Pilot Thoughts: Chuck

Taking a cue from Scott’s posts on the pilots for Bionic Woman and Journeyman, I thought I’d avail myself of Amazon’s Unbox service and download the pilot for Chuck.

I won’t really comment on the service itself, other than to say it was really slow, and the UI could use some work to make it easier to use, but it gets the job done and I got the free preview.

Chuck is the story of one Chuck Bartowski, who works for the Nerd Herd at the local Buy More store. He receives an email from his old college roommate that just so happens to contain all the information that both the NSA and CIA have gathered on terrorist activities worldwide. Soon he is being chased by a ruthless NSA assassin John Casey, played by Jayne, err, Adam Baldwin and by CIA operative Sarah Walker (Yvonne Strahovski).


(Spoilers Ahoy!)

As pilots go, this one actually hung together very well. We get a good feeling for Chuck, who is a stereotypical nerd, who can talk games and technology for hours, but can’t interact well with members of the opposite sex. It also helps that, as a comedy, the pilot has some genuinely funny moments, and the interactions between Chuck and his friend Morgan ring true, they reminded me of certain hallway conversations around here. References to Call of Duty and Gears of War were to be found, and the sly marketing speak of Buy More was subtly placed, but noticeable (and funny): “When you Buy More, you save more. When you save more, you can Buy More!” As a comedy, Chuck isn’t like a sitcom, with laughs all over, but it doesn’t take itself too seriously. Plus you have some serious ninja action going on which ups the nerd-cred.

As for characters, Chuck is like-able and self-deprecatingly humorous. He grounds the outlandishness of the plot well. Sarah is a bit more problematic. She seems to fall for Chuck too easily for being a stone cold ninja killer. But she is easy on the eyes, as the producers show us two scenes of her in nothing but her underwear. Oh, and throwing knives. And of course Adam Baldwin is always good, especially as a dedicated assassin. I’m interested to see how these characters change and interact.

The story itself isn’t too bad, ultimately concerning itself with foiling a plot to assassinate a leading general via a bomb. It wasn’t too clear why, exactly the general was being targeted, or who, exactly was doing the targeting, but then again, the aim here was to introduce the characters, then put into place the mechanism by which all succeeding shows will tell their stories. But it looks like that Sarah and John will be using Chuck every episode to solve cases. Which could get old very quickly.

And that bring us to the bad part. Chuck will annoy those of us who have some understanding of how technology works. For example, apparently there is only one computer that is used to store all the data the NSA and CIA have gathered. That computer is housed in a large, rectangular room covered in video screen. The computer itself appears to be an old-style Mac. Uh huh. Also, the terabytes of data in this computer can be sent, via email, with pictures, in under 2 seconds. Again, uh huh. And since when do laptops come with a DOS override that allows a user to break through Windows security and gain access to the desktop? Or, or, there’s a bit more, but you get the idea. Oh, one more. The data in Chuck’s head would seem to date very quickly. How can it be used to fuel the show for a long period of time?

Still, I see Chuck as being in the same vein as Eureka, where the characters and story come first, and any technology used will be for the sole purpose of advancing the story, no matter how outlandish. Therefore, Chuck will succeed or fail based on how good the stories and characters are. Since I’ve seen the pilot, I’ll be tuning in to Chuck to see how it goes.

One thought on “Pilot Thoughts: Chuck”

  1. I cought the second episode and thought it was still funny and interesting. I still have some concerns on where it is going though – I think we’ll get a better sense next week when it seems they will focus on the formula of Chuck going on missions.

Comments are closed.