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TV Wasteland: Chuck Closes
The curtain comes down on NBC’s plucky spy comedy
By Rob Vaux
January 22, 2012
I’m quite pumped for the return of Spartacus this week, with a tip of the cap to the late Andy Whitfield and a hope that his fellow cast and crew can do right by his memory. That, however, has to take a back seat to the finale of a show that was never supposed to make it this far. Chuck – the little-spy-that-could series that held on for an amazing five seasons – benefitted from a remarkable confluence of circumstances. Its premise and development held a natural appeal, with Zachary Levi’s hapless tech nerd suddenly thrust into the world of international intrigue after the queen mother of all download errors.
It benefitted further from the clever use of guest stars, a gimmick used so often that it became its own in-joke. It retained a hardcore group of faithful followers, despite a steady ratings decline that left the final season with less than half the viewership of its first. The choice to move it to Friday night – where expectations are always lowered – helped it hang in there during its final season, and its presence on NBC – a network so desperate for ratings that it couldn’t afford to let anything go – kept it in the game longer than anyone expected.
Chuck took full advantage of its opportunities, performing escapes from cancellation that would make its protagonists proud. It played every card as well as it could and while fans will doubtless be sorry to see it go, they’ve enjoyed dozens more episodes than they could have possibly hoped for. Most importantly, Chuck earned the right to finish on its own terms, providing proper closure in an era when television seems to have forgotten the meaning of the word. Well done Chuck. You did right by your fans and we salute you for it. Everyone can catch its final bow this Friday night, starting at 8:00 PM EST on NBC.
Alcatraz (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
A former child murderer re-emerges in the present and presumably starts up his old gig again.
Being Human (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Sally’s new buddies really know how to treat their friends, giving her a boost in power that I’m sure she won’t misuse at all.
Lost Girl (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
A very odd man offers Bo information about her origins, provided she helps him recover some stolen gems.
Batman Begins (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Has it been seven years since Christopher Nolan rescued us from the depths of Joel Schumacher hell? Thanks Chris!
Mr. and Mrs. Smith (FX, 7:00 PM EST)
If nothing else, you can have a wonderful time just watching Brad and Angelina eye fuck each other.
The Mummy (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Brendan Fraser makes sure there’s more Raiders than rip-off in this 1999 Raiders rip-off.
28 Days Later (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
This revamped piece of zombie horror is so good, the director should win an Oscar. Oh, wait…
The Devil’s Rejects (IFC, 8:00 PM EST)
Does Rob Zombie have pictures of IFC executives cavorting with zoo animals or something? They’re showing this film every hour on the hour these days…
Red (Showtime, 8:00 PM EST)
This one’s been getting hit pretty hard too, though I suspect zoo animals have little to do with it.
In addition, Oscar nominations will be announced this morning. Nothing you like will get anything.
Ghost Hunters (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
If graveyards and floods create a lot of ghosts, then a flooded graveyard is bound to be the mother lode.
Face Off (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
The contestants must create an album cover for guest judge Asher Roth, using nude body paint as the basis. Yummy!
Superman Returns (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
This unjustly dismissed follow-up to the Richard Donner Superman films finds Brandon Routh in fine form as the Man of Steel. I’d bet real money it beats The Man of Steel with a stick. Do you know why?
Sucker Punch (Cinemax, 8:00 PM EST)
Sweeney Todd (TCM, 9:00 PM EST)
Fans of the Johnny Depp version should check out this 1982 production, featuring George Hearn as Todd and Angela Lansbury as Mrs. Lovett.
The Big Bang Theory (CBS, 8:00 PM EST)
Penny and Leonard continue their tentative, booty-call-laden journey back to reconciliation as the gang presumably looks on.
The Covenant (The CW, 8:00 PM EST)
The CW eschews its usual supernatural teen dippiness in favor of a dippy supernatural teen movie about witches in modern-day Salem. It’s, like, six years old, so everyone in it is totally over-the-hill now…
Eraser (AMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Watch this and ask yourself if you really want to see Schwarzenegger on the big screen again.
Underworld (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
I won’t say it’s good, but it certainly sucks less than the sequel currently tearing through the box office.
Peter Pan (Starz, 7:00 PM EST)
This surprisingly adult version of the J.M. Barrie tale suffers from an excess of production design, but otherwise hits all of the right notes.
House of Bones (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
The title is better than the actual movie, which involves a reality TV show investigating a haunted house.
The Amityville Horror (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
The shocking true story of one man’s attempts to escape his debts by drumming up a pile of pure unfiltered bullshit.
The Vampire Diaries and The Secret Circle are off tonight.
Fringe (Fox, 9:00 PM EST)
The Observers deliver an ominous warning to Olivia while Peter hunts down a girl who can predict the future.
Chuck (NBC, 8:00 PM EST and 9:00 PM EST)
NBC has a double-dose of Chuck tonight to close out the series. Chuck embarks on his final mission: stopping Nicholas Quinn once and for all. See the top of the article for more.
Star Wars: The Clone Wars (Cartoon, 8:00 PM EST)
Anakin chases Cad Bane and a disguised Obi-Wan as the show’s latest four-episode arc continues.
Spartacus: Vengeance (Starz, 10:00 PM EST)
Television’s greatest guilty pleasure returns, with Liam McIntyre stepping in for the late, great Andy Whitfield. Let the blood-soaked orgies commence!
Merlin (Syfy, 10:00 PM EST)
A stranger arrives in Camelot, claiming to know the location of the world’s last dragon egg. Bet he has shifty eyes… you can never trust them when they have shifty eyes…
Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 1 (Cinemax, 6:15 PM EST)
There’s a lot of exposition in this first half to the conclusion of the Harry Potter franchise. The second half reaps potent rewards from it.
X-Men (FMC, 8:00 PM EST)
Bryan Singer pushed the Marvel superhero franchise into the big leagues with this adaptation of the famous mutants. It made Hugh Jackman a star and help set Hale Berry up for Catwoman… so kind of a mixed bag on that front.
Nikita and Supernatural are reruns tonight.
The Fades (BBC America, 9:00 PM EST)
New Angelics arrive just as Paul unleashes the true potential of his powers.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day (Cinemax, 10:00 PM EST)
Remember when we couldn’t make cracks about Schwarzenegger’s illegitimate children?
The Omen (FMC, 7:00 PM EST)
This is the indifferent 2006 remake, not the incredibly cheesy 1976 original.
2012 (FX, 7:30 PM EST)
Irwin Allen is reborn in the CGI era as Roland Emmerich’s latest disaster movie: pushing the envelope of plausibility and audience patience alike.
Hostel and Hostel Part II (IFC, 8:00 PM EST and 10:00 PM EST)
Again? Really? I know I’ve said this before, IFC, but you’re a bunch of clowns.
Super (Showtime, 9:45 PM EST)
Rainn Wilson stars as a hapless fry cook who decides to put on a costume and fight crime. Despite a fine turn from the always reliable Ellen Page as his sociopathic sidekick, it ultimately plays like a third-tier version of the infinitely superior Kick Ass.
Ice Twisters (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
This is the part of the column where I seriously need a drink.
Swamp Volcano (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Make that a double.
Cloverfield (MTV, 10:00 PM EST)
This better-than-average found-footage movie witnesses the arrival of a giant monster from the POV of some young New York party-goers. Bring your Dramamine.
Once Upon a Time (ABC, 8:00 PM EST)
Emma and Sidney team up to find out how far Regina’s corruption has spread.
Jeepers Creepers 2 (Syfy, 7:00 PM EST)
Syfy is running a night of Sequels That Are Much Better Than They Should Be, starting with this follow-up to the terrific Jeepers Creepers.
Underworld: Rise of the Lycans (Syfy, 9:00 PM EST)
Still the best of the lot, despite the absence of Kate Beckinsale.