Open Comment Thread

Hi. My name is Joe and I’m a Chuck addict.

“Hi, Joe.”

It’s been quite I while since I’ve posted anything here (Wow! WordPress has changed everything!). But the recent flurry of comments in an old thread (here) has been more than interesting and engaging.

So I was wondering – what would our ‘old’ friends like to discuss? A plot for a movie? How much we hate Shaw or Quinn? Sarah? My trigger is the idea that Bryce should have stayed at least through S3! Can you imagine if he had been intersected in “vs. The Ring”, been put in charge of the Intersect Project, and then, after a season of wooing Sarah and “going Volkoff”, was saved from Intersect Insanity by Stephen?

Not your idea of a great continuation? Please tell us yours! We’re guaranteed to forgive you your Chuck addiction!

~ joe

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About joe

In my life I've been a professor, martial artist, rock 'n roller, rocket scientist, lover, poet and brain surgeon. I'm lying about the brain surgery.
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194 Responses to Open Comment Thread

  1. An all-purpose Chuck post is a great idea.

    I’ll get things going by asking who would prefer a time jump or a direct continuation for a Chuck revival?

    I vote for the time jump, I just think it would better serve things.

    • I’m with you, Josh. A time jump works for me.

    • atcDave says:

      I vote for time jump, its been over 5 years and the age will show on the actors. But that’s with the big qualifier I expect Chuck and Sarah have been together that whole time. If they try to tell a story with them apart for five years I wouldn’t even watch; its been long enough I could do that now!

    • joe says:

      Yeah, I’m in the “time jump” camp too.
      But Dave, although I never wanted it to continue with ChuckandSarah being apart for more than a week, I’ve since come to think that TPTB (remember that acronym?) would never be able to resist telling the story of how they came together again after 3, 5 or even 10 years. It would be a great story, but hard to take – at least at first.

      … which is exactly what I’ve come to think about S3 and the finale.

      • atcDave says:

        Which may be exactly why I’ll have no part of it. I don’t really care about their “needs” on this, I care about mine. Fan fiction meets my needs now.

  2. JD says:

    I like the plot line of the roles reversed from the pilot that starts with a mysterious individual entering the Buymore looking for Chuck. Go to the beach scene where we find Chuck consoling Sarah as she struggles to find her memory. A gang of thugs approach in the distance and its on. In the malee Sarah hits her head and starts having Intersect like flashbacks. Does Sarah get her full memory back? Does she still have feelings for Chuck? Who was the mysterious figure at the Buymore?

  3. atcDave says:

    Hey thanks for putting this up Joe!
    I like the idea of a time jump with Chuck and Sarah. Let’s see them 5 (or more!) years later, trying to live a normal life with their investigative/security firm and two (or more…) kids. Then enter some big bad. Maybe a baddie from the past (maybe a new version of the Volkoff program? Or someone who started with Fulcrum?). It may be someone with an ax to grind with the Bartowskis? Or maybe someone that Beckman feels they are uniquely qualified to deal with, so she comes begging?
    At this point I really just envision a TV movie. Obviously a mini-series would be even better, then the threat/challenge level would need to be ramped up even higher.

    Saving the world, before the kid’s big soccer game…

    • atcDave says:

      I also would say, let’s mostly ignore the memory loss for a movie. Fedak always said Sarah had caught up with Chuck at the beach. I think the best way to show that is just see the happy couple. Maybe a quick line about how Sarah came home that night from the beach and never regretted it. That and maybe a joke about Sarah not remembering something and a retort that she’s remembered everything for a long time.
      With a mini-series, maybe a longer story about her recovery. But even so I wouldn’t what it to be too dramatic or consequential. It happened, its over.

      • Agree I don’t think there are many benefits to sticking around in the past. There is something appealing about Chuck and Sarah having to stop and save the world when they have kids; if they’re young, but old enough to know about the Intersect and its legacy which they would symbolically [or maybe literally] inherit. Did Chuck and Sarah tell them or decide against it to preserve their innocence? Or considering who their parents are, are they smart and resourceful enough to put things together on their own.

      • joe says:

        Dave, Fedak said that? I never heard! Please tell me that’s true.
        Because of what Ellie says, about how Morgan’s and probably Sarah’s emotions were not affected by the bad intersect code, I’m certain that Sarah’s laughter and tears as Chuck retells their story, confirmed by her telling Chuck to kiss her at the end, are a clue that “the talking about her feelings thing”, the stuff Sarah was not comfortable with at the start, were back.

        And that would be the most important part.

      • joe says:

        Josh, if enuf time passes, it’s possible that the real story could be primarily about C&S’s children, with Zac and Yvonne having cameo appearances. Or maybe the kids could be the ones to actually save C&S from some dastardly plot by the children of Shaw and Vivian. 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Josh I fixed your typo. And yeah, seeing the Intersect in the kid’s lives could be an interesting story. But maybe not for the “first” movie!

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Joe CF said that in one of his finale interviews. It was THE key comment in helping find peace with the whole thing. Well, specifically he said “caught up emotionally”. But that was always the main issue to me.
        The memories returning could conceivably be played for laughs, if we assume “caught up emotionally” means the drama of it has already played out. And I think that could work fine; like Chuck saying “well the week Liam was born I slept on the couch, because that was also the week when Sarah remembered Hannah…”
        That way we get a glimpse into how things went without anymore melodrama.
        No doubt the passing of time is a great enemy on this though; because if some writer decides “they have to” deal with the drama of Sarah’s recovery even though Zac and Yvonne are clearly in their 40s, well, that would really piss me off. Gee, “Chuck and Sarah rekindle their love at Sarah’s CIA retirement party” is just not my idea of fun.
        A strange corollary of this though, is that I am MORE interested in CF writing it again. Because I think of all possible writers he would probably be the LEAST interested in revisiting the amnesia thing.

      • thinkling says:

        Thanks for the Liam reference, Dave.

        Interesting thread. I’ve been skimming. I vote for a time delay. The age of the actors would pretty much ruin a continuation at this point. And, like you, Chuck and Sarah need to have been together the whole time. I have no interest in, nor would I watch, a movie or mini-series that’s just another round of getting them together. The idea of starting with a threat to their happy normal life, and taking off from there is perfect. I think I would resurrect the conspirators who have just figured out the Chuck still has the Intersect. There are so many possibilities, and so many people to choose from to save: GB, Casey, Ellie, one of their kids … To go back to the angst well of wt/wt would be a huge waste of story and a complete lack of creativity.

        Speaking of entertainment setup. I ditched cable/satellite years ago. Now I record HD OTA TV with a Tablo and pay for other services (Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, even CBS sometimes) to stream on Roku. I sometimes cancel CBS or Hulu for a few months, if I don’t need their content or I don’t have time for them. (If Amazon didn’t have the free-shipping aspect and 5% off purchases, I wouldn’t subscribe. I don’t think their video selection is worth the subscription. You can always use it pay-per-view style.) My monthly entertainment bill is way less than it would be with cable/satellite, and I find pretty much anything I want to watch. I find far more variety and options with this setup than I would with traditional cable/satellite. I’ve also used Playon for years (since before there was Roku). It’s a media server that aggregates Internet content and streams it from your PC to your TV. It bookmarks any video on-line to stream later. It records any on-line content you have legal access to (including Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, any network on-line content, or whatever video you’re streaming). And it removes the commercials, if you so choose. They’ve launched a new Playon Cloud service, whereby they record the aforementioned content on their servers, for you to stream or download to any device, anywhere, anytime. The PC app is a paid app, but the cloud service is paid by the recording (.15 to .25 each, depending on how you buy the credits). I doubt I’ll ever go back to traditional cable/satellite, though I have subscribed to some of the TV streaming services (Directv now, Hulu TV, YouTube TV, etc) for special months (like the Olympics). The streaming TV services don’t have contracts. You can subscribe and cancel at will. So many possibilities and so much flexibility.

      • atcDave says:

        Yes, exactly we’ll put about the wt/wt!

        I hadn’t heard of Playon. If not for sports that would be tempting. I usually say that DirecTV owns my soul as long as they have Sunday Ticket. Of course this last season sorely tested that, I’m a lot less keen on supporting the NFL anymore…
        But DirecTV is an excellent source of pay-per-view, and it transfers easily between TV and mobile device.

      • thinkling says:

        It’s almost become a matter of principle with me. I’m not willing to pay high package rates for appointment TV … 90% of which I care nothing about. I know my subscription subsidizes the more expensive packages, so phloughghg. I figure I would still want at least Netflix for all their great stuff. (Have you watched any of Father Brown Dave? Or Foyle’s War? Or Doctor Blake?) Plus being gone 6 months out of the year makes a year round geographically linked contract utterly unappealing. But I do get the appeal for sports fans. (Some of the streaming services offer sports packages for less money than cable/satellite … and no contract). I’m happy with the cheap price tag, variety, and flexibility of my cafeteria plan. Then some people just like traditional TV, but I guess those numbers will continue to drop with a shrinking older population.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ve heard of those shows, and they are all on my someday list. For now we have no shortage of content!
        I do keep my eyes open for what’s going on, and expect at some point to either add or change services. And I keep hoping that one of these days that Bears’ games will be available ala carte.

  4. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Still me, I’m trying to subscribe to this thread, the last few times I have done it on newer threads it has not worked.
    Joe
    I know Zac has said many times he believed they are or would be just fine, I would hope Fedak feels the same. But, I agree Sarah was not subjected to Quinn’s actions long enough to turn off her emotions. I get the sense that she is fueled by anger and duty through most of 5-12 caused by his miss information, and Sarah was never emotionless even early on.

    • joe says:

      You seem to be subscribed, Josh.
      Yeah, We’re in agreement about Sarah’s emotional state. The way I see it, Morgan may have lost his memories when he was intersected, at least some of them. But he didn’t start to think Jar-Jar Binks was a great Star Wars character. In other words, he was the same ol’ Morgan.

      At the beginning, Sarah only had trouble talking about her feelings – I assume that was a bit of shorthand for her being lousy at communicating them. That’s the one thing I noticed (like a brick to the head) the most in my last viewing. Sarah really did change from not revealing her feelings to communicating them quite well over those years. What didn’t change were the feelings themselves.

      After re-seeing that last scene on the beach the last time, I’m absolutely sure she still loves Chuck in the end.

      • atcDave says:

        And I agree with that Joe!

      • Honestly, I don’t see how a thorough reading of the finale could produce any other opinion. There’s even a decent argument the kiss literally works: Sarah does the exact same thing to Chuck in Phase 3, after Chuck’s memories were wiped and the intersect was corrupted, Sarah kisses him and that restores his memories. Kelly Dean Jolley makes that case in his Chuck book (which I feel compelled to mention in every single conversation), and while I don’t agree with it, it’s at least plausible.

        For that matter, the construction of the final scene is telling. To the finale end where the pilot ended (on the beach), looking at the sunset as opposed to the sunrise is a pretty clear metaphor for the permanence of their relationship. It also introduces the context of the original beach conversation that Chuck himself parallels. The first conversation ultimately ends in their love story; I don’t see why this one would end any different. And then the song basically states the conclusion outright.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I like that way of looking at it. I will always wish that had been my first reaction.

      • Fair enough, Dave. I do think that remains the best criticism of the finale – on the first watch, it’s not nearly as unambiguous as I would’ve liked. I probably would’ve preferred watching something like the ending of Parks and Recreation (which leans into the happy ending so hard it’s brave in its own way). There’s real pain and tragedy in the finale, and that pain is particularly hard for a show that tended to resolve things as neatly as Chuck usually did.

        But, the finale is what really keeps Chuck in my head six years later. It’s the episode that forced me to read Chuck instead of just passively watching it, it’s why I searched this blog out – I had to know what it meant, which meant thinking more deeply about the pilot, about Phase 3, about its music choices, and Jeffster, and about “I fell in love with you after fixing my phone and before you started disabling bombs.” The finale fucking hurt, and I get not liking that in an ending – especially for somebody like you, who was passionate about the show already. But the finale, and all its many layers, is what transformed Chuck from a show I really liked into my favorite show ever. I think I shared your initial reaction, and I don’t rewatch it much for the same reason. In retrospect, though, it’s what really made me fall in love with everything else about the show.

      • atcDave says:

        I think its consistent with what you said to say that finale provided the motive behind A LOT of post finale fiction, and it certainly fueled a lot of my desire for it. I might be why I still actively read it six years later (or it might not, I already had the ff bug!)
        But even so, I’ll always wish the ending had been more satisfying on initial viewing. And I’m sure that ending is why I finally cut off my own Chuck viewing several years ago. I’m still considering if I will actually try to watch most of the episodes in this next series I want to start in a couple weeks. I think I will, at least at first. I’ll have a new home theater and new TV; so the excuse will be I have to see Chuck on a bigger TV upconverted to 4K (hmmm, if they ever release the show in 4K might be another excuse…)

    • atcDave says:

      I agree with that Josh.

      • I remain more or less convinced that scrying the finale, and considering its internal relationships to other episodes, makes a compelling case for thinking the kiss works, but I don’t understand why they would have made such an emotional finale into a kind of cipher.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah I think that’s a fair assessment.
        To me the single biggest suggestion all is well is that Sarah said no to Beckman. Sarah “I’m only good at being a spy” said no to spying.
        Then add in her emotional openness, even eagerness, in the last seen; and I think its clear all is well in the most important sense.
        In my imagination I never think the “magic kiss” works in the “everything comes flooding back” sort of way. But I do imagine she remembers her love of her husband. It may be awkward for a period, but recovery is well underway.

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll say the obvious, “Sarah vs Finding Herself” by Thinkling is the closest match to what I imagine. But I have a wide range of epilogues and S6 stories that work well for me.

      • We have the same view about the kiss Dave. In fact, Ellie’s theory about emotions sparking memories was so sound to me that it drove the early chapters of my post-finale story. Of course, I had much more to accomplish than carrying on with her recovery so I eventually jumped things ahead, but the point is that Sarah’s emotional connection to Chuck is tied to her physical memories so she will be okay.

        Lost years is the most Sara- like version of her recovery IMO, if only because personal hangups could at least initially get in her own way. Kind of like Season 1, which I always see as a baseline for every character.

      • atcDave says:

        Well you know I like to say “Finding Herself” is the normal end, that Chuck and Sarah SAID they wanted at the end of the show; while “Lost Years” is the superhero end we would have seen in an immediate post-series movie.

      • Agree with Dave on the Kiss. I understand Kelly’s point, and I think his phase 3 argument presents the strongest case for the kiss working literally. But Morgan’s path back from intersect brain damage is instructive. Fedak’s comments afterwards about wanting to see them find each other all over again are also telling.

        Futhermore, I think from a storytelling perspective it’s better that the kiss doesn’t magically regenerate her memories. The events of the finale are a real tragedy, and a horrible consequence for a life lived as a spy. That’s as it should be – the moments of pure joy in the show are all the more meaningful for the threat of the gallows hanging imminently over their heads. If they never bear any real consequences from that life, then the show would feel false.

        I’d rather think of the kiss not in the working/not working paradigm, but as a sign that Chuck and Sarah are working. My take of the beach, of Rivers and Roads, of the porn virus, is that Chuck and Sarah are inevitable, even destined. That their relationship, their bond with each other is so enduring it cannot be broken even by removing from Sarah the events that incited it in the first place.

      • Totally Agree! That Chuck and Sarah are a design of fate is the biggest takeaway from the finale. Quinn was right in the sense that without the Intersect they would not be, but the more you look at it, Chuck was destined for that too. Bryce told him as much when in some form or fashion whenever he showed up, and that was something Chuck, Sarah and Stephen all fought against. I am a big believer in fate, and that you can only delay it. Anything meant to happen will happen. A very helpful view of real life and its never-ending challenges too.

      • In line with what some have said here, I will add that I take the only two live options on the kiss to be that it works magically (and as I have said, I think that is far from an impossibility given the internal logic of the show) or it works non-magically, re-establishing the bond and the emotional momentum that will carry them back into their married life. Either way, it works.

      • atcDave says:

        Absolutely, either way works.

  5. My biggest fear with the time jump is that they would keep Sarah and chuck apart for the last 6 years (6 years! I’m so old). I read the finale as putting them on the path of being together again. It’s so much easier to write a story of Sarah and Chuck establishing a romance rather than being in one that they’d probably contrive a reason to keep them apart the whole time, and I’d be really sad.

    And it’s just been too long to start the day after the finale; the cast is visibly older. At this point, it’s probably for the best that there won’t be a movie.

  6. joe says:

    A request for help!!!

    I spent some time updating and enhancing my list of music from Chuck and I found a mystery!

    There was a very nice song by Gomez (I’m not sure if that’s a person or a group) called See The World I listed many moons ago under S1E1. The lyrics certainly fit the episode and if you course down about a dozen comments in the youtube link, you’ll see someone else heard that song there too. But I can’t find where it was actually used in Chuck. I can’t find it in E1 or, as someone else there commented, in S1E3 either.

    Does anyone remember that song being used? Was it only used in some long forgotten Youtube video?

    If you know where that song was used, please let me know too.

    • Sorry to be unhelpful, but if you could share your list, I’d be grateful.

      • joe says:

        Hum… I’d like to, Arthur, but I’m not quite sure how.

        You see, it’s in the form of nearly 100 xml files (one for each episode, complete with list of credits, story synopsis, some choice dialogue and the music complete with a short description of the scenes they’re in), and xml for the song lists by title and by artist, complete with title, artist and pointers to the over 400 music files I found, and the music files themselves, xsl files to translate the xml to html and the css to prettyfy all of it.
        All of that is viewable, but only on my machine!

        Yeah, it’s huge and not readily made into simple text. Worse, I’m worried that putting the music on line publicly would violate some Youtube rule or other.

        I could easily strip out just the song titles and artists for the first few episodes, but I’m not sure that would help! But if you think it would, gimme about 30 minutes to put the list up.

      • WOW. That’s an impressive labor of love, but out of my league, I’m afraid. Thanks for the offer.

    • Wilf says:

      Hi Joe. I love this new thread. There’s been so much great Chuck fan fiction of late that it seems the time is right for new discussion of this form.

      I seemed to remember that “see the world” (which has always been on my own personal Chuck playlist) was only included pre-production (if that’s the term). Looking on https://www.tunefind.com/show/chuck/season-1/2705#songs confirms that, as it describes See The World: “Sarah & Chuck discuss old relationships at dinner. (pre-air only)”.

      And I think time jump would be the only way forward for any reappearance of Chuck.

      • Tunefind is a godsend, I use it anytime I hear music on tv and like it

      • joe says:

        Ah, thanks, Wilf. That’s consistent with what I found.

        I used to run nearly daily with the Chuck playlist on my mp3 player, and that song was on it from the first. I’ve continually updated the list (even though my arthritic hip won’t let me run any more) as I identify tunes, but I was really, really surprised that I couldn’t locate See the World anywhere on my DVDs.

        Yet, I could see the scene, at least in my mind’s eye, where it was used.

        See? Good music will do that to ya!

        Josh, thanks for the tip on Tunefind. I was not aware of it.

  7. Dave, is there any way to get an RSS feed of the site’s comments? With the (totally justified) slowdown in posting, I’ve got no real way to keep up with the conversations that happen other than manually checking the site.

    Brainstorming idea; feel free to totally ignore: it’s cool seeing a couple of new Chuck fans. one way to keep the site flowing might be to invite new fans to write guest posts or start discussion threads? Something like a “send us your post” button at the top?

    One dynamic I’ve been interested to see is that the new viewers are able to watch the show while divorced from the experience of the show (waiting a week for each episode, wondering if it’ll be canceled, eating too much Subway, etc). It could be a nice way to allow the newer fans to be a part of the community and produce some new insights.

  8. joe says:

    Dave’s been mentioning a mini-series instead of a movie. That’s something I hadn’t considered. I suspect that since we’re in the 21st century (or so they say) something like a Hulu or Netflix series is probably more likely than a full movie or even a Rosanne-like re-do after 20 years.

    Even though I now have a blu-ray player and an alleged smart-phone (I still yell at the kids to get off my lawn, Dave), I haven’t found a reason to subscribe to on-line stuff – yet. Are there vehicles besides Amazon, Hulu and Netflix that might show something created by Zac, maybe, for us Chuck fans? I don’t think I’m up on what’s possible.

    I know, I know. If not today, maybe tomorrow. Should I look for a Chuck Channel on Youtube?

    • Mini-Series would be the best thing I think, longer than a movie but shorter than network TV, and would keep the writing more focused, preventing (hopefully) mistakes.

      Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, and youtube are the big ones but you have crackle, sling etc. I also use Kodi which runs on other devices and is free, but to set that up app tech know-how is required. If you feel ambitious enough a quick youtube search can walk you through it. The available content is much bigger too

    • atcDave says:

      joe the technology is simple enough, even if you have an older TV you can get a Roku box or FireStick or something similar that provides a gateway to a large number of subscription or pay-per-view services (assuming you have wi-fi? Please tell me Joe that you don’t use a dial-up modem!) Personally, I mostly use Amazon because it offers pay-per-view (I don’t watch enough to justify a subscription to anything).

      But the bottom line is, there are now dozens, if not hundreds of companies now making original content. It really is good news for video junkies of all sorts. We could get into a rather different “quality” discussion, but the pure quantity of content is staggering. THAT is good news for future Chuck content.

      • joe says:

        Naw. I use tin cans and a string, Dave.

        I have Verizon (and yes, I have WiFi) but my sticking point is always the cost of subscriptions (so I’ll look into pay-per-view to see if it’s reasonable). I’m really unsure about how the tech will shake out – will they all become isolated behind their gateway boxes like Roku? Sometimes I’m convinced we’ll all have to subscribe to everything or be assigned by society to some virtual box of viewers labelled low, middle or high by the same PTB who insist that we’re either deplorables or desirables now. Bah to that!

        Heh. The real thing is that nothing seems quite so entertaining as it used to. At first I thought it was just me, but I’m not so sure ’bout that. The medium changed from silents to talkies to radio in my grandfather’s day and then to television and cable to Hulu et. al. in my lifetime. I wonder what’s coming next. I wonder where the talent is going to appear next.

        There I go getting all philosophical again.

      • atcDave says:

        Most modern TVs will have some sort of gateway built right in; so a smart TV, wi-fi and an Amazon account and that’s all you need.
        I am cranky about some of it, like I can’t watch the newest Star Trek series because I’m not ready to subscribe to CBS’ streaming service. But I expect at some point I will take the leap, once something I can’t resist, like a Chuck movie, ends up that way.

  9. joe says:

    AAAARRRRRGGGGG!!!!!
    I just found a one-letter typo in my post this morning, in the very last word, and it changes the meaning. Fixed now, but it destroyed my running joke forevermore.

    I beg pardons all around.

  10. MyNameIsJeffNImLost says:

    Has anyone else seen Ready Player One or its trailers and had nostalgia, not for the 80s, but for Chuck music?

    Ready Player One trailers featured Rush’s Tom Sawyer and A-ha’s Take On Me, two songs that actually were featured in the show, not just a music for the audience.

    The movie had Twisted Sister’s We’re Not Gonna Take It (Chuck vs the First Kill – office battle). and Oingo Boingo’s Dead Man’s Party (Chuck vs the Couch Lock – Casey’s funeral abduction). Dead Man’s Party is one of 32 songs mentioned in the Ready Player One book.

    • I was going to see it regardless now I definitely will.

    • atcDave says:

      Funny, just now home from the theater! Yes, entertaining movie with a lot of Chuck humor. I particularly like the probably non-intentional joke about the hot chick avatar probably belonging to a 300 lb guy in Detroit, living in his mom’s basement, named Chuck…

  11. Joe
    If cost is your sticking point I really suggest Terrarium TV. You can download and install it on your computer or streaming device and you can stream pretty much anything for free. The only reason I still pay for subscriptions is that I am not always in the mood to take the time that is sometimes required to find a quality stream.

    Here’s the website where you can download/learn about it

    https://terrariumtvappdownloads.com

    and a friendly Youtube video to install it on a firestick

    Dave your gripes will be reduced to trying to find a buffer free stream, which can be annoying but you won’t pay a cent and the content never leaves if it is on the app.

  12. Neil Sandford says:

    I also you:
    https://www.what-song.com/
    That’s where i got all the track listings for Chuck

  13. uplink2 says:

    Hey guys, long time no post. So nice to see some activity. Been a tough last 2 years and reading Chuck fic helped and liked this post. Now I just need to read all the comments. lol But to Joe’s idea about Bryce staying into season 3, there was a blog site a number of years ago called Completely Comfortable, long since taken down, but it posted what the plans originally were for season 3 with Bryce before Bomer got his show. I also think it was the plan if the season got renewed to start in September 2009.
    From what I remember the WT/WT with Bryce as the triangle was supposed to end in sweeps around episode 8 and it never was as bad as they did with Shaw. The “stake date” was supposed to be a “real date” sort of. The blog gave a lot of great detail about their plans as Bryce was supposed to mentor Chuck and how his becoming a spy still bothered Sarah and it all created much more believable angst instead of the contrived mess they came up with once Bomer was unavailable.
    The posting was so detailed I always thought it was done by a real insider and I really wish I kept a copy as I’ve never been able to find it once the blog was taken down.
    Hope all is well with everyone and its so great that these characters are still alive in our hearts.

    • Bryce really would have been a lot more tolerable. I don’t think he would have come across as intentionally trying to split drive Chuck and Sarah apart… I would have understood her seeking refuge with Bryce, which is why I hate shaw so much…there is no precedent for their relationship; boy what was good for Matt Bomber was bad for CHUCK.

    • atcDave says:

      Hey Uplink great to see you drop in!
      That definitely would have worked better with Bomer. It sounds similar to the speculation posted by NV way back. Between his history with Chuck and Sarah, and his better chemistry with the cast, the tension would have been strong even with nothing overt.
      As I’ve observed before, I likely wouldn’t have enjoyed the tense season either way, but it’s a difference between character development and soul destroying silliness.

      • uplink2 says:

        Thanks Dave. Well I see it a couple of ways. I would have been ok with tension/stress/angst for C&S in early season 3 because of the very reasons they tried to do it. Sarah worried about Chuck changing, the stress on him when confronted with the needs/duties of the job he chose. etc. But the failure for me at least was how they did it. The ridiculous necessity of horribly OOC Chuck at the train station, and then the relationship trapezoid and the horribly crafted and developed Shaw character. The terrible writing i.e. Mask etc, the total lack of chemistry between Yvonne and Routh and on and on as I’ve said many times here. But we knew from the beginning that Bryce was a threat to Charah and more importantly that he was shown many times to be a great spy which Shaw never was once. They told us he was but showed us an incompetent boob. Plus it was dragged out way too long.

        You could have had Chuck actually talk to Sarah in Prague, her still be pissed and the whole can’t be together as she was still his handler, remember they showed us Sarah was a real agent but still had a handler, and have Bryce come in to train Chuck, him still recovering from his injuries or them being so bad he can’t go back in the field and Sarah feels sorry for him etc. But all of that possible relationship angst lasts just a couple of episodes and is done by early on in the season. Hell you could even have had Bryce turn as he get’s pissed they won’t let him back in the field.

        But alas none of that could happen once White Collar got cast.

      • atcDave says:

        The only thing that truly matters to me is absolutely, categorically no triangles after Colonel. Period.
        I would have accepted some tension, maybe even angst of Chuck’s own making from fears her can’t compete with Bryce. But no triangles.

      • I did not mean to push buttons Dave, everything you said makes a lot of sense.

        I think Colonel is the big sticking point and the fuel to the backlash. It’s one thing if you haven’t crossed the sexual line with the characters, but when your one condom away from crossing that line (I would end my friendship with Morgan on the spot btw) there is NO EXCUSE for a reset!

      • atcDave says:

        Oh I meant buttons pushed in a good way!
        But yeah, I agree Josh.

      • noblz says:

        Uplink, good to see you back. Remember our discussions of the Sarah/Shaw nonsense fondly.

        Your ideas here are good. Bring back Bryce to train Chuck. We know Sarah categorically turned Bryce down during the Ring. Maybe Bryce is the one to see both sides of the C&S dilemma. Maybe even have Bryce be the one to put Chuck “into the picture” with respect to Sarah’s feelings. Would have made for some great possibilities.

        otherDave

      • thinkling says:

        I like the Bryce-as-a-mentor idea, Noblz. But I think the real reason Sarah rejected Bryce and they killed him off was because Bomer had another contract. Unfortunately, the triangle/trapezoid was probably their non-negotiable, and if Bryce had stayed he would have been one of the dots in the detested trapezoid. I’ll never get why the show runners are so glued to wt/wt, because I don’t think real people are all that wild about it.

        For Chuck season 3 there was so much fertile soil to till without any more wt/wt. They could have developed GB’s idea of protecting the world from Chuck … had him do inner battle with the Intersect, with Sarah’s help … walk that fine line to help him become enough of an agent to not get bunkered (or worse), but not so much of an agent that he would lose himself. But, no, they had to go back to the well of tripe. At least they gave us seasons 4&5, which were truly great.

      • Hear, hear. So much fertile soil neglected to construct a ramshackle trapezoid.

        (For what it’s worth, and although I don’t know if anyone caught it (it didn’t matter if anyone did), my *Cables to Aces* is at heart a S3 rewrite. It starts earlier, but if you think about major plot points, you can see how it goes. I even bring Bryce in to be the new team leader. Of course, things go very, very differently, but rewriting S3 was the generative idea.)

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah Thinkling ditto all!

      • It would be fun to see Bryce react to everything Chuck and Sarah have gone through in a revival of any sort…the scientist from tooth worked with tissue regeneration so Bryce could easily just be “on ice” again.

      • atcDave says:

        Kelly a big part of what worked for me in Cables was making Chuck the hacker and analyst early on, it was funny in canon how the Piranha was introduced so late! And I always thought analyst was a better fit than agent, even if sometimes the line was pretty fine.

        Josh I particularly like the idea of Bryce being honestly happy for Chuck and Sarah. Whatever tension he might have brought to the the story, in the end I think he would have given his blessing.

    • Wlima Greenstreet says:

      Uplink2: Thank you very much for remembering my short-lived blog. If you send me an email to wilmagreenstreet(at)protonmail.com I will send you a copy of the post to which you referred.

  14. Neil Sandford says:

    Uplink2

    I’ve enjoyed over the last few weeks reading your comments you originally posted as i have everyone else’s.

    Bomer being in s3 would have certainly had the chemistry, especially with Sarah which could have been more of a threat to Chuck than Shaw (would that have been a good or bad thing) unless the writers had a different approach to the story, you would still have had all the angst and the wt/wt.

    For me the failings of s3, was yes Routh wasn’t good casting, OOC Sarah, poor writing, that goes for ep17 as well, no proper resolution hardly any screen time of C/S together and the the angst (yet again) during the misery arc.

    It’s a season which is technically important for the rest of the series yet so easy to try and forget.

    The fanfics i have been reading are so much better and some are even to the point how i would have liked the season to be written.

    • For a long time, I thought Routh was a bad actor. His role as Ray Palmer/The Atom in DCTV has changed my mind about that. He was simply bad casting and I’m pleased that I don’t see one ounce of Shaw in his current role.

      Dave maybe you can explain why TV feels spooked by the couples curse and feels like relying on angst so often? I just don’t get it, if real life were like that, there would not be 7 billion people on earth because people would not work at being together!

      • atcDave says:

        I wish I could explain it with any certainty!

        Romantic malfunctions and misadventures have been a part of drama since it’s origins in Ancient Greece. No doubt romance touches a deep seated chord for most of us.
        The current story telling landscape is probably as vast as it’s ever been. Not only are books, television and movies being made in large numbers worldwide but with the internet we see an outlet for amateurs of every conceivable interest and niche.
        But in relative terms I think serialized television type stories are still fairly new and immature. And they are subject to odd market forces that effect length and timing of story points and resolutions. A major issue has been finding the right audience, and I think there have been many shows that either misjudged their audience or had to grow with an audience over time (Original fans of the Simpsons are in a different stage of life than when the show started!).
        Romance in particular will play differently depending on the sought after audience. Teens typically experience more instability and “drama”, while older adults may relate to different issues like raising a family, taking care of aging parents, mixing career and family. The things one group likes may completely disconnect for another. Obviously that’s never absolute and some younger viewers may crave stability while some older adults may miss a more “adventurous” past. And situational variations may be infinite; that is, a viewer may find themselves drawn to something outside of their “usual” preferences. No doubt those exceptions make any kind of audience pandering extremely problematic.

        But I do think a couple of current issues have worked against showing stable and mature relationships. One is the drive for younger, more “moldable” viewers. Advertisers are well aware that younger viewers are more easily influenced by commercials, which makes them more appealing targets. So there will be a built in business interest for writing for younger viewers.

        Then there’s the so-called “Moonlighting Curse”; which is essentially a horribly misunderstood mess. But many people, including many in the industry, “remember” how a successful comic/romantic pairing on a wildly successful show suffered a total ratings collapse right after the featured couple was “put together”. Similar things were observed on other shows about this time (early ‘80s). This is now regarded as an immutable truth by many.
        But of course it’s ridiculous and flat out wrong. And I don’t even mean that in a subjective sense. I mean objectively the “Curse” is provable nonsense.
        For starters, the pairing was immediately undone on the show. The couple went separate directions and rarely shared screen time for a full season, in part because the stars couldn’t stand each other. Second, so much of the show’s energy had come from bickering and competing between the “romantic” leads; you couldn’t put them together without loosing something of the show’s energy. (How different this is from Chuck! Chuck and Sarah were friendly and protected each other in every way imaginable. The show’s main romantic energy came from their warm and gooey sweet moments together!).
        And a big thing, that effected almost every single one of these “proof” situations; the show was running out of fresh and interesting ideas BEFORE the pairing ever happened and ratings were often already in decline. So even if the “big event” bolstered ratings briefly, the show went back into its decline shortly thereafter.
        This last point has been a continuing problem with television. I think of it as the “wt/wt Curse!” That part of the story gets dragged out too long, people get tired of it. They push it too far and make the protagonists look foolish and/or immoral. And the show runners put the older and dumber couple together after the rating decline has already begun. And no doubt, the misrepresented and misunderstood Moonlighting Curse is in large part responsible for this situation.

        Sorry for the essay! You seem to have pushed some buttons…

    • uplink2 says:

      Neil, thanks though sometimes I cringe when I read my past postings lol. I did have a tendency to get a little self righteous at times. I let my emotional attachment to these characters or at least how I viewed them to cloud my thoughts a bit. My dislike for early season 3 was pretty intense at times. Its funny I’ve found myself mellowing a bit about the ending of the series though I still think it as a lousy series finale but at least the performances were good and I get what they were trying to do but in many ways my dislike for season 3 has only grown with time because that dislike is rooted in so many things I written thousands of words on on this site alone lol.

      The one small area I have mellowed a bit on is my dislike for Routh. At times I almost feel sorry for him. He was miscast, given an incredibly poorly crafted and introduced character and his limitations as an actor only made it worse. Lets face it, he will never be seen walking across any stage to get an acting award. And if you look at his career trajectory it hasn’t ascended but kind of declined in fact from a lead in a major iconic film reboot to now a role as an ensemble actor in a mediocre rated franchise show on the number 5 network. So I guess his skill as an actor has settled into a level he is better suited for. And he is working. But in Chuck he wasn’t given much to work with and his weaknesses made it even worse. So I can’t put all the blame on him.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        uplink2

        I think firstly it is sad that Chuck is the only show i have ever watched where i will not watch either a season or certain episodes, i watch a fair amount of US & British tv and admittedly i very re-watch but if i do i can pick any series or episode not a problem but not with Chuck, and that is a shame.

        The concept is so original “He’s the secret, she’s the agent” great, the idea over the first two seasons with the wt/wt or angst ok, tollerable but starting to drag for me a little but then it should have stopped there.

        I really didn’t mind parts of 3×01, 3×02 but they should have built on the misunderstanding and healing process, kept the two main characters on screen together and worked together to help him become a spy the right way, his way and her transition into real life, that was the dynamism of the show and it showed it worked in s4 & s5.

        So many times we heard Chuck say things like “when i get this out of my head i want a real relationship” boring, how many times did we here it, but did we ever see Chuck asking what Sarah would like?

        Hannah was really a nothing to me apart from she was used for Chuck to realise how difficult being a spy is in real life, i was glad when she left

        Routh’s acting didn’t bother me so much as Sarah’s, she just flipped, was so annoying, i still believe Shaw was brought in to split the two up and buy FE mission accomplished, or so he thought, Chuck was a jerk at times but realised, to much air time with S/S, to much angst but it should never have got to that stage, fans obviously loved the underlying romance of C/S and they should have stuck with it, i know it was about the journey but don’t the creators want to please the fans instead of sticking a knife in and twisting it, you lose your fans, you lose the show, you lose your job.

        In s3, i can only watch about 5 episodes again, i can’t even watch LD with the interrogation, yet it has such an important scene at the end with C/S and her spy will.

        At the end of the day, great concept for a show, superb casting especially Yvonne (who always got the rough end of the deal from schwartz & Fedak imo) and four good seasons, not five, sad.

      • Unpopular opinion: Routh was excellent on Chuck. He plays the “stiff as a board” role perfectly: unpersonable, unknowable, and easily broken (as we find out). He plays the literal opposite of Chuck, which is why Sarah finds him appealing after the events of 3.01, and why he’s so unlikeable. His performance in Santa Claus remains the best of any Chuck villain except Volkoff. He’s exactly what the role requires. I despise Shaw in large part because of how effectively Routh makes me despise him.

        Uplink2 is referencing Legends of Tomorrow, which Fedak also produces, and also features a blonde assassin named Sarah! Routh’s performance is pretty hammy; he’s much better off playing a stiff-as-a-board type. I’ll grant that Routh is the best of an abjectly terrible cast on a terrible (if amusing and creative) show.

        This forum always amuses me on S3.0. I’ve always disliked it, but I’m probably its staunchest defender on the forum. All of its evil is part of why S4 is so rewarding, and it’s worth exploring how two people who love each other with the best of intentions can nonetheless be deeply cruel to each other. In a way, it’s part of why I’ve always been so optimistic on the finale: if they can get through S3, they can get through anything.

      • atcDave says:

        I’m always okay with a story of fighting to be together. But S3 was too much giving up and going different directions. Nothing I care to see.

      • Arthur
        I had not considered that POV on Routh, it does not soften my stance on S3 because as Dave says the gem of the show was the awkward but genuine interactions between Chuck and Sarah. The idea they were going for could have been written in a far less extreme way, without so much character assassination. The old saying if it ain’t broke don’t fix it applies here.

        Neil
        The missed opportunities of CHUCK are sad and that is largely what drove my post-finale story-called Chuck and Sarah-it’s probably one of the larger scale stories that exist. Even small things like the list of excellent one-off villains and allies always bothered me with this show. Plot points that were introduced and never flushed out, or popped up too late, or things that never got dealt with on screen. I tend to think of my story as a fix all for everything the writers messed up on or did not get the chance to explore because of external issues. You can find it in one of Dave’s earlier fanfiction posts. It still floors me that I got a mention because It was my first fan-fic. (Thanks Dave!)

        Better yet, here’s the URL for quicker access: https://www.fanfiction.net/s/10634971/1/Chuck-and-Sarah.

        I have been sparingly updating bits and pieces even though it’s finished; you seemed a little bummed out so I thought it would help:)

      • Neil Sandford says:

        Josh

        Cheers, I see you have done three stories and as I’m on a roll at the moment reading one after the other, I will start with one of yours tonight.

        I’m not bummed out, it’s easy for me to criticise the writers, they must have had there reasons why they wrote the stories, but it was the lack of follow up for us not to go uh! and although I really didn’t mind pink slip & three words, in places, they should have built the fall out and coming together from that not the drifting apart and for so long but spies have to do what Chuck learnt, so he had to learn the hard way and Sarah had to just watch and let him get on with it.

        I always wondered that Routh acted that way was because he was the opposite to Chuck and that’s why Sarah chose second best ( you remember the restaurant scene in AH the she said “this is nice”, I wish she would have said “this is perfect” in the restaurant scene in Balcony) I was surprised that Hannah really was nothing other than to show another side of Chuck, I always thought she was brought in by Shaw to help keep C/S apart, it all stems back to the look Shaw has at the end of mask, the red test order and at the apartment at the end of FE, when Sarah says not any more.

        Having said that there were a few good scenes during that arc and none other when Sarah leaves the restaurant in FE and looks back, great, great scene backed up with such a powerful and apt song and as I have already said, the spy will was a special moment and her hair was similar at the end of wookie.

        Still, what’s done is done, we can’t change it, the fanfics are great to keep it going and although a lot are fluffy you could say that s4 & 5 had a lot of fluff in it as Sarah’s character development was amazing, all we needed was one more season.

        I could go on and on but so much has already been said several years ago.

      • joe says:

        Arthur said “Unpopular opinion: Routh was excellent on Chuck.”

        Well, yes, Arthur. It’s not a majority opinion, to say the least. But if it means anything to you, I share it, especially after reading (most of) The Chuck Book. I’m not an actor, so I wouldn’t presume to criticize a professional’s ability. But IMHO most of us “wanted” Bryce. Therefore, we didn’t not want Shaw, no matter who played the part. I’ll expand on this later, but I’ve come to think that the Shaw character offers something different than Bryce. Worse/Better is a matter of personal taste, perhaps, but it’s certainly something different.

        What surprises me now is that TPTB still created something I enjoy out of that.

      • Joe, I agree on Shaw/Bryce. I think a S3 with Bryce in Shaw’s place would be even worse than what we got. With all that said, I think Dave’s point is definitive here: regardless of the plausibility of S3, it’s just not good to watch. Entertainment should be entertaining.

        The Chuck book also helped me put it in a different perspective. While it remains unpleasant for me, I no longer want to remove it from cannon the way I did before. Still, I’d say Prague remains the original sin: everything that happens after Prague makes sense, but Prague itself doesn’t. There’s just no way that Chuck would leave the train station without having a full conversation with Sarah (like they did in honeymooners). I understand his decision, but his execution of that decision is the antithesis of everything else Chuck does in the show.

        Josh, that’s totally valid. Routh being good at his role doesn’t change any criticisms you have for the role itself.

      • atcDave says:

        Joe your last sentence hits on the problem for many of us, we did NOT enjoy one significant part of the show.
        So although I’ve long maintained Routh is not really the problem with S3, he becomes the face of something, well, contemptible. I have no personal animosity towards the man. Seriously, JS merits far more scorn for me. But I find it hard to stomach Routh in any capacity at this point. Enough to say he is the reason we never watched Legends of Tomorrow, even though we watch Flash, and have watched Supergirl (S1 anyway).

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur I agree pretty strongly with all of that. Even to mention (again!), of the three couples I know who quit watching Chuck during S3, they ALL quit at Pink Slip. Original sin indeed! Never mind coming off the rails, they never got on the track.

  15. Neil Sandford says:

    You all have much better knowledge of the show than I do, many of you have rewatched a lot more than I have, only a few for me, now I will admit that when I first watched the show i would miss a lot in regards of how to read it, on rewatches, these blogs (hope thats right) with the reviews and comments helped my out a lot, I am, getting to the point, s3, dare we talk about it, I believe it was either Lizjames or faith explained why Sarah was dating Shaw once she let go of Chuck, but if you were watching it for the first time, I would think he is a threat, a few episodes ended with S/S, so if I’m right, serious angst, until the next episode and this is with two actors as most people say, didn’t have a lot of chemistry, now if the story line stayed the same, if and Bryce was in charge instead, even though Sarah, had rejected him at least twice as I’m not sure if she picked Chuck in Nemesis but just stuck with her assignment, how would you feel watching it then and how would Chuck feel, just a thought.

    The Chuck book I found fairly insightful, example: during Pink Slip she dances provocatively to show Chuck what he missed out on, otherwise she was covered up in scenes and theres a reason for that, however I have read it a couple of times and noticed a mistake, she actually uses the word Daniel twice, in the car at the end of AH and in castle during LD and the author didn’t mention whilst packing, again at the end of AH, the clock at 18:10, although that still could mean train or flight but the picture on view, would she have the photo on view if she was packing for good to go to D.C., maybe, this is Sarah we are talking about, who can bury her feelings and be cold but at the same time turns to mush when Chuck turns the charm on, would she really want a photo of them as a reminder what she could be giving up.

    Dave, I know you mentioned to the author with regards to the photo as I read his article and it almost convinced me she had decided on D.C. until Casey arrived but then I saw at the foot of the article what you had seen.

    • Yes, I missed the other mention of Shaw and the picture beside Sarah while she is packing (and many other things I am sure). But I am unsure the first miss invalidates anything that I said about Sarah and Shaw. The second miss is more important, but by itself is still just another piece of evidence for where Sarah is going, since, unless you think she put it there as she was packing, it would have been there the whole time she’s been involved with Shaw and didn’t prevent that, or make Sarah believe Chuck about the Red Test.

    • atcDave says:

      No doubt we saw a very confused and damaged Sarah through much of S3. I think whether Bryce had remained, or Shaw as we saw, the point was meant to be a sort of anti-Chuck. Sort of Sarah settling for an all professional life, as opposed to an emotionally satisfying one. But I don’t think even damaged Sarah could have been so callous as to put the picture of Chuck BACK up in her room (it had pointedly been missing earlier in the season) to run off to Shaw.
      But to me the biggest thing, even bigger than who she was packing for, is just that once she chose for Chuck she never even considered Shaw again. Never even bothered to break up with him as far as we know. She was with Chuck, end of story.
      Now the very fact we’re still discussing it shows how horribly handled much of it was. It’s like no one, from staff writers, to directors, to actors really bought into the whole mess. It was just a matter of killing time until 3.13. Making an arc of disposable and sub-standard episodes on purpose. At least that’s how it is for me. And seriously, if you’ve watched these episodes twice you’re twice the expert I am! I just can’t do it again.

      • I can’t speak for anyone else, but I have seen Chuck an unhealthy number of times from start to finish, easily more than 20. There was even a point 3 or 4 years ago where it was the only thing I watched and I would restart the series right after I finished it, I probably did that 10 times of the more than 20 that I have watched it. A severe depression is a big reason for this, for a big period watching it was the only thing that gave me any joy.

        I have since come out the other side, but I feel like I know the show and it’s characters so well that I don’t need to watch it; yet whenever I do, no matter how small it always new in some way…I started writing fan fiction because I retained all that CHUCK information and wanted to put it to good use.

        I think Chuck would have personal hang-ups with Bryce but more so professionally than anything else. I don’t think Bryce would train Chuck in the way Shaw did because he knows him personally and I would like to think he would tailor things so Chuck would be able to handle his transition easier. In other words, I don’t think he would have turned Chuck into an emotionless spy that Shaw did. I think Bryce would understand where Sarah’s head is at too because alma mater is a good indication that he feared the same thing Sarah does.

      • atcDave says:

        I do agree Bryce and Chuck could have felt very different from what we saw, I also think Sarah and Bryce would have felt different. The main point of similarity between Bryce and Shaw is that I think they both would have served a similar role for Chuck and between Chuck and Sarah. At least as far as THIS group of writers would have handled it.
        Ideally, we would have had just a completely different story. But JS was determined to give us THIS one.

  16. Neil Sandford says:

    You’re right about her using Shaw, I think the only times she used Daniel was when she was nervous, if Sarah gets nervous, apart from on the balcony.

    The photo could be a red herring or could be a production error unless someone knows differently, I can’t believe she would have it on view with Shaw in the room in red test but of course you can’t see with that camera angle, so I’m going with the tid bit of a clue, which surprises me with the creators, like to keep the angst going for a long as possible.

    • noblz says:

      I think the picture was on purpose. Remember in Final Exam Sarah came within an inch of jumping Chuck during the stake-date and at the end Shaw asks “Do you still love him?” and she replies “Not any more.” During the Shaw/Sarah restaurant scene in AH they talk about “we should have done this along time ago” and other words indicating the start of a relationship that lasted half an episode.

      Uplink did a good one shot story about the picture in that scene. You should give it a read.

  17. Neil Sandford says:

    I can’t believe Chuck messed up at the start of Suburbs, Sarah always looked so devine in the OO uniform, I really missed seeing it in s4&5 and the couch scene, man, how frustrating, what I wouldn’t give to be in his position, who needs gaming!!!

    • atcDave says:

      They are both so awkward it the start of that episode it hurts!
      And remember the episode order was switched, so this should have been the follow on to Best Friend and that hand holding. Two people who clearly, desperately wanted to be together but thought it was hopeless.
      It’s all part of why I like to jump from Ring to Honeymooners. It’s a much better flow from the slow burn of S2 into the prefect resolution.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        I’m sure this was the first episode I watched in the UK and I’m sure the next episode the following week was beefcake, (2010 air date) which would be in the right order but the original date in the US, for you was changed for valentines day so if you watched the original air dates, Best Friend to Beefcake wouldn’t have made sense.

        I’m sure I learnt about this on this website.

        Dave, I think I read that you didn’t care much for beefcake, as I was new to the show at the time and had missed the first half of the season I had no idea of the chemistry and of course Cole was causing that good ole angst but out of interest Chuck broke up with Sarah at the start, was Cole getting captured also an excuse for Sarah to be back in Chuck’s life as girlfriend / sleep over as well as the legitimate reason for protecting him as he knew he was the intersect.

      • atcDave says:

        It’s good to hear the air order was fixed in the U.K. In the US, the episode order is even wrong on the disc sets! Crazy. The disconnect is jarring. But for those of us who were following what was going on through the NBC forums there was never a mystery about it, we knew exactly when and why these things happened. It was just annoying to be trapped by the wrong air dates.
        Beefcake has its moments! It is my least favorite of S2, but not so much for the love triangle aspect. Apart from one stolen kiss that is a complete nothing. It’s seeing Chuck at his winey/neurotic worst, a really grotesque Jeffster story, and Chuck not being trusted to hack a data chip that all really irked me. It just isn’t a fun episode to me. But the end does make me laugh out loud. Easily the highlight of the episode!

      • The S4 opening of Masquerade is for me, the single funniest scene in the entire series! Between the weirdness of what Morgan and Alex are doing, Sarah in a Cupid/angel costume and Casey’s reaction I bust a gut every single time!

      • atcDave says:

        That is a very funny sequence!
        And later in the episode is Sarah playing with action figures.

      • thinkling says:

        Yes, that opening scene is one of the funniest. Can’t watch it without laughing. One of the great thing about Chuck was its ability to pull off scenes like that as well as heart-warming and dramatic and spy stuff. They could turn on a dime and give you all of those things in one episode. Not many shows can do that.

      • atcDave says:

        Yeah really from the very start; the Pilot had several laugh out loud moments, with some legitimate drama too. So often it was perfect mix.

      • noblz says:

        Another funny scene for me is from Suitcase. The extended scene where C&S break into Sofia’s hotel room. From Chuck’s eyes as Sofia undresses, Chuck asking “Can you see anything?” and Sarah’s “Are you serious?” , Sarah’s face as the guard explains that he loves her (Sofia) but the kicker was after the she-spy has Chuck at gunpoint and Sarah rushes in…

        Forget smart bullets or the gun to Chucks head, Sarah’s first words-“Is she naked?”

        Chuck plays dumb- “Who?”

        Sarah doesn’t say anything but her eyes narrow micrometrically.

        Chuck caves-“Yes, yes she is.” Sarah opens fire. That whole scene was a hoot to me.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree completely! I love that “who”? Very funny sequence.

    • Yvonne Strahovski is beautiful even when she is not trying to be, I am stunned particularly by her face so I was always mad when they put her on display with music in the background, it’s very rude so I was glad they more or less stopped doing that as time went on

    • thinkling says:

      Sorry, Neil, but I hated the OO uniform. Even commented about it at the time … how glad I was to see the end of Sarah’s cover outfits and how nice it was to see her in regular clothes. Just saying …

      • Agree here, the cover outfits were a bit ridiculous and do a disservice to what a beautiful woman Yvonne is, they take attention from her face.

      • atcDave says:

        Oh c’mon. Wienerlicious was beautiful and classy!

      • noblz says:

        I agree. The Wienerlicious outfit was kind of parody material. I did like her S2 Nerd Herd outfit better than S5. Of course in S5 she was a married woman after all.

  18. Neil Sandford says:

    All is quiet but I must have now read thirty five to forty ff stories and still going strong, some of them sooo good that may be they should have fired the JS and writers and brought the fans in to write the series or at least the naff episodes and they don’t have to be fluffy.

    • Wilf says:

      I recommend stories by WvonB – they have never disappointed me. Of course, there are many other wonderful Chuck fic writers.

      • Neil Sandford says:

        Thanks for the recommendation, I’ve started reading there first attempt, quarter of the way through, very good so far, a lot more of this single chapter to read but I will finish it tonight (who needs sleep!!!)

    • atcDave says:

      I would second that on wvonb; and add Zettel, Anthropocene, Quistie64, Angus McNab, MyNameIsJeffNImLost …. and many, many others to that list!

  19. Chlojack says:

    All five seasons of Chuck are streaming on Amazon prime.

  20. Fairway12 says:

    I just binged Chuck and it was confusing, if you ask me. So I came to this blog (thanks, Google) and started reading. To say I learned a lot is an understatement. And I am astonished how prescient some of your commenters were. This is from January 10, 2010, which I gather is the night Season 3 premiered. It called the entire season’s arc. I find that amazing…

    https://chuckthisblog.wordpress.com/2010/01/10/open-reactions-thread/
    “The entire two hours was cynical and manipulative. And, by the way, since this season is exactly what I predicted it would be–a flip of season 2 with Sarah wanting out of the spy world and Chuck wanting in and Sarah loving Chuck and Chuck not loving Sarah (enough)–watch for this: The Shaw character is either a rogue spy for The Ring or perhaps even its leader. It’s the logic of the flip. If Sarah has genuine feelings for Shaw, as she did for Bryce, then Shaw WILL be a rogue spy because Bryce was not. This is, sadly, writing by the numbers now. All you have to do is follow the dots…”

  21. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Many of us have gone over how much S3 failed this show. It was the exact wrong way to extend a wt/wt dynamic. Luckily it can be done right, look no Blue Bloods which finally wrapped theirs up last night after 4 years and the first thing I said was I wish CHUCK had done things this way. I don’t know if anyone here watches blue bloods but the difference in how the dynamic was handled form its creation and resolved yesterday was refreshing

    • atcDave says:

      I may have to check it out. I like Tom Selleck, but I ever got around to starting it.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        Netflix will add season 8 soon, I highly recommend it, Dave, it is Tom Selleck’s best role and the show quickly became my favorite crime-solving drama with all due respect to Castle. The cast changes somewhat between the early and more recent years, but the show will be going into its 9th year and has spent the majority of that time on Fridays at 10

  22. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    At the end of every TV season, there are always a few network decisions that puzzle me, renewing instinct and canceling scorpion at CBS tops this year’s surprises

  23. TomB 33 says:

    Old time Chuck viewer here, watched all of seasons 1 and 2 as aired then lost touch somewhere in season 3. Had a child and life took precedence over watching TV.

    Anyway, recently started thinking about Chuck, wondered what ever happened to the characters and started to catch up. Part of this catching up has been reading this site which I’ve enjoyed quite a bit. Thank you for all you have thought about and shared about this wonderful show.

    To get to the point, a question for Dave about Pink Slip and the events of season 3, the idea of skipping from Colonel straight to Honeymooners – when Sarah asks Chuck to run with her and disappear from the spy life forever, Chuck would also be giving up his connections to his family and friends, everything He’s been fighting for to stay out of the bunker. Sure He’d asbe with Sarah, but wouldn’t it be uncharacteristicly selfish for him to leave Ellie (As his father had), particularly with no explanation?

    The reasons he gives Sarah in Three Words, while probably true on some level, don’t seem as strong as the connection to his loved ones as developed in the first 2 seasons. The fact that Sarah even asks for Chuck to abandon his friends and family underscores a major disconnect between them that needs to be adressed in their relationship.

    This has probably been discussed somewhere on the site but I’m curious to hear your thoughts on this issue as I haven’t seen it adressed.

    Thanks,
    Tom

    • atcDave says:

      Jumping straight from Colonel to Honeymooners is more a matter of avoiding a disliked arc than an honest attempt at story or character. That it works on any level (Chuck and Sarah doing exactly what had been discussed earlier) is mostly a source of amusement to me.
      For a more serious attempt at telling a story we discussed many alternatives and looked at more developed fan fiction for that period in a series of “Alternatives” posts (available under the “Categories” header at right). To me, the bottom line will always be that a fun show with appealing characters became something wholly different and unpleasant for most of a season. That growth and development needed to happen is not the question, it’s that such ugly and cliche devices were used to get there that is the problem.

      BTW, welcome to the site! It’s always good to hear from another fan.

  24. TomB 33 says:

    And on a sad note, Scott Hutchinson, the creative for e behind Frightened Rabbit died the other day, suicide, seemingly after suffering serious depression.

    His music added a lot to some very pivotal scenes in Chuck – The Twist, Keep Youself Warm and Backwards Walk…

    Depression is a he’ll of a disease…

  25. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    I have been thinking about this show again recently. Mainly wondering if the series would have been better served to make the wtwt stages of their relationship more fun, and less driven by angst. I just don’t think the writers ever attempted to create the sort of banter that exists on Castle between Rick and Beckett or Jamie and Eddie on Blue Bloods.

    I think I can count on one hand the number of episodes where Chuck and Sarah had the kind of funny and subtle flirtation that exists in nearly every episode of both of those other shows. It would have been nice if Chuck and Sarah had similar banter. Maybe if they would not have included Jill and Bryce that would have happened but it seems like the writers were determined to make Chuck battle scared and pining…a shame really as the other shows I mentioned prove that wt/wt does not have to be written in an angst-filled fashion and both have a genuine back and forth that I rather enjoy watching. I can’t help but wonder if Chuck’s writers did not have the ability to present something like that. There is zero subtly in Chuck and Sarah’s attraction and I think the fact that it was all or nothing is yet another mistake in the writing. I like Chuck, but I don’t know if I would watch it if it were airing currently because the writers always let things fester until it bubbled over and there is nothing “fun” about their personal relationship before season 4.

    Anyhow that is the end of my rant, I feel better.

    • atcDave says:

      Well, I think a lot of that type of banter is exactly what DID WORK so well on Chuck. That is, there was no taunting/teasing/rivalry. What we saw was more support, encouragement and warmth between the main characters. That made it easy to buy into how fast the relationship progressed. It made the main characters more likable, and easier to root for. On the occasion when they did tease or argue it was that much funnier and more interesting because it was uncommon.
      Now all that said, presenting Chuck and Sarah in such a way DRAMATICALLY shortened the timer on how long wt/wt would work. Once the obvious barriers were settled, or seemed close to settled at the end of S2 the only way to extend the process was by suddenly introducing new issues. New issues that felt like extreme manipulation to much of the audience.
      A show like Castle could, and did, draw things out further precisely because there was more teasing, taunting and tension between the characters from the very start. We all “got” that more growing was needed between the main characters and the timer ticked at a much slower pace.

      I’m glad for how Chuck and Sarah related to each other over those first two seasons (for the most part). It’s only the middle season that remains an outlier for its clumsily added on “issues”.

  26. Neil Sandford says:

    Hey Josh, interesting read and some of my comments next might not go down to well with some, especially about SW, a few months ago I discovered via this website FF and for the past four months thats all I’ve done is read Chuck FF, thats a lot of stories, some of which are AU, which I love, some of which are takes on episodes and end of seasons, a few have been absolutely outstanding to the point they have been better than the show itself, sorry I’m ranting on, my point is that when I look back at the show, it’s not that good compared to what it could have been, your right, I’ve watched Castle but not Blue Bloods, so I can only speak about Castle, Castle is a great character, nice and funny, Chuck could be similar but was very immature at times (yes he’s younger), Beckett, very attractive like Walker but a nicer character generally, may be because she’s a cop and not a spy has something to do with it, may be she has a sense of humour and Walker doesn’t is a factor and I also found Walker at times a bit of a b****, where as I never found Beckett to be, I don’t really know how shows work but I guess it’s all down to JS / CF, certainly the angst is and it really didn’t need to be, I agree, your right the banter was limited and the angst was rammed down your throat till it got stupid, at least with Castle banter or not, the pair had a majority screen time together, Chuck on the other hand, especially season 3, misery arc, how much screen time together did C/S get, as we all know, not a lot and that really was a huge mistake, you could also say that the attraction from SW to CB was visual, ok, she wasn’t one for words but wouldn’t it have been nice if she would have told him how she felt every so often but because of the situation it wasn’t possible but she still liked being close to him and to be patient, you could have had s few scenes in her hotel room which was not under surveillance.

    Or i wonder what the show would have been like if they had secretly been dating earlier in the series and having a few close calls with being found out.

    Any how, it was what it was, a great concept and could have been so much more but there’s no going back, with regards to rewatches, I don’t mind a lot of season 2, a couple of season 3 but I tend to watch from season 4.

    • atcDave says:

      I do think the way Castle kept the on-screen focus on the main charcters, even when there was tension, was an excellent move. I wish Chuck had done more of that from the very beginning. But again, only in S3 did become VERY problematic.

  27. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Neil, I literally agree with everything you said. it really comes down to writing and in terms of showing an entertaining, fun and mature relationship Chuck failed at all three for far too long, I realize it is unfair and possibly pointless to compare other shows couple’s but I can’t say enough about Blue Bloods and the job its writers have done with Jamie and Eddie (made even more impressive because prior to season 4 the pair did not exist on the show) pretty much everything we complain about with both Chuck and Castle (lack of screen, time, angst, lack of friendly banter, downright imaturity in recognizing their feelings and dealing with problems wether professional or personal, lack of open and honest comunication) is a non isssue with them.

    I picked Blue Bloods up late last year and was shocked that there are actually writers that can write a relationship so well, to the point that I’m sad to say that I just don’t like Chuck or Castle nearly as much as I used to because I simply stumbled upon a far better-written couple and recommend watching them, even if you jump right to season four because the difference really is shocking.

    • atcDave says:

      I think you’re getting too down and loosing track of what went well. There’s no doubt JS was not a good candidate for writing an adult relationship, but the friendship aspect was well handled from the start. Both characters encouraged and supported each other in the face of many difficulties. The obstacles facing Chuck and Sarah seemed real enough, adult enough; except for a ludicrous over use of love triangles, and I think that was the Achilles Heal of this show runner.

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        The issues may have been real but the handling of them was very poor at times and I realize the show was set in the world of secrets and lies but I wish that Chuck and Sarah would have been more honest with each other and themselves, even if scenes had to be set away from prying eyes of the government. The show would have lasted longer if the writers had been capable of that…love triangles did nothing more than make an already irritating lack of acceptance of how they felt even worse and it affected the friendship they built.

      • atcDave says:

        Absolutely they could have, should have given Chuck and Sarah even more down time together. That has a lot to do with the alternate title ides we have suggested (“Chuck and Sarah” or “Secret and Agent”).
        But let’s remember what the show did well it did extraordinarily well. And there were always more good moments bad. And the conflict of interest Sarah was faced with through S2 was real and profound. “Compromise” isn’t just a code for illicit affection, it’s the whole idea that the government expects her to be THEIR agent and represent THEIR interests over and above Chuck’s interests. She could quite rightly be immediately replaced if her employers believed she could no longer represent their interests. If Sarah believes that threat is real, and also believes she is his best qualified and capable protector, she is in a no win situation.
        And I thought the angst related to that conflict was perfectly played. Her hot/cold treatment of Chuck is a direct consequence of that conflict.

        Now all of that never means I can’t imagine certain aspects of the story being more to my liking. Like MORE Chuck/Sarah time, or more active fighting to CHANGE their circumstance. But again, the only aspect I think was actually poorly handled was all the triangles, at least four too many!

      • thinkling says:

        Hit the nail on the head, Dave. There were legitimate external circumstances that kept CS apart. (With Castle what kept them apart was internal). They did play that well. Doesn’t mean lots of us don’t like the idea of trying a secret relationship on the side, like lots of ff. But they played it well within the boundaries established in the story. And the burden was on Sarah to hold the line or lose what she did have with him … and the ability to protect him, as no other agent would do (like the one time she got replaced). Yeah.

        And then came S3, and while you can justify it (maybe), it was almost irreversibly destructive to both characters and their relationship. As we’ve discussed, there were much more appealing and engaging and intriguing ways to unfold the S3 storyline that would not have tarnished the characters. Sigh. But I don’t want to go there again. Where did I put that black box?

  28. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    That all makes sense, my big complaint is not so much with seasons 1 and 2, but season 3 is awful, the writers missed a chance to make Chuck and Sarah partners and grow that organically into something great. They could have been on an equal footing (granted Sarah was always a more experienced spy) it just saddens me because JS did more than just destroy these characters…he threw away the chemistry between Zac and Yvonne and now that I’ve seen what can happen when writers don’t run from the challenge of embracing that chemistry or feel the need to stifle it with love triangles…it is hard not to feel sad for CHUCK all over again.

    • atcDave says:

      Yes I agree completely about S3. It seriously and permanently ruined something beautiful. The parts I enjoy are only a product of trying to ignore the other.

  29. Ernie Davis says:

    I’m going to jump the gun here, having skimmed the current, but commented on these arguments before. Point being, I am addressing this in a general sense without necessarily addressing specifics.

    The banter is a tricky thing. Moonlighting, the most oft put forward example, was based on two very specific characters. One a for lack of a better phrase, control freak. Interested in order, the other, essentially a con-man who is oddly on the level. It made for a very specific interaction. The same was true of Castle and Beckett. They were both extremely worldly and cynical in their own way, and thus their interactions, and banter were chess games, battles for the upper hand.

    I always use Firefly as an example, because it had two good WT/WT examples. Mal/Inara and Kaylee/Simon. The contrast could not have been more striking, and thus their interactions, their “banter” was unique to each couple. In their own way, each of Kaylee and Simon was an innocent. She was taken aback by his sophistication, he by her … realness? Lack of pretense? Connection to the real world.

    Mal and Inara were the exact opposite. While Simon and Kaylee had the ability to instantly disarm each other through their sincerity, with Mal and Inara every interaction brought shields up. Hence, the banter, the chess game as opposed to the stepping back when it gets too real.

    Chuck and Sarah were more Simon and Kaylee, each sincere at their core, inexperienced and frightened by the connection they felt and the other’s ability to disarm them, yet their situation demanded that there be some shields up on occasion, hence the occasional line or so extolling the other’s virtues, but frequent retreats based on their formal relationship.

    • atcDave says:

      Extremely well put Ernie, thank you!

    • Charah says:

      I think I’m also partial to the “greenness” and outward simplicity of the Sarah and Chuck relationship and banter. As I’ve grown older I kinda tire of the prolonged teasing stuff since it feels more manufactured specifically to prolong a show. Perhaps it seems to me that way because I was never one for beating around the bush.

    • Charah says:

      I didn’t watch Firefly but I agree with the essence of your post, Ernie! Chuck and Sarah wear their hearts on their sleeves and if not for the asset/handler wrinkle they would have bypassed probably 2 seasons worth of wt/wt haha.

      Also, partial thanks to the show’s tumultous history? If they had more seasons in the long I’m guessing the wt/wt would have been wrung out for longer and perhaps Chuck and Sarah would have been written to be more witty-banter-one-upmanship (ugh).

      • atcDave says:

        Either JS or CF (its been a while, I don’t remember which!) actually said wt/wt would have continued longer if they’d known they still had so much show left.
        So two thoughts…
        1) professional writers really can be staggeringly dense
        2) I am very pleased they didn’t know how much show was left!

    • joe says:

      Ooof! WordPress just mangled my comment!
      Ernie, you put your finger on it. Those two relationships (two in the same show!) was one of the bigger reasons Firefly’s cancellation was such a crime against humanity!

      Dave, you said earlier…
      “And the conflict of interest Sarah was faced with through S2 was real and profound. “Compromise” isn’t just a code for illicit affection, it’s the whole idea that the government expects her to be THEIR agent and represent THEIR interests over and above Chuck’s interests.”

      Oh yeah. The last scene of “Alma Mater”, when Chuck and Sarah discover Bryce was not a nemesis but a hero really underscores that idea. Both Chuck and Sarah face difficult decisions, most often deciding who to hurt and who to avoid hurting. Each season the stakes get higher, though and we, the fans, get caught up in the price they pay.

      Even in S3, Nacho Sampler for instance, Chuck resorts to Johnny Walker, Black, because of that very same conflict.

      …but you said it much better, Dave.

      • atcDave says:

        Thanks Joe!

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        I thought more about this topic after I went to bed for the night and have more objective, less harsh thoughts on it at least generally speaking.

        I think how to present wt/wt and how long to present it depends on several things. Is the couple in question the driving force of the show? if the answer is yes, then you need to look at how the pair is set up within the context of the show itself and decide whether witty banter or heart on your sleeve is best to favor most often. Because of the kind of people, Chuck and Sarah were and their preset history heart on your sleeve is more favorable. If you have wackier or opposite leads like Castle and Beckett banter is the way to go. If the answer to the question is no and the couple is just one of multiple elements every week than the banter is more beneficial by default.

        Now for the how long should it last part, a difficult thing to decide, I generally think that if both characters are aware of an attraction but don’t cross the line (I consider the crossed line anything that raises the stakes from attraction to love) it can be a longer endeavor, but once you step over the line you can’t pull a CHUCK [did I just coin a new pun?] and backtrack.

        In the end, the ability to execute w/wt to a satisfying degree comes down to writing so Dave is right some writers are incredibly dense and that is why of the shows we have discussed Chuck was least successful with the dynamic.

      • atcDave says:

        I agree with much of that Josh, until your last line!
        Every serial romance will have its own rhythm. Timing of milestones is undoubtedly tricky for a writer, because I think there is not only more than one right answer, but more than one wrong answer too! Ultimately the most common serial television error seems to be drawing things out too long. So many of us are most sensitive to that particular failing on Chuck because our investment was so sky high after two seasons. The particular failing was no worse than on dozens of other shows (including Castle) it just affects us here more because we were so massively invested in this particular story.
        I think that’s often true with story telling, any misstep is more pronounced on a show (or in a book) we care more about. I never mean to excuse the massive screw up we saw, I just want to keep it in proper context. We were outraged by one season because what came before was SO GOOD. Intoxicating even. And it was a mistake made by many writers, on many shows before. I’ve already seen it happen on other shows since too; Castle, the season after Chuck ended, had its own “season too far”. But it didn’t hurt as much because Rick and Kate were never Chuck and Sarah.

  30. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    Maybe I should have stopped short of saying they failed with the dynamic and say instead that they failed to know when to stop using it. I think my perspective on this aspect of TV is always getting, for lack of a better phrase, “one-uped” anytime I find the next couple that I find as engaging as Chuck and Sarah based on acting. They were so palpable and wrecked in such a way that had no believability at all, I can’t help but have a mental measuring stick for other shows…will they pull a CHUCK or can they play things out organically and recognize when it is time to end the cat and mouse game and stick to it. I think the other thing is a lot the other shows I have watched since Chuck, writers have not been so dense as to blatantly cross the line to the level that Chuck did and then take it back just as extremely after the fact, so I find other couples more enjoyable because I haven’t had to suffer through love triangles or a misery arc to see them together. I may look for some FF where Bryce, Jill, and others don’t function to compound things beyond what Chuck and Sarah already deal with. Alternatives posts here I come!

  31. Luke says:

    Hey, guys. I love your blog, I’ve been reading it for about a year now and I wanted to chime in. I actually saw the first two seasons while they were airing, but I assumed the show was over when there were no episodes that fall and I only got around to watching the whole thing last year.

    Regarding couples banter, I think if it’s a staple of the couple then it just takes away from the depth of the relationship. I’m not very familiar with the other shows mentioned (I’ve seen Moonlighting when I was a kid, and just a couple of scenes from Castle while skipping channels), but I’m more familiar with Cheers and other sitcoms. Sam and Diane were fun, but their relationship didn’t have enough dramatic punch for me to be invested.

    Josh says above that the attraction between Chuck and Sarah is not subtle, but I see that as a good thing. A couple is not worth it (at least not for me) to root for if there is no real love there
    and that’s also why they have to have legitimate reasons for not being together. People that really like each other come up with excuses to be together, but what we get in most movies and tv shows are people that come up with excuses to not be together when there’s nothing there to stop them. I’m not saying it doesn’t happen in real life, but that’s not love and if there is no love then I don’t care that much about them as a couple.

    As for the length of the wt/wt, I do think it took too long, but only by one episode. I saw the first two seasons as Sarah coming to a choice, so I was more than fine with Chuck having the opportunity to make the same choice in season 3. I don’t subscribe to the thinking that they weren’t ready for a relationship because that’s just rom-com nonsense, but I do think that Chuck needed to realize if he loves the real girl or if he is just infatuated with every nerd’s dream girl. By becoming a spy he gets closer to her level and also sees how the sausage is made which in turn brings her down a bit from that pedestal. I’m not saying that this was the only way, just that it works for me and I probably even prefer it.

    I know it’s not a popular opinion at all around theses parts, but Pink Slip and Three Words are my favorites of the season after Honeymooners. I quite like the next five and while I enjoy 8, 9 and 10, I can also feel Shaw’s stench. The big problems for me start with the train station in Final Exam. Chuck was supposed to choose Sarah in Beckman’s office when he realizes that he doesn’t want to be in Rome without her, but his first words after Sarah says “then you won’t be a spy” are about them being together which makes it seem like he had already made his decision. There goes down the drain the flow of the romantic arc and Sarah’s character along with it, who is either a “mean girl” turned CIA assassin or a dumb bimbo who doesn’t understand the meaning of his words. Honestly, I adore Sarah, but my thoughts during her scene with Shaw at the end, were “please go to DC, lets bring in a new girl for Chuck, this time a red head, and get on with the stupid show.” The thing is, after she hooked up with Shaw, the writers had no business of touching the issue of Chuck and Sarah again until they were ready to put them together, but they did it in this episode and judging from comments on here and on Sepinwall’s old blog a lot of people lost their patience with this episode. Anecdote: I was watching a few months ago with a friend that likes rom-coms and after Sarah told Chuck that he’s not the same guy anymore in AH, she said “I’m bored.”

    There’s also Shaw. Not a problem because he dates or sleeps with Sarah (she had a three year dry spell and I don’t want her to be a saint anyway), but because the writers made a big deal out their relationship with that kiss that Chuck had to witness so he can prove himself the biggest hero ever. That connection had to be explained in some way in which it doesn’t make Sarah look flakey, so, I guess that’s how we got the name reveal. It’s not a pleasant moment, I understand why people hate it, I let out a “b**” when I first saw it (I was kind of drunk, I started drinking after Nacho Sampler when I got strong vibes that these two won’t end up together eventually), but it is strangely what saves the Chuck and Sarah relationship for me and with it the rest of the show, because there’s not much else there in the last two seasons.

    • Ernie Davis says:

      Thanks for chiming in. It sounds like you have a lot of thoughts on Chuck. I have to agree that it was more Shaw I had tired of by American Hero (I liked Final Exam for the most part, even though Shaw was the ultimate wet blanket and Sarah’s character suffered as a consequence). Then I’ve always found Shaw a problematic character in general, and poorly executed at that.

      • Luke says:

        Hey, thanks for the reply. I tried to reply a couple of days ago, but somehow it didn’t go through. Does WP have a problem with vpns?

        I liked Final Exam too, but only for the first 30 minutes. Not having to wait between episodes probably helped a bit, but I had almost no complaints for the first ten episodes and even loved a few of them (I refute any notion that Pink Slip had any big or important contrivances). But, what we got from that exchange on (“then we would never…. no, probably not”) until the elevator shaft scene in Other Guy is my least favorite stretch of the show because the romantic plot is going in multiple circles while putting Sarah on the breaking wheel. Thank God for Morgan, Jeff and Lester, they were the only enjoyable parts of those episodes.

        As for Shaw I didn’t mind him until American Hero, because I had always assumed he was irrelevant. Eventually he was, but it was obvious only on rewatch because he was deemed irrelevant in a backward way by how his relationship with Sarah started. Which is why, given the time constraints and the end game for him (the guy that Sarah kisses in front of Chuck and then is desperate to save so that Chuck can have his hero moment), I don’t think he was executed that bad.

  32. Another interesting conversation derailed by Chuckwin’s law! I think Josh makes some interesting points, especially about banter. It’s fair to Sarah’s script, in particular, is not particularly witty. However, a lack of banter isn’t the same thing as unsubtle, and I want to push back on that account, because Chuck and Sarah’s interactions are almost invariably more subtle and layered than the romantic interactions on, say, Firefly (which admittedly, I like less than most).

    A good example of the extraordinary subtlety is in Chuck vs the Truth, wherein Sarah and Chuck must pretend to have sex. Chuck and Sarah in Season 1 are already caught in a triple lie: they are a couple actually in love with each other, who must pretend that they are pretending to be in love with each other, both to other people and to each other (what a weird sentence!). Now Lou has entered the picture, and Sarah has to accomplish a staggering number of simultaneous goals:

    Sarah goal 1: Convince Chuck’s family she is both in love and having sex with Chuck.
    Sarah goal 2: Convince Chuck, herself, and the CIA that she is not in love.
    Sarah goal 3: Flirt with Chuck. (There is MUCH subtle flirtation in this show.)
    Sarah goal 4: Maintain plausible deniability that she is not flirting with Chuck.
    Sarah goal 5: Keep Chuck from dating Lou
    Sarah goal 6: Keep Chuck happy and cooperative
    Sarah goal 7: Have a genuinely intimate (non-sexual) moment with the man she loves.

    Chuck’s goals are no less complicated:

    Chuck goal 1: Seduce Sarah
    Chuck goal 2: Have an intimate moment with the woman he loves.
    Chuck goal 3: Maintain plausible deniability that he is not seducing Sarah, in case he is rejected.
    Chuck goal 4: Maintain his cover with Sarah
    Chuck goal 5: Find out if Sarah is actually in love with him.
    Chuck goal 6: Make a decision between the dream of Sarah and the reality of Lou

    And in the midst of this, they are both purposely exposed: Sarah literally, in her nightgown. She chose to wear a seductive outfit, not just for their cover, and not even just for Chuck. She wants Chuck to want her, and will consistently push the boundaries of her professional limitations throughout the first two seasons. Chuck is figuratively exposed, showing his room, his music, and ultimately, his true self to her. They are both, beneath all of the pretending, trying to achieve real intimacy, a form of nakedness, with each other. And because of their many facades, they not only find it impossible, cannot help but hurt each other in the process. It’s a testament to the depth of their mutual affection that the hurt lasts for but a moment.

    Moments like these are the rule of their courtship, not the exception. The language itself is littered with these little subtleties: the shows use of “handler” for example, is returned to again and again. Sarah literally has her hands on him, in ways personal and professional, throughout the show. The show begins with Chuck offering to be Sarah’s handler, and it is both a true and false foreshadowing. While Sarah will be Chuck’s CIA handler, Chuck will indeed help her with her baggage: her relationship with her parents, her adopted sister, Bryce, her high school life, etc. And, of course, Chuck literally handles her baggage in vs the Cat Squad, as a punishment for helping her sort through the figuative baggage that is her relationship with her maids of honor.

    • atcDave says:

      Wow, that was all very well put Arthur! Thanks for defining all those conflicts!

    • joe says:

      I should never think I understood everything that went on in the show! Arthur, you just showed me stuff I missed.

      Well, really, I think I sort of felt it. But I could never put all that to words.
      Good stuff!

    • Josh Zdanowicz says:

      That is fantastic stuff…I think again I picked the wrong choice of words when trying to dissect the specifics of Chuck and Sarah’s relationship. It is not that it suffers from a lack of subtly, but there is always some form of romantic tension hanging over them. Let me explain further, their date in the pilot and even the brief moment before Chuck flashes during their “second first date” is lighthearted and natural, other scenes like that are when Sarah gives Chuck his degree, when she locates and takes him to his dad the first time and then meets him…their conversation in Delorean is probably my favorite example of the kind of authenticity that is too scarce before they actually get together. Even the end of best friend qualifies because it is just Chuck and Sarah being their authentic self? I think too often we were kind of hit over the head with the passion/tension and not enough of Chuck and Sarah discovering each other through the kind of conversations a real couple would have as they grew closer and come season 3 they kind of threw the baby out with the bathwater and then something was missing in the last two seasons of the show. Though I can’t quite put my finger on what…does that makes sense? All that being said it could just be that the passion and tension happen so often that it naturally makes the smaller moments less noticeable.

      • atcDave says:

        You know I completely agree that more low-key friendship/relationship building moments would have been much appreciated. What we got, really from beginning to (almost) end of the show was beautiful and special…. just never enough.

      • Luke says:

        If I can add a couple more moments of friendship: Sarah telling Chuck what are Lou’s favorite flowers the day after she sabotaged their date. Chuck supporting her in Cougars, Sarah warning Jill at the end of Fat Lady. Sarah actually helping him become a spy in S4 after her anger passes away, Sarah preparing dinner for him and Hannah.

        Josh, you say that the sexual tension was there too often. I say it was always there because that’s how it should be. Until two people get together or until one of them moves on there will always be sexual tension in their interactions. I find it very off-putting when a couple breaks up, then for several episodes or seasons they are dating other people while also being just friends and eventually get back together. Ross and Rachel, JD and Elliot come in mind

    • Thanks all, I meant for a sentence in the last paragraph “The show begins with Chuck offering to be Sarah’s handler…” should read “*baggage handler,” apologies for my late-night stupidity.

      Josh, I think everything you say here is correct, and I think you put your finger on exactly what is “missing” in the final two seasons: “some form of romantic tension hanging over them.” In S4-5, this is gone completely, and instead, they are allowed to be, as you put it, “lighthearted and natural” with each other.

      Where you and I seem to part ways is in thinking this is a weakness – I believe quite strongly that this is the single greatest aspect of the show! S4-5 are, to me, the absolute strongest of the show, and are indebted to the “romantic tension” of S1-2 for this.

      You are correct in noting that the moments of raw, honest “getting to know you” moments are far less frequent in S1-2 (though I think you overstate the infrequency – they’re in almost every episode). Instead, they tease them in short scenes – the ones in 1.01 and 2.01 that you mention are among my favorites. This is tragic, and it puts a form of pressure on the show – both we and Chuck and Sarah deeply want to see the burden of their asset/handler position removed so that they can have more of these moments.

      This tension builds until the end of S2, when we think it is finally released. Here, I think your (and Dave’s) point about the failure of S3.0 to pay off that release is insightful and correct.

      What makes S3.5-5 great is that they fully pay off the implied promise of S1-2 (and are indebted to them for it). That short scene in S2.01, which was so fleeting and tempting, becomes the entire last two seasons of the show. When Sarah emphatically tells Chuck in that episode that “anything you wanted, you can have,” that’s not just a cute moment, it’s a prophecy that Chuck will fulfill in 4.13, when he finally and completely joins his personal and spy life.

      The entirety of S4 is dedicated to finally providing those moments of raw honesty with each other: Sarah’s vows to Chuck at the end of Phase Three, “101 Ways to Say ‘I Do,'” their pre-wedding vows, their angst at Morgan moving out, Chuck’s Paris proposal… literally every episode of the season dedicates time to Chuck and Sarah finally enjoying the learning and discovery of each other.

      This payoff is exactly what makes Chuck so different from most other shows. Most shows either delay the getting-together until the final episode (e.g. How I Met Your Mother) or de-emphasize the couple entirely (Parks and Recreation). Chuck leans into their relationship, and uses every episode of S4-5 as a metaphor for different obstacles they face in becoming lifelong partners. Those obstacles range from trivial (First Fight) to enormous (Goodbye), but in every single episode, Chuck and Sarah overcome those obstacles by returning to the fundamental strength that is their mutual respect and trust in each other.

      This is why “I fell for you […] after you fixed my phone and before you starting diffusing bombs” is so profound, and, I think, why you cite the pilot date as one of your favorite moments – that date echoes throughout the show. It is lighthearted and natural, as you say, but it’s much more and much better than just that.

      In their first date (and in S2.01; you have great taste!) Chuck and Sarah both take the risk of confessing their greatest flaws to each other – Chuck’s lack of professional success, and Sarah’s lack of interpersonal connection. Immediately, each of them sees the worst of each other. And upon seeing it, they both smile. What each of them hates in themselves, the other fully accepts.

      That’s why Chuck often “lacks” banter and getting-to-know-you moments. They know and love each other immediately. The rest of the show is not about strengthening their bond – it’s about showing its strength.

      • atcDave says:

        Arthur, wasn’t there a time when you and I argued over almost everything?
        Seriously, I agree 100%with everything you just said! Thank you.

      • Well, once I realized you were right about everything, things got easier! 😉

      • atcDave says:

        Gee I wish everyone knew that!

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        I agree with all of that. that being said Blue Bloods “path to prosperity” has been much less messy, than Castle, Chuck and How I Met Your Mother combined. In other words, it has everything these three each did exceptionally well without making their disastrous mistakes, which circles back to how much consistently good writing matters.

      • atcDave says:

        I would also point out shows have different objectives with different sorts of pairings.
        I absolutely loved Grimm. There was one couple (Monroe and Rosalee) that met, dated, Married, had kids with little drama between them. Sure their world and life was nuts, but they were always fine. Of course they were also secondary characters. The main character started in a committed relationship, but that ended after she killed his mom (!). The last two seasons he was happily involved with the villain of the first four seasons…
        And it all worked just fine. The world was crazy, but the characters were mostly likable even with a variety of odd twists and turns. And really, never a triangle!

        On Chuck, we had Ellie and Devon who were (mostly) happy and together from beginning to end. They were “normal” (in that uncommon, perfect sort of way). Chuck and Sarah were meant for more drama from the very start. Some that was appropriate to the characters and circumstance. There was no way a down on his luck computer nerd and glamorous international Assassin were going to be happy together without some sort of growth and drama from both parties. So much of that, apart from one arc, was well crafted and entertaining. Really a joy to watch. You all know I have a variety of objections to how many different details were handled; but really this show just clicked. Many of the little gripes stood out because this show was always just on the cusp of being perfect. Obviously, I’m on record as being pretty annoyed with the one MAJOR exception to that.
        But I do always want to keep that in perspective. The writing was mostly, but never completely, wonderful.

      • thinkling says:

        Dave, you said what I was thinking last night when I skimmed this thread. On one level you can’t compare Castle and Chuck and Blue Bloods. It’s apples and oranges and pears.

        Castle: Beckett and Castle were the main characters, but there was nothing in their circumstances that would have prevented them from pursuing a relationship from day one. But there a million internal obstacles to a relationship: Rick’s immaturity (and Kate’s perception of it) and Kate’s baggage, for starters. So, the characters had to grow — a lot — before a relationship was even possible.

        Blue Bloods (and I’m a big fan, BTW): It’s such a different set up from Chuck. First, Eddie and Jaime aren’t THE main characters, and their relationship is not THE central relationship of the show. In fact, there isn’t A central relationship. It’s a procedural about a family of cops. That makes it less necessary for all the drama to be focused on them. They are also equals. Neither is the other’s handler, so, in theory, that’s one less obstacle. The similarity, of course, is that it’s the constraints of the job that keeps them apart (until they finally do their homework and discover that said constraints are perceived rather than actual). The most distinctive difference is that they were honest about their feelings and made a consensual choice to remain partners rather than pursue a romantic relationship, because they didn’t want to be reassigned to other partners. So, for a time, they willfully chose their partnership over a romance. It was well played throughout, never heavy handed, and the interloping relationships weren’t in your face. But the show isn’t about them.

        Chuck: While having a few similarities with Blue Bloods, Chuck is very different. Where Blue Bloods is a game of checkers, Chuck is game of chess. CS are the main characters (or became such shortly after Yvonne stole the hearts of viewers, which was pretty much from the beginning). Theirs is the central relationship, in every way. There is a complex mix of obstacles that keep them apart. There are internal things going on. Both are damaged. Both have baggage. There are also external obstacles — the constraints of the job. But here’s where it gets vastly more complex. If the CIA gets so much as a whiff of Sarah’s true feelings, she will be reassigned, and it won’t be across town. It will be around the world with a new cover for Sarah, a non-disclosure agreement (for Chuck), the breach of which would be a sudden and mysterious death, and no hope of contact … ever. It will also, in all likely hood, be the end of one or all of the following: Chuck’s normal life, his safety, or his actual life. So, the setup is much more complex, and the stakes are immensely higher.

        Sure there are areas it could have been maybe, as you say, Dave, a little more perfect, but overall it was really fantastic, with that one major exception where I think they totally missed the train.

      • thinkling says:

        Just to add a general observation about wt/wt. When the couple in question are the main characters and the central relationship, the whole thing is trickier to write.

        First, it’s a little harder to transition to the consummated phase of the relationship, especially the longer you wait. It seems easy for writers to write the romance and the wt/wt. But there seems to be a lack of skill to write a growing relationship. What does it look like and how do you make it interesting. Chuck did a good job of this, I thought, and I loved the together CS, but not as much as the married CS. So, kudos to that.

        We are conditioned by the romcom model, where the end game is getting the main characters together. The director’s notes must always say, “throw rice … role credits.” The longer a relationship continues, the more it plays into the conditioning that getting the couple together is the end game.

        So, several things work against a show that drags out the wt/wt:
        1. They almost always resort to tactics that damage the character of the main characters.
        2. If they do that and drag it out too long, I lose interest. I no longer care about the couple.
        3. Then the shelf-life of television comes into play. Often by the time they get the couple together, the show is approaching its natural shelf-life. So, the whole end-game conditioning plus the natural decline in interest in the show combine to bring the show to a premature end.

        The solution: know what the mature relationship will look like before you begin and avoid 1, 2, and 3. Don’t sully the characters. Don’t drag it out too long. Don’t play into the end-game conditioning. Get them together earlier in the show … and never at the end of the season. Get them together before a season ends and throw them into a new adventure that lets everyone know that the show is far from over.

        Chuck did okay, considering their egregious violation of #1. But I’m convince that had they played it a little differently, they could have gone on longer.

      • atcDave says:

        Really interesting thought about knowing what the couple should look like before the wt/wt (or the show!) even starts. If that were a part of Screenwriting 101 I think we’d see a lot more satisfying romances on television.
        I would mention that on Chuck, I suspect the pairing wasn’t supposed to happen until the end game. CF has even admitted they were quite surprised by the sort of screen chemistry they got from Zac and Yvonne. But of course it was obvious to the audience from quite early on (certainly by early S2) it was nuclear. Ideally, this sort of thing would be adapted to by the show runner MUCH more quickly than seems typical.

        Back to my Grimm comparison; the original main pairing simply did not work well on screen (lack of energy and chemistry, plus an S2 character arc that likely turned much of the audience against the female character). While the main recurring villian(ess?) brought a sort of loopy, manic fun to her role and quickly became a fan favorite. So the show runner flipped the characters (obviously can’t really know how much of this was “grand design” vs “adapting on the fly”. I suspect the latter). It worked surprisingly well. But it still took four seasons to figure it out. Perhaps this isn’t such a great example, it’s the sort of large scale reinvention that could have ruined the show if it hadn’t worked.
        We clearly saw the hazards of ill-conceived reinvention on Chuck!

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Some interesting observations all. One thing I will note is that Arthur’s use of Chuck vs. the Truth to characterize the complications in Chuck and Sarah’s relationship and their conflicting and conflicted agendas. I’ve always pointed to this period of the show as when Yvonne and the writers landed on the same page about who Sarah was and what she wanted.

        Dave’s point about different WT/WT can serve a different purpose. Going back to Moonlighting Dave and Maddy were meant to be eternally at each other because of their basic natures. Getting them together so early was probably a mistake, but then that show had production problems as well as ratings dips that were driving a lot of story decisions they normally shouldn’t have.

        Back to Mal and Inara. Had Firefly run 6 seasons (and a movie) Mal and Inara should never get together as a happy couple. It wasn’t within either character to be able to do so. Kaylee and Simon pretty much had to get together by the end of the second season, which they essentially did in the movie.

        With Chuck and Sarah they had the timing about right IMAO. I don’t, as many do, read Barstow as the beginning of an actual relationship, just the first dawning on them that absent their current situation (the spy life and the different worlds they inhabit, not Barstow) they both want to, and likely would be together. Barstow was Honeymooners before Honeymooners, a brief break in their oppressive world before they have to go back and figure it all out. Since in Rom-Com it is a rule that the couple’s first attempt has to result in disaster until one of the couple, usually the woman (i.e. Chuck in this case) has to become more fully self-actualized and stand on her own so as not to just become an appendage to the man’s life, and the man has to come to appreciate the woman’t uniqueness and stop trying to force her to be who he wants as opposed to who she wants.

        But I digress. I figured about mid to end third season of 3 was the right timing. Unfortunately once again production considerations that shouldn’t have dictated story as it just became too tempting to finally get them together on the last shot of the last episode, employing that most ubiquitous of the rom-com tropes.

        There was also a bit of Thinkling’s #1, but that comes with the nature of TV.

        Just to extend the couples analysis a bit, look at Friday Night Lights. Mr&Mrs Coach are the living proof that it is definitely possible to write a mature and stable couple, and yet instill drama in to the relationship. It never goes stale, and yet you never entertain the thought that they will split up. But there are also some less well written couples on that show to be fair. They still hadn’t really figured out how to go from the WT/WT to the later. Chuck never really figured that out till early season 4 when they explicitly and successfully re-visited a lot of the season 3.1 issues in a more sympathetic and clearly understandable way. Without a Shaw or Hannah to complicate matters.

        So the question remains, has anyone ever really got this transition right on the first shot? Yes. Parks and Rec got it right three times. April and Andy, Leslie and Ben, Ron and Dianne. I’d also say that Brooklyn 99 pretty much nailed Jake and Amy.

        They did it in a few ways. The romance was never the primary, or even dominant story of the show. It was fit in to the existing dynamics of the show, quirky co-workers interacting quirkily. And both were complete comedies with ensemble casts to fill episodes with interactions that were not the primary couple. I don’t know if that is possible in a show with as much drama and occasional darkness as Chuck, but I appreciate Ellie and Awesome, Jeff and Lester, Big Mike and Morgan, and even Harry, Emmitt, Anna and all the other herders all the more for their efforts.

      • atcDave says:

        Interesting comment on Firefly Ernie. I suspect you are right, and that I would have gotten thoroughly tired of the show before S6! Or not, stability of other couples (like Zoe and Wash) may have made up for Mal/Inara frustrations. And I don’t *think* they provided enough of the show’s emotional energy to matter that much.

        There are a number of other good television couples out there (like the McCords on Madam Secretary), but that transition from wt/wt to stable is always a tricky target.
        I also should reiterate for the record; I never required a stable coupling for Charah after Barstow, but fighting to be together and for each other WAS required. Giving up and pursuing other partners is what broke it for me.

      • thinkling says:

        Ernie: The romance was never the primary, or even dominant story of the show.

        Bingo. That’s when the transition seems to be the hardest,because when you change the relationship, you change the whole story.

        I also thought of Madame Secretary, Dave. I really like the Elizabeth/Henry dynamic. There has been tension, because of the nature of their jobs, but I’ve never feared for their marriage. Add to that the family dynamic, and it adds multidimensional depth to the main story of the state dept. I’ve enjoyed the show a lot.

        Another show that did a good job was The Closer and then Major Crimes in its wake. Both had believable romances that became marriages without all the wt/wt folly. But again, the relationships were by no means the main story line.

        I guess ideally the relationship would be central to the show without being the primary focus of the story. Then it’s easier to grow the relationship (even transition it) and enrich the story without changing it entirely. I would say the McCords in Madam Secretary would be an example of that kind of dynamic. There’s no question as to the importance of Henry’s character and the whole marriage (and family) dynamic. It is central to the main character and the show. It occasionally surges into prominence in the story. But it’s not THE story.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Dave I agree, and implied, that a major problem was Shaw and Sarah, but then as you recall I was very skeptical about Shaw before 3.1 even started and wrote as much. I don’t totally agree that they had to be actively working together to be together after Barstow. I think a brief retrenchment after the devastating fallout of an emotionally immature Sarah tried to jump the gun and a native Chuck had to just say no, because he couldn’t say yes to that particular plan.

        That said, I think you are right that another PLI for Sarah was a poor choice, even though I think I understand they were trying to demonstrate that a post Chuck Sarah now needed someone in her life. I do think however Chuck needs one more PLI, and Hannah filled that role well.

        A lot of 3.1 was Chuck learning to walk in Sarah’s shoes, and learning what that must have cost her in their previous arrangement. Hannah was an integral part of that. Chuck had to wrestle with the fact that there was someone falling in love with him, and he could never have a future with her, or tell her why, or let her get to know who he really was. It covers an aspect of the S2 relationship that is under appreciated in my opinion. Sarah ALWAYS saw their relationship as temporary. She always assumed she would be leaving or he’d eventually get the bunker. And in fact, when ordered to, she did leave (until she realized there was something seriously wrong). Chuck actually let it get far worse than Sarah ever did, as far as letting the civilian believe they had a future, and the devastation he had to deliver Hannah was probably far worse than any of Sarah’s pushback or distancing.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        Thinkling, I guess my take is that Charah (can we still use that?) was never the sine qua non of the show for me. There had to be a Chuck and Sarah relationship, and interaction between them, but the romance was the little bonus bubbling under the surface. Until it wasn’t. What had been one aspect of a relationship and the show was suddenly foregrounded. Like the Beefcake/Lethal Weapon arc was so popular they needed to do a whole season of it. But take out all the Chuck and Sarah interactions.

        I just have to add that this is the most civil and interesting Chuckwin’s Law thread ever.

      • atcDave says:

        Not trying to be uncivil (?), but I do know it’s been mentioned before that both loved it and hated it crowds for S3 often agreed on specific did/didn’t work details. It’s largely the matter of how we rate the importance of Charah to our enjoyment of the show that effects how we weight the importance of those details. Even enough to say I found Hannah decent/likable on her own merits; had she been in place of Lou it would have likely worked fine for me. As for Shaw, well, to the best of my knowledge we’ve had exactly one commenter here who claimed to *like* what that character brought to the show.

      • Ernie Davis says:

        And with the greatest of civility I’ll just say that once Shaw just became a villain I was fine with his place in the Chuck-verse. I was more confused by him than alienated before that, but found him problematic from conception. Shaw as a villain was fine, it was just the introduction and transition to villain that troubled me.

        Was he maybe supposed to be Sarah’s Jill? I still don’t know

      • atcDave says:

        I’ll agree with all of that Ernie!

      • Ernie dropping references to Firefly, Friday Night Lights, Community, Parks and Rec, and Brooklyn 99 in one post!!!

        I do think that S4-5 of Chuck handled the post-relationship better than any of those couples, other than maybe April/Andy. The other relationships (thankfully) did less wt/wt, but the shows lost a lot of momentum once the relationships were consummated (so to speak).

        Anecdotally, I remember finding out that my father watched Chuck. His words: “I watched it until the guy got the girl, and then I didn’t care about it anymore.” I’ve never quite forgiven him 😀

  33. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    Your last line pretty much sums up exactly how I feel…even six years later.

  34. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Thinkilng

    Nice to hear you are a big fan of Blue Bloods! You pretty much said perfectly everything I have been trying to say for the last several days in discussing it compared to Chuck. If not having “main characters” means I get to see any potential relationships on screen for longer, especially when actors that bring them to life have just as much natural chemistry as Zac and Yvonne then I will gladly take the implicit less in your face tactics, for the rest of my TV watching days. No misery arc is worth wasting that kind of chemistry.

    • Josh Zdanowicz says:

      Great stuff Ernie and Dave

      Ernie, I actually agree with your view on Barstow now. It is the moment they both fully accept that there is something between them more than just attraction. I am comfortable calling it love, but just because you love someone does not mean you are ready to take the jump to fully committed relationship. In TV (and life) there is always something holding us back. With Chuck and Castle, it was fear and personal insecurities, on Blue Bloods it was complacency and on The Office, it was some combination of all of these. Most of the time, on TV and in life a major event allows us to overcome the thing holding us back from making that commitment and the same thing is usually the catalyst, the realization that the rest of our lives with that person is worth future challenges. Cue near-death experience, at least in most TV dramas anyway.

      Dave

      A quick additional point about actor chemistry and on-screen relationships; it is not the ability to “act” as if your falling in love, but simply when two people can fully connect to their characters together. That was said by Jenna Fischer while discussing her chemistry with John Krasinski in an interview sometime after the office ended and I think it fits perfectly. Jim and Pam were never the most heated or passionate but they are still IMO the most palpable from start to finish in recent memory.

      • atcDave says:

        No doubt heat and passion are only a part of the issue. We’ve observed before that after Honeymooners we actually saw little of it on Chuck. Things still worked quite well because Chuck and Sarah came across as two people who liked and trusted each other in a pretty natural and believable sort of way. Not that a little more heat on occasion would have been a bad thing…

  35. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Dave

    I think the fallout from the misery arc had Zac and Yvonne thinking too much when they came back for season 4. Almost like they became a bit disconnected, trying to force being a couple or at least the PDA and smaller intimacies that come with that. They got very good at talking like a couple though and the high stakes and perilous moments always had the same pop as we got in the first 3 years.

  36. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Luke

    Agree with you about both the other couples you mentioned. I am a bit specific about the kind of sexual tension that I can tolerate, love triangles are the most overused source of sexual tension in TV, Jill, and Bryce was acceptable because they felt like they served other purposes than just getting in the way. Everyone else just felt forced and made to…drag out angst. Chuck and Sarah had enough to deal with without throwing gas on the fire and it was about three love triangles too many. Shaw, in particular, was a mess because Routh could not properly convey his originally complex design, much of his writing would have benefited greatly from someone who was more skilled at conveying those layers, but like many here have said by the time we learn Sarah killed his wife and he wants revenge we were glad Chuck shot him. I do echo Ernie that once he went “full villain” Routh and by extension Shaw was extremely fun and second only to Volkoff in Chuck Villainy.

    I said somewhere above or below that CHUCK pretty much destroyed my tolerance for love triangles, so that might be why I have been so fond of Jamie and Eddie on Blue Bloods. The only guessing game the writers played with that couple is when they would officially pull the trigger (ironic pun because its a cop show and both characters have had close calls thanks to bullets) sure that is less explosive than CHUCK and other shows but I can’t state enough how nice a change of pace that is…ironically they are similar in personality (stubborn) and in Eddie’s case background-wise (her father is a less extreme Bernie Madoff) to Chuck and Sarah which may play another factor in why they currently top on my list of TV couples.

    Different shows obviously but if I’m going to strip it down to which group of writers executed wt/wt better (as in there was never a moment where I felt like as a viewer I was being toyed with) my answer is Blue Bloods, The beauty of TV is ever-changing tastes,heck there was a time when I felt Smallville and One Tree Hill were the peak of well-executed TV relationships and wt/wt, which these days seems utterly laughable, but I digress, thankful that I now know better.

    • Luke says:

      What I meant to say is that I can perceive sexual tension even in those moments of “just friendship” and I think it’s something natural. Love triangles are a more obvious tension, and I can understand why for some people are uncomfortable, but their angsty nature doesn’t bother me, I would go as far as to say that they are kind of necessary for character authenticity. But they do have to meet a few criteria: don’t damage the main relationship by becoming too serious, don’t take too much screen time and almost no screen time, unless the triangle has a purpose. And be entertaining.

      The first four, Lou, Bryce, Jill and Cole checked every box. Hannah too, but if there was a problem with her, it was that she came up late in the stages of the wt/wt, after things and feelings had become very serious, so her entertainment value was hindered a bit by the hurt she had caused to Sarah. But apparently, Sarah’s problem was more with how Chuck behaved, so I don’t think there was too much harm there.

      Shaw’s portrayal in Fake Name made him unlikable, so the entertaining part was gone. He was setup very well in Mask and Fake Name and the follow-up in the next two episodes was ok too, he barely had any screen time. The problems started when he became too important in this triangle and by that time it was already the longest one in duration.

      I wanted to write about why Cole had a purpose too, the most important one actually, and why it’s my favorite triangle, but I have to run, so I’ll probably do it next time

  37. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Yeah, I have to agree with you Dave I would much rather the couple stay unified and deal with any issues through communication then run into the arms of someone else, especially if the way they interact is a source of joy in watching the show. I don’t even mind when they bicker between themselves and it gets resolved near the end of an episode, but I never think triangles are good sources of entertainment…they are lazy writing, an excuse to manufacture drama and angst and JS seems incapable of not smothering his viewers with them.

    • atcDave says:

      Yeah Josh, my absolute least favorite plot cliche ever.
      Chuck would have been vastly better if they’d never gone there.
      I will concede Bryce and Jill were hard-coded in to the DNA; it would have taken a VERY daring writer to avoid THAT low hanging fruit. But oh would I have loved to see it. The show would have skipped strait from a 9 to an 11…

  38. Josh Zdanowicz says:

    Exactly the opposite worlds Chuck and Sarah were from created enough drama, I really wish they would have just ran entirely with that thread WITHOUT sprinkling in other people, but if we get a Movie Matt Bomber is welcome back because it would be interesting for him to see how much Chuck has changed

    • atcDave says:

      Yes,exactly.
      Although a return of Jill could work just as well for that. And you know, she’s not dead (!).

      • Josh Zdanowicz says:

        True, There is a lot of guest characters that fit into a movie. Sadly, Mr Colt is no longer possible to bring back; RIP MCD he was fantastic “do you find me imposing? I was going for imposing.” Just a great line and a fun character!

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