Chuck in Overview: The Complete Series

So after looking at every episode and every season, what is there to say about the whole series?  What made Chuck something special that so many of us are still unwilling to let it pass two and half years after it went off the air?  And how do the five seasons measure against each other in a full series context?

After the jump we’ll discuss our favorite show in the “big picture”.

Just to be clear as I dive into this, I’m writing an opinion piece.  I’m sure you all realize by now I’m pretty free with those.  I just want to be clear that I don’t speak for any of the other authors at this site.  This is all just Dave.

We’ve talked a few times about the elements that made Chuck what it was.  We can call it a spy themed action/comedy/drama/romance.  The balance of those elements that made this show special may vary for all of us.  And I think as those elements varied over the life of the show affects how popular different periods are with different fans.  I think it was impossible to keep that balance exactly the same for five seasons.

But I think those elements only scratch the surface for defining Chuck.  The show was also a hybrid in terms of episodic vs serialized.  To be fair, most modern shows are hybrids to one degree or another.  Very few shows will resist all serialized type change, even The Simpsons has killed off characters and changed focus as actors come and go.  And even the most serialized shows will wrap up some stories on an episodic basis.  But Chuck pretty clearly offered a mix of stand alone and arc episodes.  My own bias will lead me to favor shorter stories and arcs, yet even I will admit the Orion/Fulcrum arc that ended Season Two was a masterpiece.  But of course I feel strongly the Season Three front arc (“Misery Arc”) dragged on far too long.

We could also talk about mood and themes that made up Chuck. I’ll say family, friendship, good people battling long odds to do great things, duty, and a deep love that can triumph over any challenge are all favorite parts of the show for me.  Likable main characters, especially the two leads, but extending to some secondary characters as well, was another characteristic strength.  On the down side, ludicrous over use of the love triangle trope, the willingness to make the main character look like an idiot or buffoon on occasion, and an inattention to detail on certain mythology/back story issues all caused grief to different degrees.

For very many of us the central romance became a huge part of the show, that really dominated every other aspect.  I can honestly say I was first drawn to the show by previews that looked both exciting and funny.  Always an intoxicating mix for me.  But the romance was incendiary.  By the time the show was three episodes in I think there was no television couple I ever pulled for harder.  And although the action and humor remained big to me to the end, seeing Chuck and Sarah together quickly became the emotional draw for this show.

I can’t believe I initially failed to mention the performances!  Chuck is a perfectly cast show.  Especially the leads; Zach is sincere and likable as Chuck.  He also shifts easily from comedy to drama, while being the nerd we all often wish we were.  Yvonne was sort of the show’s dramatic anchor as Sarah.  On the Season One DVD extras the show runners discuss how hard it was to cast the part of Sarah with the requirement to be both sweet and tough. Well they succeeded and more!  Yvonne brought Sarah to life in many ways.  In the first 2+ seasons she was almost a wholly dramatic character on show that was more comedy, but from Honeymooners on it became clear she could do comedy as well as anyone.  

But it doesn’t stop there.  The whole regular cast was perfect.  Obviously Adam Baldwin as Casey was wonderful.  Sarah Lancaster was well cast as the loving, occasionally meddling big sister.  I just loved Ryan McPartlin as Devon.  He was the funniest of the supporting cast; and he pulled off a certain duality as disgustingly perfect, yet lovable, warm and sincere all at the same time. 

I’m sure many viewers would come up with still other ways of defining the show.  This is no easy thing! Especially since everyone reading here likely has many deeply held opinions about this show, and surely no two of us agree exactly on what works.  Long time visitors here will know Thinkling and I often see to eye to eye.  But often isn’t always.  I could say the same for many regular visitors as well.  Uplink and I share a similar strong feeling about Season Three, yet we don’t quite agree on why.  There are plenty of viewers who love Chuck as passionately as I do, that I struggle to find any common ground with.  How can that be?  But its true.


A convention a few of us have played around with when discussing the show is to break it into several distinct phases, even calling them separate shows on occasion.  Obviously that can’t be taken too literally, but I do see three strongly distinct periods of the show.  The first period is the first two seasons.  We have an information only model of the Intersect, a fake romance as Sarah needs to stay close to her asset and explain their many nights “out” on missions, Chuck is a non-agent asset, Sarah is Chuck’s handler and protector, Chuck and Sarah have a close bond and friendship that is threatening to boil over into something more, Sarah is struggling with duty versus love, the main villain is Fulcrum, and the government poses some threat to Chuck and Sarah both.  I think this is an extremely strong period that really drew so many of us in, very deeply in.  All the previously discussed elements that went in to this show quickly became secondary to seeing Chuck and Sarah on screen together.  Even when we knew they were far from working things out, it was so much fun to watch two good, likable people work on overcoming the impossible obstacles keeping them apart.  This first period is special.

The show’s second period, or first reinvention, is a little less special.  This runs from the start of Season Three through Other Guy.  At only thirteen episodes that makes it the shortest period.  Good thing.  Arguably the main theme is Chuck training to become a real agent.  I think most viewers will agree this needed to happen.  But other aspects of this period are troublesome.  Most significantly, Chuck and Sarah giving up on each other.  Perhaps if this had been a shorter arc, with less catastrophic fall out, this still could have worked.  But suddenly that most appealing part of the show’s first period is simply gone.  And this major failing is compounded by Chuck acting like a far less appealing character than he previously had; specifically as a chronic liar, a chronic liar to friends and family.  Then we had a recurring guest character who was given a major, multi-faceted role in spite of having no chemistry with the cast.  I should also mention the show had a major budget cut at this time; how big a role that may have played in various story issues is hard to say, but certainly Chuck looks less polished from here on out. To this day I mostly ignore this period of the show.  I certainly don’t re-watch it.

The third period starts with Honeymooners and continues to the end of the series.  Although some of the second period’s failings continue until the start of Season Four.  The most obvious characteristic of this period is Chuck and Sarah are now a couple.  An immature couple at first, but they will grow fairly quickly, and long term relationship angst will never again be a feature of this show.  I remain convinced this, the main emotional hook of the show, should have followed on directly after the second season without the previous period’s non-romance being used at all.  Other significant changes being that Chuck is now an agent and Morgan becomes the newest member of the team.  We also get to the “no secrets, no lies” pledge pretty quickly which fixes my second biggest gripe about the previous period.  I would also add that the government itself becomes much less threatening at this time.  Not that its ever completely benign on this show, we will still see stolen Orion computers, “wash” orders and a grand conspiracy; but Beckman has become a clear ally and the government will be less menacing, more background from here on out.  Overall the mood of the show is lighter from here on out too; less angst and darkness, more romance and comedy.  This suits my taste perfectly.

I should also point out, this period of the show brings us a new show runner.  The lower budget of the previous period also remains a reality.  Some viewers felt continuity and tightness of scripts/story suffered as well.  I tend to think those complaints are exaggerated; between the natural sort of baggage a show accumulates four seasons in, and the budget cuts Chuck suffered, I think the failings of this third period are no greater than any show I’ve seen.  Sure we’d all like better for our favorite show, but I see nothing here I’m terribly worried about.


The characters were always a strength of Chuck.  That starts with the title character himself.  I think especially at the very start of the series, in spite of starting at a low point in some ways, Chuck was easy to like, respect and root for.  He took human relationships seriously, he was good at his job, and he was just generally a “good guy”.  He couldn’t be called a professional success, but he was good at his job and was respected by his peers.   Over the course of the series, Chuck found that professional success he was lacking.  He also grew into a more complete partnership with Sarah that fulfilled him in more personal ways.  Unfortunately, starting in mid-Season Two (Third Dimension in particular) they also chose to play Chuck as a buffoon.  I’m sure this was an entertainment/comedy decision.  But I don’t think it worked.  I think Chuck being someone we could all want to be was a huge part of the show’s initial appeal.  But making him occasionally play the fool diminished that aspect of his character.  Fortunately this wasn’t a continuous problem, but I do think a number of episodes were severely undermined by this approach.  And it reduced some of our affection for, and connection with, the title character.

Then this problem was compounded when much of the Season Three story hinged on Chuck being an unlikable ass.  He treated Sarah very poorly, and lied all season long.  I think this severely damaged the esteem and fondness I had for the character.  They did fix both of these issues.  But it made it hard to take seriously any idea of “growth” during the third season when Chuck struggled just to undo what he’d done.  In the later part of the series Chuck’s behavior was better, but the occasional buffoonish moment still occured.  I feel a little like Chuck was strongest in the ways that matter most to me in Season One.  Although by the time we got to the finale arc he had matured into a pretty solid husband to his wife.  I wish we’d seen more of this behavior, for longer.  Its a shame Chuck and Sarah at their very best is such a short part of the late series.

Which leads us to Sarah.  I think Sarah’s growth was more consistent and linear than Chuck’s.  At the start of the series she was a strong, appealing heroic figure.  But she was all business, and apparently made little priority of human relationships.  Chuck immediately started big changes for her.  We learned fairly quickly that Sarah was unlike other agents, certainly unlike Carina or Bryce.  But it took Chuck for her to want to connect deeply with another person.  To me, the most exciting and satisfying part of the show was watching this happen.  At first it was little things.  Through the first season she started wanting more from life.  She was tortured when her duty conflicted with Chuck’s best interest.  And over the first two seasons we saw her do more and more to help Chuck even when it wasn’t in her job description.  Her job as an agent and handler was to get Chuck to do the government’s bidding.  But by the end of Season One it was obvious she would choose Chuck’s interests over the government’s.  She was truly Chuck’s agent.  And we were all waiting to see what it would take to make that clear to her, to Chuck, to the government.  This story played out, and payed off brilliantly, perfectly as Season Two ended.

The third season gave us a detour for Sarah that was disappointing and I think, a waste of time.  After Chuck breaks her heart, she spends most of the season trying to hammer a Square Shaw peg into a Chuck shaped hole.  Eventually things get back on course and I think Sarah’s growth resumes in spectacular fashion.  I particularly enjoy early Season Four as the writers had some fun with the role reversal that lays at the heart of the Charah relationship.  Sarah struggles to master communication and commitment issues.  By the end of this season she has become a stronger, more mature and and even more appealing character.  This continues into Season Five, until in her ultimate form Sarah is happily ready to find a safer occupation, more in keeping with raising a family.  And although I’ll always say I wanted to see more, I wanted more surety at the very end; I am satisfied she was on pace for a rapid recovery.  In the series’ final scene she was showing openness and maturity that we had only seen from a very late, very mature Sarah Bartowski.  I think that is beautiful and inspiring.  Still not quite complete enough for me, but I’m willing to say complete recovery was imminent and our main characters had their happy end.

Casey also grew quite a bit.  From a cold burn out in the beginning; he found a partner he could trust and respect, he made friends, and he reconnected with family.  And in the end, yet another spy found love, in a very disturbing Casey sort of way. From beginning to end he a sarcastic and insulting sense of humor, and was often quite a jerk.  But over the course of the show we saw how much he came to care for friends and family, even if he was rarely the sort to admit it.

Ellie and Devon didn’t really grow.  They progressed some; got married, started a family, and learned about Chuck’s double life.  I think both characters added a lot to the show.  Ellie always loved Chuck unconditionally, she believed in him, pushed him when he needed it.  Devon was fun.  I think Devon was actually my favorite of the secondary characters.  He was funny, sweet and likable. But Ellie and Devon each had one story-line that I think was less than appealing.  For Devon it was much of Season Three when he freaked out and over-reacted to Chuck’s lies.  For Ellie, it was the silliness surrounding her attempt at forcing Chuck out of the spy life and the subsequent round of lying to her about Chuck’s job, when she already knew about Chuck’s job…   But overall both characters added a lot to the mood of the show.

Morgan may have grown as much as anyone.  From the annoying stunted man-child of Season One, he gained respect among co-workers, moved into a Buy More management job, made peace with Ellie, eventually even earned Ellie’s trust and friendship, became Team B’s supporting staff, and found love.  Wow, that’s a lot of progress for a secondary comic character.  I do think he was occasionally over used, but not horribly so.  Even if I never quite had the emotional connection with this character the writers obviously meant for me to have, I didn’t dislike him either.  And he often made me laugh.

The Buy More and Buy Morons were a signature element of Chuck.  They were sort of Chuck’s ugly reality in those first two seasons.  And more pure comic relief afterwards.  I don’t think the Buy More always worked.  I certainly felt no emotional connection to it.  But occasionally, when it worked, it was very funny.  I think Big Mike was particularly funny.  Jeff and Lester were often too strange, too adolescent for my taste.  And I think the last two seasons they should have made either more or less of Buy More.  Either spend some time on how Chuck still has to work with the store (and Sarah, geez I wish the Buy Morons had found out she was their owner in S5) or make it an even smaller atmospheric sort of thing.  As it was, it only occasionally delivered good laughs and often felt like a waste of time.


I’ve already described my Strong/Average/Weak choices in previous posts in this series.  But in this final post for this series I did want to mention those episodes I consider very favorites.  I’ll say Top Three, in no particular order:

  • Honeymooners
  • Phase Three
  • Baby

Notice those are all from the later period of the show, and they all contain a lot of Sarah.  I often think I would have liked if Sarah was more co-equal lead from the very beginning.  This is maybe not a huge thing, it was nearly true the last two seasons anyway.  But I wish it had been foundational to the show from the very start.

I was going to add a second tier of honorable mention episodes, that might be my next favorites, or my top ten.  But I think really that’s all my previously listed “Strong” episodes.  That is 29 episodes (32 counting my Top Three).  So about a third of the series I consider strong, or favorite episodes.  If I were doing a top ten list, there would be 32 episodes on it.  Sorry, that’s all you’re getting from me!


I don’t really want to rank order the seasons.  There can be some variation with mood or day of the week.  But what I can do is rate the seasons on a scale of 1 to 10..  For this purpose, I have to separate S3 from S3.5 (3.14-3.19).  My reaction the front and back orders of that season are wholly different.  And I don’t grade on a curve.  If I loved them all equally, they’d all get 10s.

  • Season 1 — 9.  A very strong start, and a very strong finish.  Good season.
  • Season 2 — 10.  Quintessential Chuck.  This is when I got completely hooked.
  • Season 3 — 3.  A couple of fun episodes (Angel de la Muerte, Operation Awesome, Tic Tac)  and a fun conclusion can’t really make up for a depressing overall situation that makes both protagonists look foolish, or worse.
  • Season 3.5 — 7.  Funny how fixing one little thing (like the romance!) can make everything so much better.  Funny how not fixing one little thing (Chuck the liar) can keep this well short of the series’ best.
  • Season 4 — 10.  The show I’d been waiting for.  And it didn’t disappoint.  In spite of a few minor complaints this is as good as television ever gets.
  • Season 5 — 9.  The best background situation of the entire series.  But a couple of clumsy episodes and an incomplete ending keep this from being the best of the best.

Moving On

This concludes what we’ll call regularly scheduled programming.  For me, this series of posts was the logical follow on to the series re-watch we just finished.  So I feel like this is the real end of that project.  For two years I’ve spent an hour or two (or more) every week putting something together for Sunday night.  I sort of like the idea of having nothing hanging over me!  I do have another post in progress (“Complete Alternatives“) I hope to put up Tuesday night.  But after that…

We have talked BTS.  None of us principals are ready for this site or community to fade away just yet.  We have a few ideas for things to come, including a couple of series or themed posts.  Even if new posts slow down we hope you all will continue the discussion here for years to come.  Hopefully, we’ll all still be here when news breaks for “Chuck: The Movie” (or “Chuck: The Whole New Series”?).  So don’t take us off your bookmark bar yet!

~ Dave


About atcDave

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

  1. BEST series EVER! BEST COUPLE EVER! hands down!:Best leads ever!

  2. joe says:

    Well said, Dave. I think I have a very minor difference of opinion about the last 7 or so episodes of S2, probably starting with Suburbs. I tend to think of them separately from S1 and the beginning of S2; that’s where the show goes from “outstanding entertainment” to “OMG, this is saying something meaningful to me!”

    In those episodes I don’t see Chuck as the under-acheiving man-boy he was in S1. In fact, I think I see him chafe at the idea of Sarah being his protector/handler. He’s not ready for the Intersect II yet, but his reaction when Stephen tells him it’s gone (in Colonel) tells me he’s not really ready to leave it behind. His lips may say yes, but his heart isn’t in that yet.

    My all time faves are:
    3) Predator – Chuck is no longer a doof
    2) Honeymooners – We’ll always have Paris
    1) Colonel – We’ll always have Barstow

    I see a common thread in those. Each time, Chuck makes selfless decisions and Sarah is ready to back him up, no matter what.

  3. Wilf says:

    Great overview, Dave … thank you and thanks to all of the blog’s main contributors for keeping this alive for so long. As you hope, so do I hope that the Chuck This blog will remain active for a long time to come, not least because Chuck is the only TV series I’ve ever become really invested in at all. Just one thing, you mentioned the genres which Chuck covered (spy themed action/comedy/drama/romance) but it also includes sci-fi, of course and that, too, attracted me to Chuck, although, undoubtedly, for me, the romance aspect of the show was what eventually kept me so interested.

    • atcDave says:

      I almost added Sci-Fi! No doubt that’s what the Intersect itself is. But I thought the list was already getting long. Maybe I should have gone with it anyway. It really is amazing how complicated this show was.

      I agree completely on the romance. I’m always a bit of a sucker for a sweet story, but I rarely seek such things out. And I can’t believe how much it just grabbed me with this show.

  4. Theresa says:

    I tend to agree with your analysis, However, for me season 3 should never had happened. It was a betrayal of all the things that made Chuck unique and special. Once they got back on track with Season 4 and Volkoff it was much better, I think the idea of Shaw the superman was one they should have thrown away! He was the worst defined character nemesis they devised.

    • atcDave says:

      Oh I agree Season Three was a disaster! But I can understand SOME of what they were trying to do, especially trying to make Chuck into an agent. But obviously breaking apart Chuck and Sarah and the love triangles was insulting and ridiculous. Very poor story decisions. Perhaps my comments above were too moderate? I tend to assume everyone knows how much I loath that season based on my previous comments, so it may be this particular post was a little mild. But I was really hoping to spend more time on what I liked than what I didn’t.

    • authorguy says:

      Something like S3 had to happen. Chuck could not believably have stepped from the end of S2 to the competent partner he was in Honeymooners. They did a bad/awful/terrible job of it but the story and the development had to happen. What I find unfortunate is that the outcry against S3 was so great that the showrunners ruined S4 going too far in the opposite direction. Very poor story-telling, inconsistent plotting, with excessive scenes of C&S pressing their faces together and rubbing lips, as if they were really kissing. I guess every kiss can’t be a bomb kiss or a Barstow kiss but they should look more like a kiss than that.

      • atcDave says:

        We all get that Chuck was going to become an agent, and it was going to bring up certain issues like lying, killing, burning assets, etc. If that’s what you mean by “something like that had to happen” I agree.
        But if you’re talking about what S3 really means to most people; the main characters looking like flakes and idiots, a fractured central relationship, and yet another round of love triangles… well I don’t buy that sort of fatalism at all.
        There’s a million ways to tell that story, and most of them are vastly superior to what we saw.

      • authorguy says:

        Complete agreement on my part, Dave, that’s what nine2five was all about. Most of the bad stuff in S3 was due to either business requirements (keeping the Buy More) or some bizarre and apparently fetishistic choices on the part of the showrunners, such as the romantic triangles. I think I’ve established beyond any doubt that S3 could have been done almost exactly as it was, without any of that stuff, and a lot more fun and in a way that’s consistent with S2.

      • authorguy says:

        Actually, now that I think about it, I haven’t proven this, since one of my plot points in the first nine2five series is that Chuck didn’t want to be a spy. So he wouldn’t have had to make those choices. However, in the current season of nine2five, I’m getting ready to send him to Prague. He’s finally chosen to be a spy, so now he’ll have to live with that. His sudden change of heart in canon S3 was completely unrealistic, but in my story he’s been building toward this for a while. I’ll be trying not to make it the grim dark place that S3 portrayed it as being, though.

  5. oldresorter says:

    Dave I have a few comments regarding whiney or liar Chuck. In many ways, the second issue had ‘no secrets no lies’ to resolve it. Not sure the characters perfectly followed that mantra, but that scene addressed it, and the blatant lies seemed to go away after that. I think how Chuck acted in the final scene (arc) was meant to resolve whiney Chuck. I found that less satisfactory, as Chuck seemed all over the map in that regard all five seasons, including during his final Morgan scene with his epic declaration (paraphrased) – that guy was in love then. Geeeeez!

    As I’ve posted b4, I’ve been watching (sort of enjoying) and studying Hart of Dixie to see if I can learn about how Schwartz ticks, I might post a little more about this review summarzing s2 of HOD (s3 just ended), but what I found telling in terms of Chuck B is how stunningly inconsistent the lead in HOD is written. She is written many times to make everyone else look better. I don’t think Chuck B was written that way early on, but by mid season 3, I think that was the thing that I didn’t like about the show, once the LI’s got out of the way.

    OK, I’ll make this long and continue with the review of HOD vs Chuck. The review said they loved the secondary characters, stole the show. And that HOD was best when it didn’t take itself too serious. I at least have said that about Chuck alot. And how sickening the writing of George Tucker was, because we were told how great he was all the time. Just like Shaw. Since George is a regular, they finally got past it. I don’t think the Shaw character fit the show well, not like Roark, Orion, Volkov, even Quinn, who had a bit of madcap in them. I think that’s why Vivian failed too, but the lawyer worked from that season – he had some madcap to him.

    Finally, Wade is HOD’s Sarah. The reviewer said the actor was angry when his character went off the rails in s2, after the character became the fan fav of the entire show. All of s3 was spent rebuilding the character.

    But HOD like Chuck, lives right on the cancellation borderline. I have to think part of that is how difficult it is to write a show that you choose to alienate your fans thru the use of PLI’s and LI’s on a regular basis, while doing comedy. I think thats a tough sell, especially when you take yourself seriously. Here is the link, usually when I try to paraphrase like I just did, I usually regret it, please take what I just said as strictly one man’s opinion, and if you choose to, take the time to give your own interpretations.

    Note the description of Zoey as inconsistent is at the end of the worst of season 2, toward the end of the article. Here is the link:

    • atcDave says:

      Some interesting stuff there Jason/OR. I do agree completely about some of the problems with how Chuck was portrayed, interesting they’ve struggled with similar things in HOD.

    • revdr says:

      OR; if you go back and look at JS’ characters in HOD nand The O.C., you can see a stark difference in how his characters, both main and secondary, are portrayed. The O.C., in particular, made a concerted effort the change the characters as the show progressed. For instance, what started out as a guest stars role for Rachel Bilson, quickly grew into a very prominent, permanent one, upon see just how popular her character, Summer had become in regards to Seth. That pairing became so popular in fact that they actually overshadowed the main pairing of Ryan/Marissa. JS also made a point to resolve ALL storylines when the show was cancelled after season 4. while still bring the story back, full circle. That’s what so surprised me about the ambiguous ending that we were presented with Chuck, because even though he wasn’t directly involved with day-to-day operations with Gossip Girl, they still provided a resolution to the overall story, even telling the audience who Gossip Girl was in the end (even though it was a little far fetched). It just didn’t seem to be his m.o.. That always had me wondering just how much of an impact he had in formulating the final outcome, even though he took a lot of the credit.

      • revdr says:

        sorry, that’s what happens when you’re trying to do 4 things at once…..terrible spelling

    • thinkling says:

      I quit watching HOD at the end of s2(?) when Zoey had one guy at the door and another in her bed waiting for her. Did I miss anything?

      I agree OR That guy was in love = the absolute worst, most cringe-worthy line of the entire series — all so we could have a call back to Beard, is my guess, but it was a major fail. JMO (just my opinion)

      • atcDave says:

        The last really terrible line of the show…

      • duckman says:

        I watched the HOD pilot when it premiered with no thought to who was behind it. It seemed to have lots of potential but at the end of the pilot I liked 1 or 2 characters and absolutely loathed all the rest, no thanks. When I read mcpartlin was gonna be on there earlier this year I tried again and dvrd a few eps. While I no longer hate the show I couldn’t bring my self to watch more than a couple eps, never did see the captn. Just a little too silly I think.

      • oldresorter says:

        HOD – I’ll bite. That was the end of s1 Think. I quit maybe 5 or 6 eps ahead of that. I started again mid s2 / S3, out of curiosity, and found much of what I liked in Chuck in now had. I watched backwards, and once you know where a show is headed, the ugly stuff is not ugly at all, its 30 seconds of that sucked, and forgotten. Yes, s3 would not be that bad if powering thru all 5 seasons on first glance. I did it more as an exercise to understand JS / Chuck than love of HOD. A couple of characters really ramped it up as the show went on, or got better lines. Lemon. George. AnnaBeth. Brick. Wade. Most of them really. The show is full of the quick wit and banter that I love in Chuck, it really didn’t have this in s1 near as much. The only character that is awful, cringeworthy, is the star. I think it’s written that way on purpose, which is why I brought it up in the first place, I think Chuck was given some of that role, to let the comedy bounce thru him to make everyone else (Morgan and Sarah mostly) be more lovable and smarter.

      • thinkling says:

        Huh. I didn’t make it past the first season (HOD). Maybe I’ll give it another whirl during the off season when nothing new is on.

        I was late to the Chuck party, so I did power through seasons 1-3, and yes it does make s3 easier to take, but it was still just … painful to watch. I will say I can’t imagine having having to drag through it week by week.

      • atcDave says:

        Remember it was worse than just week to week; one year from Ring to Other Guy! And of course three weeks from Mask to Fake Name. The Dark Ages of Chuck….

        It’s interesting to me that even though viewers who power through the show are less likely to have a violent reaction to S3 (!), it’s hardly an absolute.

      • duckman says:

        I consider myself fortunate to have missed the worst of s3 in real time just by virtue of being unmotivated to watch live. I remember seeing pink slip and being disappointed and bewildered. I saw the intro of shaw and stayed away till american hero. After other guy the only thing I felt was relief that shaw would not cloud my screen anymore. Not one ounce of anything else, the show had become a chore to watch. With Honeymooners I was willing to forgive and forget. That lasted till living dead, which happened to be the next ep I caught. By the end of subway I no longer even liked the show. I know lots of folks dig the end of s3 but for me lying chuck and clueless ellie combined with more drama than I sighned up for make the last 3 eps of s3 the most vile chunk of tv I’ve ever sat through. I didn’t even see ring 2 live, I was gone. It’s a fluke of youtube I rediscovered the show at all.

  6. oldresorter says:

    Now that this is over, I’m still left with my three top eps:

    1 – Honeymooners
    2 – Delorean
    3 – Pilot

    Other than CS getting along in my fav eps, my next most fav thing is when CS solve a case of some sort together. The third thing for me is I view the ending as important, I think if I’d have given the showrunners one mandate b4 they started, I would have encouraged them to end with a positive CS moment in each and every episode. I think such moments would have carried fans thru the rough patches in the show.

    • Josh says:

      I’m going to defend Chuck in that scene. His lack of hope was more than justified, I would’ve needed a pep talk too!

    • atcDave says:

      I agree completely with that. I might allow occasional exceptions for short arcs. But Chuck and Sarah together was by far the greatest strength of this show, its a big mistake to ever get away from that.

    • thinkling says:

      Sweet CS moments were a hallmark of Chuck that I loved, and nobody does them better. So, yeah. Every episode should have had one.

      Always at the top of my list would be (one from each season): Pilot, Cougars, Honeymooners, Baby, and Wedding Planner. There are so many episodes I love, but I seem to be consistently drawn to these rewatch-any-timers.

      Best season/mid-season finales: Push Mix and Cliffhanger.

      Seasons: I guess s2 edges out s1 in Chuck phase 1. Phase two is way down at the bottom. Phase 3 — the last two seasons — are about equal and finish ahead of Phase 1. I just love CS together. Sure I love s1-2, but I will aways be drawn to S5 then S4 b/c CS are where I want them to be. No achy-breaky heart, just enjoy the love and fun.

      Fantastic job Dave and Joe for this rewatch. Thank you.

      • atcDave says:

        I noticed when I rated the seasons that I basically wound up with exactly the same score for the first two seasons as the last two! But there’s no doubt I now watch the last period of the show by far more often.

        I would agree with all your choices as “favorites”, even the finales; although I think I would pick slightly different best for two of the seasons, either First Date or Colonel for S2 and a slight edge for Phase Three over Wedding Planner in S4 (hey, I may like fluffy romance, but I am still a guy! So an epic Thai smack down gives a slight edge over the return of Jack).

      • thinkling says:

        Ah. Those are on my list too. I also really like Helicopter, even thought I didn’t so much on first viewing. Choosing favorite Chuck episodes is just so difficult. I’m sure I have about 15 in my top ten.

      • atcDave says:

        Hah, I have you beat! As I said up top, 32 top ten episodes!

  7. Matt says:

    I think the thing that was most appealing about Chuck over the long term is that all the main characters remained basically good people all along. It seems that most TV series eventually decide that giving their hero flaws will make the story more interesting, and Chuck never went that route. Quick couple examples: Party of Five back in the day made Bailey an alcoholic after a couple of seasons; Jack on Lost turned into a deranged drug addict. Hard to think of any hour long series that didn’t eventually did that to at least one character.

    • atcDave says:

      Well I think Chuck was a pretty big jerk in Season Three, but otherwise I agree entirely. Having good people we could relate to and root for was a huge part of what made Chuck special.

      • honestly the only thing that makes the “misery arc” bearable is that Zach and Yvonne Played a very conflicted C&S but not even they could completely disguise the terrible writing. God knows they tried their hardest tho…

  8. anthropocene says:

    Thank you, Dave. I don’t watch a lot of TV (except during football season!). I can count the number of series I’ve watched faithfully on the fingers of one hand. Out of those few, I’ve obsessed about, followed a blog about, and written FF for only one. And only after the series ended! I don’t see this situation changing any time soon, so I’ll keep tabs on this blog and keep plodding away with FF too. Probably nothing short of a movie or reunion program will snap me out of it.

    • atcDave says:

      Well Anthro, we’re all richer for your foray into fan fiction!

      I’m the same way with football, it has a pretty dramatic effect on my time with the tube. Summer now is the opposite. Except for this strange compulsion to watch 24, I expect not to see much until September.

      • due to circumstances I can’t watch 24 live. I did buy the season pass for it off iTunes and its been awesome! Yvonne has a great chemistry with this cast too, I really hope she gets more exposure from it!

  9. uplink2 says:

    Well first of all I really want to thank Dave, Joe, Ernie, Thinkling, Faith et all for all the amazing work they have done with this site. It has been such a joy to be a part of. To be able to come to a site like here where we could have some great, honest, intelligent, and yes sometimes heated discussions about this amazing show is a tribute to them as well as the show itself. I first got into the Chuck online community in May of 2010. I had never been to any site nor got any spoilers or any discussion about anything Chuck related till I joined ChuckTV that May. I simply watched the show week to week from the Jill arc on when I watched my first episode and got absolutely hooked by DeLorean. But at times over the next few months I found the total fanboy tone of ChuckTV not totally comfortable for me and a few months later I found this site and knew it was more conducive to how I wanted to discuss the show. So with a few spits and stops I’ve been coming here regularly ever since. It helped me appreciate the show so much more and with Dave’s influence I found FanFiction and that has become a large part of my passion for the show as well. But this site will always have a place in my heart whether I was into a heated discussion with Ernie or Marc about intent vs what’s on screen or learned the subtlety of say the final surveillance video scene from Three Words and saw an entirely new view of that scene from Ernie and BigKev. I’m a better and more informed Chuck fan because of this site and I want to thank all of those involved from the site owners to the posters that have come and gone over the years.

    But overall this show has to ultimately be my favorite of all time. I have never felt as passionately about any TV show as I did and still do about Chuck. There are better written shows, The Wire, West Wing come to mind, but those shows never touched my heart like this one did and I give most of the praise for that to the actors. Tops on that list is Yvonne Strahovski. No single person involved in the show has played a bigger part in my passion for this show as she did. I just really hope that someday she gets to finish Sarah’s story once and for all.

    I think I’ve made my feelings quite clear over the years, possibly too clear a number of times, but part of my approach to things is that as good as this show was it could have been so much better. The enormous missteps of season 3 derailed the show in a way that it never fully reached its potential. Post Other Guy it was still great but nothing the show did after that could entirely make up for the damage the story choice, the casting, and the hubris TPTB displayed during that time did to the show. And that is where some of my frustration at times comes from. It was almost there and they stumbled and never quite stood so tall after that. From taking an idea conceived for Bryce and trying to force such a pathetically written character and very weak actor into that idea was a decision that doomed the season and damaged the series. I won’t even go into the incredibly brain dead idea of one more trip back to the OLI well. I’ve used this metaphor many times but they benched their triple crown winner, the Zach and Yvonne chemistry, and instead ran the main stories both spy and romance through a character and actor who probably didn’t even deserve to be playing in the NY-Penn league. It was a disaster and took away my ability to appreciate any of the necessary spy story that needed to be told after “Guys, I know Kung Fu.” Another first for the Chuck series and my TV viewing, I have never, ever despised a character on a TV show as much as I despised and hated Daniel Shaw. And that has nothing to do with loving to hate him, it’s I simply loathe him and his presence on the show.

    But yet in the bizarre world that is Chuck their first foray into the light after the disaster of the Misery arc and the horrific show killer that is Shaw, they gave us my favorite episode of the entire series. There isn’t one frame of Honeymooners I would change. It had everything that I loved about the show and it as near to a perfect 42 minutes of entertaining TV as I have ever seen.

    My top 3 are similar to others with Honeymooners, Phase 3 and Colonel. But close behind are DeLorean, Baby and the Pilot. In fact I have rewatched the Pilot more than any other episode. I just wish I had seen it live first and not on DVD. I’d have been hooked then. But alas I was watching the other nerd show that season TBBT at 8. We didn’t get a DVR till later. But in season 2 my mondays became TBBT then Chuck, then Two and a half men(w/ Charlie not Ashton lol) followed by 24. Thank god for Tivo. Those were some great mondays for TV.

    Hey even with my disappointment at the incomplete finale and the fact I never got to say goodbye, Chuck and Sarah are still a big part of my life and probably always will be. My Blu-Rays, DVD’s and digital copies of the show along with NetFlix will never get too dusty. Seeing Sarah move her leg into Chuck signifying she was in with both feet just before fading to black at the end of Honeymooners will be a moment I’ll always want to relive. To see Sarah rest her head on her mom’s while she watches the family she never thought she would have right there in front of her is another. It really has been an amazing ride.

    • atcDave says:

      Great comment. Very good point about how other shows may have been better written, yet they fail to have the emotional connection this one did.

    • oldresorter says:

      Uplink! Bingo! I think that’t the point I’ve never been able to understand or articulate. I’ve asked several time, what was it about the show that hooked me, since I almost disliked the actual writing. Somehow, thru the show made an emotional connection unlike any other for me too! Thx for the keen observation!

    • uplink2 says:

      I know this sounds kind of sappy but it was the “heart of the show”, the Chuck and Sarah romance, that somehow connected with my heart in a very unique and heretofore unseen way. Somehow it just fit into my inner romantic like I had never experienced. That connection is also why I took so many missteps they made so personally. Why episodes like Fake Name went so far beyond any negative reaction to a TV show I had ever experienced before. That storyline broke my heart just as soundly as Prague broke Sarah’s. And again it wasn’t in a good way. They didn’t just make me sad, they pissed me off because it looked to me like they didn’t see how truly precious and unique what they had created actually was. They disrespected them and they disrespected me for caring about them so deeply. I like stories that touch me emotionally and even painful ones as long as they legitimately grow from what we knew before. And that is why episodes like Breakup were so great and important. You can feel the heartbreak in both of them so clearly because you understand what and why it is happening. It was an honest outcome of the lives they were living at the time. Pink Slip wasn’t. It was a contrived, manipulative idea from the showrunner and had no honest relationship to what came before. It changed the tone and heart of the show because of external forces and not internal and it just screamed dishonest storytelling.
      Later in the series they realized their mistake and brought us so many other great moments I connected with emotionally. The proposal, the brilliantly edited discovery scene in Phase 3, “You’re my home Chuck” and the list goes on. The heart of the show was back but it wasn’t as special and unique as it once had been.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree exactly with all of that Uplink. Ultimately it is the characters and the performances that matter more to me than the specific story. And dang I wish I’d said more about the performances in the main post! Not to degrade the story entirely; we had some brilliant episodes, and even whole arcs. But the strength of the characters was such that the connection endured even when they were dis-honored by the story. That’s pretty remarkable in its own right.

      • ChuckFanForever says:

        The TV world has not seen such a huge public outcry since the days of the death of Optimus Prime in the original cartoon Transformers movie! Of course back then, you didn’t have the internet to rant about such things and spread the furor even farther!

  10. aalleess says:

    I haven’t watched many shows during my short lifetime. In fact, Chuck is one of the two shows where I’ve actually seen all the episodes.

    Chuck is something special. I don’t know exactly why. Maybe I fell in love with Sarah? Saw a bit of myself in Chuck? Anyway, I never thought I could establish such an emotional connection to a show. There were times when I would laugh at someone for doing so. Not anymore.

    I think the episode which got me addicted is the Wookie. I’ve already seen it around 6-7 times and it’s not even a year since I discovered the show.

    Chuck is also the only show which made me thinking about other possible ways the story could go. I am grateful for having found this blog where I found out about Fanfiction. It already brought me more hours of joy than the show and I’ve get plenty more to read.

    • atcDave says:

      I agree exactly about what makes the show special.

      We’re glad you found both the show and this blog!

  11. FSL says:

    Thank you all for your contributions in this blog. This is the only show-specific blog that I visit regularly. This is something special, just like this show. The light-hearted. romantic comedy style is what stuck me to this show. And the ensemble cast all gave it the extra kick. The relationships are what I liked most about it. When Casey hand a cut-up bear to Alex, when Sarah watch from afar as Chuck drinks and hack computers, when Morgan say hi to Mrs B in the holding cell for the first time, or even when Volkoff plays charades with Chuck’s family. These are times when I feel like I am most entertained. To see families.

    I don’t really have favourite episodes. To me, it’s just one single long, journey. But some scenes stick out. A large hangar with all of Buy More transported over, the Predator drone flying over LA., the cafe fight in Honeymooners, and so much more. I like to call it epicness for humourous effect. Even Ted Rourke as Steve Jobs and Mission Impossible Shaw were funny (BTW, that is my favourite Shaw scene. For one episode, he actually seem human.)

    As a final note, this show was the last show I watched as a single man. And in re-watch, I managed to make a small Chuck fan out of my wife. Not too shabby =)

  12. resaw says:

    “I can honestly say I was first drawn to the show by previews that looked both exciting and funny. Always an intoxicating mix for me. But the romance was incendiary. By the time the show was three episodes in I think there was no television couple I ever pulled for harder. And although the action and humor remained big to me to the end, seeing Chuck and Sarah together quickly became the emotional draw for this show.” My sentiments exactly, Dave, although I’ll add the one nuance that the sci-fi element of a computer in the brain of its host was also a big draw for me.

    One of the killer scenes for me was at the end of the season 1 finale, when Chuck and Sarah are saying good-bye to each other. Chuck is giving his typical, long-winded, yet ever so eloquent speech, while Sarah is listening and shedding no less eloquent tears. The most important line in Chuck’s speech for me is, “…and maybe we can say how we really feel.” I was already hooked o the romantic element of the show, but that scene is among the most significant.

    I haven’t watched any episodes of Chuck in a few weeks, since we finished the last rewatch, but I think it’s about time I go back to it again. I want this show to stay fresh in my mind for a long time. Thanks, Dave, et al., for this blog. It’s been a wonderful source of conversation and enjoyment for me.

    • atcDave says:

      Glad you’ve enjoyed the discussion Resaw! I know I’ve enjoyed it too; from sharing favorite moments to arguing over silly gripes.

      Great scene from the end of Marlin. It is things like that that make Chuck impossible to replace.

      • That point about performances and characters mattering more than story is so true! I would much rather watch 5 seasons of great performances/characters than 7+ seasons of a belter concept that’s lacking in characters or cast talent! To quote someone (I don’t remember who) “TV ultimately is about characters, if the audience doesn’t feel connected to the characters they wont watch a show every week but if they can relate to them then keep coming back.” The reason so many shows don’t attract fans is the characters aren’t written as real people or the cast is lacking in talent.

        Very few shows that have come on since 05 have both a great story and cast/characters. some exceptions include

        The Office
        Grey’s Anatomy
        Breaking Bad
        The Big Bang Theory

        IMO opinion 2005 marked a serious decline in the quality of new tv shows that hasn’t really recovered since…or is it just me!?

      • atcDave says:

        I don’t know if I would put a date on it, but certainly there’s been big changes in how television is written. It used to be considered important to feature characters viewers would like, and that still is paramount to me. I watch television at the end of the day, to relax. And I want to spend that time with people I can believe in and root for.
        But there has been a real shift in concept for many writers. And I think this is a huge part of why viewership of scripted programming is on the decline. Writers now take the story more seriously, and are willing to use seriously flawed and amoral characters. This appeals to critics, and perhaps a very serious core of television viewers. But I think for most of us its just no fun. I can’t even tell you how often I hear “we don’t really watch television anymore”, and it pretty much always comes back to this issue. So much television now is self important and no fun.

        I’ve always though movies were a better venue for such serious stories. They are a shorter time commitment and more of a “special event” sort of thing as opposed to crashing on the couch at the end of a work day.

        But that all means Chuck was pretty special. Its a traditional sort of show in a way. The characters, and Charah are what the show was all about.

  13. noblz says:

    Stupid job…interfering with my blog time.

    I have to say this is my favorite all-time show. I liked the S4 story the best, but the production quality of S2 was so much better. I usually have to admit S2 is slightly better due to production value. S5 would have been right up there, but the Morgan overload and the memory loss drug it down below S1 for me. In S4 there was only one really weak episode for me and it was vs the Muuurder. In S5 only vs Bo landed in the dud pile. Starting with Other Guy I was very happy, generally with the story.

    The S3 issue was as you have said here, they made our favorite characters stupid and unlikeable.
    atcDave- during your alternatives I was the one who thought you could have saved it by changing just one or two scenes per episode (except for Pink Slip and fake Name which needed major surgery). They had a good idea but decided to insult our characters and us. Too bad.

    I hope the thank you’s doesn’t mean you’re shutting down! we’ll think of something to yammer about.

    • atcDave says:

      I hate when work gets in the way of my hobbies!

      I pretty much agree with all of that Dave, a few differences on weak episodes, but I agree exactly on the show.
      And I agree exactly about S3; it’s amazing how little you’d have to change to make things a lot better. And it’s usually the very end.

      We’re not shutting down! But we did just finish a huge project, and we don’t know exactly what’s up next. I know Ernie and I both have posts in progress (I hope to have mine up late tonight), and we’ve kicked around a few ideas BTS. I don’t think we’ll have a weekly schedule for a while, but we will still be here and definitely have some things in the works.

  14. The performances are ultimately what made the show and Zach and Yvonne are the best duo ever! As a trio Zach, Yvonne and Adam were something incredible, every time I re watch an episode it still has an impact on me. I’m always appalled they get little or no recognition for their talent!

  15. Robert says:

    Dave, that’s pretty much my assessment of the entire Chuck series! Seasons 4, 5 and 2 being my favourites as well. Of course some episodes weren’t strong, even disappointing, and of course the ending could’ve been more complete, as you say, but overall, it was a very good series, and most of all, FUN!

    And, to this day, I’ve never been involved in another tv series than I was in Chuck, not even Fringe and Person of Interest…

  16. Loved your overview. I believed you to right on with the reasons I loved Chuck. For me it was all about Sarah & Chuck, beauty & the nerd; family and friends with a little comedy, action & drama thrown in. I agree about the three periods of the show. I am sure I will the first and third periods in their entirety and see pieces of the second period. I really disliked the angst between the leads and Chuck as a buffoon. Again thanks for overview!!

    • atcDave says:

      Thanks for the thanks!

      I had a ton of fun writing all of this. And so many pleased readers is a wonderful bonus.

  17. aalleess says:

    Is it usual for a show to have so many different writers as Chuck did?

    • I think so. Chuck actually had a good rotation.
      Castle has had about 30 writers. Many of them for 1 or 2 episodes. Next season it’ll have a new showrunner.
      Babylon 5 had every episode for seasons 3 and 4, and most of season 5 written by one person. It still had 9 writers for season 1.

      The more arc heavy a show is, the more it needs the same small group of writers for continuity. Surprisingly, there are normally different writers for the two-parters.

      • oldresorter says:

        Marlowe stepped down from Castle just recently, so s7 of Castle will have a new showrunner at the helm.

      • thinkling says:

        Was there a reason given for the change on Castle? I wonder if the ridiculous s6 finale had anything to do with it.

      • joe says:

        I’m sure that “they” wouldn’t tell “us” if that was the reason, Think. I can’t quite shake the feeling that this scenario would be just desserts, however…

      • atcDave says:

        It would definitely be an appropriate move. It was the sort of cliffie better suited to SNL than an actual scripted show.

    • atcDave says:

      I remember too the show runner for Babylon 5 saying he never would have done full seasons himself if he’d really grasped how big project he was taking on. But no doubt his S3 of that show is one of the greatest accomplishments in television.

      I think the typical rotation of show runner and staff writers has developed as a reasonable response to the workload.

      • I completely agree about S3. Babylon 5 also ran a budget of about $900K per episode, when Trek episodes were $2-3M. Part of why they could do that (other than not paying writers) is the scripts were always done far in advance. With no last minute changes they had plenty of time to plan and didn’t have to work (or pay) overtime.

        I think JMS intended to have more people write more of S5, but by then the universe was so complicated it was too hard for just anyone to jump in.

        Having a rotation not only helps with the workload, it also helps when people leave. There’s a bench that can fill in without losing a step.

        With Chuck, I was a little disappointed the cast didn’t try writing an episode. With Stargate SG-1, Ben Browder wrote one (one of my favorites, also two Farscape), Michael Shanks wrote three, Corin Nemec wrote one, and Christopher Judge wrote four.
        Backing them with a professional is a good idea, but when a cast member writes an episode, that character really shines. (Or in Ben Browder’s case, the episode is freaking hilarious.)

        If you want to see the opposite extreme from B5, try ST:TNG: 176 episodes, 153 writers.

        From the other thread, Farscape was an Aussie show.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I don’t think it is unusual for a show to go through a number of writers, although Chuck did so for some unfortunate reasons. Renewal often came after Chuck writers found another job, the future of Chuck being rather uncertain.

      Someone more in the know may be able to tell us, but what I find unusual is that by season 4 the only original Chuck writer left was Chris Fedak

      • atcDave says:

        We know several of them left for better opportunities, to run their own shows. That certainly speaks well of how Chuck was seen in the industry.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Certainly many left for better opportunities, but I’d also lay some of that on the budget cuts. Chuck couldn’t necessarily pay the salaries some of their veteran writers could command, so by season 4 Chuck had a crop of younger less experienced writers, most of whom worked out spectacularly well for the show.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah and LaJudkins absolutely moved up nicely!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And I’d put Kristin Newman up against any of the original Chuck team.

      • atcDave says:


  18. noblz says:

    Do writers do more than one show at a time? I know directors do (see Fred Toye, he did at least Chuck, Fringe and PoI all at the same time), I’m curious if writers do as well.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I believe there are industry rules with the various guilds and unions that while a show maintains a core staff of writers, directors, etc, they must use a non-staff writer or director for a certain number of episodes each season.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Ernie that’s how I understand it too. It’s not a lot, like two episodes a season where they are supposed to use an outside writer.
        Strikes me as an utterly ridiculous requirement. There’s presumably some ways around it, as we mentioned earlier JMS wrote two full seasons of B5 all by his lonesome.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Well if I recall B5 was before the last writer’s strike. And I may be confusing it with Farscape. or totally wrong on both, but wasn’t it a UK production?

      • atcDave says:

        No B5 was an American show. But you’re right, it was before the big writer’s strike, it’s possible that’s when the rule was created.

        Although I think sometimes a creator/executive producer sort may be able to exempt themselves.

  19. FSL says:

    Isn’t David E Kelly also know for writing loads of episodes himself?

  20. atcDave says:

    Just a little teaser. Starting this Sunday, June 29, we will begin a new re-watch, or “Episode of the Week” series.
    This will be simpler than what we’ve done before, and will rely more heavily on links to our own past work. But we encourage all our faithful Chuck fans to join with us making Chuck a weekly experience again for the next 91 weeks.
    And as always, we look forward to discussion as work our way through the series.

    • That’s a great idea! I’ll be there, how will you pick each episode!?

      • atcDave says:

        We’ll do all 91 in order, so choosing is easy!

        I also should have mentioned, my more creative cohorts are working or more themed posts. I know both Thinkling and Ernie have posts in progress. But they are far more ambitious than I, and these posts are bigger works that may take a while yet.

    • Wilf says:

      Great. I’ll certainly watch along with you. Thanks.

  21. Welll I will definitely join in, any excuse to re watch CHUCK is okay by me!

  22. Selena says:

    You know, I think the first episode and last episode of Chuck are the best ones. Kinda poetic, really, especially since the last episode had a ton of first episode references..

  23. Hey Dave have you ever considered doing a re watch in the order(91-1) of the poll on this blog, I’m just curious!?

  24. Yeah but at least that way there’s nowhere to go but up!

  25. oldresorter says:

    Season 2 of Beauty and the Beast is / was much like s3 of Chuck. A LI was brought in and the lead couple was on the outs. S2 is wrapping up now, and the showrunner / boss (Kern) was interviewed, I think what he had to say is pertinent to Chuck S3. See if you agree:

    “What have you learned this season that you might change going forward?
    Kern: It’s a different mandate going into Season 3. The mandate going into Season 2 was that the network wanted to do everything to expand and reach out to broader audience. That success was checkered and the audience that continued to watch, thank God, stayed with the show every episode. So, going into the third season, what I’ve learned ties into what the reality is, which is that people who watch the show are the ones who need to be honored, and if we can reach out to broader audiences, fantastic, but the focus is what the loyal audience likes best and that’s Vincent and Catherine.”

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I would have loved such a comment from a Chuck show runner. That’s exactly the sort of statement related to reality and responsibility I would have hoped for.

    • uplink2 says:

      Agreed. It seems that the Chuck Showrunners behaved in the exact opposite manner however and we saw the results. Whether it was intentional, cluelessness or hubris we will probably never know. My guess is it was a bit of all three.

    • oldresorter says:

      When I watch TV, I seek out wt/wt type stories. I think it is a valid hook, and makes for a great B plot in most of these sci fi / mystery / adventure / detective / cop / spy / super hero type TV shows. But, I think they all to a certain extent struggle with transitioning from wt/wt to td/nw (they did / now what).

      If using a wt/wt structure to begin a show is pretty std, I would say the ‘now what’ part is completely the opposite, nobody has that market cornered, everyone seems to do something different, and I’m not sure anyone has been remarkably successful with the ‘now what’ part of the show. Chuck more than held its own vs other shows I watch, with its Honeymooners episode as a first brush stroke as being by far the best ever ‘they finally did it’ ep, Chuck managed to put a decent wedding season on the books, and finally a season giving a post marriage glimpse into what the future might hold!

      Did Chuck do it perfect for me. No. But then again, no tv show ever has or will. Chuck still did it pretty darned well!!!!

      • atcDave says:

        I completely agree with this OR. I think its a difficult transition and is rarely handled well. I see two main issues; one, wt/wt does draw in many viewers and the industry has a built in reluctance to abandoning this stage of the story. And two, in many cases, the viewers who most like a stable/happy phase are completely different people from those who like the wt/wt phase.
        The most consistent outcome of this is that most every show draws wt/wt out past the breaking point. To the point where the characters start to look bad/stupid/foolish/immoral; and the viewers burn out on the show.
        I’m always thankful with Chuck they did finally make the change and they did it very well. I only wish they’d done it 12 episodes sooner.

      • uplink2 says:

        The thing is they already had made that change and made it brilliantly in Colonel. The problem was they ran away from it instead of embracing it. That running away made it seem as phony and contrived as it was. Maybe it was fear, maybe it was network involvement, maybe it was simply not seeing what their audience saw on screen in the same way. But they fumbled that reset so poorly because they had set up the next phase so brilliantly but ran away from it to the tired old TV troupe again.

      • atcDave says:

        But Uplink that is television SOP. At least for wt/wt. They tease the “togetherness”, make the couple look ready for the next step, then back off or reset in some way.
        And this often works for a while. Especially with a fundamental conflict like we saw on Chuck. It gets the whole audience hanging on “what will it take”. The problem is; they delivered a perfect, powerful, wonderful resolution in Colonel. Anything they did to step back from that could only make the characters look stupid. Which is exactly what happened. And making the two characters we loved look stupid broke our immersion. From a story-telling perspective it was basically a catastrophe.

      • oldresorter says:

        Its sort of interesting, its all very predictable. You simply can’t let yourself care. Anyone else think that the Arrow show runner will be going thru the same process at the end of next season after Brandon Routh’s recurring character comes in and ‘Shaws’ Felicity up? Doesn’t that sound like fun?

      • atcDave says:

        Except to me, caring is often the best reason to watch. What a condemnation of the whole industry if we have to say the only way to watch is not to care!

        THAT needs to be fixed.

      • uplink2 says:

        I have never watched Arrow but had thought about checking it out until this news. No freaking way will I watch another series with Routh. Especially where he is the OLI again in the third season. 14 episodes? What the hell were they thinking? Hey Arrow Showrunners if you are looking to lose fans or potential fans for your show you could not have picked a better actor to cast in an LI role. So nope, no Arrow for me!

      • oldresorter says:

        Dave but you can’t watch a wt/wt show and care about LI’s, they all seem to have them, that’s the part you have to not care about. The key is loving the characters and how they act as individuals and with the other cast members, in spite of the LI’s and then dealing with how the LI is written. It would make for a discussion I’d enjoy having, name 10 great wt/wt tv shows, and rate the use of LI’s in creating angst. 7 shows come to mind quickly for me, if ten is acceptable, and one is lousy. Chuck be a one, Smallville be a two, Beauty and the Beast be a 3, Covert Affairs be a 4, Arrow be an 8 (so far), Burn Notice be a 9, Castle be a 10. In arrow an Burn notice, I didn;t care, in Castle, they Li’s weren’t even part of the show. The other 4, to some degree of another, I didn’t enjoy, even if in the case of Covert Affairs, I didn’t even really care.

      • atcDave says:

        In every example I disliked the use of OLIs. Its just never my thing. It feels like a waste of time, every time. The very best I can EVER say is “it didn’t bother me too much”. But that’s usually a short trip to saying I’m just not very invested in the show.

      • uplink2 says:

        But OR in the case of Chuck where the LI’s fail so spectacularly in your scenario is that with Bryce, Lou, Jill and Cole I liked how the characters acted or at least could understand why they did what they did in those cases. However in trying to sell Hannah and Shaw they had to turn the characters I was invested in into ones I couldn’t stand. None of their actions made sense in a grand scale and some of their actions were downright revolting. That’s when the LI element to WTWT fails. That was the lesson they didn’t either see or want to acknowledge. What happened in Barstow ended any possibility of it working.

      • oldresorter says:

        Uplink – but Chuck probably doesn’t get a real bad wt/wt vs LI’s grade if s3 didn’t happen vs other shows, right? I think the few OLI’s or PLI’s would have been small potatoes, if s3 started off with the honeymooners ep, and CS learned to get along with spy vs normal along the way during s3.

        To Chuck’s credit, once the honeymooners happened, no even slight PLI moments, not even in the slightest. I don’t think I’ve ever tipped my hat to them for that, but that is credit worthy!

        Dave, I can’t imagine any show you would like that I watch, maybe The Listener, which the lead couple is not romantically involved, the lady is a mom, and happy. The guy treats her like a big sister. And they do have chemistry. Only one I can think of with no OLI’s

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I usually just grin and bear it. But yeah, I don’t generally seek out shows with “romance” in line one of the description!

  26. Pingback: Chuck in Overview: The Complete Series, Part 2 | Chuck This

  27. Neil Sandford says:

    To Dave, Faith, Liz, Thinkling, Amy, Ernie and Joe,
    Firstly I hope this message reaches one, if not all of you as I would like to say what an absolute pleasure it has been reading your reviews and insightful comments and breakdowns of the episodes for the past few weeks, I live in the uk and first picked up Chuck on TV whilst channel hopping, sometime around 2009 (I think) and the episode was suburbs (I also think), not sure how later it aired after the US and I was hooked.

    I watched each episode on a weekly basis till the end of season two, I then bought season one and two box sets and started from the beginning, so it gave me the background of the series, not sure if I also looked it up online, watching season one was a bit difficult because of the angst as I had got the gist of the romance in season two but I persevered, watched both seasons on dvd and waited patiently for season 3, at this point I had no idea of would lengths the fans where doing to get a renewal, absolutely marvellous and loyal, so when season three started in the US, after each episode I would visit the boards (is that how you say it?) and was horrified of the comments of the episodes they was watching or had watched, of course I couldn’t see it being in England.

    To cut a long story short, I lost touch with Chuck for a couple of years, then bought the box sets of the other three seasons, I will not harp on about this as your blogs / boards have already done this, I blasted through the three seasons, suffered watching the misery arc and ploughed on, I’m not going to go on about it apart from it seemed an insult to the fans considering what they done for the show and TPTB got paid for it.

    So I finished the series and that was it, it’s been a few years now since watching the finale that I can’t remember how I felt, what I mostly remember is what a phenomenal and beautiful actress Yvonne is and what a wonderful woman Sarah turned out to be, (what I also liked about Sarah from the beginning is the various hair styles she had throughout the series, a refreshing change) the chemistry between the two leads and the superb music tracks played in the background.

    To present day, a few weeks ago I stumbled across the season five extras on you tube including the cast saying goodbye to the fans (I don’t tend to watch extras on dvd) so thought I would give the series another go and thats when I found this website, so for the past four or five weeks I have been constantly reading all your reviews, breakdowns and explanations to the episodes as I have a habit of watching something and not giving it mush thought and of course in Chuck there is much more meaning going on as well as the music being played in the background.

    I feel the show was two and a half years wt/wt and two and a half years together, it’s a shame they never got more years together, there was so much more they could have done together and it didn’t need to be repetitive or drawn out, the misery arc was a waste as they could have used those twelve episodes as the start of there relationship and then we would have got three years.

    So I have now finished watching the finale, then I read all your reviews regarding the last two episodes and I can now say a proper goodbye to show, which I don’t think I did originally and I will watch the good episodes as and when but will carry on reading through this website as there is so much still to read.

    So to all of you, again, thank you for sharing your thoughts and I wish you all the very best and let’s hope there is a movie

    Dave, a quick note, I too have CD, from age 10, I’m now 49 so I know what you are going through.

    • joe says:

      Thanks for this, Neil. It’s appreciated. We all have fond memories of voting for Yvonne in as many polls as we could find and especially our “Chucktoberfest” efforts. It seemed like everyone was Tweeting sponsors to say how much we valued their sponsorship of the show and wanted it to continue for yet another season. I’ll always believe that we made a difference.

      I haven’t commented here (much) since our last review ended a couple of years ago. But I must add immediately that I’ve re-watched the entire series TWICE since! I think it was Chris Fedak who mentioned that there were a few “Easter Eggs” left hidden in the episodes – by which he meant subtleties left unnoticed by the fans, I’m sure. So I went looking for them. The surprise is that I’m almost ready to watch yet again. (Hum… that may be a sign of deep Yvonne addiction, or something like that 😉

      What’s even more surprising is the number of things that were either discovered or re-discovered while doing that. The show was so much about their growth – about how Chuck matured, of course, but Sarah and Casey and Morgan and Ellie and Awesome changed too. When I watched that final, almost painful last arc again, this time I understood on how Sarah had that growth taken away, and realized how much she struggled to get it back. For the first time since the show ended, I realized that the final scene on the beach was showing us that she was well on her way (and I’m convinced that if a movie is ever made, we’ll see definitively that she succeeded, too).

      Definitely worth seeing again and again and again…
      [“Hello, my name is Joe and I’m still a Chuck addict.”]

      Oh! Since you’re from the UK, Neil, I want to thank you for Downton Abbey!

      • Neil Sandford says:

        Thanks Joe for replying

        I’ve never seen Downton Abbey, sorry, I’m more a BBC crime drama viewer although I do watch a lot of US tv shows of various genres.

        It would be certainly interesting what the Easter eggs / subtleties are, I didn’t mind the last few episodes, of course tragic and for me it affected Sarah again like Cliffhanger but as I’ve read on different blog’s, the shows about Chuck, maybe they should have called it Chuck & Sarah, actually, maybe that sounds a bit lame, like a sitcom.

        Getting back to the last arc, as heartbreaking as it was initially and of course all that character development (which there was a lot over five years) they just took it all away, I did however find Sarah willing in the end and of course she didn’t just up and go, she stayed in the area “Burbanks always felt like home” even though she doesn’t remember saying that,

        What I will praise about Chuck is the background music choice, my favourite scene in the last episode is where Sarah’s looking around in castle and Morgan says hello, Stunning scene and composed music, I watch that so much, much more than the ending and if I had to pick another, it would have to be when Sarah leaves the restaurant in Final exam, such a powerful scene with such great lyrics.

        I liked most of season one, loved season 2 and then for me with season three problems and the two main leads not having enough screen time together, apart from the back episodes, we were on to season four and before you knew it, it was all over, with that onscreen chemistry it had so much more potential for future seasons, some shows go on for years and you think to yourself, why?

        Watching Chuck multiple times may be because of a Yvonne addiction, I’ve seen her in a few films plus the handmaids tale as well as Dexter and 24 but there is something magnetic about Sarah Walker and the way Yvonne plays her plus emotion wise, I find there are very few female leads that can match her, very few, in my opinion, we as viewers were blessed that she got the role.

      • Joe

        You are not alone in your Yvonne addiction! Her gift for acting is incredible! I have seen all her major roles regardless of the medium since Chuck ended. Her current project the handmaid’s tale really shows how much depth she has as an actress. I know Kate Moss is the lead but I still wish Yvonne got more individual recognition.


        interesting that season 1 was difficult for you. As a big fan myself I really don’t mind the preseason 3 wt/wt, it was well executed from a writing perspective and season 2 is among the most compelling TV seasons I have ever watched. I have rewatched the series 20+ times from start to finish (i’m from the states) over 6 years so even though I am not a founder of this site I know the show very well. CHUCK I have always maintained is a fantastic show that suffered from poor execution that shortened its lifespan at the worst possible moments. We have almost identical views on Season 3. Time has convinced me that the writers tried to show Chuck’s choice to become a spy entirely through Sarah’s perspective, a valid idea that was executed so bad it makes me cringe. The finale, on the other hand, was better; I think if they had gotten a back 9 order of episodes that focused on Sarah dealing with her memory loss, that would have been compelling!


        Have you considered a best-written episodes post?

        Here is my top 10 in no order; not focusing on my favorites but great writing is a byproduct of many that end up here






        Dream Job


        Phase Three

        First Fight

        Push Mix

      • atcDave says:

        Josh that could certainly be an interesting theme! I may keep it in mind. For now, I’m tentatively thinking of a new “episode of the month” sort of thing to start next month.

    • authorguy says:

      Hopefully you’ve also discovered the Chuck fanfiction archives as well, quite a lot to plow through there. Many stories written while the series was ongoing, and it would be interesting to know how many of those were just dropped at the start of season three. Quite a few just end unfinished. Many are written to fix season three in a variety of ways, others to deal with the finale. A great many are simply terrific original stories set in universe. is the place to go.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow Neil, it always awesome to hear from another fan, especially one new to the site!
      No other show has ever captured my long term interest the way Chuck did. I’m pretty sure it started with relating to Chuck himself, and being mesmerized by Sarah. Such a powerful combination, and they just sold it. Obviously there was so much that worked, and one horrible arc where nothing went right (!); and that all leads to a never ending need to reimagine the characters and circumstances….
      So I guess I would second Marc’s comment above too, check out some fan fiction if you have any interest in reading fiction. You can follow the links at right under the fan fiction header, or for getting started maybe go to the “category search” header at right and seek out the “alternatives” search for themed suggestions.

      Also remember you can comment on most old posts and reviews (a few have been locked due to excessive spam, but most are still open).

      Thanks for your kind words Neil. We love happy Chuck fans, and even grumpy ones. So thank you so much for your comments.
      And I’ve been in remission for several years, so thankfully that’s been a small issue. I was diagnosed later than you, but I’m older too so I’ve lived with it almost as long! I hope all stays well with you too.

  28. Neil Sandford says:


    Wow 20+ times, maybe difficult was the wrong word, i guess it must have been the fact that Sarah and Bryce were so well suited for each other and it shouldn’t have bothered me as i already knew the outcome from season two, (although the kissing scene in Chuck’s room i found quite insulting on Sarah’s part) i’m not a big angst fan although i am a big The O.C. fan and JS being the creator, then that’s a given, i also find it odd that when Sarah has a LI it bothers me but Chuck dating Lou or Jill didn’t but the Hannah story line meant nothing to me (probably because it was during the misery arc) i certainly did not like Chuck one bit when he gloated in front of Sarah after spending the night with Hannah.

    For a long time i did look at the two main characters in a different light after 3×12 but these blogs helped me tremendously to move on, but i so wished some things were discussed and not just swept under the rug. it could have been five great seasons instead of four and a half considering it was always on borrowed time, my thinking has always been make the most of what you’ve got, don’t mess with a winning formula.

    I really liked 3×01 & 3×02 and tic tac but the only scenes i will watch again in s3.0 is the stake date (those interruptions) and the train station scene, extremely powerful when she gets up, walks away and looks back at him.

    As I’ve said before, the music choices really makes it that bit more special for me than other shows.

  29. Neil Sandford says:

    Marc & Dave

    I have started reading quite a bit of the fan fiction, one of them i really got into but unfortunately they’d included the F word, so it put me off, but there are some good ones out there and i do like the fluff probably that’s why i like vs. the Honeymooners so much, lots of kissing and this should have been the first episode of season three.

    Currently reading: Chuck vs Truffaut Industries

    • authorguy says:

      Certainly it seems like there’s been a Renaissance in Chuck fanfiction lately. David Carner is very prolific, Grayroc and WvonB have new works that are very popular, and Zettel drew me back into the game with his wonderful story Cables to Aces.
      I specialize in fixing broken stories, myself. I have a pair of stories that repair the flaws of the finale, one that makes sense of the whole termination order debacle from S2, and a revision of the entire series post season 2 that was modeled on the later seasons but avoided the mistakes they made (often drawing on analyses and comments made on this very board). As I was writing that I got a new idea about how S3 and S5 were supposed to go together, and Zettel inspired me to actually start writing it, so now I’m revising season 3 directly, again fixing the mistakes of canon.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah David Carner is both prolific and very entertaining.
      Zettel has done some dynamite work, Cables to Aces may be the best of the recently finished works; but anything by Zettel is a very good bet.
      I would also agree about wvonb, wonderful writer.
      Marc’s own “Rough Draft” is another well done S3 alternative.
      So many choices these days!

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