For Halloween, my friend and I decided to dress as two of our favorite characters from one of the best shows on TV. Unfortunately, there were only a handful of people (if that many) that actually understood what we dressed as. Sure, I looked like I was wearing a German girl outfit. And yes, my friend was basically just wearing a green shirt and black pants, but we really had a great impression of the characters going. No one seemed to pick up on the fact that we were dressed as two undercover agents from ‘Chuck,” the best show on television that you’re probably not watching.
In its first season, ‘Chuck” established itself as one of the cleverest shows on TV. Josh Schwartz, creator of ‘The OC” and ‘Gossip Girl,” and Chris Fedak came up with a brilliant show that combines action, comedy and romance almost flawlessly.
If you’re not a fan of the teen dramas Schwartz seems to be most known for, don’t go thinking ‘this definitely isn’t the show for me,” because I almost guarantee you will be wrong. While it does follow a Seth Cohen-like character, the show involves much more comedic writing and way more action not the high school fight kind of action, but rather the high-speed car chase, gun-shooting kind of action. The pilot episode introduces us to Chuck Bartowski (Zachary Levi), a dork that was expelled from Stanford and now works at Best Buy clone Buy More as a Nerd Herder. And just when we think the show is going to be about a dork trying to rebuild his life, the scene changes to a full-out chase sequence.
Through the actions of Bryce Larkin, Chuck’s ex-roomate turned CIA agent, thousands of government secrets from the CIA and NSA are downloaded into Chuck’s brain, making him a valuable piece of government property. Cue entrance of the Halloween alter egos my friend and I took on; Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski) of the CIA and John Casey (Adam Baldwin) of the NSA are assigned as Chuck’s babysitters and protectors. So, we take drop-dead gorgeous Sarah protecting completely dorky Chuck and we’ve got the unresolved sexual tension. Take the stoic, seemingly heartless, cold-blooded John Casey stuck working undercover in a Buy More with a dork and nemesis CIA agent, and we’ve got comedy. Put them all together and you get major ass-kicking, saving-the-world action. Who wouldn’t want to watch that?
Fast forward, through the writers’ strike that cut the show short to only a 13-episode freshman year, to the show’s second season. How does a show catch up an audience that hasn’t seen an episode in either six months or maybe even not at all, in a way that actually draws our attention? Well, I’ll answer your question with a question. If you were being held upside down out of a window, what is the first thing you would do to argue yourself out of a long and painful death? Chuck Bartowski retells his life story as a means of saving himself.
Conveniently, this pickle of a situation allows the viewers to simultaneously catch up with everything that happened in season one. Pure genius. I mean, really, no new viewer wants to come into a show not having a clue what is going on. Well, the writers of ‘Chuck” were able to cover their path within the first minute of the show, without an annoying, super-long recap that most shows employ.
Now, five episodes into the show’s second season, ‘Chuck” is better than ever. The action sequences are better portrayed, the chemistry between the characters is natural and enjoyable, and the writing of the show has never been better. In fact, the five episodes that have aired so far are five of the best hours of television I have ever watched. And I watch many, many hours of television.
Yet, the ratings continue to drop. Despite the show’s great story and enticing characters, people just don’t seem to be catching on to what a fantastic show they are missing. Up against Schwartz’s other show, ‘Gossip Girl,” ‘Monday Night Football,” ‘Dancing with the Stars” and CBS’s comedies, the primetime spot seems to be giving ‘Chuck” a run for its money. Despite the depressingly low ratings, NBC recently granted ‘Chuck” a full season order of 24 episodes, giving it hope for the future.
If your schedules are too tight to fit ‘Chuck” into your Monday nights, the show is broadcasted in high definition on NBC’s Web site and episodes are sold on iTunes only a day after they’ve been aired. But seriously, Mondays are pretty awful, don’t you think? Why not stick an hour-long remedy of romantic-action-comedy to get a smile on your face before getting to the immense amount of work I’m sure you have? ‘Chuck” is worth the shot, I promise. I mean, I dressed up as a character from a show that no one knows that’s gotta say something… right?
Chuck airs on Monday nights on NBC at 8 p.m.
Rosenberg is a member of the class of 2012.