Chuck in Overview: Season One

What can be said about Season One overall?  What are it’s strengths and weaknesses?  How does it compare to other seasons?  What episodes stand out as very good or very bad?

Join us after the jump as we start a new series of posts about the larger trends of Chuck.

We’ve mentioned this coming series a few times in the episode posts.  So now its time to start with a look at the first season.

I’ll start be setting the stage a little.  2007 was kind of a tough year for me, it was the worst flair of my Crohn’s Disease I’ve ever had.  I spent all summer keeping track of where the nearest bathroom was at all times!  More to the point for Chuck, five shows I’d been watching had just ended that spring.  So I was seeking new shows more aggressively than I often do.  Burn Notice started in July and it was easily the most excited I’d been about a new show in quite some time.  That one didn’t really hold up well for me.  After the third season it seemed to get progressively darker, and not really to my taste.  But a couple months after Burn Notice started, I was noticing previews for a new NBC show while watching football.  Now I seem to have a minor domestic issue on this, my wife insists she had told me about Chuck as a promising new show from some news magazine or another that she’d read.  But I just remember previews.  It looked promising to me, so I looked forward to the Pilot.

Well I like to say Burn Notice was my favorite show for about eight weeks.  Almost from the very start of the Pilot I knew Chuck was going to be something awesome.  I think when we talk Chuck, Season One often gets overlooked.  It is sort of a shame because there are some awesome things about it.  I loved the combination of action and humor.  That always plays well for me, and that alone could have kept me watching for many seasons.  But right from the start Chuck was even better than that.  We met great characters, a quirky/fun setting, and an entertaining basic scenario.

Characters

I think we often overstate “Chuck the loser”.  He really never struck me that way, sure he was at a down and out period of his life, but he had good friendships and was a good brother.  He was successful and respected at work, and looked to as a leader.  It was a zero sort of job, but at least he was good at it!  And I liked how the character was presented early on, we really never saw any of that buffoon humor that sometimes showed up later (in some ways, Chuck actually seemed more mature and steady in the first season than in anything later).  I particularly liked how he learned and adapted to his scary new circumstance.   He even took initiative on occasion, even as early as the Pilot, when he was needed to save the day.  And yet he was sort of shy and reserved in a way I could completely relate to; he wasn’t comfortable with PDA, or lying.  He even tried to be a friend to Sarah and Casey.  No doubt Chuck had some serious growing up to do, and he had a lot to prove to himself and the world.  But I was happy to see the world through his eyes from the very start. I just wish they’d kept some of the steadier aspects of Chuck’s character in the later seasons.

Which leads to Sarah.  I think we often exaggerate her shortcomings at the start too.  She was never completely cold or immoral.  She took an immediate interest in protecting and guiding Chuck, and that alone is a major redeeming feature.  We were informed as early as Wookiee that she was actually a bit different from many of her colleagues when Chuck simply challenges Carina with “Sarah’s not like that” and Carina concedes the point.  Great moment.  I never found Sarah relatable like Chuck was, but she was admirable.  She was a hero we could root for and believe in without reservation.  She had some very different growing to do than Chuck.  Sarah was already a professional success, but she lacked a certain human touch.  And watching Sarah struggle with her duty vs love issues, even if we would see no resolution in Season One, was possibly my favorite part of the show.

I loved Ellie and Devon right from the start.  Ellie was occasionally too involved in her brother’s life in later seasons, but that was pretty understated in Season One.  Ellie and Devon may have grown the least of any major characters; but they stood for normal, what Chuck, and later Sarah, were shooting for almost to the very end.  And both of them loved Chuck, even when other parts of his life were pushed to the breaking point.  Even later, when Chuck sometimes knuckled under to his sister’s strong personality, I somehow never blamed her (I blame him!).  Ellie loved Chuck was a defining trait from the very start.

Morgan as Chuck’s loser best friend was funny, but sometimes too much.  I think for many of us who were sometimes annoyed by Morgan, it all started right here.  Morgan would later grow into a more mature individual, but there was hardly a shred of that in the first season.  Perhaps if that growth had started sooner he would have annoyed fewer people later.  I wonder if that would have happened if that original full Season One had ever been made?  My guess is not, I think Morgan’s growth was among the things they re-tooled in the long off-season.

Casey was the dark spot among the major characters.  And that’s exactly what he was meant to be.  The government was a fairly malevolent presence in the first season, and John Casey personified that.  He was Chuck’s protector because he was ordered to be.  But there was the threat he could turn in an instant when so ordered.  We may have suspected he’d softened some by the end of the season, but we couldn’t know he had until well into Season Two.

Harry Tang was an interesting minor character.  I wonder how Season Two might have been different if we’d had Harry instead of Emmett?  Jeff and Lester took a little time to grow into the complete losers we later knew them to be; but not very much time!  Anna was so funny and eccentric in this season.  I always think of Nemesis as her best, funniest performance.  The following season she will be much less interesting.

Overall

Given that nothing obvious or material changed from Season One to Season Two its interesting that there are some distinct differences in feel.  Just for starters, Season One feels grittier, darker to me.  Some of that is in the cinematography which noticeably changed to a brighter palate.  And they obviously decided to push the government menace further to the background later.  The stunts and effects this first season were awesome.  That would continue for one more season before budget cuts took a heavy toll on what they could do.

Most of the episodes were stand alones.  This seems like a perfectly reasonable way to introduce the world and characters.  There was only the one arc; what I call the “Soap Opera Arc” from 1.08-1.11 (Truth to Crown Victoria).  The arc is where we learn the most about big picture issues and Fulcrum is introduced.  We also get our first round of love triangles, something our original show runner just couldn’t ever say no to.  I really like how the season plays out, and I like that the missions are less personal here.  To me it feels more like they’re doing something important in the world, not just chasing personal agendas but arresting real bad guys.

I think the basic balance of story, action, humor and drama was compelling.  They may have tweaked the formula over the seasons, we’ll talk more about that as we get to each season in turn; but I think the basic elements were all in play from the start.  If I could have changed anything from this first season, well, it wouldn’t have been very much.  I might have made Morgan less eccentric, that might have helped him be more sympathetic, relatable and likable to more viewers over the life of the series.  I might have added more screen time for Sarah (we could always have more screen time for Sarah); but maybe not much, I understand the idea of her part growing as she becomes a bigger real part of Chuck’s life over the course of the show.  But she really was a great character from the start, and her part was often quite small in this first season.  I would have particularly liked the idea of playing up the government as a threat to Chuck and making a big thing of Sarah as a buffer and as the only thing keeping Chuck safe and out of the bunker.  Basically, I would have liked playing it more as a romance from the very start.

Episodes

I often say that I hesitate to rank order my favorite episodes.  My exact order really can change with my mood quite a bit.  But I can categorize them as Strong, Average or Weak.  Keep in mind I found plenty to enjoy in every Chuck episode.  Only Season Three has any episodes I actually dislike.

  • STRONG: Pilot, Tango, Marlin.  I’m tempted to add a few more to this rank.  But these three I always love, with no reservations.
  • AVERAGE: Helicopter, Wookiee, Sizzling Shrimp, Sand Worm, Alma Mater, Truth, Nemesis, Undercover Lover.  Yeah, most of the season.  Helicopter and Undercover Lover I almost move up to strong, really good episodes.  Wookiee, Truth and Nemesis have all gone up in my esteem since our most recent re-watch.  Especially Wookiee which seems so important to me now for how it informs about Sarah pre-series.  Truth may be the single funniest episode of the season; but I don’t like triangles and I don’t like how smutty much of it is, so this is as high as its ever likely to go!  Nemesis is strong on re-watch; but there’s so much tension over everything, and that really bores me.
  • WEAK: Imported Hard Salami, Crown Victoria.  This list has shrunk!  But I don’t see these two ever moving up.  Crown Victoria may win the prize for most schizophrenic episode ever.  I just can’t stand the beginning with cold Sarah and very annoying Morgan.  But the last ten minutes or so, when Sarah jumps over the counter to help Chuck against orders; well the last ten minutes would be “strong”.

It seems like we almost forget the first season now.  But this show was easily my favorite thing on television from September of 2007.  So much fun, so many great moments.  When I rank order the seasons I may rank this one “fourth”; but really, I love four seasons of the show.  So fourth is no bad thing!

I’m not sure if this format will change some in the weeks ahead, but we will continue our way through the whole series, one season at a time, for the next four weeks.  Then finish with a “whole series” perspective.  Or, well, my attempt at perspective.  We’d love to hear other viewer’s thoughts about that first season.  Maybe things we missed, or just things that really strike you meaningful, fun or different about it.  Don’t hesitate to mention your own “strong” to “weak” episodes too!  I know many will disagree with how I ranked them.  That’s fine, you’re all allowed to be wrong,  we all have different tastes and priorities.

~ Dave

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About atcDave

I'm 53 years old and live in Ypsilanti, Michigan. I'm happily married to Jodie. I've been an air traffic controller for 30 years; grew up in the Chicago area, and am still a fanatic for pizza and the Chicago Bears. My main interest is military history, and my related hobbies include scale model building and strategy games.
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76 Responses to Chuck in Overview: Season One

  1. anthropocene says:

    And here I was thinking this was going to be a dull Sunday evening…way to come through, Dave!
    This assessment of yours was fun to read, and I think your characterization of Chuck and Sarah is right on. I didn’t start watching the show until halfway through S2, and only went back and watched S1 on DVD at the end of that season. But no matter what point in the series it was, I never saw Chuck as a loser. I’ve always bristled at the suggestion that “nerd = loser,” whether in regard to friendships, success, or love. Never did I think Sarah was out of his league, or that he was not worthy of her (OK, maybe during his ugly spell in S3…). And if you look past the great beauty and superhero skills of Sarah, you find that she’s as much of a nerd as Chuck in her own way. She did show flickers of warmth and kindness right from the Pilot, especially where Chuck was concerned.

    • atcDave says:

      She might have been from a different planet, but not out of his league…

      Yeah I think both characters were really appealing right out of the box. I like that they grew, but that doesn’t quite mean they were broken!

    • anthropocene says:

      They were wounded, and well-suited to heal each other’s wounds.

  2. I agree with how you categorized episodes EXCEPT FOR putting anything as Weak: my favs are 1-1, 1-2, 1-4, 1-7, 1-8, 1-9, 1-10, and 1-13 so basically 3/4 of the season!

  3. I say 1-1, 1-4, 1-7, 1-8, 1-13 are Strong the rest are Average.

    • atcDave says:

      It was hard for me to even promote 1.04 and 1.08 to average. I dislike smutty humor, I didn’t care for Carina, and I don’t tolerate love triangles well. So that knocked both episodes to weak on initial viewing. I see enough to like them better now, but they’ll never make my “strong” list!

      • You obvious missed the brilliance in 1-4 and 1-8 then Dave. I found the Charah bickering extremely entertaining in these episodes and the regular comedy was very funny plus the ending Charah moments are brilliant in both and I liked carina immediately!

      • atcDave says:

        Every episode does have its moments.

  4. mr2686 says:

    I’ve always been a big fan of season 1, but where it has problems is that it’s a short season with 3 slightly below average episodes (Crown Vic, Undercover Lover, and Helicopter…all of which I still like a lot). Where it shines to me is it’s outstanding episodes (Truth, Alma Mater, and Nemesis) and two which are just a tick below those (Intersect and Hard Salami). The rest are good solid middle of the pack episodes that are very appealing on re-watch. I would also have to say that season one gives us the first two “types” of Morgan. The first one is pretty poor, while the second (after the first couple of episodes) is more enjoyable and on it’s way to being what I think is a good character in season 2 and beyond.

  5. oldresorter says:

    What are it’s strengths and weaknesses? The greatest strength of season one was how it layed out the premise that the unlikely teaming of Bartowski and Walker was going to happen. A second great strength of season one was how well the spy life was shown as serious, and the buy more was not. Along with that, Levi nailed being the king of the buy more, the loser in Ellie’s home, and the fish out of water with surprising aptitude in the spy life. The weakness of season one was Bryce. The Chuck, Bryce, Sarah triangle was the beginning of the show trying to jerk fans around. Many say Castle had LI’s all along, but Castle’s LI’s (or many shows like Chuck) weren’t on screen or in the plot or with the characters much. For me, each and every scene Bryce was in made me unhappy. Had I not watched Delorean and Colonel as two of my first couple of eps, I’d never would have made it past season one.

    How does it compare to other seasons? Very well. For the show to pull off the multigenre mashup it needed serious Casey and Graham. Yoda Beckman and Morgan’s straightman grunting John took the edge off the seriousness, and left Sarah being reduced to a bimbo, or beaten, or Norseman’ed, or leaving, or mind wiped, etc as the near only source of drama. Season one had the most serious characters, and even in season two Casey was a serious character. I loved funny Casey, but once Casey went funny, the show stopped being good drama for me.

    What episodes stand out as very good or very bad? The Pilot is still in my top three, and the one I rewatch the second most. Any Bryce or Sarah being slutty ep is a bad one for me after the Pilot, he should have stayed dead in the pilot and the writers should have stayed away from secpionage. The rest of the eps were all about the same, like a Castle ep, great, but not memorable.

    What can be said about Season One overall? Excellent start. I’d like to explain something about my POV as a Chuck fan. I was OK with any LI or PLI for Chuck. Double standard? Not in my opinion. The fact he was out of his league was his out on the other LI’s, for him, and for a mostly understanding Sarah. To me, the crux of the show’s premise was the out of his league ten buck an hour nerd getting the girl who could married Saudi billionaires, or James Bond, and could seduce most any man she pleased in a matter of seconds while her nerd barely had a date since college. But she chose instead to stay with the nerd, even though they weren’t even sharing a bed (yet), they were already sharing a life that had meaning for her, with much aplomb or should I say chemistry. That was the hook for me.

    • atcDave says:

      Some excellent thoughts Jason. I don’t quite agree with all of it, but I do with most! Especially regards Castle. One thing Castle did FAR better than Chuck was keep OLIs on the periphery, and keep the show firmly focused on the Castle/Beckett relationship even when there were outside interests at play. Because honestly, I have no interest in what Beckett and Demming are up to, its only the impact on Beckett and Castle that matters. Chuck would have been a much stronger show had it followed this model. Keep the focus on Chuck/Sarah; more could only be better.

      • I haven’t watched Castle since early S1, so I can’t comment. As for Chuck/Sarah, I think we, or most of us, can agree that they really were a couple from the beginning, even if the situation required an odd sort of relationship. That’s always been the best part of Chuck for me, watching Chuck&Sarah. Unfortunately, I think, because of the nature of TV, show runners tend to keep setting up roadblocks (Bryce, Jill, this Demming from Castle). And I think your right that these can weaken a show. I know it’s too early to say this, but Chuck never really picks up for me until Other Guy. Once Chuck & Sarah are actually together, it becomes much more enjoyable.

      • atcDave says:

        I do think there’s a natural rhythm to developing a romance on a serialized television show. They will go through a getting to know each other phase, a friendship phase, and then some obstacles. I think we all “know” that; even when we don’t know a particular writer’s agenda, we know there will be issues and challenges to the growth of the couple. That’s great and keeps it fun. Problems arise for viewers though when that growth feels more manipulative and less honest to the characters and circumstance. I think Television formula, for several years now, tends to draw these things out farther than is really “good” for most characters and viewers.
        I do appreciate there are some real challenges for show runners to get it right. No doubt among those Challenges where Chuck and Sarah were concerned was that the screen chemistry set a pretty fast pace. I think we bought into their trust, friendship and love several steps ahead of where the writers actually meant for us to be. For that reason, I’m willing to give them a Mulligan of sorts, skip the front arc of S3, and just watch from Other Guy as a sort of “do over”. No doubt putting them together breathed fresh life into the show!
        Of course I’ll always be frustrated that a “do over” was needed. Although the pacing was fast in the first two seasons, I think the audience had made it loud and clear, long before S3 ran, that were completely ready for that next step.

      • Yeah! I’m with u there Dave! S3 runs better on Netflix tho, when I got to 3-12 and then the confession scene in other guy I smiled so broadly and teared up because in one absolutely sweet and fantastic instant Chuck was the guy from the pilot: making a fool of himself (in a good way)and telling corny references:) I sat back and said “thank you Zac, Yvonne and Josh for making the misery arc so damn worth it’! After both beach scenes and Sarah’s declaration in Phase 3 that scene joins them as one that I’ll always cherish!:)

      • atcDave says:

        Other Guy does give us a really nice scene! I’m not so sure it was “worth it” to me, but I think they were completely back on track at that moment.

        I do understand a lot of viewers who were able to watch through that Misery Arc more quickly its not nearly as troubling as it was for us old-timers. For us, it was not only 12 episodes, it was ONE YEAR of real time to get there! Not cool. That’s an emotional baggage I can’t get past.

      • I see completely get that! I also think a lot of writers want their central relationship to be remembered as an “epic romance” by not only viewers but professional critics, long after it’s gone and if they go the same route as say, friends over the course of the series, it will just fade away after the finale.

        I consider Charah the most epic romance ever and the decisions made along the way and at the end are a big reason why! It’s a hard line to tread but I think JS and CF succeeded with flying colors at making Charah’s romance epic and that’s how I will always remember it!

      • atcDave says:

        Well I do disagree with that Josh. I think they did serious, permanent damage by making Chuck an unlikable jerk (for how he first hurt Sarah, then got involved with Hannah) and Sarah a world class moron (for getting involved with Shaw who was the poster child for what she “feared” Chuck would become).
        That destroyed much of the “epicness”. They really took something very special (the first two seasons) and ruined it by making it like everything else on television that third season. We lost a lot of viewers that season, who lost all affection for the characters or interest in the romance.
        They did get some of it back. Mainly on the strength of the performances and chemistry of Zac and Yvonne. But it lost something very special, that can only exist now in fan fiction.

      • That’s overboard writing by JS, but that’s why i love the finale arc! CF put the epic-ness right back into it, in a realistic way!

      • atcDave says:

        With an amnesia arc? Naw, I don’t see epic. It was formula television. Competently executed, but no more than that.

      • Formula tv to me is doing exactly what people expect or want, that’s why HIMYM and Chuck are perfect examples going against status quo, I respect that even if I disagree with it., I haven’t seen the HIMYM finale tho so no spoilers please:)

      • atcDave says:

        I disagree with that too! Everything is dark and depressing now. Delivering something upbeat and unambiguously happy is radical and different!

      • That was done the majority of the 20th century, it’s enough already! I’m certainly not saying that series should end with total gloom and doom but overcoming a major setback while things end meaningful and happy and still leaving us with why we loved the show in the first place and keeping us passionate that’s a successful ending. You know why ultimate villains are ultimate villains because they cause lasting damage but still fail in the end!

        I.e green goblin, Voldemort, doomsday, darth Vader, and yes Quinn, to name a few.

      • atcDave says:

        We could both cherry pick results to make our points, but that proves nothing. The overwhelming majority of award winning, quality, adult programming is dark. It’s not even close. Look at what’s on cable or even the networks now. Current programming is overwhelming dark and negative in tone.
        A majority of what I end up watching now is old, and that is depressing. The world has become a dreary place.

        The same is true of movies. And this reflects a cynical worldview that isn’t really even what audiences want. When something positive does come along (like Winter Soldier) it sets box office records. People get excited for positive entertainment. But it’s not what Hollywood wants to make.

      • Totally agree, but like I’ve said I have no quarrel with darker content or setbacks as long as it’s overcome and when the screen fades I feel inspired to do the same in my life and everything I watch has done that for me. I actually don’t have cable, and have only watched one cable show thru Netflix and that was breaking bad which was way too compelling to ignore- especially after my brother insisted I watch it.

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t do premium cable either for similar reasons. Except for serious historical stuff (Band of Brothers, The Pacific) which I buy.

  6. resaw says:

    I can criticize bits here and there in season 1, but I have a hard time being critical of the season or any one episode. We were learning about Chuck and Sarah and the various secondary characters; it was kind of like the early part of a dating relationship for me. I was infatuated with the show almost from the beginning but my love for the show grew as time passed, and even though not everything was perfect about the show, there was always something to appreciate that more than compensated for the weaknesses. I certainly didn’t mind Bryce’s presence. He represented not just another or an old LI for Sarah, he was significant in Chuck’s life as well, both historically as well as being the vector for the Intersect, and I’m glad they took some time to explore his character in season 1 and 2.

    I’m glad they introduced Carina. Her morally ambiguous nature was not endorsed by any other characters, as far as I recall, but she added to Sarah’s backstory and also had a small but significant role to play in future seasons.

    Even Lou’s mini-arc was good in my estimation because it highlighted the predicament that Chuck was in as a government asset, as well as the fact that it culminated in Sarah kissing Chuck.

    Sure, certain episodes can be regarded as relatively better than others, but there isn’t a single episode that I would like to do without. Of course, my opinions are suspect since I appreciated all of season 3 as well. 😉

    • atcDave says:

      Ah yes, very suspect.

      I mostly agree about both Bryce and Carina. Bryce was a character who, if he wasn’t suspected to be dead, is an obvious one to shake things up. I generally am okay with how his story plays out in all three visits. Carina I really don’t like in any sense of the word, except that she’s a great bad example. I think provides more information about early Sarah than any other character.
      Lou I think is a waste. Even in real time I was counting the seconds until she went away, and considering Chuck didn’t even learn a lesson, I think she was pointless and gratuitous.

    • Ditto! No episode is bad or detracts from the experience and there’s things I love about every episode, character and arc but none I would do without; tho I would cast a different Daniel Shaw, Brandon Routh is mediocre at best and if it weren’t for everyone else making him look better than he is I would have penalized his episodes.

  7. Angus MacNab says:

    I never considered Chuck’s job at the Buy More a zero job, Dave (don’t think you really meant it that way, by the way). As you said, he was doing something at which he was gifted, leading and making a difference. Did he have greater potential? Sure. But it does irk me a little that jobs like that were, and are considered low and menial by society and the showrunners. Perhaps Chuck had grown too comfortable where he was. Chuck, however, made a point of telling us all that as gifted as he was he didn’t think he was too good for the job. Everyone has to start somewhere.

    The only question is how high you will ultimately go. Chuck showed us how far.

    “Carmichael, Charles Carmichael.”

    • atcDave says:

      Ehh, my wife worked at Michael’s between “real” jobs, there just isn’t much good to say about such things. I like that Chuck was good at what he was doing, that he was respected and had a good work ethic. But I’m thinking most people in a similar situation would tell you it’s not a career sort of thing.

  8. I think because tv worlds are active 22 weeks a year they are much more likely to mirror the era they’re created in and because we unfortunately live in an era of chaos nowadays, tv is much more likely to reflect that.

  9. I think I defend shows that are chaotic but overcome and inspire because too many times in my life have I had to much of the former and odds are I probably wouldn’t be here if it weren’t for watching shows like that because they have given me something to believe in when nothing in my real life was able to do so…not that didn’t love my family at those points in my life but sometimes in takes something separate from reality and family to inspire us to keep going and that was the case for me.

    • atcDave says:

      If the show is about the triumph over adversity I would agree with calling it inspiring. A dark or chaotic world is no problem for that. But look how many shows focus on anti-heroes or flat out villains. We live in unusual times. Historically wartime is when positive and uplifting entertainment flourishes. But I think there’s a serious lack of hope and optimism in the mainstream, and that’s what I’d like to see more of.

      • me too and hopefully we can get more of that but the lack of it is exactly why I believe we’re under hidden government control, the world is being kept in a hopeless fog that’s spread quite a bit in recent years and most who try to cut through it are ignored and silenced, positive change is certainly being kept at bay that is obvious.

  10. this just pooped in my head but my favorite thing Harry Tang ever said was (paraphrasing) “I’m watching you Bartowski and when you go to sleep at night all you’re gonna see is Tang in your face!” that line was hilarious!

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah that’s from Tango! Great episode.

      And of course, Matt Willig plays the thug Uri, as opposed to “The Gobbler” when he plays the thug Yuri.

    • duckman says:

      I didn’t like tang for a long time, but during this last rewatch (or 2 for s1), I’ve come to appreciate him much more. Gets me to wondering what they would have done with him if he’d stayed.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I never “liked” him. But he was occasionally a funny jerk.

      • mr2686 says:

        I agree Dave, he was hard to like, but he was sometimes pretty funny. That’s not to confuse the fact that I liked the actor but just found the character too familiar from years gone by in the real work place (unlike not liking Shaw or the actor that played him).
        I did like the fact that Emmett came in to fill the Tang void, but Emmett’s death in Season 3 is still one of the darkest (to me) parts of any of the Chuck episodes.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree with all of that MR.

      • duckman says:

        I disliked Emmet more than Tang. He had his funny bits- trashing the beverly hills buy more was probably his peak for me. I had been wishing him gone so badly that his exit didn’t seem dark to me at all. I was just relieved he would be off my screen. I did see Tony Hale in a guest role on Royal Pains and liked him much, much better there.

      • mr2686 says:

        Of course, Tony Hale is at his best on Arrested Development, but I thought he was great on Chuck as well. I really liked he’s idea of Buymoria. Still makes me laugh.

  11. EDIT
    popped lol sorry

  12. FSL says:

    I really enjoyed season 1. I really like how the pilot sets things up. Chuck actually made a stand against both Sarah and Casey at the end saying “You need me.” I also liked how they really settle into their new normal in the 3rd episode rather than the 2nd episode. There was more of a journey there. And I loved the constant threats to kill or bunker Chuck. The spy world felt much more real in season 1.

    I also liked that Chuck had a realistic shot at a promotion. Not that he needed it to be the de facto leader at the store. But it means that he was actually doing well in his real world and provided him with hope that this spy life is not that only thing he has going on.

    The only thing I disliked really was the Lou arc. I’ve said it before, but it really show Chuck as much more naive about his situation, not to mention lack of resolve to really be with Sarah. Another minor complain was how Morgan was portrayed in the pilot. He was more than strange. Stalking Ellie, I can get. Following Chuck home or faking invitations, that’s just mental…

    • mr2686 says:

      Oh yeah, if Morgan had continued on like “Pilot Morgan”, I would have wanted him gone gone gone. I’m glad they made a quick fix and also allowed him to grow through the seasons. As for the Lou arc, I don’t think it was so much of a lack of resolve by Chuck, as much as it was the bad signals that Sarah was sending. She made it pretty obvious that they couldn’t be together, and when things started to look up, someone like Bryce would show up to confuse the issue. As much as we’d like to think otherwise, both Sarah and Chuck were a bit broken and definitely had relationship issues (or lack of understanding what a “real” relationship was), so it’s no wonder that they couldn’t better communicate their feelings for one another until much later in the series.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah FSL I agree exactly with all of that!

  13. Matt says:

    One thing I found interesting on re-watching season 1 was that the intersect was frequently just plain wrong or misleading. Chuck generally had a lot of work to do interpreting it. Off the top of my head, in Tango, it misidentifies the MI-6 agent as the baddie, and then of course the whole crate fiasco in Crown Vic…

    • atcDave says:

      Good point Matt. I know at least one fan fiction writer (Quistie64 in “Return of the Ninja Librarian) had fun with the idea of Morgansect being a sort of disaster because Morgan misinterpreted or forgot details of his flashes. And that idea is well founded in canon, the Intersect needed Chuck’s intelligence, and later, experience, to really be at its best.

  14. Justin says:

    atcDave, I agree with your ideas about what would make Season 1 better. Morgan was a bit annoying back then. But I wonder what you mean by playing Chuck and Sarah’s relationship more as a romance from the start. Do you mean kisses and intimate interactions?

    • atcDave says:

      No not so much overt affection, I’m fine with that taking time to develop. I mostly mean more time spent on Chuck and Sarah together on screen. More friendship moments, more clumsy flirting. I would have liked to see Sarah replace Morgan as Chuck’s best friend by the end of the first season and I would have liked more attention to Sarah’s state of mind as she realizes how compromised she is.
      But that’s not a huge thing to me. Its just tied into my slightly different show “The Secret and the Agent”.

      • duckman says:

        I with you on that Dave. I often wished some of their “cute” scenes had been longer. In particular the bedroom talk in sand worm.

  15. Wilf says:

    I first watched season 1 after I had watched seasons 2 and 3. That’s because I firstly picked up on Chuck here in the UK some little way through season 2 and then went on watching it until the end of season 3. No further season has ever been broadcast in the UK, to my knowledge (except now via Netflix). So, when I obtained the Pilot onwards, I’d already seen Chuck and Sarah get together. That, however, did not spoil it for me in the slightest as I was keen to see what had led up to their relationship resolution. Overall, I really enjoyed season 1, much better than 3, although I never really rated the pilot that highly (but I did like Helicopter). My least-watched episodes since then (of season 1) has been Undercover Lover, whilst Marlin is probably my favourite of S1.

    • atcDave says:

      Its funny the Pilot didn’t resonate with you Wilf. I think its generally one of the more popular episodes. It is maybe less overtly funny than most, if that matters to you.
      A lot of viewers seem to rank Undercover Lover low. I’m also not sure why about that, except maybe its because Sarah’s part is quite small in that one. But it has one of my favorite action sequences of the whole series (they won an Emmy for it too!)

    • Wilf says:

      Maybe I just found Morgan too, too annoying 😉 After all, I already knew the end-of-series-3 Morgan. The Pilot is actually pretty good (although, as many here have said, how many episodes in the entire series are actually no good at all – they can be counted on the fingers of one … finger), and I have watched it a good many times but I think I just found it a little bit slow, somehow, at least on that first viewing.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I’ve got almost a whole set of fingers I count bad episodes on. But no doubt, I didn’t see any of them in S1 (or S2 or S4 or S5…).

  16. joe says:

    Wow! Stay away two days and look what happens. Comment explosion.

    I have a hard time myself putting any of the S1 episodes into the ‘weak’ category. I sorta have a fan-crush on Rachel Bilson (yeah, yeah. Me and my brunettes.) so I rather like Imported Hard Salami. You have to admit – Lou and Chuck fight well!

    And even Crown Vic is on my list of good ones, but for a very odd reason. In it, Chuck and Sarah both act (not Zac and Yvonne, but Chuck and Sarah) in an attempt to make Lon Kirk jealous and do a pretty lousy job at it. Good actors playing poor actors always gives me a laugh.

    Twice now, I’ve zoomed through S1 in two sessions. For some people that might lead to a Chuck overdose, but I survived pretty well.

  17. aalleess says:

    My first post on this blog.

    I discovered Chuck in October 2013 completely by accident. I was switching channels on the TV and finally found something to watch which turned out to be the last 20 minutes of Chuck vs the First Date. I was like, wow, I need to see more! Next day I saw vs Seduction which ends with Bryce in Sarah’s room. And I was like, what’s the deal with this guy? Weekend followed and I decided I needed to get up to date so I got through the Season 1 in two days. And I became addicted.

    Episodes I find strong are Intersect, Tango, Wookie, Nemesis and Marlin. The rest are average but I may add an episode to the strong ones depending on my mood. I don’t find any episode of Season 1 weak.

    And I liked Morgan since the beginning.

    • atcDave says:

      Welcome to the site Aalleess, its always great to see a newcomer! All of season One in two days, wow! You were bit hard.

      • aalleess says:

        ”You were bit hard”
        Yup. And there were consequences. For the next few days my mind constantly drifted towards Chuck, no matter what I was doing.

        And thank you for the welcome.

  18. oldresorter says:

    Enjoy … lucky Yvonne knows how to hold a gun! I wonder how ‘big’ her role could be? Based on the leaked info, she could be anything from a mid level character, say like Big Mike or Ellie, to a strong #3 (Chloe looks to be the co-star), with a chance to be the ‘next’ Bauer if the franchise continues with less Jack involvement.

    https://tv.yahoo.com/photos/24-live-another-day-1368495297-slideshow/

    • atcDave says:

      It would be funny if she wound up in another on-going series as a CIA agent. But I would hate to see her stuck in something as dour as 24. I’d like to see her get a job where she can smile and laugh on occasion!

      • exactly! that’s how she is, it would be nice if she could show that regularly with her roles.
        Yvonne is a great serious actress but she’s best when she’s able to stay relatively loose and relaxed. I’d like to see her in a romantic comedy.

        sorry I’ve been MIA been very busy!

        Zac’s campaign is almost over, lets try to reach $300,000 people!

      • oldresorter says:

        Agree with both of you. I would love to see Yvonne get a fun hour long series role, there are a couple of dozen she would have been great choices for that are on now. I also would enjoy her getting a Halmark movie or two, maybe even like Katherine Bell’s ‘Good Witch’ series. But seriously guys, if Yvonne is popular on 24, and if the show does well, it would be a great boost to her career. And much as we might not like Dexter or some of you might not like 24, there are far, far worse choices out there, and she seems to have a liking for the more edgy roles. Then again, I liked 24 all the while, so I’m excited about Yvonne being on the show, maybe too much so, because most all the female guests on the show get really ugly story lines. I’m hoping she is the exception, we’ll see.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I agree with all of that Jason. 24 makes me more than a little nervous, but no doubt, Yvonne seems to like darker, more intense sorts of roles. And it would clearly be a huge break for her if it goes well and she gets positive attention.
        But for myself, I wish she would do more light and fun stuff.

      • I think Yvonne takes on roles of characters whose background is unique or obscure, all her choices so far suggest as much, I really don’t think she chooses to far in ether direction, seems like she just hasn’t come across a laid back role that’s appealing enough to her yet.

  19. zac’s campaign crossed 300k, way 2 go!

  20. oldresorter says:

    Spoiler for Arrow, then the concept is applied to Chuck. Dave, I’d wait till season 4 when Ellie finds out Chuck’s secret, but I’ll forget by then. In this weeks Arrow ep, Oliver’s mom found out his secret. She confronted Oliver, and he half denied it, to wit she replied, no big deal, I’ve known since … I found this to be an awesome way to reveal a secret, as it made me want to go back and rewatch starting at the point she said she realized. Had Ellie said she’d known Chuck and Sarah were spies since …. maybe when Sarah cover spent the night … it would have been epic, especially if a few bread crumbs had been given since that point that we could have unearthed???

    • atcDave says:

      That would have been fun. Although I mostly liked the way Ellie first found out, but the variety of other ways she could have found out is a blast.

  21. bubbasuess says:

    I don’t have a TV at our house so I totally missed Chuck when it was on TV. That said, watching it on the computer the first and second seasons really come across as one long uber-season. The continuity is both obvious and subtle. Thematically, they both seem focus on the fish out of water motif: Chuck in the spy world and Sarah and Casey in the normal world. The premise of the nerd dealing with real bad guys was great. Likewise, the relationship between Chuck and Sarah is filled with all sorts of great tension, both as they deal with each other, their responsibilities, baggage and the situations they find themselves in. I think this period of their relationship was the backbone of the entire show’s story. Obviously things become more overt between them as the second season progressed but the first season still has a great deal to do with this as well, from the pilot to Wookie to Salami. I don’t think that it is a coincidence that v-log in season 5 is entirely from the first season except for one ambiguously dated entry from season 2.

    There were other things in the first and second seasons that stayed consistent that really enhanced the show. Chief among these was the challenge Chuck faced about keeping his two lives separate. As much as I enjoyed later seasons, each time a friend or family was drawn into the spy world a little bit of the magic seemed to go too. At the same time, I thought the show was at its best when Chuck, Sarah and Casey were a tight-knit three piece unit. As that circle expands, a lot of the show’s great dynamic was diluted. I still love the later seasons but 1 and 2 remain the heart of the show, as far as I am concerned.

    Best episodes? I think the pilot is the best but I really liked Tango and Wookie too. For my money Undercover Lover was the weakest of the season. I think this is the case not because Sarah had a smaller role but because Casey having these deep feelings just did not seem to ring true with the character that had been established up to this point. It just seemed too far removed from the cold blooded killer he was painted to be earlier.

    In summary, a great start to a great show. Simpler than in coming seasons but the heart and the backbone are there!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with most of that. It’s the “fish out of water” element and dual life that still define what I think of Chuck.
      Although I think what was gained in the latter seasons more than balanced what was lost, that changing dynamic makes it feel like a very different show. And as I think they discovered in Season Four with Ellie, it just doesn’t work the same to try to put the genie back in the bottle. Once she knows, she knows; and it’s a little silly to try two reveals.

  22. Christopher says:

    The best thing about season one is we learn who Bryce Larkin was. A character that should of never been killed off, but with Mathew Bomer staring in White Collar, it was not feasible for him I also like how we learn about Chuck’s Standford. We get a Paterson kiss and great stand alone episodes, but most of all we learn how spy life and love can be difficult for even the super spy Sarah.

    What happens to a woman, who all her life has been trained to read people, manipulate any situation and live life with alias and then an assignment turns her world upside down.

    We know the prequel to the pilot with Nacho Sampler and Baby, so the pilot is even that more important, we see a young woman, who for the first time in her life has feelings she does not understand her training and upbringing never taught her about that. Her relationship with Bryce is an enigma because if it was that easy for her to fall in love with Chuck when he helped the little girl than what does that say about Sarah and Larkin We can always say the writers vision of this character is what there direction was and we can’t argue that but as Larkin said

    “You were never good at this, talking about your feelings” it may be true but her feelings for Larkin was not as strong as it was for Chuck because Chuck showed her that she can live a normal life. it all changed for Sarah once Lou came into the picture. Like her pott mouth or not she was the trigger for Sarah to realize that her cover had become a cover from her feelings

    after all Chuck won her over with a very simple line “I can be your baggage handler” He was out front and took her by surprise. The first date that was a probe for Sarah became a date after that line. Sarah saw an oppertuntity to be with someone both professionally and personally. A trend that will never end. Sarah Walker the superspy now was falling in love with an assignment, but we are ways away from her actually commiting to her feelings Day 564 to be exact

    I would never call Chuck a loser because he wasn’t he had too much hard ache between losing Jill and getting accused of cheating that takes a toll on a man. However, he didn’t become mean spirited which is a testament to him He still would put others before himself, which was his best quality the very charm that attracted Sarah. Sarah never felt a threat until the very charms she was falling for worked on other women. whether it was Carina, Sasha or Lou Sarah was not about to let Chuck go with other women. After all he was “Her Chuck”

    One of the characters that I disliked and never would would be Ellie. I feel she lectured Chuck way too much and it sometimes seemed to be a burden to Chuck’s motivation. Imagine if She did find out what Chuck was really doing. Wait a minute we do she forced him to quit spying.

    overall season one is rank fourth for me of the five seasons. Here is my order of seasons

    1. 3
    2.2
    3. 4
    4 1
    5. 5

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