I was browsing through the shallow pool that is often mostly disappointments over at Amazon Prime Video, desperate for a new series to watch and sink my teeth into as The Last Man on Earth was coming to its unfortunate and far too early end. I browsed day and night, night and day. Scrolling for what felt like an eternity in search of something that I hadn't seen either a thousand times before, or hadn't been suddenly canceled at the evil hands of streaming giants under the Original branding. Something, however, did end up coming to my attention: Chuck. I was never sure as to whether I had seen this before or not. Its name seeming very much familiar but, I think I'd often just confuse it with a completely different series that I recall airing around a similar time. Though I can't seem to remember its name at all!
Coming across Chuck, I actually didn't have high expectations at all. I expected very little of it and almost assumed I'd be turning it off shortly after it started. Though it instantly pulled me in, and now I'm hooked! With a surprising, but very good performance by the now more-famous Zachary Levi, who many many now recognise as the face of the Shazam superhero movies. Before even getting into the details, this film is full of that pre 2010s soul. Almost looking like it's from a completely different era despite being just a decade ago. Compared to television series today, shows like Chuck seem like little gems that must be appreciated and praised in attempt to get Hollywood to return to this formula, because it works! A serious story, with plenty of character development, unique narratives each episode, and comedy throughout.
I can't describe how refreshing it feels to come across something that has just pulled me in. And just after finishing The Last Man on Earth, which I was started to feel a bit sad about ending, knowing it never got the conclusion and room to further develop that it deserved. Funnily, Chuck seems like a show that couldn't be made today, and if it somehow was airing today, would inevitably get cancelled for some undeserved reason(s).
Screenshots were taken from the first season as to avoid spoilers, and I won't be mentioning anything took major in this post, so feel free to read through and check out the show yourself!
In the past I have written with passion for shows like Psych and The X Files for their method of telling stories with each episode being something different. Totally different stories that the characters find themselves within, new challenges faced and thus character development explored. All with unique filmmaking and themes to back the often inspired ideas from prior media and hits. These shows in which each episode tells a different story seem completely abandoned these days, and they're by far some of my favourite ways of shows telling stories. I find myself craving these shows constantly! Well, Chuck follows in a similar direction. Rolling forward with a very laid-back general tone that makes it incredibly easy and fun to watch. Zachary Levi plays your typical late 2000s adult nerd that works in the computer repair side of an electronics store. Surrounded by geeks and their ways: talking about video games, being incapable of talking to women, and lacking general confidence. The show really pursues the old idea of what a gamer was to build a small set of characters that surround our protagonist, Chuck.
And it is Chuck that appears to be the unlikely choice of a CIA operative, as an email he opens from an old college friend results in all CIA secrets getting uploaded to his brain, lost for the CIA elsewhere, leading to the CIA taking Chuck under its wing in pursuit of still operating with the intelligence it had. Chuck has these sort of flashbacks to the CIA intel when he sees something that ultimately triggers it, serving as the foundations to many episodes as something manages to catch Chuck's eye and send him and the two operatives protecting him down the rabbit hole. It's a pretty simple setup that allows for episodes to start in unique ways and promote character development though this ability Chuck has, which allows for the episodes to feel fresh and different from the last, even if they carry on from each other sometimes to broaden a certain arc.
With the idea that Chuck is an average guy, with some very nerdy interests, it leads to the show having a lot of pop culture influence, though I have noticed the show doesn't rely on it much at all, making much if the humour and stories stand on their own two feet rather than feeling a bit too inspired and reliant on references. Instead the show moves forward by showing Chuck as a mostly useless individual barely managing to get by before discovering he now has to work alongside the CIA. It's quite nice to have a protagonist that isn't called to action with a ton of strengths, but instead a plethora of weaknesses that are explores constantly in each episode. And while sometimes Chuck may display acts of heroism and growth, he's hardly the guy to save the day. Instead he's the one to cause much of the issues to which others clean things up. The show, despite its wide range in characters, follows them nicely by giving time and episodes dedicated to each one in some degree. Focusing on them and their growth, while also finding ways to connect them to the broader story of Chuck's adventures. This is where much of the comedy is, in the less serious characters that mostly serve as plot points sooner or later.
Comedy and seriousness seem rather well balanced as the show juggles the lighthearted with the expected drama that comes alongside the character growth. When it isn't Chuck getting into awkward scenarios and displaying his weakness, it's the other characters struggling to get by in the workplace, in a similar fashion to The Office or Superstore in how work life struggles find their way into the story. This doesn't just pace things you, but show the work side of Chuck's life as he ultimately lives a double life that none can know of. I think it works really well, and I don't think there's a character in the show I've come to dislike. Speaking of which, the actors are all mostly unknown, making the show feel so much more unique as you have nothing to connect these faces to outside of the characters they're now portraying.
In a few evenings, I've managed to watch almost three seasons of Chuck. Finding each episode as strong as the last. Laughing at some of the pop music appearances that make their way into the episodes sometimes, while enjoying the way it handles the atmosphere and directing. I mentioned before that I can't imagine this show working today, and that's just because it is good. Simple, and very much effective. To add to the positives, I believe the show is up to this point shot on 35mm film, allowing for film grain goodness, and really nice lighting and tones from the colours in the sets. Again another symbol of the shows from the era, of which the use of 35mm film adds to the appeal with the visuals it offers. Admittedly anything could happen with the later seasons, it could end terribly or make some pretty big changes as it modernises going into the more recent years. Though at this point, I can absolutely recommend checking this out! Though I can't help but be curious as to why I have never really seen any discussion of this show online. Or seen much praise for it over the years.
So far, this show has pretty much everything I could want. The performances are great, the editing and directing is great, and the little stories are engaging and full of little laughs.
Some time ago, I remember watching a few episodes of this TV show and I thought it was pretty funny.
I'm quite surprised at how good it actually is.
I remember it being shown a lot of times on tnt or space, thanks for sharing :D
What're those? :^)