CHUCK: Pilot -

Television Review

Mania Grade: B

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  • Episode: Pilot
  • Starring: Zachary Levi, Sarah Lancaster, Adam Baldwin, Yvonne Strahovski
  • Produced By: McG

CHUCK: Pilot

By Stephen Lackey     September 27, 2007

Zachary Levi as Chuck in CHUCK: Pilot.
OK, let me get my early concerns about this series out of the way first; McG isn’t exactly someone I would trust to bring me anything of quality, on film or TV and also I really didn’t want to see another show or movie where straight laced “not in the know” creators try to do geeks. Ultimately, McG brings a cinematic quality to the action sequences as he directs the first episode but he leaves the script in more capable hands. I think he’s learned a lot working on Supernatural. As far as creating the geeks in the series, I felt like I was watching an episode of Family Guy in a way because there are all these nods at my demographic. The nods however go a long way to building the main character. He’s a 20 something slacker who hasn’t really been able to find his place in the grown up world and add to that an addiction to Call of Duty
So, he’s your basic slacker working in an electronics store tech department until one day he gets an email from an old college roommate who’s become a secret agent. The email is full of classified information that imprints itself into Chuck’s brain when he opens the email. The original server that the information is on gets destroyed making Chuck a valuable asset to both the NSA and the CIA. This set up may actually be the weakest part of the series. In the early press for the show, the description said something like “the information is downloaded to his brain”. Now you tell me, doesn’t that just sound dumb? It feels like it came from some writer who is still working on an old Olympus typewriter or maybe a DOS machine and thinks he’s really computer literate. At the end of the day, I guess, it doesn’t matter how the information gets into Chuck’s brain. What matters is that it’s there and the show creators seem to be doing some pretty funny things with the premise.
Agents from both organizations appear in Chuck’s life. One agency makes the standard choice by sending in a hard nosed agent played by Adam Baldwin. Baldwin is a pro at playing the tough guy and he has geek cred due to his run on Firefly. The other agency makes a much more clever choice by sending in a female agent who Chuck of course finds quite attractive. Things get crazy for Chuck when she asks him out while still pretending to be just another customer.
The pilot episode is mostly a set up for Chuck’s future participation in secret agent matters and it’s energetic, cinematic, and quite funny. Now, my question is when TV directors come in to take over future episodes of Chuck will they be able to maintain the same level of cinematic presence in the action scenes as McG was able to do with the pilot? As I said, McG’s not exactly Steven Spielberg, but he does know how to shoot action scenes. The humor in this episode is based around a lot of geek stereotypes but the show didn’t just rely on that humor. There are plenty of other moments that are just clever scenes not only because the show has nerds in it.   I expected to enjoy the series but I didn’t really expect it to be as good as the pilot was. So, I’ll keep my eye on this one for a few more episodes and see where it goes.


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metalwater 9/27/2007 12:29:54 AM
Chuck was a really weak pilot. Although I like the actors involved...the show wasn't funny. The ads for the show were deceiving in that respect...and I'm just lost as to trying to figure out what this series wants to be--Get Smart, Forty Year Old Virgin, Joe 90...who knows??? Now...the good news, the cast is instantly likable. As for the guys in the cast, you feel a kinship to, and with them, and the'd love to fall in love with. They all have great charisma, and are wonderful actors. And finally, the production values were very handsome. The stunts, effects...and overall production were quite admirable...unfortunately, they were missing the laughs. Hopefully they can save this series by bringing in some of the guys who write Two And A Half Men. PS--Wow...I just noticed McG was involved. No wonder why this wasn't funny!!!
DaForce1 9/27/2007 2:42:55 AM
Metalwater has a negative comment about something?!? *GASP!* Actually, I found the pilot to have the right mix of humor, action, and silliness. McG did a fine job as a director for this one.
miko34 9/27/2007 3:54:55 AM
Nah... script was flawed. Not funny at all. I might give it another chance since pilots are not always runaway smash hits, but I give this show a C- grade. Good marketing, but didn't live up to the hype.
DarkJedi_home 9/27/2007 4:31:29 AM
Definitely liked it. I'd probably give it a B for its blending of humor and action, plus its potential for a good series. Also, having Adam Baldwin never hurts.. I'm looking forward to next week's show.
kwsupes 9/27/2007 6:45:45 AM
I loved Chuck, I thought it was quirky and really funny I would give it an A. I think this show will make the cut.
Migg 9/27/2007 8:39:07 AM
Concept is very dumb, but I could get past that if the writing was a little sharper. First half hour was very dull and twenty minutes in I was close to changing the channel. Second half hour was a little better, good enough to give it a second chance. My other problem with the show is that it doesn't feel very original.
mbeckham1 9/27/2007 9:05:56 AM
I had a lot of fun watching this. I was pleased that the "Nerds" didn't take all the hits. The spy spoofing was some of the most effective comedy in the show. Starting with Adam Baldwin chewing scenery as the king 'shoot first ask questions only under orders if then' And the scenes of the CIA agent's Ninja break in dance floor ass kicking(and ass knifing ) and especially the scene where the CIA woman hits something with her dagger to make the pilons spring up and stop the NSA car from hitting her were so over the top and clearly intentionally so that it seemed like some thing from Shoot em Up. I mentioned befoe that the series premise reminded me of the 80s movie Gotcha or Scifi Channels Invisible Man. There are clear paralles between the Keeper and the CIA girl, Hobbs and Adam Baldwin's character and even the between Fawkes's brother and Chuck's roommate. And while I doubt it'll ever be as good as the Invisible Man, I do think it has the right mix of real action and suspence and self-spoofery. Even a bit of warm and fuzzy in there. And I'm kidd of interested in where they take spy girl's relationship with the dead guy who started it all. The bit where Chuck sees the CIA woman killing a bunch of people on a security camera as part of his brain download is also an interesting moment. Also, seeing Adam Baldwin in BuyMore blues was worth the price of the ticket all by itself. And there really should be a special Emmy for most creative use of Internet Porn in the bomb scene. Over all. In a season of dark brooding scifi and action dramas. It's refreshing to see a series that doesn't take itself so seriously and can have a bit of fun with it's premise. Now if only I could get CW so I could watch Reaper.
fft5305 9/27/2007 9:58:05 AM
I thought it was pretty good. Not the best show out there, but definitely good enough to occupy my time until Heroes comes on. The "email" premise is a bit goofy, but hey, supension of disbelief. The buddy (Morgan?)cracks me up, though. He's alone makes it worth watching the show. Not to mention the sister is a hottie. The agent lady, I could take or leave. And, of course, Adam Baldwin is great.
mbeckham1 9/27/2007 10:15:37 AM
Loved the best buddy. He's grade A sidekick material. I thought the geek humor in gerneral was pretty inoffensive. They're quirky without being ridiculous. Chuck in particular is just an average guy, who isn't big on socializing and is smart but a bit over his head in a world he's had preparation for.
mbeckham1 9/27/2007 10:28:04 AM
In think they elaborated on the email download as a sort of subliminal image thing. All the info was visual and entered his sunconscious through the pictures rappidly firing through. A bit 70s-80s, but I can't think how else they've done it.
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