Tuesday, 11 August 2009

Chuck me Tuesdays: Chuck versus the Alma Mater

Score: A

Adore him or despise him, Bryce Larkin is an integral part of Chuck and this is the episode where we get the background we’ve been waiting for. Wondering why Bryce got Chuck kicked out of Stanford? (sip). It’s all here, it all makes sense, and it turns Chuck’s perception of his life upside down.

The good
“It was the worst day of my life, getting kicked out of here.” – Chuck.

Zachary Levi and Yvonne Strahovski continue to impress with their acting and this was no exception. How can a show that, at its core, is quite silly contain so many great actors that portray ordinary people in extraordinary circumstances so well? The simple fact is that there are very few shows on at the moment where the acting is to this standard.

The bad
The B plot (that’s B for Buy More) is usually loosely-related to the main plot but if there are links between them in this episode, it escaped me. It was obviously superfluous to the main plot and it showed.

The Professor’s death was played for laughs but just made Chuck look stupid. Which he’s not.

The Chuckalicious
“You can’t put him out in the field; he won’t survive.”

For all its silliness, Chuck does serious emotion exceptionally well by avoiding melodrama. And in case you missed the point:

Life is not a TV show. People all around us have their own lives and we’re often radically unaware of what’s really going on inside them.

Life is not a soap opera. When our lives are affected by other people’s decisions, we don’t have serious emotionally-searing conversations where our well-structured monologues express everything we’re feeling and we come to realise why people did the things they did. Sometimes they disappear from our lives. Sometimes we never get the chance to ask and even if we do, we choose not to. We may never have that conversation or ever understand what really happened. After 5 years, Chuck actually got some answers. And that, is awesome.

The geekalicious
If Chuck can be said to have an arc, albeit one based on character development rather than plotting, than this is an arc episode. Not much for the geeks apart from multiple Lord of the Rings references in the B plot, including the “one remote to control them all". Morgan refers to himself and Chuck as Frodo and Sam and to Harry Tang as the Dark Lord Sauron.

During the channel-changing competition in the Buy More, The O.C. season 2 is referenced and Lester says, "underrated". The O.C was created by Chuck creator, Josh Schwartz.

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