What Ever Happened To….Chuck?
Now I’m going to start this off being completely honest. I’m not really much of a TV enthusiast. I didn’t bring any season DVD’s with me to college and I’ve never seen an episode of Star-trek. The only reality show I watch is Survivor and I’m not all that concerned that, as an out-of-stater, I don’t know what channels are what.
I guess you’re probably thinking that I’m not all that qualified to write about TV. And maybe I’m not, but sure, I know what it’s like to hold a show near and dear. We all remember the first show we ever fell for. The first time we got completely and totally sucked in, enraptured, entranced. We all know what it’s like to count down the days of the week until said program is on, counting down the hours until we glue our asses to the couch for sixty beautiful minutes….
Then comes a harsh reality. TV shows can’t always stand the test of time. Sure, some have what it takes to make it, but all too often our beloved shows get the chopping block. For me, it was Chuck. Though I can’t claim to be a TV fanatic, I stuck with this one all the way to the end. Now I’d like to see what went wrong, and just why the quality hit rock bottom.
Chuck’s pilot first appeared in 2007, advertised as the beginning of an “action-comedy/spy-drama” series. Though it seemed too ambiguous and too odd a mix, viewers soon fell in love with the quirkiness that was Chuck. It featured Charles Bartowski, just a regular college dropout working at the “Buy More” as a techie for the “Nerd Herd”. However, his life gets turned upside down when an old college friend sends him an encrypted email. Once Chuck opens the email, it instantly inserts a CIA super computer (the “Intersect”) into his brain. Suddenly, Chuck’s brain is full of government secrets and top-secret files, terrorist profiles and more. Oh, and he also has two agents fighting to get possession of him via California car chase, and well folks, that’s just the first episode.
As is true with lots of shows, the first season rocked. There was plenty of intense action, hilarious dialogue, and the perfect underdog qualities. I was left laughing long after the credits had rolled, and soon I was hooked. But, Chuck didn’t get very far before it hit its first roadblock: The Writer’s Strike of 2007-2008.
Though the show made it to the other side of the strike, its ratings took a dive after such a long break. Its timeslot also coincided with programs for the Presidential elections, shows such as The Big Bang Theory, How I Met Your Mother, and eventually the Olympics. Yet, loyal viewers like myself stayed patient, and we saw Chuck through his first season finale and into season two.
Season two stayed strong, consistently bringing in new plot lines. Chuck made the move from regular-guy to regular-spy, and the blossoming romance between him and Agent Sarah Walker certainly helped ratings. Still, though it seemed to have finally found its footing, the powers that be didn’t quite agree.
Many predicted that Chuck had seen too much time on the bubble, and executives were ready to give up on it. In the end, fans actually had to start an online campaign for the show’s third season to happen. NBC gave in, but that didn’t mean that they were willing to spend the money to keep the show alive. Instead, they garnered a huge sponsorship deal with Subway.
This really seemed to be the downward-turn for the show’s quality. It is no exaggeration to say that the Subway advertising became the most blatant and laughable example of product placement in the history of television. Not only did sandwiches appear at every appropriate (and inappropriate) moment, but they even had one character recite the slogan, “5 dollar foot long!”
I’m not sure if my judgment was clouded by all the Subway, but I just didn’t enjoy the writing the way I did in the first season. Where I used to pause the show to finish laughing, now I filled in the punch lines myself. It seemed like the shameless restaurant plugs/sad comedic attempts were reserved for the minor characters, whereas the protagonists became the only ones worth paying attention to.
I found that I dearly missed the show that had so cleverly weaved together the dramatic and the hilarious. I’m not sure what to expect of the final season anymore, but you can bet that Zachary Levi will be wearing a button down shirt and tie, which at least makes it worth my while. So I’ll be sitting my butt down on the couch and watching it like any loyal fan, and if you want to join me, Chuck season 5 premiers on October 21 at 8:00 on NBC.