for almost 9 months for the show to return, I was crushed by as a great FF writer once said, “the abomination of Pink Slip”. I was enraged and as I loved these characters so much I became very defensive about them and felt manipulated by the OOC contrivances of what surely looked like just another pointless trip to the OLI well. Having been an OC fan I knew it as soon as I saw PS what was coming. Josh Schwartz teen angst. But the problem was, Colonel had ended any chance of another round of OLI’s working and to drive that story they had to damage the characters I loved so much for nothing more than delaying what they had already resolved. Add in how god awful a character Shaw was and how poorly Routh portrayed the role and I screamed at my TV on many a monday night that my wife wondered why I even bothered watching the show anymore. She didn’t watch it as after a few times she hated the BuyMore and the Jeffster humor so much she couldn’t watch it.

        Well now we come to Mask and Fake Name. And as a reminder I had no idea about any spoilers, any fan sites, anything about Chuckpocalypse. But after those 2 aired and in particular Fake Name I felt like TPTB were spitting in my face because I actually cared about these characters and the romance. I seriously thought about deleting my season pass from the DVR and never watching again. Those 2 million viewers who left were seriously almost 2 million and 1. But it was my obsession with the romance and belief that the love would eventually triumph that I decided to watch one more, Beard. And even though I probably disliked Sarah more in Beard than at any other point, it was Chuck’s fake epiphany that brought me back for Tic Tac. Thankfully it was a very good episode, first and foremost because there was no Shaw in it, which was always a huge plus as he simply dragged any enjoyment out of any scene he was in, but up until that pointless and unnecessary last scene, it was as close to a season 2 episode as there had been all season.

        Well the night that Tooth aired I joined ChuckTV for reasons I have stated before and now became part of the online Chuck world that has now led me here. After season 3 was over I decided to buy the season 1 DVD’s because ironically I wanted to see where Carina started as I liked her as one of the few bright spots of early season 3. Her helping her best friend at the end of Three Words was important to me as I saw it as a positive moment in a sea of misery. So I bought them, the first TV show DVD’s I had ever bought for myself, and watched season 1 in 3 days I was so hooked. I immediately bought season 2 to watch the episodes that I missed.

        My point in all this is that I liked the show from the beginning of my time with it but it was clearly the romance and the chemistry between Zach and Yvonne that took my obsession to a completely different level. Once I came online I was pleased to realize I wasn’t alone in both my passion for the characters and my hatred for the betrayal that was season 3.

        So for me it will always be that I liked virtually everything about the show but it was Chuck and Sarah, Zach and Yvonne that took it to a completely different level of obsession.

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree Uplink that romance really does deserve the term “epic”. It is my favorite television romance ever, in spite of a few serious missteps.

        Geez, just imagine how far we’d all be gone if S3 had actually delivered something good!

      • atcDave says:

        Bill I think we can still use the Charah term right from the Pilot; even if the relationship was in a completely different place, it was still about those same two people, and their interplay defined the show for me from quite early on. I do admit I adored Sarah immediately. Even seeing her duality and duplicity in the Pilot, I thought she was a wonderful character. Even if “Charah” wasn’t the most important part of the show at the start, it was AN important part immediately.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        BillatWork, I’m very aware of our skewed sample and I think I’m pretty conscientious with the disclaimers. All we get from those polls is a sense of the mood of the site in question. We’re a lot more ‘shipper-heavy (and smaller) than ChuckTV, so I thought it worth comparing us with a slightly larger part of the fanbase.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Here is my point, Ernie. You often refer to a poll to lend credence to the point that you’re making. I personally don’t apply much weight to that argument. Because I don’t believe the accuraccy of your poll. I’m not accusing you of claiming anything else. And I’m certainly not trying to offend you.

        Here is the example that sticks in my craw.

        ChuckTV (don’t get me wrong. I like and respect Mel) had a poll to judge how people liked the finale. The problem was, they way they worded the question, most reasonable people (like me) would have picked the “I liked it but…” option. They immediately combined the “Loved it’ and “Liked it but” options and used that to infer that most fans like the Finale and the complainers were a tiny minority. It was a manipulative poll.

      • uplink2 says:

        BillAtWork I agree completely. I found many times the ChuckTV polls had a definite agenda in how they were worded. They skewed the results to get the results they wanted. I don’t think anything seriously nefarious was going on, and I give Mel and the folks there a lot of credit for managing that site. But I have always felt that it was never an objective site with important, honest questions being asked. It always seemed to me that the most important thing was maintaining access and that required far too much fangirling, ass-kissing and hero worship for my taste and that’s why I left.

      • uplink2 says:

        Excuse me “:skewed the questions to get…”

    • dkd says:

      Chuck has the two elements that all of the shows I’ve ever become addicted to have:

      1. A hero’s journey
      2. A romance as part of that journey.

      Two other series before Chuck had me addicted as much as Chuck:

      Babylon 5: The hero’s journey was that of Captain Sheridan and the romance that I loved was Sheridan and Delenn.

      Farscape: The hero’s journey was John Crichton’s and the romance was John and Aeryn.

      It helps that the show has a “scifi” edge to it. Chuck, of course, has the least of those three shows, but it’s there.

      I don’t think I ever get hooked on love story’s alone or on hero’s journeys alone. But, both in combination really seem to hook me if the characters and their premise catch my imagination.

      I saw Chuck’s pilot at Comic-con before it aired. It was very good and very well-received by the crowd. But, I kind of became a casual viewer after it began. I watched it, but wasn’t addicted to it and even missed a few episodes. It was when the story escalated at the end of season 2 when they introduced Orion and Chuck started showing some growth that I became hooked.

      I also wasn’t as pissed at Season 3 that many of you are because I rather liked seeing Chuck becoming an agent and working his way through that.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s funny DKD, you often come across so cynical I didn’t expect you to mention the romance at all.
        And I think a lot of us actually agree with you that Chuck growing into a real agent is something that needed to happen at about that time. From the journey perspective the romance could even be called a secondary issue. Perhaps the season would have even worked for more of us with the romance in the background for a while. But for so many, the story they chose just broke the show.

      • uplink2 says:

        I agree with alot of that dkd. I also wanted to see Chuck becoming an agent and working his way through that. I was also ok with the idea of a darker story for that journey to travel as being necessary for the grim reality to be fully fleshed out. But the issue is that the blatant contrivance of Prague was solely done to allow for the trip back to the empty OLI well. It served no purpose whatsoever for that spy journey. It was purely angst for angst sake. Couple that with how god awfully conceived and executed the Shaw character was and the horrific pairing of Sarah and Shaw and I simply can’t see that spy story because of how much I hated the overlying OLI’s and Shaw in particular. The good story get’s lost in the mud and I agree there was a good story there I simply can’t see it underneath the weight of the OLI’s. To fix it they had to drop the OLI’s completely and that eliminates the OOC contrivance of Prague. If they had done that I just might have been able to enjoy the spy story and where might we have been now if that had been the case.

  8. mr2686 says:

    Dave, season 3 would have definitely worked out fine with the romance in the background, but I think the growth of Chuck was better the way it played out. He wanted to become a real spy, then thought he could “have it all”, only to realize that the most important thing was Sarah. How many people in real life pick (early on especially) their career over just about anything, only to find out later in life that your career doesn’t keep you warm at night. Well, ok, it may pay the high price of heating your mansion, but you know what I mean. 🙂

    • BillAtWork says:

      See I disagree. Chuck suddenly wanting to become a spy never made sense to me. At the very least it wasn’t set up well enough. The character that they had just spent two years developing didn’t want to be a spy. He said it in Lethal Weapon. “I’m going to get this thing out of my head and live the life I want with the girl that I love. I won’t let this rob me of that. I won’t.”

      Chuck worked better for me when he was the reluctent hero. He show the professional spies that their thinking was wrong. It was, not only okay to have feelings, it was unavoidable. If you were smart, you factored those feelings into your decision making.

      Once we found out more about Sarah, we realized that they actually made a great couple. Each was strong where the other was weak. Intersect 2.0 made Chuck strong. He didn’t need Sarah anymore. Not really. I think that was a huge mistake.

      • joe says:

        I’m not sure I understand this, Bill. My interpretation from the first was that, it wasn’t so much that Chuck suddenly got the bug to become a spy, but that once he met Sarah, he no longer wanted to be inconsequential. Morgan’s line, spoken to Ellie, about Chuck becoming “… the Chuck we knew he could be” spoke volumes.

        He was rather quick to give up the spy-life, actually. Unlike a Bryce or a Cole Barker who needed the Adrenalin rush, Chuck seemed to need to make a difference, if only as a businessman or as a brother to Ellie, figuring out what happened to their parents.

        So yeah, suddenly wanting to be a spy would make little sense, but I’m not sure I saw that him, except temporarily, as a path to becoming someone who made a difference.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, i think this discussion quickly becomes a victum of (what I would call) inconsistent storytelling.

        At the end of S2, they totally sold us that Chuck wanted out. He even turned down the chance to work with Sarah because he wanted out. But they used him suddenly wanting to be a spy to break Sarah’s heart in Prague. IMO, that was out of the blue with little to no setup.

        And they repeated that theme several times. In Honeymooners, each thought that the other wanted out. Both were releived to find out the opposite was true. In Fear of Death, Chuck feared that Sarah only loved him because he was the bad-ass Intersect. In Phase Three, Chuck is very happy when Beckman tells him that they’ll find a place for him with or without the Intersect. He bragged about it to Sarah. In First Fight in the bank, Chuck was offended that Sarah would think him a lesser spy than she was. “I can take the big guy too you know?”

        He clearly wanted to be a spy.

      • atcDave says:

        Except Joe in Pink Slip he turned from not letting the “thing in his head” deny him the woman he loved, to abandoning her to be a spy. Whatever motives he may have had, it seemed ugly and out of character. Not the wanting to do something important part, the abandoning and hurting Sarah part. That’s a story I still don’t buy, and won’t sit through again.

      • mr2686 says:

        See Dave, I never felt like he abandoned Sarah in Pink Slip. It was Sarah that told him at the wedding in The Ring, that she was going off to work on the intersect project with Brice. When Chuck was asked to work on that project by Beckman, he had no idea that Sarah would be going. What that told me is, well first off that neither of them communicate with each other, but mostly that Chuck was now confused…possibly thinking that Sarah wanted to be with a Spy, not a normal guy. Sure, at the end Brice tells Chuck that Sarah’s wasn’t going to go, but he might not have believe him…or, simply that he had to upload 2.0 to save the day and at that point it lead him down the spy path.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But MR. Before Prague, Sarah came to him and offered him everything that we were lead to believe he wanted. If he was confused about her feelings in Prague, I don’t know what to tell you.

        He crushed her, just when she was willing to trust him. The character I know would never in a million years done that, not in that way anyway. If he was called to be a spy, he would have asked for her help… maybe even ask her to put them on hold for a few weeks while he trainned. But he would NEVER have shoved his ticket back into her hand like that.

        But that would have not lead to the PLI story. They sacrificed Chuck’s character for a plot point.

      • joe says:

        Well, those are all good points, which is why I’m leaning heavily on the word “temporarily.”

        There’s an important point buried in this discussion, though, that I haven’t heard expressed yet. It was that very inconsistency (good word, Bill) that made the character of Chuck come a bit alive for me. You know, human, inconsistent, sometimes mistaken.

        I know that’s not for everybody, and too much inconsistency is just stupid stuff on many levels. But there’s an artistry to how it’s done when it’s done correctly. Human Inconsistency will appear in great art too.

        Not sayin’ that a “mere tv show” rises to the level of great art… But I’m saying that sometimes I can see great artistry in this show.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Joe, I get that characters evolve, they change over time, they grow. But to change 180 degress with no setup?

        We were told over the course of two years what Chuckl’s character was. He didn’t want to be a spy, not even a little bit. He wanted to be a regular guy. He didn’t even like what spies stood for. He wanted a normal life with Sarah, the white picket fence and the 2.3 kids.

        Sarah went to him and offered him exactly that. And suddenly, with no setup, he broke her heart to become a spy.

        Yeah, Joe, I get that you’re willing to give TPTB every possible benefit of the doubt. I even respect that. But come on. That’s not character growth. It’s a different character. One that I don’t like and can’t root for.

      • mr2686 says:

        I don’t think that what you’re saying is that far off Joe. TV is very much one of today’s art forms. Just check on the final episodes of some of these great series (including Chuck) and they are more of an artistic statement rather than a straight forward “here’s what happened, everyone lived happily ever after”. I also think the basis for a lot of our disagreements here is a cavern that separates the “out of character” side, from the attempt to humanize side.

      • atcDave says:

        MR Sarah just suggested quitting the spy life to run away with Chuck! Of course he knew he’d heard Bryce right when he said she wasn’t leaving him! And he still dumped her to go fail his training! Arrgghhh!

        Oh I hate that story so much…

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, in theory that’s true, but neither Chuck or Sarah were great at communicating. Throughout the series it was usually Morgan asking Chuck if he had told Sarah something etc etc. The answer was usually no. Chuck, throughout the series, was always about putting the greater good ahead of himself. That’s why he download the intersect after it was out of his head (Ring and Goodbye) and why he wanted to be a spy (Pink Slip). I think though, he was portrayed as thinking he could get it all, and that didn’t happen.

      • atcDave says:

        MR he didn’t even try to “get it all” in Prague! He rejected Sarah then chased after the next girl to come along! He was a complete and utter ass.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, just chalk it up to 2.0 already affecting his mind 🙂

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah that might work. Especially when I factor in never re-watching most of the arc again!

      • uplink2 says:

        I hate to keep bringing this up but it is the crux of the problem with this part of theseries. Chuck’s treatment of Sarah in Prague has absolutely nothing to do with his choice to become a spy or any of the drama that would follow on that darker journey. His decision to download the 2.0 I think fits the character we knew. He simply couldn’t let the Ring have it and he couldn’t deprive the good guys, the CIA, the ability to use it to fight evil. So the idiot sacrificed what he wanted to do the right thing. That Chuck I admire. But I don’t admire and can not root for the Chuck we saw at that platform because it wasn’t Chuck in any shape or form and it’s only purpose was to break the relationship so that we could have another round of pointless OLI’s. Prague has nothing to do with being a spy.

        A good discussion can be had about the potential spy story, the darkness he would face, him finally being given the freedom to make his own choices about his future. That would make for a great season 3 and that is what I was looking forward to. But that isn’t what we got. The train station and Prague only has one puprose, to set the stage for another round of WTWT and OLI’s. That’s it and nothing more and to do that they had to turn Chuck into something he wasn’t, an unfeeling, uncaring, and insensitive bastard and that is why I think Pink Slip is an abomination. Not his choice to be a spy but the jackass he was turned into to set the stage for those disastrous OLI’s. It is that story that made season 3 unwatchable for me.

      • mr2686 says:

        To me he just acting like he would need to if he became a spy, and nothing more than what Sarah had been telling him all along about how real spies have to hide their feelings and not be emotional. I don’t think it’s an abomination, just a road he goes down thinking that once he’s a real spy, he can be worthy of Sarah. Sure it’s the wrong road, but he finds his way eventually.

      • atcDave says:

        MR it’s not even a road to that outcome! He gets involved with someone else just a few episodes later, acts like he’s had some great revelation that he still loves Sarah, like three different times, and THEN tries to claim now that he’s a spy, they can be together, because that was the plan all along.

        Look, to me, the bottom line is just that I found the story and characters miserable and completely no fun, for pretty much that entire season. But I also believe they completely changed the characters, into dark parodies of what we’d known for two seasons, in an attempt to be darker and edgier like most of the “popular” shows on TV. I do acknowledge Chuck grew professionally in ways he needed to, but the estrangement from Sarah and OLIs were not needed for that story. I think that aspect is insulting, and ruinous to the show I fought for. I believe it was largely a business decision, and a bad one at that. Reinventing the product like New Coke.

      • uplink2 says:

        Then why not say that? Why not get on that train for one stop and tell her what he tells her on the video in Three Words? Why be a bastard when he knew so many people in her life had been bastards to her? The Reason? The reason has nothing to do with wanting to become a spy and be worthy of her. It’s only purpose was because you can’t get the OLI’s if he does that. That’s my point. There is no part of the Chuck character that we had ever seen that was such an ass and so insensitive and mean spirited. How he could have ever thought he could get her back after treating her like that is beyond me. His actions on that train station can only be justified because they lead to the OLI’s they wanted so badly one more time. That is it’s sole purpose. It has nothing to do with him becoming a spy, downloading the 2.0 or anything at all relevant to his journey. It’s a plot device to extend WTWT and give us one more set of OLI’s before they finally put them together and ultimately 2 million viewers left the show after it.

      • uplink2 says:

        Very true Dave. If he did that to become worthy of Sarah and act like a real spy would, then why go after Hannah 3 weeks after confessing his love for Sarah and telling her why he did it? That guy is even more of a pathetic, insensitive bastard. The only reason is you have to have Chuck/Hannah to justify Sarah/Shaw. That point contradicts what MR was trying to say. You can’t find a spy related justification for Prague because there is none. It’s only to get us to the OLI’s and to get there you had to turn him into someone I never would have identified with in the least. Then to get them back to where they started they turned him into an even worse bastard in how he broke up with Hannah. It’s all just so distasteful and repulsive and such a disastrous choice they made.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Uplink, I agree with all of that.

        But I’d also like to frame it in a way that I think Joe would enjoy.

        They say that S3 was about Chuck’s growth. I don’t see it. He didn’t grow. He became Bryce. To say that he grew is to say that Bryce was more admirable, more man, more worthy of Sarah in the first place. None of that is true. Chuck in S1 S2 was special exactly because he wasn’t Bryce.

        S1 S2 Chuck was far more a hero than the trained S3 Chuck ever was. He did ridiculously reckless things like jump off the Buy More wrapped in a banner… because it was the only way to save the woman he loved. He stood in front of a bomb, ready to allow himself to be blown up… all because he couldn’t bear the thought of Sarah dieing alone.

        Bryce and the spies did the things they were trained to do. And for mostly selfish reasons, fame, glory. Chuck did the things that scared him to death… but needed to be done. I liked that guy. I rooted for him. I wanted him to get the girl.

        I simply don’t see S3 Chuck as growth. I don’t think that Sarah does either.

      • mr2686 says:

        Explain to me again how Bryce and spies like him gained fame and glory? Outside the CIA or NSA, they are not even known and they’re not exactly getting parades or big bonuses.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Maybe fame and glory is too simplistic. But they clearly all lived for the rush of the next mission. Sarah did too.

        It doesn’t change my point one bit.

      • atcDave says:

        I think partly it wasn’t all even supposed to be growth. Certainly everyone involved knew the Chuck of Fake Name had become quite the jerk. And then Beard was about fighting his way back, or rediscovering himself. I have to admit I never really care for that sort of retrograde movement anyway. Possibly if the whole arc had been much shorter, and Chuck hadn’t fallen quite so far, and Sarah didn’t abandon him, and… Oh never mind, it’s pretty hopeless.

        One of the things I loved about S5 was how many things Chuck did without the Intersect at all, and how many times his explanation was that Sarah had taught him that. We never saw much of that in S3, he was mostly relying in the 2.0, and not really talking to Sarah much.
        I just think it would have been a vastly more satisfying show with them working together, and training together all season long. Instead they went the teen soap route, and never focused on any meaningful growth.

      • uplink2 says:

        As a good man just tweeted me,

        “I think that there were any number of reasons why C&S couldn’t be together yet.The problem is that the train station isn’t one of them.”

        I could not agree more. Trying to justify a real honest reason for his actions there is just tilting at windmills. You can’t justify his mistreatment of Sarah for any other reason than to drive the OLI story to come. That is why it was so soundly rejected. It was a contrived premise and people saw it a mile away. Couple that with how awful the OLI pairings were, especially Sarah/Shaw and Chuckpocalypse was an absolute certainty.

      • joe says:

        @Bill

        To say that he grew is to say that Bryce was more admirable, more man, more worthy of Sarah in the first place. None of that is true. Chuck in S1 S2 was special exactly because he wasn’t Bryce.

        It’s time for me to yell out my mantra for this post – Great discussion! Bill, you hit on a point from an angle that I hadn’t considered before.

        You see, I didn’t quite think of Chuck as being more worthy than Bryce, but that was because I was thinking from Chuck’s POV. While it’s very true that Bryce (and Cole and especially Shaw) were not more worthy of Sarah than was Chuck, I don’t think he ever saw it that way. We – the fans – always thought so, of course, and the show was set up to demonstrate that in S1 and S2. But Chuck never believed it, at least, not until Barstow. After that, this worthy guy falters; he even says that he “blew it”. This is the story of S3.0. It’s a serious fall from grace, so it’s no wonder that the fans became upset.

        Hum. I guess I never saw Chuck’s fall as destroying the character, as many have put it. For me, he made a human mistake (choosing the job over Sarah in Prague) with human consequences. In much the same way, Sarah’s character wasn’t destroyed so much in my mind. She did turn her back on all the good stuff that Chuck brought out in her when she turned to Shaw and really, tried to deny herself too when she wanted to run from the CIA in Prague. That too is a human mistake. That really is the story they wanted to tell.

        But I understand the fan reaction now. Despite the Fedak quote above, I have a feeling it really didn’t surprise too many people.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Okay, Joe. For the sake of this discussion (I was going to say argument, lol) let’s assume your POV and take S3 at face value. Chuck just made a horrible human mistake and inadvertently crushed the woman that he loved.

        He immediately (in negative time actually since the crushing was in flash back) realized that he had made a horrible mistake. Starting in Three Words he tried desperately to get back in a good place with her. And it was working. She watched the video that Carina gave her. And when he asked her if they could work on cleaning up the mess of their relationship, she agreed. They were on their way back to a relatively good place. And he would have to earn some trust back from her, but he was getting there.

        Fast forward to First Class. A clearly emotionally on edge Sarah is tearfully pleading with him to not go on this dangerous mission. Not only does he throw into her face that he is going… he comes back with a new love interest. Really Chuck?

        Then, just as soon as he’s crushed her once again, he tries to get back in a good place with her.

        Those things don’t come across as honest mistakes to me (and I’m guessing many others here). They come across as the writers trying to tell a story that doesn’t make much sense, purely to generate relationship angst.

        Then in Beard, once he has destroyed her once again and their relationship is at a low point, Chuck actually has the epiphany that he is love with Sarah. Another round of him trying to win her back clearly designed to generate relationship angst. Really Chuck? Or more to the point, really writers? Do you really expect us to believe that Chuck sat in the room and actually came to the conclusion that he loved Sarah? Come on. He didn’t know that in Seduction when he told Roan? In Lethal Weapon? In Barstow? In Ring when he told dad. In Three words when he told her? The guy is a moron. How can I identify with him or root for him? I don’t even like him. Moreover, I don’t believe a person would act so bi-polar. I sat there watching and knew I was being manipulated. You could see in from a mile away. And even the dramatic reconciliation in Other Guy (okay I like that, lol). But you could also see it coming from a mile away.

        And I’m not even going into what they tried to sell us about Sarah. She clearly doesn’t like Shaw and mistrusts him. All of a sudden he’s kissing her neck. Really writers? You expect me to buy that?

        The whole story is insulting. I can’t believe that the writers sat in that room and thought that we would buy that. And I firmly believe that they didn’t. They watched what they had produced and realized that all hell was going to break loose. They were ready with Sepinwal’s interview before the credits had stopped rolling on Mask. They knew. Hell, it wasn’t that hard to figure out.

        And I can even see what they were going for. It’s a classic melodramatic story. Put the hero in a low spot, make it look impossible that he is going to succeed, then save the day with a dramatic happy ending. The problem is that most people (I was going to say nobody, but that is obviously not true, lol) bought it. It just made us angry. They lost 2 million viewers because of it. It ultimately cost them (and us) the show.

      • atcDave says:

        That was all very well put Bill. That’s the S3 malfunction in a nutshell.

    • uplink2 says:

      I actually agree with that MR up to a point. That journey was necessary for Chuck to take but it never was necessary to have the OLI’s. That was just worshiping at the WTWT God one more time.

    • atcDave says:

      As we were discussing back in the S3 Alternative posts, I think its possible they could have made the story work with Chuck and Sarah estranged for part of it. I wouldn’t have liked it much, but they might have made me not loath it! But the way they chose to go didn’t cut it. And it really wasn’t a matter of choosing career over love, as both characters knew career wasn’t enough and tried to “move on”. And that’s the very thing that broke the story for me.

      Part of the problem I always have with the route chosen, is that for so many of us the romance was “the” hook; which meant it was functionally impossible to break them up and make any other part of the story matter. As long as they were estranged, that became THE issue, no matter what else happened.
      If they had them together in a pretty low intensity sort of way, or having to keep feelings secret from Beckman (and Shaw?), or just taking things reasonably slow; they could have made Chuck’s training and the spy story more important for a while. Like maybe the whole front arc. But estrangement and OLIs has the opposite effect, and an ugly story becomes the dominant one. At least for many of us.

      • Dave says:

        MR, Bill, Uplink, atcDave

        First, Bill, I was OK with Chuck choosing to be a spy…under the circumstances. He was always the courageous Nerd, not a Hero but courageous. Meaning he knew the danger, was fearful but did the right thing in the end. His love for Sarah drove him to help and after Bryce went down, he made the courageous decision and had to follow it through. I have always been OK with that.

        As for S3, I thought it was a good design but the OLIs and the Shaw worship killed it. They could have had a dark-difficult journey for Chuck and as atcDave has pretty much described my alternatives, by having Chuck & Sarah having to hide their relationship and have Casey and Sarah be suspicious of Shaw and his motives. Routh might have been OK as the robotic-humorless senior agent assigned to train chuck. Hannah was a Ring agent using Chuck (Carmichael) to find Shaw. The thing could have been good and we might still be watching the show waiting for season 7 to premier.

        I always like the shared aspect of the spy story between Chuck and Sarah and their clear romantic connection kept me hooked. Casey and Ellie were the only necessary other components. The rest, I could care less as long as it did not mess up my four things (they are in order of importance).

      • atcDave says:

        I actually like the story of a humorless Shaw hitting on Sarah, and getting frustrated as he makes no progress. That might have been a fun story.

      • mr2686 says:

        That would have been a real fun story. The weird thing is that she eventually goes for Shaw, but did not go for Cole. Cole was a GREAT spy and had tons of personality and you could almost understand her being swept off her feet. Heck, Chuck might have understood.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah MR, I wouldn’t have liked it any better, but at least Cole wouldn’t have added insult on top of injury!

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave I agree. It could have worked but them pounding it into us that Shaw was a great spy and “perfect for Sarah” when it was never once shown the he was anything but a buffoon makes them look ridiculous. I always point to that scene in Beard where they have the hotel worker say what a beautiful couple they are as them pleading with us to buy what they are selling. It is so obnoxious and so offensive that it makes you hate the pairing even more. It’s again telling and not showing and the more you do that the worse it gets. Nobody was buying Sarah/Shaw and to keep pounding it down our throats just made me at least hate the story more passionately than I had previously.

        We had this discussion before but keeping Hannah an innocent Lou 2.0 clone was pointless. It all just fails so disastrously. But there was an opportunity to have her be part of the spy story that might have made her presence more palatable as her only real purpose was to justify Sarah/Shaw.

        But in the case of Shaw seeing that people hated him so passionately right from the start and he was shown to be such a buffoon then use that. Have Sarah call him out on being so pathetic. But the insistence on taking Sarah/Shaw seriously really made a failed story look so much worse and made TPTB look arrogant and clueless and caused them to lose the trust of a great deal of their audience.

      • atcDave says:

        To be fair, I’m pretty sure I would have come to dislike Cole pretty intensely too if he’d been put in that role. But Shaw was such a contemptible toad from his first appearance. It is kind of funny now how hard they fought to make us accept Sham though; I really believe a large majority of the audience, including many who otherwise say they like S3, just never bought into Sham.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave but at least in the case of Cole, we saw from the very beginning he was what they said he was, a great spy and as it turned out an honorable man. Shaw was neither.

      • atcDave says:

        I did not like Cole in Beefcake though. I liked him a lot in Lethal Weapon, when I realized he was no threat. The threat was mostly in Chuck’s head.
        If Shaw had been played that way, I might have just found his incompetent smugness amusing.

        But in the end, Cole remains the far more appealing character.

      • uplink2 says:

        Well I don’t think we were supposed to like him then. He was clearly a real threat to the relationship and you could easily see how Sarah was interested and could be interested in someone like him. He was shown to be a fantastic spy and actually a decent guy towards Chuck. But as it went on and she succumbed to the temptation at least a little bit she quickly realized he wasn’t it for her. Because of Chuck that kind of guy was just not as appealing as they once were. That’s another reason why the OLI’s in season 3 were so soundly rejected. Hannah, been there done that. Shaw been there with far superior versions of that guy and done that too.

      • uplink2 says:

        This is one of the millions of reasons Sarah/Shaw failed so miserably. He wasn’t even in the same league as Cole or Bryce. He was shown to be an incompetent spy, completely devoid of charm and charisma, an egotistical toolbag and for her to show any interest in such a pathetic excuse for a love interest just made her look ridiculous.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        Plus Shaw treated Sarah like crap. How does a woman go for a guy who treats her so badly? I still don’t get it to this day how we were supposed to think that was a romance. It looked the opposite of romance to me.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed. Were we supposed to think that his punching a man who was tied up and unable to defend himself was somehow manly and would get Sarah all hot and bothered? It was quite clear she was nothing to him but a bed warmer and yet they kept telling us stuff like this.

        Fedak: The intention wasn’t to make (him unlikable) … [pause] To me, Shaw is the epitome of a classic spy. You know, the kind of broad-shouldered hero/spy. And in some ways, that’s the kind of dynamic — on another spy show, Sarah and Shaw would be the heroes of that show. In some ways, like [Bryce] Larkin and kind of like Beefcake last season, Shaw’s the type of guy who has lived within her world. He is a spy much like herself, they’re cut from the same cloth and in some ways he’s the type of guy she should be with.

        Did he really expect us to believe that? Did he not watch the episodes in editing? He WAS unlikable on a multitude of levels! It has always been amazing to me how disconnected what they were saying to the interviewers/fans and what they were showing on screen actually was.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink

        That’s why I stopped listening to what they were saying. It bore no resemblance to what we were seeing on the screen. They missed so badly it’s not even funny, in fact it’s heartbreaking.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree Shaw treated Sarah horribly, which is part of why I despised him from the start. To me, the deal breaker for Shaw came right in Operation Awesome, and was emphasized right away again in First Class. He treated Sarah (Casey too, but significantly Sarah) with ZERO respect. He was a smug, superior jerk. The ONLY way Shaw, as portrayed at the start, could have been a fun or exciting character is if everyone, including especially Sarah, saw right through him and treated him as the utter jerk he was.
        Bryce and Cole were far more appealing in their different ways.

      • uplink2 says:

        Agreed Dave. That was the “course change” that Mo Ryan was talking about as necessary. Though I still hated Pink Slip it could have been made easier to take if they didn’t make it much worse with that sham of Sham. He was such a poorly crafted and cast character that at no point came off as what they continually tried to sell the fans on. It just made them look so out of touch with what was actually on screen. Here’s another of my favorite Mo Ryan lines.

        Yvonne Strahovski has done extremely good work in Season 3, and she did her level best to make the Shaw story line work. But as time went on, the strained Shaw storyline did a disservice to Sarah and in any case, even her top-notch acting couldn’t save a story line that just didn’t feel right.

        Yet they were still trying to say Shaw was the kind of guy she should be with. Unbelievable.

      • atcDave says:

        “Strained” is a nice way of putting it!

    • uplink2 says:

      Dave I think you have hit the mark perfectly. The way they kept them estranged dominated everything else for those of us who the relationship was the be all end all. It was a serious miscalculation. Though I wanted to see that spy story, I couldn’t as long as the contrived and disastrous relationship angst overshadowed everything. It was THE story of the first arc and as long as it was so completely unsatisfying, I couldn’t enjoy or pay any attention to what was underneath. Not only was it not wanted or necessary, it was incredibly poorly executed with a pathetic excuse for an OLI that made you question the sanity of anyone who ever thought that would work, including Sarah. It was a disastrous mistake on multiple levels and as long as it existed, nothing else mattered. For example did anyone really give a damn at all about Sarah killing Shaw’s wife? Did we care one bit about Shaw’s story? That event was the big reveal and by the time it happened no one cared. It was only relevant in that it meant that finally Shaw would be gone, an not soon enough.

      • mr2686 says:

        I’ve said this before, and I really mean it, that the time that Chuck and Sarah were kept apart was a nanosecond compared to some of these other shows. Actually, if we really looked, I’ll bet Chuck and Sarah came together for good (based on the number of episodes) as fast or faster than most tv shows.

      • atcDave says:

        I have no doubt the Chuck/Sarah pairing was quite quick by television standards. But that really proves nothing for a couple of reasons. First of all, I think its an endemic problem with television story telling that these things are dragged out too long. It is practically screenwriting doctrine that they draw things out PAST the reasonable breaking point. I get that they want to draw out the most marketable sorts of drama, but it usually ends up meaning both main characters are made to look like idiots before the process is complete. And I just hate that about modern writing.
        And secondly I think every show and every pairing has its own tempo. In shows where there is a lot of conflict between the couple (Moonlighting), or where a severely flawed character needs to grow and mature before better things can happen (Richard Castle), it is only natural the story will take some time to tell.
        But when both characters are shown as friendly and affectionate immediately, and they develop trust and respect within the first season, I think the pacing NEEDS to be completely different.

        So I just really disagree with comparing the speed of the relationship to whatever else is out there.

      • mr2686 says:

        I disagree with that Dave. Both Chuck and Sarah are very broken in the first and second and yes the third season. I think bringing them together even faster would have be strange.

      • atcDave says:

        I never saw broken. They both had growing to do, but they encouraged and helped each other perfectly in that regard. I think going into a relationship at the start of S3, with a slower pace than what happened in the back half of S3, would have been the most natural thing imaginable.

      • Dave says:

        Uplink, mr, atcDave

        Uplink you are correct in that the fractured relationship drowned out anything good that may or may not have been happening.

        mr, I never saw them as broken, they were two people who had never had a successful relationship and didn’t know how, but were learning. After the motel in Barstow there was no going back.

        atcDave, episode 1 of season 3 would have been the perfect time to get them together. I love to see Chuck and Sarah collaborative on missions, the breaking of their relationship killed that for me.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Dave, we’re always in the same place on this.

  9. mr2686 says:

    It sure is nice seeing so many people here, mid-week, talking Chuck!!

    • atcDave says:

      Our traffic had been way down since we finished S3 (we all do like to complain and argue!) But we went from about 1000 hits a day to about half that.
      These last two days have been much better, like around 800 a day.

      And yeah its great to see the enthusiasm!

    • Wilf says:

      Well I’ve been following this whole conversation with great interest. It’s amazing how, nearly two years after the series ended, Season 3.0, in particular, can still generate such an impassioned discussion. Hate it though I did, you could certainly give the writers and JS/CF credit for giving us such an enduring stimulus for debate, however bitter some of the reasons for that debate. Of course, had that particular stimulus not existed, the series might still be running 😦

      • mr2686 says:

        Well as much as we all love Chuck, it was more or a niche type show. I think if we’re really being honest, we’d admit that it pretty much was played out and ended about the right time. Sure there could have been some interesting twists and different stories that could have been explored, but I don’t think the numbers (of fans) would have been there, and of course everyone here would have complained at the direction the story took. 🙂

      • BillAtWork says:

        I couldn’t disagree more. Oh, I agree that the wt/wt story that they clung on to like linus and his security blanket was played out. But there was plenty of opportunity to tell exciting stories. They would have just had to shift from threats always being to the relationship, to external threats that C/S faced together as a couple.

        I always wanted to see the story of C/S getting pressure to become Orion/Frost 2nd generation. That made way more sense to me than starting thir own company. Seasons and seasons of possibilities there.

      • Wilf says:

        Doubtless, it was always something of a niche show but I think that niche became significantly smaller thanks to 3.0, and that’s what ended the show when it did. There were plenty of scenarios which could have been played out in the future, if only a sufficiently large audience had remained in place.

      • atcDave says:

        I can easily imagine the show still going strong; Chuck and Sarah as the ultimate power couple, saving the world while raising a family, that could have been fun for years to come. And I like how completely in the original spirit of things it remains; remember “saving the world for $11.50 an hour…” from the original previews?! S6 or S7 could have been “saving the world and changing diapers…”

        It is true that S3 provided us fodder for plenty of debate and discussion, its clear to me that will be a permanent part of the show’s legacy. The one good thing about it remains, we sure got some dynamite fan fiction out of it!

      • Jason says:

        They retooled the show darker in s3, and made Chuck a spy. I’m not sure they were ready to retool the show again as Hart to Hart or The Thin Man in s4 or s5 or s6 (probably needed to do that already in s3 when the show really had ‘legs’). If so, the show had lots of play in front of it, but as an angst driven, will the hero get the girl, lets not let you know until the credits roll if even then, the show was played out IMO by the time the beach scene rolled around. Probably was played out at the end of s4 actually.

      • atcDave says:

        Jason I do agree with that. I think if the reinvention of 3.01 had been to make the show into more a 21st century Thin Man instead of going dark we could possibly still be on the air.

      • Jason says:

        Dave can you imagine the mass hysteria if s3 began with a wedding, before the opening credits rolled?

      • atcDave says:

        I think that would have been a lot of fun! Although honestly, I think S3, with Chuck training to be a spy, they would have been better off doing the secret relationship thing and taking the actual growth more slowly.
        But that remains an appealing possibility. Do you remember “Chuck vs The Charade” by somedeepmystery? That story ended with Sarah and Casey figuring out Chuck had the Intersect and Sarah being ordered to report for a big debrief with Chuck in the morning, so they ran off and eloped that night. I would have loved if the story had continued with just how that briefing went the next morning!
        I could see something similar to start S3; now Chuck is the 2.0 and committed to becoming an agent, and he’s going to be hustled off to the Czech Republic for training. But not so fast! Sarah announces since she and Chuck eloped the night before she is claiming spousal rights and Chuck cannot be relocated without her. That would have been a lot of fun!

      • uplink2 says:

        But here’s the thing. Season 3 began with great anticipation and great promotion and it seems clear that from our discussions here and elsewhere that with a really high degree of certainty we can say that the biggest draw for the show was the chemistry between Zac and Yvonne. Chuck and Sarah was reason #1 and the spy story was 1A why people watched and it most definitely was the main reason fans became obsessed. But what do they do in season 3’s premier when they had their biggest audience of the season? They ripped them apart and kept them apart on screen for virtually the entire season. They didn’t even give us any of those sweet tender and sometimes heartbreaking moments that had been what made all of the story worthwhile. They then substituted an incredibly uncharismatic, boring and unbelievable actor and storyline instead of their star players. Did anyone care about Shaw’s backstory or the fact Sarah killed his wife when it was revealed? For a Pats fan like me it’s like benching Tom Brady and substituting Dick Duffy as you start the playoffs. Mixed metaphor I know but It makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

        I agree with the fact that it was a niche show but you can’t argue with the fact that in the season that possibly had it’s best promotion leading in to it’s return within a few weeks it had lost 2 million viewers. Many of them, hardcore fans that fought to save the show just a season ago. Those folks never came back and it’s a legacy they have to live with. At their biggest game they fell flat on their faces for far too many viewers and fans. No matter the excuse, money, reduced shooting schedule etc the storyline was rejected and they cast a very weak actor for a very poorly crafted role and instead of realizing their mistakes and changing the game plan midstream they continued to tell everyone they knew what they were doing and rode that lame horse all the way till the end. Even the great talent that is Yvonne Strahovski couldn’t save it.

        It is interesting for me in that as I’ve mellowed on the finale, my hatred for season 3 and what I feel was a betrayal of everything I knew and loved about the show has only grown stronger. After almost 4 years and hours and hours of back and forth discussion I am more disappointed now than I ever was. Because as we have seen in our alternative threads, it was so simple to fix and yet they arrogantly kept pushing it down our throats and have never really admitted they screwed up. They have danced around it and tried to be funny but have never once just come out and said, “yea it was an idea that simply didn’t work”.

        They had their chance and instead of putting their best team on the field and calling their most successful plays we got contrivance upon contrivance and more screen time for the worst player ever on the series while their best player sat on the bench for 13 weeks.

      • mr2686 says:

        Sorry, but there’s just no way to prove that many of the 2 million fans were hardcore. Hardcore fans get vocal, they don’t just pick up their ball and go home. Chuck lost about a million fans towards the end of season 4 and another million at the start of season 5…were those all hardcore fans too? Why the drop after Honeymooners and Cliffhanger when Chuck and Sarah finally got together and got married respectively?

      • atcDave says:

        I’m really not interested in a hard core versus casual distinction. But honestly I think some of those drops likely have more to do with metrics than reality. Nielsen doesn’t count delayed/DVR views the same, and as we enter spring more viewers will be active in the early evenings and watching their shows later. Again, this is clearly true among viewers I’ve spoken to. Spring and finale time of year often is when shows pile up on the DVR and it may be days or weeks to clear a backlog. At least four viewers I know took over a week to get to Sarah and Goodbye, not because they didn’t want to watch, but because they were busy with kid’s soccer practice, family BBQs, and spring cleaning. It was extra hard to make a night for a two hour finale.
        And the drop after Cliffhanger is easy. That’s the schedule change and S5. We got almost no promotion, and many viewers thought the show had ended.

      • uplink2 says:

        There’s no way to prove that it isn’t either. But as we have discussed before you can’t accurately compare season 3 to any other season ratings wise because it is the only season that started in January. Viewing habits are different at different times of the year. Comparing the drop in viewers from season 4-5 is also difficult as the change in schedule was probably a major contributor . I could also say it was Morgansect and there is no way to prove it wasn’t. I mean it is clear to me that Fedak was more intrigued by Morgan than his audience was.

        But you can’t deny that season 3 fractured the fanbase severely. Even Schwedak’s comments in their 5 season wrap up clearly show they realize that as well. The darker tone and Sarah/Shaw in particular simply didn’t work and I think even the biggest season 3 apologizers would agree with that. Hell the staff even agreed. Also I have never seen such a visceral reaction to a TV show direction change in my experience either. I know many shows have periods that fans don’t like but the hatred here and in particular for Shaw is unlike any I have ever seen and that includes Oliver on the OC.

      • atcDave says:

        I should mention, obviously like Bill, I make VERY heavy use of anecdotal evidence. But I believe most published measures leave more questions than answers. And in my anecdotal evidence, the misery arc was the only time viewers quit because they no longer liked the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Uplink I do think Morgansect is an interesting point. I don’t believe it was a huge issue to most casual viewers. In my experience, the casual viewers like Morgan more than the more serious viewers do. Although certainly CF liked Morgan more than I do, but I never saw this as a huge problem.
        But a problem MAY be that Cliffhanger ending the way it did, did not scream TO BE CONTINUED in quite the same way previous season finales did. It ended with Chuck and Sarah married and happy (and rich), a little threat (from Decker), and a funny joke (Morgansect). I think to a lot of viewers that just looked like a plausible and happy end.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Getting a sense of Deja Vu.

  10. mr2686 says:

    Bill, for you and me that’s true…there were tons of other stories to tell, but we’re (including most people on this site) not the normal fans. The normal fans are the ones that TPTB created and wrote the story for. Those normal fans are the ones that love the WTWT as proven time and time again on many many shows. People here can say that the fans left in season 3 because of what they did to the characters, but more likely the average fan just moved on to something else. If you read reviews for individual episodes for season 3 (especially the early ones like Pink Slip) there is not the total indignation that is so often expressed here. If you read the reviews anywhere that sells the dvds, season 3 actually gets very good reviews. All I’m saying is that the show had played out for the average fan. That still left 3-4 million hard core fans, but that’s not enough to remain on a major network (I know, calling NBC major is debatable).

    • BillAtWork says:

      Again I disagree. Look at a line chart of viewers by episode. It fell off the clift right after Mask and Fake Name… and basically stayed at that same level for the rest of the series.

      Now there is no way to go to those two million fans and ask them why they gave up. But I like my theory that they grew tired of watching a downer story over them all just moving on by attrirtion… or Daylight Savinbgs Time, lol.

      I dispute that the Chuck audience was watching for wt/wt angst. I don’t think that’s true. They wanted to end the wt/wt and move on. That was Schwartz’s miscalculation. Compared to most shows, Chuck was older, more male, and more affluent. It wasn’t Gossip Girl. That’s why NBC was so eager to make it work, even with such low ratings. They were the right people. The ones advertisers look for. And I’m not even saying that they had to put C/S together in S3. I don’t think they did. But they had to tell a story that wasn’t depressing. And they failed.

      And don’t get me started on reviews, lol.

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, I keep hearing that the viewers fell off the cliff right after Mask and Fake Name, but that’s not what I’m seeing. I do see a drop off, but not that much more than in other periods in other seasons. What I think is interesting is that there starts to be a real drop off right after Honeymooners. How is that explained? The fans are given what they want and they stop watching? Please don’t say that the fans had finally given up because in theory if they were there for Honeymooners they would have stuck around.

      • dkd says:

        Wow, we are in ratings discussion. My favorite topic. I don’t have a lot of time to write though.

        Things to consider: (and I have to get back to work)

        1. Chuck began Season 3 with a rating that was significantly higher than the latter part of Season 2–and that includes the beloved Chuck vs. the Colonel
        2. Part of the reason is that NBC promoted the hell out of it, starting in November of the previous year.
        3. Ask yourself–who were these additional viewers? I sincerely doubt they are the harcore/invested in the relationship types that are here.
        4. TV viewing goes down when the clocks are adjusted in mid-March. It’s light out earlier. People stay out longer. As a result, ratings for all shows at 8PM pretty much go down. Even shows without alleged “misery arcs”.
        5. TV viewing continues to go down as the weather gets warmer and warmer. This impacts all shows. Not just shows with alleged “misery arcs”.
        6. To analyze the ratings of a show without considering these macro-influences and without considering things like competition and promotion is utterly simplistic.
        7. Another thing to consider is Live + 7 ratings vs. Live + Same Day. The ratings most of you probably have in mind is the former. For the record, here’s the weekly drops for Live + 7 Adults 18-49 telecast by telecast:

        2 vs 1 -11% (1 was two episodes)
        3 vs 2 -6%
        4 vs 3 +2%
        5 vs 4 -2%
        6 vs 5 -7%
        7 vs 6 +9%
        8 vs 7 -9%
        9 vs 8 -13%
        10 vs 9 +3%
        11 vs 10 +4%
        12 vs 11 +2%
        13 vs 12 -3%
        14 vs 13 -7%
        15 vs 14 -1%
        16 vs 15 0%
        17 vs 16 -4% (17 was two episodes)

        The biggest drop of 13% was between “The Beard” and “Tic Tac”

      • BillAtWork says:

        DKD,

        Of course those seasonal factor apply. Nobody I know disputes that. A lot of Pink Slip/Three Words additional audience is because those episodes aired on Sunday, in the coveted SNF spot.

        But I will take a stab at your question. Much like 3D they were people who hadn’t watched Chuck before, tuned in because of the promotion or out of habit at that time slot, and took a chance on a new show. IMO, that represented a good opportunity to wow those new eyeballs with the same qualities that made us love the show. Unfortunately, in both cases, we didn’t get that kind of episode, those new eyeballs said no thanks, and the ratings quickly returned to normal levels.

        And actually, you’re making my main point for me (probably unwittingly, lol). S3 should have gained viewers. It was hyped broadly. It was going to save NBC’s train wreck of a season. The hype and new night got millions of new eyeballs. The fact that ratings actually dropped significantly says those millions (and some existing) didn’t like what they saw.

      • dkd says:

        …Forgot to mention that Daylight Savings Time kicked in for Tic Tac.

      • atcDave says:

        As we’ve observed elsewhere, S3 did have the largest drop of any season of Chuck. Maybe not by a lot, but it was a sharper loss than S2 or S4. And as Bill mentioned, loosing so many “event” viewers after Pink Slip is an indictment of that episode, not the full arc.
        But the full arc did have an impact on overall enthusiasm and morale of the audience, at least anecdotal evidence would seem to indicate that. Even among those who watched to the end, enthusiasm never came close to S2 levels again; and that is wholly the fault of the “so called” misery arc.

      • uplink2 says:

        I think this is important. Season 2 and 4 both started in September, Season 3 started in January following much much larger promotion for 2 months. For me in my understanding of ratings for season 3 to have the largest drop from January through May is even more significant and bothersome than if it had the biggest loss from September through April (S2) May S4.

      • mr2686 says:

        Not scientific at all Bill. I just mention it to show what like minded people like yourself think of that episode. I guess your comment amuses me just as much.

      • uplink2 says:

        According to dkd’s statistics the drop from Mask to Beard is 22%. That’s almost 1/4 of your audience over just 2 weeks. That folks is a disaster. Some of that is certainly DST but it isn’t all of it. Plus I would say that DST is a noticeably smaller influence in Live +7 day ratings with DVR than Live + Same Day ratings. So I think that proves the point that there was the largest drop after Mask and Fake Name. I don’t that should come as a big surprise to anyone.

      • mr2686 says:

        Uplink, that 22 percent was of a certain segment of the audience. The number on Mask for total viewers were 6.6 million, Fake Name was 6.7, and Beard was 6.37, and a drop like that was not unusual in the Chuck world. So with that logic, I can say the following…Best Friend started a trend to kill the series…Best Friend 6.59, Beefcake 6.66, Lethal Weapon 5.80. And no, before anyone suggests, those viewers did not come back.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Huh? Are you looking at the same numbers I am? That’s nonsense. The last 4 episodes of that season were 6.1, 6.2, 6.1, and 6.2. The S3 premier was 7.7, 7.2, 7.4. Those people absolutely did come back. And they brought friends.

        On the other hand, the show would never again come close to hitting Fake Name’s 6.7. Not even the S4 premier which only did 5.8. S5 was mired in the low 5’s. THOSE people left and NEVER came back. If DST or summertime was the cause, they would have come back for the S4 premier like the other seasons. .

      • BillAtWork says:

        I meant that S4 was mired in the low 5’s. S5 should be so lucky.

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, the first few episodes of a season are usually higher and the first two of season 3 were back to back weren’t they? As for season 2, you’re right some did come back but in my example they lost 800,000 but got back 300,000 at the end for a net loss of 500,000.
        Look, we can go back and forth all day long. If you have any experience with statistics, you know we could both make them support either one of our causes.
        Let’s just agree to disagree since I’m not going to change your mind and you certainly are not changing mine.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I agree that the first episodes of a season are usually the higher watched ones. That’s basically why I maintain that the misery arc caused fans to leave and not come back. If it was other factors like DST or summer habits, they would have come back for the S4 premier. But they didn’t. They were never coming back. Combine that with my ancedotal evidence and I’m just as convinced of that as I ever was.

        But okay, agree to disagree.

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, I’m just curious, and this is just to see if we have some common tv interests, can you list your top 5 tv shows either currently or all time?

      • BillAtWork says:

        Actually, MR, Chris Fedak has sort of ruined TV for me. I’m partially kidding. CF is not responsible for the wt/wt, put them together then reset them concept that dominates television. But he certainly contributed.

        Getting so invested in C/S was painful for me. I was on the ledge the whole off season between S2 and S3. Happydayz (the moderator at ChuckTV, I’m not sure if she still is) and I exchanged so many emails during that time (minimum of 5 or so a day) talking each other off the ledge, that I actually spent more time talking to her than I did talking to my wife (yes, my wife noticed 🙂 ).

        That’s why I’m so angry at them over the misery arc. I’ve heard the same story time and again. People I liked were telling me that watching made them angry, they couldn’t sleep. I spend most of S3 talking people off the ledge and reminding them of the spoilers that told us that certainly C/S were very close to a happy ending. And for me the worst part is TPTB knew exactly what the reaction would be in plenty of time to soften it. I actually believe they did soften it a bit… but not nearly enough.

        But to answer your question, I mostly watch comedies. Modern Family is probably the only show that I don’t miss. I will usually watch Big Bang. I loved Friends. I never gave a rip about Ross/Rachael. I was far more invested in Chandler/Monica. I think the show markedly improved and got funnier after they finally put them together and made them happy. I was expecting the same thing to happen with Chuck when they finally put C/S together… but that really didn’t happen.

        I can watch Bones. But they are following the same wt/wt, put them together/break them up formula. So I haven’t watched in a while. It looks like they might be getting married (sorry for the spoiler) early this season so maybe they won’t drive that into the ground like Chuck did with C/S.

        The only other show forum I’ve ever joined is 24. I liked the pace of the show.

        I’ve heard a lot about shows like Burn Notice or Castle. But I’m not going to ever get invested in a wt/wt relationship again. It’s too hard. The medium punishes you for it. So now most of my television watching is sports. Thankfully the Tigers are having a good year. The Lions are 1-0. I’ll enjoy that for the 1 week it will last.

        So, how much do we have in common?

      • atcDave says:

        I might put this up as a post later tonight, could be fun discussion for a couple days.

      • uplink2 says:

        Hey guys, did you not read dkd’s post? These numbers are Live +7 ratings drops. That is the number of folks who watched over an entire week with DVR numbers included. With today’s viewing habits I think that is a far better read on viewership than simply the Live + same day #’s you are citing. The advertisers may not like Live +7 but I think it is the better # for our purposes especially when talking about DST declines. I mean if it is now light out at 8 you might not watch TV but if you like the show you will DVR it and watch it some other time.

        So I repeat according to dkd’s numbers the LIVE + 7, LIVE + 7, LIVE +7 drop off from Mask to Beard is 22% and that is a far better indicator than just LIVE + same day. I think it negates the effect of DST pretty significantly. So clearly 22% fewer viewers watched Chuck from Mask to Beard. That to me is a huge indicator something was definitely worng here.

      • uplink2 says:

        Ok I’ll jump in on this one. Top 5 TV shows of all time for me.

        1. Chuck
        2. The Wire
        3. West Wing
        4. Al in the Family
        5. Mash

        Honorable mentions, Dexter, TBBT, Cheers, 24

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah I forget Cheers. I will still watch the reruns. I also liked King of Queens. I’m showing my age but Happy Days was also a favorite.

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, I used to love nothing but comedies, but Mrs. mr2686 is not as much in to tv comedies so my tastes have changed over the years. I have seen Big Bang and Modern Family a few times and think they are both real good. I was never a Friends fan and I have tried and tried to get in to Bones but just can’t do it, especially since I love Castle and I feel Bones is a poor man’s version (even if Bones came first). By the way, I was at a writer’s seminar for writing about forensic crime stories, and the creator of Bones was there. She was fairly interesting.
        24? Well now we’re talkin’. That’s my number 6 all time show, and we used to wait till the season came out on DVD and then megadose on 24 over the holidays. Oh my that was fun. My wife got me the first 3 seasons in a box set to start off with and we didn’t leave the house for 2 weeks. Kinda like Chuck and Sarah on the train in Honeymooners. 🙂
        I would suggest to you Veronica Mars, which is real good, but the on again, off again romance/romances would probably make you jump off the cliff. I was also a big Leverage fan.

      • BillAtWork says:

        It’s funny. I’ve never seen an episode of VM. But I donated $30 to the movie. Just because I want the concept to succeed.

      • mr2686 says:

        That’s cool! I’m not sure how successful the VM movie will be, but I know it will be popular with the fans that love that show. Just seeing what Rob Thomas has been writing and tweeting, he “gets” what the fans want to see and I think he will give it to them. With that said, if VM had gone to season 4, he was completely changing around the character/story due to pressure from the network. A little to late it turns out, but I often wonder how much Chuck changed due to similar pressure.

      • joe says:

        @uplink

        1. Chuck
        2. The Wire
        3. West Wing
        4. Al in the Family
        5. Mash

        Wow, Uplink. This explains a lot. Except for Chuck, my top five look nothing like your list.
        5. ST:TOS
        4. ST:TNG
        3 The Wonder Years
        2. Babylon 5
        1. Chuck

        Honorable mention to M*A*S*H, Mary Tyler Moore, Firefly (which I didn’t see originally) and most of all, The Sopranos.

        It doesn’t seem right to include my favs from the ’60s, because I was just too young to have tastes for anything more sophisticated than Rocky and Bullwinkle. But since that show was far superior to The Simpsons, Family Guy or Beevis & Butthead, maybe my tastes weren’t so bad. So I’ll also mention The Addams Family, The Mouseketeers (v 1.0, featuring Annette, of course) and it goes without saying, Batman.

      • uplink2 says:

        How so, Joe? Damn that rhymes. 😉 Hey I love Chuck and IMO The Wire is the best show ever on television. West Wing possibly the best written and All in the Family and Mash were both groundbreaking shows. Seems like a pretty good list to me.

      • joe says:

        Oh, the lists just show how our tastes differ, Uplink. 😉

        You’ve got me wondering, though. If today I was transported back to those decades, I wonder what shows I would choose to watch. My tastes have certainly changed – I don’t think I’d watch Cheers as religiously as I did. I certainly would not watch Lou Grant at all, if I had it to do over again.

        I might have tried 24 and Lost, though. I didn’t see those and didn’t want to expend the energy to get caught up. I probably should have.

        Now Twilight Zone and Outer Limits – I’d watch those again in a heartbeat!

      • mr2686 says:

        Ok, since I didn’t list them before, here’s my list:
        1. Chuck
        2. Lost
        3. Veronica Mars
        4. Castle
        5. Leverage
        6. 24
        7. Sons of Anarchy
        8. Haven
        9. Firefly
        10. Heroes.
        My old school list would include, I Love Lucy, Wild Wild West, Barney Miller, Taxi and Night Stalker.

      • mr2686 says:

        Joe, it’s not too late to check out Lost. The island may not let you leave though.

    • atcDave says:

      I can’t explain all the ratings, but I do know the casual viewers I know who made it through the misery arc all made it through S4 as well. Everyone I know who quit did so early in the misery arc.
      Then among those same casual viewers we lost a few more at the start of S5, not because they were tired of the show, but because they didn’t know it was still on the air! NBC gave us so little promotion to go with the change of nights that only those viewers who were keeping track of things on line or used a DVR knew about the change. Among my friends, that was about four more families. They were ALL interested in watching S5 once they found out it existed.

      • mr2686 says:

        That’s interesting but not surprising. When NBC loses interest in a show (especially when it moves it to Friday) you often have to really search to find when it will be on. Ratings are a weird thing. It hasn’t been till recently that they actually, in some cases, take in to account the numbers of viewers that watch the show on demand, and even DVR it. Of course, using the dvr does not help sell the show to the sponsors. Chuck was a weird case in that it had to wade through a writers strike, Olympics, postponed due to Presidential speaches, etc etc. I’ve said before that in regard to watching in real time, I often look back and remember some of the arc’s seeming to last a lot longer than then really did. That may be some of the reason why viewers dropped off at certain points along with many other factors. Sure, there were people that dropped off in season 3, but you know, the first few episodes in Season 1 had a completely different tone/feel than the rest of the season and even season 2. Numbers dropped off there as well and maybe the change shows that people that liked that early Chuck did not like the late season 1/season 2 as well (even though I think we agree that it was great).

      • atcDave says:

        I think numbers often drop right after a Pilot, a lot of people check out new shows and don’t stick around. I recently met a guy who saw the first three episodes, liked it, but was in college at the time and decided he didn’t have time. We watched a couple episodes together he enjoyed, he may watch it all at some point, but the initial hook wasn’t strong enough for him to make it very far.
        We also saw large jumps for Third Dimension and Pink Slip all related to promotion and special event buzz. But none of those episodes succeeded in hooking those extra viewers. I’m not really surprised in either case, its just lost opportunities.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Yeah, Dave.

        Both were huge opportunities. Both were written by the same guy. And both failed for the same reason, they didn’t play to the charm of the show.

        Anecdotal evidence doesn’t prove anything. But it’s really all we have. And my anecdotal evidence is screaming at me that the relationship was by far the most important story for viewers. And that the storyline of S3 caused a huge drop off.

      • mr2686 says:

        I agree, number often drop right after a pilot, but also after one or two episodes of any season. I’m sure the networks have done exhaustive studies on the subject, but I’m sure it varies depending on the season, what’s up against the show and if that show has started up on the same week, etc etc.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Networks have staffs of analytical PHD type folk to try and make sense of ratings and what they mean. Trying to point to a single factor to explain anything is a fools errand (Wow, Ernie I hope your phrase doesn’t start another fire storm 🙂 )

        But all my anecdotal evidence is still screaming at me.

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, I guess it’s not a surprise that I disagree with you. Third Dimension (a very underrated episode I might add) had a large spike in viewers. Yes, as Dave said that was partly because of the “special event” status of it, but also because a member of Lost was on the show and that drew some fans that might not have normally been there…hence the drop the following week, not because of the lack of charm.
        I do agree that anecdotal evidence is all we have, and it may be screaming to you regarding the relationship portion of the show, but there are just as many people that have it screaming about the comedy portion of the show, or the spy portion of the show. Then there’s some of us that loved all of it as a stew, and can’t figure out why anyone wants to single out the carrots or the garlic. 🙂

      • BillAtWork says:

        Partly?

        Anyway, the point is that none of those new eyeballs stayed on. I maintain had DeLorean gotten that promotion, more people that tuned in for the first time would have stayed the next week.

        Can I prove that? Of course not. But that doesn’t make it not true.

      • BillAtWork says:

        Really?

        What is your ancedotal evidence?

        Mine is thousands of reviews, thousands of emails and PMs, and tens of thousands of forum posts. And while I don’t claim that any one opinion is represented by 100% of people, the love story aspect of the show is the overwhelming, no close second, thing that made people want to watch. Episodes that treated the relationship well, were well received. and episodes that didn’t weren’t.

        It’s really as simple as that.

      • mr2686 says:

        Yeah, it’s funny that the networks staff those PHD’s (and we end up with the type of shows we hate) when all they really need is a couple of 12 year olds with access to the internet to figure out some of it.

      • mr2686 says:

        …and it doesn’t make it true, hence the arguments/disagreements. With that said, I don’t disagree that getting more people to watch DeLorean, Seduction, Cougars, etc etc, would have possibly kept them around for awhile, but then, you would have had to know at the time that those were classic episodes.

      • BillAtWork says:

        But you’re saying that there was no way to predict that DeLorean, Seduction, Cougars, etc would be favorites. I’m saying it was predictable. Because those episodes centered on what they themselves called the heart of the show.

        3D didn’t. Pink Slip certainly didn’t. They had all of those extra eyeballs ready to be sold on the idea of falling in love with the show and they didn’t put their best foot forward.

        Hence it was a missed opportunity.

      • uplink2 says:

        I will say this, had Pink Slip had the same tone as First Date did with all of its special promotion and we continued with the same quality that those first 5 episodes of season 2 had, we would be seeing something completely different now. I agree it was the depressing, unfulfilled, tedious nature of the storyline that was not appealing in any way. They said they wanted to test the limits of the show. Well they did that and they failed that test.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Uplink I completely agree with that.

        MR it may be true that there are a lot of different things about Chuck that appealed to different viewers, but you only needed to mess up one at a time to start loosing viewers. I think its pretty obvious that those interested in the romance lost enthusiasm quickly in S3. Even those who stuck it out (and I would say, this is the VAST majority of Chuck viewers I personally know) had considerably less enthusiasm for the show after than they did before. Something was irrevocably lost with the story chosen for S3. And I can only speculate, but I believe part of the reason many viewers lost track of the show with the S5 schedule change goes back to the show having lost that extra something special in S3. I’ve had a couple conversations that seem to back this theory up, but really it can only be a guess. For the record, I firmly believe the romance was the main hook for the largest portion of the audience. Per our discussion yesterday; it was never the BAIT (comedy and action were the bait, at least for me), it was the HOOK.
        By this same measure, I believe a weaker spy story in S4 led to the loss of viewers who had considered this their favorite part of the show. Although I do believe this was a much smaller group than the ‘shippers.
        And I find this all the more tragic since those viewers who would have most loved S4 were the very people who were already scared off by S3!
        I do believe if a more upbeat sort of story had been told in S3, we could have grown the audience, or at least held our ground.

        BTW, I think Third Dimension was a horrible bait episode. WAY too much whiney Chuck. He was actually extremely unappealing in that episode.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I had wanted to weigh in Bill’s mention of favorite episodes. It is interesting to me how many of those episodes are the strongly romantic ones. And of course, ALL of the Sarah centered episodes score well. But most significant to me; Honeymooners and Phase Three are both episodes the show runners later said they didn’t expect to be very popular (oh, and notice neither episode was written by the show runners!). I think this shows nicely the disconnect between the writers and viewers. Those episodes that were most what we wanted to see, were NOT the product the show runners actually most wanted to deliver. Too bad. More Honeymooners, and less (as in none!) Mask and we would have a lot more happy viewers.

      • mr2686 says:

        Bill, I can only assume when you say Thousands of reviews that you are talking about the same few people rehashing the same gripes in these blogs. Almost all reviews of all kinds I’ve found are for the most part positive about Chuck, and yes even season 3. That doesn’t mean you don’t have legitimate gripes, but for the average fan of the show, it was not a big deal. Now, with new people coming to the show via DVD, it’s even less of a deal because you can watch multiple episodes pretty quickly and the “misery arc” goes by pretty darn quick and seems not all that bad. For me, I happen to like Pink Slip, First Class and Nacho, so the first 6 out of the gate are pretty good. I’m actually glad that Mask and Fake Name are back to back because then once they’re gone, you’ve got two pretty good ones in Beard and Tic Tac, two mediocre ones, and then the rest of the season really picks up (obviously starting with Honeymooners). So, for me season 3 comes down to about 4 clunkers (which is about the same amount as season 2 in my book, although season 2 has many more in my top 10/20 than season 3 does). What I do see on re-watching season 3 is not the things that drive some of you crazy, but a lot of disjointed stuff. Starts of ideas that I can only assume got changed with different writers etc. I still think that creepy neck/shoulder rub of Shaw’s with the “evil” music in the background and his expression (well, that one’s hard because he sucks as an actor) was a tell that he knew Sarah had killed his wife, yet they played it later on like he just found out when he saw the video. Also, Sarah trying to get close to Shaw to get info and then suddenly the two were an item? What happened there? Anyway, I know many of you have turned on your friends to Chuck, and I’m curious as to what you say about season 3 (if anything) before they watch it. I find it hard to believe that if you hate it that they all hate it as well. Just like, I’m sure, you can’t believe that everyone I’ve turned on to Chuck has not minded season 3 at all (remember, they are watching via DVD and most people I know will watch several episodes at one time). I will say that when I tell them about Chuck, I just tell them to at least watch the first 5 or 6 episodes of season 1 before making a decision. In my opinion, that gives the writers plenty of time to develop the characters.

      • BillAtWork says:

        MR,

        I’m not claiming to have any scientific proof. That’s the definition of ancedotal.

        I would also like to point out that the few people who send me reviews, or post on this and other boards, didn’t buy enough subs to make Subway notice an uptick in their Monday night sales. Regular people did that. The show generated a passion, not just with those who like to post on forums, but more broadly.

        I’m happy that you liked those episides. First Class may be the worst episode of the series IMO. Mask was horrible. I’ve never seen Fake Name but it is pretty universally loathed.

        You liked Beard? I thought it was horrible. Chuck decided that he loved Sarah? For like the 20th time? Sarah standing there while Shaw is getting ready to blow up Castle… with Chuck inside? Morgan becomming the emotionally mature one of the gang made me wince.

        I wasn’t crazy about Nacho Sampler. And of course Pink Slip was bad.

        So 6 of the first 13 were among my worst.

      • atcDave says:

        MR you know the Chuck community was far more active, with hundreds more people commenting back during the actual run of the series. I was very active at the NBC forums (by far the largest Chuck site) before we ever got going here, and I’ve also spent time at interview and spoiler sites. I can’t claim to have a pulse of the whole community, but S3 discontent was massive. I also know dozens of more casual viewers who would never spend their time at a fan site, and several somewhere in between. As I said above, every single unhappy comment I ever heard from a casual viewer came with regards to S3. Every single viewer I know who quit the show because they didn’t like it, quit during S3. And even among casual viewers, enthusiasm remained lower after the misery arc, as a clear result of the misery arc, than it was before.
        Obviously none of that can ever be for every viewer. And we can only guess at numbers and percentages. But I am always comfortable saying S3 discontent was serious and widespread across the fandom. And I firmly believe it is the single biggest source of discontent within the fandom.

        I have recruited a large number of viewers to Chuck (20? I’m not exactly sure) and found S3 discontent is large among most of them too, even from one friend I honestly didn’t expect to care; he normally goes for darker stuff, including horror movies, that I don’t watch. But of course most of my friends are closer to me in taste and interest, so perhaps it’s not surprising they tend to see things much like me.
        I know I’ve mentioned the one couple I recruited recently who watched via DVD, including watching my own shortened version of S3. They had no problem with S3, except for disliking Chuck the habitual liar late in the season. But of course they saw so little of Shaw I had to explain to them during Living Dead that Sarah had a brief thing with Shaw while she and Chuck were estranged.
        But I would say the largest number of later DVD type viewers are much less sensitive to the failings of S3. That may be a permanent difference in the experience. No doubt watching in real time, with a full year elapsed between Ring and Other Guy, had a very different feel than just powering through 13 episodes will. Those episodes I hate may never rate more than a shrug from later viewers. But that doesn’t lessen the intensity of my dislike.

      • mr2686 says:

        Dave, I understand what you’re saying, and I know that there are many of you that really hate those episodes and that arc, but I’m saying that even the episodes I didn’t really like seem better with time. I’m saying that if you re-watch the whole series on dvd, knowing the outcome of Chuck and Sarah, I would think you would at least think they were watchable..at least for the non Chuck/Sarah portions of each ep. This hate that you guys have, well, I guess I could understand if the show just ended shortly after that arc and Chuck and Sarah never got together, but after this much time I’d think you all should be ready to put away the torches and pitchforks. 🙂

      • mr2686 says:

        Yep, I like Beard. Beard also showed up on the poll here at 45 which would put it smack dab in the middle of the pack. I think that is pretty accurate for that episode. Now Fake Name, Mask, Pink Slip and Nacho are almost on the bottom, and honestly most of those are on the bottom of my list too but not because I hate them, just because I like the others better. I will say though that First Class is nowhere near as bad as Ex, Gravitron, Sensei, and about 10 more (and that’s just through the first 3 seasons). Again, I like all of those episodes, just not as much as some of the others.

      • BillAtWork says:

        I’m amused that you downplay my ancedotal evidence as unscientific, yet you site polls that are every bit as unscientific.

      • uplink2 says:

        I will say that I liked Beard when it first aired. But mainly because I felt there was at least some evidence that this horrible misery would someday be over. It was a small light at the end of one way to long horrific tunnel. But on rewatch though there are some elements I liked, mainly the B plot at the BuyMore the closer I look at it the more the A plot fails. As Bill said, Chuck has a supposed epiphany that he love Sarah? Really? He had already said that 3 time prior and as early as Seduction. So the epiphany is meaningless, it just was stating the obvious. As I mentioned above the scene in the hotel room with the concierge really pisses me off as it again feels like they are cramming something down out throats and showing the exact opposite. Plus we had a very long discussion in the alternatives thread about the failure of Sarah to do her prime mission of protecting the Intersect, something Schwartz said was still in play in the post Mask damage control interview. I don’t think I have ever disliked Sarah Walker as much as I did in Beard. Nothing is as damaging to her character as what happened in that episode. She was weak, passive and stood by while her “boyfriend” was about to blow up Castle, and the greatest resource this nation had just to protect some stupid disks his 5 year dead wife had. Disks that were never mentioned again. What happened to that woman on the helipad in Marlin? Where was she? Oh that’s right she asked her boyfriend for 5 minutes “for her” but then still stood by and did nothing as the 5 minutes were up.

        Now I’m pissed at her again. lol

      • atcDave says:

        Beard is one of those episodes that has gone down a lot in my esteem also. It does have significant funny moments, but Chuck’s epiphany seems less meaningful in grand scheme of things, and I really dislike begging Sarah, so its less tolerable to me now than it once was.

        But that does serve to highlight a certain random element for a lot of us. No two people will have exactly the same likes and dislikes. Even viewers I most often find myself in agreement with (Uplink, Dave, Thinkling) we will find the occasional episode we strongly disagree on. Like for some reason I just love Tango. I have watched it more times than I can count (well over 50 times I’m sure). I see it as the first “normal” episode of the series, I like a lot of the humor, I like the action, I like things I learn about Chuck, I like how Sarah acts… Just a great episode to me, right up there with the Pilot and Marlin as the best of S1. Yet it only scores a middle, or lower middle ranked episode in most surveys. I don’t get it, I love it. Oh well.

        And MR I will concede if I’d watched the whole series quickly that the misery arc might seem considerably less troublesome. But it’s unlikely I ever would have liked those episodes. And given the baggage they currently have, I see no reason to subject myself to that again.

      • uplink2 says:

        Dave, I also think it’s because on rewatch it’s an episode where Shaw really makes my skin crawl worse and worse each time. I think part of it is the failed attempt to show normalcy for Sarah/Shaw but there is something about him in that episode that is so incredibly repulsive and because of her connection to him really damages her character a great deal.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt, every Sarah/Shaw connection is troubling!

  11. Jason says:

    I still really had hope for the Mary story in this ep, the story felt so much like the Orion story in s2 with mystery, so many things I didn’t know. Sarah and Mary had great chemistry, and Chuck was in his wheelhouse in most the ep too. Unfortunately, by the Push Mix ep, Mary essentially came home, as if she was late from going to the grocery store, and nobody, especially fans, seemed the wiser, nor did anyone seem to care. I think losing the staff in the middle of s3 hurt the spy story telling, my guess is the original group, having been in the room during the Orion scripting, would have done better with the Frost script.

    • atcDave says:

      That is a possibility Jason, its hard to know. But we also had the budget cuts after S2 and a change in show runner after S3 (CF becoming the primary instead of JS), so there was a lot going on. My impression was just that CF was more interested in the action/fun aspects of the story, and not really into the deep drama of it. But really, too much changed in a short time to be sure.

  12. mr2686 says:

    Anecdotal Evidence: The expression anecdotal evidence refers to evidence from anecdotes. Because of the small sample, there is a larger chance that it may be unreliable due to cherry-picked or otherwise non-representative samples of typical cases. Anecdotal evidence is considered dubious support of a claim.

    • atcDave says:

      In a purely statistical sense that is completely correct. As I say, it only proves my friends are a lot like me.
      But it also allows for a lot more detailed questioning about the how and why of responses than a simply survey can do. And when anecdotal evidence corroborates surveys, and is used to provide meaning, nuance and detail to a survey, it becomes a very useful part of the analysis.
      I am a huge fan of anecdotal evidence; as long as we keep in mind it is more about explaining and exploring, not about providing actual proof.

  13. Jason says:

    I’ve given up with trying to make a audience related case for the strength or weakness of any season (I’ve tried, especially for s3’s misery and s4’s success, trust me), let along episode or series of episodes. My best barometer still is how the episode struck me the first time I watched it. Certainly some Chuck eps did better than others for me, I assume that was the case for most everyone.

    Trying to exactly gauge the actions people took subsequent weeks after a Chuck ep, vs things like the perceived greatness or weakness of the ep, the degree of investment in the series, the weather, the monday night football matchup of the week, day light savings, spring or fall, or any of the host of things imaginable is not a task for me, and allows the debate to enter into an endless loop in a he said she said sort of way.

    Dave / Joe / other BN fans – you psyched for Burn Notice tonight? Happy ending or not? I’m predicting Maddie dies, and Fi, Charlie and Mikey walk off into the sunset together.

    • mr2686 says:

      Actually looking forward to BN tonight. I’m going in with no real thoughts on what will happen. I think whatever happens I’ll be fine with. I’m not invested with Michael/Fi, so if they don’t end up together then that’s ok. I think I’d only be miffed if Sam dies.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Sam’s my favorite too. I used to root for Michael and Fi a lot, but the last few seasons my enthusiasm for the ‘ship has waned!

      • Jason says:

        Sam is Morgan and Casey rolled into one character, perfectly. I’m not a big Fi / Mike shipper, BN is really a Michael Weston story, never really has been much of a love story. I think tonight’s ep could be titled Micheal vs Micheal, as he is going to be close to going to the dark side, in a Darth Vader sort of way. In terms of romance, Fi would do better at the local bar than Micheal, both in terms of looks and how he treated her, I view their whole story as bittersweet and was hoping they would not end up together. Fi’s life is sort of like Sarah’s would have been with Bryce or Shaw, a relationship of convience and proximity due to the skeletons in the closet.

      • atcDave says:

        I think the fundamental problem with Michael/Fiona is for too long they seemed to be heading different directions. Fiona has settled into more normal, more moral and less violent (errr, relatively speaking…) all while Michael has gone darker and deeper into the covert lifestyle.
        In the middle seasons I really hoped to see Michael realize the violent old life wasn’t for him anymore. But he went the other direction. And I just really haven’t enjoyed it one bit.
        I hope for the big “what am I doing?” Sort of moment, followed by real change. But seriously, the way they’ve dragged this out to the very end, it’s really too late to matter much. The last few seasons are ruined and not much fun for me. I’ll likely never re-watch. I haven’t even bought the last couple season discs, and now I may not even be able to re-watch the earlier seasons. Bummer!

      • mr2686 says:

        Yeah Dave, I love to buy the DVD’s for some of my favorite shows, and although I really like BN, I really can’t see myself buying the DVDs for re-watching. Covert Affairs is the same way for me.

    • atcDave says:

      Ultimately I think ratings are a poor measure of satisfaction. Right at the start they reflect promotion more than quality, and there are so many variables, especially when you consider HOW we watch affects how it’s counted. And as time goes on, I doubt many viewers will give up on a show because of one episode they disliked. It has more to do with trends, and expectations. (That is, how much you’ve liked the last several episodes, and if you expect things to change in any way). And most of us watch several series at any given time, that we aren’t equally invested in. Like last summer, Covert Affairs had a couple of episodes we didn’t care for, so we just dumped it. While Burn Notice, I’ve been been liking less over the last few seasons, but it started so awesome, I’ve chosen to stick it out.

      I really end up being more interested in viewers thoughts and opinions than I am in raw numbers. Like I said, so many variables, so much voodoo in those numbers. I think the anecdotal data is truly more meaningful.

      I will watch the Burn Notice finale tonight (late, midnight or so), and of course I do care that it ends well. But I have been so disappointed this season, I don’t care nearly as much as I once did. The show peaked in S2, while S1 and S3 were also very strong, but I think it’s been gradually downhill ever since.

    • joe says:

      @Jason

      Dave / Joe / other BN fans – you psyched for Burn Notice tonight? Happy ending or not? I’m predicting Maddie dies, and Fi, Charlie and Mikey walk off into the sunset together.

      You called it. Perfectly.

      I should write a post titled Chuck vs. Michael or Chuck vs. The Burn Notice. To answer your question, yes, I was looking forward to it. I enjoyed this season perhaps the most since the first or maybe the second. Since then, I found the show to be a bit formulaic and therefore predictable, but the characters were okay, and Michael’s narratives about how the spy work is done were pretty cool.

      They managed to keep the relationship between Mike and Fi interesting enough, but just barely. Where they failed, I think, was in using the drama. It was more than a little transparent, especially with the death of Nate. That was manipulative, which is something that continued through until the end – the attempt to manipulate our emotions. I think the only thing they missed that way was the death of a puppy dog.

      This last season was pretty good. At least, I appreciated that they got away from their formula a bit – the team’s good deed for the week as Mike tried to get himself unburned. For me, that worked. But the story got a bit complex for casual viewing. I think they relied too much on pyrotechnics and not enough on tight dialog to tell the story. Clearly, the finale continued that.

      But it was a good ending that tied things up neatly. I don’t think I’ve seen a single episode twice, and I probably never will. But I tuned into every episode.

      Hum. That’s in contrast to Castle and TBBT. I still enjoy the reruns immensely.

      • mr2686 says:

        I actually enjoyed tonight’s finale quite a bit. Nice call backs on some catch phrases from some of the characters (Sam and Fi especially). I just wish someone would have lost their memory…kidding, I’m kidding.

  14. Pingback: Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Aisle of Terror (4.06) | Chuck This

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