Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Alma Mater (1.07)

NBC Synopsis:  BACK TO SCHOOL—Chuck (Zachary Levi) has to return to Stanford University, the institute that expelled him, on homecoming weekend to help a former professor. Chuck finds out that his former professor is also a government operative who is being hunted out for a sensitive top-secret file. Chuck must use his past experiences to find his Professor’s hidden secret, while at the same time discovering shocking secrets about his own life. More importantly, Chuck discovers the truth about his former friend, Bryce Larkin, the one who got him kicked out of Stanford. Meanwhile, Morgan (Joshua Gomez) has problems with the new assistant manager at Buy More.

Chuck This Ranking:  39
Dave’s Ranking: I agree exactly

Full Write Ups: Chuck vs The Alma Mater (1.07) by Dave and Joe


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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83 Responses to Episode of the Week: Chuck vs The Alma Mater (1.07)

  1. authorguy says:

    Still love this episode. At the risk of committing BSP, I want to mention that I did come up with a pretty good explanation of Bryce’s behavior that accounts for nearly everything he did, in chapter 2 of Picking Up The Pieces.. I don’t think I even had to retcon anything to do it. We had the original discussion back in September 2012 and I wrote that chapter in February 2013, probably because of the challenge I took away from this blog to make something coherent out of Bryce’s backstory.

  2. resaw says:

    BSP? It took a while, but I gather you mean “blatant self promotion.” In any case, it is warranted. I just reread the salient portions of the chapter you mention and I think it does provide a coherent backstory for Bryce.

    I re-read the full write-up, linked above, and found I had a lot to say at that time. I don’t think I have much to add to it, but I do like this episode a lot. I don’t have a sufficiently comprehensive view to rank this particular show in comparison to all the others from all five seasons, but I certainly think it is in the top half, perhaps top 3 of the first season. We learn more about Chuck and his relationship with Bryce, we get to see the generous Chuck implicitly forgive Bryce because what had been done to him had been done in order to “save” him. And we get to see the incomparable Yvonne Strahovski do another one of those evocative wordless scenes. I liked the whole episode, but those last few minutes when Chuck and Sarah watch the video of Fleming and Bryce are among my favourite scenes in the entire series.

    • atcDave says:

      I think there’s so much that’s just terrific here, as I said back in the prior write up, that is so typical of this show it makes extraordinary average. I still rank this upper middle, yet I enjoyed every thing about it.

    • Wilf says:

      I really like those last few minutes too, resaw. The expression on Sarah’s face as she exits Chuck’s room with the disc is so great – sadness, regret, pain, empathy, all rolled into one.

  3. I never minded Bryce…yes he created a triangle but he never stopped helping Chuck and always did what was necessary, everything his did or said was justified and in the end he’s the other half of why Chuck downloads 2.0 and puts his feelings on hold…a good guy that tried to keep his friend away from a life that causes a lot of grief but helps him realize why he picked him in the first place…his speech in Ring in Castle and in alma mater are my favorites!

    • aalleess says:

      I never minded Bryce as well. He was the only LI that I had no problem with.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually really like Bryce, or at least how decisively he lost every time!

      • duckman says:

        I tolerated Bryce more than anything. I.m not big on drama in the first place, and the writers were pretty inconsistent with it, but at least Bryce had a credible reason to be there. Like most characters on the show, Bryce had far more story in him than we ever saw. I never liked the way they lurched the story forward between seasons, we missed out on so much potential greatness!

  4. All Bryce episodes place in my top ten Chuck episodes. He brought out the best and worst in Chuck and Sarah which makes for damn fine drama.

    • thinkling says:

      That he did!

    • The key is that this drama was 100% realistic, unlike Shaw which was an excuse for drama made even worse by BR’s terrible acting, especially his non verbal moments…

      • There’s that – though BR gets consistently unfairly bashed, an actor can only do so much with half baked material to begin – where Bryce works so well, is that he has personal history with Chuck and Sarah. History that was so wonderfully set up.

      • atcDave says:

        I think that history is what makes Jill a little more palatable too. But no doubt, Bryce is the best of the “rivals”.

    • joe says:

      You guys got me wondering. What if we had seen one 10 second scene of Bryce with another woman (not necessarily a spy, but someone obviously non-trivial) about this time? I’m thinking of something that hints his relationship with Sarah is only slightly less than what I understood. (And yes, I know that makes him seem more like Neil Caffrey!).

      That would have made me think of a few scenes different, especially the angry dance between Sarah and Bryce in The Break Up. Even more so, I would understand Sarah turning to Shaw a bit more in S3.

  5. anthropocene says:

    I’m grateful that they left Professor Fleming’s fate unresolved!

  6. DKD says:

    This is a memorable episode for me because it changed what I thought of the show when I first watched it. The revelation that Chuck had been ID’d as being receptive to Intersect-like pictures long before the events of the pilot really telegraphed to me that the writers had a much more interesting “bible” for the show than it originally appeared to have. There was more to the mythology than was initially apparent.

    For that reason, the show gained a lot more of my respect from this episode onward. Plus, it’s fun to watch on its own merits. Getting a glimpse of pre-expulsion Chuck is cool. It’s weird to see him play that shooting game with Bryce as just fun, knowing that when actually enters the real spy world, he’s fearful of real guns and clumsy with them.

    • thinkling says:

      Even though it’s not one of my favorites to rewatch, it definitely changed the landscape of the show. It’s probably one of the few episodes that I liked more the first time I watched it, and less on rewatch … exactly because it gave us a genuine surprise and put the story on a whole new plane.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      I remember reading some interviews done before the series even aired in my various browsings. Yvonne was asked about her character and her answer made it pretty obvious that there was a pretty extensive bible involved from the beginning. But another interview with Chris Fedak makes it clear that they were sort of on the fence about how serialized they wanted to make the show and how much of the mythology they’d explore until this episode.

      This isn’t one of my top episodes, but it is around this time I started to really buy into Yvonne’s portrayal of Sarah Walker as a deeper more conflicted and interesting character than I first thought.

      • atcDave says:

        I actually agree almost exactly. Of those first seven episodes, I’d rank this about middle of the pack for entertainment. I know we’ve had some of this talk before, I found Sarah more intriguing fom the very start for her duality of tough and sensitive, right from the start one of the more appealing heroic characters on television. But this episode said a lot about how deep they might take that. And I know our opinions start to diverge almost immediately after this, as I think the show often went too far in to soap opera territory. But the backstory for Bryce, the Intersect and Sarah were all huge parts of what made the show compelling and special.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I liked Chuck and Sarah and Casey all well enough to be invested from the start, but what initially hooked me in to the show was the general freewheeling fun feel of the way it was made. Things like “Bryce Larkin” “not an accountant” or the tango montage. From there I started to see something more to Sarah than the standard NFG, but to me it was obvious that both she and the writers were still figuring the character out to some extent. Both Chuck and Casey were more well established characters up front.

        The Sarah character really started to click with me in this episode, and by the end of Truth I think they had the character nailed with the perfect balance of the tough professional exterior and the hidden (and occasionally not so hidden) vulnerability.

        I will agree though that what Yvonne did to make so compelling a character whose story and role was often fitted in to Chuck’s rather than treated as a stand-alone is remarkable.

      • atcDave says:

        Well I think we’re exactly on the same page for likening the fun and adventure part of the show immediately. I think I had laughed more before the very first commercial break than I had in several years of television before.
        But I would definitely change around those first impressions of characters; I would have called Casey the cardboard cutout. I didn’t see much more from him until maybe Undercover Lover. But Chuck and Sarah drew me in from the very start.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I think most of my initial issues about Sarah versus Casey as characters was about their role. While Casey was obviously there more as a comic relief caricature Sarah’s role was more the dramatic anchor in the spy world. She was the straight man far more often in earlier episodes.

  7. oldresorter says:

    I read this review of the flash last night. It contained a description of a Wt/wt type relationship, which I feel applies to all TV I watch, with a few words changed around to fit the partiucular show context. In Chuck, I felt this way right away with Sarah Bryce, and this was quite obviously true for me with Sarah Shaw in s3. Read away:

    “In addition to being a hero and tying to prove his father’s innocent, Barry’s a dude who’s in love with a girl who happens to already be in a relationship. This wouldn’t be a CW show if the two simply got together and were happy with one another, would it? Having Barry deal with his feelings for Iris is amusing enough, but sometimes the focus on Iris’ relationship with Eddie Thawn (Rick Cosnett) feels a little forced. It was toned down in the latest episode, but before that one, it felt like they had one too many scenes to sell the obvious point that it sucks to be Barry in this situation and all is well between Iris and Eddie. With so much going on in the city, this dynamic feels like the show’s weakest point.”


    • atcDave says:

      It won’t be the first time I’ve mentioned, the way wt/wt is usually written is just broken. And it will always grieve me that Chuck botched it as badly as any show. But I take some satisfaction that Chuck fixed it and actually moved forward. That was uncommon good fortune for us.

      • thinkling says:

        Wt/wt is a teeth grinding issue with me. Chuck’s was bad, but not as bad as some. It’s gotten to where I just try not to invest in the relationship aspect of a show — the part that could be — and should be — one of the best parts of a story. Speaking of … Castle went so far off the rails. What were they thinking. I’ve only watched 2 episodes from this season, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to fix anything anytime soon. It truly seems like a complete inability to write a married couple show. Hate what they’ve done with it.

      • atcDave says:

        Funny, I think next week is the wedding on Castle. At least that’s what the write up suggests.

        Thinkling you know I agree with virtually every part of that, and I dislike the big “keeping secrets from himself” part of the Castle story. But they have shown healing, they are moving forward. I’ll give the new show runner at least a little time. I have a lot of concerns about how this big secret story line may play out, but for now I’m okay with it.
        But of course it does all make the point, television is afraid to show a married couple. I’m beyond tired of that. I also am slow to get invested with any current shows, for precisely that reason. Once again, the masterminds behind television orthodoxy have created a product I am reluctant to buy into.
        But it is so hard to say “never again”. I thought, long before Chuck, that I was too cynical and unimpressed with television to get THAT drawn in. I fear it’s an emotional response, and I can’t really make such promises to myself.

      • thinkling says:

        That makes me feel a little better, Dave. I may forge ahead with Castle. I’m behind on most shows I’m following.

        OT, but we are talking about other shows. What new shows do people like this season? I’m following Scorpion, Forever, Flash, and Madam Secretary … the last one turning out to be my favorite. The main character is appealing on multiple levels and is happily married with three children. I really like that aspect.

      • atcDave says:

        I think Forever is our favorite, although it sounds like it may be a short timer. We’ve also liked Madam Secretary; it’s more of a “serious drama” than I typically prefer, but it’s interesting, and so far the main character and her husband are easy to like and root for.
        I like NCIS:NOLA, but that really is just a lot like NCIS. Even more so than NCIS:LA ever was.
        Scorpion I’m watching but pretty luke warm on.

        I think that’s it for new shows. Castle and Grimm remain my favorites.

      • joe says:

        Heh. Funny, Dave. That’s almost exactly where I’m at these days. I started with NCIS:NOLA because of Bakula, of course. But you’re right about it being like NCIS. I’ll keep with it. Scorpion has been okay. I enjoy it when I see it, but I don’t feel obligated to watch it as it airs or even every week. They’ve done a couple of things right, but I’m not sure casting is one of them.

        Castle and Grimm are in my top three, but Person of Interest is in that list. I’m a SciFi geek from way back, and that show is the best rendition of of a great SciFi novel put to television that I’ve ever seen. The show is complex, so you can’t get half of what’s going on with the first viewing or on a casual watch, but I can’t wait to see it in syndication someday. I’ll buy the DVDs if I have to.

        Recently I’ve really enjoyed the drama of “Good Wife”. Very intelligent show. I haven’t seen Madam Secretary, but the excepts I’ve run across start to allay my original fears that it was Hillary propaganda. I’m wary of politics mixing in with my escapism! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Person of Interest is definitely another of our favorites. I think Elementary, NCIS and Agents of Shield is the rest of the line up.

        I’m really looking forward to Agent Carter.

      • joe says:

        Ohhh – of course. I forgot about Elementary. It had to grow on me, but I like it a lot now.

        And I’ll admit that I’m looking forward to the last season of White Collar (which starts tomorrow). Can’t help thinking of it as Bryce Larkin, the epilogue. 😉

        I’ll be watching Covert Affairs (with Sarah Walker’s kid sister, Annie. And yes, I know Piper Perabo is older that Yvonne) too. That show’s been “uneven” and I even think they took a misstep or two in the plot lines. But overall, it’s been pretty good. I haven’t given up on Annie and Augie yet.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Actually if you aren’t afraid of spoilers there was an interview with the new show-runner laying out a lot of the direction for upcoming episodes.

      • thinkling says:

        I still keep up with Bones, Castle, Person of Interest, Elementary and a few others, too. Madam Secretary is probably the only show I’m current on, though. I’m still catching up on the others.

      • thinkling says:

        I like Forever, too, Dave. I don’t know if it will last. It’s SO MUCH like New Amsterdam, which only went about 10 or so episodes. But I like the casting and the story of Forever better than New Amsterdam. I’m hopeful it will last longer.

      • atcDave says:

        I really like the characters in Forever; the top four, that’s a big help for any show.

      • thinkling says:

        Oh yeah, very appealing characters. I always loved the quirky guy on Bones, too. (Of course he did a guest spot on Chuck too.) I’m also intrigued by Henry’s wardrobe … modern, classy styles with the turn-of-the-century look.

      • DKD says:

        Of the new shows, Forever has caught on with me the most. Even though it’s a repeat of New Amsterdam, I liked that show, too, and I’m glad to have it back, even if in other clothing. The show needs a few more viewers, though. Spread the word.

        I watch Scorpion, The Flash and Gotham, too, but they haven’t grabbed me as much. I’m also watching Gracepoint, even though I already saw Broadchurch. I didn’t like the Madam Secretary pilot or the Constantine pilot.

        Of the returning shows, Elementary is a “watch right away” show. I also watch Walking Dead, The 100 (a totally under-rated scifi show), Sleepy Hollow, Arrow, Scandal, and Blacklist. Some of that list, I don’t watch every episode.

        I don’t watch a lot of episodic procedurals. Castle lost my interest around the time they put the couple together. Count me out for the wedding episode. Weddings bore the hell out of me. I was already glad that Chuck did it “short and sweet”.

        Elementary and Forever have just enough “quirk” to hold my interest, even though they are procedurals.

        Another show that’s growing on me is Syfy’s “Z-Nation”. It’s kind of Walking Dead, if it had a sense of humor.

      • thinkling says:

        I’m less thrilled with Arrow this season, but I’ll probably still watch … when I get around to it. I’m glad Elementary is back on again. My sister-in-law recommended Blacklist, so when I get time, I’ll start that on Netflix.

      • oldresorter says:

        Pretty funny, we all are watching the same stuff more or less. I’ve been a big arrow fan, was not pleased that Routh was coming in as a PLI / LI for Felicity, but so far, he has been really great. Almost like he said I’ll do it, but please, make my character likeable. He is a man version of Felicity essentially. SHIELD is also on my must watch list each week.

        Of the new shows, I like Gotham maybe the most, and seem to like Scorpion more than most of you, for me, I like Scorpion for the same reasons I liked Chuck, it feels more comedy than other stuff I watch. Forever and Madam Secretary are on my back burner list, shows I’ll catch up on at some point. A new show from the summer, I really liked Manhattan (as in a fictional account of the 1940’s Manhattan Project), a show that defiinitely was a bit darker and dramatic.

        Season 8 episode 4 the Murdoch Mysteries wt/wt couple finally got married this week. For some reason, I liked the long, drawn out wt/wt with them. Of all the tv shows I watch, never quite had a wedding like theirs, it worked for me.

      • DKD says:

        Most of you know that Matt Miller and Chris Fedak have written for Forever. Matt created it. But, there is a Chuck writing alumnus at Scorpion as well. Nicholas Wootten.

      • thinkling says:

        OR, I’m glad to hear that Murdoch and Julia finally make it down the aisle. After the almost-engagement (and reading what was coming) I quit watching, but thanks to you I started back up, skipping the season where she is busy getting engaged to someone else. I do still enjoy watching, but the wt/wt really made me less invested in their relationship. That said, I really have enjoyed it again. I’m in s7, so now that I know that there is a wedding just over the horizon, I’ll watch more enthusiastically.

        You’re right that BR isn’t bad at all on Arrow. I like the idea of Oliver and Felicity, but somehow I’m (both willfully and organically) not invested in Oliver’s love life. So I’m OK with that part of the season. It does help to see BR from a neutral perspective.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        I’m sticking with Castle, Big Bang Theory, Brooklyn 99, Agents of SHIELD, trying to stick with New Girl and I’ve kind of drifted away from Sleepy Hollow, but for new TV shows I’m in a slight TV funk. I like Gotham, and it got very interesting last episode, but outside that nothing has really appealed to me. I tried a few episodes of Flash, but I’m just not feeling that. Scorpion and Forever didn’t really grab me, but I may try and revisit them. I liked Outlander, but it’s gone till next spring. Got very in to “You’re the Worst”, but again, gone till next year. I need to find some new shows.

      • DKD says:

        Forever just got a “back 9” order for a full season, BTW. It gets at least 22 episodes.

      • atcDave says:

        Well that’s good news for now anyway!

      • thinkling says:

        Good to know. It avoided New Amsterdam’s fate, so maybe it will last a while.

  8. noblz says:


    Forever also has Phil Klemmer and Zev Borow, both Chuck alumni as well.

  9. I’m watching both Scorpion and the flash…it continues to boggle my mind that there are a healthy amount of scorpion haters (though not on this site) especially critics; the acting is great and the characters are likable with well flushed out backgrounds.

    The WB/CW seems to have a knack for DC shows and that has continued with the flash,,,I’ve never watched Arrow but that’s because I was a huge Smallville fan and very fond of Justin Hearty’s portrayal of Oliver Queen/Green Arrow…In fact I think the cast of Smallvile and the show itself remains one of the best ever so anyone who was a regular on it I refuse to watch in other tv roles.

    I watch Castle in syndication and wish it was on Netflix and have stuck with supernatural for 10 years and counting…lastly I am a late (through syndication) but life long big bang theory fan!

    • thinkling says:

      Flash introduced itself through Arrow and uses the Arrow intro as a template. I sort of wish it hadn’t borrowed so heavily from Arrow, but I keep up with both.

  10. oldresorter says:

    I judge most every show I watch vs Chuck (and Castle, which I was a fan of b4 Chuck). So one of the elements I want are some sort of mystery, politics, spy, cop, something like that and the other element I want is some sort of male / female interaction and supreme chemistry as the lead stars, or star and co-star.

    One of my most telling issues is how they handle the romance or lack of it between the lead two couples. I’m sure I’m missing a bunch of shows, but both Scorpion and Forever seem the closest to the Chuck romance formula. Gotham does not have any wt/wt, nor does madam secretary.

    Many shows seem to have worked hard to distance themselves from the shipper mentality. IMO Arrow is trying this season to get some space. I’m not even a Team Felicity person, I love the Laurel character in Arrow. I feel the actress has really gotten a bad beat, because her role is so darned tough. But still, I wonder, how would we all be reacting if the same script were in place, and Jennifer Lawrence was Laurel? I assume two things would happen, one season one Laurel would have been more impactful with the given scripts, then two, scripts would have adjusted to give the character better lines, better stories, etc. But right now, Felicity is much like Sarah, she’s taken over the show from the writers, as has Olicty. so I find Arrow the most interesting story this season vs Chuck, as in will the writers try to take the show back by knocking Felicity down a few pegs, or will they embrace it. I’m not sure which they are doing – yet.

    Scorpion has introduced the ex husband (or r they still married after what 9 years apart?) to dial back the wt/wt heat. I wonder how Forever will deal with it, I expect something to stir up the pot there soon.

    Best Morgan – Chuck like relationship on current tv for me is The Listener. In many ways, better than Morgan and Chuck. The show has great male female cop partner chemistry too, but the pair are more like younger brother and older sister, and she is happily married. Yet I wonder, with each season, her husband is just creepy enough to get killed, and if he did … ?

  11. Martin Traynor says:

    I watch Scorpion, Castle, Flash, Agents of Shield, Forever, Arrow, and the Big Bang Theory currently. My favorite was Castle, but I agree, they don’t seem to know how to write Castle and Beckett together well, and miss out on a whole lot of potential stories between Kate and Martha and/or Alexis. So now my fav. Is probably Forever. I really like the female lead character, as she shows Sarah-like faith in the male lead’s abilities. That rings of a Chuck.

    Other favorites are Psych and Continuum. Talk about an addictive show. I dare you to try and watch just one episode in a sitting.

    • atcDave says:

      Psych was a good one, I miss it.
      SG-1 is another favorite I miss a lot.

      • I have 2 major rules with brand new shows

        1. The previews have to look interesting for me to watch the pilot
        2. The set up of the pilot and the shows characters have to grab me enough to keep coming back

        I’m also bias toward certain pilots bc of like or dislike of the cast…these criteria REALLY help me avoid spreading myself too thin so to speak .

        Streaming is the “wild card” for me…its where i’ve watched Chuck, Breaking Bad, How I met Your Mother, Burn Notice, and many 90’s shows i was unable to watch during their on-air runs (too young) which is always fun for me

      • oldresorter says:

        Two new shows from the past couple of years that I thought made the leading characters disgusting and both got the axe quick, Last Resort and Undercovers. I think you can have a fair amount of angst and suceed, but there is a fine line in how it gets written and what is too much. I think the Castle people were appalled at how their end of season story was received, I can’t say how often I read someone say ‘soft’ hints things about the couple’s future being bright, or one I loved was Rick’s secret arc was not nearly as dark a tale as Beckett’s mom’s. They realeased the wedding coming out this summer, and have given us all kinds of promo stuff, much like Chuck’s people did once they realized how lousy season 3 was going. Fortunately for Castle, unfortunately for Chuck, Castle had lots of time to digest and recover from end of season to start of next. This season has been written as lite and happy as any time in the show, and it sounds like the wedding and honeymoon are going to largely be goof off episodes. Chuck’s writing staff had to figure things out on the fly, I don’t think they believed fans until the Mask ep, and even then, I think they threw in two happy eps before getting back to the more gruesome end of season 3, mostly because that was the plan in the works, and its really hard to change once you start. Season 4 then was the reaction season, a season largely full of happy, fluffy stuff, which is what I expect from Castle most of this season.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree exactly on that difference. The worst of it for Chuck was character assassination, and the whole arc was in the can before it even ran. It needed to be in a different can…
        I was very pleased when the Castle show runner was dismissed. It sent a clear message to fans, and to the new show runner.

  12. Martin Traynor says:

    Another good show that I can’t seem to really get into, even though I love the characters, is Leverage. It really had a great team dynamic that I like, but I just can’t seem to really get into it. Good show, though.

    For me, it’s about the relationships first, characters second. I don’t think that makes sense, because why/how would you get invested in a relationship without first investing in the characters? But the relationships matter most to me. We used to watch Numb3rs. Great show, lovable characters, but the relationships, esp. between the brothers and father, are what really made the show something to come back to.

    Like Chuck, the cases were tertiary (impressed?), but it was those relationships, then the characters. As much as I love (present tense) Chuck, Sarah and Casey as individuals, it is NOTHING compared to how much I love Team Bartowski and the various relationships therein.

    And boy do I miss them. Rewatches are great. I find myself watching sections of episodes more than entire episodes. Like If I want to indulge in C/S, I’ll watch scenes from Other Guy, Suitcase, Phase 3, etc.

    And your reposts and rewatch articles really bring me back to “episodes with greatness” that I had forgotten about, like vs. the Tom Sawyer. I love how Sarah says she trusts Chuck when pressed by Casey, and the pure elation she displays when Chuck saves the day. How could anyone NOT love her/them?!?!

    • For 9 months i was addicted to Chuck; how addicted? we’re talking 10+ FULL re watches spaced only a week or two apart (of course that was before Dave opened my eyes to the awfulness of the misery arc) but i took it to a scary level.

      I’ve pulled WAY back of late but can easily say that I memorized everything about Chuck: characters, body language, plots, music, symbolism…not trying to brag but I was about as addicted as you could possibly be and am blessed with really good memory but i know i will NEVER let myself become that addicted to a show again.

    • atcDave says:

      Martin I completely agree that its the characters and their relationships that determine if I’m going to like a show. I absolutely have to have at least one character I can respect, like and root for. No part of the story or set up matters as much to me a liking a main character or two. And I don’t do anti-heroes.
      The relationships come next. I like romance a lot, but I also like buddy/friendship and family interactions. Some relationships can be strained or difficult; but something needs to be satisfying and edifying too.
      I would agree with putting the stories third. This may be why I don’t care for heavily serialized shows. Or at least, not so story driven it dominates all else. I prefer stories that serve the characters, not the other way around.

      I am pleased that our posts have been satisfying to you. We put a lot of love, effort and passion in to what we’ve done here; and it means a lot when other Chuck fans get something from it. Whether you agree or want to argue (!), its awesome when you get involved.

      BTW, just saw another preview for Castle, they are definitely promoting wedding and honeymoon for the next couple weeks. I am pleased.

  13. Martin Traynor says:

    Thanks, Dave. Yeah, I hope they actually go through with the weeding and honeymoon. I’m not saying I think they would promote it and then not go through with it, but it IS Castle, and they’ve been know to tease. All I’m saying is, if they don’t get married this week, I’m through with it (I don’t like being toyed with and manipulated as a viewer).

    I have high hopes for Forever, but notice that Fedak Exec. Producers, which actually gives me some pause, esp. where relationships are concerned. I like that both leads come with baggage, and I really, really like the female lead, both because she’s the wounded duck (lost her husband) and seems incredibly smart for a character – she almost blindly trusts Henry, which you wouldn’t expect from procedural/drama, doesn’t really take stupid chances, and needs a friend, Kind sound like anyone we know…?

    And I thought I had a Chuck problem. I think about all day, every day, obsess over the characters, etc. But you have me beat. And hey, if you have to be addicteded to something, Chuck is the best problem, no? I tend to re-watch those eps. I like best, like most people. But at some point I’m going to need to get my fix another way – the dreaded misery arc and other non-favorite eps., like Beefcake. And I actually will still watch those, but to a much lesser degree.

    • Martin

      I guess you’re right:) The are a few eps in the misery that i really like (three words, operation awesome, beard and fake name come to mind) [i know i’ll catch heat for that last one but i find Chuck as Raeth so funny that i’m able to overlook everything else in that eps]

      Since i’ve been writing my own fan fic i do find myself re watching specific scenes for inspiration which helps me write this super-sized epilogue!

    • atcDave says:

      I think they know they’ve already pushed it too far on Castle, I strongly suspect it will happen this time.
      I agree exactly about CF and Forever. The association makes me nervous. But for now I’m enjoying it. We’ll see.

      Martin, So many of us have watched the show many, many times. I know I’ve seen some episodes well over 30 times. Even if I still love them, 30 is getting sort of old.
      So I highly recommend a little fan fiction too. It is the only source of new material at the current time, and we are blessed with a very talented fan fiction community for this fandom.
      You can always search our fan fiction category here (search feature at right) are just follow the link to fanfiction.net or my favorite list. Not too long ago I wrote “Getting Started on Fan Fiction” which I know led many fans to some awesome stories. Josh is among them! Check some of them out, you won’t regret it.

      • duckman says:

        Forever and Scorpian are the only shows I currently watch on purpose. Tried Gotham, but 18 min. into ep2 I just stopped it and deleted all the eps, just way to dark for me. I guess that makes me a “lousy shipper”. Something I noticed about both forever and scorpian initially was they seemed to be shying away from putting the leads together, refreshing and just as well if they can’t write an adult couple intelligently. Scorpian looks like they’re moving forward with it though. I’m concerned about the creepy stalker guy making a pest of himself on forever. He annoys the hell out of me and I can see him hanging around till the end of time like red john on the mentalist.
        Chuck really did change the way I look at tv. Not only have I seen how fantastic a show can be, I find I have much less tolerance for pointless angst, cheap drama, and general unpleasantness than before. No wonder I only watch 2 shows.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with all of that Duckman. Although I’m okay with the slower pacing on certain shows; like with Forever, we have two mature adults who are both damaged and know considerable pain. It is completely fine with me if we see a fairly lengthy healing period, maybe focused on friendship for a couple seasons (whether we get more than a couple seasons of it is another matter entirely!).
        I’m also less interested in the immortal stalker bit. It strikes me as one of those main arc things that will come up every season finale time of year; and it will never interest me very much. I’m much more interested in the characters and their relationships; including the aging issue of Henry’s son Abe growing old and dying while Henry remains forever on the brink of middle age. Or if Henry will ever dare love a mortal again. Or what Jo will think if she ever finds out how much older Henry truly is…
        Of course I suppose its not all that different from Arwen marrying Aragorn and having a son with him. (if you’re a gamer at all it may leave you thinking about what a tragic story there must be for every half-elf in the world!).

        I also dumped Gotham for exactly the same reason. It got good reviews, and I often like the comic/super-hero genre. But that is WAY too dark for my taste. No thanks. (I only liked the first of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, and its obvious they’re taking their inspiration here from the later chapters of that).

      • thinkling says:

        Ha. Immortal-Stalker-Guy on Forever / Red John comparison … very apt. I can see getting tired of the Forever character in the same way as I did Red John.

        As for couples, I find myself really holding back from investing in potentially romantic relationships. Although, occasionally you do find an intelligently written couple. That’s one of the reasons I like Madam Secretary. The lead is happily married with a family. There is drama in their lives, as one might expect, but it’s appropriate — not from wt/wt adolescent angst trope — and they handle it together. I don’t see the writers yanking them apart. That’s just not the story. Another well done couple was on The Closer. They started dating, got together, got married. They had some drama and some moments, but it really wasn’t the wt/wt model. Of course, in these scenarios, getting the couple together is not THE story. It’s complementary to the main story. Writers seem to have more trouble transitioning from single to dating to married when the couple IS the story. If they would do it faster, with less wt/wt teenage drama, the transition would be easier, more natural.

      • thinkling says:

        Yeah, if they postpone the wedding again, they won’t even be able go get a job painting sets.

      • oldresorter says:

        I don’t have this from spoilers, but its so obvious to me, Jo’s dead husband probably isn’t, that’ll be the distance creating device. Or maybe Henry’s dead from old age / wife isn’t either old or dead or both, which would be even worse.

      • thinkling says:

        Ditto all that about Forever, Dave. We’re on the same page.

        OR, I think her husband is dead, but I don’t think Henry’s wife is necessarily dead. Some conversation that Henry and Abe had implied that she was gone because she had left, not because she had died.

        I’m really fine if they take their time, as long as they don’t ramp up the chemistry prematurely.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve also wondered that about Henry’s wife. Although she would have to be seriously old by this point, almost an “Agent Carter” sort of story there. But I could imagine her leaving because she couldn’t bear being Henry’s “old lady” in an odd sense of the term. That would be devastating, although in a possibly fascinating sort of way.

        I do still root for a nice romance in most cases, certainly on Forever I do. By my expectations for it are very low. I don’t actually expect television to deliver the story I want to see. Maybe at some point, I’ll have to start exploring “Forever” fan fiction!

        Thinkling I sure hope you’re right about Madam Secretary. I like it, and I like how the married leads are treated. But I don’t trust television. And I expect, if the show runs long enough, they’ll eventually add an affair or divorce. I sure hope I’m wrong.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, saying that you root for a nice romance but have low expectations is exactly the way to say it. I root for a well done romance anywhere that seems appropriate (like Forever), but I don’t get my hopes up. If I hang all of my enjoyment of a show on the romance, then I fall harder when it gets messed up. I can’t take any more S3’s, so I keep my expectations low, and if a romance works out I’m pleasantly surprised (shocked).

        Re: MS, I hope they don’t go there. They had a scare about it in one episode, and it was so soundly squashed that I hope that’s their way of saying that it ain’t gonna happen. (And not their way of sowing seeds for future drama!) But so far I’m pleased.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I agree with all of that Thinkling. I did really like the affair “scare” we saw on MS. I would be very happy if that’s as close as they ever get.

  14. Wilf says:

    Probably slightly (!) the wrong place for this, but the other day I saw the film “Mr Turner”. What’s this got to do with Chuck?, I hear you all ask. Well, Timothy Spall, in the title role, grunts and grunts his way through the script, depicting Turner’s apparent exceedingly gruff manner. So I thought that they had really missed out there on the casting and should have used Adam Baldwin with his previous excellent experience of grunt-glish 😉

  15. Martin Traynor says:

    I know that this has been talked about before, but I really do think we were “lucky” that Chuck was always in a state of flux, because I (also) think that is what helped move the relationship between Chuck and Sarah a little faster than it would have. I’ sure TPTB would have dragged the wt/wt out for much longer had they known they were in it for the long haul.

    That said, it seems like a trend (new?) that shows seem to move stuff along really very quickly in the first season, then retro it, or dissolve it, or backtrack, or re-set (see the new Beauty and the Beast, which I liked for the first season, but couldn’t stomach the second because they tore the leads apart after giving them such a wonderful journey to togetherness in the first season). Maybe that’s a reason I don’t care much for the Chuck finale – it was one giant re-do/reset/gotcha!

    • atcDave says:

      The wt/wt game has been in use for my entire life. But you may be right about bigger/longer swings being a part of the formula now. I guess that’s consistent with the more serialized style of story telling.
      I have no doubt the constant threat of cancellation forced Chuck into a different rhythm. CF has even made comments to the effect that wt/wt would have dragged out longer had they known they would have had five seasons. Now I’m sorry, but seriously, how stupid are these people? Chuck’s ratings dropped later, in part, because they alienated those viewers who fought so hard to save the show after S2. I think several studios, and film schools, need some outside blood to get in there and shake things hard.
      Early on, part of what I loved about Chuck was how fresh and innovative it felt. It was heartbreaking for me to be bitterly disillusioned by S3; and see comments from the TPTB, and even watch the finale they delivered, and realize these people are trapped by convention and aren’t half as creative or innovative as we want to give them credit for.

  16. Duckman

    you and me both! Although i have to confess that 3 other shows opened my eyes as to what quality TV is before Chuck

    The office



    All of these shows have long runs in common with a superb cast that made you root for the relationships and that is what so much TV is lacking nowadays. i put Chuck above even these but am sad it did not last as long as these 3:(

  17. Martin Traynor says:

    One of the things I liked about Smallville was the Lois and Clark relationship. They showed that a couple together CAN BE FUN! I just watched the first 30 minutes of the Hart to Hart series premiere (you know, that show from way back when), and there was a couple in a loving, committed relationship that WAS FUN. They were flirtatious, edgy, silly and in love, and it showed. I only stopped watching because it was so early in the morning.

    Please, writers and producers, learn from some of the quality programming out there. Get your couples together and let them be fun TOGETHER. It is possible. It does work. People will watch.

    I agree completely, with one caveat. They are much, much more creative than I. But yes, I think we may have placed them on too high a pedestal…

    I simply do not understand how they thought the Chuck finale could be satisfying to anyone. I think if you asked ANYONE what they wanted for an ending, NO ONE would say “Have Sarah lose ALL her memories (OK, except for how to stack cups in a fake job she hated, etc.) and make Chuck have to win her love all over again. Pretty please!”

    NO ONE would have asked for that. I understand people talking themselves into liking it or at least accepting it (really, what other choice is there), but no one WANTED wheat they gave us.

    And if they did, well, I have no retort for that, except to say, Whaaaaaat?!?

    • atcDave says:

      Hart to Hart was a fun show, I would love see something new like that. I would love have seen four or five seasons of “Chuck and Sarah” that looked a lot like that.

      I’m actually confident enough in my imagination to have done better. Although I don’t believe I have the skills to write dialogue. But I’ve seen enough fan fiction writers who have done vastly better than the pros.

      I do try to be a little careful with the ending. I know a number of viewers liked it quite a lot. Even among the casual “real world” viewers I know, and not a single one of them liked S3; but several of them liked the finale.
      So although I agree with saying I don’t think anyone outside the production bubble would have ever chosen an ending like that; I am aware a significant number of viewers liked what they saw quite a lot.

    • thinkling says:

      Hart to Hart was good, as were the Thin Man movies for great married couples. Then there was Undercover Blues about a married spy couple … hilarious.

    • Martin

      YES! the TPTB for Smallvile got it right bc they appreciated the chemistry that Tom Welling had with Erica Durance and they also never butchered Clark as a character…they even used the memory loss tactic perfect not once, not twice but three times!

      Dave i know your not much for action/superhero shows but I have faith that Smalllville would restore your faith in TV writers/creators:)

      I accept CHUCK’s finale but it certainly wanted more of a happy ending…

      • atcDave says:

        I watched Smallville in real time when it first ran. Clark and Lois had good chemistry. But I intensely disliked the Lana story, she needed to be done after S2, period. And bringing her back in the second to last season was as epic a disaster as I’ve ever seen on television. I actually consider Smallville to be the poster child for wt/wt run amok. It was much more hot/cold than Chuck ever was. Some of the good episodes were terrific; especially mythology heavy episodes. But some of the bad were cringe worthy, and I think the over all average is not high.

        And of course, I blame Smallville for bringing Hannah to Chuck (stunt casting).

  18. Martin Traynor says:

    Think, I remember Undercover Blues, vaguely, but will be sure to check it out again. I also liked “I Love Trouble” with Nick Nolte and Julie Roberts, I think form around the same time (90s). A lot of fun, wisecracking hijinks there, too.

    Dave, You make a good point about the finale and the fans out there. It’s easy to forget that the world is made of up of all kinds of people with all kinds of taste. That’s what makes life so interesting. I’m better now. Thanks for the gut check – I needed it.

    Some of my favorite Chuck/Sarah scenes were the juxtaposition of spy life with “real life,” like when they’re physically fighting bad guys and arguing, or apologizing, to each other. Lots of playful fun there.

    Josh, Yeah, Tom and Erica had some great chemistry. They might be my favorite Clark/Lois pairing ever…although Dean Cain and Teri Hatcher were pretty good, too.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah I loved the mixing of normal and spy life on Chuck, I think that was something the show did extraordinarily well.
      The blend of humor and drama was also extremely well done; nearly ideal, except for the one season, for my taste.

    • thinkling says:

      Yeah, I Love Trouble was good. I didn’t include it because it was more the romcom format, where the couple gets together at the end. But still a fun movie.

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